Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Haunting

I have a ghost. The haunting has gone on for as long as I can remember it and it's getting worse, lately. Sometimes I try to write about it in an attempt to make sense of it but it's difficult. I almost never talk about it because it's very hard to put into words. I'll try here.

There is something very deep inside me, in my soul, I suppose. It's so deep I've never seen it fully, just feel it's presence. All of the time. It's always here, sometimes more evident than other times but always it's with me. Always. It feels sort of like a river that runs under the ground, it's current swift and sure and deep. Very deep. And it's old. Much older than I.

I'm not sure what it is, I only know how it feels and some of the things that make me feel it more strongly. I feel it in museums. Inside the two earth lodges I've been in up in Nebraska. It's in old houses and in the old houses I dream about so often. It was in my Mom's bed the last visit I made to see her when I laid down for a nap one afternoon and smelled her on the pillow and saw my grandmother's lamp on her nightstand. It made me cry.

It's in the long, waving prairie grass and in the log cabins at Silver Dollar City. It's in the sound of Irish music and the smell of a campfire and that of the coffee I boil in the blue enamel fleck coffee pot my friend, Mr. Toon gave me.

The smell of tomato vines and the dry air in my workshop loft and the full moon. And I know I'm suppose to write about it or what it tells me to write but I just can't quite hear what it's saying to me. I can't quite understand the message. I can tell that sometimes I'm very "warm" but just can't quite comprehend. It doesn't leave me alone, no matter what. It's as if I'm meant to do something, write something or paint something and it gets more urgent the longer I wait. The urgency is almost deafening now. It's not going to be ignored. It haunts me continuously.

My therapist (you knew there was a therapist somewhere in this story, didn't you?) said a door is open to me and that doors don't stay open forever. That I must act or the door will eventually close. I know he's right about the door being open. But I don't know if its ever going to close. I hope it waits for me to figure it out. To understand what the ghost is trying to tell me.

As I go through the days I recognize things that are connected to it. An ER patient we got one day who was struck by a train. His face looked like chopped beef, his toenails were long and twisted and on his scrawny chest was an unfinished tattoo that said, "Prope of Estelle (somebody)". He was connected. I don't know how, I just know he was. The smell of lavender. Moonlight. Lying on my belly at the end of our dock watching the fish and turtles and the reflection of the fat clouds in the glass-like, still surface of the water. That's all connected. The way I could see the grief hanging in the trees outside our RV parked in my daughter and son-in-law's driveway the 6 weeks following the death of my granddaughter, Anna in 2006. I could still see it even at night from my bed inside. It hung in the trees near my daughter and her husband's bedroom on the second floor.

I'm suppose to do something with all of that and millions of other things that nudge me when I see them or think about them. I just can't figure out what. What do I say about them? How do I express it all?

I'm a bit disappointed in myself for not following my heart. And I think the ghost is disappointed, as well. I feel its disappointment and its refusal to accept my procrastination to do what I know I'm suppose to be doing. And I feel a strong sense of urgency. Time is running out, it seems to be saying. There's only so much time. Hurry up and figure it out.

I fear I'll die before I understand what it's telling me to do. Death is a big part of what it's telling me about. People aren't here forever. I'm not going to be here forever. I see it every day in the ER. People in their 40s and 50s dropping dead. A guy tonight. 44. Dead. I've got to hear what it's saying to me.

I dream at night about big, old, empty houses. Huge houses. And sometimes there are sounds coming from the basements. Or there's a feeling in the house and it paralyzes me and I can't scream and I can't run. I'm paralyzed. I'm not doing what I'm suppose to be doing.

Other people just get up in the morning and go to work and do what they're suppose to with a smile on their face and come home and mow the lawn and eat supper and watch something on mainstream television and go to bed and never think about it. Just live their lives without asking questions. Without a ghost. I've never been like that. I've always had this ghost trying to tell me to do something but not quite talking loud enough for me to hear it.

Pray that that someday I can hear.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Me & Mother Abigail

I have a new fantasy. When I need to go to sleep I put on the thunder on my sound machine and I imagine I'm sitting on the porch of an old, dilapidated farmhouse in front of acres and acres of grass that's waving in the wind in Nebraska and there's a thunderstorm coming. I pretend I live there and write stories for a living and never go to work at a hospital. I love that fantasy. It makes me feel like Mother Abigail in The Stand. I'm absolutely haunted by the idea.

I've never been much for reality. Never. Why is that? And more importantly, why can't I find a way to live a different reality that I'm comfortable with? One thing is this: I buy stuff because I'm trying to fill the void I have from not doing what my heart tells me to do. Then I have to do more of what my heart doesn't tell me to do in order to pay for all that stuff. And then I get even further away from my heart.

I asked my husband the other day if we could take enough money out of retirement to pay off enough bills so that I could stay home with him. He said we just can't and I understand that but I also know that the chances are that by the time I can afford to stay home with him, he'll be dead. I know it as well as I'm sitting here in the dark typing on my laptop at 12:48am listening to him snore beside me. And I told him that but he doesn't think it's a good idea. So we'll spend our years together like this. Me working and being so incredibly emotionally spent by the fucking insanity of a hospital emergency room that I have absolutely nothing left for anybody on my days off, including....no...especially him. And I'll order another movie or another book or some colonics equipment to fill the void inside me.