As a big fan of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Newt is, by far, my favorite Hufflepuff), I was very much looking forward to The Crimes of Grindelwald. I wasn't disappointed, by any means, but what I found in Crimes was not what I expected. I am, like many watchers, left a little confused...
Great filming. Loved the action-packed beginning, the dynamic shots, the ways in which this movie is filmed in much darker colors (it's a darker movie), and the phenomenal acting.
The story-line was intriguing enough to keep me wondering how Credence could be related to LeStrange and other characters, and why that would be important. The acting that complimented it--Depp's dynamic role as a charismatic though truly evil villain, Newt's growth with his human counterparts, LeStrange's riveting love and sacrifice, Queenie's struggle with her inner demons and society, and Dumbledore's heartbreak--was wonderful to watch.
Nagini! Need I say more? Nagini gets to be a real character! Kinda rockin'.
The portkey scene...so darn funny. I love Jacob. More Jacob, please!
So much that is happening has almost no basis in previous work. For instance, Nagini's very existence. While it's cool that we get to experience an interesting take on a character we thought we knew in HP, it doesn't seem to have a basis in the story familiar to me. In HP, I'd not heard of a person with her "condition." It seemed to me that that was something that might have come up at one point. Maybe it's rare thing, but I'm not sure how I feel about that popping up.
The other "pop up" is the ending. Spoiler alert! Do not keep reading, if you haven't watched it yet. There's no basis in the HP books for another Dumbledore brother. There's a sister who dies young, Dumbledore's brother who runs the Hog's Head, and his parents who were physically separated after Percival was jailed for attacking the muggles who assaulted his daughter. His mom probably didn't have a baby with another person in between her death, after her husband's imprisonment, right? We'd have heard that mentioned, right? Because Dumbledore's mother dies due to a magic-related accident involving his sister's lack of control (a possible early reference to Obscurial). So...where does this brother come from? Is it made up by Grindelwald to lure Credence into his clutches? Why the phoenix, then? It reminds me of the Obscurial from the first movie. It's never obviously referenced in HP, but then is the entire basis for Fantastic Beasts. Another brother is never referenced in HP, but is now the basis for Crimes. I don't know about that.
I'm also not sure that I like that Queenie goes so off in this one. Rather than making her more complex, the ways in which she is manipulated make her appear ignorant, which I don't like. In Fantastic Beasts, she is forward-thinking and clever, so why would she fall prey to Grindewald, no matter how cunning he is? Especially when it separates her from her love? That was stretch to me. One that made a really great character act in a way that goes to counter to her original persona.
Overall, the movie kept me going, kept me hanging on, but it left me wanting more of the humor of the first, more friendship shots between Jacob and Newt (who are a great pairing), and a little more clarity. It seemed a bit convoluted. Not a bad movie at all. I enjoyed it. But it was not, in my opinion, as enjoyable as Fantastic Beasts, which so well balanced light and dark, funny and serious, good and evil. This one felt less balanced.
Recently, my uncle on my husband's side of the family, Oliver Jones (OJ) passed away. It's been so hard for my husband's side of the family. It seems all of the strong figures, the people who understood what to do when something went wrong, the people who were the face of the family, are falling so quickly away from us. It feels so unfair, and so fast. So incredibly fast. So fast it takes the air from our lungs, so that it becomes hard to speak our grief properly. I helped with the obituary, being writerly, as did my husband, being a jack of all awesomeness. I wanted to put it here. I want more people to know exactly the kind of man the world is losing, the best kind of man. That way, years from now, when all other sites have forgotten my uncle, I can go back to this post and say, "No, I won't forget."
So, again, I display loss on my blog. I feel like it has been a constant theme lately. There is no one more sorry than myself that that is the case. Indeed, it is a theme seemingly plaguing my family. So, for those who pray, we will accept those prayers eagerly. Thank you for remembering my loved ones with me.
