The House on Country Road

forties porch

 The house on Country Road is empty now
The shadows hesitate as the memories linger

Liz
No love is lost as my heart goes back
listening for the melody of the singer

forties shadows dooe

The scent of lives once lived inside the walls
stays upon my skin like notes inside my head

forties smoking

So strange the way life once so alive,
is the part inside of me that is now most dead.

Keri London

1977

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#47 Dear Journal Suicide

ironing board waiting

Dear Journal,

I know it’s been a few weeks since I posted after I told you that Jack and I got engaged and I am sorry but it’s been hard to sit down to even think or gather my thoughts like I like to when I write to you. But let me explain…

I guess there is just NO way to say it but     bluntly.

I am not sure how such joy can turn into such sadness in just the blink of an eye. Like I said, it’s been a few weeks since the funeral and I am not sure how to even begin. I know I need to, because writing in you has become my soft place to fall, a place to perhaps even help me remember someday. But this is something that I don’t need to write down because I know I will never forget these last few days.

I don’t know how to even write it except to just say it. Liz is dead.

We were going to tell her about our being engaged that night of the day that they found her. I guess Rachel had been keeping in touch with her. The pattern usually was Jack would run to her from wherever he was. Even another state going to school. But I was the one who’d stopped him from doing that. I thought I was protecting him. I thought that I was helping them break a bad habit and to stop the madness. I didn’t expect her to kll herself.

I was ironing what I was going to wear that night. I was so happy. I was suprised that a lot of my friends were not thrilled about my news about being engaged, including my mom who kept saying that we should have a LONG engagement. I just knew that Liz would be happy for us. But I wanted to be firm with her and set up boundaries. I kept thinking about if we had babies how I would feel uncomfortable leaving them with her and how I didn’t want to feel that way about my own mother in law and now I didn’t have to worry. She was gone. I would never have to worry about that again.

I kept looking at the clock. Jack was over an hour late. Finally his dad called me and said “Keri honey, I am sorry to have to tell you this over the phone, but Jack’s mom died, he will call you as soon as he can.” At first I thought something had happened to Jack but his dad is a man of few words and cut to the chase. I just hung up the phone and crumpled to the floor and stayed that way sobbing and remembering Liz from the beginnng, the fun times, and the long talks and then the not so good times and the times Jack had shared and wondered what I was thinking butting in. I just hated myself for a while and was feeling so guilty.

crying on the phone

In the days that followed Jack was stoic. We’d learned that she’d taken a lot of valium but not a lethal dose so we don’t think that this was another actual suicide attempt. The findings were that the combination of alcohol and valium is what caused her to die. But I couldn’t help but think if I had just stayed out of it and let Jack go when he wanted to, and bring her the stupid cat food she might still be here. No. She would still be here. I wonder if Jack felt the same. He was being so sweet to me but I couldn’t help it. I truly felt that I killed her and Oh Dear Journal, I am just so sad for Jack and for me and for Liz and for everyone. I can’t stop crying.

sad woman2

 

 

 

 

 

#27 Steep Hills

Dear Journal,

Catching up again… after some missing pages…

Luckily my Senior Year only had one class  I actually had to physically attend. All  the others were Independent Study Classes like this one or Work Experience that already had given me enough credits to graduate early. I just needed my Government credits and finally recived them! Sooo, I am officially out of School!!!! No ceremonies or anything, though I do have the option of walking with my class. I probably won’t. I just needed my days free. Yaaay! Which is a good thing because I’ve had to spend a lot of time helping Jack deal with his mom. He had a heart to heart with her and found out that she’d been hiding something.  After a lot of crying and not making sense we finally  learned that the reason for her suicide attempt was because Richard moved out.

hospital pic

He signed everything over to Jack’s mom and just wanted out. The note said that he was tired of the fighting.  He left it all, their gorgeous home on Country Road, his family business. He even sold his boat in the Marina and took that money and just left in his jaguar. So far he hasn’t contacted anyone and Liz just kind of flipped out . I’m not sure, he even knows that she was in the hospital. I think that when she realized he was really gone, it made her snap out of her self destructive fog and take control again. She’s been back to work for a while now and sadly had to put her house on the market and we’ve been looking at places for her.

house for sale

We got through Christmas and I’m really looking forward to working at the Speech Center in a few weeks. Which brings me to my next piece of news! Since I will be driving an hour a day to work, Jack and my dad surprised me with a new car for Christmas. Well, new to me.  With Lonnie starting sports, my mom really needed her car more and if you remember me telling you that my dad told me that for my eighteenth birthday he’d match anything I made last summer. We’d been looking for several months past my birthday until Jack found this little Fiat and took my dad to see it. My dad said it was an early Christmas present and wouldn’t take my money! He and Jack went together to buy it and I guess it was this horrible green color when they found it but for my gift,  Jack paid to get it painted Canary Yellow. My favorite color. He was so excited to give it to me and so my dad let him be the one to surprise me with it. I think the whole thing really bonded them.  Jack was so impressed with my dad’s negotiation skills. He kept re-telling me the story over and over again about how they almost walked out and how he was so sure that it was over  until the salesman called them back.  My dad seems to enjoy hearing Jack tell the story too.

yellow fiat

 

