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Filtering by Tag: ghosts

EVE

Cindy Maddera

I am the only one awake and have the living room to myself. I am currently watching Little Women with a mug of coffee and Josephine curled on my feet. She's keeping them warm. I've already made cinnamon rolls, or opened a tube of cinnamon rolls, and eaten two of them. It snowed here in the early morning hours. It is every kid's wish come true, a white Christmas. The Cabbage has been harping about snow for days. She'll be pleased when she finally wakes up. This is our Christmas day. There's a note in her stocking from Santa telling her that he could not visit both houses. He's sent his elves instead to hide thirty Shopkins all around the house. Some time today, I will pack for our week in Oklahoma and make sure the chickens have food for the week, but right now though, I am enjoying this moment.

The night before last, I dreamed that a skinny French woman showed up on my doorstep. She was petite, with curly hair and glasses. When I answered the door, She said "Chris?" I looked at her with confusion and asked "you are looking for Chris?" She nodded and replied "oui!" I sighed and then gently reached for her elbow. I remember that her elbow was so bony and slight, like a bird's. Then, once again, I found myself telling the story of how Chris wasn't with us any more. I am surprised the story hasn't become permanently tattooed onto my body with so many tellings. The next night, I dreamed that I was teaching a yoga class in a room that held a potato bar. There might be something marketable here. Yogatado: Come for yoga; stay for a potato. 

I don't know what any of this has to do with Christmas Eve except that maybe I'm having an Ebenezer Scrooge moment. So far, I've seen the ghost of Christmas past and the ghost of Christmas future. They're coming to me out of order. Maybe tonight a I'll get visit from the ghost of Christmas present. I wonder what that's going to look like. Michael and I will be traveling on Christmas day and having Christmas dinner at Mom's. Maybe tonight I'll dream of driving through a winter wonderland with talking deer, followed up with a table piled with fried oysters. If I'm lucky, I will avoid an encounter with the two emaciated children, Ignorance and Want. Though it's pretty hard to avoid Ignorance even in the waking world. 

My time of stillness is up. The Cabbage just came out of her room wearing nothing but her underwear. I've just told her to go put on some pajamas so she can start opening her presents. She has thirty individually packaged Shopkins to open. 

We'll be here a while. 

I'VE STOPPED BREATHING

Cindy Maddera

The thing I find interesting about Our Town is the message of how you'll miss all of this when you're gone. Colors are more vibrant and even the most mundane item can be breathtakingly beautiful. A coffee mug. The weight of that coffee mug cupped in both hands, absorbing the heat from the hot drink in the mug. So pay attention now, kids! You don't get this stuff when you're dead. The flip side to this coin is what you no longer have when others are dead. Our Town is not about the living as much as it is about the dead. I wonder if Chris is standing just on the other side of some invisible wall, thinking the same thing. Are we both missing the things that are now gone? What's it like on his side of that wall?

Sometimes on dark days, I imagine the people I've lost wrapping their arms around my insides. In a Tim Burton inspired fashion, I see the ghost arms encircle my ribs and guts, my heart and I watch my internal organs turn gray and hard. Don't we all see our lives as a movie, our very own personal Truman Show? We all want to be a movie, a soundtrack, a star, even if it's that smallest most distant star. It's not so bad watching my insides turn gray and hard. I see it as invitation. "Hey, why not come hang out with us?" the dead say. And it's tempting. I'd love to veg out on the couch, watching dumb action movies all day with J or sitting in the driver seat of some expensive Cadillac as Dad drives us across several state lines to exchange it for a different fancy Cadillac. I'd love to spend the day doing anything with Chris. 

I've been forgetting to breathe. I'll be sitting at my desk and all of a sudden I will gasp for air as if I've been playing that game of how long you can hold your breath under water. I'm holding my breath. Every time it happens, I wonder about how long it's been since I last inhaled and exhaled. I know that part of this is all because I've spent the last month riding in cars and planes and hunched over microscopes or a lab bench. My chest has been closed off like a clam, but even clams need to open up and stretch sometimes. I used to do backbends all the time, opening up my chest, opening up my heart. Then my back broke and my heart felt squishy and vulnerable, so I stopped. Now the arms of the dead have wrapped themselves around my ribcage and my heart and I gasp for air like that goldfish I had as a kid who would jump out of the tank all the time. You'd walk into the room and he'd be laying in a damp puddle on the shag carpet, only his mouth moving as he struggled to breath air without water. That fish lived for ages despite all his suicide attempts. 

Today in savasana, I laid with a foam roller between my shoulder blades, my heart and lungs splayed open for all to see. I stayed there for ten minutes while I screamed inside my brain the whole time. It was torture. I could image the dead clutching to hold tight even while their fingers were being pried free. Before I knew it the ding of the timer was jolting me back to the here and now and the people I've lost no longer wrapped their arms around my heart and lungs. I am partly relieved and partly disappointed.