I once knew the queen of the fairies

I once knew the queen of the fairies.

She brought me laughter

and

magic.

We danced together in the sunlight

and

in the shadows.

She could make it rain

and

set the stars in the night sky.

She would build

a fire

and

brew tea laced with faith

and

bake bread filled with hope.

Her body would shiver at my touch

and

her love-light would envelope me.

I was happy then

but

the spell was broken

and

I told her that she had lost her magic.

So she packed up her secrets

and

went away.

But

she was the queen of the fairies

and

could never lose her magic.

It was I who could no longer see it.

“You’re Awake.”

The first things I remember were the restraints. I couldn’t move my right arm and leg. I was in such a fog that, at first, I thought it was my own inability to coordinate my body, but I soon realized I was strapped to the bed.

Then a voice from across the room said, “You’re awake.”

I couldn’t speak. I just reached across my body and started pulling at the restraints. It was then that the bed and room started to become clear in my head. A hospital. I was tied to a bed in a hospital.

“He’s awake,” the voice from across the room said loudly.

I looked in the direction of this voice and noticed another bed about 6 feet away with an elderly man sitting up in it. He stared blankly at me.

“Someone will be in soon. Probably. ”

My mind was so thick and it felt as if every movement was happening in mud. I was thirsty and with this thought I noticed a water bottle on the tray next to my bed. I was able to reach it and drink. With each sip I started to realize where I was. And why.

I had tried to kill myself. Pills. A note. Relief. Then fear. Then nothing. Void of memory until now. I was soon to discover that it happened three days prior and I was slowly coming off the pills that had entered my system before my stomach was pumped and the charcoal was given.

I wasn’t dead. I had failed. I felt like a trapped animal. Defeated and filled with shame.

That was over thirty years ago.

So why am I sharing it now? I’m not 100% sure of all the reasons. It somehow feels like the right thing to do. I no longer feel the shame surrounding my suicide attempt. I haven’t for years. I believe by putting it out there I can, perhaps, remove some of the stigma attached to such an act.

Most of the people I know may very well be surprised or shocked by this revelation. Some may be angered or disappointed. Others may have a difficult time understanding.

And there will be some that have gone through it.

This is for the ones who have tried and lived. For those who suffer the pain of living with depression and mental illness. For those who still contemplate doing it. You are not alone.

The path out of darkness is different for everyone. My way out may not work for someone else. It has taken years. It has sometimes come at a cost. The darkness still visits me from time to time. There’s a part of me that wants to embrace it like an old friend. I have a hard time seeing the selfishness in suicide. I’m not advocating for it, just recognizing that mental illness can be terminal like any physical disease.

I have lived more of my life walking away from that moment than walking towards it. I have been fortunate and am filled with gratitude for all that has been good in my life. For all the love I have received and have given. I was blessed with a second chance.

A long time ago I failed in my attempt to end my own life, but now, I like to think that I have succeeded in my attempt to live life.

All Saints Day

Years ago I was traveling through Italy, making my way to Palermo, where my newly discovered cousin, Ciro, and his family awaited. I was thirty at the time and within days my life would change.

I arrived in Sicily, by ferry, on October 31st, All Hallows’ Eve, and was greeted with openness and joy by a family I barely knew. Nearing midnight, of that very same day, I was leaving Sicily. By the end of the next day, All Saints Day, my Mother was dead. Six months later, my Father was dead. Orphaned at thirty.

That was twenty-six years ago. Nearly half my life. I’ve lived a whole other lifetime without them. Three unsuccessful marriages, a daughter, heartache and joy, all spent without their knowledge and love.

It’s autumn and nature vividly reminds us of the cycle of life. The thing is, it’s not about death this time of year. Sure, the flowers die and the trees let go, but there is still life. It’s muted and quieter. We go on knowing that a renewal will come. It’s temporary. This knowledge gives us courage, and, if we are aware, an appreciation of the beauty. The world goes off to slumber with a spectacular display. A deep exhalation allowing us to slow our breathing. To find our center.

I always grieve a little this time of year. For my parents. For the paths not taken. But then I breathe. I revel in the color and light. Stella was born in autumn. She is that spectacular display. That promise that life doesn’t end.

So. Mom. Dad. I carry you in my heart. I miss you both.

Dreamer

As Stella gets older I sometimes think back to my childhood.  The very young years are often a blur.  I do remember feeling loved and safe and being filled with wonder.  My earliest memory is from about four years old, I would guess, and I am in the front room of the first house I lived in, a second floor, three bedroom apartment in Brooklyn.  There were seven of us kids along with my parents who converted what would have been the living room into their bedroom.  I had to learn to share space at a very young age and didn’t have a room of my own until I was seventeen.

We called the front room the porch, partly because it was where we played and partly because it had a bunch of windows that opened up to the street below.  It seemed airy and light to me.

The memory is of my mother and one of my brothers, Greg I think, and myself, at night.  The windows were open so it must have been summer.  Sometimes we kids would lay blankets down on the parquet floors and sleep out there because the cool night air seemed to circulate better than in the small windowed bedrooms.  My Mom was sitting in a chair and my brother and I were looking out a window at the few stars that could be seen in the nighttime sky of the city.  He was pointing out the big dipper.  The memory fills me with a feeling of contentment and a sense of wonder.

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adventures in slumberland –

 

It is nearly fifty years on and now and again I look up at the stars and think back upon that earliest memory and wonder.  How did I get from there to here?  Why so many twists and turns along the way?  Have I always been looking up, head in the clouds, unable, at times, to navigate life on solid ground?

One of my nicknames as a child was Drew, the Dreamer.  I was off in my own little world.  Not sure who pinned that on me but I’d like to think it was my mother, that she saw in me an ethereal quality that has been both a burden and a blessing.  A burden, because at times, I’m often not present, and a blessing, because at other times, I’ve felt connected to the intricate web of life.  The mystery behind the curtain.

As William Blake said, “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite.”

I can be a pragmatist when it is warranted. Get things done. The Pragmatist can help clear a path to the doors.

But the Dreamer.

Well.

The Dreamer can wipe away the dust.