As omega blocking allowed us to still enjoy sun and good weather here in Serbia, I took advantage of it to take a couple of shots with my dad’s favorite apple. 🙂
I was always inclined to first perceive the bad picture when I summarized the event of the day, month or year. Quite sadly for a long time that was actually the only picture I perceived, unable to confront it with its opposite counterpart which always exists, no matter how dark is the darkness we sometimes found ourselves in. Flaw of the character or simply the consequence of my mental health issues which colored my days with the gray filter of depression even long before the tragic loss of my father, that was who I was and still am to a certain point. It just took a completely new shape in this last year or so because even when things are funny or I begin to smile, it is never again that relaxed bubbly laughter I used to enjoy in the past. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how independent you are at the time when you lose your parents, it’s only then that you truly become that mature grown up adult, one of all those other adults at that given moment world has now to rely on. Those who shaped that world before slowly leave the scene and you find yourself more and more alone in front of the big audience to show all you can and cannot do. Till then you always had somebody who could in case of necessity watch your back, give you advice, replace you for a moment or two. Perhaps you didn’t use that backup option at all, but still you knew it was there, like a comforting emergency button you could push at any given instant, a person or persons who would never betray you and always be there at least to give you warm two cents of their own. When you lose that, again no matter at what age, you lose the unconditional ground under your feet and your time comes to shape some tiny piece of this planet in your own way. It was easy to criticize or watch from a safe distance the previous generation at every possible work you could imagine and say that you would do it better if only they let you – when your time comes you see how hard that task is. How easy it is to make mistakes. How many insecurities and unknown things lie even in some seemingly simple everyday tasks you weren’t involved in. You realize that it’s not easy at all to shape the world. That this is new time frame but that people are still people, that your generation isn’t much better or worse than all the previous generations. That you missed so many important lessons, but that you have to do something, without creative and not so creative blocks inside that just serve as an excuse for – oh that’s too difficult, strenuous or tiresome, I’ll leave it for tomorrow. You can’t leave it, because there are not so many tomorrows out there any more. It’s scary and requires responsibility. But that’s how it is. This realization leaves you with some sort of mature scar on your soul, a scar that makes adults adults and alienates them from the carefree strength of a happy childhood.
I used to be extremely sad in this past year, now life is somewhat more frozen in several shades of gray the mature realization that I’m alone to fight now consists of. Life is hard. Literally. Things around you weigh a whole ton when you try to lift them and there is nobody else to do it for you any more. I have 57-58 kilos now and I probably shouldn’t lift anything heavier that 10-15 kilos but I have to. Nobody asks if I can. And anyhow I was never used to transferring the weight from my shoulders to other people’s backs. This heaviness of life serves as a burning fuel for depression which in turn continues to force me to see mainly just the negativity in the world around me. I’m aware of that. I see that others are aware of that too – people don’t like simple reality, they strive for inspirational heroes even if they are just a myth because people in general are much less brave than they pretend to be in front of others. What counts is what you think and how you feel when you stay alone with yourself in front of your bathroom mirror and honestly face your true reality, and there are not many of those who would sincerely share such moments with others. Nevertheless, if you’re honest, people flee. They run away from you, they don’t call you, they leave you on your own to “pull yourself together”. They can’t listen to negativism, they search for inspiration. People are just – people.
When I used to actively fight against panic disorder I read all sorts of psychological texts from the field of self-help and I tried out all sorts of techniques to simply survive a day. One of them which was dedicated more to the fight against depression than with panic was to write down your negative thoughts, at least several a day and then find as many good things in that day to confront the negativism with. At first that is extremely challenging because you simply can’t see anything good in horrible days. They you do somehow squeeze out good moments onto that paper, but they seem totally insignificant. With time and practice it gets easier, actually they say that if you practice this long enough it can become your second nature to first see the good and only later the bad in your days. I was never patient enough to give it a decent try so I don’t know if it works on the long run to improve the thinking patterns, but I know that it was a helpful tool on some pretty rainy days.
