[Disclaimer: I’m just writing to write at this point; ‘*’ denotes when I can’t quite keep track of chronological events I’m writing about.]

This morning, my grandmother passed away.


Since she was in the hospital (and eventually the nursing home), it’s been pretty hard to keep track of time. I posted earlier about how I felt guided by duty, and that has taken shape during this season through me constantly wondering about my next task. As a result, my ability to differentiate days has gone down the drain as my mind is filled with thoughts about how my dad is actually doing, how I can better support my mom, and when I should disobey my dad’s instructions to not visit my grandma because he didn’t want me to be distracted from my schoolwork.

As soon as I finished my New Testament exam, I went into duty-fulfillment mode, making sure any idle time I had was spent at the nursing home so that my parents could take a break. At first, I’d bring a book (The Faith of Christopher Hitchens) with me to read, but a few days after I began visiting my grandma during my available hours, her condition seemed to worsen. She would moan in pain and she would look at me with eyes that no longer recognized me—adjusting her head and putting the travel pillow under her neck for support felt almost like an intrusion of space. So, the hours would pass, and I would be caught in an internal struggle: do I keep attending to her every time she groans, or do I learn to just be there and sit through it all? I was never able to quite come up with a system, and I’d find myself holding her hand at times and needing to leave her room at others just to find silence.


My mom said that the previous day, she sang a hymn while sitting at my grandma’s bedside, and miraculously, she sang along. Despite not recognizing any of us anymore, she still knew the hymns she sang in church. “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes” (Deuteronomy 11:18 ESV). The day after she told me that, I visited her and she was moaning consistently. The patient next to her said, “I think she’s in pain; she’s been moaning all morning.” I think about the plaque that read “Rapid Recovery” in sans serif, all-caps, and it seemed like a cruel joke. I kept talking to her, asking her if anything hurt, but I never got anything coherent from her. As a last ditch effort, I opened Spotify on my cell phone, searched “hymns,” and began playing them. Immediately, she settled down. She began to nod slowly and nearly imperceptibly, given her weak physical condition. When “Rock of Ages” began to play, she even tried to sing along—I remembered how much she loved to sing, and I saw how she no longer could. It broke my heart, and singing along with her, even for her, I wept.


I could feel the toll the stress was taking on my physical health. Bowel movements were irregular and often frustrating. How were Mom and Dad doing all this? I needed to do more for them. I wanted the process to be as easy as it could be for them. My mom would talk about how she was sorry that when her time comes, it’ll be just as difficult for me because I have no siblings to rely on. Still, I made plans with friends knowing that anything could happen with my grandma at any time. I had to cancel a few plans because I decided the dutiful thing to do would be to go to the nursing home. My parents never forced me to go, but I felt compelled to go; sometimes, I would be compelled against my will. There were moments when I wanted nothing more than to be with my friends and leave the world of suffering behind. I couldn’t bear the load like I thought I could. I would hear her moans in the silence of my home. I began wondering how I could even begin to share about this with the new church community I’ve begun trying to be a part of. Who would want to hear such a depressing story when benignly asking about how my week was? I felt isolated in my experience, knowing that I would just be a conversational dark hole and ruin the mood for whoever was unlucky enough to ask how I was doing. It felt like no one ever asked. It felt like I was selfish for wanting them to.


I woke up this morning to vibration that shouldn’t have been what I woke up to. “Dad.” I pressed the green talk button and got the news. I got up, took my retainers out, washed my face, put on deodorant, and told my grandpa what had happened. Mom came home right after; she had been crying. I drove us to the nursing home, and I braced for impact. When I saw my dad, I knew it was real for him. She was there, silent and still. I felt peace, and I felt relief. The guilt of that initial reaction is still weighing on me. Why didn’t I cry? Why couldn’t I? I’d like to say that it was because I sat through hours of her groans, and her quietness was bereft of pain. Maybe that’s an excuse for how callous I appear to myself. Nevertheless, she was resting with the Lord. Maybe it’s the result of having been suicidal in the past. You come to envy the people who die before you do; as a Christian, there’s a strange limbo between hoping for death and embracing the gift of life.

