And when I woke dear, I was mistaken – Zoe

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

You make me happy, when skies are  grey

And you don’t know dear, how much I love you

So please don’t take my sunshine away

I can’t imagine dealing with actual death.

A few days ago, I came home to see my brother and mom reading a facebook page. Curious, I walked over. It was the facebook page of a guy I sort of kind of knew from Tae Kwon Do. The posts were all from friends talking about how much they missed him. I was confused for a second. Then I realized: He had died.

I didn’t really know him. I hadn’t seen him at all  for a few years, and even before that we never talked. I knew enough to recognize his name,  face, and that’s more or less it. He was only 20, and the death was so sudden, and it hurt. And reading his wall, looking at all these people that were using a construct of him, his name and bunch of photos and talking to it. Trying to say things they didn’t say before he died and left a space.

I don’t know what goes with that. I can’t imagine having to deal with that.

I mean, I’ve done death. My grandma died last summer. But while it was sad, it was liveable. There had been enough build-up that things had started growing in around the space she used to take up.

And then, sometimes I look at my sister. She’s amazing. She’s one of those people that just seems to be a little extra bright. She can run around, sing Disney princess songs, and know exactly what to do and say to make you feel better. She can write these amazingly deep things, and explain, and she’s just…she’s a sun. Some people are planets, and some people are suns, and Katie is one of the suns who draws people into her orbit and gives them light.

Sometimes I look at her, and I think: In another universe, she could not be here right now. I would have a room filled with me and an empty bunk, and spend nights wishing there was someone in it.

She wouldn’t be there  to dance around the house and sing trashy songs with and braid my hair. No one who just knows when something’s wrong, and just knows exactly what to say to make things better.

If she wasn’t here, I don’t know what I would do. And sometimes, I think about it and it’s all I can do not to cry.

My sister nearly died. She spent nearly two years forcing herself closer and closer, and I watched it, and I thought it was my fault, and she was so close.

How is it possible to deal with that?

Because I know that at one point, I knew it. I remember being terrified when I wasn’t with her, that maybe it would happen while I was gone. I remember panicking if I didn’t know where she was. I was very much aware that her life was in question, all the time.

But I was young. 11. And when she was no longer in immediate danger, I just…forgot. I had no capacity to deal with death, real or theoretical, so I pretended it didn’t happen. Then, a few years later, that time came up in conversation. Suicidal. It hit me lie a brick, and I looked at it. I looked a place which had a Katie-sized hole in it, one less sun. And then I decided I still couldn’t deal with it, so I made myself forget again.  And again. And again.

Because  sometimes I look back, and I realize: I nearly died.

I was so close.

If things hadn’t changed, I would be dead. Katie would be the one living with an empty bed.

And god, I wanted to die. So, so much. And I wasn’t afraid of dying, because I thought it would be beautiful. I was afraid of leaving an empty space, because for some unexplainable reason people had gotten attached to me.

And I don’t think I would have known how to be afraid if Katie hadn’t shown me.

I hate it, because in no way is my sister nearly dying ever going to be okay. But I think it might have kinda sorta saved my life. And I guess I’m glad, in a way, because now I look at life and I want it. I think about losing it, and I just come up with a blank wall. I remember thinking the words, I remember thinking about my feelings, but I can’t recall what it actually felt like.

So. Anyways. I’ve looked at theoretical death. Almost death. Wannabe death. And I didn’t deal with it, I crumbled.

I can’t imagine dealing with actual death.

I can’t imagine dealing with actual pain.

I’m barely dealing with what I have, and I know I have nothing on lots of  people.

I live in a reasonably sized house, with a reasonable income. I have two happily married parents, who are incredibly supportive. I get good grades in school. I go to school. I’ve got a lovely group of friends, I don’t get bullied, I laugh. By all accounts, I have a good life. Great, even. So what’s with the constant angst? It just goes on and on and on and on…

A few weeks ago, I was visiting my older brother in Victoria. While going for a walk with my younger brother, we saw one of our favorite things: Darth Vader playing the violin. He’s been on that corner of the sidewalk  for quite a while, I think. And he’s awesome. His music is pretty good, but just–Darth Vader. It makes me so happy, year after year. So, when we passed him, I dug a few twoonies out of my pocket and motioned for my brother to drop them in the case.

The man was wearing a mask, obviously, so we couldn’t see his face. But his voice, when he offered to take a picture with Jamie, was overjoyed. As we thanked him and left, he mentioned that the $4 had made his day.

4 dollars made his day. I had finished walking around the museum, and buying a gift for a friend that cost 5 times that amount. I was about to go to the old spaghetti factory, and eat a meal with a big group of people that would cost 50 times that. I wasn’t even looking forward to dinner. I wasn’t hungry.

Here’s the thing: Homelessness is one of those things that just pisses me off. You look at the Olympic village, you look at apartments selling for a million plus dollars, and what excuse do we possibly have for others going to bed in a park, using newspaper for a blanket?

As people walking by, we have a few seconds of discomfort while we avoid eye contact. Maybe a self-satisfied glow if we go through our pockets and find some spare change. But then we keep on going to where ever we were headed, and it’s over. The people on the sidewalk don’t get to leave that easily. All the years I had seen Darth-Vader-with-a-violin, I had thought of him for a few happy moments. Then I got distracted. Meanwhile, he was living on the streets, and praying every day that someone would give him 4 dollars.