The only thing that upset me was that it is a stick shift! My heart kind of fell when I went out and saw that. But I didn’t want to ruin the moment. I actually kind of would have liked to pick out my own car period. Do I sound ungrateful?  I already can feel the tension imagining Jack or my dad for that matter, trying to teach me how to drive it! They both aren’t the most patient teachers. We have been out a few times and Jack yelled at me and told me that I was going to strip the gears. But he makes me so nervous. We had a horrible fight during my last driving lesson. He couldn’t seem to understand why I was having such a hard time catching on since I already could drive but I was freaking out on the hills.

police stopping car

A police man pulled us over and he told me to let him do the talking. But I was in the driver’s seat and the officer was talking to me. It just seemed stupid to stay quiet and let Jack lean over so I told him that I was sorry but I was just learning how to drive a stick and gave him my license. He let me go with a warning but Jack and I traded seats. He yelled at me all the way home. My parents were out of town and we’d planned a nice evening alone. But  we were both in no mood when we pulled into my driveway. He parked my car and screeched off and I ran inside. Sometimes I think I hate him!

spitfite green in rain

The next morning was Saturday and  I woke up at 3 AM and tiptoed down the stairs with my keys. I know that what was scaring me was the traffic and so I figured that at that time of the morning I would be alone on the road and I was. I drove all the way to Manhattan Beach and drove all the way home taking every steep street I could find until I mastered stopping and starting on a hill.  I was so happy when I got home because I knew that I really had gotten the concept down.

steep hills 2

I’d totally forgotten our fight as I ran into the house to answer the phone. I still had my keys in my hand and a big old smile on my face when I heard Jack’s voice ask”Where were you!?! I looked at the time and saw that it was almost 9:30.  I was so happy that I’d learned how to drive and there was nobody at home to tell so I told him,”I taught myself to drive!”

Entry #24 Cat and Mouse

  kitchen wall phone

I got an emergency call from Jack after school on Thursday. I was just walking in the door when the phone rang. He sounded relieved when he heard it was me and all he said was that his mom was at a hospital called Garfield Medical Center near her house and he gave me the number and told me to call for directions and then hung up before I had a chance to say anything else. I stood there staring at the phone and then said hello? I  looked at the paper where I’d jotted down the number on and duitfully called it. A professional sounding woman gave me directions and I was relieved to hear that  the freeways sounded familiar, so I scribbled a note to my mom and hopped in the car  with my directions.

 When I found the nurse’s station on Liz’s floor I asked for her room number and if they’d seen Jack. They directed me to her room and I still did not know what was going on until I saw Jack  walking out and he quickly steered me away from everyone as I looked over my shoulder at an older woman sitting by the door and asked Jack who she was and he told me that she was a “sitter” and then said “my mom took a crapload of pills and they had to pump her stomach.”  I just stood there for a minute and felt numb. He looked so weary and so young and  I just grabbed him and hugged him and told him I was loved him and was sorry and at first he let me hug him and fell into my arms and held me tight and then without warning, he kind of jerked away and pulled from my arms and said he had to go take care of some insurane papers. He almost seemed mad at me. But I understood.  I knew It all sucked for him. He had done this all before, he’d told me and so had  Richard.

scolding

Jack told me to go to his mom’s room and he’d be back in a few minutes and then just walked away. I really just wanted to wait, to go in the room with him because  stuff like this just doesn’t happen in my family. I didn’t want to go in alone! I didn’t know what to say.  I walked past the older lady sitting at the door. She smiled at me  kindly. I felt sorry for her  that she had to sit there.  When I walked through the door Liz was yelling and I realized it was at that lady to go away. She was saying she didn’t need a babysitter. All of a sudden I just got so mad. Not just at what was happening then, but everything that I knew about how unreasonable and selfish she’d been through the years and I told her to “Just stop it!” I told her that the lady had to sit there because of what she did, and didn’t want to be there anymore than Liz wanted her there, and if she didn’t shut up, I was going to leave and not come back. To my surprise she stopped and apologized and even leaned over and sweetly apologized to the woman sitting outside the door. I was caught off guard and when I turned to see what the woman’s reaction was,  I saw Jack standing there smiling at me proudly.

We stayed for a while and talked and then promised that we’d go and feed her cat and bring her back some things tomorrow. We were going to stay at her house. We’d called and gotten everything cleared for the next day so we could deal with what needed to be done and my parents said I could stay over at Liz’s. Jack told me to follow him. So as I backed out, he pulled up behind me and we began going down familiar looking side streets. At first I figured we were just going a  short cut that Jack knew. And when I missed a light I panicked because I didn’t know exactly where I was but was releived when he pulled over. But not long enough for me to really catch up. For a while we seemed to be playing this weird cat and mouse game until I was almost in tears.

STEERING WHEEL

Finally, he actually screeched off. I sat there stunned. My heart was racing my head was spinning and I felt the same feeling I’d felt sailing that day. I began to question what I was doing chasing him around Montery Park. So I turned around and drove until I found a freeway I recognized and went home. At first I was crying and then I was just angry. When I walked in the door my mom asked what had happened to Jack’s mom. I had to tell her. But I made it sound like it was an accident. I told her that I was going to bed and that I’d decided not to stay over because I had a test tomorrow and Jack could handle his mom and if he called to tell him I was asleep and then I lay awake all night long tossing and turning trying to understand what had happened.

sad girl thinking