Who is this lady? She is elderly, yes. A grandma,a mother a sister, an aunt, a great grandmother. I don’t know. I have forgotten. Hang on a minute… Aaah yes there was this one time that I was sat in her house -plush, ‘propre’ , stylish and I couldn’t sleep. I kept on getting up to go to the cupboard on the far right of la cuisine that housed all the gigantic Cadbury’s chocolate. I ate and I ate and I ate some more. I always seemed to be able to eat more.
I didn’t it like it when she bought the dark kind. So bitter. So classy, so not me.
But back to la cuisine. Footsteps pander lightly behind me. I turn and look around and I look into the eyes of a lady with pure class-sans maquillage. This seems to counter my non- class evolved youthfulness. The lady asks me a question ‘Ca Va?
I’m expected to answer with the same ‘ca va.’ but it is something like 3 am in the morning. Obviously ‘ca va’ is not appropriate for this setting.
I don’t know why I can’t sleep, I confess. I’ve shoved a load of pills down my throat in an effort to be like the one whom I shall refer to as the Manic depressive. The lady sits me down and makes me a Sleepytime tisane – . Good herbal shit. We sit at the kitchen table with our ‘Sleepytime’ tea, I can’t remember what we talked about.
I have a habit of forgetting things, you see. It is so frustrating. I go back to bed feeling cared about. Why didn’t I feel grateful then?
No regrets. Have no regrets. Okay. I try not too. I wish I had paid more attention, then maybe I wouldn’t forget so much.
I can hear her laughter in that loud roomy part of my brain, it’s threatened me it will become a real auditory sound that knocks me sideways with fright turning me into a paranoid wreck.
I have to remember that laugh. She used to laugh at my jokes. She loved me. She told me she loved me all the time.
She also loved another – another woman-my mom. Angelic looking, graceful, naive and I don’t know – wonderful? This lady helped me out with the angelic-looking lady. Yes, I remember, one poignant night, the angelic-looking manic depressive and I had a vicious fight. I took a braai fork to her neck. I was fucking going out to drink and get strung out on drugs and Miss Manic Depressive could mope in her stupid illness and fuck right off.
Well, she took that big FU literally. We had this stock of prescription pills that could take our local pharmacy out of business – bad joke- that’s why I rely on comedians for such amusements (Omid Djalili and Gabriel Iglesias being two of my favourites ). Nothing like a next-day hangover and a shrill ringing phone to make me grab a handful of downers. I’m not ready for the sunshine just yet- maybe not ever. The lady on the other end of the phone wants to know if the manic depressive is okay. Of course, she is ok……
I turn over
…but she isn’t. She is one tunnel turn away from death. I need some Rohypnol and valium and I need that lady on the end of the phone.
She says she is going to get the next one hour flight from JHB airport to Durban and I need to get the manic depressive to a hospital. I don’t have health insurance. I’m 15 years old.
A cocky shit who obviously knows it all but nevertheless in my narked upstate I somehow manage to get the angelic Manic Depressive a space in a run-down public hospital in Africa – in a- I kid you not – broom closet. Sick people were lying on the floors, covered in congealed blood, in the corridors of this hospital. So I count my blessings that we had some type of room and a bed.
The lady meets me at the hospital. It’s touch and go. We are rooting for survival on this one. Black tar leaks down out through a tube from some part of the manic depressive’s body.
She is okay- stable.
She is in a coma.
The Lady transfers her to a more upmarket private hospital. She has the master card. We spend the night next few days at the Oyster Box hotel – in a chalet. She takes on me and my two cats. Lilac and Mocha- and we all sleep in the same bed united by our love for the angelic manic depressive one.
We don’t know if she is ever going to walk again. I mean it was an overdose with powerful intent. No, pithy cry for help as some believes a suicide attempt is. The angelic manic depressive has a new name angelic, rapid cycler Bipolar.lady in The other lady is my grandma- as you probably have figured out. We go and see her every week. She broke her hip back in Feb 2015 and can’t walk anymore.