She had paid her dues, as they say; she lived a life full of hardship from her youth until the very end, but never once did she express a thought of injustice. She loved to sing, to paint, to measure my height against hers every time she saw me. She knew and loved the beauty that she saw in the world her Father created. To think that a life filled with that many trials could still be a life filled with love for the Lord made me realize that if there really was nothing next for her, she was to be most pitied out of all of us. She was dealt a bad hand. If there was no comfort in life with Him, there certainly wasn’t going to be any comfort here. As I write this, tears are starting to come. Have I just been suppressing my sadness about her death?


This morning, my grandmother died. The body that caused her all the pain in her life was left in the bed for us to look at, to remember her by, to whisper to, to stand with, to let tears fall on. But she wasn’t there anymore. We’re left here with a body to lower into the earth, but we do so knowing that she has gone to be with Him. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.



As he looked around the room, he saw faces. Unsure of how familiar they were, he tried to scan through the names he knew, but found he knew none. He felt his heart start to race, but what was it to race? Was it to erase? Was it to regain pace? Was it to replace? In a daze, he sat down, only to find he was laying on his stomach. He blinked. The room went black-white, and he squirmed right, throwing himself at anything solid; he needed to hold onto something, but he just kept falling in place. Losing composure, he tried to yell, but quickly bent over, ashamed at the thought of his own voice. What did he sound like? Could he speak? Should he speak? Becoming more and more disturbed by his own existence, he felt he did not belong to a world such as this. Everything went right so long as he remained a shadow. He detracted from the world, a negative, a minus, a subtraction, a distraction, a destruction, a reduction. The opposite of light, he hardly knew what light was besides the blinding he encountered now. What was it to live well? Well, live first, then worry about living well. Could he live? Should he live? His sight was a thousand mirrors, each bending the light until his sense of self was reflected a thousand times over, facing right, left, and up. If he looked down, he would drown in recognition. He hated what he knew and who he knew, but all he knew was to appear cheerful and the only person he knew was himself. He thought about jumping, but talking himself down from the ledge was followed by visions of the suffering he still had to endure because that’s all he could see ahead of him. The paper stacks, silver coins, moving metal objects, spaces filled with linen rectangles and wool sheets exhausted him. He was tired of what he desired. Loathing hate, his joy rang hollow as he found himself empty of substance, content, and content; he was substantially discontent with the moving parts of his consciousness. In a soft whisper, he echoed the sound of a still night, seeing stars for the first time as understanding. He didn’t know what to say to make things right, didn’t know if things had gone wrong, but he still felt the wave of apologies washing him, bathing him, caressing him. Shame and embarrassment were his solace; joy and delight were his guilt-ridden tribulation.

He remembered the smiles, the miles, the trials, the styles of living, of giving himself to another. Sunny nights and still days created canvases of nostalgia for paint to artfully express the colors in memories. Sense was lost as sensing remained; emotions warped as motion reigned. A flower, a card, the ocean, a tree, a road, the lake, the fulfilling silence of comfort and enough. He had lost it all before him, but before him now, he used to take it for granite, etching fondness into stone to carry him through the rest of the way home. At night when one pair of eyes reflected blue light back into the dark, he would remember. He would sigh, then he would sleep, a smile tracing itself upon the memories that his heart would keep.

Enter title here.

