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Writing, learn-ing, jewelry, deconstructing t-shirts and reality - it's what I do. I live to be inspired, and to inspire.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Finding Kara Part 5

By Kelene Blake

James let me out and sat in the car, instinctively knowing that I wanted to be alone. I went to Mama’s spot. I sat down where she used to sit. I pictured her sitting with me. “I’m so sorry Mama.” I told her. “You were waiting for me to get a hold of myself. You were waiting for me to step up, and take care of my own daughter like you took care of me. I never gave you what you were waiting for.”

I felt her spirit move next to me. I knew she was there – listening. I looked out at the rolling waves crashing against the jagged shore below me. I looked out to the spot where the water met the sky. I felt the peace that I used to see on Mama’s face. I finally understood why she came there every so often. She used to worry too. I don’t know why it never occurred to me. All mothers worry. And she had to do so much by herself. In this spot she allowed her fears to wash away with those waves.

“Goodbye Mama. Thank you… for taking care of me and Mari, for sending James today, for everything. ” I whispered as I felt her spirit wash away on the water. Some tears rolled down. Not many, but each drop was loaded with emotion.

Then, I felt it. Something I had not felt since I was seventeen. I felt Kara. She was back. I found her. I found myself. With the ocean churning miles below me, I felt like I was on solid ground.

James promised to call the next day when he dropped Mariana and me off at my apartment. That night, as I watched Mari sleep on my bed, I worried. I worried that I would have to find a new job – outside of the house – to take care of her. I worried that I would not be able to keep that wistful little smile on her face. I worried about what I would say when she asked for Mama again tomorrow. I worried that while I slept next to her on my bed I might roll over and smother her. I looked at my baby’s peaceful sleeping face and worried in all my motherly glory.

I got up for a drink of water before turning in next to her. I glanced up as I passed by a living room window. The curtain was open and the night outside was black. For the briefest of moments I was startled when I saw someone standing there gazing in. I looked at the face looking back at me and smiled with recognition. “I missed you Kara.”

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Finding Kara Part 4 (almost there)

The Perfect Spot
By Kelene Blake

We left the drug store and went to a small cafĂ© across the street to sit. He ordered me chamomile tea and a sandwich. I was glad, because I was starving. His name was James. His mother suffered from panic attacks, and he recognized what was happening to me as soon as he saw me racing down the street and ducking into the drug store. I ignored the embarrassment flushing my face. He knew he could help, so he came in after me. I told him what had happened earlier with the taxi. It was only in the telling that I realized how funny it all was, and we both laughed freely. Free. That’s what I was feeling for the first time in years. I liked this James.

James asked me where I was going, offering me a ride. His concern returned to his face as he saw the change in my expression. I remembered my morning, realized I didn’t know where I was going. For some reason it seemed pointless to go to the Creole restaurant now. I knew I wouldn’t find Kara there. “I have to go find someone… I have to tell her that my Mom passed away this morning. Then I have to pick up my daughter.” I started trembling in the afternoon heat. I saw the weight of my words descend on him and I thought, Bye bye James. It was good while it lasted. He cleared his throat. “Um, excuse me a moment. I have to…” He indicated to his cell phone as he stood up and walked a few steps away. The poor guy was visibly shaken, likely plotting his escape. He came back to the table with a weak smile several minutes later. “Okay. I cleared my evening. You really shouldn’t be out alone today. Where do you want me to take you first?”

I could only think of one place I needed to go before I picked up Mariana. It was just outside the city. There was an old fort overlooking the sea. Mama and I used to go there sometimes. She’d let me wander around on the beautiful green open space chasing butterflies while she sat on a particular crest, looking out over the sea. She loved that spot. She always seemed so peaceful there.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Finding Kara Part 3

Running from Death
By Kelene Blake

I was in the cab for about seven minutes when I noticed the driver looking strangely at me in the rearview mirror. I didn’t trust him. My leg started to shake. I was trapped. I started to whimper, trying to hold in the growing trepidation. My whimpering seemed to rattle the driver and he looked at me even more curiously in the mirror. “You need to stop the car.” I managed to say. “We’re still some blocks away Miss.” The driver stammered. “I said stop! Stop here!” I nearly shrieked because the panic had reached my throat. The driver stomped the brakes and pulled aside suddenly, amid some frantic honking from surrounding cars. I jumped out and started footing it. I could have sworn the driver was chasing me, but it was just his voice in pursuit, yelling “You didn’t pay!” I reached into my purse, grabbed a wad of cash and dropped it on the sidewalk. I didn’t dare look back to see if the driver got it.

I just kept going. I knew the driver wasn’t chasing me, but I felt like I was running from death itself. I ran until my lungs felt they were about to explode, then I turned and entered the first doorway I saw. It was a drug store. I stood at the door trying to look normal (however that looked). My heart was pounding so much that I had to buckle over. I made my way to a magazine rack and stooped down, resting my chest against my knees and pretending to check out the magazines. While I concentrated on catching my breath I saw someone come and squat down beside me. I didn’t look. A masculine voice addressed me, “You okay?” I meant to nod but shook my head instead. “Having trouble breathing?” His voice had a sense of knowing confidentiality. I nodded, still staring hard at the magazine in front of me. “May I help?” I started to shake my head, then I considered my options; accept his help or die right here. I nodded.

