I’ve written something months ago for the Hell of it, but, haven’t found the proper means of getting it to the masses except “try to contact one of those independent newspapers”. You work for a woman out in Hollywood and a prominent Philly magazine, but, that is the best you can give me? Atleast it was something. Atleas
And without further adieu (and hopefully that nobody rips off my story…I give you, “Dear Frankie”
“I have to write him five letters?” Mrs. Donna Vargas, a professional looking middle-aged Hispanic woman, eagerly nodded her head as I sat across from her in a cramped, sterile-smelling Center City office. She was dressed business casually, a long sleeve blue sweater paired with a neatly-tailored black skirt. This was accentuated by heels, though, her pantyhose weren’t exactly tip-top anymore and beginning to exhibit a run on the front of the one leg. Those things were always an eye sore. “Yes. I feel you’ve been in a rut lately, Samantha. We all move at our own pace within the process of grief, but, I think for your benefit…it is a great idea. You have been battling a double-edged sword, here. Obsessing about him isn’t healthy, but, neglecting your entire psyche on the matter isn’t what Frankie would want from you either.” I was now offended. How did she know what he wanted? She had never even met him! She was just some expensive counselor my stepmom hired to instill some more control in my life; it wasn’t enough to train me to be sixteen going on six. And now…now she was letting some bitch with a diploma on her wall dictate my emotions. It was almost like being an avatar on The Sims; they only go in the direction you manipulate them to. Soon they are just conditioned to act that way every time. I know all about resisting this type of control; I am the daughter of a midwife and a propieter of a healing arts center. I was friggin raised in New Hope! My God parents are both men, my house have solar panels, and no drink of water that has ever passed my lips hasn’t ever not endured a Brita filter. I try to always to go against the grain of what most of these city children are raised with here in Philly. Why did Louise have to be from the Northeast; I couldn’t get my stone sanctuary in Chestnut Hill a bird’s eye from a co-op? Instead, I’m forced to rummage through a crummy meat case at Acme praying for organic ground turkey for my burritos that night while Weaver’s Way silently cries my name. I moved a curly auburn lock from my face as I spoke again; I had been meaning to get it cut. “What if I’m not ready to write them?” Mrs. Vargas adjusted her reading glasses as she fiddled with a pen and clipboard “Then that is the pace at which we will move.” “I have no pace. I don’t even know if I’ll write these at all.” “Then we are wasting our time.” At least she saw it. These psychologists never knew what they were talking about; a bunch of walking contradictions. The only thing that separates them from the rest of society is credentials. “I suppose we are.” She then wrote a few notes before dismissing me. As I left that high-rise to head back to the El tunnel, I had gotten my satisfaction. Now if only Bettie York would get with the program.
Who is Frankie? Well, was if are speaking technically here. He was my boyfriend, my best friend, my Physics tutor, my Yoga partner, my art house cinema buddy. We had been together exactly 7 months and 12 days before he died. He stupidly and drunkenly meandered onto a one way road coming home from a party. Not to be punny like Horatio Cain, but, he was dead before he even knew what hit him. The human body can only endure so much damage when it’s hit by a huge truck. While I felt Mrs. Vargas was trying so hard to infiltrate my head and make some kind of major breakthrough so Stepmonster Bettie would be happy, she wasn’t exactly wrong about everything. I went from eating, breathing, and sleeping Francis Garret DiNuzzio to him being somebody that I used to know within 2 months. There was now a pit of guilt being dug in my stomach which I was also a little unhappy with to begin with. My core workouts have been neglected as well. How am I supposed to do my mat work when I sleep in a shoe box? Back to my case in point, I couldn’t just forget about Frankie either. As much as I felt it would help me further my life at the moment. And now, I had to highlight the stages of grief to please others. This was not a feat to be enthusiastically accomplished and it would be continuously pondered as so even as the train reached away from the subterranean back into Frankford. Still so as I took that 18 minute bus ride to my block, a cluster of 1950′s rowhomes with front lawns; a bunch of cookie cutters in a row. My front door was unlocked so I just went right it in and sat in the kitchen. I had better things to worry about right now. I had a paper due for Black History Month. I must give Philadelphia Public Schools a lot of credit for putting emphasis on the more radical and neglected sides of past fact. I do miss Buckingham at times, though. There are Friends schools