The green leaves washed in the light of the sun looked yellow; the tree stood in yellow-green silence as the wind tried to get a rise out of it.  An unseen, shapeless, colorless cloud – I really haven’t seen the darn thing – passed in front of the sun as other dirty-white, partially-torn cotton balls (or sick vape clouds) moved briskly along the sky blue belt.  They’re moving faster today than usual.  The smell of brown-sugar coated ribs assaults me from the oven downstairs – just morty fore minutes before charring them on the grill.  I begin to hear myself breathe, and suddenly, I’m enveloped in the sounds coming from the click-clack of my keyboard; my typing slows to try to reduce the noise, but the frustration of words passing me by urges me to sacrifice silence for more prose.  The volume goes up, and the inspiration goes down.  Coming face to face with the spectres of assumed creativity can prove to be quite a humbling task.  It’s been a while since I’ve allowed myself free rain (simmer down, I know what I’ve down) over the downpour of literary attempts to create, to opine, to connect, to attribute, to illuminate, to narrate, to embody.  4/12    Kim paper #1 scrawled across a moving cloud reminds me that I’ve finished one of the milestones of this semester – I also need to wipe my window clean.  A bird – probably – flies across my window.  It could have been a bat.  Or a bat.  Or Badtz-Maru.  Tippecanoe and Tyler, too.  A smaller bird – seen this time – flies slower across my window headed in the same direction as the previous blurd (this seems the most genuine way to characterize the previous thing).  I wonder where they’re all headed.  Do they even know?  Maybe it’s the annual meeting of birds in which birds of all feathers come together to resolve their differences in orderly, singsong manners.  The crows and the sparrows would probably have much to reconcile.  I yawn, and I feel somewhere behind my sternum, between my shoulders, right at the point of rising when drawing breath, go dry.  Seventeen more minutes, and then it’s off to the ribs I go; my short, meandering, realistic, pointless, odd narrative is finally at its end as the bed calls for me to lay down and scroll until the ribs scream at me from their foil coffins.


I’m just tired; I’ve got some work to do; I’m fine; I don’t know what you’re talking about.

He went with, “I’m just a little tired,” because it was the most convenient half-truth to tell at the time.  It felt like he could do nothing right that day.  And he knew – he had been told, really – that it was all just an overreaction to a single negative situation, and his programed response to it was to catastrophize.  Nevertheless, he didn’t care to fight back tonight.  He joked about physical exams earlier, realizing too late that she was anxious from her latest checkup.  The doctors were taking an uncommonly long time to return the results to her; in fact, self-diagnosing led her down a dark corridor with the walls closing in on all sides, stopping with just enough room for her to tuck her knees into her chin and hope beyond grace that it was all just catastrophizing.  He hadn’t meant to lead her by the hand back to the corridor.

How selfish he was, letting his regret show on his face, putting her in a place of regretting her openness about her very real issue while fighting to steady the darkness from encroaching upon the rest of her night.  And the way he left, making a big show of just how much he regretted making the joke, all the while leaving her ashamed and thinking – wrongly – that maybe she was being a burden on other people.  Maybe he was putting prison bars where freedom walked, giving in to the whispers of doubt about just how good of a friend he actually was, and none of this was happening at all.  He wanted to feel guilty about what had happened – he deserved to bear the responsibility for his mistake because he was supposed to be a good friend.  It was the most convenient half-truth to accept at that time.

The retreat inwards began, but he didn’t notice.  He just needed to get through to the end, and he would be home free – free from ruining anymore of his relationships, free to be silent, free to not live underneath the expectations that others had come to own.  He would just run from it all because after all, he was just a coward who couldn’t face his reflection when it surrounded him.  All he did was lie, sell himself as better than he really was, believe in his own lies, and continue manufacturing selves.  Positivity was his most polished mask, and his heart had accumulated enough of his half-truths to believe it owned a single, reliable shard of honesty.  At the end of the day, he was weak.  He wanted to be strong; he wanted to be reliable; he wanted to be honest; he wanted to be kind; he wanted to be free to know who he was and where he stood without the ground collapsing at the slightest nervous shift in weight from right to left, plunging him into the frigid and lonesome below.  He was catastrophizing.

Another mistimed joke, and he found himself lost.  Why was he? Had he not realized that he could have tried not belittling people around him for once, just so that his own crudeness could find a measure of stability?  Was it impossible for him to understand that who he was just didn’t fit who he thought he was?  He was pitiful.  He’d go home and paint something – painting would do the trick, what with the silence and the focus on making something really intricate so that he would just forget seeing his own face stapled onto his friend’s disappointment.  He knew that it had been a rough week for him, but he let his own charm poison the vial even more.  What a wreck.  He really didn’t know who he was at all.  All this time, he had the ridiculous idea that he had been doing him a favor when he himself was the burden.  Is it only now occurring?  He probably thought he was an idiot for even trying to show him in the most explicit way that he wasn’t the friend he thought he was, and here he was, thinking that he was saving him from the shadows.  There wasn’t a thing right about him.