The man shifted to face me more squarely. I still couldn’t look at him. “Give me your hand.” I looked away, shut my eyes tightly, and gave up my left hand. I don’t know why. I was scared and he seemed to want to help me. He took my hand and pressed my palm firmly against his chest. “Breathe like me” he whispered. After a few seconds of freaking out about him touching my hand and putting it on his chest, I noticed he was breathing slow deep breaths. I focused on matching his breathing. My breathing felt forced, compared to the smooth rise and fall of his chest. I wasn’t sure if it was the fresh air getting into my lungs, the faint smell of his cologne, or the relaxing beat of his heart and the rhythm of his breathing that calmed me, but something worked. The attack passed in about five minutes.

I turned my face to my liberator. He still momentarily had concern written on his face as he looked at me intently. His face unbuckled into a smile. Lord that smile! It took me away to a place I had not been in a long, long time. I smiled back. “Thank you.”

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Finding Kara Part 2

Stepping Out
by Kelene Blake

I had my daughter to think about, and now I had no one else to help me take care of her. I knew I couldn’t do it alone, because I was always worried that I would accidently hurt her or even kill her. She was so fragile. It occurred to me how sad it was that, at twenty-four, I could not even take care of myself, much less my daughter. For the most part I was a shut-in, afraid to step outside my door, afraid something horrible would happen to me, afraid I would have a panic attack in public and make a fool of myself, or even worse, I would catch a glimpse of normal life and die inside because I can’t have one. I always needed Mama there with me when I went out, especially grocery shopping. Someone else had to be there in case I had a panic attack and, abandoning my shopping cart mid-aisle, ran to the car to hide (which has happened several times). What if Mariana was in the cart? Would I be so scared that I’d run off and leave her with the groceries? Would I grab her up and frighten her with my panic?

My thoughts raced and my breathing picked up. I was about to work myself up into another panic attack when a name popped into my mind almost as vividly as someone in the room saying it: Kara. I had lost her around the time I lost control and started getting panic attacks. Believe it or not I used to be a regular, calm, functioning young woman. And it seems Kara was always there, when I had a normal life. Growing up I never lost sight of her. She was like the solid ground, the constant in my life. With Kara in sight I always felt safe, even safer than with Mama. But when I was about seventeen I messed up. I had just started college in a different state, and I left her behind. I got caught up in new people and activities and, I guess I ignored her. I lost touch with Kara, and I had my first panic attack in my freshman year. I always assumed that my anxiety started up because of the stress of college (and maybe my LSD experimentation may have triggered it), but now I’m starting to think that my earth started to shake because I had let go of my solid ground. Maybe if I find Kara things will go back to how they were, or at least I will have someone I can depend on in my life again – someone to help with Mariana.

With the desperate beginnings of a plan in my mind, I forgot to panic and became eager about the search I was about to begin. I would find Kara, convince her to stay with me, and she can help me take care of my daughter. Maybe I was a little delirious but the whole plan seemed deceptively simple at the time. It elevated my mood until the taxi pulled up and I stood before my front door. When I turned that handle and stepped out of my door, this was the first time I’d be doing so on my own in two years. Now I was stepping out and I was not even sure where the day would lead me.

Where would it lead me? Where should I even start my search? I remembered Kara used to go to a particular Creole restaurant. It was her favorite. I looked at my watch; it was 11:14 a.m. Well I may as well start off with some warm food. I turned the handle, opened the door and stepped out.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Finding Kara Part 1

Panic Attack
By Kelene Blake

I stared at the cell phone lighting up next to my bed with the usual suspicion. It was 8:23 a.m. A lump the size of a grapefruit rose in my throat; it’s going to be bad news! I always have this thought when my phone rings, but today I was certain… and today I was right. The voice on the other end belonged to Miss Gracie, one of my mother’s neighbors. It trembled as she told me that Mama had a heart attack during the night. Miss Gracie rang Mama’s doorbell that morning to return a borrowed skillet “early, just in case she wanted to make pancakes.” Mama and Miss Gracie had been close friends since I was a child, and at some point they had exchanged house keys “in case of emergency.” So when Miss Gracie got no answer to the third ring she let herself in and found my two-year-old daughter Mariana trying to wake Mama.

That was as far as the story got before a strange sound, a cross between wheezing and moaning, distracted and frightened me. What’s that noise? It’s freaking me out... Oh my God I’m making that sound! Am I dying?! I was hyperventilating and crying at the same time. It sounded like I was dying, and it felt that way too. Tired of asking if I was okay and not getting a response, Miss Gracie said “Mari will stay with me until you can pick her up. You can take your time…” I dropped the phone to deal with the impending panic attack.

You see, I have a panic disorder, and when I was not having a panic attack, I suffered what the doctors call generalized anxiety disorder, which is really just a constant low-level state of panic. I am persistently edgy and my muscles always seem tensed. I am as jumpy and easily startled as a squirrel on caffeine. If I move too quickly I get nauseous and I always hold my hands tightly clenched. I worry relentlessly about everything, from seeing floating things in my eyes to why there’s so much hair in my hairbrush (is it falling out?). Imagine constantly feeling a sense of imminent doom and all you can do is watch, wait, and be afraid, and you’ll know how I feel every minute of my life.

But right now, I was struggling for air, and my chest ached as though my heart would burst through at any moment. I could almost feel the adrenaline pumping into my bloodstream as the first wave of sheer terror pounded my entire being – mind, body and soul. I was drowning in it. I couldn’t breathe. I was gripped by a fear so strong I wanted to die, yet death was the thing I feared. It was horrible…panic attacks always are. Wave upon wave of terror, this attack lasted about an hour. My panic regressed into a helpless state of grief. I’m not sure which was worse, the hour of panic or the hour of crying.