Friends drove Mary Beth to her radiation sessions and sometimes to her favorite ice cream shop on the half-hour drive back from the hospital. She always ordered a chocolate malt. Extra thick.
Our family feasted for months on the lovingly prepared dishes brought by friends from work and church and the neighborhood: chicken breasts encrusted with parmesan, covered safely in tin foil; pots of thick soup with hearty bread; bubbling pans of lasagna and macaroni and cheese. There were warm home-baked rolls in tea towel-covered baskets, ham with dark baked pineapple rings, scalloped potatoes, and warm pies overflowing with the syrups of cherries or apples.
Leftovers piled up in the refrigerator, and soon the freezer filled up too, this tsunami of food offerings an edible symbol of our community’s abundant generosity.
Although few said the word breast unless it belonged to a chicken, many friends were familiar with the word cancer and said it often, without flinching. They asked how we were doing, sent notes and cards, passed along things they’d read about treatments and medications, emailed links to good recovery websites and the titles of helpful books, called frequently, placed gentle if tentative hands on shoulders, spoke in low and warm tones, wondered if we had enough food. The phrase we heard most was: “If there’s anything I can do ... ”
In the following months, after Mary Beth had begun speaking in full sentences again and could stay awake for an entire meal, the stored foods in the freezer ran out, and we began cooking on our own again. Our children, Nick and Maggie, sometimes complained jokingly about our daily fare. “Someone should get cancer so we can eat better food,” they’d say. And we actually laughed.
* * *
Almost a decade later, our daughter, Maggie, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with bipolar disorder, following years of secret alcohol and drug abuse.
No warm casseroles.
At 19, she was arrested for drug possession, faced a judge, and was placed on a probation program. Before her hearings, we ate soup and grilled cheese in a restaurant near the courthouse, mere booths away from the lawyers, police officers, and court clerks she might later see.
No scalloped potatoes in tinfoil pans.
Maggie was disciplined by her college for breaking the drug and alcohol rules. She began an outpatient recovery program. She took a medical leave from school. She was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, diagnosed, released. She began years of counseling, recovery meetings, and intensive outpatient rehabilitation. She lived in a recovery house, relapsed, then spent seven weeks in a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center.
No soup, no homemade loaves of bread.
Maggie progressed well at the treatment center. When the insurance coverage on inpatient treatment ran out for the year, she was transferred to a “partial house” where she and other women slept at night then were returned by van to the facility for full days of recovery sessions, meals, volleyball games, counseling, and horticultural therapy. This daughter who once stayed as far away from my garden as possible lest I catch a whiff of my stolen whiskey on her breath was now planting a garden herself, arranging painted rocks around an angel statue donated by a counselor, carrying buckets of water to nurture impatiens, petunia, delphinium, and geranium.
Friends talk about cancer and other physical maladies more easily than about psychological afflictions. Breasts might draw blushes, but brains are unmentionable. These questions are rarely heard: “How’s your depression these days?” “What improvements do you notice now that you have treatment for your ADD?” “Do you find your manic episodes are less intense now that you are on medication?” “What does depression feel like?” “Is the counseling helpful?” A much smaller circle of friends than those who’d fed us during cancer now asked guarded questions. No one ever showed up at our door with a meal.
We drove nearly five hours round trip each Sunday for our one weekly visiting hour. The sustenance of food, candy, and fiction were forbidden as gifts to patients at the treatment center. Instead, we brought Maggie cigarettes, sketchbooks, colored pencils, and phone cards. Any beef roasts or spaghetti dinners we ate were ones we’d prepared ourselves or bought in a restaurant on the long road to the center.
Then, late one night in June, Maggie and another patient were riding in the treatment center’s van on the way back to their house after a full day of the hard work of addiction recovery. The number of patients in the partial house had diminished from six a few days before, after a scandal involving small bags of ground coffee some smuggled from the house to the center and sold as though it were cocaine to addicts craving real coffee. (The center, like many, served only decaf.) Dozing off and comfortable in the seat behind the driver, Maggie might have been thinking of those coffee dealers who had been returned to the main facility or dismissed. Or maybe she was thinking about the upcoming wedding of her brother, Nick. A light pink bridesmaid’s dress waited in her closet at our house. Her release from the center was scheduled for two days before she and Mary Beth were to fly to Wisconsin for the wedding.
That night, an oncoming speeding car hit the van head-on.
The medics radioed for helicopters, and soon the air over Chester County, Pa., was full of them, four coming from Philadelphia, Coatesville, and Wilmington, one for each patient. The accident site was soon a garish roadside attraction of backboards, neck braces, IV tubes, oxygen tanks, gurneys, strobing lights, the deep thumping of helicopter blades, and the whine of turbines.