here, but, Bettie apparently puts the neighborhood institutions so high up on a pedestal that everything else was screwed. Tony York wasn’t going to pass up a free, quality education now, was he? I hate Bettie. She just tells everyone what to do and everything’s too risky, too dangerous, and not good enough. I actually have had a curfew for the first time this past year. The former Mrs. York may have lost her special place in Daddy’s heart, but, she’ll always win over mine. And my mother Anita was going to continue to so in 3,2,1…. Bettie emerged from the downstairs with a laundry basket of freshly folded towels. She was a year shy of forty and a tiny thing, though, she appeared larger as she already was dressing like a mom when I met her for the first time; high-waisted jeans and longsleeved shirts with tiny useless pockets in old lady patterns. I sometimes don’t understand what my father sees in her, but, I do realize she makes him grounded and happy like he once was with my mom, so, I suppose that’s all that matters. If only she had the same effect on me. “How was the therapist’s office?” “I’m so over it. Why do I still have to see her?” Bettie heavily laid the basket by staircase, retrieving a dirty rag from the banister to be washed in the next load. “Look, I know what the deal is with my place in your life, but, is to help you. I’ve grown to love you and your father to the extent I cannot help it. I only want what’s best. That practice is so great. When I went through post-partum with Tyler…” Did I neglect to mention my stepbrother from another spawn? He’s a full-time kindergartener and a part-time good kid. Being an only child was the life! “I know. I heard you the first sixty times before I even agreed to these appointments. She’s making me write these shitty letters to Frankie like it’ll magically make everything write again.” “Well, sweetheart, you don’t know anything until you actually give it a go. I never thought I would recover after your brother was born, but, here I am. Living! I don’t even to take all those meds anymore.” She was pushing my buttons and as usual I was going to slam hers right back. She knew the deal. I was going to address her however I wanted. “I didn’t get all psychotic and wig out on everybody trying to smother my baby. I lost my soulmate there’s a difference.” She surprisingly always kept her cool with me. She never got angry, but, instead was always hurt. I always seemed to be able to stick a hot iron into her emotional center. Bettie began to wipe tears as Tyler came downstairs to check out the commotion. “What’s going on, Mommy?” Bettie turned to him without addressing him, uttering venomously at me. “Go to your room, Samantha.” “I’m doing a project.” “Finish then go upstairs. I don’t wanna see you until we eat dinner.”
Within a couple hours I was finished my paper and accompanying poster on the life of Barack Obama. He is not a Muslim, people! Before I could ascend the stairs, a dinner of Cajun Chicken Caesar salad was served and my father , an average height man with an athletic build and light features, had also arrived home from the center telling stories of a fussy massage client. “I don’t understand how I could be too soft when it’s a deep tissue massage. The girl had to be a sadist or something. Time for him to be the pushover. “Tone?” “Yes, dear.” “Me and Sammy had an incident today. I won’t get into it, but, we did exchange words. She doesn’t even wanna see Dr. Vargas anymore.” He looked at me sternly. “Samantha Violet, is that true?” “She has no clue involving Frankie and Bettie over here is crowning her the DSM Messiah. Do you really think writing a dead kid love notes is going to make my life any easier?” “I’m going to leave this up to Bettie. She’s paying for the sessions.” She finished arranging the table for the meal we had began to eat, grabbing Tyler a juicebox before seating herself. “You are not wasting my time. It was hard for me to get you an appointment. You were on a waiting list. As usual, Samantha’s gonna do whatever she thinks is necessary and good for everybody; even if they don’t like it. All I ask of you is one last appointment and I also want you to actually gain something. You’re doing those letters. What exactly did she ask of you anyway?” “I have to do them work to through the five stages of grief.” “What’s so hard about that?” “Who the Hell is she to turn my life into these black and white platforms?” “Don’t be such a Negative Nancy. It might actually be fun. You like to write.” “You’re a nutcase. Of course I like to write; I’m in the poetry club. These aren’t quatrains,though. This is real life shit that I am not ready to deal with and all of you people are just pushing me right off into the abyss.” “We’re not saying you have to do it all right now. Just make a conscious effort to get it done. If not for us, yourself.” “I guess. What if I don’t?” “I haven’t decided yet, but, you won’t like it.” “Fine. Can I be excused?” Bettie nodded, taking my empty plate to the dishwasher. What am I getting myself into?