Okay… so that happens with a lot of old people. Yeah, but this lady, my grandma has been stripped of her dignity, identity, memories, and she can’t remember she can’t walk. She is stuck on a loop – every few moments she tries to get up and screams in frustration when she can’t. This lady sitting in the middle is my relationship with someone I love who has Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
I know I’m not writing something fucking profound but she means something to me and her family. She is living a world with no faces, no colour and the world speaks another language to her. How is she meant to interpret all this shit?! People talking. Loudly?
Other elderly people not moving- crying, shouting, fondling themselves to remember that they too can feel. My Chronic Anorexia 10 stone self could envy my grandma’s current weight. 5 stone if that. She forgets how to eat. Imagine that?
What type of existence is this?
This is where I get political. Let people die with dignity.
I signed up for the campaign years ago. Who is this lady? She is so much more than she looks. She has had a life people probably can’t even dream up and a life where people would also be horrified how she survived such heartache, ( love is the answer here, folks) but for today we can’t go back into the past too much without forgetting. I don’t want to forget, not today. Those two memories I can hang and frame in the gallery of my mind. They are mine. No one can take them away from me but Alzheimer’s can. Dementia too. You know what really makes me sick about all this? When a person with these illnesses die, Alzheimer’s and Dementia don’t take the credit. The diagnosis of death is usually a secondary symptom. How twisted and messed up is that?
Does she remember her husband? Where does she go?
I should have been a Neuroscientist or something. I want to know what is going on in her head and fix it. All clichés but they are my clichés for today. Can you believe people are being diagnosed with these maladies at as young as 25 years of age?
I would rather choose to die than have everything taken from me. Would my Grandma say the same? I wish I had asked her.
Me: ‘So Gran, let’s talk about something so morbid as to how you would like to die.. ‘
I’m putting it out there. Me? I don’t want to suffer and I don’t want to feel pain and I don’t want to not be understood. That is not living that is stuck between two perverse worlds. I want my family to pay the ferryman and for him to take the money and take me along the river Styx to Elysium and let me die with dignity.
Information on the dying dignity campaign http://www.dignityindying.org.uk
Bahtuhkid · my thoughts about the past
When I think I’ve escaped the past
I know my Ma doesn’t drink alcohol and she Sort of kicked me out without kicking my ass.
My daughter cried
Tatiana didn’t meow
I came back to the place where I thought I would relapse
I went to buy cat food
shop was closed
memories of that drug dealer who shine bright with implanted teeth
£4000 inclusive holiday
I could have gnashed
Instead, I congratulated him for his holly wood smile with panache.
Using my money to fulfill another dream — one more ticked off his bucket list
It’s so sad
I’m back in the house
haunted by ghosts of the past.
Mother wouldn’t let me in
steam off on a legal poison
Get Sleep with Prosecco & a gin with a 60 pence glass.
Daughter cried I packed my bags
I saw her cry for our cat
I packed up all my bags
And walked out like an immature twocker
with a dirty rash.
DIDI WANT TO SCORE THE GREATEST OF THE GREATEST OF SNIFF?
Nah, all I wanted was freedom & to sleep without alcohol and illegal grass or bash.
Here I sit in darkness not happy to be back.
I have a packet of lamberts and Prosecco I’m NOT interested in drinking until I’m befokkered.
I won’t sleep
Forever forgotten all thoughts that made me high
Making drug dealers run for corruption, greed, and bite so compared to ash Wednesday like sinners driving by.
My bee she cried for my Tatiana
Guilt came flooding for sleep in a bed
where my inner whore rode the men who treat me like trash
Except for my soul mate …
He told me to fuck off and I gladly said
Went to the shop
Found spring water tuna-I
Felt Less guilty
felt less crass.
Went against the momma bears rule.
I’m a wildflower with an instinct to rebel from life rules.
THE FALLEN ANGEL WITH INVISIBLE WINGS
If chickens could fly higher I’d fly higher than the dragon from the land of sniff ready to rape
fOr an extra taste.
In coma 5 days x another 5
In a coma, I remembered the alien abduction
Their torture made me atone to live life differently
I’d even believe in mom’s anointment of Jesus Christ.
Thorns of roses
Thorns of self-destruction.
Alone with my cat — my husband won’t come back-
My child is probably still crying.
I’m alone again
I can’t complain
This was my choice.
