Essentials

A gurney floats by

out of the corner of my eye.

smell of fear;

smell of worry;

smell of death.

Death rattle, roll

with every last breath.

I smile

to cover the pain;

the strain.

No one can see

me.

Even my touch

is covered

as I hover

counting reps

counting breaths

shutting out deaths.

~KendraLynn © 1/9/2021

People talk of the second rise; the third rise; the rise… of COVID19. In my world, there has been no fall or blessed dip. I’m a physical therapist assistant, working full time. Have been – throughout this entire pandemic. I’ve heard every conspiracy theory imaginable. I used to laugh it off. No comment. Let some people believe whatever it is they want to believe. Now? I cringe with the uneducated theory that this is all a hoax.

I cringe at the countless people I see in public wearing their mask wrong (down, around their chin; under their nose; hanging from one ear). I suppose to some, it’s cute. Or funny.

I cringe at over-zealous health care workers who see me for one split second pull my mask down to take in that glorious, free oxygen before I walk into my patient’s room – chastise me … as though I do not know the consequences of such human actions.

Or the Facebook posts that educate with memes, quotes, and sayings – teaching everyone to just buck up, be a good citizen, wear that mask, and don’t you dare bitch about it… all well intended. There is no doubt. It’s all well intended. But some will never know what it’s like to work with an N-95 mask strapped tightly to their face for 8 or more hours. Some will never know what it’s like to put on the various forms of protective wear … N-95, surgical mask over the N-95 mask, face shield, hair covering, gown (thin mesh-like material; to heavy cloth; to plastic), gloves, and shoe covers. For 8 hours. Changing constantly between each patient. Sliding into a hall bathroom – gasping at certain times of the day – sneaking in that oxygen without that blessed mask or face shield. Sometimes. Just sometimes. I need to throw a full-blown fit. Without the fit police of Facebook judging me.

Every day. An N-95 pressing into my frontal, nasal, & temporal lobes… like a weighted sleep mask, but I can’t sleep. I have to stay alert; awake; prepared. My voice comes out muffled. I sound muffled. So I raise my voice. To an elderly patient who has hearing & dementia issues; a patient that is looking at me like I just stepped off a moon shuttle & I might kidnap them. My gear intimates them. It scares them. They have dementia, but they all know what this virus is. I want to cry. But I can’t. Not in front of them. They’re like my babies. If they see me cry ,,, I’m not going there. This mask and face shield,,, wow. I need to breathe. I’ve been mouth breathing into this damn thing all day. My eyes. Are my eyes covered enough? Fuck. They itch. I blink hard. My patient laughs & thinks I’m winking at him. I giggle & really wink at him. We need a laugh. Can that TV be any louder? Do they really need to watch CNN every damn day? Will this damn virus ever go away? Who the hell started this shit? I take a deep breath. It’s almost 4:30. Time to gown down. I finish up and clock out. Gears switch. Emotions change. I pick up my 10 year old son & listen to him. We talk about our day, but I’m careful… my fear could become his panic attack. We’re going to make it through this one day at a time. That’s what I tell him. Just keep plugging away & stay focused. We’re getting through this.

And one day, as I’m driving home from work … alone in my car … Pink Floyd’s Mother blaring as loud as a concert … a string of cuss words & yelling as loud as I can. I feel my shoulders relax a little & I’m suddenly crying. And yelling. And crying. And it feels fucking good. All the fear & worry melts away. All of my countless questions to myself & the Universe melt away .. today? I’m a warrior. I’m essential. I’m not going to let this virus win. I’ll keep plugging away. Every single day.

***if you read all of this rant, thank you. Sometimes this crap really gets to me***

Night Air

Crisp

yet gentle

brushing my cheek

as if to paint a smile

I bow my head

letting it tousle my hair

feeling the freedom as it moves

like poetry

on a ripe, Autumn night

this night

where dreams softly dance with reality

~KendraLynn © 11/18/2020

Photo is stock image found on Pinterest.

Haunted Melody

It comes in faint

from down a crowded & otherwise bustling hall;

everything I do

stops.

My breathing;

my heart,

stops.

The whistle,

that tune,

that once made me smile –

now brings a sorrow that’s hard to define.

It’s the unknown

that grips me.

Where is he?

Is he safe?

Did he eat today?

Did it fill him up enough to sustain him, in case he can’t eat tomorrow?

