We have the honor to remain

We got everything in order for you.

The disability benefits for your final months.
The life insurance so we can pay off the house.
The automatic payments for the energy bill.
The files are in order.
The mail’s been checked.
The cars are paid off.
The radiation is done.
The chemo is through.

No more doctor’s appointments.

We got everything in order for you,
“Right down to the urn.”

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A poem to call on confidence

I have a stately purpose
Just like a stately pine
I have a sprightly wit
Just like a friend of mine

I have a stunning sense
Just like a flower’s smell
I have a sustained vigor
Just like a young Orwell

You like my noble name?
Why yes, it ends in matter
How ‘bout my natural charm?
Mad, just like a hatter

I bring a sparkling fury
To music like a dance
My hand’s superb command
Puts my readers in a trance

I am a throneless king
Who picked the wrong to rule
You can call it vain conceit
But I know I ain’t no fool

I’m slick with polished ease
Gold throughout my voice
Calculated with mathematical precision
And you thought you had a choice

There is a majestic awe
To my nameless grace
A simple, modest plainness
To my fervent, steady pace

Don’t make a vital mistake
And sullen, call it quits
You might make boats for a living
But I’m the captain of this ship

-TS

I’m Not Asking

I will never know
how hurt you have been
and are.

You held it together for
years. Then one day it all
came apart.

Maybe you saw it coming,
but couldn’t believe it would be
a new reality.

Reality sounds kinda nice
compared to what every
stunted, splintered day in this hell feels like.

I hope you can have some good
before you go. There’s been a mistake
in how much broken you were handed.

I pray peace for you, even when you
really frustrate me. I want to hear
more joy in your voice.

Not one more moment of pain, Lord.
Not one more God-forsaken moment.
Let’s see you redeem.

I call upon you now to right this ship.
To make impossible good out of
insurmountable bad.

I’m afraid I’m not asking.
I’m telling.
Right now, show my mother … love like she’s never seen.

Mental Illness Happy Hour: Volume 4

4

Just watched A Beautiful Mind. It’s a really solid piece of art for sure. It struck a chord with me. People who know my life and what I’ve been through, know that I can relate to the sentiment crafted by director, Ron Howard; a story of mental health and struggle and hospitalization.

Some parts were difficult to watch; like heartbreakingly, gut-wrenchingly difficult. Scenes that depict being strapped to a bed with leather buckles are hard for me because I’ve lived those scenes. I’ve writhed in agony while hospital attendants mocked me and laughed at my humiliation.

I was made to feel subhuman during almost all of my hospital stays. I, like Russell Crowe’s character, have felt completely trapped and paranoid in hospital situations. I don’t really understand PTSD as well as I do my own disorder, but seeing those scenes triggered a deep seated revulsion.

Those are some gut reactions.

I’m also thinking a lot about Jennifer Connelly’s character, who plays Crowe’s wife. In the movie, she is tasked with loving a man who fabricates whole realities, has make-believe best-friends, can’t always be trusted around their daughter and is schizophrenic. She confesses that she wants to leave her husband during the rigors of him finding help. She cries out several times to God and breaks things in her house; clearly hating the hand that she has been dealt.

I have a lot of insecurities around my own relational ambitions. I have to wonder, at times, if my wife, one day, won’t feel similar to Connelly’s character. That dealing with my madness is an impossible task.

I give my insecurities so much power every day. I tell myself that I’m not good looking enough. That I’m not in shape enough. That I’m not Christian enough. That I’m not stable enough. That I’m too crazy to receive love from a woman. It’s messed me up pretty bad. I’ve sabotaged a lot of relationships because I don’t know how to love myself well.

But I believe there is redemption for me. The middle of A Beautiful Mind is gruelling, but in the end there is redemption. There’s god-damned-Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning-redemption. And more than that, there’s beautiful-loving-wife-right-by-his-side-redemption. That makes me believe that good is out there. I think we can stand anything in this life as long as there is a fair amount of redemption sprinkled in; when we can see a purpose to our struggle. That at some point, we are raised up out of our suffering.

I’ve taken a lot of losses on the score sheet the last 6 years, but I’ve gotten up out of my bed every day. Right now, that seems like a lot.

Asleep in a still pool of water

Asleep in a still pool of water;
the figure balances atop
without disturbing the
balance.

Even the thought of a ripple –
would rock the water awake,
the figure has cleared
his mind.

Can you feel its quietness?
The sound of an empty mind
falling out of consciousness,
neither asleep nor awake?

It is hard to imagine
the sound of the space
and moment between
the two worlds we know best.

A third place, where the figure
finds his mind’s rest, is not
a beginning or a destination,
question or answer.

It is rather a state
of such tremendous peace,
that it brings a foe like worry
to its knees.

Little one

Little One,

If you like to think of God
as a metaphor for everything good
in the world,
I think that’s ok.

If you’re not sure
what faith really is,
it’s alright to say,
I don’t know.

If you can think positive
thoughts when everything around
is falling down,
Then you’re ahead of the game.

If you want to believe in love
when someone says something mean,
and it hurts more than you think you can bear,
then you’re already on your way.

Make small, little acts of love a big deal.
Make big, complex concepts seem small and easy to understand.

I give you this advice, little one.
Take what you like.
Leave what you don’t.
And be sure to give a whole lot away.

With all the love in the world,
Dad

Secret Sound

There is a deep intimacy
to the music made with you in mind.
There’s a secret sound
buried beneath all the chords.

I’ll be honest, if I didn’t have that,
I wouldn’t believe at all.
But when I close my eyes and sing to you,
I believe.

There was a time tonight,
when I sang to a group of friends,
the words they say you spoke and speak,
and I cried while I sang them.

I tired to hold it back – like always
and I wondered if that gentle push
was you saying:
“Let go, Ty. Please, just let go.”