Oliver Ralph Jones (Uncle OJ)
Oliver Ralph “OJ” “George” Jones was born on December 17, 1946 to Bob and Lillian Jones, and left us too soon on November 3, 2018. A proud Port Gamble S’Klallam tribal member, OJ lived much of his life on the tribe’s reservation.
Oliver was a proud Army vet and Vietnam War hero, who served as a combat medic, including with the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry 25th Infantry Division at the battle for Tan Son Nhut Air Base in 1968 during the Tet Offensive. He traveled far and wide to meet and honor his fellow veterans, and proudly spoke of his service at local reservations and schools, including at Wolfle Elementary. His words and his actions touched many.
Oliver worked for 25 years as a rigger at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, retiring in 1997. OJ was an important keeper of cultural teachings. He was a fixture of the annual tribal canoe journeys, pulling, helping the ground crew, and sharing songs and teachings with all. He carried the name Ta-tooch-win-is and practiced his culture and spirituality for many years through powwow dancing and through the Skokomish longhouse. When not attending cultural or spiritual functions, he could be found carving for them, painting drums, rattles, and paddles, or drying horse clams, and freely teaching others to do the same.
In the potlatching tradition, OJ was the host of his own lifelong giveaway, as well as the speaker for family giveaways. There was not a treasure he made or a gift he was given that he wouldn’t freely give to another. His spirit was one of generosity. OJ’s charisma and humor were well loved by all. He was best known for a goofy sense of humor, often greeting family and friends with a “What’s up, Dawg?” and ending a conversation with “I heart you, Dude.” His most treasured motto was Love, Honor and Respect. And he lived it, every day.
Oliver was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Karen Harris, his brothers Alan Jones and Mike Jones Sr., his nieces Rhonda Smith and NellieKim Sorenson, his granddaughter Raven McGill, and his great-nephew James Smith. He is survived by his children Duncan (Kelsey) Whyte, Cory (Andrea) Whyte, and Chaz Jones; his grandchildren Ian, Bradly, Cory, Collin, Charli, Brooklyn, Alena, Ryan and Oliver; his companion and best friend Nancy Meyer; his siblings Donna and Kevin Jones; numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins; and innumerable family and friends from near and far.
"Our Strength is Gone" a poem by H.M. Jones for Uncle OJ
No better word for a man who, it seemed, could not be beaten.
Not by the dredge war, internal battle of coming home,
dread memories of atrocities unknown, losses of friends then family.
Sickness attempted to bend your back, break you.
You stood, tall as you could, smiled, joked, spoke words that built others up,
sang songs that healed.
Even when your body sometimes failed you, your spirit strength never did.
A man who held my hand when his pain was so terrible he couldn’t stand,
and smiled and called me sweet niece,
you comforted others, never seeking your own peace.
No better word for a man who guided wherever he stirred;
sometimes firm, sometimes curt, sometimes soft, sometimes in tremulous grief.
You were our trusted source, the one who walked and lived history, ancestry, culture, paths few were strong enough to travel.
You knew, you always seemed to know where we were supposed to go.
Where, now, do we go?
No one more generous with those beloved,
his girls, his children, his family, his bountiful friends.
He bedecked us in high class gifts,
so often crafted with his paint-splashed hands,
sawdust blanketed him, a cedar coat of honor.
He gave, gave, gave, leaving so little for himself.
How do we manage when the strong are gone?
Is it enough to know you’re with your best friend?
With those who’ve made eternal peace their home?
Our grief would say no.
We are searching for your answers in hearts muddled by loss.
Our eyes drift over the crowd of uncertainty, searching for a form we will no longer see. We are left only with the wealth of the words you gave, the great example you left us.
And we must make it enough.
I've been thinking about quote shares lately, and how much they annoy me. It's hard to pinpoint why something like my friends sharing various snippets of thought could so annoy me. Being political season, politically based memes smashing the "other side" have been particularly annoying, as well. And I find myself more frustrated over silly shares than I probably need to be. It's wasted energy to be mad about it, but I'm starting to understand why it annoys me.
