Growing Up III

I left off with a trial by fire, but hadn’t realized that it was only the beginning of my ordeals at the time. It’s been a while since I’ve written, and much has taken place. I finally feel like I’m in a safe space and able to formulate my thoughts in a cohesive manner in which to write again.

I suppose we’ll just start where I left off. The failing marriage failed, big surprise. I don’t want to go into too many details publicly, but suffice it to say, I left before more damage could be done by either party, as things had progressed to a point of being unbearable to be in the same room together. Who’s to blame, the chicken or the egg, it doesn’t even matter anymore. I can see now where things moved in the way they needed to, and although I’m still battling with resentment and anger, I’ve had bigger fish to fry.

I moved in with my parents for a couple weeks, and while I hoped my leaving would turn the tide and begin change, I saw that nothing was changing. I made arrangements for a one bedroom apartment for a 6 month lease. Any less was far too expensive, with the intention of paying it off were I to move back home. We began counseling, in which I was told it was all me. I’m a narcissist, I’m mentally ill, I’m only doing this because I’m gay, the list goes on. I eventually had to decide whether I was going to accept all blame for the failure and go back with my tail between my legs, with nothing having changed, or to stand my ground, set my boundaries, and move on. I chose the latter, and began the lengthy and heart wrenching process of divorce. I was concerned for the children, but knew first hand that them living in the environment of feudal parents was not what they deserved, and they were young enough that they didn’t really question what was going on. My daughter has since begun to question it and is unhappy that we’ve separated, but those moments are few and far between. I believe, if I had stayed, that she would be living with the constant turmoil and tension between her mother and I. Right or wrong, I made my choice and will accept the consequences.

I spent months in agonizing loneliness and despair. Drinking in the joy of moments I spent with my children, and suffering the silence of an empty home while they were gone. My saving grace was being able to attend meetings, my meditations and ritual, and the knowledge that higher forces were at work in my life. I knew that the pain was necessary for growth, and held strong to the faith in better days ahead. I began to focus on my growth, and making a home for myself. I rented a two bedroom apartment, and bought a bunkbed for the kids. I began the process of starting over, buying things required for the kids and I. We spent our time with family and getting out and about. When the children were gone, I focused again on training myself spiritually, along with trying to find myself personally. I began to seek out people to spend time with. I wanted to start dating again, but keep things at a distance. I had no intention of binding myself in another relationship, for their sake and mine.

At the beginning of the following year, I made the decision to find a spiritual path and follow it through. I have come to believe that the path doesn’t really matter. Many paths to the top of the same mountain and all that. I just needed to do the work and make progress in some direction. I signed up for Reiki therapy with a local Wiccan high priestess, and also signed up for her year long dedicant course. After the first session I was convinced, as she was able to decipher things purely from the visions/feelings she received. She is an empath and was able to pull out some deep seeded issues that I had made no mention of. We spent 2-3 hours in sessions, with most of the time talking about what was going on in my life and topics relating to spirituality and magic.

Our third session was on Imbolc, and I was leaving from there to attend a meeting and then go see Gretel and Hanzel at the movie theater. I had made mention to my friends via Facebook of my intention with an invite, but received no response. I made mention to the priestess about the movie as well. She messaged me later telling me to let her know how the movie was. This was unusual, as she had never messaged me before. I told her she was welcome to come along if she liked. There had been a type of connection during sessions that I had written off as being sexually repressed or just plain lonely. I had no idea what was to come. One thing led to another, and I was sitting next to her during the movie, the entire time feeling this energy moving between us. It was exhilarating and frightening all at once. I said nothing that night, but asked her the next day if she had felt the same. She agreed and said it was not intentional, but it was definitely happening.

Fast forward a month later. We had been seeing each other several days during the week, and she would come over after the kids were asleep when they were there. Eventually I introduced her to the kids, which stirred up quite the controversy with the ex-wife. The children had described her as being different than other girls for some reason, and the ex took that to the next level and accused me of being with a transexual, and told me to watch myself around the kids. I just told her that my sexuality was none of her business and any further discussion about it would be considered harassment. That was about the last time we ever really spoke to each other. I digress.

The priestess was becoming a bigger part of my life, and I was scared as hell. This was just meant to be some dating fun, not another relationship. I was open and honest about my feelings and fears though, just to keep the lines of communication open. She was understanding and accommodating to my needs. During this time, the spirits and the Gods were making themselves well known in my home. It was common experience to feel something touching you in the night, or to catch a glimpse or even full view of something else in the house. I didn’t know where I was headed, but the possibilities were endless. I was fairly used to this experience by this point, but she hadn’t seen so much activity outside of ritual or trance before. We grew together, and our relationship with the spirits around us grew as well.

We celebrated my son’s birthday and went out with family and friends to play miniature golf and ride the go-carts. Little did I know, this would be one of the last times we got to go out for some time. The following week it seems, it was announced that the COVID-19 virus was breaking out worldwide, and the majority of states were implementing a mandatory stay-at-home order. Things like toilet paper and other items were in high demand and low supply. I had plenty already, so I wasn’t really concerned, but I did stock up on a number of food items like rice and beans and supplies to make things like bread since it was typically sold out. My work moved us all to telecommuting full-time. I kept the kids at home with me, and my daughters school moved to a remote schedule. After about a month, it was clear that this wasn’t going away any time soon. I had become accustomed to ordering groceries for pickup, isolation from everyone, including my family. My mother was growing increasingly ill from her chemotherapy and her cancer was continuing to spread. Had she contracted the virus, it most likely would have been the end for her, so we maintained our distance.