Today my soul is pretty heavy, as if somebody were sitting on my chest. Let’s try to chase some fog away by a short bad vs. good list:
1. Remember kitten Maconi from the photo post? Well, it’s not at the cottage house any more nor it will ever be. There are two people who live there in the immediate surroundings all the time, but they both refused to take care of it during the winter by saying that they don’t have the food for a cat??! My uncle wants to spend a carefree wonderful winter abroad so he won’t be here for at least 3 months. For that reason the kitten was sent away to some distant yard, it’s quite unclear if it will be taken care of or abandoned to search for food by itself during winter.
2. The first neighbor at the cottage house who was ill this last year and a half died today. My father would be very sad if he were here to hear the news, I remember their adventures when they walked for miles in good and bad weather when the buses would break down and there was no other means for them to reach their cottage houses in the past when the village wasn’t well connected with the town.
3. I have strong back and muscle pains due to heavy duty work at the cottage house yesterday – the place doesn’t look small at all when you have to collect leaves and heavy rotten apples to carry them away, there were 100 kilos of rotten apples to be collected in order to prevent trees to catch illnesses. Then I went up and down the ladder for like 50 times, quinces are finally ripe – the wind was blowing like crazy, branches were hitting me in the face and I was losing balance and almost falling down from some crazy heights.
4. I was following this year the life of one very special Serbian female writer, Isidora Bjelica. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 3 years ago and went into two remissions, but the disease stroke back again in April-May this year for the third time. She tried vast number of expensive therapies, there were big humanitarian concerts as people gathered to collect money so that she could be treated in Switzerland, she promised to fight the best she could with lots of love for her fans and every single person who gave her a friendly word of support on her Facebook page. She posted that the imaging tests done today showed that her cancer spread very much and very aggressively. I felt the blow of heavy sorrow and those same mixed emotions I wrote about that haunt me for a very long time now.
The list could go on for quite a while, but I want to stop here with the negativism. Let’s search for the positive face of things:
1.In spite of pains I managed to bake a bread. And it turned out really excellent and tasty, I hope that I finally nailed the recipe that I should stick to.
2. Quinces are hard to collect and they have very unique taste, but they are also such a pretty site to look at, plus their smell is amazing. There are beautiful songs about quinces on cupboards during winter in our tradition.
3. It is hard for me to go to the cottage house, but I’m giving my best to convince myself that it is nothing and that I can do that. I’m fighting agoraphobia the best I can.
4. It is hard, but I’m somehow managing to post 2-3 times a week. I always say to myself – it won’t take long, I’ll write a shorter post this time… then I end up writing a “novel” as always. Maybe I should put a word limit and see what I manage to come up with that way. 🙂
Have a nice weekend!
The harvest of walnuts is almost over, trees are shedding yellow autumn leaves… but some types of apples are ripening or are even about to ripen. Dad’s trees are covered with beautiful, healthy fruits – you can’t even imagine how much he loved them and how happily he ate his apples every day, sometimes even all winter, if his trees gave enough fruit. Here are some photos, I hope you’ll like them!
Here are several other photos from yesterday, same theme, but different shapes. I chose just one today, but then today I realized that it could be interesting to share others as well. Thank you all for likes and comments!
This is what I’ve been pretty much up to these last days – collecting nuts, golden fruits of autumn. There is a whole story behind it, a hidden meaning that makes them special for me – I’m getting it ready for Tuesday.
Today was October 12th. It’s been exactly a month without dad around. Am I doing better? No, not really. Has it started sounding real? No, it hasn’t, it still makes no sense at all. It’s as if somebody pressed the permanent pause at the end of that accelerated horror story movie of the battle for dad’s life and now time flows in some badly directed nightmare that I still wish could end any time. Have I moved on? No, I haven’t, I still catch myself begging him in my mind to come back even though I know very well that he never will.