Small think meets group think. I have so many friends sharing snippets of quotes that don't encompass the whole idea of the original intention of the essay/book/poem as a whole. I have people pushing snippets of pan religiousity on the hordes who push like and share and feel they are known.
But they are not. You are not a meme, a quote or a consumer-made facebook/instagram/twitter personality, two parts political left or right leaning meme, two parts Budda/Dali Lama/Christ quotes taken out of context. You are a person with a story that is being pushed into pixels and puked onto the screen.
I'm a person who loves stories. I love the entirety of life. I think that's why I find myself annoyed when people I know portray themselves though pixels instead of through thought. Your stories matter, your experience matters, your life matters.
We are allowing ourselves to be canned into something more easily consumed. If we are sick, we can filter it. If we are over-worked we can share an inspirational quote about how success requires overwork, if we are feeling ugly we can paste a better version of ourselves in squares on the screen, and be free...
Only we aren't. We are part of the under-thinking, undeveloped mind puke of self-consciousness. And it is frustrating for me to see. Conservative, liberal, you AND me. We buy into creating ourselves in a socially consumable way, every day. I tire of it. It drives my already crazy me over that tipsy edge. I want to fight back, but feel unable to do so. Perhaps if I share the exact, right saying...the perfect meme...
As some of you may know, my kiddos and husband are Port Gamble S'Klallam enrolled tribal members. My kids love to read and listen to old S'Klallam stories. Their favorite storytellers are Roger Fernandes and Elaine Grinell, both of whom are also S'Klallam from different bands (areas). It just so happens that I also work at the local botanical garden, Heronswood Garden, which is owned by the Port Gamble Tribe. This year, Heronswood wanted to honor their S'Klallam connection by housing figures made mostly from garden material. My coworkers and I were responsible for this task, which was a lot of hard work but also a lot of fun.
The other part of my task was to represent the stories we were re-telling. Below is a link to the S'Klallam Foundation website and the stories I re-wrote for the guests who came to the garden, along with information about where those stories come from. So, for this week, my free short stories are these, which are not mine. They belong to the S'Klallam people, but I think they are important and should be known.
If you are a Washington local or will be in the Kingston Area, please stop by our garden during October to experience the figures we worked so hard to construct. They really turned out well.
Chances to See These Garden Structures:
Pumpkin Carving Contest/ Tea & Tarot Event on Sat. October 20th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Haunted Heronswood: Friday October 26th and Saturday October 27th, 5-9 p.m.
More Details about these events will follow on the: Heronswood Events Page
Follow Heronswood on Twitter for updates about other events: Twitter
Enjoy my re-telling of these wonderful stories here:
Three Modern Retellings of S'Klallam Stories by H.M. Jones
I have been silent about something that has turned me on my head. Silent about something I would normally be very vocal about. Silent because the words would not come through the fog of shock, and, yes, silent because I hoped I'd heard wrong, hoped there'd been a mistake. But I feel wrong being silent any longer. And I do not want my silence to be misconstrued as victim blaming or disbelief. I hear you, victims. Your voices are important. You are heard and believed. It was brave of you to speak.
For a long time proponent of lifting the victims of sexual assault up, helping them in their voices and supporting them when they do not feel heard... as an author whose stories and poems against sexual abuse and discrimination are at least somewhat known...as a survivor of harassment and abuse myself, I feel it is no longer acceptable to not talk about what happens when a friend is identified as an abuser.
Not long ago, I felt a sense of betrayal when a person I long revered for his writing ended up being an abuser. Sherman Alexie disappointed and disgusted me with his actions. His works were the bedrock of much of my teaching and I was shocked and appalled by his abuse. I felt somewhat lied to, but mostly disappointed.
