Monday, February 15, 2010

One Hour at a Time

Something happened. She wasn't quite sure what exactly or when it all began but something had changed. On silent padded paws, winter had broken into her sleep in the middle of the night and stolen her voice. And without a voice, she had no words. And without words, well, I don't have to tell you the horrors of a wordless world, do I?

But still, when did it begin? Bit by bit, piece by piece (no, that's too cliche... try again...) But still when did it all begin? October. Yes, it had to have begun way back then when the leaves had turned to amber and the evening sky to velvety shades of fuschia, purple and midnight blue. October had become the month of death since her mother passed away nine years ago. And yet every October, she was surprised when the sullenness overtook her. (Too dramatic? But it's true... stick to the truth).

Then came November, the month that's all about family. (Family.) What is family anyway? Biology that binds? Does it really? Blood is thicker then water. She knows many who would beg to differ.

December. More cheerful holidays that drive suicide ratings higher then any other month of the year. (Don't worry, there's no suicidal tendencies here). But December is more for her then holidays and forced cheer. It's the month they shared a birthday, she and her mom. December 28th. She remembers a time when she hated that fact, when she selfishly wished she had the day all to herself. But she was a little girl then and didn't really know what she was wishing for. Until now. Now that her birthday cakes just say Happy Birthday with her single name in curly blue cursive. Plenty of room for all the words to spread out.

January. Can anything be more depressing then the world growing older during a time of the world's recession? 10% of Americans are jobless and losing their homes. She could be one of those. Every day debt collectors calling asking for payment from money she does not have. Last year she worked three jobs, sometimes even more, to make ends meet. This year she lost 2/3 of those jobs and a perspective one. Two losses even happened on the same day. That day was extra special. (Too sarcastic? Too angry?) But it was still summer then and the summer sun had a way of transposing her to the Land of the Lotus Eaters and maybe there was no need to worry. Things work out. They always do. Now she's not so sure.

But then, as it always happens, October after October, and way leads unto way, worry, fear, and depression all move in, unpack and settle in for the long barren winter to begin. She remembers now, yes, that's when it all began, as it always does, in October when at first it's too subtle to notice and she still has some fight in her. Like the trees holding onto their chlorophyll before they succumb and become naked under winter's merciless wind.

As usual, it's so insignificant at first, just a cell here, a membrane there. A hair follicle. A toenail clipping. And then scrapings of flesh, pieces of flesh, chunks. And then it preys on her soul, her reason, her purpose, her goals, dreams. Until one day she looks in the mirror and notices she has simply vanished. She's become a missing person. M.I.A. (Be careful, don't get too melodramatic).

But wait. Listen. Shhhh. Somewhere deep inside of her, rattling around in her ribcage a songbird sings. You can still hear it if you try. There. Just beyond the heartbeat. Yes, the heart still beats. And just beyond it, listen. Do you hear it? The tiny woodland bird that will come home soon to nest in the early frosty spring. He still sings in her heart. But there is a disconnect. A wire left dangling from a fierce and mighty winter storm.

She has a friend, many friends, but this one friend said something that stuck, something that beckoned the sinews to work overtime. She said, One Hour at a Time.

One Hour at a Time. She can do that. One Hour at a Time. February's almost done. March is long and scary. But remember. One Hour at at Time. And then April. April with crocuses and tulips and life prevails once again, pushing its way through the defrosting ground. Buds on trees appear, birds come home to nest, bees buzz. Even the insects are missed and loved because on their dusty translucent wings comes her friend and saviour. Spring. (Corny, yes but all of it true).

Living a Life with S.A.D.
A Drive by Shooting


Pat Koelmel said...

Wow, Sheri, that was extremely moving and beautifully written. You are a talent.

Corey Schwartz said...


Wow, sorry that you've been struggling, but your writing sure hasn't suffered. This piece is incredibly eloquent!

I suffer a little from SAD too, but not this much. I alluded to it, in my last post.


Anonymous said...