A newspaper picture later showed five firefighters, all in full gear, lifting a woman from a van—only her feet and an edge of the backboard visible. The van’s roof, dark and torn and jagged in the picture, had been removed by hydraulic cutters while the huddled victims, Maggie unconscious among them, were carefully covered with blankets. One of her front teeth lay in a puddle of blood on the ground.
When we saw her in the hospital, her face was a swollen mass of stitches, bruises, and torn flesh. Brown dried blood was still caked in her ears. Mary Beth carefully cleaned it with a licked paper towel, as if she were gently wiping Maggie’s face of grape jelly smudges or white donut powder just before Sunday school. At first, Maggie only remembered headlights, but soon she would mention “a cute EMS tech waking me up,” and the muffled chattering of helicopters.
The day she was released from the hospital, Maggie insisted on returning to the rehab center to complete her program, a heroine in a wheelchair among heroin addicts and alcoholics. On the way there, we stopped at a restaurant for lunch, where Maggie ate mashed potatoes, a little soup, and sucked a mango smoothie through a straw held carefully where her tooth was missing. Back at the center, we rolled her out to see her garden.
While Maggie was in the hospital, cards and letters filled our mailbox at home. For the two weeks that Maggie remained in rehab, and even while she flew to the Midwest, then wore her pink dress at Nick’s wedding and danced triumphantly with her cousins, offers of food crackled from our answering machine and scrolled out on email: “If there’s anything I can do ... ”
I have thought about it for a long time now and through my entire child hood with the beatings and the bullying in school the let downs in constant life situations, with all the effort i have put in and as far i have come from where i was i still have nothing to show for it. So really rather than be a burden on those around me and try anything like seeking help or talking to people, i will avoid crutches and just go ahead and end my life, people are always talking about you shouldnt because it destroys families and i have so much to live for but why should i care about my family since i don't have one.i have always done everything to help others and never received the same in return, and i busted my ass(im 31) to get into school, work, but what is it all for i have so called friends, but none of them actually care i could never count on them, i have no love life whatsoever no girl wants to be around some depressed average white guy. im uderley worthless in all aspects i changed my diet and worked out 2 hours a day for 3 months and instead of my body doing what it should do i stayed fat and bulked up on muscle so now im heavier,i have accomplished nothing worth anything and my skills are all worthless. so now that i have proven why my death is necessary all that is left is how to do it, so i want to go quickly, i dont have money for a gun, so i need a rather quick but non painful way to die that is a 100% effectiveness
- Current Location:really doesn't matter
A man gets lost in the hills and is surrounded by wolves. Suddenly an old grey wolf with shiny eyes appears, makes all other wolfs stay back, and leads the man to a small church on the bottom of a hill. The man enters the house of god in which everything starts to change. The wolf turns into a beautiful woman. They both fall into love on first sight and love each other on different occasions in the church, but then the man recognizes the black devil in the church and must face that the girl is kissed by the devil. He starts discussing with “Angel” (the name of the girl) and she tells him her dramatic fate: Angel was chosen by supernatural force to guard the church and made a pact with the devil. She has one year’s time to find a replacement for herself. If she’s not successful she has to die. If she is successful she can leave the frightening place but will lose her memory. The man sadly lets her go and gets almost crazy because of heartache and isolation. In his desperation he starts to destroy the church and explores a hidden path who leads to underground catacombs. Spiders and rats reign there and everything's full of human bones. The man hears a scream from the inside of a mummy. He runs back into the church and a mysterious being tells him that there exists no god or devil but everybody’s just marionettes. The man’s shocked and starts to doubt the sense of life. He desperately asks himself: Why am I here? Where does life begin or end? Is the universe just a grain of sand on a huge beach? The man loses his faith in life, he can’t accept what he has seen and hangs himself due to desperation and pain. a haunting monologue:
"Upon the Cross he did not die, they tortured him, but he survived. Smuggled across the open sea, to Southern France, tranquility. There he married Magdalene, and founded another dynasty. A church was built upon a hill, to serve all of the gods at will."
- Current Location:nowhere special
- Current Mood: complacent
I pretty much have always hated life - well thats not true.. I don't have the energy to hate life. I'm just so tired and I feel like life is just one long depressing chore that I'd rather not have been assigned. Blah blah.. anyways I've always been told that if you take your own life you will go to Hell which shouldn't be true if this gift is free and impossible to get rid of.
