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Sleepless nights

The world has stopped spinning, now. Enough that I can see the ghosts at night.


Words fly by when my body is still, catching only the shape of my grief. Her laughing smile, her warm hug. Red gravy and jelly toast, lumpy mashed potatoes and a bourbon and water at 5pm. Hurricanes and dancing lessons, and don't forget the chicory in the coffee, please.

Her toothpick box and poker chips lie quietly to my side, and Louis Armstrong marches her home with the Saints.

She dances with red, red lips in the arms of a dashing Italian scoundrel. A divorced man with twinkling black eyes and a shadowed past, from the city of New Orleans.

For the first half of my life, her arms were where I went to cry. She gave me history and showed me what what a word is worth. She taught me how to love without reservation, to squint so I'd always see what was good and right with the world, and what infinity really means.

When I left home at 17, I went to the waiting arms of the city that care forgot. It meant more to her than it did to me, in the beginning. She loved it with a passion, and I lived her dreams in the winding streets and steamy nights of New Orleans. I remember the unshed tears in her eyes the night I told her I was heading for home on the Mississippi.

In the end, I did what she taught me to do: I made stories, strewing them beneath the oaks. I found my own black-eyed boy, born with tabasco on his breath and laughter in his soul. She was there the night we danced, with my eyes bright and his shoes shined to a military polish. He saved the last dance for her, and I knew then that it was forever.

I'll never see tears in her blue eyes again, but I feel them when I lie down to sleep. It would have killed her to see what Katrina has done.

Comments

( 53 comments — Leave a comment )
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caliente_uk
Sep. 19th, 2005 10:48 am (UTC)
Such a beautiful, moving post, Chris. *hugs you tight*
(Anonymous)
Sep. 20th, 2005 12:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Cal. I think she would have liked it. *hugs back*

There was something cathartic about having written something finally -- I slept last night for 8 entire hours!
paratti
Sep. 19th, 2005 10:55 am (UTC)
That was a beautiful tribute.

(((Holds you))) so hard.
chrisjournal
Sep. 20th, 2005 12:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you, L. You guys mean so much...*hugs back*
harmonyfb
Sep. 19th, 2005 10:56 am (UTC)
::hugs you::
(Anonymous)
Sep. 20th, 2005 12:51 pm (UTC)
*big hugs back*

Sorry Manly was a sourpuss on his birthday...
freixenet
Sep. 19th, 2005 11:00 am (UTC)
::hugs, so many hugs::

chrisjournal
Sep. 20th, 2005 12:52 pm (UTC)
And many back. I *would* go crazy without you guys. This was good for me. Hard, but good.
justhuman
Sep. 19th, 2005 11:08 am (UTC)
{{{hugs}}}
chrisjournal
Sep. 20th, 2005 12:53 pm (UTC)
*hugs back*

It's funny, because I'm sure I never told you, but your posts about drumming, they have always reminded me of Grandma. If she'd been young during our era rather than her own, I could so easily picture her drumming, the way you do.
petzipellepingo
Sep. 19th, 2005 11:30 am (UTC)
:: hugs ::
chrisjournal
Sep. 20th, 2005 12:53 pm (UTC)
*hugs back* Thank you for being there, petzi.
soundingsea
Sep. 19th, 2005 11:51 am (UTC)
*sniffles*

*hugs*
chrisjournal
Sep. 20th, 2005 12:54 pm (UTC)
*sniffles too*

*huge bear hugs*

Thanks for being there, in so many ways, B.
sockkpuppett
Sep. 19th, 2005 12:51 pm (UTC)
[hugs you] One of my first thoughts was -- dare I say it? I was so glad that my Daddy was gone so that he wouldn't see what had happened to our home. It cuts like a knife.
chrisjournal
Sep. 20th, 2005 12:55 pm (UTC)
Nods. Yes, it's exactly that. I had that thought right after I thought, "oh god, the New Madrid fault is next".

Losing grandma was hard enough, but adding Katrina on top of it...I honestly am just beginning to process it all.

*big hugs*
ljs
Sep. 19th, 2005 01:43 pm (UTC)
A beautiful post. What a tribute. [hugs you v.v. hard]
chrisjournal
Sep. 20th, 2005 12:56 pm (UTC)
*hugs you back, just as hard*

Ah, Lori. I don't even know how to tell you how much I love you, you know that? Do you know it's going on 4 years since you first began encouraging me? It's cliche, but thank you for being out there and being you.
spikewriter
Sep. 19th, 2005 02:23 pm (UTC)
Such a beautiful post, Chris. ::Hugs:: to you.
chrisjournal
Sep. 20th, 2005 12:57 pm (UTC)
*big hugs back*

It was cathartic -- I think this is something I've needed to do for a while now, and it's just starting to come to the surface. I like to think she would have enjoyed it.
xionin
Sep. 19th, 2005 02:46 pm (UTC)
=sniffle=

=massive quantities of hugs=

thanks for sharing that.
chrisjournal
Sep. 20th, 2005 12:58 pm (UTC)
*hugs you*

Sharing, yeah, that's what it is, I guess. It's not easy, but it is necessary.
wisemack
Sep. 19th, 2005 02:56 pm (UTC)
Love you so much, Chris. (((hugs))) you very tightly.

And um.... I'm kinda like Lum... only I had the slightly macabre thought that, remembering what happened at the graveyard in Pass Christian after Camille, I am really really glad that my baby girl Erin is buried here, in Vicksburg, on a nice hillside which I drive past 'most every day - and not.... well, anywhere on the Coast.



chrisjournal
Sep. 20th, 2005 01:00 pm (UTC)
*sniffles*...*hugs*

Cathy, the words fail me. How'd we end up here, doing this? I've missed you along the way, but this is no way for friends to reconnect. Huge, huge bear hugs. I haven't heard about the cemeteries in New Orleans yet...wonder if the mausoleums held up?
10zlaine
Sep. 19th, 2005 03:12 pm (UTC)
::misses you, luvs you and worries excessively about you::
chrisjournal
Sep. 20th, 2005 01:01 pm (UTC)
*hugs you*

I will be okay, I swear. Not now, and maybe not for a long time, but my sanity sticks. And knowing you guys and having this place to release makes such a difference.
wackinessensues
Sep. 19th, 2005 03:45 pm (UTC)
I don't know what to say, other than my heart breaks with you even though I knew neither the woman nor the place. I just wanted you to know that I hurt for you, and hope that time steals the pain but not the memories.
chrisjournal
Sep. 20th, 2005 01:14 pm (UTC)
*hugs* Thank you for telling me -- the sharing hurts, but I think it's a necessary part of getting through all of it. She was very special.
(Deleted comment)
chrisjournal
Sep. 20th, 2005 01:15 pm (UTC)
Nods. She was beautiful. I'm certain that I've only touched the edges of her here, but writing about it helps.
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( 53 comments — Leave a comment )

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