Sand on the Ocean Floor
Posted on Wednesday, April 20, 2011 — Listed under Daily Grind
You can sit inside your pain like a pebble in the ocean, the water rushing cold and wet around you. Leaves, strings of algae, tiny fish flitter over you. Or you can become the water, dark and bubbling. Everything you are is lost. Everything you are is a reflection of what went wrong.
Somewhere in a hospital far away, my sister is dying. There is a bleed on her brain. The doctors say she may not survive the night. This is not a surprise. She has been sick with alcoholism for a long, long time. But no matter how prepared you are, death has a way of shifting everything you are inside.
I did not answer my sister's last few phone calls. My regret rises up like an angry shadow. Pictures, images of us from our childhood flutter through my mind. The last time we were together, she made me angry. She complained about everything. She complained about the food we ate. She complained about the activities I suggested. She complained about my children. I wanted to scream at her and tell her how selfish she was.
At Christmas, she sent us a package in the mail. It was the first time anyone in our family had received anything from her in the mail for several years. Inside were matching motorized cars for both my boys, wrapped in real wrapping paper. There was also a small gift for my mom and a bumper sticker for me that said, “I HEART PIRATES.”
When I thought about how much effort it must have taken her to prepare that package, it made me want to cry. She had been in and out of the hospital. At times, she had been found trying to set her own lips on fire while attempting to light an imaginary cigarette, so mentally confused she was. She could barely care for herself, but somehow she managed to get herself to a store to buy gifts for my children, wrapping paper to wrap them, and even had them properly addressed and to the post office in time to arrive before Christmas.
After one of her recent stints in the hospital, my son Nino asked, “Why doesn't she want to stop drinking? Why doesn't she want to get better?” It was the six-year-old question that secretly everybody wished they could ask.
Everyone deals with watching this kind of slow death in their own way. Some people try and break through to the person. Some people get angry. Some people get hurt. Some people try to be supportive and end up enabling the user. Some people feel helpless. Some people pretend nothing is wrong.
This summer, my sister was going to lose her apartment. There was much conversation during the past few months about where she would go and what we could help her. But there is no helping someone who has already given up. All you can do is watch death wash slowly forward like waves licking the ocean floor. Foamy water heaves back and forth, stirring up the pebbles and shells, grinding them into smaller and smaller pieces, until one day, all that is left is sand.
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42 comments | Add your own »
I am so sorry for your loss. I recently lost my father, and know how odd it is to have a vacuum in your heart where a loved one's presence ought to be. Keep writing, it helps.
Comments by journeytoepiphanyI'm so very sorry to hear about your pain. In many ways you have been suffering for so long, but that doesn't make this time any easier. Thinking of you!
Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 8:35:11 AM
Comments by lizNaomi, I haven't commented in a while but you will always be my first bloggy friend. I am so sorry to hear about your sister and I will say a prayer for her and for all of your family. I can feel the pain in your words and feel the tear drops on your keyboard. Be strong my friend.
Thursday, May 05, 2011 at 4:36:44 PM
Comments by Bluesy NistaI just want to wrap your whole mourning family in my arms.
Sunday, May 01, 2011 at 2:18:44 PM
Comments by R.BeyerI'm sorry for you and your family. It's heartbreaking.
Sunday, May 01, 2011 at 1:56:25 PM
Comments by Mwa (Lost in Translation)I am so sorry, Naomi. I admire the way you use your talent to express this heartbreak. Take care of yourself and let yourself be taken care of right now... My heart sends a big hug to yours.
Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 1:24:53 PM
Comments by MOMSICLE VIBEWhat beauty comes out of heartbreak - your post was so heart wrenching. I'm so sorry for what you, your family and your sister have been through and are going through. You're in my prayers tonight.
Friday, April 22, 2011 at 11:14:12 PM
Comments by Mommy Crib NotesHow heartbreaking, Naomi. I am so so sorry and wish I was with you right now so I could do *something* for you. Let me know if there is anything I can do. Your words are so beautiful and poignant. And you were a great sister. I love you, and you are in my thoughts.
Friday, April 22, 2011 at 5:25:59 PM
Comments by Lara E.I can't stop crying. Loving you and praying for you.
Friday, April 22, 2011 at 1:41:37 PM
Comments by dusty earth motherOh, Naomi. I know of your family's struggles with this issue, for so long. I hope and pray, but also feel assured, that your sister has found peace now. Now, my prayers are for your parents, and the unbelievable, wordless pain in their hearts, in the loss of their child. I am so sorry for all of you. Please let me know if I can do anything at all, even though I"m so far away. "The Holy Spirit recognizes the groans of our souls, and translates them for us to our Lord."
Friday, April 22, 2011 at 7:29:04 AM
Comments by alexandraNaomi, I am so sorry my love. My heart is with you all at this difficult time. Lots of love. xx
Friday, April 22, 2011 at 6:53:52 AM
Comments by Very Bored in CatalunyaNaomi, I am so sorry my love. My heart is with you all at this difficult time. Lots of love. xx
Friday, April 22, 2011 at 1:18:18 AM
Comments by Very Bored in CatalunyaOh my gosh Naomi. I am so sorry! I have not been online. You and your family will be in my prayers.
Friday, April 22, 2011 at 1:18:16 AM
Comments by Dawn WestI am so sorry to hear this. :( I will be thinking of you and your family. *hugs*
Friday, April 22, 2011 at 12:29:07 AM
Comments by mama_pezOh I am so, so sorry. Please know that miles away here in Los Angeles I am thinking about you and your family.
Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 4:52:43 PM
Comments by AmyI know there really aren't words. I'm praying for peace for you and for your sister and comfort for your parents. Hold tight to each other.
Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 4:39:59 PM
Comments by MotpgI'm so sorry, Naomi. I'm sending you lots of prayers and good thoughts. If you need ANYTHING my friend, please let me know.
Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 4:39:47 PM
Comments by NatalieI am so very sorry. There is such sorrow and beauty in your words. I'm just so very sorry. I have to tell you, I know exactly how you're feeling. Someone very dear in my life went through this very same thing. We tried for a very long time to help him, until I got to the point that I realized I couldn't help someone who wasn't ready to help himself. The person in my life died also. He was 38. It has been a few years and now I realize that we did the very best we could and I know that those demons that chased him in life are all gone now. He is at peace and he knows how much we all tried. I have every faith he knows that. Your sister, too, I'm sure is in the very same place, watching down over you. She would only want you to be happy and not berate yourself over this. She knows that you love her. She knows that you tried. She is at peace. Try to find that peace yourself. God Bless. I'll be praying for you.
Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 3:32:24 PM
Comments by joann mannixNaomi, I'm so sorry that you are going through this. In the midst of such darkness, you write lovely words. I will keep your whole family in my prayers. ((hugs))
Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 3:23:40 PM
Comments by gigiI read this last night and I couldn't bring myself to respond just as I couldn't when I've read your other post about your sister. I get it. I really do. Even when you know this is how it's going end, it's still so hard when it actually does and surprising how quickly anger can turn into extreme sorrow. I'm so sorry for your entire family.
Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 2:15:03 PM
Comments by PoppySo sorry to hear this. Will be sending you and your family positive thoughts, virtual hugs, and prayers.
Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 1:22:36 PM
Comments by Ms.WastelandMy heart breaks for you and your family. We will pray for you and please let me know what I can do to help. You are one strong woman!
Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 11:55:01 AM
Comments by TeresaI am so, so sorry. Sending you all my love.
Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 11:23:12 AM
Comments by perylI've been wondering about you, and your sister. I hope that the next few days and weeks are at least tolerable. Peace to you and your family.
Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 9:00:34 AM
Comments by MommaKissThere's nothing wrong with what you're feeling right now - any of it. You have been a good sister.
Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 7:56:26 AM
Comments by KLZSo sorry to hear. It must be overwhelming right now. Sending you hugs and energy and you know how to find me if you want to talk.
Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 7:35:34 AM
Comments by susieIt's so difficult watching somebody self destruct. It takes strength to stand by and see it happen. I'm sorry for your loss. I can only hope that maybe now, she'll be at peace.
Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 7:32:36 AM
Comments by Lynn MacDonald (All Fooked Up)Naomi, I am so so sorry! I know this day has been coming for quite some time from your previous post on the subject but I can;t even imagine. If you need ANYTHING at all please call me.Im here to listen.Love you, sweetie. XO Debi
Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 7:28:13 AM
Comments by Truthful MommyOh, no words. You and yours are in my prayers.
Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 7:26:30 AM
Comments by Missy @ Wonder, FriendNaomi, Words cannot begin to express how reading this made me feel. I wish I could reach through cyberspace and hug you. You are enough. YOu have done enough. There is nothing you could have done to change her path. It is sad, but it's the truth. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I am so very sorry this is happening...please know that you are not alone and you have many friends (even if we haven't met in real life) who love and adore you. I am one of them. love, erin
Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 7:09:03 AM
Comments by Erin MargolinNaomi, I'm so very sorry to hear about your sister. We are praying for her and the rest of your family. When my mom passed last summer, I had a "conversation" with her in my garden. I know she heard me because she answered me. It was a most wonderful feeling. Your sister will hear you, too.
Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 7:02:13 AM
Comments by JeanneDear Naomi, Prayers going out for you, your family and your sister. Please know that when we love someone, that is an eternal bond. We will always be connected to that person in heart and spirit, no matter the condition of the temporary shell we inhabit before moving on to the world of True Heart and True Life. She will always feel your love for her! May you both be embraced by Love at this time.
Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 6:21:01 AM
Comments by Lara N.oh naomi, you need a hug O! i'm so sorry, if there's anything i can do, please let me know. we love you and are praying for you.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 11:25:40 PM
Comments by eliseNaomi, sending a lot of love and gentleness to you and your sister. I know this is right around the corner for my brother and my heart aches for them. And for those of us who have tried everything and tried nothing. I wish I had the perfect words of comfort, but know that I really am thinking of you all.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 9:14:08 PM
Comments by HeewonNaomi, hang in there my sweet wonderful, and talented friend. Your sister is my prayers and so are you and the rest of your family. God bless you all. Love you.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 9:11:48 PM
Comments by faribaI can't imagine..I am so very sorry. So much pain..
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 9:10:46 PM
Comments by Cheryl @ MommypantsNaomi, You know how much my heart knows and nods at all this pain and frustration. I teared up for you...and with you. I hope for nothing but a clarity (for you) that make something beautiful out of the life that makes no sense. Give yourself permission to grieve...give yourself permission to cry and most of all, give yourself persmission to forgive. Your heart depends on it! I am with you in more ways than I wish I were! Hang in there, and prayers for all of you! MMF
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 9:09:39 PM
Comments by Meaganoh Naomi, I'm so sorry to hear this. sending you strength and love. xx
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 9:02:35 PM
Comments by HeatherThank you so much, Laura. You are such a wonderful friend. I love you too.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 9:00:29 PM
Comments by NaomiThanks so much, Sherri. So kind of you to stop by and leave me a note. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your kind words.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 8:55:03 PM
Comments by NaomiNaomi, my heart is breaking for you. I had no idea. Your family is in my thoughts. I love you.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 8:54:21 PM
Comments by LauraOh Naomi, I am so sorry to read this....what a hard thing to go through for your whole family.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 8:52:16 PM
Comments by Sherri
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 8:49:39 PM
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