The first alleged stage of grief is denial. It honestly sounds more like Narcotics Anonymous than getting over the death of a loved one with that shtick. Though, the deeper I search within, the more I hold it true. I clung so hard to Frankie’s memory I didn’t want him gone. Now, he was a phantom. I don’t believe in ghosts. And following one more meeting with my psychologist, I was going to come head-to-head with everything I had sucked down over the past sixty days. That next week dragged out anticipating that one last session, but, it came nonetheless. To make sure Bettie saw I was making some sort of effort, I pledged to do at least one a month. My first one was to be penned now. It was Friday and I was off from school for a teacher’s meeting so I was already home by noon. Tyler wouldn’t be home until around three. My dad was at the center until 5 o’ clock. As for Bettie, she had some kind of book club meeting. They were reading some mediocre newer romance garbage she was getting all into every single night. Anything to keep her occupied from bitchin to me? Yes, please. I can take getting my ear talked off about Prince Charming Next Door’s favorite sexual positions any day. Even if it is a creepy, whole-hearted, serious attempt at bonding with me. You’re not one of my girlfriends! I went up to my room and took out my stationary set; nice ,vintage-inspired prints from the Paperia on Germantown Avenue patterned with golds and deep reds. I had gotten it for some pen pal program earlier in the year and also to write to my Grandma Kosofsky. She retired to some senior community in Santa Monica. Old Sue wasn’t going to stop getting any older …unless she croaked of course. Then, I would just have more sappy confessions for my deceased family members. I’m not trying to have that now. I took out a fresh ballpoint pen along with some of the paper and an envelope. It’s not like I can mail it, but, it’s going to bother my OCD if the set is uneven. I even bought another box to balance that there was more envelopes than paper. It was time to get cracking.
It took almost twenty minutes to articulate myself without sounding stupid. I don’t even understand why I care at this moment what Frankie thinks of my letter…maybe it’s because I always valued his views of life and especially of myself. He could be a major dork with his various ,random trading card games and inability to dress remotely fashionably even for Hipsterdom, but, he had a very kind heart and a warm spirit that always drew me right in. I can be nice, but, I ultimately feel he brought a gentler Samantha to the surface through example. You can still be real without forsaking the definition of humanity. On that sheet of parchment read:
February 8, 2013
I guess this is some sort of denial part II. Are you dead? Yeah. Am I fully okay with that yet? Not at all. I’ve been trying to scrape you out of my skull since my brain can’t process it anymore. My heart won’t allow it, though. You’ll always be there somewhere, no matter how minute. See, I made it through the first step! I’m in recovery now!!! LOL. I’m thankfully not a junkie, but, perhaps I am certainly smoking some kind of crack when it comes to life. I still really want to forget you’re gone. Therein lies the problem and I can’t even ask you for answers. Do you think God will give any? I do go to a Welcoming Congregation so you never truly know. Frig! :(
Loving you always,
I immediately sealed it inside the envelope and stuck it in my desk drawer. There something almost hauntingly empowering about it all. Maybe I really do have a lot to reevaluate.
I waited almost a whole month for the second installment: anger. I did it while nobody was home once again. I wanted no eyes prying into these actualities. And even if Tyler would be most understanding, what does a six year old even know about bereavement? To him, death is some silly animated four-legged creating lying on its back with its tongue all out and eyes comically void of life followed a bouquet of flowers clasped in the midst of rigor mortis. He’ll be back again the next episode. There is no processing the event or even a time to question it. No pain or suffering. Sadness, maybe…but, it doesn’t last very long. You can’t kill off a cartoon character, though, Very Special Episodes broke those barriers ages ago. He’s way too into slapstick, contrived good versus evil kid shows to even take the time to realize what knowledge can be held. He’s a smart kid, don’t get me wrong. I just wish he holds onto his childhood ignorance a bit longer in some ways. I’m way too selfish sometimes. But, I’m a big girl and I can handle this. I kind of questioned whether this got me in deeper with man upstairs, but, I would think He of all people would understand. The dude had hundreds of years of wrathfulness just because he could. He may need my therapist more than I do.
March 3, 2013
This all frigging sucks! Why did you have to leave me? Did you get drunk and get hit by a car on purpose because I was mad at you for texting your ex? I know you didn’t mean anything by it. I’m a crazy, hormonal girl that loved you. Actually, I love you. Or maybe, this was all in your cards? Astrology is no joke, though, I didn’t see it in your birthchart when we made them together. Though, I did notice your readings were more vague and less mystical than mine. Maybe if your parents didn’t have you on June 14th, you’d still be here. Though, when it comes down to it, you shouldn’t of been walking alone in the dark in the middle of South Jersey. I shouldn’t of stayed home that night. Why did I cancel my plans because I was being a baby? I wouldn’t of let you go alone, especially not without a car. You weren’t thinking at all!!! A choice you veered blindly into got you killed! You had to leave me. You left me all alone with nothing, but, an urn and a lifetime of confusion. It’s an enigma that never ends. I hope it’s what you wanted…no I’m sorry. I don’t mean that. Eff that God guy, though. He’s on my list. =/
Loving you always,
Ironically, I went to go squash out my anger with Netflix and cheap wine. Cora, who will always be my best friend and has been since 3rd grade, always knows how to cheer me up. It wasn’t his fault, but, I still wasn’t in any danger remotely close to Frankie. Le’ sigh…
Easter came and went which was really surreal. I was looking forward to this whole Italian traditional shindig with church and dinner the DiNuzzio’s. Instead, I only really stopped in and stared at Frankie’s urn while we tried to socialize without breaking down. It’s their first major holiday without their son. Patty and Carlo have two other sons, but, it was still lonely and solemn. Nicholas and Eric have families of their own and wouldn’t be over until later. The rest of my night in the York household was okay. My mom and her new boyfriend Benson Lowther even came over. He’s still a bachelor with no kids. I can tell her clock is still a-ticking, though. I also couldn’t help, but, think about “Regular Show” everytime his name was mentioned. I wonder how it must feel to be compared to a talking gumball machine that runs a park. While, my relationship with Anita Kosofsky will always be solid and her beau seemed okay, I actually have been getting along with Bettie better. I helped her with baked crab macaroni earlier and even talked her into using hemp milk. She is actually sitting with me as I conclude this sophmore note into a trilogy.Though, I would never share with no other than divine eyes. Bargaining is a way of life for many of us. We shmooze and beg into any situation that is ideal for us. We’re always looking for that happy ending. I didn’t get mine, but, it also said we get what we need; not necessarily what is desired.
