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My Heartbeat Shows the Fear

“I can’t get to sleep
I think about the implication
Of diving in too deep
And possibly the complications

Especially at night
I worry over situations
I know will be alright
Perhaps it’s just imagination

Day after day it reappears
Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear
Ghosts appear and fade away”

Day after day it reappears, Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear, Ghosts appear and fade away, come back another day..

I don’t really know where to begin, so I’ll just begin right here.

After a long, sleep-full night thick with dreams in which I was inadvertently shoplifting red pea coats in three different sizes (why???), and maybe some baby food too, I made a big mess of the kitchen. This was in real life. I was so excited to show Cassidy this container of dill pickle chips I had bought to pair with shredded rotisserie chicken and Sun Chips (lunch of champions) when I knocked that container out of the fridge and onto the floor. Pickle juice splattered everywhere. I stood there slightly immobile, but bad a** enough to keep making Scarlet’s lunch, and Rider and Sawyer’s breakfasts, while Cassidy cleaned it up. And I smelled like dill pickles, and Sawyer smelled like the yogurt he had spilled on himself, and also like a diaper in need of changing. I was a little afraid, because I LOVE pickles (and yogurt, but not diapers) but I am so sensitive to weird things and sometimes if I smell something too long, I start to hate it. This happened with rose essential oil in a turtleneck, and also from cream cheese that was smeared into my hair. I think it’s mostly about feeling powerless, like being at school and not being able to leave it or change clothes. I don’t feel that way anymore, and I make sure my kids don’t – as much as I can.

Ghosts that linger, even when they don’t have power here. Just a faint scent. A memory.

Cassidy was away for three nights last week, and the first night was a disaster. The smoke alarm went off at 3:00 am, the dogs howled at the noises, and something went wrong with the heat overnight (just a nozzle, but still). I woke up to a 58 degree house, a pellet-less pellet stove, and eight mouths to feed. Nine, as Scarlet says, to count myself. I never sleep well when Cassidy is away, but this was worse than ever. The smoke alarm stopped on its own even though it usually requires Cassidy to locate the offending one and perform a sort of magic trick to make it stop. Scarlet said it woke her up and that I must have performed some sort of wizardry to get it to stop so quickly. That was just luck, but let her believe I’m a wizard. Running the household IS wizardry, and when he was home on the fourth day, I collapsed and took a deep nap while he fed Sawyer dinner. I could let my guard down. It may have seemed like everything went haywire.

But it was quite the opposite. I ran a tight ship, until my co-captain came home.

Day after day it reappears, Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear, Ghosts appear and fade away, come back another day..

Then the sleep and dreams could cover me like thick waves and blankets. The ghosts linger, yes, and nighttime can be hard enough in a full house, much less alone. It’s that mix of dreams and realities; horrors and reliefs. You sort of dip in and out of the fake stuff and the real stuff, and the fake stuff based on the real stuff. The real stuff based on the fake stuff. It all gets intertwined. We all get haunted by old ghosts, whether alone or in a full house. In a large bed with a dog, or in a large bed with a dog, a co-captain of a crazy-not-sinking ship, and a stuffed Bantha too. Texts from old friends. The friendships from my 30s that I ruined. Maybe the pandemic ruined them.

Or there’s no sunken ships or ruins. They run their course, and are docked at bay.

Often I miss the pandemic lifestyle, but of course, not the start of the virus that’s here to stay. It’s weird to feel more aimless after a lockdown, than in the middle of it. At least then, there was one direction, and it was clear. Now it’s a mix of work at home and not work at home and puppies and babies and masks, or not, and confusion galore. It used to seem that there was a clear end.

Whether in sight or not, there was a clear goal. It no longer feels that way.

Day after day it reappears, Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear, Ghosts appear and fade away, come back another day..

I’ve been haunted all week by the passing of an internet friend’s dog. Maybe it’s because he’s a writer, and a very vulnerable one. It’s a particularly difficult loss as this dog was rescued at the last minute, and gave this family 13 years of intense love. Sometimes other losses feel harder than my own impending losses. And it’s probably because I can’t wrap my head around them. Or maybe I’m blocked from feeling the intense wave of emotions I can vicariously feel through a friend I’ve never met. At night, on the couch, Luna sinks into my lap. At night, on the bed, Lucy sleeps with us. She might go downstairs to be let out or have breakfast, but she’ll come back into bed with me until I get up too. Then, we start our beautiful and treacherous days together.

Day after day it reappears, Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear, Ghosts appear and fade away, come back another day..

Day after day it reappears, Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear, Ghosts appear and fade away, come back another day..

Grief and hardships are all shaped differently and they swirl around in the past, present, future, and speculation too. I think about ways to mainstream our kindness; to right a tight ship that is also genuine and spontaneous and full of heart. Like bringing eggs to a neighbor undergoing chemo, who is desperate to taste something good again. I think about new babies, but not just first babies. Second, third, fourth, fifth babies. It could be their 12th baby, and those parents are the ones who need it the most. Not because they have too many kids and not enough help, but because those are the new/old parents who feel like they might be disappearing, and that their newest babies might be too. It’s a real thing. The nights are strangely warmer than usual, but still cold and overwhelming. The mornings sometimes shine too bright, or not bright enough.

All you can really do is to snuggle in closer, and turn your face towards the sun.

Day after day it reappears, Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear, Ghosts appear and fade away, come back another day..

Day after day it reappears, Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear, Ghosts appear and fade away, come back another day..

“Especially at night
I worry over situations that
I know will be alright
It’s just overkill

Day after day it reappears
Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear
Ghosts appear and fade away”

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2 Comments

  1. There is always hope and comfort to be found in the warmth of the sun, and turning our faces towards the sun allows us to feel its healing rays. Look up, look ahead and “…follow the sun” as Sir Paul sings in a Beatles golden oldie. Colin Hay composed this hit song while feeling a vague sense of loss, perhaps a loss of self control somehow, or feeling the need to leave his comfort zone for some reason. These hard to describe feelings poured out out him in the form of music and lyrics. Writers of song, prose and poetry can relate to this. Beautiful family photos as always Tamara! đź’–

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