Category Archives: grief

death; loss; healing

Surviving The Abortion.

The spermicide stung.

A suppository, which dissolved on the inside, the bullet shaped insert created a sudsy barrier to the cervix.

The birth control of choice in the back end of the 1980s for a late-twenty something to whom the pill was entirely too deliberate and required a schedule of intent. Planned unpregnancy was unacceptable to the morally ambiguous.

The conception, therefore, was never expected.

Waking on up on day 49 in the context of a cycle which rarely deviated from 33, swollen, doubled over in cramping pain, crawling the length of the second floor apartment to vomit into the toilet and then the call to mother was also not to be predicted.

Being asked as soon as she arrived if there were any possibility of pregnancy was the moment of clarity, like the climax in a Woody Allen movie. Maybe because the topic of deliberate fornication had not, up until that point, ever been insinuated let alone confronted head on.

Starkly deliberate, almost methodical, was the manner in which mother and daughter prepared to travel to the lab to obtain the pregnancy test. The trip was entirely without drama, outside of what the situation inherently bore.

Sitting for the blood draw, followed by a need to urinate and the discovery of brown spotting indicating flow made the day shorter and the issue apparently self resolving. The test was negative.

The aftermath proved protracted. This potential mother had to face decades later the very likely reality that, in spite of one test result, what had since been revealed about the lability of hormone levels before and after a conception failed suggested that, for probably less than three weeks in the late 80s, the daughter had been with child.

Nobody survives abortion.

The woman experiences – unless drugged – visceral, cramping pain and nausea. The conceived embryo bears disengagement from the warmth of the womb and a perilous trip down the vagina at the hand of either muscular contraction or mechanical suction. But, once completed, the process leaves a wake.

Thought waves. Turbulent speculation. Transient recollection. Lifelong wonder.

Whether spontaneously induced, by the body, or provoked by surgical procedure the abortion separates the giver of life from life. How can this enmity not persist until time becomes eternity?

The awareness that life was, and then was not, plants its own seed. A name. Features, on a face. Hands. Feet. Grasping to assign place, a certain purgatory, allowing imagination to become a branding memory and remembrance to burn its own birth.

The sting, of death.

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Copyright 5/13/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in part or whole (including translation). Sharing by direct blog link, exclusively – no RSSING. Thank you for being trustworthy.

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Amber Heard.

When Katrina died, I hit my first writer’s block.

Having read about this affliction, I would smirk at the thought; how could a true writer find no words?

In my case, there was little warning; I’d typed her name, in the title of what was to be another of many tribute pieces, only to find myself staring at the white screen. I could not begin.

But, after spending several hours this weekend viewing reruns of the Depp/Heard defamation hearings, I woke up this morning thinking of Katrina.

We’d first met when she was a piano student of Sam Rotman at Mercyhurst College, myself on staff playing for the students of vocal and instrumental performance. Forty years old, I was teeming with climaxing hormonal energy, overjoyed to be in such close proximity to fresh, anticipating youth. Katrina was a bubbling post-adolescent with residual acne and raw authenticity. Bearing a gift for theater show tunes, she brought cheerful joy into the room and loved everyone she met.

The tenor, to whom I’d been assigned, was her boyfriend. I played his senior recital, and we became well acquainted. At the time, he called Katrina his good friend and it wouldn’t be until I happened to catch them in the library after the recital exchanging a quick kiss on the lips that her actual status would emerge. I would learn, years later, that many men often categorized the women in their lives differently than the women who regarded such men.

Katrina was generous with praise. She was specific, for example, in acknowledging the thumb technique required in the piano accompaniment for the Britten after that recital. Vivid, to me, was the smile on her face and the light in her eyes. Knowing the part, she showed genuine collegiality and deference toward me, an act of humility.

Years passed. I would next see Katrina at a music faculty meeting, within the district. Myself having been at the high schools, I’d bid down to primary level and she appeared as a newest hire among them.

Katrina had changed. Now, she sat silently, her deference manifesting minus the characteristic extroversion, watchful and attentive. Her skin was smoothe and clear, her countenance thoughtful.

But, her reputation as a music teacher and theater pit pianist had spread quickly. The kids loved her. The staff loved her. The casts adored her. Everywhere she went, she still brought the light of her spirit and a selfless enthusiasm devoted to the successes of her charges. Silent at faculty meetings, Katrina conserved her energy for use where it mattered most.

