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Archive for the ‘Prose’ Category

Hey Auntie,
How are you? How’s heaven?

Boy, I sure do miss you. A lot has happened since you left, and I can’t tell you how many times I wish I could just call and talk to you. Or come over to your house so we could play Monopoly and eat potato bread with butter. I’d even be willing to sleep on that old cot next to your bed again. Just to be next to you. Hold your hand till I fall asleep, like I used to when I was little. Have you draw on my back and say, “It’s something that runs across the road…”

Sometimes, if I listen hard enough, I can almost hear you say, “Hey, Kar.” Almost.

I hate that we don’t get to hang out. It’s been almost 10 years and sometimes it still feels like yesterday. Grief is a tricky thing, you know? Life goes on, but at the same time, we’ve all lost something. You were a huge piece of my puzzle, and most days, I can see the whole picture. But some days, the hole is so big I don’t know how to fill it.

Today is one of those days.

There is so much I want to tell you! I’m engaged. His name is Cody, and he came along when I least expected it. Guess that’s what love does, right? Shows up when you think you’ve sworn it off forever — becomes more than you’ve ever hoped for. I know you’d really like him. I think that’s what really gets me, you know? That you’ll never meet him. That he’ll never get to meet you. I have these moments, and he holds me. And all I can think is, this sucks. Two of my favorite people in the whole wide world and they don’t get to meet? How fair is that?

I want you to be at the wedding. I want you to be there when we have kids. I want you to be there to make cut-out cookies with your great nieces and nephews. (Okay, maybe not plurals but you never know! Verdict is still out on that one.) I want you to be here so we can have a glass of wine and really chat about life. I want to go for a walk with you, the way you and my mom used to. I want to take a drive in the hills. Or make a big bowl of popcorn and watch a cheesy Hallmark movie together. I want you to be here so I can hear your voice again – really. And give you a great big hug.

I want you to be here.

God, I wish you were.

It’s hard for me to watch or read anything associated with cancer. Sometimes I cry — at times just a little, other times a lot. It makes me so sad to see that kind of suffering, to be reminded that’s why you’re gone.

But I’m glad you’re with your best friend. I’m sure you guys are up there having a grand old time. And while I have some things I’d still like to do down here (more like a lot) I find comfort in knowing we’ll be together again someday. For God is not a God of destruction — but of hope and of love. He loved us enough to give us that gift, and He loved me enough to give me you.

I feel like I was so young when you died. Of course, at the time I thought I could conquer the world. Graduating high school? I was an adult for sure. But, the truth was, I didn’t know what that all entailed. I had a lot to experience. Places to go. People to meet. Heartaches to have. Growing up to do. Hard lessons to learn. I am far from the girl I was when you were here. But, I have held onto the important parts. Parts like you.

You were the mom I needed, when I didn’t like my own. Which is easy to do when you’re a teenager. You’ll be happy to know my mom is my best friend now. And we miss you together. I wish you and I had the chance to have the same kind of mature, honest, relationship now. But I want you to know you changed my life. And you will forever be that person. My role model. My crying shoulder. My hideaway. You let me be myself, and you were always there for me no matter what. You loved me unconditionally. You loved me like a daughter. You took me places. You made me feel valued. You made me feel special. You helped me believe in myself. You showed me that God should always come first — to have love in order to give love.

I’ll always remember you and Danny’s Bibles sitting open on the kitchen table. You planted seeds in my life, just by being you.

I want to thank you for loving me. For being my Aunt. For being the kind-hearted, caring, person you were. For laughing. For farting. For playing Christmas Trivia in the car. Pretty sure we knew every answer to Carols and Songs. For playing Scrabble with me. For making cut-out cookies with me, even when you were leaving for Christmas. For spending Thanksgivings with us. For your homemade pumpkin pies. For giving me a home away from home. For coming to my piano recitals, choir concerts, soccer games, and track meets. For seeing me off to prom my junior year. For taking me places — calling me on a whim and asking if I wanted to go shopping in Loveland for the weekend or ride with you to Sioux Falls. For playing cards with me. For being that cool Aunt who wanted to hang out with me. No matter how young or uncool I probably was. For taking me to church. For singing me songs. For rubbing my back. For listening. For laughing. For filling my life with happy memories I will never forget.

I love you so very much. And as much as I wish you were here, now and in the future, I am forever grateful for all the time we got to spend together. You made an ever-lasting impact on my life. Who I was, who I became, who I am, and who I have yet to be. I won’t ever forget you. I hope I’m half the woman you were “when I grow up.”

Now you are among the angels, and forever one in my heart.

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This has nothing to do with the price of tea in China.

This has everything to do with things we’re too afraid to say. The memories we’re not supposed to miss, or at least as much as we do. The loves we’ve lost. The regrets we’ve learned from. The dreams that were misplaced somewhere along the way. The lies we tell ourselves and everyone around us. The facade we create to feel better, to feel something.

Everything happens for a reason. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Actions speak louder than words. Ignorance is bliss. Better safe than sorry. It’s not about the number of breaths we take, but the number of moments that take our breath away. Live every day like it’s your last. Laughter is the best medicine. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Life goes on.

