Tag Archives: death

The Ghost

Time creeps

like ghosts at night,

blind, bleak, bloodless.

 

Twenty-five months gone,

dead months vanished

along with the living years

as if he’s never existed,

like those ghosts at night.

 

Not many parents

feel my pain

or my envy

for the pain is eternal,

ghastly,

one I’d not wish upon a foe.

 

If you have children,

pick one child from your flock

to be a ghost,

and if you have only one,

imagine that one a ghost.

 

Imagine a face alive only

in dreams and nightmares,

in a portrait upon a wall,

in a mirage in an elusive distance,

meagre memories,

flashbacks,

perhaps words from those who dare

to cite your loss.

 

I’ll never see my son again,

never to touch,

never to converse,

never to see him walk through the door.

I live with massive voids

and words unsaid.

 

I don’t believe in Heaven or Hell

where we’ll see loved ones,

where we’ll gather for an endless party.

I could be wrong—

how I’d love to be wrong,

I wish to be wrong!

I’d give my life to see my son again

but it’s too much make-believe,

a fantasy, not reality.

 

Days pass while

I breathe and eat and sleep

and dream and weep and laugh,

I’m resigned to images on the wall

and ghosts at night

and a hollowness in my heart.

Matt alone

In memory of my son Matthew, April 28, 1980-March 11, 2017.

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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

 

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Twenty Months Gone

Dear Matt,

I dream of a babe in my arms,
A toddler asleep beside me,
Confusing yet familiar
As if a recurring vision
And with a start
I realize it’s you.

I suffer sharp jolts
Of sheer insanity,
Scenes of shrieks
And sobs
Of my new reality,
Twenty months gone and
Disbelief still grabs me,
Shocks me to my very core
And I cry fresh tears 
Identical to previous one.

I can’t stop these monthly poems—
These non-rhyming words spouting grief—
I write many others too,
All bringing me an odd comfort,
A smidgen of joy between pain
Even though my words read the same.

No new words exist for grief, 
No epiphanies or revelations,
For every day I pray the same:
To have you returned to me
As if a treasured object on loan.

But sanity slams me to the floor—
You’re gone forever,
Never really mind to hold,
For children become adults
And cleave to another,
But you’ll always be my boy.

Whether I’ll see you again
Is one of the world’s mysteries,
But if there’s a chance we meet again
The line to greet you will be endless,
Too many wanting to hold, hug, kiss,
But to see you again in flesh
I’d happily wait at line’s end.

You’ll always be my cherished child.


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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

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The Smell of Death

I must be feeling morbid today as I work on compiling poems into book form, poems I’ve written over the years. Here is one that grabbed me a moment ago. (Soon to be found in a book called “ONCE LAUGHTER.”)

THE SMELL OF DEATH

It’s the taste of death we smell
when someone is aged and nearly gone,
the scent that lingers about them,
wafting to and fro,
an odour so atrocious we plug our noses lest we suffocate,
and we don’t breathe again until we’ve left the room.

You can’t mistake it—
that smell—
it can’t be hidden,
it’s distinctive
and everyone recognizes it,
most everyone’s smelt it.

It’s the stench of old people—
everyone knows that—
it’s a horrid smell.

But is it truly the smell?
Or is it the import—
the nearness, the significance,
the idea it might be contagious, that the smell could emanate from you sooner than you expect, sooner than you want—that Death could come calling for you?

They say once you breathe death you never forget it.

It’s a smell that lingers forever.

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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

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Oh, Dragonfly

Barbasol Championship - Round Two

(September 11, 2018: Eighteen Months)

Oh, Dragonfly

It soars
Up and down,
Over and across,
Swooping like a crow,
Soaring like an eagle,
Small,
Inconsequential,
Its shadow dark,
Larger on ground than in air.

Zooming over the glistening water,
Teeny wings unfolded,
Fluttering,
Almost scraping the water
And then coming toward me,
Wings spread like an airplane—
Or an angel.