April 1, 2013
Dear Frankie (and God, yes you.),
Is there anyway we can make a deal. Like all three of us sit down at Blackbird and share a pizza? I personally will take back any kind of harm that I’ve caused to Frankie. I’ll be kinder to my step-family. I’ll stop being so pretentious and stuck up about being raised by free spirits with disposable income. I’ll even take failures over cheating and am really sorry stealing that bag of cheese curls from Wawa when I was 10. Write back soon? Love you, Frank!
The Baby Widow,
Bettie gets me another bowl of macaroni and cheese. I used to think it was gross, but, she got me into putting ketchup on it so I requested that as well. She hands me the food and sits back at the table as I seal yet another envelope to be hidden away until I decide what the goal is with them. “Is it hot enough, Sam?” I take a bite of a few cheesy noodles littered with claw meat. “Perfect.” “How was school today?” “Fine. We started working on our final projects for art. You know… That 10 piece collection I have to do representing myself.” “I’m sure it’ll turn out great. Do you have any ideas for it yet?” “I’m probably gonna do 4 water colors, 4 oils, and 2 sculptures. I really was thinking of doing half of it as a tribute to Frankie, though. He is part of my life.” Bettie smiled. “Whatever you want. You go, Sammygirl. Plus, you know Carlo, Patty, and them all would love it.” That made my day.
Depression is a misunderstood concept medically and socially. We can’t be depressed because of this or that. We should be happy! People also tend to confuse the situational emotion and the medical condition, which sometimes even coexist. I’ve never suffered with that or self-injury, but, I do know Bettie escaped from the depths of Hell. She tried to kill Tyler. Come on now! There is a sense of helplessness and fear without Frankie. It’s late and everybody’s in bed so maybe I am further isolating myself. It’s hard to see it that sometimes.
April 12, 2013
This is the fourth letter I’ve dedicated in your name. How do I wish I could directly speak it you again. It sickens and blackens my soul that it is only in memorium. I’ve stopped denying your passing and am allowing myself to feel every little bit of sentitment in it’s wake. Things just are terrible at times. You weren’t always the most helpful at times, but, you did always know how to calm me down. Can I get a sign?
Loving you always,
I think I’m just going to stay up and work on my project. It just seems proper.
A lot has happened lately. School is almost over, I get to showcase my project the first week of June, and I just feel a weight lifted off my shoulders. I feel this experience has allowed to grow and change so much. I’m more appreciative, especially. Today is also the day that I accepted. The fifth and final step. I’ve decided to get my dad to drive me to Pennypack Park to burn the letters to send them off to Frankie wherever he may be. It was one of the last places we hung out and didn’t fight. Not only did we share an abnormally warm Winter’s Day, but, I also gave him my virginity under the stars. To have that back….if only for a little while.
It is now a balmy Summer night and after much anticipation, I am standing in the park with my old man. We parked our Acura and decided to enjoy nature for a bit before starting the bonfire. We are now throwing them in one by one and I am now at the last. Transcribed:
May 20, 2013
Thank you for everything. See you in like 60 years, if not sooner.
Loving you always
My dad puts his arm around me as the final tinders singe and go back into the sky to be reabsorbed. “How you feelin, kiddo?” “Complete”. He smiles. So do I. Because for the first time since December, I actually do.
Maybe, I’ll finally get discovered….or this will sit here unnoticed since I realized only prominent bloggers get noticed on here. I can only hope I impacted one single being.