February 20, 2009

nine of swords

In 2006 my friend megan and I embarked on a writing project wherein we drew at random from a tarot deck each day and used the meaning of the card as a writing prompt. we made a two-person livejournal community and deposited our writing there each day. the project was relentless -- there are 78 tarot cards and after awhile they all seem to be telling you the same thing -- and though we were dedicated for a long time we eventually trickled off. there are 16 cards remaining to be written. maybe you'll see them here some day.

but in the meantime I have gone back and have begun to read what was written before. some of it surprised me.

nine of swords

nine of swords

who can forget how it felt to drive the streets of my youth in bright early autumn and feel, honestly, that although there was joy in the world, it was not for me. or the day in the coldest moment of winter when I sat in my car and did not bother to turn on the heat. my heart was broken and it felt like it would never be warm again. the carpet of the car was a sheet of ice.

I do not think of the future. I find it harder to make to-do lists or to empty the dishwasher in preparation for morning. my maternal grandmother lies lonely in a nursing home bed; last Wednesday was her birthday. I don't know if anyone visited. She was horrible to us all but she is still a person who is dying. Sometimes I think of asking her to tell me the story of her life. But she can barely speak, and would only ask me to turn up the television anyway. My grandfather, whom I have now met twice, has cancer all throughout his bones and organs. He gets thinner by the day. He told me at the dinner table, my just-acquired sister across from me, my bird-like British grandmother beside me. I could only shake my head.

on the dining room table was my sister's journal, open. She had been sharing it with friends from the grief counseling center. There was a Polaroid of Steve and his mother, taken September 30 of last year. One week before he died. He was bald, large-headed, covered in tubes. He couldn't speak. She would dab him with holy water periodically while we sat. When I saw him for the last time I think he was trying to tell me he loved me, and I could not help him say it. I felt awkward and embarrassed. Everyone was around me. Even knowing those were our last moments together did not make it possible for me to drop my defenses. He wanted me to hold his hand. He smelled terrible. Everyone sat in uncomfortable silence, feigned casualness, watching the TV overhead. The last thing I said to him before leaving to pick up the kids was "Be good, big guy." I kissed his forehead. That was the last thing I ever said to him. I had never called him 'big guy' in my life. But I could not tell him I loved him.

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