Is it trying to catch my attention?
I watch,
Wait,
Wonder.

Even with grandchildren
Laughing, splashing, yelling,
It remains
Unfrightened,
Bold, soundless,
Flying in, flying out.

My vision blurs.
My throat constricts.

Could it be?

They say dragonflies are
A symbol of resurrection,
The deceased returning:
A fairy sprinkling dust
Or an angel planting kisses.

I watch you zoom by,
Disappearing for seconds,
Returning just as quickly
And landing on my knee—
A sign of good luck!

My son, is that you?

Oh, how you loved the pool,
The lounger you reclined upon
Rests in the same place.

I see you there,
Deep in thought,
Eyes closed,
Soaking up too much sun,
But I don’t admonish.

Not anymore.

No matter where you are:
Floating forever in eternity,
Twinkling with the stars,
Sleeping on the moon,
Dancing with the clouds,
Marvelling at mars,
Or returning to earth
If only for moments
As a fleeting dragonfly,
I’ll take what I can.

I’ll grasp every sign:
Every whisper,
Every breath,
Every touch.

Even if not you
I’ll pretend,
I’ll hold memories dear
To my chest,
At my breast,
Within my heart.

I sigh…
Oh, dragonfly,
Where have you gone?

I watch and wait.

You don’t return.

But that’s okay
For I’ll wake another morning,
I’ll search another day.

+++

In memory of my beloved, always missed son Matthew. Gone eighteen months today.

As Matt said numerous times the last too-short eight weeks of his life after we were given the diagnosis: “F*** cancer.” I echo his sentiments. (Can you imagine: two months from diagnosis to death!?)

I’ll miss you until my last breath.

Matt alone (2)

 

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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama with elements of thriller, suspense, mystery, romance, and family dynamics. Buy it on Amazon. Also available locally from the author and at other local retailers.

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Dear Matt

(Yesterday’s sad event)

 

Dear Matt,

 

We stand before you, burying you again:

Seventeen months after your death,

One day ahead of the first anniversary of your burial,

And tears are as fresh today as then.

 

I’m not in denial—none of us are,

We know you’re gone,

But like a broken record

So many unanswered questions abound.

 

I’m elated to be with your siblings this weekend,

We’re celebrating in style—not!

That’s only an expression

That came to my inebriated mind.

 

Perhaps we’re in reflection mode,

Enjoying each other as we did

When you were with us,

And, oh, how I wish you were here.

 

Perhaps we think of other things:

Sadness, happiness—who knows.

I’m not privy to others’ minds.

I only know mine.

 

We all grieve differently.

Everyone misses you.

Everyone sheds tears

In their own way.

 

We brought Bud Light with us,

We pray, we speak, we remember.

We won’t forget you.

We never will. I never will.

 

I miss you so much, my son,

My middle child,

My only planned child,

Ironically, the only child I didn’t want.

 

A contradiction, for sure (there’s a story there!),

But all turned out okay in the end:

Your birth, your life.

All was okay until I couldn’t save you.

 

I tried.

I tried so hard. With all my might.

I’d do the same for your siblings,

But I’m not God.

 

This world isn’t all about me;

I know that.

I’m just a peon in the universe,

Feeling bereft without one of my children.

 

Existing with a horrid hole,

Quashing aches within my soul,

Searching for a missing puzzle piece

Lost forever.

 

With every breath I miss you,

I shout to the Heavens,

I shriek to God,

How can this be?

 

I want to say, “Rest in peace, my son,”

But that’s such a cliché,

And who knows, really, what you’re doing

Or where you are.

 

No one knows.

No one knows.

Me?

I just want the impossible.

 

RIP, my son.

Rest in peace.

Matt Headstone Kenzieville

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July 11 – Sixteen Months

Heart is brokenfix

A piece of my heart ripped from my soul
Sixteen months ago,
Since then so many cliches of life and death
And sometimes there are no words,
No white, no black,
Just mucky grey between masses of nothing.