Is he hurt?

Is he hurting?

Does he still have his iPad?

Does he still have his shoes, or did someone steal them?

What about socks? They’re priceless out on the mean streets. Does he still have socks?

Is he still alive?

Right about then, the opening tune – with its distinct whistle – fades away & I’m left trying to regain my composure.

I have to regain my composure. I work with patients that are so similar to my brother. Homeless. Mentally unstable. Confused. Hurt. Angry. Torn. Searching. Wandering.

I never before had to worry about a homeless person, like I do now. I never before felt compelled to quietly bend down, ear-to-earth, listening for footsteps that I know I may never hear again. Laughter I may never hear again. A voice I may never hear again. A soul that I may never see again.

A tangled thought of memory & letting go.

A hymn of prayer & worry.

My brother is an artist. A painter. A sketcher. A person that can create a masterpiece with a flick of his wrist & a soft swipe of his paint brush. A person that doesn’t see his talent as worthy. A person that doesn’t see himself as worthy. A homeless wanderer looking for a home.

I pick myself up & stand up from my stool; pushing it back to its rightful place in the therapy gym.

My life is surging forward in beautiful momentum.

I can only pray for my brother.

~KendraLynn © 10/4/2020

Image is a stock photo of the Andy Griffith show found via Google.

Please don’t judge. My brother is 50 years old & is now homeless in Arizona. Our mother passed away 8/26/2020. 3 days before her passing, my brother packed a backpack, put on some worn flip-flops, & boarded a Greyhound bus to the desert. I have limited contact with him & haven’t received a text from him in almost 4 days. His iPad is either not charged, missing, lost, or stolen.

My brother loved watching The Andy Griffith Show with my son. They would quietly watch that show nearly everyday. It was a ritual. A time to meditate on the easy life. A time to dream.

My Letter

I hope this letter gets to you. At least, the heart of it. I hope …

If my calculations are correct, you should reach Arizona some time in the afternoon tomorrow (8/25/2020). Not calculating the stops in between, you will most likely step foot in the desert, in the late evening. I’m imagining you in Colorado, by now. Who knows? You could still be in Missouri.

Remember when Mom insisted we take a vacation to Kansas? In our used Plymouth station wagon that Dad insisted we needed? Without air conditioner? Red, vinyl seats. Sticky, hot seats. In July. Did I mention no A/C in that gray tank? We learned how long it took to drive through Missouri. It seemed to stretch on for days and days.

I worry about you. Always have. We watched over each other. We’ve always communicated in our special way. Telepathically, mostly. We just knew how to help each other, growing up. We depended on each other. Mom wasn’t good at showing soft emotions. We learned how to compensate. We listened. And now, you’re moving further and further away. A deep sorrow is starting to set in.

I know you don’t want to hear that. And you know I’ve always been the one to call you out on your bullshit. You never listened, until it was almost too late.

Am I too late? This. What you’re doing right now, is utter bullshit.

Am I too late?

I know you care. You stuck up for Ethan & I when Mom was at her worst.

But

Am I too late?

My mind drifts to the good times – when you made me laugh after mom made me cry.

Every new snow day, you woke me up… but the blizzard of 1982 was like the dream of all dreams come true. You rushed to my room, made me get dressed, put the stupid bread sacks over my stupid snow boots, and go outside with you. One minute I was crying for you to leave me alone – the next, we were both laughing hysterically; knowing we wouldn’t have school for a couple of days. Well. That turned into no school for a whole month. Best. Winter. Ever.

The summers we would hike the hills and explore caves.

The time I was in the hospital. You cried when I came home. You hugged me over and over and told me how much you missed me.

Fishing in Piasa Creek. Digging for crickets and plucking those suckers on our hooks. Never caught one damn fish. But we sure had fun.

Sitting outside after midnight. Watching the stars. Wondering what kind of aliens would find us. Would they be the nice kind? The bad kind? Or just nerdy and weird? And we’d laugh. We ended every conversation with a laugh, back then.

When we could actually talk.

Do you remember howling at midnight? Literally. We both howled. And proceeded to somehow communicate with the coyotes, who started to yip in reply to our howls. That. Was scary. Funny as hell. But scary.

And when I came back home in 2010. Broken and bruised. It was you that made me call the police and file the report and stand up for myself. It was you that almost punched the policeman that accused me of lying. You always stood up for me.