But what happens when the abuser is a friend? I've had to deal with this occurrence in the past, sadly. Just last week I had to deal with it again. I've had the unlucky shock and immediate revulsion of a friend turned abuser three times in my life. It's such a difficult set of emotions that hit when something like this happens, that it's hard to explain.
However, as a proponent for lifting victims up, I think it's necessary to try to wade through what it's like to know an abuser, or to feel you knew someone who was, in your estimation, a "good person" only to be understand that he was not safe, not, in fact, the person you thought he was. An acquaintance of mine, who knew the abuser in much the same way I did, who counted the abuser as a friend said, "It's like I'm mourning the person I thought he was."
What a perfect way of describing what is happening in my mind, right now. I feel like I'm in deep mourning. That friend I loved is no longer alive. He was replaced with a man I do not know, and that man is a child abuser. The friend I thought I had is dead to me, then, because the two pictures cannot coincide. They just can't exist together. So, I'm left feeling so much that my stomach is in pains:
Shock: There must be some mistake, but, no, that's not right. I know what it's like to not be believed or heard in my abuse, and it was wrong then. If the child said he did it, he did. He did. He did. He did. He did it. He touched a child.
Anger: How in the fuck does someone touch a child? How did he trick me into caring for him? How dare he steal my confidence, the confidence of so many, and use it to hurt others! What kind of sick person does that shit? How did I trust someone so sick? Enough to bring my children to his house! I would have ended his existence if the victim were my daughter. I would have tried to kill him. My anger is so volatile, when I think about what I would have done in the mother's place, that it scares me. I know I am capable of murder when it comes people harming my children, and that is terrifying.
Guilt: I encouraged my students to take his classes. I talked him up and told people they could not go wrong with him in their corner. I trusted him and asked others to do the same. I did not protect my students like I should have. I know it's not my fault. The actions of others are never my fault, but...should I have known? It's stupid. Futile, to blame oneself for not knowing other people's demons, but it's inevitable, that guilt.
Nauseating Confusion: Why? Was there any part of the person I thought was my friend that actually existed? Were all of his actions a preparation for the pain he would inflict on others? Was he really selfless or did he just want to make his way into the homes of the vulnerable? Was there any part of him who was not the sick man who preyed on little girls? Was the man who cried after losing his wife, shaking with grief, eating the food I prepared for him in his time of need, sitting across from me and regaling me with the beauty of the wife who left too soon the same man who harmed a child, maybe many children? Was the man who seemed to care so much for others that he'd give his last dollar ever real? Was it a veneer?
Mourning: The man I considered a friend is dead to me. The man I thought I knew never was. He couldn't be. It doesn't match up. Tears stream down my face. I don't make friends easily. The loss of them shatters me.
Anxiety: Why does this always happen? Will women ever be safe? Are my children doomed to be the victims of sick people and their whims? How do I protect them? How can I possibly protect my kids when I cannot trust even my friends? I can never leave them alone. Never. How will I let them experience life without the anxiety that now eats at me? How will I let go enough to let them live, but to also see that they're safe? I pray. I pray. I pray.
Dear God, I pray that you'll help the spinning in my head slow, the pain in my gut to abate, the anger to dissipate. How can I love a world full of people who will knowingly hurt the most vulnerable? It tears at me. Please give me peace. More importantly, comfort those who need it like I needed it. Those who will need to find strength when their innocence is stolen, when their stay is ripped from their lips.
My chest aches. My eyes hurt from trying to keep tears in. It's not fair to mourn the man who is a disgrace, so I tell myself I mourn the picture in my head, of a man I loved as a friend. Not the man who, given the right circumstances and excuses, would abuse a child. I cannot and will not explain away, excuse or tolerate any suggestion that his doing so was anything other than a sick crime of a sick mind, even when doing so brings tears to my eyes.