I try to understand. I try to understand pain and grief and everything that goes along with this, but I can’t. I want to understand, because….because. I can’t rant and rave properly if I can’t understand. I can’t know the best way to fix things if I don’t understand, but I can’t even understand the pain of one person, let alone thousands or millions. I can’t handle the pain of almost losing someone. Even if I could understand, would I be capable of handling it and still being the same person? A person at all?

Is anyone, really? Do people deal, or do we all have emotional walls?

Are there things that are too big too feel?

The other night, dear, As I lay sleeping

I dreamed I held you in my arms.

When I awoke, dear, I was mistaken

And I hung my head and cried.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

You make me happy, when skies are grey

And you don’t know dear, how much I love you

So please don’t take my sunshine away

LGBT rights -Zoe

I’m bisexual.

….Ah, you’ve got to love a good opening.
Anyways, that wasn’t actually a big dramatic moment. I’ve known since I was…10ish? 11ish? Decided not to come out to my family till a bit later. That happened around a year ago. It…really didn’t matter. I told my friends, who didn’t really care all that much. In the end, I’m pretty open about it. I’ve yet to make myself a cleverly slogan-ed t-shirt and wear it (although that may be coming), but when it’s relevant to a conversation I mention it. I’ve never, ever lied about it.

I know that out of all possible situations, I’m in a pretty lucky one. At some point in my young(er) years, I asked my mom why people seemed so proud to not be racist, and yet were happy to discriminate against gay people. Yeah, I was a pretty cool kid like that. Anyways, her response was basically “that people are stupid.” Not exactly in those words, but…yeah. And then LGBT issues just became the thing I followed in the news, and talked about with my friends, and what not. When I was old enough for it occur to me that A) I had a sexuality and B) it wasn’t particularly straight, I didn’t really angst. At all. It was more of an “oh, that’s cool” and then “if I say something now and it changes later, it’ll be annoying, so I’ll wait a few years” and then a “huh. I wonder what’s for dinner.”

It was easy. And all my life, I’ve had it easy. And it’s an issue that I was all prepared to stand up and yell about, except that it was so freaking easy.

Not that I was complaining. I mean, hey! Canada’s a pretty liberal place! People are pretty cool with life! What am going to do, tell people to be more prejudiced so I can fight to make them….less…prejudiced….yeah…

No. That’s stupid. Why. Would. I do that. Just no.

So  this year I organized Day of Silence for my leadership project, because hey, why not? And for the most part it was lovely. Teachers were supportive, people signed up, and it’s all just been great.

Except for the little things.
The person who told me they can’t participate because their parents would freak. The person who was interested until I explained what LGBT meant, and then rolled their eyes and walked away.  Someone telling one of the participants that if they didn’t say anything, it would be assumed that they were gay and then they couldn’t look at them anymore because ‘faggots made them sick’. One of my friends, who asked me for advice on what to say to one of their friends, because they thought they might be gay and couldn’t figure out how to make that jive with being Catholic.

(Man. The hardest thing I had to do today was peel duct tape off my mouth to eat lunch. Hurts like a @(*&^$%#$%%.)

I have it easy, because if someone has a problem with me I’m willing to let it be their problem, not mine. I’ve never been put down for who I am, I’ve never been challenged, and the few times the smallest things came up they rolled off my back.

But it’s becoming more apparent to me that even in yay-for-everyone-we-never-discriminate Canada, not everyone has that. Maybe it’s not the biggest issue compared to things like global warming or national homelessness, but you know what? Even if homophobia’s only there in little moments, from a few people, it’s still more then capable of making a different few people absolutely miserable, and I don’t understand why it ‘s even there, and the fact that it exists just pisses. me.  off.

Fluffy White Rabbits – Raiya

For science, we were asked to create and conduct our own experiments. I’m not sure of the exact details of Zoe’s experiment, but basically she selected 3 different pieces of music, and had us free-write for 6 minutes while listening to each song. She also chose topics for the free-writes – trees, fish, and clouds.

I read over my free-write about clouds after emailing it to Zoe – and realized I actually liked the message in it. Actually, it almost sounded like a This I Believe essay. I edited the free-write, and this is what I ended up with:

“When I was in kindergarten, clouds represented shapes. I could make out the shapes of bunnies, people, and other objects. There were always new shapes – because the clouds were constantly moving and changing.

In grade 5 we learned about clouds in science, and they held a new meaning for me. They were no longer the abstract pictures; they now meant something. For instance, I knew about the various kinds of clouds, and how they were formed. When I looked out the window, I tried to identify each of these types of clouds. I no longer looked for interesting pictures. I was no longer using my imagination.

Of course there were days when I tried to use my imagination. There were days when I was successful, and days when I failed. For years the first idea that popped into my head when I looked up at the sky was “What cloud is that?” That idea saddened me, I felt like I was losing my inner child.

I don’t think I ever did lose my child-self though. Maybe I just know more about her now. As I grew, so did the meaning of the clouds. As I learnt more about myself, I also learnt more about the clouds. There are days when I can identify the clouds, days when I can explain why they are formed – and then there are days when I still see fluffy white rabbits floating in the sky.”