Even recently. When things became toxic. You tried to make it better. It was just bigger than all of us.

Anyway. I’m rambling. That’s what I do when I worry. I ramble. My mind scrambles to find a solution. You always listened to my solutions… eventually. Now?

You’re miles away, now. You can’t hear me. I feel the disconnect. You’ve hung up our telepathic phone. It’s so weird to explain it to someone else. But you always understood it.

Anyway. I’m rambling again.

I hope when you reach Superstition Mountain, this time, that you find your true purpose. Not the purpose Mom assigned to you. Not her purpose. Your purpose.

I hope guilt and sorrow fades into the desert sand.

I hope you dwell on the good times. There were many. I’m realizing that now. We made it. We survived it. And you always have the choice to return.

But I feel

you

slipping away.

I hope and I pray you find your mission. Your purpose.

I’ll miss you, Buddy.

~KendraLynn 8/24/2020

~MissLynn~

***For my older brother, who left at 11pm last night for Arizona. He’s always liked Superstition Mountains. He ran to Arizona once, a few years back. He’s gone there again. No car. No phone. No home. Just a backpack and something he refuses to tell me. I’ve always joked that I’m my brothers’ older-younger sister. I give advice. I read the mind. I tell the hard truth. I poke until the hard truth is told freely. Provide answers. Right or wrong. I’ve always looked for a solution. This time’s different. He’s now homeless, despite people offering him a place to stay.

I can’t give advice now. It’s his turn to look for the answer. And he chose this way. I don’t understand it, but I respect it. Maybe there is something out there, for him to find.

I pray he finds whatever it is he’s searching for.

Revenant

Night falls heavy on the softest heart

It always does

cringing at unknown sounds

the feeling of wanting to be buried again

encapsulated & secure

though

so

very toxic

far from demure

days mix into nights

into daze

numbing haze

blistered focus

kissing hocus-pocus

praying for magic

feeling the trailing edge of the nightmare

sun’s glare

feeling

reeling

frayed speckles of the bruise

just

starting

to fade

a wayward wind lifts

sealed pieces of a seed

splitting

exiting weed

tufts gently float

past the harm

past the gloat

dividing blame

no more shame

can you see her?

how she flies without a care

her dandelion heart

revenant to her past

**************************************

The breaking of a seed is probably the best way to describe healing. If one were to witness each separate part of a seed rising, sprouting, blasting through soil, splitting; opening – each separate part would look so destructive. It isn’t until the seed has opened, that we appreciate the process in its entirety.

I chose the title revenant.

rev·e·nant

/ˈrevəˌnäN/

noun

  • 1.a person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead:

Because that’s exactly how it feels. Coming back. Splitting. Opening. A ghost of what was. And what was, is just a fable now.

Healing is dark. It is so dark. It’s a process that takes vigilance & determination. But I’ll tell you what, it’s all worth it.

The nightmares.

The disassociated, disjointed thoughts.

The endless swell of tears.

The sleepless nights.

It’s all worth it. I promise.

Staying consistent is key. At least for me.

Because where I’m at now, was just a fantasy in my head 3 years ago. Where I’m at now, far exceeds where I saw myself a year ago.

Allowing myself the space & the freedom to feel it all and truly heal, is my greatest gift to myself.

~KendraLynn © 8/14/2020

*photography found on Pinterest; photographer unknown.

Shell Shock

Silence

jarring me awake

stillness

neurological tremors

that quake

listening for the shouts

verbal cannons

shrapnel

tearing my soul’s flesh

am I safe?

are we safe?

what is this place?

who am I?

what was that?

where is the noise?

I know it’s coming

any minute, now

I’ll crouch down just as silent

I’ll wait

for the other shoe to fall

for the shell shock

numbing pain to call

I’ll wait

for your shrill voice

yelling down the hall

jarring me awake again

and again

night terrors

splitting hairs

again

and again

until I become

numb

again.

~KendraLynn © 7/11/2020

**photo found on Pinterest. Photographer unknown.

Training Day

I see his panic.

They see him acting out.

I see his eyes dart for some escape from something in his mind; his trigger.

They hear him starting to yell.

I see a certain sorrow on his face, because he has no idea how to stop whatever is happening.

They see him start to withdraw.