I want to sleep
Dream of our family home
help those who shouldn’t live a history worse than orphans blurred vision live on the African continent
Not their decision.
*written on 13 June at 11 pm. 2020 ( today is 29th June and still wanting to Live)
I didn’t relapse. I didn’t want to get high. I had a drink because I needed to sleep and I’m on sleeping medication 5 days a week out of 7. I’ve asked my doctor to take me off 15 mg of Nitrazepam that I had been since 2007.
It three weeks since I tried to take my life and nearly succeeded, maybe Life is not finished with me yet because my family were told to prepare for my death, brain damage or me being paralyzed*
I have been quiet on the WRAP front – wellness recovery action plan. Only for the reason, I knew this testimonial video would be available for YOU and others who want to take their life in their hands and have a plan for if it all goes down the toilet.
– Experiences, Benefits and Rewards</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/janeyoung”>Jane
Young @ earth</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>
Anyway, here it is. I think it will have more of a powerful effect on those of you who do decide to watch it. Instead of me waffling about it over 12 weeks on camera. If you want to to do WRAP and are not in a physical place close to where I live. You can still do it via my WRAP page. No costs – for free. Or you can go to the founder of WRAP-Mary Ellan Copeland‘s website and pay for the various material (if it is not free) that can be found on this website. It all about you. It is all about what you want to get out of it.
I have found out so much about myself and what I am like, what I enjoy, what makes me happy, what keeps me well, what works, what doesn’t work, what I want people in my life to do if I have a meltdown.
Here we all are, sitting around the circular dining room table- flecked with bits of gold.
Ma sits under a hanging portrait of this Christmas just gone. Three weeks ago. We are all smiling in it including Poppy. Poppy sits playing with her Annabelle doll, on my husband’s lap. Sat opposite from Ma, closest to the electric fire hearth is Gran.
I find myself sitting across from Gran. An iciness breathes mist over us. It separates me from them, cloaks me in a fog.
I try to swallow. The air is so thick it chokes me, I’m forced to put my hands to my throat. Nobody notices me. Nobody notices me the way they used to. I tune into the conversation-taking place.
‘Of course I’m not suggesting this is your fault. I should have known. Done more…’ Nan bursts into tears.
A cry out for:
I need attention I’m suffering the most.
My skin bristles. Nan pulls her scarf tighter around her neck, and then throws out a familiar comment about it being draughty.
‘You know I could catch pneumonia with my Asthma.’ She coughs. Ma gets up to put on the electric fire.
‘I didn’t take her seriously. You know what Angie was like?’
Ma’s eyes are red as the rosary beads she is thumbing; she looks over to an unusually quiet Poppy.
‘Did she just do it to spite me?’ How could she just leave her own…?’
My husband throws a warning look at Ma,
‘Marie, for Poppies sake. Our Angie suffered more than she let on.’ Ma sits back down. ‘Let’s put on a cartoon, luv?’
Poppy shakes her head.
She doesn’t look at us.
I look straight at her, willing her to leave this table. Leave this conversation. She lifts her head and looks me dead on in the eyes. I instinctively smile. Eddie and me always stood together when it came to Poppy.
Her face is pale, her eyes sunken, her skin is drawn in so tight I can see cheek bones protrude. Beneath her eyes veiled shadows betray her youthful face.
She clings onto Annabelle, still looking me dead on in the eyes.
‘When’s Mummy coming home?’
Silence. Her words enmesh with the silence. Her question disarms me. Marks me. The arrow leaves its bow splintering my heart.
I open my mouth to scream out as many words as I can. Condensation steams the air distilling me into silence. I reach my hand across the table to grab hers.
She doesn’t see me. I glare at my family sitting at the round table. They say nothing. Smothering themselves in sorrow, they witheringly curl inwards. I urge to shake them, uproot them from winters glaze.
-Answer her. Answer my daughter!
Instead, Gran succumbs to a puddle of wrinkled tears, mechanically Ma gets off her chair, attempts to console Gran and naturally it’s up to Eddie to mediate.
My calm, rational Eddie. His eyes read as vacant –his beard is wild and unkempt. It’s impossible to read his face.
