The embers

“The embers are here to make us remember the fire”

– Arhan, 5

This weekend I thought about Ma a lot. It wasn’t anything in particular other than after a really long time it felt like a normal weekend at home. A weekend that had semblances of how things were with my family before she died. I woke up without feeling angry for a change. Or with undue anxiety. It was a weekend unlike any other, without any commitments after a long time. But somehow because it felt like a time long ago, the first thing I thought about inadvertently was that I had to call her. I hadn’t made that mistake in a long time. I used to a lot soon after she died. But then over time I became so angry and bitter that I was ever cognizant, yeah she’s not there. And that made me more angry.

I’ve been so angry for what it feels like such a long time that I’m an ember inside of myself. And I was about to flicker out.

But then I got tired of it. I got tired of feeling angry with everything. And it was a relief. I felt like I’d been waiting to exhale. It’s not like it’s behind me. But I’ll take this respite.

So several times this weekend I felt the urge to call her. To tell her about the snow that was coming. To tell her how we were preparing. How much her grandson was enjoying. Some inane stuff only she cared about. Ironically I never did feel that urge when I was angry. She would have just been upset. But today, I just wanted to talk. I wanted to talk to her so badly that I needed to get out. I went for a walk in the freezing temps. It was in the low teens. Cold and barren, I thought the freeze would help with the rage inside. And I wished she was there. And for what it’s worth, I saw her through what I’d been through in the last year or so. How close I’d come to losing my mind. And how I didn’t. Something that walked me off the ledge. That made me exhale. Must have been her. It was for her that I’d come close to give it all up. But something pulled me back. And I cried. I cried hot tears down my aching, frozen cheeks. I hadn’t cried like that in months just for her. Not for all the shit in my life but just for her.

So I exhale. And I inhale. And I keep moving on. But I move more easily. Not as heavy and leaden like before. I accept things as they are. And Simple Song by Passenger held me steady till I made it back home from my walk.

….”Well, I know it’s not been easy
But easy ain’t worth singin’ about
Yeah, I know, I know
The time goes slow
But it’s always running out…”

I came home to warmth, a fire and love. All of which have been here waiting for me. And so is she.


Focusing more on the small stuff, and trying to parse through the crap and trying to find the nuggets of happiness in the little things is probably the way to go.

Pittsburgh is beautiful no matter the time of the year. There have been some awe-inspiring moments of beauty that have taken me by surprise and actually distracted me from whatever brooding I was stewing in at that time. From the fall colors to the stark beauty of the leaf-shorn trees in the winter and melting snow, I’ve taken sometime to pause and it’s worth journaling so I don’t forget about those moments too within the fog. Not the hours grueling through “work”, or frustrations of parenting or the sheer desolation in marital strain. But those moments of wonder when all I could say was, I’m lucky to be here.

So continuing on that theme in the new year, resolution around restitution of all that has frayed away, I start with a commemoration to the way I feel in Frick Park and every other park I’ve hiked in. I used to hike in Bull creek in Austin for its seclusion within the city, where you could hike a mile into the park and be surrounded by quiet. And now at Frick Park, where I can run a mile up into the hills in the park on a cold, crisp day – barely breaking a sweat and hear nothing but the birds. With soft music and a steady heartbeat again I felt today, I’m lucky to be here. I’d like to piece together more moments like this in this new year, looking not outside into my job, marriage, child, parent, parental loss and family, to live more within these moments when I just want to feel lucky to be here.

14 months and a new year

I’m stuck in a bad movie

That never ends

In which, the mother dies

and it never feels the same again.

2019 could be the year of annihilation. Or it can be the year of redemption. Or it can be the storm before the calm. Or it could be more of the same. Yet somehow it feels like I’m on the brink of disaster. I can’t say. I can’t trust anything anymore. Reality feels distorted. How can I be painfully cognizant of how much things have changed over the last 14 months and yet also be painfully tired of the sameness of the desolation inside my head. I’m unable to pull myself out of the monotony of a dutiful life and I’m unable to find the joy in the larger direction of my life.

So then perhaps 2019 is the year to look at the small stuff. To find peace in the moments between the ruckus and disquiet. That it won’t come easy is obviously and painfully apparent.

Perhaps 2019 is the year to not make any big decisions. Because nothing seems to be based on rational thought. There is only the wilderness of an emotionally bereft, winter-shorn forest inside. I feel strongly about one irrational idea and catapult to another, equally crazy, life-altering idea at the next instant. Anything seems like a possibility to remove the absolute sense of barrenness I feel. But it’s also filled with a sense of dread of oncoming desolation after. So no, 2019 is not about those decisions. It’s about breaking each component apart and seeing within and what meaning that brings to life. And how to rebuild it within those shards of meaning that may emerge out of the fractions that remain. So that’s what it’s about. The deconstruction and reconstruction of all that matters. Restitution.