I almost decided to quit blogging for good. Because you know, somehow I think that I shouldn’t complain that much or all time. Everybody lost somebody. Everybody will lose somebody extra special and handle it better than I do I suppose. On the other hand, I am who I am and my grieving process is uniquely shaped in my own way, I can’t be here talking about good and cheerful things right now. I’m well aware that it pushes people away and that all this long lasting “rant” is the best way to lose even that couple of tiny friendly bonds I managed to create (which I’m afraid has already happened). But I can’t pretend. I’m tired of pretending, I’ve been doing it for years and years, for almost as long as I remember, faking that my days are the same as the days of the majority of people out there who live without anxiety issues. Call it the fear of stigma, desperate desire to fit in, struggle not to lose the last good standpoints I badly need if I want to survive any longer. Whatever it is, one thing is certain – I’m not crazy or delusional or any sort of threat to anybody, I just have anxiety issues which have filled my soul with lots of pain and solitude for so long. That pain is there, the same as always, it is just multiplied many times and worsened by the grief that’s been haunting my days for weeks and weeks in a row. When I wanted to quit, I remembered the title I gave to this unfortunate blog of mine – “Thinking diaries”. Even though it was created with quite a different idea, and even though it should have been a place for interesting contemplations on various issues, it took a completely unpredictable turn… but it was still meant to be a diary of some sort. Diary entries aren’t always cheerful or fun. Diary writers are not all and always bursting with optimism. This is my life, and such should be my diary as well. I almost opted for writing it back on paper again in order not to choke or bother other people out there any more, but it would be hard to fit in things like images or sounds into a palpable version. So, all in all – if the negativity is too much for you guys out there, what can I say – there are plenty of other places where sun shines brighter than on my pages. As for those who will still stick with me “in sickness and in health”, one big thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Back to October 12th – in the Christian Orthodox religion to which I belong, this is a special, festive day called Miholjdan, dedicated to the Saint Kirjak, who among other things spent his life healing the sick and unfortunate people. This day is also dear to many Serbian people, marking the period of Miholjsko summer, equivalent for the North American Indian summer. It is typical that around this date summer briefly returns for the final goodbye, even though the autumn has officially started three weeks ago. It’s no different this year as well, daily temperatures are around 80 degrees and will stay that way for the next couple of days. This year Miholjdan came immediately after the day dedicated to the dead – in the Orthodox religion, there are four such days in the year, they are called Zadušnice (za dušu – for the soul) and they are always on Saturdays – the first day of the dead in autumn this year was October 11th, and the second one will be on November 1st. You are supposed to visit the graves of your deceased family members on these dates, light candles, bring flowers, take care of the grave, remember the ones who have left us. I was at the cemetery yesterday. I somehow always feel that wherever I go, my father will appear somewhere out of blue and tell me that none of this was real, that he is well and that he’ll be happy in his garden as he has always been. I went to the cemetery, my mom went to the garden to take care of some of the last fruits of dad’s this year’s labor. His last labor as it turned out. It’s horribly sad to find all his stuff there as he left it and the ground slowly succumbing to neglect, weeds and silent abandonment. Each and every thing there was made by his hand or placed where he decided things to be. It requires lots of work and the kind of strength me and my mom don’t have to keep that garden living. Yet it is still unimaginable to me to let someone else take over that little piece of land, destroy everything he made and turn 30 years of dad’s work into dust. It’s still too early to decide. She “looked for” him in the garden, I “looked for” him at the cemetery. He was nowhere to be found, there were just evidences that he once walked on this Earth and shaped some of its parts in a certain way. We ordered his picture for the tombstone and arranged for the letters to be carved in, his name and years of birth and death, right under my grandma’s picture and name. I arrived yesterday afternoon and there it was, almost completely done. It made me cry in some good way. It was beautiful, if such things can be called beautiful. He smiles from that picture the same way he does from the photo I hanged here previously, as if he were about to open his mouth and say something at that very instant you look at him. I lit the candles and as I was moving away, that light in the dusk accompanied by the light of other candles all over that nowadays huge cemetery made some very special effect on me. It was almost some kind of blessing, some special peace that was spreading all over that huge, flat, open space. Mom brought home some potatoes, parsley, carrots, a couple of pears and some of dad’s favorites quinces. They have that special, one of a kind smell of their village childhood when old women traditionally kept quinces on the cupboards in autumn and winter which filled the air with the last breaths of that year’s fruits of the nature. I remember my grandma and later my mom making that extra special quince jelly with nuts that we called kitnikez, word distorted from German Quittenkase whose tradition of making these sweets we inherited and adapted back in the times of the military occupation. Having been a diabetic for many years, dad turned over time to the stewed mixture of quinces and sour apples (compote) with no added sugar, but this imposed change in habits didn’t changed his love for his extra special quince trees. There are almost no apples this year, but he lived to see last year’s apple outburst – he gave out kilos and kilos of apples as presents to everybody we knew, that was his last goodbye with giving out healthy fruits he produced with so much love and care. He never sold one thing he made in that garden, he never knew how to make money. If the state hadn’t given him salary for his job as a doctor, he would have cured people for free. It was all about love and giving out to the world with a smile in his life. He was quite a unique person, and I am not saying this because he was my dad. It still feels weird to use past tense when I speak about him.