He clears his throat,
‘We’re gonna see Mummy when we give her… say a proper goodbye.’
Gran flounders in her anglers net of remorse. Great splotchy splashes of grief escape. She wails,
‘She’s with the angels –looking down at you, darling!’
I roll my eyes. Of course I love her! Lately, she grates my skin more frequently with her, melodramatics.
– Confess how you truly feel. Relieved!
I’m so fixated on evoking a response from Gran; unnoticed, a light flickers with an intensity to match my own. Eddie carries Poppy over to the sofa, sits her down to watch a cartoon. He covers her with a blanket then kisses her forehead.
‘We’ll see mummy soon? To say goodbye?’
Eddie nods his head, his voice cracks.
‘When will mummy come back from saying goodbye? In spring? My teacher says it’s winter – everything goes to sleep like her?’ Poppy points to ‘Sleeping Beauty’ on the television.
Eddie focuses on the image. The Prince is just about to kiss Aurora on the lips. He turns his head away from the television before he can see Aurora wake up to her true loves kiss. He grinds down on his teeth. Poppy’s eyes remain transfixed on the television. Eddie gets up, crosses the dining room table; I’m compelled to follow him, I have to stop him. Tell him I’m still here. I haven’t gone anywhere. I’ve so much to tell him.
-There is no God! We were right all along. Religion is for people who can’t think for themselves. We were right to take the piss.
Eddie flinches, puts his hands in his jean pockets. I follow him down Ma’s hallway and into the bathroom. He closes the door on me. It doesn’t ever close fully. I slip through the crack of the door that is always ajar.
Head down. Still. He sits on the toilet seat. I kneel down before him; go to lay my head on his knee. He flinches again. Hits himself in the head. Bangs his fist on the wall screams out:
‘Why? We could’ve figured it out, you fucking stubborn mare’ I bring out the best and worst in Eddie. Till death do us part. What are the chances?
He still refuses to let me go. Stubborn.
My symptoms intensify in the days leading up to the funeral. Everything‘s heightened especially emotions that seemingly walk precariously on stilts. I can’t walk through walls or levitate. Nothing like any of the horrors Eddie and me used to watch together, on the sofa.
Unheard, I bellow continuously,
-Just let me go!
Every time I hear my name called reflections of nostalgia flash and beam over and around me. Prompted, I gravitate towards the source. Someone needs me. These past three weeks, I’ve been teleported from one conversation to another. I find myself in a room; familiar or not familiar, with people I know and people I don’t know.
Today I’m summoned to the usual bickering between Ma and Gran. The familiar sound of Gran’s kettle boils in the background.
‘I want that picture of her on her graduation day and flowers- blown up .With azaleas. And roses – she loved roses- pink.’
‘She hates that picture! And she loves- loved yellow roses…’ Ma’s wobbly voice mirrors her jelly struck legs propping her up in her work shoes. She staggers backwards. Like the black dog with a bone, Gran won’t give in,
‘No, she’s my eldest grand daughter and I know her – it is… was pink!’
Ma sits down, doesn’t speak. I go over to her to put my arms around her then she dissolves into tears. Gran bulldozes her way over to us. Intimidated, I move out of her way. Gran holds Ma and Ma lets Gran hug her. Ma calms down, mentions something about pink and yellow roses
Vexed, I shriek
– don’t back down Ma, I love yellow. Yellow roses. The kettle whistles for attention. My voice is lost to an object.
‘I’ll go make that cup of tea’ Nan retreats to her kitchen.
Another opportunity to get close to Ma again. I need to hug her, give her some of my energy. As if on cue, Mum’s tear-stained face crumples just like my heart. A poking hot iron burns a hole right through it. Gran re-enters the room I scarper.
‘Here you go, love. Lost three of my own …, as you know, mind, they never got to Angie’s age. Yellow’s more of a quirky colour like our Angie… was.’ They smile at each other. I move back, the distance seems to illuminate their smiles.
Tonight, I beg for there to be a heaven. This has to be hell. The familiar, incongruous, gravitational pull lures me out of my cavernous abyss. I blink my eyes several times to focus: orientate myself. Hung up around the wall are vintage Disney posters. My eyes settle on Poppies bed. Eddie bends over Poppy and kisses her goodnight,
‘Mummy loves you just as much as I do.’ He tucks her in.