If you're feeling even a little of this right now, those who have been let down, I'm sorry you're hurting. To those who have had the unwanted touch of a hand they thought they could trust, that's what hurts the most. Your pain is valid. Your pain is what matters. I'm sorry for you. Your trust in others is forever shaken. It was not your fault.
No matter what I feel it is nothing, insignificant, compared to the tidal wave of confusion and pain that poor child had to go through. Because she lost a friend and gained an abuser, too. I don't have to keep the abuser. He did not scar me like he did her. He is just somebody that I used to know. A person I can't call a friend, even when it's the friend I mourn.
Eminem, Nike and Mike Pence all walk into the bar and immediately steal your support, empathy, vote, time, money. Fill in the blank. Not a very funny joke, is it? I don’t think so either. The point is, no matter the side these entities (because I’m loathe to call them people) are on, they are selling you something. And you’re buying it.
My facebook feed is awash this week with sympathy or hate for Nike. They chose a politically charged athlete for two reasons, and not one of them was “freedom of choice.” One: they knew it would get people talking, up in arms. Two: they knew that it would get people who already supported and could afford their brand to buy more, and those who support them but don’t wear Nike stuff in a show of democratic support.
Eminem’s feud? Same. Maybe you like his music and know it’s ploy, but are okay will a friendly “marketing-based” competition, but from my newsfeed, my guess is most of my friends didn’t know. And that bothered me. I don’t like to see people I respect treated like pawns. I don’t listen to much Eminem, but it wasn’t hard for me to guess that Eminem was probably going to release an album soon, and a trip to Google told me I was correct. So, this fakey feud sat ill to me. It was a meatloaf pretending to be a steak.
So how does Pence fit into this? An anonymous piece written by a disgruntled, anonymous Trump staff member who just so happens to use a phrase Mike Pence often uses (and almost no one else with a better vocabulary and/or shame will use) assures the public that some good samaritans in the White House are just trying to make less of a mess for America to clean up later by reigning Trump in.. Oh, really? So, Trump is the sort of person who allows himself to be reigned in by his inferiors or partners? Who benefits from the idea that jumping onto that train wreck of a human being’s team was simply in America’s benefit, so that he didn’t trash the country? Possibly someone who is positioned for a future Republican nomination for Presidency? Give me a break. If you’ve jumped onto this sideshow, you didn’t do so for selfless reasons. Stop selling it. I won’t buy it.
Look, I teach rhetoric to my basic college classes. That doesn’t make me an expert, but it does help me to distinguish when I’m being “sold” on something. Sometimes that doesn’t matter to me. I often can tell when I’m being sold Harry Potter stuff, for instance, but overlook it, as it’s a book that brought be enjoyment in a more than temporal way. It helped me understand myself as a kid and as a growing young adult. So, once in a while, I will allow myself to be sold to in that manner. But I know when it’s happening, so it’s less likely to inspire me allow myself to be marketed to when I don’t want to be.
Buying stuff is big in the U.S. We are a capitalist country. I know that. I know a lot of the reason we do well in this country is because we can sell our goods (or rather, poorer country’s goods), our image, and our rhetoric to others. I just get really tired of being inundated by it on all sides. It’s frustrating for me to see my kids so trained in “wanting” the latest thing, persuaded into liking athletes our country treats like gods, and tricked into caring about things that aren’t important.
I don’t have a funny joke in this blog. I don’t have a lighter anecdote. The reality is that what happens to us everyday, mostly online, but pretty much everywhere, is an inundation of marketing. I guess that’s why I’m not great at it with my own endeavors. Do or don’t buy my writing has always been the way I’ve marketed, and I’m smart enough to know that’s not the right way to do it. But I am too uncomfortable with selling even the things I truly care about because I just feel like we are all too swamped with it. And I also know that most people won’t ever care if they read my books, whereas they will be pissed if Eminem is dissed. I don’t know what to think about that. I just know it’s not funny.
