Death

All posts tagged Death

Thirty

Published February 10, 2019 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I’ve been watching my brother die since I was nineteen years old.  

That’s putting too fine a point on it; I’ve been in the audience watching my brother die.  

My brother and I used to be very close, especially when we were children

Even when I was kind of an embarrassment, like when we were new at All Saints and I peeked into the Seventh Grade class window and everyone laughed. He looked out for me when we were the only Hispanic kids at Casa Manana.  Seriously, we took acting classes and I think we were the only Mexicans some of these kids had seen outside of the garden.   He looked out for me when we went to high school.

My brother was the best big brother.

And then he wasn’t.

Sometime between my sophomore and junior year in high school, my brother started drinking.  

I’m not going to waste time explaining how easy it is for underage kids to get alcohol. (It is.  It is very easy. In fact during my junior year of high school, one of my classmates died while driving drunk.)

I do not know when my brother’s drinking became a problem.  I do know that when my homecoming date was walking me to the door, my brother was also being dropped off. My brother was drunk and had a concussion after leaning out of the car to throw up.  

We were slightly less close after that.

We went to the same college and had the same major.  My brother threw parties that were legendary because of the happy chaos.   

It was still fun to watch him be the life of the party.

He was an incredibly gifted actor. He won several awards and the respect of his peers. As our school competed in American College Theatre Festival, everyone was eager to see what he would do.  The roles he played ranged from the Mayor of Tobiki  to a guitar playing snake handle.  He played a depressed suicidal outcast, the devil himself and one of the  most overlooked underdogs in Shakespeare’s  Much Ado about Nothing.   

That last role took all the way to the stage of the Kennedy Center.   

From there he went on to a conservatory program where he wasn’t allowed to smoke or drink, just train and perform.  Even though I didn’t see him for that whole summer, I think this is the happiest he was. 

But he came home. Things started up again. He worked, drank and went from one toxic relationship to another.  (I don’t blame any of the women in his life, except possibly the first one.)

His acting career continued to be impressive. He drank, but when he had a role to focus on, it didn’t seem as bad.   

And then it was.  There was a long stretch of time where he would go to rehab, go home, be ok and then it would fall apart.  The time I remember his sobriety.  The best was  a three year stretch where he was sober and we able to work together.  I produced and directed him in Of Mice and Men and in the Grapes of Wrath.  I think this was the finest directorial work I have ever done or possibly will do. He was sober the whole time.  

I remember when he started drinking again.  We were watching a band. I saw him go to the bar and order a drink. Then he gave me his wallet because he didn’t want to spend too much money.  I then left because I just couldn’t watch this happen again. 

After that it was up and down. I kept hoping he would sober up and be my brother again.  Then my grandfather died. 

My grandfather was a saint on this earth. My brother was the first grandchild and only grandson. He and my grandfather were very close.  My grandfather’s death is where we started to lose my brother.

This talented, hard working actor and artist began to unravel. It started with him sleeping on my mom’s couch because he didn’t want to go home. Then it got to where he couldn’t really take care of himself, so he lost his home. Then he stayed in my mother’s spare room. He kept drinking.

This was sixteen years ago. In that time, he has been to detox innumerable times. He was in court ordered rehab once. He’s been on probation twice.  He is now a diabetic and dependent on insulin. He is also diagnosed as bi-polar.  He has had numerous warnings and health scares and has been on life support.

Yet he still drinks. I have spent every weekend for the last six months waiting for my mother or father to call me and say that he’s in the hospital again. The last time gave him a permanent scar on his face. I hear that he as a black eye now.  I know my mother is weary. I know my father is heartbroken.  My soul feels like someone kicked it in the stomach  (Yes, my soul has a stomach.)  There’s nothing I can do but wait. In five days it will be the sixteen years since we lost my grandfather. I’m feeling tense and sad. I’m waiting.  But I won’t be surprised.

Because I’ve been watching my brother die since I was nineteen years old.

What it is (part 1)

Published May 14, 2016 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I haven’t had a lot of time to write or think or clean or eat well lately.  I’ve been subbing and side gigging a lot so that I may survive this summer on my meager savings, good will and the kindness of strangers. (I did promise Actor Boy that I wouldn’t trade snuggles for home repairs.

But I have had time to make a few lists with some salient points on topics that have been broiling in my head lately (although steaming is a better choice, as it has been so humid I can actually hear my hair frizz.) One of the topics is defining Love.

Today is marks the six year anniversary of the death of my friend Steven Scott Garrett. He died at 2:44 PM on May the 14, 2010. He was declared dead at 3:07 and his body was picked up by the funeral home at 7:00 PM.