Amber Heard sits in court, silence enforced. Her presentation is physically flawless. Perfectly tailored clothing, expertly fit; hair professionally set; complexion that of painted porcelain. Structurally, her face is enviably beautiful, its profile completely balanced, its angles bearing not a single weakness. One can marvel looking at her as if viewing one of the Creator’s most outstanding moments.

But, like the many masterworks of Rodin or Michelangelo, she appears as any stone sculpture. One searches to find the soul in her eyes. One notes the fleeting curl at the left corner of a petulant lip. One, as a member of her audience, contemplates what if any nourishing life might be found there.

Among contrasts this, the most stark, I think of Katrina. Cancer ravaged her neck and throat, seizing her ability to swallow. Still, she smiled, directing whatever ounce of remaining energy she had toward her daughter, Amelia, and her husband, Mark. To the end, she was ever focused on the needs of those to whom she was devoted, almost as sacrifice. Their world without her is a gaping and grasping testament to being loved entirely.

What the price of a selfish life?

To what end?

About that, I have no more words to say.

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© 5/1/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in part or whole (including translation) permitted without direct, written, signed permission of the author. Thank you for being the better person.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Act To Follow.

Grief.

Disallows.

Like the opening act hired to warm up an audience that turns out to be funnier or more talented than the show’s headliner, grief upstages everything which comes after.

When my beloved colleague and lifelong friend, Louie, died of covid back in December, I sank into the deepest despair my increasingly unimportant life had yet to endure. His departure cut me in half, goring my creative core, leaving only amputated limbs to sweep the kitchen floor with a broom, wash the dishes with a handled sponge brush, cook an evening skillet of vegetable pasta with oil, and separate the sweaty laundry into loads to hang or fold when dried.

I was dried. There was no me left in me.

The cello slept, untouched, until private lessons demanded it awake. Even the piano loomed nearly dormant, desire to record and upload to the Tube channel after requisite virtual church services just a memory of a life since ground to powder.

Essentially excess fat, the burden of physical weight which had begun to melt a year before continued its steady disappearing act until I was smaller than I’d remembered being since college. Spandex jeans would slide down if I walked, requiring a belt and, forget the pajamas, which literally fell off to my feet.

Yes. Covid grief is its own killer.

It carries corollaries.

Blame. Regret.

We can’t just miss the person, and honor their departure; we have to feel somehow singularly responsible. Our minds are a revolving door of “what ifs” and “why didn’t I?”

Therein the essence of my past four months.

I’d devoted the previous five years to one other solitary individual, the man I’d called my partner, my love. Even made his Pfizer appointment, an act I would rue. At last check, he was still breathing; albeit, as by fire, he’d survived the medical community’s gravest and rarest of afflictions, acute saddle pulmonary embolism. Look that up; this arterial condition is, among all of life’s most threatening, prophetically silent.

He’d surfaced, after ghosting me since I’d aborted Christmas dinner, texting from the ICU. Immediately, from my protective distance, I tried to be there as he awaited the catheter procedure which would successfully remove the obstructive clot, and remained ever vigilant in the days and weeks thereafter as he commenced his regimen of blood thinners and several follow up medical tests.

But, somewhere between my ongoing grief and this trauma bonding, something turned.

Ultimately, though the near death fright had given way to philosophical reflection, he would finally reveal himself. As suspected, this relationship I’d been nurturing, both in person and in my head, was largely a figment of my own hopeful expectation; he didn’t really want me, although he was happy to need me, and my being displaced without warning was always on his radar. I’d just never bothered to check the weather forecast.

Having yearned to pour myself back into caring for and about the one who had survived, grief had other plans for me; instead, I would know the desolation of discard. What a wake.

She calls him “babe”, that proclamation of assumed ownership, usually the moniker for having crossed into the realm of intimate bliss. My imagination is now hijacked by scenarios that disavow five, often agonizing years of God-seen devotion.

Pulling the curtain, grief just gloats.

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© 4/13/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo . All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in part or whole including translation, permitted without direct sharing by littlebarefeetblog.com link exclusively. Please honor original material. Don’t be a thief. Thanks.

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