Bullshit.

Sometimes, life fucking hurts. It’s not fair. There is no reason to explain why.

Just because you felt something doesn’t mean it was enough.

There is a life size doll sitting in the corner of my room at my parents house, wearing a dress I used to wear when I was little. Most people that see it for the first time think it’s creepy. All I see is Big Doll downstairs at my Aunt Karen’s house. Standing in the corner by the bed I used to sleep on for sleepovers when I was older. The quilt. The space heater. The green and blue coffee trays older than me. All I see is a photo of me dancing in that dress in my Grandmother’s living room. The broken straw hat. The girl with barely any hair. The safety of having two homes beside my own.

This has nothing to do with the price of tea in China.

This has everything to do with what it feels like to lose someone before you should have. Because every day it happens — to mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, grandmothers, grandfathers, cousins, wives, husbands, friends, and lovers. But don’t worry… life goes on. Or some other incredulous bullshit like that.

Life is just a role that we play.

My God, may we play it well.

Stop worrying about the election, the price of gas, how many likes you have on Instagram, the latest fashions, the weekend, how much money you make, whether or not you have pimples, the latest celebrity gossip, the top of the charts, what people think, what things you have, what you didn’t do, who you should have been.

What if all you had was today?

What role would you play?

Who would you spend it with?

What memories would you make?

There is no guarantee.

Stop acting as if you’re entitled to one.

This has nothing to do with the price of tea in China.

This has everything to do with making an effort to be the best version of yourself, day in and day out. To commit yourself to making the people you love a priority. To stop selfishly waiting for someone else to make the first move. To act as if you give a damn. To not allow your fears to control your life. To wake up every morning with a purpose. To believe in God. Or something. Yourself, for starters. To stop feeling entitled to second chances and treating people as though it’s the only shot you got. To tell the truth. To love like crazy. To travel. To stop waiting for tomorrow. To stop planning so god damn much. To put pride aside and be there.

Be present.

It’s all we’ll ever have.

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I Know It Well.

There is a place that still belongs to you, a reminder for my still fractured heart.

A friend recently told me she still cries, sometimes, when she thinks of her first fiancĂ©. A love that was but wasn’t: enough, whole, right. A happy marriage and two beautiful kids will never erase what once was. For memories are merely wrinkles etched upon your soul. Pieces of a past that will forever influence your present and your future.

There is a place that still belongs to you, at 3 AM when nothing make sense.

A dream for the nights I miss you. That soft voice and steady laugh. Mornings wrapped up in your arms. The way I feel you touch me there. Again. Again. Again. The best I’ve ever had. The worst I’ve ever had. A nightmare for the nights I hate you. The lies you whispered like sweet nothings to disguise the other women in your head, in your bed. I fall back asleep praying to forget you.

There is a place that still belongs to you, a lesson I’m still learning.

A never ending supply of writing material. The book I have yet to write. Someday I’ll plaster you across chapters. Someday I’ll categorize our failures into lovely phrases more constructive than our conversations. I’ll make love to you in words, and in the same breath, I’ll tear you apart syllable by syllable. There are no promises to be made for treating our story with grace. The same way you broke every promise you ever made.

There is a place that will always belong to you, a reminder of what love isn’t.

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This town is full of too many loves that never were
Familiar faces are only fragments of what I’ve tried to forget
Close enough to want inside of everything but my heart
But hearts are givers without choice
I believed I deserved better before I met you
Now I hardly believe in myself
And the ability to love again

Giving works until there’s nothing left
Just the memory of what I wished had always been
The fairy tale I grew up believing in
The one with the Prince who saved her
The knight who said she was the only one
I’m Cinderella without a fairy godmother
My hand of cards is missing a chance

I listen to Dixie Chicks radio when I’m sad
You’ve ruined everything for everyone
Who has tried to steal my heart away
And sometimes I wake up crying at night
The hurting is always all mine
I pray to be set free so
Goodbye Earl or whatever your name is

I thought mistakes were just moments
Not the prologue to the rest of my life
I wish I could love him the way I loved you
Twice the man and an even better friend
I can’t imagine the heartache if you had cared
I’m still picking up the pieces
Of a love we never had

This town is full of too many loves that never were.

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Sometimes, I sleep with the ghost of you. With the memories that are still warm and easy to curl up in. You hold me tight with all the words I’ll never forget. The ones I wanted to believe you meant. The ones I held onto too long. I lay next to the handful of nights I thought you’d stay. When love was something I felt instead of just another line you played.

Sometimes, I sleep with the ghost of you. I lose hours wrapped up in your arms. You kiss me over and over again. My toes curl; I lose control. We have sex like it’s the last time every time. I cuddle up with what’s been lost and what will never be again. You were the love I thought I wanted. I was the girl you never did. This bed is now as empty as your promises.

Sometimes, I sleep with the ghost of you. I lay next to the images I wish I could forget. The ones of you with her and her and her. The empty look in your eyes as I cried. The ones where you genuinely stole my heart. Holding me tight in your arms as you told me everything would be alright. I lay next to the memories of sadness and regret. You were my biggest mistake, my hardest heartbreak, my fucked up love.