Why yes, that does mean I sat in a room with Steve’s corpse for almost four hours.  The funeral home less than five miles away from his home.  I realize now how ghastly this was and that Steve probably would have been perfectly all right with me trying to wheel the bed down the frontage road to the establishment.  In fact, I think that might have been in his will if he had thought of it first.

It has been six years and I am just now letting go of the shell of numb that I created to get me through the sheer horror and panic I felt at losing him and the slow revelation that certain parts of my life would ever be the same.

I don’t want to reveal everything, but suffice it to say there are certain people who are opportunistic rat fiends (perhaps with little rat faces) and will think nothing of using someone’s grief as an excuse to wedge themselves into a place they do not belong.

One of the big things that changed is that I no longer had someone who said “I love you.” to me every day.

That was incredibly heart wrenching, especially since I was still married at the time.

In retrospect that should have told me something, but I was so numb for so long that all I could do was stare straight ahead. I missed a lot.

Why, you may ask, would I put myself through the stress and the strain of being 100 percent emotionally available while also attempting to work and coax my kid on his way to college?

Love.

A big part of love is availability and a willingness to be around for the icky parts.

Like death.

And waiting six years to feel again.

Because that’s all a big part of it.

I don’t know if I’m finally facing how much I loved my good friend. It is more than I can possibly describe and is exponentially related to how much I miss him.

 

Thanks, Audible; I think I can handle this topic on my own.

Published April 3, 2016 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I love to read but I don’t always have the kind of time I need to truly invest in a story, thus I listen to audiobooks.

I try to stay on top of the new publications and I am a member of Audible, Amazon’s audiobook division.

Today’s “Daily Deal” is

Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes

While I do have a lot of intellectual curiosity, I don’t think that Svante Pääbo can give me any additional insight on un-evolved men that I haven’t picked up on my current reluctant safari through the dating world.

Now, I’m not going to start on a diatribe about men in general but I do have many, many days where I stop and look up at the sky and shout, “Really?!”

I do seem to specialize in relationships where you get jerked around.

In that vein, (or in vain, depending on your perspective.) I spent some constructive time today working with two friends filming.

This particular morsel of genius was a by-product of several conversations between Filmmaker and Batman.  Batman and I had a conversation a week ago that sounded a lot like the Improvisation game “Yes, and… ”

Every time one of us started a litany of the woe that is/was our romantic relationships, the other one would counter point with an equally depressing and bizarre story.

For two people who haven’t been in the same area code in two decades we had remarkably similar experiences.

So that bit of information was processed by Filmmaker and turned into today’s project.

The call time for today’s adventure was 8:00 AM.  I explained to Filmmaker that my 46  year old face won’t be awake until at least 10:00 AM.  He said I could wear a veil. Before I could mention that if the blemish next to my mouth (NOT A COLD SORE) got any bigger, I would need a Burka, Filmmaker had developed into a storyline in which I played Death.

So I spent this morning being driven around in a Buick  wearing a black veil and more make-up than Ru Paul.

Yes, yes I did get up at Oh-My-God-Why? on a Sunday and made up my face, complete with three different colors of eye-shadow, highlighting and lipstick that was guaranteed not to leave marks on your boyfriend, coffee mug or breathalyzer.

How can you resist ad copy like that.

I know that was wearing a veil, but although Death herself may not be proud, I certainly am.

I had a wonderful time.

Thanks Batman and Filmmaker!

Do not provoke, may cause biting.

Published July 7, 2015 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Right now my brain is doing the windsock thing and it’s breezy outside. That’s not a metaphor (sheep!) it’s reality. The wind is blowing some knd of heinous histamine haze. ( I love alliteration.) The wind is also blowing some pretty serious thought.I I know! It’s a shock to me,too.)
Last nigh,t I dreamed of zombies. (The little known, underground classic by Proust.) I’m pretty sure it’s because I am rewatching Season Four of the Walking Dead, but it’s also possible that my subconscious is having an existential crisis in light of the recent deaths in my family. Actor Boy also recently lost his grandfather, and simultaneously, is about to become a Big Brother. I feel a lot of his angst and panic as well.
I was able to thwart the zombies, in the dream, I have no idea if this would work in the event of an actual zombie emergency, so try at your own risk, by reciting part of a prayer that is said at the end of the rosary. (I am also a fifth level half-elf cleric who has rebuke undead. That surprisingly did not help when dealing with dream zombies.)
So there’s that big thought. Next is the test thought. I did manage to conquer the Domain I portion of the test. That was the one that was plaguing me the most. I passed that part of the practice test. I’m pretty sure because I chose the answer that was the most counterintuitive and made the least sense.
Now, creeping in is the sixth extinction thought. I’m sure this is will play a large part of my verbal proof of my own non-existence, but for right now, I want to know why. Why are we, meaning mankind, becoming our own worst enemy, particularly to our own extinction? Do we not know better?
It’s just a thought.