We honour you in death as we never did in life,
But isn’t that the way of humans—
Not missing something until it’s gone,
Withholding words until it’s too late.

I’d give all my next heartbeats to
Hug you one last time,
To tell you “I love you” in case you didn’t know
Because no one can hear those words enough,
I’d ask for forgiveness for my wrongs,
For not being perfect,
But throughout your thirty-six years
I tried my best,
But still, I could have done more.
We can all do more.

Balloons don’t go to Heaven
And though lovely
With colourful meaning and love,
That rubbery sheath
Harms the environment.
We need to protect our future
As I couldn’t protect yours,
A mama can only do so much,
Which I did not know until your death.

I tried so hard to save you,
But could I have done more?
Though my heart says otherwise
My mind screeches NO!
The word “incurable” exists
And I don’t know why,
Prayers, doctors, money…
Nothing could save you.

I’ll grieve every day with that
Empty hole in my heart,
That missing fragment I live without,
For I still breathe and function,
I still eat and drink and play
But I’m not whole.
My heart can never be repaired.
No amount of thread or glue can help.
Not even tissues can dry all my tears.
Nothing can bring you back.
Nothing.

I’m not sure of my beliefs,
What my future holds after I’m gone.
Will we meet again?
I’m sorry to waver,
To not fully believe,
I’m like my father who opined that
Once we’re gone, we’re gone, and
Nothing remains but stone or ash.

But forever and always:
There are whispers in the wind,
Rustling through the trees,
Birds chirping,
Deer scampering across the field.
Perhaps it’s you, calling out.

I think of you too often,
Wondering where you are
In this game of life and death.
Within this vast landscape of living
Where does life end and death begin?
When does death end?

My son, my son,
These are words I could never imagine
saying, writing, or thinking.
Who could ever predict this loss?
Not I.
And now I ponder the future
And other wretched events that linger,
For if your death occurred, nothing is sacred
and more loss surely waits,
Waiting like the moon to rise or the sun to set,
For no one is immune to life and death.

We all have our beginnings and our endings,
And, oh, how horrid the endings.

 

Matt candle crop

 

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Mayday!

My birthday yesterday began with a cry. Not a gleeful cry, but a cry as in crying, weeping, sobbing. I’ve been having a horrid few days (horrid months, actually) what with the year anniversary of Matthew’s death on March 11,  my mother’s two-year death anniversary on March 24, his birthday on April 28, and then my birthday without two individuals I loved so dearly. I don’t even want to think about upcoming Mother’s Day.

When had I morphed into a sixty-something senior? I never imagined this day would arrive. But what did I think, that I was immune to time? The unfathomable happened when my thirty-six-year-old son died of an extremely rare heart cancer, so I’m definitely not “special.”

I’ve made lots of wishes in the past. One wish I never made was for my children to survive me. The natural order of death exists: grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren. Who expects the death of a child to be inserted between grandparents and parents? No, that was never a wish of mine. I had never considered such a situation, so how could I have wished for it to never happen?

But unfathomably it did.

I’m into the second month of the second year, and life is worse than the first year. I assumed it would get easier not harder.

It’s gotten so much harder. Some days I can barely breathe. Some days I swear I’m having a heart attack. Some days I don’t want to get out of bed. Some nights I don’t want to go to bed. My son is the last thing on my mind at night, the first in the morning. I always shed tears for him before I sleep and again upon waking.

I can’t go on any longer. How do I? How can I? My life’s not the same, and no matter what I or anyone else says or does, it never will be. I can’t wake up and say my day will be great, that I’ll ignore bad words spewed about me, or I’ll do “this” instead of “that” and I’ll feel better, or that my diet will start today and I’ll feel better once I’ve lost weight. Such mundane issues now. Who cares?

Nothing I’ll ever do for the rest of my life will make me happier. Or glad to be alive. Or grateful for what I have.

