Thursday, January 15, 2009

Best of: Tears for Rachel + poem

Grief is part of life and part of poetry; below a short poem about my daughter's death from my new book, then a re-posting of my walking the razor's edge of grief and depression.

On Rachel's Death

The hole
in the ground
left by the tree

the hole left
by her life
or my life
or any life

always lacks
dirt enough
to cover
the uprooted

Loss is a coin
tossed down
a depthless well

you listen
for a splash


(published in Abandoned Towers)

From 10/9/07: "Tears for Rachel":

Today marks two weeks since I was started on the "magic bullet," Abilify. Since I flipped into euthymia Thursday, September 27, I have daily been grateful for a huge negative: NOT TO BE DEPRESSED. Those who have suffered clinical depression know whereof I speak. It brings up the old question, is the avoidance of pain superior to the enjoyment of pleasure? As a manic-depressive I say, yes indeed!

Today is the second day I've experienced a little morning anxiety and suffered some of the recurring thoughts about my future and my past, not to suggest they are of such a level as to be depressive obsessions. Still, it scares me; it's as if the ground beneath me has become a net rather than solid earth, that I see the open squares to the abyss and must tread carefully.

Sometimes I need to cry but am afraid to; this morning apparently not, as the tears have begun and I think, "poor Rachel!" My darling baby. My sweet freckled redheaded sunshine. That's what I called her as a small child, my "Sunshine." Because she could distract me from my melancholy in an instant; she was filled with so much wonder for life, her smile could illuminate my heart, he constant activity distract me; she could rescue me from the vision of the net beneath my feet. She was a tonic; she was my sunshine.

Oh, it's true as a teenager and adult she was often a huge pain in the ass, but I think what parents most remember is the unadulterated nature of a child, their essential goodness from birth--before it is spoiled by this world, by competition and the special cruelty of other children. (Children are often emotionallly brutal but at least they tend to be more honest than adults.)

So I grieve today; perhaps this was the source of my anxiety, that I still need to cry. Yes, I fear weeping may lead me back to depression, but I pray not. I'm seeing my shrink tomorrow so I can run these concerns by him.

Yesterday Kathleen scared me by asking, "You're not going to relapse, are you?" I said no, of course. But that she would pick up on a diminution of my cheerfulness is also anxiety-provoking. It wasn't like I was crying or bemoaning my state or anything.

I'm sure if warning signs continue, my doctor will bump up the Abilify. I am on the lowest dose, which, incidentally, is the most expensive--5 mg. How those drug companies know how to stick it to you! (To be fair, likely fewer are on such a small dose, why it costs more, supply and demand, etc.) Still a months supply of 5 mg.Abilify, even from Canada, is $418.

Ah Rachel. Your absence makes me weep. I know you exist, but I miss you in this world. And I wonder what effect this will have on Jacob, losing his mother at 5. But we can't take on the sadness of the world like a saddle for a pack horse. We can only adjudicate our own sorrows slowly. I don't know where people get the energy to grieve for Darfur or Burma; I have enough on my plate. Then many idealists have thrown themselves into good works because of trouble inside and at home. As has been well said, and it sounds like it should have been Shaw, "I love humanity in general but can't stand it in particular."


  1. Oh dear: my Daddy called me his sunshine: "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know dear how much I love you, please don't take my sunshine away." Your Rachel, your sunshine, is in heaven. I too have bipolar, and I'm learning to manage it, finally. My cocktail is lithium, seroquil, lamictal and pristiq. It is working. I was raised in an upper middle class family and well educated. Bipolar crosses all lines. I was in jail six times, and four times in a mental hospital. My three children suffered terribly but are now strong and successful. I invite you to visit my site, and leave a comment if you choose. God bless you! You are a strong man to bare your soul!

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Rita, and yes, medications are necessary for my sanity and I sometimes doubt those who claim to be bipolar but eschew medicines.

    I look forward to visiting your blog.


  3. C.E.: I tend to suffer much more often from depression. That's not to say that I haven't had some wild rides. I have been on almost all antidepressants at one time or another but Pristiq has pulled me out of the dump in four days and has no side effects. Since it is new on the market my doc gives me samples. I just thought I'd run it by you.


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