As for the candles at the beginning of this post – all those who can’t visit the graves of their loved ones, either because of illness, distance, or simply being busy are more than welcome to light candles for the dead in any nearby church, both on Saturday and Sunday. Even though I was at the cemetery yesterday, I felt the need to go to the church today, especially because it was both Miholjdan and a month after dad passed away. I always used to light one candle for the grandma and another one for “all the rest”, other people usually light just one candle for all those who are missing from their lives. Now I lit one for the grandma, one for the dad, and one for everybody else, dad’s candle is the one in the middle of that photo dominantly depicting three candles. Then something strange happened, there was this very old lady that came with a handful of candles, stood right next to us and started lighting them one by one, while as we say “attributing” each one of them to a certain person. My mom said – my goodness, look at that flame… and I said – mom, my goodness how many dead people though… Then I remembered what my grandma’s best Belgrade’s friend who is 95 and still alive said – I don’t know what’s worse, to die early or to live long – if you live for a very long time, everybody you’ve ever known will be gone and you’ll be still there to be aware of that. I’m sure that the old lady that lit these candles would agree with her. We stood in silence, watching the flames and it was again a moment of piece in all this storm. May all that people remembered this way rest in piece and may these candles light their path, till we all meet again some day.
I wanted to add just one more thing, as I said Miholjdan made me think of the term Indian summer, which brought back in my memory that famous old French song by Joe Dassin, “L’été indien”. When I learned French well enough I memorized these words by heart and I still know them – here is a youtube link with the text in French for those of you who understand it:
It speaks of how things used to be beautiful and nice, of one past love… and how now everything is gone. Places are still there, waves, the beach, but she is gone for good. It somehow perfectly fits in my present mood. Here is the translation:
You know, I have never been as happy as I was that morning
We were walking along the beach a bit like this one
It was autumn, an autumn when weather was nice
A season that exists only in the North America
Down there they call it Indian Summer
But this one was simply ours
With your long dress you resembled a watercolor by Marie Laurencin
And I remember, I remember very well
What I told you that morning
A year, a century, an eternity ago
We will be going, where you want to go, whenever you want to
We will be loving each other still even when love will be dead
And all of life will be like the shades of the Indian Summer
Today I’m far away from this morning of autumn
But it’s like I was there
I’m thinking of you
Where are you?
Do I still exist for you?
I’m watching this wave that will never reach the dune
You see, like the wave I’m lying down on the sand
And I’m remembering the rising tide flowing in, the sun and happiness drifting away into the sea
An eternity, a century, a year ago
We will be going, where you want to go whenever you want to
We will be loving each other still even when love will be dead
And all of life will be like the shades of the Indian Summer
We feared that there wouldn’t be any cherries this year because they are really sensitive to rain, but here is the proof how hard they fight to survive especially because my father doesn’t use chemical to protect them. They usually pop open or rot in heavy rainy conditions, but to my surprise even those that got cut open closed and healed their “wounds” and grew, leaving visible only some thin long scar marks. I’m glad they are here! 🙂