invincible summers

in the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer. (albert camus)

sis May 23, 2006

Filed under: family — clementine @ 7:37 pm
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dana
she is my sister
my only sibling
as children
we watched cartoons
eating cereal
from a large yellow tupperware bowl
pitfall and frogger
soccer and basketball
hide and go seek
sleeping under the stars
crying one cold winter day when
misty, our beagle, died
soon the darkness hit me
consumed me
and i lost my sister
for she needed only light
and was afraid of the dark
of me
she was the strong one
i was weak
she went onto college
i spent my days fighting my demons
and then
suddenly
a phone call
your sister is sick
a rare virus
silence
complete silence
no words
and i dive
into
research
i need to know what this is
i read of deaths
and then the surgeries began
to nashville we would travel
to the doctor of bill clinton
and the late johnny cash
he says
there is no cure
twenty surgeries,
the first two years
remission
and then it returned
remission
and then back again
she is still strong
remission
another phone call,
while in memphis
this time researching for actors
she says
i am pregnant with twins
another phone call
she says
i miscarried
i am so sorry dana
i cannot cry
i am numb
thanks to the meds
the virus is back
she is now weak
i wait in the room
it is a room i know very well
waiting for her doctor
to tell me and her frightened husband
she made it through
i hear
there was a seizure
but she is ok
i see her
her face, lacking color
her body, frail
and yet again,
i cannot cry
i am still numb
those damn meds
remission
another phone call
she says
i am pregnant
early august 2004
a girl
cecilia rose
but still no tears
two years later and over fifty surgeries
my sister
she is beautiful
she is once again strong
there are still surgeries
and i am still there
with her
she is no longer afraid of my darkness
for now she knows it well
and today,
i cry

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our mentally ill troops May 14, 2006

Filed under: mental illness,politics — clementine @ 7:38 pm
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twenty-two u.s. troops committed suicide in iraq last year. nearly one in five of all noncombat deaths. the highest suicide rate since the war started. service members who committed suicide in 2004 or 2005 were kept on duty despite clear signs of mental distress, sometimes after being prescribed antidepressants with little or no mental health counseling or monitoring.

col. elspeth ritchie, the army’s top mental health expert has this to say:

“the challenge for us … is that the army has a mission to fight. and, as you know, recruiting has been a challenge,” she said. “and so we have to weigh the needs of the army, the needs of the mission, with the soldiers’ personal needs.”

thirty percent of the marines returning from iraq have serious mental problems. more than 200,000 prescriptions for the most common antidepressants were written in the last fourteen months for service members and their families.

how many iraqi veterans will eventually join the ranks of the 400,000 homeless vets on the streets of american cities ?

 

7:11 May 11, 2006

Filed under: family,life,love — clementine @ 5:08 pm
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it was a long night. watching films until dawn. at 7:11 this morning i attempted sleep.

my parents met at a 7-11 convenience store. he was 24. she was 18. my dad followed his fiance to missouri and upon arrival she left him. he was lost. nowhere to go. he could have returned home. but he did not. instead, after four years in the navy, he spent his nights managing that 7-11 in a city with no family and few friends.

my mother was a free spirit. raised in a home full of love and madness. she was the youngest of four children and spent most of her days alone dreaming and escaping. she secretly craved normality. my dad? normal could be his middle name.

she worked at mcdonald’s. across the street from the 7-11. she purchased her pantyhose, required to be worn at her job, at his store. she would flirt. she came on strong. begging him for dates. he turned her down over and over. i am sure her beauty and uninhibitedness intimidated him. he thought she was too young. she says to him, “if i can get your friend to take me to dinner, will you?” he says, “ok.” of course she went on that date with the friend. and of course my father kept his promise. it was halloween night, their first date. and six weeks later, one cold december evening, they were married in a church with no heat. she wearing a short skirt and he wearing a yellow tie.

thirty-five years later their love is stronger than ever. they laugh together. they cry together. when they look into each other’s eyes it is as if it is for the first time.

depression runs in my family. my mother’s mother suffered from paralyzing depression. she lost her father in a fire when she was five. spent most of her childhood in orphanages. raped. beaten. broken. i was diagnosed with depression at thirteen. when my mother looked into my eyes, she saw her mother. and it terrified her. and because of this, my childhood was not easy. it was full of pain. and misunderstanding. and fear. many days my mother could not look at me. if she did, there would be a fight. if i could change any of it, would i? no. i am who i am today because of the pain. the depression.

and so, today, as i closed my eyes at 7:11 i thought of my parents. their love. their warmth. their patience and understanding over the years. and i smiled. i thought of love. of normality. they have both and it works. for me, i want love and passion. pain and sorrow. i need it all.