About Erin Terese

The views of others inspire me, intrigue me and propel me forward. Exploring this life, through words.

How Do You Say Goodbye Without Saying Goodbye?

I wish there had been a funeral or a memorial service.  Something. Something ceremonial or commemorative.  I feel like maybe that was the plan at one point, but the way that everything unfolded was too unpredictable and bizarre.  I don’t think anyone knew how to handle it, or wanted to handle it, or wanted to really face what happened and how much was left unknown.

I think that there is something to be said for communal grieving.  Funerals are not something that anyone looks forward to or wants to attend, but there is something about the gathering of loved ones to help usher and acknowledge the end of ones life.  I remember my grandfather’s and grandmother’s and uncle’s and cousin’s husband’s and friend’s brother’s funeral all vividly. I don’t remember what I had for breakfast two days ago, but I can remember those days like they were yesterday.  They are significant and something I know now to never take for granted.

The thing about my ex boyfriend is that he had been missing for two months.  You can’t have a funeral or service when you don’t know if someone is dead or alive. You have to hope and pray and wait. And then when his body was found, it was so badly decomposed that it was shipped from coroner to coroner throughout the state, each one trying to determine the cause of death.  I don’t think any of us expected it to take so long and everyone was hoping to find out why he died.  To know for sure.  Maybe that would offer some closure. But alas, it came back unknown.  Almost 8 months after he was found and 10 months from when he died, his remains were finally released.  Perhaps there should have been a funeral then, but there wasn’t.  And it wasn’t my place to push.

My most vivid memory is the day after his body was found. I took the day off work and went to his mother’s house.  I sat with her as she made calls to friends and family and as she spoke with the local coroner about next steps.  We drank tea. We went for a walk and sat on a bench under the elm trees in a nearby park.  We shared stories with his grandfather, and we also sat in silence. So much silence.  Later in the evening, his aunt, uncle and cousin came by the house with dinner. We all sat out on the patio, trying to make sense of everything and watched the sun slowly slip below the horizon.  Spoke logically about next steps and reminisced on when he was a boy and all the things we’d wished for him.  I didn’t cry much that day. Perhaps the hours of crying the day before or the countless hours to come kept them at bay that day. Or perhaps it was too real.  I left feeling exhausted, but at peace.  It was nice to have the warm embrace of those that loved him and to share our sadness and confusion.

But that was the only time we gathered in his name.  Nothing formal was ever planned.  When his remains were released, they were divided among his family and his sister graciously offered me some as well.  So now I have this small packet of ashes to spread. And I don’t know what to do with him.  Selfishly, I want that damn ceremony with his friends and loved ones where we can laugh and cry and share stories until the wee hours of the morning.  But we don’t always get what we want.  And I suppose it’s fitting, since I never knew what to do with him when he was alive.  Makes sense I wouldn’t know what to do with him now.  Keep him close or let him go, free to dance on the wind and the waves.

I will never again take for granted the opportunity to grieve together.  To know what happened.  To have a large group of people that want to celebrate and mourn you and mark the end of your brilliant chapter on Earth.

And I don’t mean to sounds angry or resentful that he didn’t get a life celebration or memorial or funeral, I just mean to highlight how beneficial it is in the grieving process.  It helps to look it in the face, feel it in your bones and share the experience with others.  There is a reason you find these ceremonies in most cultures and civilizations across the globe and throughout the centuries. Major life events deserve to be acknowledged.  This was just too bizarre and too painful and unfolded in a way that made it easier to put off, and off, and off. And so the grieving has been long, and drawn out, and long.

sand

I normally tie my writing off with a nice little bow and “here is the takeaway”, but there really isn’t a nice bow on this.  It’s still not closed.  I still have his ashes on my shelf in a box that says Love, waiting to meet their final destination. Now where-oh-where do I take him?  Where-oh-where do I lay him to rest?  Where-oh-where do I choose to take my tiny piece of him and say goodbye, in my own to-be-determined ceremony of my own?

This is life.

Beautiful. Messy. Real.

Yours truly,

Miss Erin Terese

 

 

 

 

Shooting Star or Soulful Encounter?