This is such a beautifully written piece, thank you, and I am right there with you. I never thought about S.A.D. until a few years ago when I realized I was affected as well. In fact, my energy pretty much sets with the sun.
I am struggling, too, working all day and hoping that after I feed the animals, eat something, I can sit down to my own work, only to find there is nothing left to do it with.
We are looking forward to Spring together!

Kelly H-Y said...

What a beautiful, honest piece, Sheri. I'm pulling for you and thinking about you ... and hope you find much joy in the hours to come.

Sheri said...

Thank you, Pat! I miss you! Are you going to the June conference?

I am so sorry to hear that you are a fellow sufferer, Corey. It is such a hard thing. you want to be able to slough it off but you just can't.

Jeanne, I know exactly how you feel. I want to write and work on what matters to me but the drive to sleep or do nothing is so stronger. It's like trying to make a car go on fumes alone.

Thanks Kelly! It helps to know that you are all routing for me and I do always feel that little spring bird singing from somewhere deep inside of me.

Patricia Koelmel said...

Hi Sheri,
I am planning on going to the June conference. Not sure though whether I will be going for both days ... maybe only Saturday this time around. I look forward to seeing you then!

And, thank again you again for sharing your story. Everytime I read something you've written I am moved and thoroughly impressed with your talent. I keep wondering why some agent or publisher hasn't grabbed you up yet!

Cathy said...

I know you have been struggling with S.A.D. Yet when I hear about your Mom, I always think: How truly lucky you are to have had her and her love in your life. What you miss and what you grieve for makes you a fortunate person to have had it. Sometimes I find myself so amazed when you share stories about her and her open-mindedness, intuitiveness and spirituality. She gave you such a legacy and I find myself wanting to be like her as a Mom. Stories about her are like a breath of fresh air to me. Really.
: ) XO

Leeza Hernandez Illustrator said...

To have the strength to write this so openly and honestly is a testament to you and your talents, abilities and spirit Sheri.

A beautiful piece.

I agree with Cat - your mother has given you the gift of an amazing legacy which no-one can ever take away from you.

Keep on keepin' on Shezza - you have a lot of love and support coming from places and people you may not even realize are there!


Sheri said...

Awe, thanks, Pat! I haven't tried to get an agent yet. That is my goal for this year. But seriously, thank you very much!

Thank you, Cathy. Yeah, my mom was so special and I was so lucky to have had her as my "parental guide." She was a selfless mother maybe to a fault. Today, I laughed and it was her laugh, not mine. It was weird. I thought to myself, Hi Mom... I feel her in me - or I see a lot of her in me since she died.

Awe shucks, thanks Leeza. I decided to just go for it and anytime I judged myself I placed it in parenthesis. I thought it would be interesting to not only narrate my life in third person but then to also offer parenthetical commentary. I am so glad it worked and is so touching for all of you. I wish you and Cat --- ALL OF YOU --- could have known my mom. You all would have loved her. I am still so lucky because I have soul sistahs!


Julie Dao said...

This was so beautifully written and moving. Thank you for sharing with us.

Sheri said...

Thank you, Julie! And welcome to my blog. I will check yours out too.

Betsy Devany said...

Be kind to yourself. Allow your mind the space it needs. Respect the quiet inside, which burns to be let go. Free. Free to spin words onto the page. Free to laugh. Free to run across a summer lawn, chasing a butterfly. Your butterfly.
She is out there, waiting. Beautiful and gentle. Patient and knowing. Yellow wings like the sun.
She is waiting for you to wake from a winter's sleep, to follow her once again.Through the fields, so that once again, you can dance across the pages.
And we will wait. Wait for you. Wait for your words.
Just because.
This, I believe.

Sheri said...

Thank you, Besty...Roomy! So beautiful a response. I am waiting and watching for yellow wings like the sun.

Hugs ans kisses

“Personal limitation exists only in our ideas of who we are. Give up all notions of who you are and your limitations will vanish.”

- Anonymous