Nothing.

I know I’m wrong. I should be grateful. I have two other wonderful children. Gorgeous grandchildren. A husband. A home.

But I have such a void. And no matter what happens, it’ll never be filled. It’s as if I’ve fallen into an insatiable sinkhole that is determined to smother me. I can’t claw my way out no matter what I do. Because I can’t. It’s impossible. No matter what I do. It’s indescribable, actually. That’s my life now though my words are inadequate to accurately describe how I feel.

I was to have taken minutes at my writers group yesterday morning. Committed myself a month ago.  It’s been months since I’ve attended a meeting. I went to bed knowing I wouldn’t follow through the next day. How easy it is to promise something weeks or months—even days—before an event. I’ve never reneged on duties, no matter what they might be. Until recently.

I had nightmares I’d break down at the meeting and have to escape and wouldn’t be able to gather all my belongings, and I’d have to wait outside or in  the washroom and hope someone would find me to hand over my things, or I’d have to linger like an idiot and sneak back into the room after everyone left.  I don’t want to break down in front of others. My grief is mine. It’s private.  I don’t share,  at least not much, because no one can possibly know my agony, and everyone is sick of my gloominess and glumness and sorrowful posts. Because unless you’re in my shoes, you don’t know. And I don’t want you in my shoes.

I had thought I was in pain when my mother died a year before my son. I’ve horribly neglected grieving for her because I’ve been consumed with my son. But the pain over my mother’s death wasn’t this kind of agony and heartbreak though at the time I thought it was. That was grief. Grief is different than pain and agony and heartbreak and lack of  breath and nil motivation. Grief for a parent or a grandparent or a cousin or a friend, even a spouse, is so much different than grief for a child.

Yesterday morning, an hour before the writing group was to meet, one of my fellow writers messaged me a happy birthday and “see you soon.”

No, you won’t see me soon.  You may never see me again.

I hate I let people down. I hate I was a no show.  I hate people not knowing what I’m suffering—no, I take that back; I wish for no one—ever—to feel my pain. It’s too horrendous.

But I went to the meeting the day of my birthday, not that I cared it was my birthday. Got within five minutes of the venue and turned back. It didn’t help that “Broken Halos” came on the radio during the drive.

At noon, I met my granddaughter and her mother for lunch. I put on a brave front. I wouldn’t break down in front of a ten-year-old, not the daughter of my son. She suffers her own unimaginable pain. I can’t begin to comprehend hers; I only know mine. Hers: so much different than mine.

Hubby came home early from work. “It’s your birthday. I want to take you shopping,” he said. “You need new bras and undies.” I didn’t want new underwear. I could buy my own, thank you very much. But he insisted, so we went to The Bay at the mall. He means well. He’s sick of my grey bras and ripped panties. I am, too, but I’m comfortable wearing old friends although I always pray before leaving the house that I won’t be in an accident. How horrid that would be (for me!) if hospital staff saw my grossly discoloured, stretched, and torn underwear.

After hours traipsing the floors and numerous trips to dressing rooms, I ended up with three pairs of undies, three bras, and two pairs of jeans. All expensive. More money than I would have spent. “It’s your birthday,” he insisted at my every complaint. He wanted to buy me more clothing, too, but I was shopped-out. I was also disgusted with my looks when trying on the items. Rolls and cellulite and sag, so much more noticeable with fluorescent lights and three walls of floor-to-ceiling mirrors inches from my body, freaked me out. When had I gotten that out of shape? When had I morphed into my eighty-year-old mother? Never had I imagined I’d look the way I do now. But  what did a sixty-seven-year-old look like beneath clothing? Everyone tells me how young I look. Perhaps I did, once upon a time: before my son died. But I’ve aged ten years in the last year. And the clothed me looks one hundred percent better than the naked me.

I’m old. I’m disgusting.