The world slows to a single breath. It lingers hot on my tongue and slow on the exhale. Time ceases to exist and our eyes lock across the crowded room.

There are few people in this world that draw you near, making your pulse quicken and your stomach leap into your throat; but he is one of them.

I remember the fist time I saw him. It was nothing special, really.  Well I suppose it was, but I didn’t notice it in the moment.  My friend noticed him before I did. I was facing away from him when he entered the room, so she leaned close to my ear and whispered that the guy walking in was “just my type.”

I turned on my heels to see him. No. Wrong. Not my type.

We made introductions and he quickly became part of our group for the night. Still thoroughly unimpressed, I made small talk with him, trying to be polite. He was interesting. Arrogant, but smart and could weave a captivating story with nothing more than confidence and carefully crafted body language.

Engaged but underwhelmed, I entertained the banter, trying my best to feign interest, all while scanning the room for a more interesting and like-minded person I could talk to.

I started to zone out.  We had just taken our seat, settling in for some performance art. He babbled on, about what I cannot remember, and I drifted into my day-dreamy world, thick with wonder and curiosity. As the lights dimmed and the music began to lift, our knees touched. Gently. Barely.  So slight he may not have noticed, but just enough to make my world come crashing in.

I lit on fire.

In the matter of a moment, the world stopped on a dime and he was all I knew. I could feel every piece of him.  Every fiber of my being and cell within my flesh, stood at attention. This man. Who… Who was this man?  I was hooked.  It no longer mattered that only moments ago I was mostly disinterested. My body knew something I didn’t.

I needed to know him. I needed to know more. I needed to who he was and why he unlocked something in me I never knew lay dormant.

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Years later, this moment stays with me.  It is still palpable. I can remember the feeling of surprise and longing and sheer wonder.

What is it that draws us to people in such a way? Chemistry, pheromones or a soulful connection, perhaps? Maybe. Maybe all of those things. Maybe none.  Maybe it doesn’t matter.

It is rare to experience people in such a way.  Extremely rare. I don’t think you can lump this kind of interaction into a one-size-fits-all meaning or definition, but I do think these moments are important.  You are meant to bend a knee.  You are meant to pause and explore within yourself why you might be reacting in such a way.  And if you are self-aware enough, and the other person is open-minded and communicative enough, perhaps you can discuss it with them as well.

People that strike us like a lightening bolt enter our lives for a reason.

Because they are so strong and unique and awe-inspiring, we want to bottle them up and store them away and keep them forever, but we can’t. That’s not how it works.  What you can do is be as genuine as possible and explore what is it about this person that lights you on fire.

It’s beautiful.  And if you get to keep them, great.  If not, set them free like the comet and shooting star that they are – burning quickly, fiercely and brightly through your life. A beautiful memory to cherish forever and a small mystery to awaken the wonder.

Yours truly,

Miss Erin Terese

 

Ghosts of He

Not while we dined, but long after she told me, I thought of him, snuggled by his mother – his little hands in hers, holding them tight while she cried, both of them seated on the couch.

There was an afghan crumpled at the foot, which he spied out of the corner of his eye. He slid off the couch, plumped a pillow for which she could lay her head and motioned for her to lie down. Bending her knees as she did, he placed his palms on the back of her calf and guided her legs into a straightened position, better for her to rest and relax.  Then, grabbing the blanket, he pulled the worn and faded corners over her body. Almost as if he were tucking her in at night, he wrapped the ends tightly around her shoulders, thighs and feet, so that she looked like a newborn in swaddling.

In that moment, he placed his hands on her face and looked into her eyes.  Sweeping the hair from her brow and tucking it behind her ear, she remembers the weight of that moment.  In his death, those moments of innocence seem swept away, and I can see where it weighs heavily on her.

Without that memory she so graciously shared, I had loved him and would love him anyway – but folded with the gestures of care and comfort, his light shone even greater.

As he gazed into her eyes, wiping away the final wisp of hair stuck to her dampened forehead, she said “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry.” His response came ever so sweetly, past his little boy lips, “It’s okay, Mom.  Just please don’t do it again.”

