It’s Killing Me

I feel like Alice falling down the rabbit’s hole, and it is a long way to the bottom.

The lady in front of me is tall. Her hair is white from both age and stress. Clearly, at this moment, she is the rabbit. Although, these halls are so familiar, I feel that this is my hole. Everything from the waiting room to the computer in the small alcove are all mine. I have them all precariously placed on the ledges of my hole, distant memories begging to be reviewed. Everything is about to crumble.

I see me, about seven, twisting and turning in the green and gray patterned chair, stalling on the next math equation my uncle is begging me to finish. I’ve been doing school in the waiting room for so long; I’m tired of playing with all the toys set out for kids ages two to five. Aside from my sister who is too young to care, I am the only one who hasn’t been allowed to see Grandma. I have been told what she looks like, but I can’t imagine her with tubes hooked up inside of her.

I want to drink the elixir that makes me shrink. If I could disappear I would, but I turn right, following the rabbit’s quick paced steps. To the left is that computer and straight ahead is the nurse’s station. To the left of the desk are two halls I’ve been down a hundred times. I close my eyes and remind myself to breathe. I don’t remember drinking any shrinking potion, but now it feels like my lungs can’t or won’t expand to their full capacity. Now I want to eat the cake and grow. Right now I would give anything to grow to climb out from this place.

We are at the nurses station. Please, turn right.

We turn left.

Please don’t take the right hall.

We take the left.

I am led into the ICU. There is no secret key I have to retrieve or keyhole I have to climb through. The rabbit steps right up, and the doors open at her presence. The place smells heavily of antiseptic. I want to tuck tail and run.

“Here we are,” says the rabbit.

I wish we were late.

I see me in my black turtle neck. (I hated that shirt.) I pause in the doorway, not sure if it is safe to walk in. There’s the tube in her throat, and she is barely aware of what is going on around her. None of the descriptions mom gave me before could have prepared me for this moment. The moment my lungs stop and my heart can decide whether to speed up or to slow down. I’ve skipped to the end of the book, and before me is the jabberwocky.

“Hello, Grandma,” I say. She turns her head toward me, and she moves her mouth, and a frog croaks instead. I grab her hand, and rub my thumb in circles. Her skin is wrinkled, bruised, and feels like velvet. I look up and smile. “I love you too.”

“She was t-boned,” the rabbit says. “This is her second time being in a coma, and she doesn’t want to be revived. She doesn’t want to fight to live.” I muster my strength and respond back in a controlled voice. The conversation is short. It is clear I am eager to leave. The trauma of being in the hospital for eight years struggles to resurface. The memories try to cave in and burry me alive.

I am relieved once I leave the rabbit hole, this not-so-wonderful land

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IHOP Mom – Narrative

This is based on a lot of truth I heard as I talked to IHOP Mom–rather, as IHOP Mom talked to me. She inspired this short piece, and is the star of this narrative.

IHOP Mom walks by and swiftly removes everything from the tables. She had been around for seven years and isn’t about to make a mistake on her job. She is fast and efficient. She loves the students who come in during their freshman year, and she watches them grow and graduate from the college down the road. She calls me baby, and says she heard me reading. While she talks to us, their is a smile that lights up her face. It carves crow’s feet around her eyes and in the corners of her mouth. When she turns around I watch the smile fall from her face. She is focused on the work ahead, and the long night she has to get through. After she is done here she still has a home to go to. There are other people to feed, not just random strangers and college students that wander in past curfew. She has a family too: grown children and grand babies that require her attention and stretched smile. She is worn thin, but she is far from frail. She is a strong cornerstone. She is someone who remains consistent in the passing students with last minute homework and the police officers that come through the doors for a late night coffee pick-me-up. She is here at two in the morning, and it will be a while yet before she goes to bed.

Treasure Hunting

I was out in this place called Brick Town the other day. I was with a group of my friends, we had just gotten done with a retreat, and decided to go have some fun and take pictures. While we were there we came across some wonderful murals. This was one of them, and when I was filming it for my snapchat story, I saw this guy and waved to him. When I saw him I wanted to take a picture of him in front of this wall. When I was on my over to him, I just had this thought of “I found the treasure.” I didn’t think much of it, asked the guy if I could take his picture then I prayed for him, and walked away. A couple of my friends had seen and patted me on the back. I was flustered because I didn’t think much of it, and it was awkward for me to be praised like that. I didn’t do it for recognition. Even now, I’m not telling you for you to praise me. Rather, Matthew tells us not to let our left hand know what our right hand is doing. The Gospels tell us not to be like the pharisees standing on the street corners proclaiming what we have done. I actually prayed a lot about whether I should just delete the photo instead. But as I was thinking about it, I was reminded of this thing I know several churches do called ‘treasure hunting.’ A group of people or several groups will gather and pray. Sometimes they will get an image of a person, a place, or a small word from God and then they will go out and look for who God is leading them to. As I was thinking about that concept, God just whispered to my heart, “He’s my treasure. You found my treasure.” This really spoke to me because I was beginning to get upset at myself for not asking him for his name. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if it was a man or woman at first. I didn’t go out planning to pray for someone or take pictures of strangers. I didn’t pray about it before hand. I didn’t ask God to lead me to someone. This whole thing was spontaneous to me, but as I prayed about it afterward and thought about it further, I realized that it was exactly what God had planned. You don’t need to set a specific time to go treasure hunting. In fact, it should be a lifestyle. Everyday, as christians, we should be intentional about finding God’s treasure. So many people are buried, and we are meant to bring them to the light. Who knows what treasure you will find today. It’s all about intentionality. Live Heaven on Earth, and love with the love of God, and you’ll see victory and miracles everyday.

