Sunday, October 24, 2010

Building a Community Altar

On Saturday, Dolly and I spent the morning at her school to help create the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Community Altar.  Each family got to make a doll figurine (called a "calaca") to put on the altar.  We made ours in memory of both Dad and Mike, as shown above.  Some of the others are shown below.  The altar will be ready in time for the Dia de los Muertos assembly on November 2.  

Dolly and I have gone to the Dia de los Muertos procession through the Mission many times.  I have walked in memory of friends I have lost, and to honor the losses of others.  Day of the Dead will have special meaning for me this year, after losing two close members of my family.  One of the members of my suicide survivors' support group is going to one of the large Dia de los Muertos processions in Mexico.  Maybe I'll try to go next year.

I had a complete meltdown Saturday morning before the art workshop.  I wanted to bring photos of Dad and Mike to put on the altar, and although I could find many photos of Mike, I had to tear the house apart to find a photo of Dad.  I have many digital photos, but couldn't find any physical photographs.  I felt like a horrible daughter.  I started screaming and crying, and threw everything off the shelves in my office.  Dolly said I scared her.  I finally found a photo from when Dolly was a baby.  So I wiped off my tears, climbed over piles of paper, photos, and books, and drove to the school to put this grief to better use.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


It's late Sunday night.  The weekend is over.  I had all kinds of plans for today--Patti Smith concert in Golden Gate Park, meeting on Church St., bike ride--but instead I stayed in pajamas watching movies, and now, after accomplishing absolutely nothing, it's time for bed.  The great thing about sleep is that tomorrow is a new day.  No matter how supremely lazy I was today, it can all change tomorrow. Tomorrow restarts the clock.  I can wake with a new attitude and motivation. Tomorrow I will work.  Tomorrow I will exercise.  Tomorrow I will eat well.  Tomorrow I will show up.

When Mike pulled the trigger, did he think he was getting a do-over? Does it all start over--a new day, a new life?  When I was recovering from meningitis, one of my home care nurses told me that "they say" people who die by suicide are doomed to repeat their same misery in their next life, because there is something they haven't learned yet.  How exactly "they" know that, I am not sure.  Did "they" take a poll to find out what people who committed suicide were doing in their next lives?  If you're going to just make some shit up, why decide it's going to be another lifetime of misery?  And why assume a survivor of suicide wants to hear your theory?  Can't you just say "at least he is no longer suffering" like everyone else?

A do-over would be nice.  Like rebooting a computer.  Did he think he would enjoy the nothingness?  Did he think he would continue to exist in any form, on any level?  Disconnected from misery.  Do it over.