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Laurie Markvart's Diary of Nothing Left Unsaid

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#grief

Memories in Boxes of Love in Storage Locker #39

I stumbled on a journal entry about my mom that I wrote in 2017, a year after she passed. I’m glad I kept it. And that I found it, stuffed between my other journals and books in a box labeled “stuff” at the back of my closet.

The journal entry now gives me insight into an agonizing time when memories were not formed but discarded.

When Mom passed, I was with her, an agreement we had previously made, and the experience hypnotized me. We were very close. Those memories of her departing are beautiful and crystal clear. But I have shreds of anxious, heartbreaking memories in the weeks, months, and year after her death, the year I refused to return to Wisconsin and sort out her belongings. No one was pressuring me to return. My brother and his family were dealing with their grief and were in no rush to sort through Mom’s stuff. Who wanted to go through a storage locker of someone else’s memories? Or was it our memories too?

A week after Mom’s death, I returned home to Los Angeles and back to an entertainment job I thought I could handle while processing grief. But was I processing? I sure put on a happy face and dove back into a job I was satisfied with, but it was not enough to distract me. Her memory infiltrated almost every hour of the day, and the idea of returning to her storage locker gave me an ache that meant I’d have to admit she was gone. So, I had no problem writing a monthly check for $119 to the storage unit in Wisconsin to hold her possessions, and apparently, my grief.

I was numb. I was a robot to my job, boyfriend, music, and my teenage son. That worried me the most. But her loss plagued me, and I thought, who was I, without the woman who made me?

Within two months of her passing, my son and I took a trip to Hawaii, in which I thought beaches, a Luau, and a rented Corvette convertible would uplift me; and provide my son and me time to regroup. But I discovered a Corvette or even Hawaii couldn’t fix a broken heart.

In the months after Hawaii, I fantasized what Mom would tell me about returning to Wisconsin to sort out her things. About getting my life back in order. How would she tell me to grieve her? I did feel an instinctive push to get back to music, writing and I’d find the answer on how to move on.

Six months after her passing, I quit my entertainment job and returned to writing a memoir I started in 2011. A memoir I thought was about me, but it became just as much about her, which in turn, is me. Unknowingly, writing the memoir became an outlet for me to process her death. As I continued writing through guttural tears, moments of laughter, and some anguishing and joyful memories, I knew I could handle the trip back to Wisconsin.

Finally, 15 months after her passing, in September of 2017, I returned home, and my brother and I opened her storage locker. The monthly payments kept her items safe from thieves but not from the ravaging season of Midwest summer humidity and frozen winter. Mold had grown up the legs of furniture and into boxes, papers, journals, and photos we didn’t think we cared about until we did. There was an odor to that storage locker that was part mold, mothballs, and dashes of her (which meant the smell of cigarettes and Fendi). It smelled like home. Which meant the woman I ached for over the past 15 months was now all around me. To sort through her belongings, notes, and writings, I knew I was getting the chance to know her again. And a chance to know the new me.

That journal entry from the day after opening Mom’s storage locker:

September 5, 2017, Wisconsin

I’m not sure how to connect my thoughts. I’ve come home. This is where she lived; I once lived. We all lived, and some still live. I’m here to clean out her belongings. To create space. To recoup costs. To close her physical life. To open mine. I look at her storage unit, and it just looks like stuff, shit. Before she died, all this stuff, this shit was vital to her. And I get it! We humans consume, create and collect stuff. Either physically or emotionally. I’m overwhelmed by her shit because I care about it. A lot of her shit was about me, my bother, our family. I care. Now, how do I separate her shit from mine? From protecting it to throwing or selling?

Today was travel from CA to WI. But it’s the first time I’ve come back home, and she’s not here. Tonight I rest. Tomorrow, I know there’s a lot of work. But also a lot of love. All documented in boxes. Boxes in storage unit #39, to be exact, of her.

© 2022 Laurie Markvart

My Parent, My Friend: A Daughter’s Wish for Adult Children

Twelve years ago, my dad, Leonard left this world. The sky today is similar to then – a bright, gorgeous blue – his favorite color. Today, I celebrate him.
 