*This work is not to be reproduced or used without consent of author. Copyright H.M. Jones, 2018.*
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H.M. might be a little late for her acceptance to the best school of witchcraft and wizardry in Europe, but, then, she feels that some things are worth waiting for. When most people think of the happiest place on earth, they think Disneyland/word. I get it. Disney is pretty cool.
I also understand that there are some of you who hate Disney, etc. I even understand why, but I suspend that sort of thinking, as I have two small children who really wanted to go to Disney to meet some of their favorite characters. I don't hate it. I think that there's a lot of imagination that goes into such an endeavor, and I appreciate imagination, as a true believer in creating fictions that awe people. That said, it's certainly a trip that I'd not take too often, as the crowds get to me.
However, H.M. here has been waiting for 5 years to go to Harry Potter world. I wanted my kids to be old enough to at least have listened to three of the books. I've been reading the books for the last year to them, and we are on number 5 (The Order of the Phoenix). We took the kids to Disneyland for two days. It was great to see my kids so thrilled to be in a place where their imaginations are active and happy. It allowed them a place to see dreams walk, and I think that was important.
But I have to say no one was more enchanted by anything as I was with Harry Potter world in Universal Studios. Most people have asked me since coming home how it was to finally get to walk into one of the books that made captured me so completely as a youth and hold me still today, and, cliche as it is, all I can manage so far is, "Magical."
However, having had time to rest my feet and my mind, I think I can manage a little more than that, as a supposed writer. For those who have waited to go to Universal Studios and Hogsmeade/Hogwarts for whatever reason, allow me to drool over my screen for you.
Part of the magic of walking into Hogsmeade for the first time is the entrance that perfectly frames Hogwarts in the background. The eyes are immediately and ingeniously called upward, to a school that most of us in our mid-twenties/early thirties have wanted to attend since we were in Jr. high school. I don't know properly how to express the sense of joy that happened when I finally made it to the entrance of Hogwarts. But I think these pictures, might express some of that for me:
My heart felt so light, I think it may have caught in my throat. I am not a person who is easily excited. My answer to most people, when I've been asked, "Aren't you excited?!" is to feign excitement, as the sensation has literally only hit me about four times in life. But I can genuinely say that the sense of excitement that washed over me when I stepped under the giant wrought iron and stone entrance was an almost new sensation. For a person whose imagination was formed through books like Harry Potter, the snow capped, stone buildings, peeked in Gothic-style lines and splashed with whimsical, old fashioned colors and displays made me shiver with excitement. Tears sprang to my eyes. Quite embarrassed by just how emotional I was over this "child's" story come to fruition, I quickly drew a shaking hand over my eyes and steered my smiling, almost as excited children to Honeydukes. HONEYDUKES!
Oh, readers, the shops! You're lucky H.M. came back with any money. I am exactly the market for all of the shops. I wanted all the things! I did fairly well, however, and mostly splurged on the kids, living vicariously through them by taking them through Olivander's wand experience (which, is, indeed, an experience, not just a shop). The preview of Olivander's was so special. My daughter's eyes glowed with a curious light as "Olivander" helped a young wizard find the wand that was meant for him. When we made it into the wand shop, my little girl said, upon swishing and flicking several wands, "I feel that this wand chose me, mom." The wand that chose her was a bendable vine wand, with a grip that she described as, "Made for my hand." My son, being a big fan of Harry, went directly for the character wands, but my daughter, wanting the full experience of the choosing took her time and, in that way, made it impossible for me not to spend the money on a wand that chose her. Both of the kids having been chosen by a wand, we were delighted by a Butterbeer stand outside. The smooth, buttery and slightly fizzy taste of butterbeer is far beyond what my imagination could have concocted. Like a dessert all it's own, my cup of Butterbeer was light and sweet upon my tongue and cooled and filled me on the inside. My son did not care for his mug, but I think he must have a broken tongue.