He switches off the light before walking out. I stand and watch my worn out daughter in her bed. She sings herself to sleep just as she does every night. She sings our song: twinkle twinkle little star. With each inflection of her sweet singing voice, the words serve as a needle. Each word stipulates smelting hot ink into my flesh. My neck is ablaze. Before closing her eyes, she whispers,
‘I love you mummy.’
When I reply, scorching chains wrap and lasso me around my neck. My skin swells up in blisters. The familiar sound of her breathing evaporates the pain. I need to be close to her, I need to smell her, kiss her. Carelessly, I run over to her bed to touch her sleeping head. Startled I lunge backward as Poppy instantly wakes up screaming.
– I’m powerless
. Eddie barges into the room, throws on the light and takes Poppy into his arms. I watch her body stiffen; then relax. I watch him settle my daughter back to sleep. My hands ball into tight fists.
-She must know I’m here.
Before I can touch her face, she wakes up screaming like – like she has seen a- ghost.
-I’m that Ghost! I put my hands to my mouth in horror.
Envy bubbles inside me as I witness Eddie consoling Poppy again. I’m half hoping he won’t succeed.
What kind of a mother am I?
I’ve been telling everyone to let me go.
Where will I go?
I can’t drive, no one can see me. There are no other lost souls wondering about telling me to join the dead community!
I won’t give up on my daughter. She needs me. I have to be here.
The stroke of our clock announces its time; a primitive realisation slithers down my very core. Nausea spirals up into my throat. I run into our bathroom, heave over the toilet, nothing comes out. I catch sight of my reflection in the mirror; I see vicious V-shaped welts where the noose of the rope has cut into my neck. This is what Eddie came home to.
The cloying black dog of depression haunted me. Its delivered dose of pain was exquisite- nothing took it away. Not drinking, overdosing, drugging myself, talking-nothing. Eventually, I told it to sit down. I told Eddie repeatedly,
– I just want to disappear.
– How can I help you? His eyes pleaded for an answer. I would always lash out,
-Unless you help me disappear, you can’t!
I remained imprisoned in our bed and he would go back to work and look after Poppy and the house. He could walk away from me. I couldn’t. I resent him for that. I can see myself now, googling the various ways people commit suicide. One article struck my eye ‘Men are more successful at committing suicide’.
-They don’t mess about with poisoning themselves –they resort to more violent means.
That is the moment I reached out to the wrong Alpha.
The black dog and I began sleeping together. It became my obsession. Up-close, I could analyse it, experiment with it. As a couple, it didn’t take much to find that Alpha rage. One phone call from Ma,
-Just snap out of it. If you’re going to do it, get on with it.
-Fine, I will! I hung up on her before she could hang up on me.
My impulsiveness finds me trapped within this mirror. It’s cold. Everything I read is back to front. Everything I do is back to front. It doesn’t reflect my true intentions. When I reach out, in fact, the more I reach out the more pain I inflict. I back away from the mirror until I’m pressed up, with my back against the bathroom wall.
What have I done?
What right do I have trying to tell my family how to deal with their loss?
Eddie will never know that I was messing about; I didn’t know if I could actually go through with it. From a great height in a corner of the bathroom my body feels cut loose from itself. I can see it happen in front of my eyes. Like a rerun episode, I can’t pause. The noose around my neck, in the shower. Steam shrouds the mirror, with slippery feet, I accidently knock myself off that chair and in that moment I realise,
– I don’t want to die.
I can’t scream and tell anyone. I made the decision when I decided to sleep with my enemy. I’ve interrupted the natural course of life. A lost soul in life: a lost soul in death. There are no bright lights to come with this epiphany. I exit the bathroom, stumble down the staircase, out the front door, and walk aimlessly down the street. I sense a familiar pair of eyes examining me; I look up and see the black dog in its true form. It waits for me to catch up. We walk side by side. I don’t look back. I am the one preventing people from moving on. I have to let go.
*TMA Submition for Open University- Year one MA -Creative writing- fiction genre