 

It’s time to sit up and face the mustard!

Published June 17, 2015 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I have some time on my hands right now. This is a huge change for me after racing around and around the exercise wheel that is public education.  I’m having a bit of trouble relaxing and taking a break. A big part of this is because now that I don’t have the constant whirl of the wheel to block out my thoughts.  (See, I’ve manged to stay within the same basic metaphor. And what’s a metaphor? Sheep!)

One of my ongoing streams of consciousness is somehow relating every weird bizarre event in humanity to another; fitting all of  the pieces together to make one big jigsaw puzzle. Anyone else every feel like they could make sense of things if they could just get the edges finished?

One of the bigger threads in the stream is the fact that I keep getting evidence to push forward the I’ve-actually-been-dead-for-over-a-decade-but-I’m-fighting-my-way-through-purgatory concept.

This is exactly why I have to sleep with the TV on. Because we all know what happens when my thoughts get free reign. Except, since I don’t have satellite TV anymore and have to watch through Hipster Cable (Netflix, Hulu, Youtube  and borrowed Amazon and HBOGO) I get regular doses of selected advertising.

To be honest, I am offended by the commercials introducing Heinz’s new mustard. Apparently Heinz has been with the wrong mustard all of these years, and now he is Oh  So Very Happy with one of his own kind. They were MADE  for each other.  As someone who was unceremoniously disposed of for a new product,I am wrankled.  On a non-personal level, I think the Heinz company is trying to push their own political agenda.  Think about it, clearly Heinz wants us to believe that “French’s” product is inferior and weak (in one of the commercials, a casual nudge makes the French’s lose their mustard.) and isn’t the Ketchup MUCH better off with one of his OWN KIND?! I think that’s just plain bizarre. And I watch entirely too much television.

It’s also possible I am on the verge of making an Inception level break through. Except I didn’t see that movie. EH swears I saw it with him. I did not. One of my former students, Bird, told me that it would make my head hurt.  I think EH saw it with the Crusty Mustard.

And we’re back.

Let it not be unsaid

Published July 4, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

The last few days have been a perfect example of how things can go from mostly ok to completely kerfluey in a matter of seconds. Actor Boy had a death in his family and I spent most of my birthday driving him to a relative’s home and driving myself back, via a gas station with a faulty pump, thus causing me to drench myself in gas and have to drive back amidst a cloud of vapor. (There is quite a bit to be said for drowning your sorrows in a bag of dill pickle flavored chips and a soda while you drive 70 miles an hour singing atonally along with the radio.)

It was heart breaking to hear the pain in Actor Boy’s voice as he said his good-byes to his uncle.

It made me wonder what we are saving all of our thoughts and words for all of the days that we do have people in our world.   I lost one of my uncles yesterday. He had been ill for a while and is in his 70’s, but death of a loved one is always a loss. My ninety-two year old grandmother was hospitalized due to a fall. She is doing well. Another uncle collapsed at work and has spent the last 24 hours having tests run to make sure he is well. My cat, my beloved Samantha got out sometime on Tuesday evening. I found her yesterday cowering under a bush in the yard suffering from a bite of some kind. Very expensive kitty surgery later, she is home ensconced in a cone and taking fluids from a spoon and wet food from a shallow plate.  My Amanda Friend helped me rescue her.

Yes, yesterday was a very bad day.

But today is another chance to say the things that should be said.

I am seriously concerned about the state of our public education system. I am still trying to narrow down what the biggest problem may be.

According to Elaine Weiss, the biggest problem is poverty.

http://billmoyers.com/2013/11/06/the-real-21st-century-problem-in-public-education-is-poverty/

Now I know that the poor will always be among us and that there is only so much we can do when we have so little.  But it hurts my heart to think there are so many kids who need resources that are available to the few. It’s definitely a case of “That’s not fair.”

According to the Weiss, there are a staggering number of students who don’t have the luxury of basic necessities. It’s hard to focus on a project when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from and/ or if Mom or Dad will have a job.

There are too many kids who need too many things. So many of these would be heartened and fulfilled in a small way if someone, anyone took time to say something.

This month I’m going to say things that I think should be said. (Nothing dangerous, illegal or profane; I still want to teach and be able to keep my beloved kitty in cat tranquilizers and wet food.)

My challenge is to say the things that I feel need to be heard. To speak up before it’s too late.