Each shop was like drifting into the pages of the books I've loved for much of my life. The detail, from the drinks, to the cobblestones, to the Gilderoy Lockhart books winking at me from the bookstore front, to the way my children could practice spells with their new wands in the front of the stores all over Hogsmeade, to the hearty, dark, stark interior of The Three Broomsticks and Hogshead bar was so fantastically done that I felt almost completely transported. I felt as though I was given permission to visit Hogsmeade for the day and that I'd lost complete restraint. Having lost said restraint, I may have purchased two school robes, unused, for my little Ravenclaw and Gryffindor. I may need to work late hours this week, all, but we Con a lot, so they will be well used. Having grown up quite in the same way the Weasley family grew up, I felt blessing of my ability to take my kid to this magical place and splurge on things that will help us remember the journey for years to come. I felt like Ron when he got to visit the pyramids with the rest of the Weasley family, and I'm sure my friends and family will feel quite like Ron's family about my talking about it constantly for weeks after.
Universal Studios did something very smart with Harry Potter world. I understood that my emotions and my connection to this place were being manipulated in a way that would make someone very rich richer. I completely understand where my buttons were pushed and why. I usually care about things like that. It was dangerous how much I didn't care in this case, but I realized that it was okay. It was okay to be surrounded by things that brought me joy, to splurge for the experience of it, and to not worry about the motives of others for a few, out-of-this-world hours. So I did. And I loved it. If I never do it again, I will always remember our trip to Hogwarts as one of the treasured times in my life, and that, dear readers, is so important that the motivation of the creators of this fantasy land meant very little to me. I have to think, however, despite the clearly monetary gain of such an endeavor, that those behind Harry Potter World created this place out of of the same place of affection I hold for the books. Every detail bespeaks a desire to create Hogwarts and Hogsmeade correctly, to draw people into the world (not create an unbelievable facsimile), and that, to me, was comforting. Those who re-created the world I fell in love with all over again, put so much artistry and care into it that I very much believe they loved it, too. And I thank them for that care and will pay for the experience. I won't pay for many things: a fancy house, ridiculously expensive cars, marble counter tops, etc. But life is about experiences, and I'll happily save and splurge for those.
If you're wondering whether you should, I can't give you advice there. Or I won't. I can only say it was worth it to me.
Shadow might not be the perfect word for the grief that creeps in when the reminder of loss rears its head, but its near perfect. Lately, I've felt that dark specter follow my footsteps--to work, home, around the corner you used to roam. I feel the loss that you've left, leaving us behind. I feel that you're happy, but that cannot quiet the tinge of sadness that darkens my doorstep. I miss you. I miss you. I miss you. How many times, how many ties will be severed to death? So many. So many more to come, and I feel heavier with the reminder of every one.
But I know you don't. I feel your peace. I remember you. I remember you. I remember you. I remember you all to the children who won't know you. They won't know you were the first to meals and the last to leave, too many friends to greet. They won't remember that you had a gentle hand for babies, even if you were rough around the edges. They won't recall the way your ear turned up to greet the bird's call and how you answered back. They won't remember the joy that lit your face when you held them. But I do. I have such a power in my memories. Did you know your memories are powerful. Did you know they can stop history from repeating, can change grief to laughter, can magic away tears?
I try to remember that, with the stories I tell my kids, the pictures I paint of you. of you. of you. of you. of you. Of all I've lost. Of the ever growing souls that graced my life. When I walk the lavender fields I remind them that that scent, the honey sweetness of the purple petals means their grandfather once walked this earth, knew the plants by name and befriended the birds. I try to remind them that the smack of a ball connected to the wood of a bat means that their uncle Jim hit one over the fence and looked very pleased with himself about it all. I try to remind them that silly, made-up songs and smuggled chocolate means their Grandma Bo is in them always. I try to remind them that the pull of paddle through water, the song that aches in their chest until it comes out is their Grandpa Jones reminding them of their love of water. I try to remind them that the scent of cinnamon rolls and dried flowers and hours spent with puzzles and board games is their Grandma Root making sure they are spending time well. I try to remind them that a strong voice over the heads of well-dressed ladies and men, the sturdy arm of a baptism is their Grandpa Bo leading the way for where they will go. I try to remind them that a penchant for mischief and a good joke is their Grandpa Springer asking them to smile, to not take life too serious. I try to remind them that the best pie crust and most delicious noodles are Grandma Springer's way of telling them they must serve the people they love.