I still love God I just don't have the passion for life and never have. I just get up and fake everyday because this damn body keeps gettting up every morning and I don't want to leave this earth and burn eternally. I don't want to go from bad to worse but I feel that if you don't want to be here why should you have to stay? I didn't ask to be here. I know what they'll all say, they'll say if you truly had accepted Jesus that your life would change and that you would have a desire to stay and please God ect.. Not so because I do believe and I hate this sin filled world I hate myself and I'm so tired of sinning.
This is no place for someone like me and I don't think God likes watching me suffer. I just want relief. I want to cut God a deal like ok I can off myself and not go to Heaven or Hell just back to wherever I was before I was born. I was fine then. I know I can- not exist- because I didn't exist once so it is definetly possible. I don't really expect you to write me back and say "Sure! off yourself, youll be fine tell God I said whats up!", but please answer me honeslty. If I truly have accepted his gift (I hate it when the truly word is used like you could not truly accept. I accept ok, I accept again and again, I know its true ok, I believe.) and I commit suicide cleanly and clear up all ties (not go out in a hail of bullets sining ect.) will I still go to Heaven? More importantly, will I not go to Hell and suffer worse and go "damn that was stupid!" for all of eternity?
I just want nothingness again and I don't think that is too much to ask. I pray to God every night to take my life but neg results. Every morning I wake up. I know that this is a hard question to answer honeslty but try to tell me the unbiased truth because I know I'm gonna do it anyways. It's just a matter of time. Another quick question I have is do you know if when you die we goto nothingness until judgementy day (possibly bliss for a thousand years) and then are suddenly woke up and judged and could then be sent to Hell? Meaning possibly everyone that has died is still in pergatory or something awaiting judgement and they don't even realize that they are dead yet. Like its nothingness and I'm like yes! It worked then 1000 years later I'm like oh crap as I fall downward. Any help or insight would be appreciated. Thanks
- Current Location:WHO GIVES A SHIT?
- Current Mood: worried
- Current Music:Koffin Kats-Blue Eyed Drug
- Current Location:HELL
- Current Mood: bitchy
- Current Music:Cock Sparrow-Because your young
5 days after turning 30,I find myself paddling the same canoe over and over again...Just this time,I'm ready to tip it over and drown myself...I get put down for no reason,made fun of,Stabbed in the back,Abused to no end and there is no end of it sight...I don't even know why I write on here anymore,I never get any comments or anything...no one ever offers to give me help or advice and I'm tired of it and it's pathetic that people only show up to hurt me or cause me pain,but not anymore...I'm tired of it...I'm tired of always getting hurt and abused and beaten and broken...I'm a person...I'm too tired to fight back anymore...
Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.
- Current Location:ready to move to the After Life
- Current Mood:sick,Weak,tired and Depressed
I'm So Polluted and I just can't hide it...I know I know I'm way passed Buzzed...I got a bottle of Jameson Irish Whisky and a 24 pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon from a friend for a b-day present and since I haven't eaten in 2 days,I figure I should enjoy the booze...also took 2 vicodin's...my damn gmail account is acting up :( people's emails in my contacts goes to either spam or trash and that just sucks to no end so I am trying to fix that...and people like to call me right when my battery is almost dead and when I can't take the call...I don't like that...and the ex did something stupid...Surprise surprise...5 weeks ago I asked for my social security card and I got the lame excuse of I can't find it...well she decided to write the number down on a fucking piece of paper...i know my own fucking Social Security number...I only use the Fucking thing every fucking day I apply for a fucking Job...I need the actual card so I can get general assistance and if I get a job,I can get paid...writing it down on a piece of paper Is just plain STUPID...it also proves they don't give a shit about me and they are messing with my stuff...That's a NO-NO...so since that is a federal government issued Document,I can press even more charges against her :) yay she deserves some time in jail and needs a nice dose of reality....they keep thinking I'm bluffing but I am not Fucking around anymore...
Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.
- Current Location:a street in the East Bay
- Current Mood:tired,Fatigued
Yes,I had my Birthday on 2/17 and yet I really didn't get to celebrate it...surprise surprise...can't believe how many Selfish mother fuckers I'm aquatinted with...jeez Louise...I did go to the Oakland Metro to see the Old Firm Casuals-Lars from Rancid's new band...not bad,they played with the forgotten and a few others...had me a pabst blue ribbon also...not bad not bad...no gifts and not too many happy birthdays and not one from the mother fucker I pissed 9 years of my life away on...what a Selfish fucker....Rude RUDE RUDE!!!!!
Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.
- Current Location:US, California, Castro Valley, Alameda, Grove Way, 2722