Category Archives: loss

the last piece (or, i lied)

Jessica:

Part seven is the last piece of my rock-climbing story. Here, I talk about how my accident still affects me today. Yes, I recovered. But eleven years later, there are still things that remind me of my injury every day.

Originally posted on shift:

street

There are things you learn to live with. Things that never cross your mind—until “that time.”

That time when you’re ordering at Starbucks and the barista says: “What was that?” “I’m sorry, can you repeat that?” “Are you sick?”

That time when you’re chatting with a friend, and your voice cuts out and cracks, then dies.

That time when you’re calling across a street, and no one hears.

That time when you’re in a noisy restaurant, and you might as well just look into each other’s eyes.

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dead man’s lament

cemetery 3From darkness I came,
to darkness I went,
and wondered, inane,
how my days were spent.
As there in my grave,
in coffin so cool,
regret was a wave:
“Had I been a fool?”

My days had been good,
my days had been bad,
The life that I led,
was all that I had.
But what had I thought?
How far did I think?
Had I seen it not –
this critical kink?

See, money was mine,
and power and fame.
And all was a sign,
I’d much to acclaim!
And if I lacked love,
I wasn’t to blame.
That came from above,
was God’s little game! Continue reading

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the true meaning of the holidays

bedroom1

My room in Taiwan

Two months after I left for Taiwan, I got a phone call. “Jess, your mom and I have something to tell you . . .” My parents were getting divorced. After nearly 28 years, my mom had made up her mind — it was over.

The conversation wasn’t long. There wasn’t much to say. I couldn’t say I was shocked. I’d seen the disconnect between my parents for years — both of them trying, each in their own way, to bridge the gap. Both of them failing. I’d convinced myself that they were going to make it, knowing, deep down, I was wrong.

After we got off the phone, I sat on my black bedspread and stared at the brightly polished wood floor that I’d scrubbed and scrubbed when I’d first arrived. Outside my window, the dark sky began to rain. I didn’t notice. My mind was empty; my emotions, numb. I wondered, blankly, how my brother would take the news. Continue reading

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lessons not learned (now learned!)

macbookHave you ever done something stupid and said, “That’s it — never again,” and then done it again . . . and again and again?

I have.

Last night, after putzing around on my blog for several hours, I decided to wipe down my MacBook before heading to bed. I am a clean freak, and while I love the sleek design of most Apple products, the fingerprints and other marks that love to show up on my screen drive me nuts. Well, I got out my Windex (I ran out of electronics cleaner a while ago and keep forgetting to replace it), sprayed it on a soft napkin, and then proceeded to “Cypherize” my computer . . . Only there was this one smudge that wouldn’t come off. I rubbed and rubbed . . . It was late, and I was tired, and in my impatience, I decided to use the Windex bottle to spray the spot directly. I did, and wiped it and the rest of the keyboard squeaky clean, and “Wha-la!” I went to bed and forgot all about it . . .

Until this morning. This morning, my keyboard freaked out. Continue reading

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where does time go?

With Grandkids010

Nana and me. I was about a year and a half. She put my swimsuit on backwards.

“Sooooorry.” Three-year-old me put my hands on my hips. I was standing, feet planted, just inside my bedroom door.

“What do you mean, ‘Sorry’?” asked my Nana.

“You can’t sleep here.”

“I can’t?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

Continue reading

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missing

Danshui Harbor

Danshui, Taiwan

Sometimes you don’t know how much something means to you until . . .

I looked. I looked again. What on earth?

My jewelry box was missing.

Where could it have gone?

It was late. I was tired. But I couldn’t sleep–not now. I began searching. Under the bathroom sink, behind the toilet, in my backpack, in the trashcan . . .

In the trashcan? you’re probably thinking. Are you crazy?

Perhaps I should explain. Continue reading

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haunted

rockThere’re demons inside me,
I tell you, it’s true.
They come out and taunt me,
remind me of you.
And though I would shush them,
the damage’s been done.
For deep down inside you,
you’re shushing them, too. Continue reading

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it’s up to us

c2It starts with a kiss,
then all is amiss.
The two become one,
and then there’s . . . a son!

He’s raised and he’s loved,
a gift from above.
But something is missing—
who’s that Mommy’s kissing?! Continue reading

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factories of death—a reblog

garments-6

Image by GMB AKASH

“Today, I count myself blessed to have become a photographer. To be able to articulate the experiences of the voiceless, to bring their identity to the forefront, gives meaning and purpose to my own life.”

– GMB AKASH

I used to think reblogs were silly. I didn’t understand why people would post them. Were they too lazy to produce their own work? Or was it, sometimes . . . something else? Continue reading

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grandparents aren’t supposed to die

My Nana died tonight. I didn’t cry. I have, and I will. But I didn’t when I heard the news. Some things take a while to settle in.

grampa2

Grandparents are the best!

It occurred to me recently that, in the span of six months, I have gone from having three living grandparents to, now, only one. It is something that was never supposed to happen, really. Grandparents aren’t supposed to die. They’re the ones who tickle you and tell you stories and sneak you treats when Mom and Dad aren’t looking. They’re the ones with gray hair and wrinkles and sparkly eyes and easy smiles. They’re the ones who age but don’t get old, who tire but are never too tired for you.

They are, and always have been, for eternity.