Our coffee mugs were dark that morning, with grounds in the bottom we hardly noticed were there. The bitterness of each sip, rested hot and heavy on our tongues and burned on the way down.  His sudden death lingered for us both and served to bring us to this table.  “What was he like when he was a boy?” I asked. “He was so sweet,” she said, “sweeter than I deserved.”

*note from Miss Erin Terese*

P.S.  The short story above is the third piece I have written for a 10 week Writers Workshop I am participating in.  The exercise was to pick a mood and depict the feelings through the action (and scene) of someone else. The primary goal is to reveal the narrator and get a feeling without having to tell it.

In the interest of growing in my writing technique, style and tone, I will be sharing my pieces here.

I hope you enjoy!  xo

Dearest Poet of the North

Dearest Poet of the North,

There have been several occasions whereby you have single-paragraphedly saved my life.  In order for you to be properly acquainted with myself, you ought to be aware of the circumstances leading up to where your words found me.

My humble upbringing and lack of any real culture or exposure, never seemed just.  How was I born into such conditions, with uncivilized creatures that know no taste beyond that of fried animals and music fit for the back of a mud-laden pickup up truck?

Fleeing the shambles of the unfortunate existence I was forced to endure, in a life of full of strangers, I made my way to California by way of an Amtrak train. Exhausted from a lifetime of trivial conversation, commands from large sweaty men claiming to know best, and completely emaciated and malnourished due to the aforementioned culinary fare which you could hardly expect me to consume – I arrived in the Golden State as a dark shadow – a mere speck of the light you know we are to emanate.

My sore eyes could hardly keep lift.  Should there have been toothpicks in my purse, I quite literally would have shoved them in my eyelids to prop them open.  But with lack of toothpicks or a phone to dial, I sat down in the bustling train depot, shoved my worn leather bag with a poorly sewn, mismatched patch, against the wall, and rested my weary legs not-so-gracefully on the floor.

Hours later, I awoke to a pair of workman boots with faded yellow laces, standing harshly next to my drool soaked cheek, pressed sadly against the cold tile floor. The boots shuffled away, and as they did, a piece of paper drifted my way, with your words written on it.  They found me.  I read them, relished them, folded them neatly in my wallet and propelled myself into the night, fueled by the sentiment.

One month later, faring no better, I kept your words with me where I went.  I took shade under the elm trees, and drifted off with your syllables dancing around my head, like sugar plum fairies coming to grant me a wish.  This time when I awoke, it was to the loud voice of a man, growling in his throat, asking if I was okay.  Sensing I was in need, he opened his home to me, bathed me in a porcelain tub with clawed feet and handed me a robe. Wanting more than anything to believe this was an act of concern, I smiled – but his dark eyes and musky scent suggested otherwise. But, from your words, I drew my strength.

In exchange for his “kindness”, I gave him my body.  When he finished, I clamored off his hairy chest, his lungs full of lies, of desire to help, so that I may write to you, my Poet of the North.  Your words brought me here, to this fortress of marble and gold coated artwork.  And by your words, I know it’s not long before we meet. Each word in your poem speaks to me and nourishes me like light for the blind. I know now, by the words you shared and the way they found me, that you meant them for me – and that I am being led to you.  A leaf on the wind and shining fallen star, heading your way.

Until we meet,

Yours

 

*note from Miss Erin Terese*

P.S.  The letter above is the first piece I have written for a 10 week Writers Workshop I am participating in.  The exercise was to create a first person persona narrator in an addled and/or altered psychological state who is writing a letter to someone he or she admires – using a formal tone.

In the interest of growing in my writing technique, style and tone, I will be sharing my pieces here.  They will all be fictional, so don’t be too worried thinking the scenes are true to my life (for those that know me personally).

I hope you enjoy!  xo

When My Hands Find Their Way

When my hands find their way to you, they are instantly home. Words cease to matter since I can feel you now. Your words are beautiful though.  When you speak, they hang thick in the air and wash over me like the fog pouring over the bridge in the crisp dark of night.

They envelope me.

They seep into my pores and come to rest within my soul and every piece of light that shines within my darkest corners. And yet, even with the force with which you bring me to my stillness, the words are unnecessary, really.

