Musashi Mix Inq

Palliativity 166: writing on the wall – part two

Posted on October 11, 2012

Continued from part one:

« • »

December - 2006

I sat out on my front porch waiting for her arrival. You can't always anticipate the new chapter in your life.

She double parked her car out front, got out and handed me the keys. Parallel wasn't her parking preference.

For two people who had shared so many experiences and words, suddenly we were hesitant.

We didn't share our first kiss til we got upstairs. When we opened our eyes, we found ourselves on some strange unknown beautiful world.

A love supreme.

Thankfully our friendship remained unchanged. On the downside, neither did the distance.

She returned to school.

« • »

February - 2007

I still wasn't making art yet. A community project changed that.

The Japanese American Service Committee was organizing a mural to be made by community members
under the guidance of professional artists from Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education.

The dozen of us, ages 2-80, met every Saturday for brainstorming sessions as we planned out the mural.

Love, Palliatives and Purpose made me an artist:

Chaos unleashed.

I started out doodling. When I hit the edge of the page, I grabbed yellow aged masking tape.

More colors. More paper. I dug into the details and the symbology exploded.

June - 2007

We didn't start painting til summer. My love returned from school and our cohabitation began.

She had taken part in the mural project on her breaks in Chicago. She was one of the group's driving forces.
At the same time, the Japanese American community began to accept her as one of them.

The mural project became a huge part of our lives together.

July - 2007

My mother and I road-tripped to Cleveland to visit my Grandma. She was in the late stages of hospice care for lung cancer. When we arrived at her home that evening, she was awake but could no longer speak; too many tubes and life-giving machines. Grandma had stayed up waiting just for us to arrive, but quickly needed to go to bed. My grandfather's passing six months prior had set her health on a resolute trajectory. She died at 4am that very night.

Dejavu: I call my girlfriend back in Chicago in the pre-dawn hours. I have too much practice at making this phone call.

After shiva, we leave my grandparents' home for the last time.

« • »

We return to Chicago as a family lost in tragedy.

Timing is everything and this was my moment to take it back.

I ask my girl to marry me with my grandmother's ring.


Palliativity 165: writing on the wall – part one

Posted on October 4, 2012

I fell in love with my best friend at college. We didn't start our romantic relationship until after I had graduated and she was in her junior year, the winter of '06. But I'm getting ahead of myself:

Autumn - 2006

After my graduation back in May, we talked on the phone and g-chatted regularly throughout her summer break. Once she returned to school, communication picked-up even more. We were already closer than I ever thought two people could be. Then in October, the world pushed us into the unknown. She called me on a grey Chicago afternoon.

Back on campus, our friend had taken his life.

Autumn silence across a wire…

« • »

The following month, my maternal Grandfather died days before Thanksgiving. Shiva food-poisoning put me in the ER while the family mourned and carved turkey. My Grandmother took some of Grandpa's pills to cut the pain. This wasn't the first husband she had buried. I held her hand throughout the service. She fell asleep at the synagogue and I had to keep jostling her awake. She rested her head on my shoulder in the limo cavalcade. Hardened Cleveland soil in late-November; red cemetery mud caking my patterned leather shoes. She would die the following summer. Lung cancer. I don't know many prayers, but I can recite the Kaddish by heart…

After we returned to Chicago from the last Cleveland Thanksgiving, I shaved my head in the samurai style. Thinning hair: a parting gift from the biological Grandfather I never knew. He died suddenly when my mother was ten years old. My cousins, like their bio-Grandpa, will have hair til the day they die.

I was still in constant pain with few palliatives at hand. No lidocaine. Nothing stronger than Advil, ice and Bengay. I broke down crying one night while cooking the family dinner and realized that I needed something stronger. I've had a bottle of Vicodin every month ever since.

« • »

December came on slowly. The one thing keeping me together was that my best friend was coming to visit for the first time after we allowed the inner silence to be broken:

I Love You


next week: part two

Further reading: "writing on the wall"