I’ve let myself go over the past year and a half. My son died! That’s my excuse. Excuses are great! Always excuses! I can have those French fries, the cheesecake. The ice cream cone. The bags of Goodies and licorice. I can eat no food at all! The beer. The too-many glass of wine. What happened to my exercise regime? I had been on a routine once upon a time. But I’m grieving. I’m allowed, right?

I’m paying the price now. Or, at my age, would I look like this even if my son were alive?

I didn’t want new clothes yesterday. “Take me shopping after I’ve lost weight.”

“Today’s your birthday. We’re going today,” Hubby said.

We went to a pub for dinner afterward. I had two beer. Fries, too. It was my birthday. Definitely okay to indulge. But I formulated a plan: tomorrow—no, Monday; always Mondays—I’ll eat healthier. I’ll exercise. I’ll drink less.

“What’s wrong?” Hubby asked in between the fries and beer. “Your eyes are glazed over.”

“Nothing.”

“There’s something. It’s your birthday. Why are you crying on your birthday? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” I kept insisting. I tried desperately to hold in my tears. He wouldn’t understand. He hadn’t lost a child; I did. He couldn’t possibly understand.

“I’ll tell you later,”  I finally said, to shut him up.

Tears rolled down my face all the way home. I don’t sob and weep anymore. I don’t scream or rant or rave. I just tear. Big, bottomless tears that hide behind my eyeballs, tears that creep out every second of every day and careen down my cheeks. Silent tears. Puffy-eye tears. Sore-eye tears.

It was dusk, but I donned my sunglasses. Hubby makes fun of my sunglasses, that I wear them when there’s no sun. I wear them more and more often now.

We got home, changed into grubbies, and watched TV. I was glad Hubby didn’t question me. My pain, my agony, is mine alone. Even on my birthday.

Later, when on my tablet, I noticed a stranger had commented on my “Two Candles” poem on my blog that I had posted on Matt’s birthday.

“I’m so sorry,” she wrote. “It’s just really hard. Hugs.”

I  went to her blog and read one of her posts. She  was going on ten years without her son, who was killed by a drunk driver. Entering the second year after the death of a child, she wrote, is even worse than the first. During the first you’re still in shock and disbelief, but by the time the second anniversary rolls around, reality has set in.

How true that is! I was a tad comforted that how I’d been feeling was maybe sorta “normal.”

I continually see my son, unannounced (surprise! surprise!), entering the kitchen, sporting his sly grin. He’d sometimes carry an armful of clothing he needed mended. Oh, the repairs and hemming I’ve done for him. How I miss it even though at the time I inwardly cringed. Mending and ironing: two chores I’m not particularly fond of. Hubby used to comment that Matthew’s mending got done immediately whereas his would sit on my sewing table for weeks. In retrospect, I’m so glad I finished Matt’s clothes as quickly as I did and that I never complained. Such little things that comfort me.

Ironically, before I went to bed last night, I came across a friend’s Facebook post: “Please be patient with me. You see, I lost my child. And while it may seem like a long time to you, it’s every day for me.”

Yes, it’s every day. Even on my birthday.

 

Please be patient

 

 

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Two Candles

I’m eating a Boston cream donut today.

Boston cream donuts: your favourite kind.

Matt nine years old 001 (2)

Since your death I’ve eaten too many,

Always an excuse to eat one—or two.

 

Too many excuses to drink and eat.

 

Today’s your birthday in Heaven at 38

Where you’ll continue to age,

But here on earth, forever 36.

Matt19crop

Always 36.

 

In my solitude I insert candles in the donut,

Between my tears I light two wicks:

One for each birthday you’ve missed on earth.

 

boston cream

 

I make a wish—a wish that’ll never come true—

And blow out flickering flames.

 

Happy birthday in Heaven, sweet son.

Happy birthday, Matthew, my cherubic babe.

Matt baby

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It’s About Time!

People have been clamouring for more of my mice saga.

Really?