The ex-wife finally decided to go back to work, and put the kids back in daycare while she had them. I offered to keep them with me, which she declined. Another power struggle where she sought to punish me is all I can surmise. So there was that potential vector of infection that was always weighing on our minds. My friends split into factions of covid deniers, and mask wearing proponents. Virtue signaling abounded, and the entire nation became one huge argument, with one side against the other. It was the conservative republicans and libertarians screaming to open up the economy, and the liberal and socialist movements screaming to stay at home, all the while running the streets for the black lives matter movement. The irony and hypocrisy on both sides reached insanity all the way up to the presidential elections in November. The priestess was a constant mouthpiece for everything going on with her Twitter feeds and fear. I was just trying to keep things somewhat sane for the kids and myself and keep out of any arguments from either side.

It became apparent during all this, that the priestess and I were in a serious relationship. We were forced into isolation together, and circumstances in her own life warranted me assisting her with a place to work and safe place to sleep. Her housing situation devolved as she was living with an alcoholic with cirrhosis of the liver. Black mold in the ceiling that was caving in and a looming foreclosure brought us to the point of her moving in officially. We had been practicing certain bits of magic together, but she could no longer treat me professionally, nor act as a teacher or mentor by this point. So my practice fell by the wayside, while I still maintained a regimented schedule of meditation, offerings to spirits and gods, and rituals I had picked up from the Golden Dawn. Our spirituality drew us closer together even though it was clear that I was not “in love” with her. We worked well together, and circumstances warranted what came to pass.

She was a blessing in disguise for what was to come that year. My mother continued to deteriorate, and prior to the beginning of the next school year, we made the call to take a final beach trip together with the children. I rented an ocean front house on a rural island with much less traffic than the surrounding areas. We did our best to social distance and masked up whenever we went out. I had groceries delivered and we ordered take-out. We were concerned the trip would not happen, as there was a category 4 hurricane destined to make landfall on that coastline 1-2 days after our arrival. We could not cancel the trip without forfeiting the money. My mother wanted to take the risk, so we made the journey there. The first day was beautiful, and the children had a great time. The following day, the storm began to roll in. The island was closed off, but not evacuated. The storm raged as the hurricane hit near midnight that night, and the eye of the storm passed right over us. Fortunately, there was minimal damage like loose siding, and the dunes of the beach were now steep drop-offs from the storm surge. I collected some of the hurricane water to bring back to the priestess, and enjoyed the remainder of the week we were there. The full moon was during that week, and it was phenomenal over the water. My mother suffered through getting to and from the beach in order to enjoy what time she had left with all of us. I am eternally grateful for that time with her.

During this time, my sister became homeless, and due to circumstances, it warranted us giving her assistance to get into the Salvation Army shelter for women. We realized we could not help her any longer, as it never did any good. She needed a wake up call, and we’re still hoping she’ll find her way. At the same time, my brother popped up on the radar. He hadn’t spoken with us in over 10 years, and nobody knew why. He had an episode of sorts, and wound up in jail during the pandemic. He was facing some fairly serious charges, and was now jobless, homeless and in jail due to one night of poor judgement, and I’m assuming a lot of drugs. We sent him money and did our best to be of assistance to him. After our trip, he was released and decided to come out and visit since my mother didn’t have long. So there was a lot of family drama getting stirred up while my mother was suffering and dying. This brought up some intense anger and resentment, but I also understood what was going on in their lives from personal experience, so I did my best to let it slide.

Within weeks my mother was no longer able to walk due to fractures in her hips and pelvis. The cancer had spread to her thighs, her jaw, and throughout her bones. It eventually made its way into her stomach and intestines. She continued to hold on though, and we managed to rent a van and use her wheelchair to get her out to my nephew’s wedding. We didn’t think she should go, but she insisted, and it all worked out. She was alert and seemed to enjoy herself despite the pain. We thought she was doing better and had high hopes. But within a week, she couldn’t get up to use the restroom. By the end of the next week she had barely been conscious for days. On the morning of November 14th, 2020, she left us.

I had spent the past two years preparing for this moment. I cried more tears than I can remember. Ever since getting those messages from beyond that she had died, the day before she got the news the cancer was back, I knew something was preparing me for this. Weeks before the end I had an epiphany. I realized that I was feeling sorry for myself, but that I shouldn’t be. She wasn’t leaving us. She was transitioning to the next stage of life. She would be forever with us, as my experience has shown with my sister. This was my opportunity to be there for my family, to be of service to her and let her know it was going to be okay. To soothe her pain and fear, and make my final moments with her physical self count. The priestess was watching the children, while I was caring for my mother and father, and she was instrumental in allowing me the time I needed to be there for my mother.

Three days before the end, two birds had flown into the back window of my parents’ house and broke their necks. I took this as an omen that the end was near. The night before her passing I had written a final poem saying goodbye. I had hoped to read it to her the next day, but I got the call that morning that her breathing was shallow, and minutes later that she was gone.

I spent that day comforting my father and helping him to clean things up after the mortuary picked up her body. I read my poem to her in the presence of my father, and then we hugged each other and I told him that I’m there for him. We said our goodbyes, and watched them wheel the stretcher out to the van. My sister was unable to get there in time due to quarantine restriction and testing. So days later I took her to the mortuary for a viewing and to say goodbye one more time. I did what I could for my father over the coming weeks, spending most of my days there with him and my brother. While I am suffering, I cannot imagine what he is going through after more than 50 years of marriage. My heart breaks for both of us.

To Be Continued…

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