For Pop

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398 Bryan Woods Lane Lexington NC 27295
United States
35° 51' 43.542" N, 80° 13' 24.9672" W

August 9:

I was undiagnosed mixed state
it’s in the new DSM, a form of bipolar and I called the suicide hotline
I was going to drive my car until I ran out of gas and kill myself

it would be painless
Momma has a neurological condition, I could get the meds from her and OD.
My live-in boyfriend broke up with me in July, 3 days after we looked at engagement rings, through text message

Vera Wang
Style: 18628065
$ 3999.99

I was devastated

We had lived together five months
I thought we were forever
no matter who caught a fish, he told everyone I caught it
when we made love it was like our souls touched
we laughed and cried and I was so in love with him
we had food fights even though our tiny rental had carpet in the kitchen

we just rescued a lab/husky mix puppy
Jax, named for Sons of Anarchy, one of our favorite shows.

When I packed my things, just like a country song, I took the dog.
he only weighed seven pounds, he was a month old
he ate every 2-4 hours
he slept in the bed, I made a life-saving decision to take him.

Jax got his name because he hates when I cry
he hates it.
he hates when I’m upset.
even at a month old he hated it

I had, had dark thoughts before
but this was different.
There was nothing more than I wanted than to JUST STOP FUCKING EXISTING
I was crying and Jax began to whine
and whine
and whine
and whine
and he would not stop
and suddenly I realized something
when we brought him home from the shelter we made him a lifelong promise to always take care of him and to love him and do for him what he couldn’t do for himself. Then I took him. I had renewed the promise and the little shithead had no one else. Daddy didn’t love us anymore but that was okay because I could love Jax enough for the both of us.

It was humbling the next morning to admit the only reason I was still alive at all was the sniveling, worm infested crybaby fur ball in a pissy crate at the end of my bed.

Damn, it took forever and a lot of vet bills to get rid of those intestinal worms.

August 11:

I never answer the house phone
I hate it
but I did
at first the line was quiet
“NATALIE GET HERE I THINK YOUR PAPAW IS DEAD.” I hang up and call 911.

a miracle, speeding down a foggy, deer-infested road without wrecking. I could have needed paramedics myself but I beat them. I ran in, lost keys and shoes, followed by a patrol officer, gun drawn

Grandmother has him on the kitchen floor, half holding him, half attempting CPR but she is old and weak with arthritis and I have my CNA and I can do this and I pull him toward me and start, 1-30, 2 breaths, the kiss of life, eyes fixed and I truly

have never wanted anything more in my entire life never loved anyone more

3 rounds and my aunt arrives, a registered nurse who is far more qualified than me, and I am the only one who isn’t crying but she doesn’t stop me and he takes a breath and I pull him into my lap and I join the crowd with salty tears and I’m yelling in his face that I love him and he was always telling me to soften my voice because I’m partially deaf and he taps me on the leg and I take that as he knows what I did for him for this family

the paramedics arrive and I am praised as a hero even at the hospital, even though I only bought up 6 more hours

6 hours to say goodbye

but it was enough. my cousin missed his brain waves by a mere 10 minutes and I feel so goddamn guilty.

The six hours of my life that I am most thankful for in my life are the last six hours of his.

6 hours
Love, Pop
I want it tattooed on my left ribs, near my heart. I want it for him.

When it came time to pull the plug, when he was brain dead, it was mine and Grandmother’s decision but we waited for my cousin to see him. We made the final arrangements together, just the old woman and me. I was not yet 20, 55 years of life and wisdom between us. But I had tried so hard and she knew

I hope he knows that too
The best man I have ever known,
the father I never had
and I love him and have loved him and will love him until my end

(I will never forget my high school graduation when our line came in
he was the only one standing but he was clapping and
beaming with pride and so proud because I was only 17 and graduating with an AA and an AS.
I hope that’s my last memory to go.
even though he was too ill to go to my college graduation and imagine him doing it all over again)

We didn’t have a formal service, we saw people at home and the story about what I did spread to everyone who came

I had little to say and everyone understood

And I knew I had to get help, because
he was just went
he wasn’t ready to see me again so soon.

October 11:

in Sherman Oaks on vacation with my best friend
I hadn’t seen her in a year, she moved and I missed her with everything
a psychic with a feminine apartment said he took my place
FUCK it took more than my fair share of weed to close that
WOUND so IT WOULD stop BLEEDING and I WOULDN’T DIE in CALIFORNIA
all over again because Liat, my therapist wasn’t there to talk to
and there was no ONE left to take my place
and I HAD tried so hard to save
HIM, my father more than my grandfather and I would have walked through fire to have gotten to him and that police officer  who followed me at 120 mph could have shot me and I would have still broken those ribs and let that old man aspirate that shockingly sweet corn chowder (which I’ve always hated) into my mouth and I can still taste it to this day and I can feel that first breath under my hands and it felt like a miracle

to be able to take responsibility for something like that is…

and I remember when he was in ICU months before and couldn’t remember anyone’s name but he remember that inside joke of ours.

“Hey Pop.”
“Yeah?”
“Am I pretty?”
“Yeah, pretty ugly. You get it from your grandmother. That’s why I married her.”

And he looked at me with all those tubes in him after hip surgery and he said, “you! You’re UGLY!” And I said, yes Pop I’m ugly, sobbing so suddenly. And it was one of the happiest moments of my life and the nurse could have never understood it and that’s okay because it was our moment, ours

ours alone.

he was only home 5 days.

1986

Shannon Bassett died in a freak car accident
momma loved her from five years old and still loves her to this day
the road wasn't wet
she wasn’t speeding
there was no curve and she went on impact

Momma dropped out of nursing school just after
married and was divorced six weeks later to the town harlot,
the scars of being thrown into a glass coffee table still written on her heart

I repeated part of her cycle, letting my college boyfriend get doped up and hit me but therapy taught me better. I’m more assertive. I’m protective and now…growing like a sapling tree and one day I’ll be big.

I’ve always been terrified of her mistakes, her five failed marriages, all the times the men promised “I’ll be your daddy and I’ll never leave”

and they all did

But I’ve been accepted into a four-year nursing program. I already have a biology degree. I’m on the right meds. I live for me and instead of wallowing in the things I can’t change

well, I plan to build a forest
one where even the shadows are peaceful
a place Pop would be proud of
 

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