But my world changed drastically on March 29, 2006. Most of all because I not only lost my dad (and a damn good one) but he was also a terrific friend in my adult years. What I wouldn’t do for a long walk with him now. Also, it’s not quite two years since my mom has passed and OH the things I’d like to talk to her about and get her sage advice. You see, I had the same with her, she was my best friend in my adult years. And the only one who could make my cheeks hurt with laughter.
 
This is not a pity party. This is PSA. If you’re lucky enough to have your parent(s) still around, and they’ve been good to you, and if you’re fortunate enough you can call them a friend now that you’re an adult, you’ve struck gold. Enjoy them, foster the relationship, never underestimate their love for you and laugh, laugh, laugh.
 
And if your parent(s) have been mediocre, or shit to you. Just remember, they’re only human. And so are you. Sometimes it’s never too late, and sometimes things just are what they are. But believe me, I know I had something extraordinary, and I wish it upon everyone else who still has a chance.
Photo – Canyon Lake, Texas. 1997. On one of our many, many walks.

For Mother’s Day: A Tribute to My Late Mom, Her Persistence, and Mark Hamill’s Willingness.

          A long time ago in a galaxy far…okay, you’ve heard that one already. But, my story is just as epic (in my mind anyway), especially since it involves my mother, and none other than Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill.

          I grew up in a tiny town in Wisconsin called Waterloo. When Star Wars came out in 1977, Waterloo’s population was about two-thousand people. The population now: three-thousand and some change. You get my drift: small, farming community in the land of milk, cheese, friendly people, and a take no shit, tell it like it is, gets the job done woman, my mother, Mary Ann Archie.

          In 1977, Star Wars played for months at our one-screen theater in Waterloo called The Mode. My Mom would take us every weekend. As a kid, The Mode was more than a theater to me, it was a transport device that carried me all over the world by way of the movies. With Star Wars, it took me into another galaxy.

          I can’t count how many times I saw Star Wars in 1977 because I don’t have enough fingers. But, I do remember, with each Star Wars film through 1983, I was a young teenager and smitten beyond belief with Mark Hamill. So much so that I inscribed with a permanent marker on the metal light pole in front of our house…Laurie Loves Mark Hamill. Naturally, I drew a heart around it, arrow included. I thought for sure if I made my love known to the Waterloo townsfolk and to The galaxy, maybe the Force would be with me and bring Mark Hamill to my little town of Waterloo and rescue me to more exciting places.

          After graduating high school in 1985, I left Waterloo in hyperdrive. I was a budding musician and actress looking for new adventures. My aspirations would take me to Minneapolis, Austin, New York City, and eventually landing in Los Angeles. All along the way, my mom would cheer me on from her stoop in Waterloo, encouraging me to reach for the stars. Until one day the stars came to her.

          Lightspeed ahead to 2001-2002. Mom is still living her content life in Waterloo, and I’m now residing in Los Angeles, a struggling musician, and actress. The light pole and my admittance of love for Mark Hamill lost in my memory banks. Until Mom calls and announces the unbelievable. Mark Hamill is in Waterloo. He is filming a movie called Reeseville. Just a fact: Reeseville is another little town in Wisconsin. Just up the road from Waterloo. Population: Even smaller than Waterloo. 

          I recall the phone call as such:

          “Laurie, Mark Hamill is in Waterloo. I can’t believe this! Mark Hamill! He’s here to film a movie. In little Waterloo! I wonder if he’ll eat at the diner? Do you want me to get his autograph? I’ll tell him about the light pole!” 

          I’m now a thirty-four-year-old woman reduced to an embarrassed teenager. I plead, “Oh, Mom! No, that’s crazy! I forgot about the light pole! No, no. Please, that’s not necessary.”

          “But, Laurie. He’s Mark Hamill. And you’re someone too! You’re a musician and actress. I’ll bring him your headshot.”

          “Oh, God, Mom, no. That’s just too much.”