Out On 27th 1/2 St. *Edited*

Fifth generation home.

80s shag carpet.

Linoleum kitchen floors.

Squeaky Lazy Susan.

Slamming screen door.

Running barefoot down a gravel driveway

Past tall green pines surrounded by cornfields,

Mosquito infested swamps, and Crickets and spring peepers.

Running on deer trails through purple brambles,

Gaining blackberry stains and small scars,

Searching for buried treasure:

Sun bleached bones.

 

The skull hung in the garage.

I wish we still lived there.

Dancing in the Rain

One of my most favorite things is the rain.

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I was jumping around in the puddles in my shoes, singing “Open the flood gates of Heaven! Let it rain!” as it continued to rain harder.

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When I got back to my room, I was dripping little puddles on my floor. I emptied everything out of my back pack, and the only things wet were a receipt and the corners of a journal! (Dude, target knows how to hook a person up.)

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My shoes looked horrible too. They were already dirty, now it looked like I bought them gray. (I’m not even sure I’m the one that bought them….)

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So I threw everything in the washer and drying, and they came out looking like they did before I jumped in any puddles. I, on the other hand, was freezing. I threw on a sweater, and began to clean up the rest of my dirty room.

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(Ignore the fact that I just stated I’m cold so I’m a wearing a sweater, but now I’m also in shorts. I think it’s a Michigan thing.)

The day was a lot of fun. I was wet for nearly all of it. I was definitely soaking wet at the end of it. Although, I did not spare a friend of mine from ending up the same way. A full out water war happened. I was talking to a few other friends, and jokingly said, “Wanna hug?” And they hugged me! I felt so loved.

This was on Wednesday.

Genie Pendant

She is the type of girl who puts feathers and flowers in between the leaves of her Bible. Her own skin is ink pressed and crinkled with age. A cigarette hangs between her calloused fingers. Girl or woman, I can’t tell the difference. Her body shows signs of age, but the way she talks is as if she’s back in middle school experiencing her first love.

She is the type of girl who knows she is dirt, but “start dust” is what she calls herself. She will smile and show her crooked, nicotine, yellow stained teeth. Although, nothing about her shines gold. Actually, she is rather bronze. Maybe back in the day she wore a gold medal, but I can’t tell. To me she is more like a sticky penny from 1988. 

She is the type of girl who sits on a whicker basket behind a blanket full of timeless wares. She clasps a necklace around me, and tells me that the pendant was once home to a genie. For a second I think she is the genie. She tells me stories about all of these things, wounds from her past, that she is avidly trying to get rid of. 

She is the type of girl who bled gold once, but it tarnished overtime as she slowly forgot her worth, and here she is trying to earn it back; and here I am, dragging knives across my skin, paying in blood, creating wounds, that I too will sell in the future.

At least I get a genie pendant out of it. 

Story Time

The Dragon Sash

I still wore the veil held in place by a jade comb, but I refused to wear the elaborate headdress. I relented to wearing everything else. The shoes I was wearing were made with a soft red fabric. Green turtles were stitched into the sides. The dress I was wearing was white with a red robe. The sash tied around my waist was also white but with red dragons stitched into it. It was the final piece to the whole ensemble. It was a gift, he had asked me to wear it.

We were out in the peach grove under all of the blossoming trees. I was in a palanquin, a light silk fabric screening my face from him. I came from just as much a royal family as he did. Surrounding me were twelve men. He was alone. We had only meant twice before and those times were only coincidences. He held out both hands. Folded over them was the sash. He said he would be honored if I wore it. How could I have refused him? It was probably the most beautiful gift I had ever been given. However, I should have known the intentions behind it, especially since it was coming from him.

It was only a few weeks after that, when I found myself sitting in my room surrounded by maids. They were all combing my hair, touching my skin, trying to decide how to paint my face. I turned to them and said, “Dress me how you want, but you must choose whether I wear the headdress or the sash. I will not wear both. I will not let others seal my fate when I am perfectly capable of deciding my future for myself.”

I was without the headdress, but the sash suddenly felt too tight. I wanted out of the Bridal Chair and into the open air. I wanted out from behind the curtains and the veil. Looking ahead I saw the palace doors open. Looking behind me, I watched them close. With the gates behind me and the crown prince somewhere in the palace in front of me, I knew the dragon sash tied around my waist had tied me to this occasion. I now had little to no part in my own future. I knew that whether I liked it or not, I was now bound to the crown prince and his future the moment I accepted the sash, something I never should have done.