I bite my tongue. I let the emotions flash & roil; his angry storm. I let it all happen, because reasoning at this phase, would be a loss. And I need him to understand what’s going on. So I wait. Timing is everything.

He closes the car door & the tears start to roll & he really just lets loose with yelling that would wake God & His angels.

I put the car in drive – he plays with the window; up, down, up, down. Anything to get a reaction out of me. I wait for a break in his emotional mantra. We stop at a stop light.

“Are ya done? Or do you think you need more time to go crazy?”

He sits there, making some noise that annoys the hell outta me.

“I was trained by the best, my boy. I was trained by my mother. Whatever you’re doing now, has been done so many times in my past, I’m used to it.” I turn to him, before the light turns green. “I’m used to the bullshit. All of it. I’m numb to it all.” He looks at me. He’s finally listening. The light turns green.

“I don’t want you to get used to the bullshit. More importantly, I don’t want you to start to believe the bullshit.” He mumbles something, condescending my cussing. “I’m training you. You have to learn to overcome the bullshit that’s going through your head right now.”

His shoulders relax.

His eyes grow a little heavy & he yawns.

He turns to me while I’m driving. The softness of his face has returned.

“We’re safe, now.”

He looks at me.

“That crap in the past? We left that on June 1st. We keep that chaos at a safe distance. We forgive it. We still love it. It’s ok to still love that madness… from a safe distance.”

He cries. Hard.

“We’re safe now.”

Silence. Like poetry. Waiting for the next healing verse.

“You. Are. Safe. I will never let things, like our past, happen ever again. My work schedule is brutal. But it’s designed to keep our house efficient & strong. We are survivors. Stop pushing the victim button & start banging on the warrior button. Warriors keep moving away from petty bullshit. Warriors choose their battles wisely. And when something doesn’t go exactly as planned, warriors still stand tall & composed.”

He smiled. Discussing warriors, dinosaurs, & super heroes brings him to full attention. And you better believe I have a full repertoire of characters to use in any analogy I need to train him.

To train him away from trauma & the trauma response. He’s fought a war. A war with a narcissistic grandmother (my mother), that persistently & consistently worked to tear him down, emotionally & psychologically. He had to endure my mother, until I came home from work.

Now, we’re finally in our own place. Away from the emotional, verbal, psychological, & financial abuse. I know how to decompress; do ritualistic self-care; step away from myself & my negativity, to see the positive. I know how survive. Fully. My son needs training.

He’s 9. He’ll be 10 in July. He’s stronger than most adults I’ve met. He’s quick to forgive. He’s quick to point out that “Grandma acts much better now, that we’ve moved away. Maybe she was just scared for us.” He’s quick to create our new routine of visiting my mom every Friday.

We’re both on the path to healing and forgiveness. I just need to help my son fine-tune his own self-care routine. I am showing him the healthy way to decompress.

And love. Love truly does heal all. We hug so much, our hug meter runs over everyday. I didn’t get many hugs from my mother, growing up – so this is crucial. He needs my connection.

We’re survivors – survivors, writing & editing our new story.

KendraLynn 6/28/2020 ©

No More

No More

swallowing lies

to which

a nurturing mother

will never rise

No More

partaking of your game

chaotic mind-wreck

adopted poison with no name

No More

taking your dead roses

your false poses

No More

seeing a face that squints and scorns

No More

swallowing thorns.

~KendraLynn 5/22/2020 ©

Mad House

It’s a mad house

screaming

scheming

only nightmares

no perfect dreaming

Mad

House

of shifting floors

slamming doors

broken windows

grandiose narcissistic shows

I used to hide it

deny it

defy it

now it’s my truth

I no longer hide from

like it

or not

this is who I am

this

mad

house

that unknowingly

and possibly

unwillingly

shaped me

~KendraLynn 5/7/2020 ©

Stock black and white image found on google. Photographer unknown.

Rain

These tears fall like rain. Grief does that.

But this grief is prolonged.

It’s a sorrow that sits deep in the soul, with splintered knees. It’s a midnight howling heard in the distance.

I look at this haunted house, with its haunted dreams; conniving schemes. I look, and I find nothing worth parting with. I hear tendrils of tender voices, but they don’t last long. Nothing in this house ever does.

I am grieving.

These tears.

Falling like a rain that threatens to never stop.

Falling.

~KendraLynn © 3/5/2020

Artwork credit: Tanya Shatseva

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