Until tonight. Continue reading

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on death and living life to the fullest

There are so many things I want to write about right now. I have a long list of recent experiences to share, not to mention wanting to get back to things related to my time in Asia. But, sometimes, life gets in the way. We wish life was all sunshine and roses, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

Last December, my family lost our grandfather on my mom’s side. He was a gruff man who built his legacy on a tow yard. I wrote about the experience here. Now, it looks like we may be losing my grandmother, “Nana,” too. Nana has spent more time in the hospital than out of it since my grandfather’s death, and just recently everything has gone downhill. Presently doctors are trying to keep her comfortable at a hospital in Ohio. We’re not sure how much more time she has to live.

Upon hearing the news last night, my brother Derek, who is himself a talented writer, sat down and penned (with a few minor edits) the following thoughts:

On Death and Living Life to the Fullest

By Derek Cyphers

Whatever happened to passing peacefully in one’s sleep? Is one of the few drawbacks to advancements in medicine that we can now prolong life further than it was meant to, ultimately leading to more suffering over time? At least for our family, this has probably been the hardest part. My first exposure to this came with our paternal grandmother, who fought cancer bravely, and painfully, for nine years before finally succumbing in 2003. More recently, it was our grandfather on our mom’s side, who was a shell of his true self due to mental and physical decline by the time he passed this last December. Continue reading

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let there be light

boston-bombinged

“You will be remembered. Stay strong Boston.”

It’s been nearly two weeks since the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Nearly two weeks since two alleged terrorists killed three people and injured 264 others at one of the world’s oldest and most beloved annual events. Nearly two weeks since chaos erupted and an entire city was shut down to find the imposters. Nearly two weeks, and I have yet to say a word.

I haven’t mentioned Boston.

Why?

Is it because I am heartless? Am I too busy writing articles to concern myself with the plight of marathoners far, far away? Too busy talking to birds and making up poems about the night sky to worry about things like death and destruction? Too busy pondering life to take stock of what’s happening in it?

Or is it . . . something else? Continue reading

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carry on

stormAlone I sit and contemplate
this thing that we call life:
Desires we cannot satiate,
the struggles and the strife.

I wonder why we do it now,
I wonder why we try.
I wonder why we carry on,
why not lay down and die?

I guess there’s hope—
the future, see?
Our dreams, they are
a mystery . . .

But, no.

It’s been all these years:
He’ll not return to me.

(He’s God’s, can’t you see?)

I wonder why I do it now,
I wonder why I cry.
I wonder why I can’t let go,
for him, alone, I’ll die.

Unworthy . . .

(God judge me.)

He doesn’t mourn for me.

Image: Pinterest

Note: I feel badly. This poem is not about death (at least not in the traditional sense), though it could easily be read that way. Please, dear readers, do not mourn for me. I did not mean to mislead you or look for sympathy.

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walls

castle-walls04

In sadness I fly
on what could be,
what should be.

In madness I try
to find vic’try,
make his’try.

In gladness I cry
I’m empty,
can’t touch me.

And then I break down.

*image credit: spokenwizdom.wordpress.com

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the end of an era

My grandfather died today. Grandpa Joe.

A gruff blue collar man, Grandpa Joe knew little beyond his tow yard in Akron, Ohio. That’s where he was comfortable, see. That was his empire.

He came to California once, before I was born. That was for my parents’ wedding. Since then, we’ve visited him. California is a l-o-n-g way from Ohio.

During their marriage, my nana and he were often at odds. They yelled and bickered; Grandpa Joe threw things once in a while. They spent much of their time annoyed with each other—that is, until these last few years. With both of their health on the decline, and his on a slipperier slope, they began to depend on one another. I talked to my nana last week; her voice was soft and sweet. “Joe’s been eatin’ real good . . .”

Their 60th anniversary would have been on the 9th.

Nana and Grandpa Joe at their family reunion last summer

Nana and Grandpa Joe at their family reunion last summer

And it’s left me so, so sad. No, not for my own loss. While I would have loved to have known my grandfather better, the storytelling-grandpa stereotype just wasn’t him. And that’s okay. Rather, I’m sad for my nana, and for my mom. Like her mother, my mom’s relationship with her father had begun to improve over the last few years. Out here in California, she didn’t get to say goodbye.

But it’s more than that, too. I’m sad for the loss of companionship and the lonely nights ahead. I’m sad for the end of an era without a start anew. I’m sad for the way time passes, and how life changes. Sometimes it changes for the better, and some things improve with age. But I’ve never heard anyone say it’s easy to get old.

Have you?

P.S. I love you, Grandpa Joe! I’ll see you again someday soon. :)

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hello, my name is ___?

What I didn’t expect was the identity crisis. Some things aren’t supposed to change.

Perhaps you’ve been there, too.

When I was a child, life was simple. Decisions were easy. Choices, slim. And everyone around me was doing the same: college was the horizon.

Fast-forward five years.

Life’s still simple. Life’s still good. A desire previously unfulfilled has been achieved: At college, 3,000 miles from home, I have freedom. I have independence. I’ve left childhood behind and have thousands of years to go. The only trouble? What comes next?

An English degree, a couple of jobs, and a life-changing, three-year tenure in Asia—that’s what . . .  Not to mention the splitting of my home, my 28th birthday, and the poignant realization that, just as time passes, so does youth. No matter how hard I try, I am limited by my lifespan.

I can never see it all, travel it all, write it all, learn it all. I can’t fix it all, have it all, understand it all, or even love it all.

The horizon has become the horizon, and, by its infinity, shown me my limitations.

And, suddenly, I am wavering. Many things I believed to be true have proven to be false, and many things I thought would never be have, in fact, become reality.

And I find myself wondering at the mysteries of life and the way time passes . . . And the energy of youth and the wisdom of age . . . And the fact that I believe in God but have difficulty trusting Him . . .

Or knowing how I fit into His plan.

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