Death, Loss, Spit and Pathos

Today is October 25, and despite the odds against it, my mother is still here. Her kidneys are still functioning. Her respiration is improving. She spends most of the day watching television. She makes eye contact. She occasionally tries to vocalize. She is a nine year multiple myeloma survivor as of August 10, 2018. We have gone from More Birthdays and celebrating her living on another year to celebrating in tiny increments.

So I sit here and plan on another Halloween with my mother.

I remember my mom was present at the book release for The Void Between Emotions, which turned into a wake and remembrance for Greg Hug, who died a month before the release party.

This is a picture of Greg Hug from Valentine’s 2017 at Wicked Grounds, along with the painting I did for “Spit and Pathos” after I altered it with Photoshop. The original sits on my kitchen table. I tried to capture the haunted look Greg had in his eyes near the end of his life. A lot of the poetry in the book, most of it, is directly or indirectly about Greg and processing the loss. The stories I wrote were written just before and during the wake of (following) Greg’s death May 26, 2017.

Many of them were for the “Next Great Horror Writer” contest. Others are stories I wrote for other contests and anthologies that were released, like “Balm of Brackish Water,” which was released immediately after I read it for the Afrosurrealist Contest outside of the ProArts Gallery.

There are also award-winning essays from 2016-2017, including one about Toni Morrison’s relationship to the horror genre, and one I won a Reframing the Other contest for at BCC about when one first realizes they are “other” – reframing other from the view of the othered person and focusing on how becoming aware of otherness changes ones self image.

The book release is at Octopus Salon at 5pm on Friday November 9 and I hope some of you can make it. I am, of course, nervous about my mom’s health. I am worried about how she will be doing on that day and if she will even be here. We live day to day here, me and the rest of my family. Still, I got her a crow mask. I am dressing up like The Crow from the movie, and she can dress as the spirit animal on Eric Draven’s shoulder.

Since my mom’s health declined, I have become very isolated. People don’t know what to say, so they avoid you. They pick fights for no reason, and babble stupidly about how they don’t know how to handle death -and that’s why they have abandoned you when you are facing the wane of your mother’s glorious and vibrant life. Afraid of their own mortality, they demand you remain positive and are eternally insensitive. And you stop complaining. You stop asking for help that won’t come. You retreat, and spend days sitting by your mom’s bedside, coming up with ways to make the inevitability of death less difficult to face.

So you put snap chat filters over your silent mother’s face. You plan to join Halloween Festivities at the hospital. You Thank God for small things, like Mom making lazy eye contact these days, or larger ones, like rescuing mom from the Kevorkians over at Summit (even though you know that there are some who will argue with you that your mom’s quality of life isn’t worth having. You ignore those…)

Mom mostly watches television these days.

And she sleeps.

~ by Sumiko Saulson on October 25, 2018.

12 Responses to “Death, Loss, Spit and Pathos”

  1. So sorry to hear about your mother’s declining health. If you need to talk, I’m here for you.

    • Yeah – Kenny from the Mint came to visit her. I haven’t told everyone down there how sick she is yet but I should. She was definitely a regular there forever and a lot of people know her.

  2. So sorry to hear of your mother’s declining health. If you need to talk, I’m here for you, Sumiko.

  3. Hello Sumiko,

    I am sorry to hear about your mother’s condition. I commend you for even being able to share your pain via email.

    It is completely understandable that you would isolate yourself and feel the way you have been (I’m not about to repeat your words from your email as I’m sure that’s the most irritating thing anyone could do right now or anytime for that matter).

    I won’t bother you with the same clichés that others would come out with believe me I know as I went through exactly what you are going through now. But what I will say is that if you need to chat or anything, express anything (if you need to rant without someone responding) then I am here.

    I may be a stranger to you but I am a stranger who has not only been through what you’re going through but I am a stranger who cares about people.

    Anyway, I’ll leave it at that and wish you a good evening.

    Take care


    Sent from my Windows Phone ________________________________

    • Thank you for responding and I appreciate the thoughts and anything that anyone really has to say by way of reaching out during this difficult time. I am sorry you have had to go through the loss of a parent, it’s very difficult.

  4. I think I understand a little bit. (My Mum is up there in years and we’ve already been talking about what will happen in a general sense.) But I recall when a dear friend’s dad passed away and she was getting the same thing you described. Everyone either sticks their foot in their mouth or avoids you. No one is trained to handle the weight of the subject so they foul it up worse than if they just tried.

    I’ve been reading the posts wondering what I could say, and I suppose admitting to the uncertainty is helpful. I admire what you are doing and the decisions. We’re told life is precious but many around us are obsessed with the kind of trivialities that are pretty useless and vain, whereas being grateful for the little things that are good is the best thing to do. This is admirable, and ultimately necessary. Thank you for sharing this as we all must face it and will face it throughout life.

  5. Thank you for sharing, and for responding to the post, I really appreciate it. You’re right, we all have to face the loss of a parent or a very close loved one at some point, and with a protracted illness it’s a lengthy process that requires some sort of zen on the part of everyone involved.

  6. Most of us don’t know how to support the emotions of the end of life. Not excusing hurtful and unhelpful behavior though. Your feelings are totally valid. I wish I could help but there’s no making it better. Your mom is dying and that sucks more than just about anything. Keep blogging if you can’t talk to anyone about this. I am holding you in my thoughts and sending virtual hugs, but sad that I can do little more.

  7. I really appreciate it. Just being allowed to talk about what’s happening in some kind of real way helps a great deal.

  8. What I did while my mom was in her last days: I decided that since she could not talk and slept a lot, she was probably having marvelous dreams. I leaned over to kiss her once when her eyes were open and she looked totally startled, as if she was wondering what I was doing getting so close. That would have been in character. So I was able to be still and let her dream her dreams that I trusted her Creator was giving her.

  9. That is absolutely beautiful, Elva.

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