bookbinding my heart

I bound this journal together, and it kind of felt like I was binding myself together too.

In these past 10 months, I have uttered: “I just want to be happy!!” so many times, it’s become quite ridiculous. If you’re wondering, it didn’t work – I’m still sad. Apparently, you can’t just flip a switch and not be sad anymore.

Life just doesn’t work that way.

As Eleanor Shellstrop pointed out on a recent episode of The Good Place, “We’re all a little sad… all the time. That’s just the deal. And if you try to ignore your sadness, it just ends up leaking out of you anyway.”

I am fascinated by sadness – how it’s something we can feel very deeply but not something we can put into words. A couple weeks ago, I had a very hard day at work and I found myself sitting on the edge of my bed tears running down my cheeks, barely breathing, telling my cousin over and over again, “I can’t do this again, I can’t be this sad again. I can’t–”

I wonder if the reason we fear sadness is due to not understanding it. Not knowing how to truly feel the things we feel – the hurt, the pain, the loss – and move forward from it.

Maybe we just see sadness as a weakness and not something that makes us human.

But, we all get sad and the thing is, the best stories come out of sadness, heartbreak, loss.

Don’t they?

There is something so deep and true about a sad story. Perhaps, because sad stories aren’t completely sad, they actually have moments of joy that shine through and show the reality of life.

We live in a world where bad things happen all the time and people are cruel. Sometimes, it’s easy for me to feel defeated and think this is all the world will ever be: heartless.

But tonight, I bound this journal together, and it kind of felt like I was binding myself together too. I pulled the thread through the holes, one by one. At first, I was hasty – thinking I could get through each hole quickly without any complications. But, soon enough I discovered, I had to go slower to make sure the pages remained still. At times, the thread would get all knotted up and I had to pause to undo the knot – some were easier than others.

Eventually, I got into the swing of things and the process became super easy. Yet, even then, there were times the thread got all jumbled together and I had to pause to fix it.

When I finished, I felt like I had this “Aha!” moment.

Helping your heart heal takes time. I hate that I say that but it’s true. You can’t force the feelings away or make yourself feel better. Sometimes, it takes the diligence of daily moving one step forward and pausing to fix the knots.

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writing letters to the ones i miss

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetYou’d sit cross-legged and keep your foot up like a hook. Each of us took turns sitting on your hook-held foot as you swung us back and forth, holding our hands in yours. All the while singing…

Κούνια, μπέλα, έπεσ’ η κοπέλα. Έσπασαν τα πίατα, τα ‘καναν κομάτια… (and then slowly:) ένα, δύο, τρία — 

ΌΠΑ! you’d say a little louder, as you popped your foot up and pulled us into your lap. You must’ve done this a thousand times in your lifetime. I must’ve watched you do it to my sisters and cousins too many times to count. It was a sad day when I was too big to let you rock me and then pull me up to your embrace.

Oh Pappou, it’s been a year. And somehow, I thought goodbye would be easier. Somehow I thought, that surely in a year, I would somehow not feel you still lost. I think you were this stronghold in my life that I felt would never change. You would always be home when I came to visit. Always sitting on your couch and waiting for a kiss on your cheek.

You were the only person who ever called me Christina (as a nickname) and I was okay with it because that’s how it was. I mean, I knew without a fault that when mom put you on the phone for me to say hi to, you’d ask me two things: 1) how are you, and 2) βρήκες σκορδόσπιτο? With me always answering good, then with a roll of my eyes and laugh, not yet.

Or what about that time last summer when you weren’t doing too well and I was with you? I was literally sitting in the chair right beside you and then, OUT OF NOWHERE, you stood up and rushed over to the table across from us. Apparently looking for your watch! You scared the life out of me because I was sure I wasn’t going to get you back in your chair without falling. Yet, we managed and then later, when you asked for your shaving machine… You told me in humor, “I promise I won’t get up and scare you again.”