I sleep with the ghost of you, sometimes. And, I pray I never meet anyone like you again.

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I turned twenty-six on Thursday

I remember when I was in high school, I had all these plans about where I’d be at this point in my life. Dreams, really. Naieve notions about how old is old enough for this, that, and the other thing. I realize now I don’t know as much as I thought I did then.

Life isn’t a timeline of should have’s.

I’m not the same person I was last year. I’m not even sure I’m the same person I was a week ago.

I carry with me a lot of the same surface level dreams I did then: Get married. Have a family. Write a book. Travel to Europe. Run a marathon. Be a better person. But, my view of those dreams has changed and adapted over time due to the circumstances I have endured and the people I have encountered. They say, you become who you surround yourself with. I used to be a stubborn enough person to not believe that was true.

Now, I realize people change you slowly, melt you like a candle. Some people are cigarette breaks, others are forest fires. One day you wake up and realize your flame has burnt out. And you have no idea how to get it back.

I’ve learned that subtle compromises often turn into great risks. That first time you choose to be less of who you are for someone else is the first time you lose a piece of your heart. He should ask you about the tattoo on your ankle. Care about the fact someone you loved deeply died for it to be there. He should ask you about the tattoo on your wrist. Ask why you thought God’s grace was so important then. He should ask you about your heart. What makes you come alive. Why writing is so important. Why you haven’t slept with everyone like he has. He should care about loving you the way you love him. And, you shouldn’t have to ask.

I’ve learned that just because you’ve been friends with someone forever, doesn’t mean they will stay. I’ve learned that just because you want to get married and have a family, doesn’t mean you’re ready. I’ve learned that even though you believe in God, doesn’t mean you believe He loves you.

I’ve learned that words really can hurt you. It’s hard to sleep alone, after. Sometimes, you won’t be the friend you thought you were. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Your family will love you even when your friends don’t. It’s okay to cut people out of your life. Music is still beautiful, even without him. You can be angry. You can cry. It’s okay to stay up all night, and call in sick the next day. Retail therapy is okay as long as it’s not your only therapy. Loneliness will either make you run toward hope or into despair. Life is a series of choices. Sometimes, you’ll make the wrong one.

I’ve learned that life is really hard. Often, you fight battles you can’t even see for yourself.

One of my friends recently said, I miss Kari.

I miss her too. In the past couple years, I’ve lost large pieces of who I thought I was.

I hope that twenty-six is about finding her. And not who she used to be, because I don’t think you can ever really go back to who you were. But I want to find who I want to be. The pieces of the girl I miss, transposed by the experiences of the woman I am. To something brighter than where I am right now.

We all have our own demons. And, to clarify, that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for my life or the people and blessings in it. Because I have an amazing family who love me unconditionally, friends that have stood by me through thick and thin, a job that challenges me every day, and a God who chooses to protect me even when I don’t fight for Him. I am blessed beyond measure.

But I’ve learned that it’s okay to not be okay. And to be honest about it.

I hope in the year to come I am able to share that with each and every one of you out there. May we all be honest with ourselves, and fight for who we are.

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The last words you ever said to me are saved to my phone. Five sentences. Sixty-two words. Eighty-seven syllables. Less than a hundred ways to signify our thousands of days together.

You used to be a constant, and now months pass by without a thought of you.

Standing in the middle of a crowded coffee shop, singing the songs you wrote about me. Something about seashells and adolescent hopes I’ve long ago forgetten. Washed away with the fading memory of what was, what will never be again. The late night Skype sessions, characterized by hours of conversation and a shedding of clothes in our later days. Nothing was ever frightening with you. The familiarity of wrapping up in your arms. The tears you never ran from. The loss you helped me through. Love was what made us work. Unconditionally real, through good times and bad. Bible verses or cuss words. Music or silence.

You were my best friend.

Now, a memory. One that resurfaces when least expected. I’ve never been hit with a ton of bricks, but I imagine the expression signifies the way this feels. I close my eyes, as if the wind has been knocked out me, and it all comes rushing back in. Who you were to me. What conversation meant to us. When everything was different. Where it all began. How loving you felt.

We fell in love at the wrong times, all at once. And I’m so grateful for that. You showed me what it means to truly let someone in. To the deepest parts of your soul. The places that no one wants to expose, but the ones that really matter most. You let me know it’s okay to trust someone down there. And how people can breathe in more understanding than you ever thought possible. You showed me how to love someone for who they are, not who they might be. You loved me in spite of myself, when I least deserved it. We fought for each other, so I fought to let you go.

I now know you can love someone so much it hurts (each other). Sometimes it’s not healthy to keep things forever. Even security blankets are eventually outgrown. And yes, perhaps, the world is at first a little scarier. Sadder. But I learned something in your absence. The ability to stand on my own two feet. To move forward toward new memories and conversations and songs. To love the wrong way. To come home at night bawling without anyone to talk to about it. To move on. To let our past push me into my future.

You said, then, You deserve someone who can play all the roles he’s supposed to.

Three years later, I still don’t know what that looks like. But I want to thank you for showing me a glimpse.

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