“Love those meeces to pieces” and “Wow” and “The story could be worse” and “You’ll pull through this” and “It’s not as bad as you think” and…

The comments, to me personally and not on here on my blog, are similar. One person even told me to check behind my fridge and under my stove. Thankfully, I have a wall oven and a gas stove top, so I’m fine with the stove, thank you very much. But the fridge? Yes, I’m sure I’ll find treasures there. The other day, Easter Sunday in fact, shortly before our thirteen guests arrived, I happened to find a pile of peanut shells under a throw pillow on the couch in the “little living room.” We mainly use the great room and Hubby’s man cave, but it was still disgusting. The previous day, I opened a drawer in my grandmother’s ornate desk to find several turds. How they managed that feat is beyond me because there is no access behind the drawers.

Someone near and dear to me even had the audacity to email: “Hope you’re enjoying your new friends.”

YOU try to enjoy life with rodents and see how you fare. Literally, I’m constantly looking over my shoulders, watching where I step, examining my food…

NO, I’m NOT enjoying this period of my life. Sure, things could be waaaaaaay worse. But I don’t want “worse.” I want normal. The life I had before.

I can’t turn the clock back to “before.” Some things are impossible to rectify and revert, like the death of my son (I need to insert him into my every writing. Just because. I can’t help it).

But we—not me—”someone,” Hubby, exterminators should be able to put our house back in pre-mouse condition.

And today—SUCCESS!!!—Terminator coming on Thursday. I had to sic the fear of “something” into Hubby, and it worked! When I told him one exterminator company wanted upwards of $3,500 to assess and block any access holes, well–that spurred him into action. The company he uses at work charges $50 a month to take care of ANY critter/bug/insect/rodent/you-name-it, which makes me Happy Doobie!

It’s about time. Cause I’m at the point where it’s either this crit (me) or the “other” critters. One of us is about to leave this house. And I don’t think it’s the meeces….

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McDonald’s, Stapleton, and Tears

(Days ago, I decided I’d not post anything more about my son, especially on Facebook, but here I am again. FYI: I’m not looking for sympathy when I post; I’m simply keeping his memory alive. For the world, I guess. Not for me; I’ll never forget him. He’s last on my mind at night, first on my mind in the morning. For certain, though, I’m giving up writing/posting a poem every month on the 11th, the day of his death. I have no new words to say, really.)

***

This morning, I was in the drive-thru at McDonald’s and heard a song that resonated. The climate control was on the dash screen as I had just adjusted the heat, so I couldn’t see the title or the artist. My eyes welled listening to words that described my feelings, words I wished I had written.

I switched the controls back to the radio and was stunned to see the artist Chris Stapleton flash across the screen. Uncontrollable tears streamed down my face at seeing his name. One of his songs had been played at my son’s funeral last year, and I immediately figured it must have been this song, “Broken Halos,” because it was so apropos.

I had never heard of Stapleton until Matt’s funeral. Several songs were played, and I don’t remember any of them. The funeral was a fog at the time and still remains a dark cloud, so I could have heard Christmas music and not known—or cared.

I don’t know how I continued through the drive-thru. I can’t imagine what the woman taking my money and the guy handing me my order must have thought. I usually wear sunglasses to hide my tears, but the morning was dark, dreary, and rainy; perhaps it was too dark for them to notice. I rushed through my errand, managing to control the rest of my tears until I got back in the car.

When I got home, I called my daughter. We commiserate often, both of us still having a hard time dealing with Matt’s death. I barely got one sentence out of my mouth before she said, “That was Chris Stapleton and ‘Broken Halos,’ wasn’t it?” She’d been hearing the song for the past several months and kept meaning to tell me about it.

“Was that the one at his funeral?” I asked.

She said no, that “Fire Away” had been played at his funeral, probably because he was a hunter, but she agreed with me that “Broken Halos” would have been more appropriate.

“Folded wings that used to fly
They’ve all gone wherever they go
Broken halos that used to shine”

Matt candle crop

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