Despite your quiet self, you knew how to get in a good tease. Oh gosh, you loved to tell your Greek jokes to visiting Americas! Bless their hearts because the jokes were never funny in English but they tried. And we all loved hearing you share them.

It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been a whole year since I’ve been able to give you a hug, kiss your cheek, sit in your living room with you.

So many things have changed.

I want to go back to December 31, 2015 when we all sat in our dark (the power was out in our neighborhood in Thessaloniki, on New Years Eve!) living room together. I think we had the fire going, maybe. As darkness filled the house and the new year approached, with many challenges in store… I don’t know, there was a peace in my heart that night. With no interruption from any sort of technology we sat in darkness and sang old hymns with you in the lead.

I can still picture your brows knitting together as you would sing. Always so concentrated. Always so faithful. Always so loving.

It may be a year and almost two days since you passed away, but… you are not forgotten. I think about you so very often. Though, I am thankful that you are no longer in pain – nor missing yiayia either. Gosh, this missing I feel for you really puts into perspective how much you must have missed her after you lost her. Thank you for being such a good pappou to your kids and grandkids.

We all miss you dearly.

i miss you tonight

It’s the type of miss I wish I could share.

Like back a few months when you’d say it and I felt my feelings get all giddy.

But no,
this one is the type of miss that bangs against my heart and scratches it to pieces. Why? Because it can’t be shared.

It stays hidden in my thoughts as tears fill my eyes and my nose gets all stuffy.

That’s the type of miss it is…
the one that hurts.

the way he looks at you

It ought to change things,

the way his eyes find yours and you stand a little uneasy, unsure. His look holds a small quiet promise that perhaps it’ll ignite something. That maybe, if he keeps looking at you and you keep catching his gaze, he’ll move toward you and say the things your heart longs for him to say.

But,

sometimes looks are just looks and they aren’t strong enough to move mountains.

goodbye january 2017, hello february 2017

Oh January. You have been a month full of loss, hurt, and pain.

You’ve been hard.

Harder than I predicted. You’ve been hard on the world too.

2017 you did not start with a shiny new beginning. Instead, you followed closely in the footsteps of 2016. Not surprising since we put way too much pressure on you.

I won’t lie – part of me wishes for a do-over; rewind time and maybe get it better the second time around.

But.

Maybe February 1st can serve as a do-over. It’s tomorrow after all. New month, new day, new 28 days to live. New prospect that maybe this whole month will be easier and lighter and freer.

Tonight January ends and tomorrow February begins.

May it be good.

growing up

She wasn’t ready for time to pass by so quickly.

It leaves a wake trailing behind even as the dust settles underneath her toes. Glancing down she notices new scabs and bruises coloring her pale skin.

Hadn’t she just cleaned them yesterday?

Or was that the day before yesterday…

She blocks the sun from her eyes and takes one step forward. Sometimes, growing up means walking even when it hurts.

i want a turn off button

I’m pretty good at filling up my time with nonsense and although, this nonsense has decreased it’s still nonsense.

It’s still there keeping me from thinking.

It’s the reason I’m up so late when I should be fast asleep.

I actually thought I’d given myself a good amount of time to just think and ponder and discover, but it’s past 1:30 am and I recognize, I didn’t give myself enough time.

I’m not a good wait-er.

I’ve never been.

When I want something, I want it to happen now.  Which is fine, but it’s not at the same time.  It causes me to stay up late and think, but not think at the same time because I don’t want to be thinking.

Confusing enough?

I guess my problem is that I can be so inconsistent with myself and I’m not sure how to stop.

I wish I had a button and I wish I could press it.  This button would then swipe away all my worry and doubt.  It would simply cause me to focus on today and live in today.  I don’t want to be swept away by maybes but stand firm on the ground I currently behold.

I thought today would clarify things for me and it did, but not as I would have liked.  At first, I thought this new idea would be okay to add to the back of my head, but really it’s just causing me more brain problems.

I don’t mean to complain – I just wish I could switch the off button and ship this uneasiness away.