April 5, 2013


Me and my chair buddy and my favorite t-shirt and all the lines on my face, and that thing I do where I pull one part of my mouth to the left and just kind of leave it there for the entirety of my public life.

And you know what? Maybe I DO want to talk about my dead mom all the time! DEAD MOM DEAD MOM DEAD MOM! I want to talk about it — her — the whole thing, and I don’t want to talk about anything else, so how about that?

Hey! For the last few years of her life, my mother was mentally ill, bankrupt, in poor physical health, and living in filth! How fucking horrible is that! REALLY FUCKING HORRIBLE, OKAY? And I knew she was going to die — I spent every fucking minute between 2009 and…now…worried every time the phone rang or even when it didn’t, thinking about the neglected animals suffering in their home that the ASPCA somehow couldn’t rescue,* in nigh-constant agony and guilt and shame and anger and grief and existential despair, unable to do a fucking thing. And I don’t think I realized that, until I looked back at my notebook from May, and saw how I’d been living day to day. This is the problem with journaling, and the problem with blogging, and the problem with therapy — your own words wind up confronting you with things you didn’t want to know, things you would take any amount of drug or sleep or spending to avoid knowing.

My mom died the day after Thanksgiving 2012. It was of course a Friday, and I had gone to the office for a few hours in the morning, where I started a document with the words, “I spoke to my mother the other night, for what may be the last time, for all I know.” I was trying to write about the last time I spoke to her, which was Thursday, November 9, when she hung up on me. I didn’t necessarily want to write about that call, but I knew that I had to get the dialogue and the details down on paper, for who knew what future use. I did not find out until the next day that she died while I was at the office writing about her, making those words come true.

I understand that, along with waterboarding, one of the most effective tactics of torture is forcing someone to watch a loved one suffer in front of them while they can do nothing. And that describes the last four years of my life. I know I’m not alone in this; I imagine that anyone who’s watched a loved one fight a fatal illness knows it well. I personally know people who have had it much worse than me on this score, and still, I’m going to crawl way out on this tree branch here and say mine was pretty fucking bad, and that sometimes I really don’t know how I’m functional at all, considering how incredibly, extremely ill my mother was for my entire life.**** And I’m really angry and really upset, and I feel like hell. I want to find someone to be nasty and mean and sarcastic to, and to scream at, and to blame — well, I already have the blame guy, but he’s so pathetic and mentally ill that being nasty and sarcastic to him would not even be fun. But if you know anybody who might be a good candidate for the verbal abuse and the screaming, like some asshole bully or something, I am on it. I should get myself a Sparring Bob.

I just looked for a full half hour for a gif of Lars Ulrich in the documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster screaming at James Hetfield, “When I think of you, I think FAAAAAAAAACK.”

The end! 😯

(*ASPCA sucks for many reasons, and one is that it gets a Charity Watch rating of C+, which means that too much of the money does not go to programs or infrastructure but goes instead to sending me mail and purchasing ad time for their horrible, horrible ads which make everyone in the world want to kill themselves. I know the animal cops do the best they can in a heart-rending job, and they’re often hampered by state or town laws, but really, guys. You’re supposed to stop exactly this scenario from happening.**)

(** Adult Protective Services of New York can also go fucking die any old time, since that’s basically what they told me/my mother when I tried to get her some help. One of their operators actually said to me, “If he’s abusive, why hasn’t she tried to leave?” In a snotty tone of voice, too. If I owned a car that I knew how to drive, I would have shown up at her office that day and personally shown her what abuse looks like.***)

(*** OH YES I DID just retroactively threaten a municipal employee.)

(**** Lexapro, Wellbutrin, cannabinoids.)


  1. Satia says:

    There is so much of this I want to respond to but I don’t even know where to begin.

    I want to drive you to that social worker and . . . well, let you have at it. I’ll be your driver and your alibi. “What? No. We were nowhere near there. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    Sparring Bob? I just saw a “Dammit Doll” which you basically hold in your hand and slam into walls and such as you scream “Dammit!” at the top of your lungs. Similar concept, I suppose, but I think Sparring Bob would be a lot more fun–punchable and kickable.

    As for the rest, you belong on the limb just as much as the next person. Watching someone you care about falling away–whether it’s a lifelong friend (like me and Rob are both dealing with) or a parent–is everything you say. Scary. Shaming. Angering. Etc.

    And exhausting. But I know someone to whom you can be mean and nasty and sarcastic towards. If you’re still looking for someone, that is.

  2. Janice says:

    Satia <3

    Thank you so much for everything you say here, for everything you’ve said elsewhere, and for offering to drive me to a murder. Because THAT, people, is sisterhood.

    I’m so sorry about your friend, and about your other recent loss. Glad we’ll see each other soon.

  3. Miss World says:

    I am glad that you are ‘Dead Mom’-ing it out, so to speak. The anniversary of my mother’s death passed recently. I hate that I have to put up a front about being “rational” and “okay” when honestly, I don’t even know if I completed all the necessary steps of not being effed-up-ness in the Grieving Process Academy or whatever. I analyze my constant psychologically regressive behaviors: sucking my thumb occasionally; smoking cigarettes (even though she died from lung cancer); oral fixations in general. I slept in her bed until she died. What I would give to be a baby and curl up with her and watch “Touched By An Angel” or something. I even constantly bring up astrology because my mom and I were the same sign. But it’s just grasping at constant attempts to somehow feel closer to her. My friends probs think I’m a creep for reminding them to call their mothers or getting so excited when they casually mention that they spoke to their mother on the phone.

    I hope you continue to heal and if your blog is an constructive outlet for your feelings, then have at it. How many dumb Tumblrs are taking up space on the Internet nowadays? Sometimes when I search for a memory of my mom in my mind, the first thing that pops up is her vomiting up blood, all sick and emaciated. I’ve accepted that I can be in a healthy place and take care of myself, but let’s be real: nobody ever “lives it down”. I mean, look at Dick Whitman (extreme fictional character example). But what kind of person would you be if you did wrestle with pain and questions and endless thoughts and sadness and all these conflicting emotions after your mother died? Probs a sociopath or something, i dunno.

    “Grief is evergreen”, so I hear. It won’t consume you but for some strange reason, it’s supposed to feel it could. Stay strong and stay creative but mostly: live through this if you (think you) can’t live it down.

  4. Janice says:

    (((Miss World)))

  5. You know when I tell you my mom is dead I don’t want you telling me about your grandma that died when you were seven, or your uncle that died from cancer three years ago, or the fourteen year old cat you had to put down. I don’t even want to hear about your experiences with your dead mom, okay.

  6. Lormo says:

    My mom is sick, so I’m just beginning to experience grief and mortality and I do not like it. But that’s life, right? Barf.

    Truly sorry for your loss.

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