And these reminders get to shape the beauty they will never know in this life. But they also cast away dark shadows. They try to remind me of the blessings I've known. And I try not to cry.
It’s not the hardest thing, but that feels wrong to say. Because it feels like the hardest thing—this loss, though it’s not. After all, I held my father’s hand as he died. I watched the light fall from his eyes, heard the breath rattle-whoosh from his lungs, felt his soul pass me, not lingering, not waiting for my tears to dry. I lived past those moments, even when I thought my heart fell through my feet and crumbled at his leaving.
Maybe the memories your leaving brings is why the tears won’t dry, why they sting my tired eyes, break my tired heart. Maybe you reminded me of what it was like to be helpless and holding my daddy’s hand as he left me. Holding your body, feeling what made you you be swept away, maybe it was like that other terrible day…
Or not. Maybe it’s because you were my friend. My front seat passenger, tongue drooping, window-open boy. My morning, afternoon, evening companion—the first to my office at lunch, waiting by my car after work, snoring on the floors of our rooms at night, following me even into the bathroom. My too big lap dog, always fit right in my arms, acting the baby. My greeting committee, looking first, constantly searching, for mommy. My forgiveness—never remembering my grumpy days, laying your toys, ropes, treats on my legs, only wanting to play, desiring my praise. And I should have played. Played more. Patted my lap in invitation more. Shuttled you around in your favorite seat more. I can’t now. I can only cry, and cling to wishes that will change nothing.
Still…I wish. I wish I would have been ten minutes earlier to our lunch date. I wish…I’d chased you down this morning when you, like you were want to do, ignored my call and ran off with your soggy doggy friends. I wish…that you were luckier than this insurmountable pain. I wish…that my sinuses weren’t so clogged with grief when I cradled your head in those last moments. I wish I could’ve smelled you, alive, one last time.
Because I loved your smell, the way wet earth and musty mutt clung to you even after a bath. I loved to kiss your fuzzy muzzle and rub the arch of your nose in the way that made your eyes close in contentment. Instead, I rubbed your nose that one last time and watched the light slowly leave your eyes, like it left his, and I cried too hard to breathe, much like then. And felt the pain of loss all over again, same but not the same. Loss and grief are strange things, fast partners for compiling pain.
So maybe it’s not the hardest thing, even if it reminds me of that same grief...even though the ache of loss is what I’ve always known. Or…it’s the hardest thing in this precious moment. These precious moments count. That last moment, our first moment, all moments with you counted, and compiled and blessed my days.
It’s hard not to talk to you, my silly mutt, at night in my Cookie-love voice, getting you treats you never worked for—never had to, with eyes so full that you always got spoils unasked for. I already miss the steady breathing of your doggy dreams. I will miss you constantly searching for me. I will catch myself searching the rooms, the roads, the sand of the beach for your imprint, as though you only got lost with your rez buddies, went astray.
Maybe, like my children sweetly said, you got to greet the ones who’ve moved on, dearly beloved and temporarily gone. I hope they know to rub that spot on your nose. I hope they know to let you lay your chin on their knees, to pat their laps and invite you to sit, even if you’re too big. I hope…I wish…I grieve, for you, my sweet rez doggy.
H.M Jones is the author of B.R.A.G Medallion Honor and NIEA finalist book Monochrome, its prequel Fade to Blue, the Adela Darken Graphic Novellas, Al Ravien's Night, The Immortals series, and several short stories.