Once my hands are on you, I know everything I need.

Your breath and warmth speak more into the soft of my palms, than your syllables upon my ears ever could.

I feel you. I hear you. I understand.

You are home.

hands

Yours truly,

Miss Erin Terese

Unarmoring My Heart

It wasn’t until the death of my ex-boyfriend that I realized how strongly I had been guarding my heart.

It should have been evident from my inability to find another partner, but I couldn’t see it. I had grieved the death of our relationship, the future we planned for ourselves, and his presence in my life…  But when I grew weary of mourning, I shut it down – and the remaining pieces that needed examining, laid quiet within me.

unarmored-heart

The past few months have been a blur for me.  From the moment I was notified of his disappearance, I felt it inside me – he was gone.  But with lack of a body and no evidence to support it concretely, I had hoped for the best and went through the motions of searching for him and discussing all the possible scenarios with his family.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned myself spending so much time with his mother and the conversations we have had.  She and I have been a support to one another in ways that words cannot begin to describe (but of course, I will try).  The stories we have shared with one another have shed light on parts of him that neither of us saw.  It has helped to connect the dots.  To answer unanswered questions. To see the man we both loved so dearly in a much broader sense.

When I received the news that his body had been found, it was as if the whole world stopped and came crashing in. There was a reckoning. Every thought and feeling and emotion that was left unaddressed came bubbling up and pouring out. I was unleashed.  Consumed by feelings of loss and regret, I knew I had to sit with it.  I had to allow it to surface and to acknowledge every tear and fear as it arose.  And I did. And I grieved the loss of him – heavily.

And it didn’t take long before the truth came to me and looked me square in the face: ever since our breakup, I have been dating with a guarded heart.

In some ways I had known it all along, but I hadn’t realized how strongly I had it guarded until that moment.  Yes, I have learned to embrace life and friendships and my passions in life with a kind of fierceness and unbridled sense of adventure that is easy for myself and others to see. How confusing then, for men who try to date me, when they can see how open my heart is for the rest of the world, and how armored it is for them.

How completely unfair of me to expect that I should find a patient and open-hearted Knight in Shining Armor to unlock the chains I placed, when I wasn’t even willing to hand them the key.

So now I must remove my armor.

In order to receive the love I so greatly desire to feel again, and to build the family I long to have, I must remove the barriers I have built, and allow space for love to enter again.  I must be willing to place my heart into hands that promise to hold it gently, and trust that it will be cared for and tended to, the same way I will tend to theirs.

And so begins the next chapter for me, of unarmoring my heart. Of learning to love again, unbridled, without fear of being broken.

I can only hope, and try one day at a time, to allow my tender-heartedness to be my greatest strength and not my weakness.  To remember that love is worth the risk and that it is always good to have it stretched open, even if it has to close back up for mending.  Like a beautiful flower, it can always bloom again.

Here’s to unraveling the chain, one link at a time!

Yours truly,

Miss Erin Terese

Listen to your Heart

There is so much talk about paying attention to your breath.  Your life force. The way your feet hit the ground when you propel yourself down the path. The way you react when someone or something triggers you.

You must pay attention to your thoughts.  Pay attention to your verbal response and to your initial instinct.  Pay attention to what triggers you, why it triggers you and how you consciously choose to respond – then change the course of your conditioning.

But what about listening to your heart?

listen to your heart

Can you feel it open when you are with someone that makes you feel safe and understood?  Can you feel it flutter when you have stumbled upon something that excites you?  Can you feel it constrict when you feel threatened or misunderstood or wronged?

Have you ever placed your hand over your heart when something moves you?

Have you ever laid your hand over your lover’s heart as they share their story with you?

There is a power there.  An answer. A blessing.  A key to understanding.

I do agree that we must pay attention to our breath. To our body.  To our mind.  To our word choice and to our actions.  Absolutely.

But, I also think we must be aware of the rhythm and the state of our heart.  I am beginning to feel as if it is our greatest compass.  The ultimate litmus test. Our advocate. Our confidant. Our guide.

From my heart to yours.

 

Yours truly,

 

Erin Terese