          “Nothing is too much for me, Laurie. I’ll get that autograph. You just wait,” she says and hangs up. Oh, crap.

          Now, I’m horrified as I think she’ll just embarrass herself. I’m truly no-one, and for her to parade over to him with my headshot and declare my importance? And my pre-adolescent love for him? Dreadful. 

          Reassuring myself, I think, I’ve been around the business enough to know there will be some form of security, a barricade, some type of force between her and Mark Hamill. Even in Waterloo. She won’t get near him. More importantly, I don’t want her feelings hurt. But then again, she is a force to reckon with. She is no daisy. Well, I think, May the Force be with you, Mom.

          Days pass, and I don’t hear anything from Mom about Mark Hamill or The galaxy for that matter. I assume she didn’t meet him and has chosen to not call and confess her failure. Until I check the mail. There I find an 8 ½ x 11 manila envelope addressed in my mother’s handwriting to Laurie Marks. Also, there are multiple DO NOT BEND notices on it. Notable point…Laurie Marks is the stage name I used at the time, and it’s the name on the headshot Mom presumably put into the correct hand(s) to get an autograph from Mark Hamill. Hence, the contents of the manila envelope. 

          His autograph, on a white 8 ½ x 11 piece of white paper, not only has his signature but his profession of love for me (okay, remember the fantasy part and the light pole here, people): Mark Hamill LOVES LAURIE MARKS! Yes, with an exclamation mark. He includes the heart around our names and the arrow. Jeez, he even went a bit further and included scalloped edging. I didn’t even do that on the pole! Damn, this guy is good. Well, he IS Luke Skywalker.

          Impressed by his detailed autograph, I think…either he is that generous and with a good sense of humor to draw the heart (which I assume he is) and/or my mom is as persuasive and as persistent as I know she is. Or, how about both.

          She would never tell me the details on how she obtained the autograph, and I never pushed, honoring her cunning skills to follow through on something in which she sets her mind. She would only say, “I waited a long, long time but it was worth it, to get it for you.” 

          So, thank you, Mark Hamill. Oh, pause, can I call you Luke? Okay, sorry. Continuing…Thank you, because this is my first Mother’s Day without her. She passed in June 2016. Finding your autograph only reminds me how f’n cool you are and how special she was – the actual force in our family. 

          And if by chance you did meet her in person that day in Waterloo, then you met a great broad. But, if she got your autograph through security, staff, and/or bribes (an offering of booze, cigarettes or a good joke), that is okay too. It doesn’t matter. The message of the light pole got to you, and your response made her day. You brought her to a more exciting place. And in return, my reward – a happy and star-struck Mom and the knowledge she would do anything for her family.

          Oh, lastly and not lost on me at all, my long-time fantasy also fulfilled: a heart-shaped message, from Mark Hamill, complete with an arrow. I guess The galaxy was listening. 

“Should I Stay” – Lyrical Poem for the Day

Today, I’m sharing poetic lyrics of memory. Not sure when I’ll set the music but when that flows, I will.  If it doesn’t, then it’s just a poem.

My muse-in the past. Gone. But I still look for her. The needs of a daughter do not disappear with the departed. Nor do the issues of why she drove me crazy or why I loved her so much.

Today, poetic lyrics. Getting it out, letting it flow and being in THIS moment. Someday, acceptance. Just not today. And that is okay ’cause I can’t go back, and I certainly can’t jump forward. And sorry to say, this applies to all of us. Unless you have a time machine. And if you do, DM me. I’d love to hear about it. xo

#bepresent, #beintheflow, #beinthemoment

Should I stay
 Should I walk away
 Does it pay to know how you feel

Should I stay
 Should I lie down next to you
 Cry for a while

Memories, you and me
 Blanket my mind
 Tell me I should run, hide

But I look at you
 And I see what you do
 And I know for now, I’ll stay

Should I stay
 Give us another day
 I can’t breathe for you

Should I stay
 Give it more time to play
 In my head, broken, astray 
 But today, I’ll stay

©Laurie Markvart

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