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Laurie Markvart's Diary of Nothing Left Unsaid

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#love

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.

My 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. Much of her shit was about me, my brother, and 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

When a Rogue Weed Invades a Garden: Cancer, Humor and Garden Tools

Editorial note: There is rightful cussing in this piece. Enjoy at your own risk.

I didn’t want to write about this. Writing about it makes it real. Until now, I’ve been in a dream state. One of denial, curiosity, fear, anxiety, perplexity, anger, doubt, joy, euphoria. Yes, joy and euphoria. It’s something else the brain does when it’s trying to reason with bad shit.

So, back to writing about it. My close friends and family told me to document this journey. Every detail, if possible. I was like, “Why? I’m fucking living it, why would I want to document it, too?” Besides half the time, I have no idea what is going on! But, even the doctors told me to write about it. “You’re a musician, a writer, that’s how you can deal with this. Plus, your submission for treatment was humorous,” one said. Humorous? Well, when I wrote it, I was laughing out of astonishment more than anything. Lastly, one doctor said, “Writing will make you feel better.” I replied, “Will writing make it go away? Will it return me to the person I was before you told me this shit?”

Yes, I have many doctors, and I know how many kids they have, the last time they had a vacation and what they had for lunch. I find getting to know the people who touch my body is essential. I’ve had four doctors touch me in one afternoon in what felt like doctor speed dating. I didn’t find it invasive but exploratory. I knew they needed information. No pride or prude here. And yes, I joked through most of it.

Okay, so I’ve mentioned doctors. I’m talking about the MD ones. And this MD group came into my life like a bunch of line dancers, yanking me into their frenzied world. It was January 2, 2020, when one of those doctors called and said, “Laurie, they found cancer cells in your breast biopsy. I’m sorry.” Now you know where they were touching me during doctor speed dating!

The funny thing is before the doctor delivered the news, she didn’t ask me if it was a good time to talk or if I was sitting down. Do doctors do that anymore? Ask if you’re sitting down? Well, shit, when you do hear that, you can pretty much determine the outcome of that conversation. So maybe they’ve ditched it with 1990s flannel. Actually, I was sitting down. I was in my car about to hop onto the 210 Fwy on my way to get my son.

I was expecting the call, just not the news. I already had a mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy. All at my own doing because even though I have no family history of this and do not meet breast cancer criteria, I felt something alien in my breast, a small irregular mass. Enough to make me think well, that’s not right. But, I thought the doctor would tell me the mass was just hormone-related and benign. (DM me to ask me what I felt in my breast. I think it’s vital to give insight into this because most women or their partners DON’T know how it feels! Early detection is KEY!) So, when I got the call, on instinct, I pulled over to a street parking spot with a view of the gorgeous Pasadena City Hall. I was amazed to find an open spot! Near city hall!

Once the doctor delivered the news, and she told me potential next steps, I hung up. My view of city hall became blurred as I sobbed and shook like having a mild seizure. It was one of the loneliest out of body experiences in my life. Then all I could think of was my son and how I’d tell my teenager about something I knew nothing about.

I was also crying not because of the word cancer, but I was merely stunned. And frankly, cancer is just a word. Instead, let’s say…some of my cells started a different party in my body that isn’t cool. It’s like the loud party people living next door, and they don’t know when to chill. Dang…even for me THAT is not pressing. I love music and parties, and I’d want an invite. How about this: I plant a beautiful garden, and a strange weed grows. Yea, that’s more like it. And that weed grows out of control. So, let’s not get hung up on the word cancer. Instead, I got a rogue weed in my garden.

Okay, back to writing about this. Yes, I have stage two breast cancer. Or stage two garden invasion? I do know the specifics, as in the type, expectations, possible treatments, outcomes, and all that jazz. But I won’t write about those right now because I’m still in the trenches. And, it’s all-new words, terminology, and practices of an alien world in which I’m still a foreigner. But as for those doctors of mine. Damn, they’re excellent tour guides. And yes, maybe writing about it is a good thing.

Also, I was sobbing cause I was like shit…this is a joy kill to my “it’s gonna be a great 2020” mantra! Plus, it was January 2. I was still recovering from New Year’s Eve! I was like, give me a couple of days to recoup before you bomb me with this news! Then I heard a horn from an anxious driver behind me wanting my parking spot. Really?! Oh, that’s right parking is a premium whether you have cancer or not. Obviously, he assumed I was leaving. No, my fellow motorist, I’m not leaving. I just arrived somewhere; I didn’t know I was going.

I’ll share more when it’s right for me, and when I feel it will benefit others also dealing with a garden invasion. Also, when I don’t have the pain. I’ve already had two surgeries (the first step in this madness), and while my garden is intact (they’ve come a long way in how they eradicate garden weeds! Okay, I’ll stop with the analogy! For now.), but I am exhausted. Lastly, I’ll write more when I not only know what my doctors had for lunch but also dinner. And when I can fathom how to pay my medical and personal bills while being a freelancer and having the most basic of insurance. Yes, this is all part of the cancer scene. Top healthcare should be available to ALL! That is for another blog.