He dove into the dark of the ocean, colliding with the side of the boat on the way down.  Abrasions didn’t matter anymore at this point; he wasn’t even sure he felt the slick, dull, trauma anymore.  I can’t do anything right. I’ve heard that one already.  Why are you wasting your time? Be honest about your mistakes.  You’re the reason we’re here.  Are you still here? Haven’t you grown up yet? Jeez. Get a grip. Move on. Stop worrying so much.  Time will tell.  Why didn’t you say anything? You disappoint me.  Where is the surface?  Don’t be a baby.  Where are you going?  You don’t understand.  Why am I here? You’ll be fine.  I can’t feel anything anymore.  Who’s fault is that?  You made this mess, you fix it.

His heart pounded and every beat felt heavier and heavier and slower and slower he felt it in his head and in his eyes until he was realizing that he was trying to breathe in deeply he was trying to breathe in but his lungs weren’t enough for him and he saw that it was dark except for a single moon far away though far from him and who he was and where he needed to be so he breathed less hoping to reflect on things more and realize that it was just catastrophizing it was just in his head it wasn’t going to be that bad it couldn’t be that bad what was going on he hadn’t felt this way in a long time but he couldn’t find his way out except to talk to no one about it because that’s who understood him best.

I can’t breathe.  Just let me wake up.


Confession, Part One.

“I began to lose touch with people and their particular personhood.  What does that mean? Well, I guess you could say I began to find them more and more opposed to the goals I had.  I began to see them less and less for their smiles, interests, and passions and more as obstacles to attaining what I had in mind. They became more burdensome to be around the more consumed I was with discovering knowledge.  They just got in the way. When I wasn’t struggling to learn, I was thinking about how burdened I still was by the past.  I couldn’t stop living my life through those eyes; maybe that’s why I ran to my studies.  The world was tiresome. I don’t know.  I’d spend hours trying to study, only to find that I had been thinking about how things could have been, and if they could still be.  When my soul yearned to find an echo in the valley of the world, I was met with nothing but the sickening silence of a story that didn’t matter to anyone, a life that no one could attest to.  It might have been the most lonesome place I’d ever had the misfortune of encountering, but that’d be a lie; I’ve never been more alone than when I was among them. The comparisons flooded over me until I was tumbling through waves of inadequacy mingled with the seafoam of frustration.  I wasn’t one of them. And it seemed I never could be.  And it was freeing, but in the vein of ‘I fell off a cliff, and now here I am – and swiftly.’ I’d soon work my whole life at being someone I wasn’t, hoping someday that the fog would lift, and I’d see myself among them in the heart of the forest, crowded around the light and warmed by its embrace.  No sooner would I find myself dashed against the rocks of the ocean depths than when I opened my eyes to discover I’d been spending each moment falling further behind. There’s no end to it. And that’s the cruelty of the matter. This was me, and until I conceded that space and time would continue on in that casual, indifferent way, I would be lodged in my despair forever instead of progressing to the next instance of actuality.  I discarded myself as an unrealized potential, mired too deeply in the concern with expanding what I could be instead of resigning to the possibility of a fixed reality. It was all a storm, but it was rife with indiscernible chaos; no pattern ever made itself readily available for interpretation. So I laughed and I laughed until insanity had been declared me, and then, I knew it was over.  I could breathe again. I could hear again.  I was safe again.  But I yearned to be thrown back into the squall for another chance at proving myself to an unknown audience, unaware I’d been sitting in the theatre of my own life, clapping softly as the music faded.  And that’s the fin of it all.  It waved at me from the depths of the lake that I had plunged into, hoping to wake up and find that I’d been in the plot of another movie.”

– Confessor, the First.

Roads Traveled.

I’ve walked a shadow’s dance,

a letter’s prance, a mountain’s trance.

Lances, shattered spiral twirls,

fallen stars that sunshine hurls,

poppy meadows deign to bellow

melodies of churches yellow.

A song of sorrow for tomorrow,

dancing sprite a heart did borrow.

Pardon me, the ride’s at three,

I have not paid the rainbow fee!

Time to eat a panda’s meat,

filled with fury, tasty heat –

in a hurry, speak the worry

as I run to seek the meek.