I can say this unequivocally…the woman I was before January 2, does not exist anymore. The musician, writer, mother, and friend is still there, but she’s even more passionate about who and what she loves. The woman who was worried about aging and body image has taken a back seat. Actually, she’s in the trunk. This isn’t the time to worry about that bullshit. So ladies of all ages and sizes…let that shit go. Just be healthy and embrace your beautiful garden.

Best yet, some other woman has joined my excursion. She has far more stamina, humor, brute strength and simultaneous fragility, humility, clarity, peace, self-love, and undeniable trust in God, her family, and friends. If that phone call on January 2 had been benign, I’d be that prior woman, and I wouldn’t be falling so madly in love with this new one and writing about her and her garden tools. Mantra stands: It’s a great 2020! ~ 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.

Happy New Year – That I Can Do

The New Year is the perfect time to say “That I Can Do.” It just depends on what you plan on doing. And then after you say it, can you do it? Alright, I’m messing with you all.

I’m blogging to post lyrics for my song “That I Can Do” that went live on iTunes a few days ago. But if you can say to me, “Yes, that I can do, Laurie. I can buy your song for a meager .99¢.” Well, thank you! Head on over to iTunes! And, Happy New Year!

Lyrics for THAT I CAN DO

There are many things you ask me
Some are tough, and some are meant to be
You’ve tried so hard to believe
That I’ll be more to you than truth can really be

There’s never been a question of my faith
It lies deep when I see you
But my life has taken me away
And time has no offer to replace what you have missed or what I regret

All I can offer you isn’t much, but it’s love, that I can do
All I can offer you isn’t much, but it’s love, and that I can do…for you.

I feel the shame shallow in my pain
I fall upon my troubled heart
But I’ve kept my heart pure in touch with you
Grown apart you need more of what I can do…what I need to do

You’ve been long in my heart, fast to my rescue
Never one to compromise your hand
You’ll never need love the way I do
I’ve become your fool with love all I offer

 

© Laurie Markvart

“HOW” Lyrics for Lovers and Those Who Are Done

Hello Friends,

Here are lyrics to a new song I’ll post to Youtube within the coming weeks. If the words resonate with you then embrace them. You’re not alone.

X,
L

HOW

How do I say I’m sorry
When I’m not sure I’m wrong
How do I fix broken glass
With shards that are gone.

How do I relapse into a love
That has been drunk dry
How do I care about a story
When a sigh become a lie.

How is it here, we became this
Broken in two, no longer fit
How many times did we try to make it right?
Not enough, not enough
’cause we’re here.

How the hell does ambition
Turn to regret
And trust to lust
For another to get.

How does intention
Become a memory
And purity to anger
It’s all I see.

Lyrics ©lauriemarkvart 2017

 

A Poem for the Compassionate Man

Okay, ladies, we may hammer back when we defend ourselves against men who come at us publicly or privately about our…yup…menstrual cycle. Those guys who say things like, “Oh, she must be on her period, that’s why she’s a bitch.” Or worse yet they call another guy a bitch and ask him if he’s on his period. Sorry guys, he’s not on his period. Possibly he’s just not a dick like you.

Back to the “period,” or commonly called by many women, (honesty alert here!), “the rag,” “the red baron,” “TOTM,” “the monthly visitor,” “Aunt Flo,” “pipes have burst.”  See, women can joke about it because WE must deal with it. And when guys think they are “dealing” with it ’cause their woman is dealing with it…sorry…that’s like saying, “Yeah, I had a flat tire, and I had to watch Bob the mechanic put on a new tire, and it took forever. What a drag that was.”

The truth is, guys will never know what women go through and we can’t hold that against them. But, we can hold against them their acts of unkindness, lack of consideration, and intolerance to women. Usually, these actions are due to their lack of proper education by their mother or sisters. Or, they are so uncomfortable with the subject they find it easier to joke about or condemn it or worst of all tell a woman when she seems to be losing her shit, “It’s all in your head.” Actually guys…it’s all in our ovaries. That’s where it starts. 

This isn’t meant to be a feminist post today or a slam to men. I’m taking this the other direction. This is to acknowledge those guys who ARE loving, patient and compassionate to what their woman goes through. These are the guys who know to get the hell out the way when they see it coming and support their woman by giving her space and not condemning her. Or, especially for those guys who listen, give their time, energy, and love to their woman and honor her. These are the actual soldiers and REAL men. So, ladies let’s honor our men too. There are many good ones out there. And here’s to mine:

He talks me off an edge
He brings me down
He gently eases my head
Not sure how he wears the crown

To always rise when I am low
To always fight for me, not dispose
To always pull me through
No complaint as he goes

I may cry, I may scream
Never at him
He knows what I mean
I shutter at my own dismay
Honored he stays, yet another day

This man captains a wayward ship
His beloved trips upon her own weary lip
She does not know when she’ll return
Yet, her heart for him will always yearn.

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