[Manic Mondays] Tell me what to say and I will say it for you

posted in: Manic Mondays | 3

I would stop waiting/ Stop crying/ Stop breathing in, too/ While you stay away so long/ I would stop calling/ Stop writing/ Stop faking/ Stop denying you’re as good as gone/ But I dunno/ So you just tell me what to say/ And I will say it to you/ I would do it for you/ I would burn this house down. . . – “Tell Me What to Say”, Black Lab

I feel like a husk, I said to Gordon.  But not in like, a sexy teen angst sort of way.  In a ‘there’s not much going on inside me right now’ sort of way.

I haven’t been blogging much lately.  For me, when my hands go silent over the keyboard, it’s a sure sign that my internal landscape is fucked all to hell.  If I can’t talk about it or write about it, it means it’s too big for me to process.  My family was a small family to begin with, so every death hurts us to the core of our familial egregore.  It’s not every family you would see second cousins wracked with sobs from the loss of one of the greatest of us.

There are only five of the younger cousins left now.  We lost Anthony the week before I got married the first time.  My sister has been the only one of us to have a child thus far.  You want to know what ancestral grief really feels like?  Try living with the knowledge that your whole family could die out with your generation.  No one to tend our graves, no one to tell our stories, no one to remember us.

No one.

We try to make light of it at my uncle’s wake.  We elect my cousin A. to have more kids even though her two are in college now and she indigently replies that she’s served her time and demands a pardon.  I harass my mom why didn’t her gener  have more kids or our grandparents have more kids and she could certainly adopt a few more kids if she wanted to do her bit for hearth and family.  We carefully lay out a plan for my cousin M. where he could marry (5) Fundamentalist Mormon Wives but they need to be:

1. The fun Sister Wives type

2. All able to have at least (5) children each

3. Which means, (3) will need to be in the workplace while the other (2) mind the children which is very near daycare ratio so it’s perfectly legitimate

4. He needs blueprints from a good house from Utah that’s meant for five wives (individual kitchens, all connected, large backyard) so we can construct it here in the NY/NJ/PA area

There!  Problem solved!   25 kids for M. is conservative by Fundamentalist Mormon standards and he could probably get away with only having 15 kids total which would put him in day care ratio with all of his wives.

But really, in quiet moments at my uncle’s wake, we looked at each other worriedly.  What would become of us?  How do we account for being the ones who let it all go?

It’s a lot to manage.  It’s a lot to even think about.  Especially with my Vulcan doctor’s cheerful deadlines looming.


Right now I just feel unraveled.   I’m trying to navigate the holiday season as a crafter, keep my shit together at work, plan the holidaze both for Thanksgiving at my mom’s house and what will surely be a painful Christmas Eve . . .if we could decide who’s host/essing it.  Trying to buy presents for all the impending birthdays and holidaze.  Sometimes, I feel like I’m always behind.  Running, running, running, trying to keep up.  For moments, I feel almost normal.  Drinking wine and watching television with Jow.  Going through a full beauty regime so that I feel not unkempt.   Planning my next book, reading and snorting unhappily about being required to be scholarly about about magic, something that never came to me from books but from mentors and discourse, making critical “hrumphs!” in bed to express my disagreement with various authors.  I try to focus myself to things I can understand; curing olives for my mom’s side, trying a second batch of pumpkin cordial, baking gingerbread, organizing Spare Oom, keeping my house far tidier than it has ever been doing a craft season.  Busying myself with my tiny charges, giving them as many hugs and kisses as they’ll stand.  Plotting out a novel, plotting out my crafting future, figuring out my diet, pondering how to be a completely competent adult.  But I always slide back to the things that I can never understand and fester on who I’m supposed to be according to who and what I’m supposed to accomplish.  Am I wasting my Motherhood?

I don’t know.

I just know that I feel empty and it will be some time before I feel right.

p.s. In case you are new-ish and you don’t know what to do when someone you know has someone they love die, please read my Etiquette Lesson on the subject.

Deborah Castellano
Deborah Castellano's book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want is available for purchase through Amazon, Llewellyn and Barnes and Noble.
Her frequently updated catalogue of published work is available on Author Central.

She writes about Glamour Magic here at Charmed, I'm Sure. Her podcast appearances are available here.

Her craft shop, The Mermaid & The Crow specializes in old-world style workshop from 100% local, sustainable sources featuring tempting small batch ritual oils and hand-spun hand-dyed yarn in luxe fibers and more!

In a previous life, Deborah founded the first Neo-Victorian/Steampunk convention, SalonCon which received rave reviews from con-goers and interviews from the New York Times and MTV.

She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow and their cat, Max II. She has a terrible reality television habit she can't shake and likes St. Germain liquor, record players and typewriters.  


3 Responses

  1. When I was doing vigil while my Gram was dying, I was dealing with a lot of the same feelings around “Who will do this for me when I’m dying? Who will tend my grave?”

    I’m not planning on birthing offspring. There might, at some point in the future, be something along the lines of an adoption, but that’s very unlikely. My wife and I are far, far more likely to build intergenerational leather family than we are to raise babies[1], and this – elder care, estate management, loneliness – it’s all stuff the weighs on my mind pretty heavily at times.

    As I’ve started getting older, getting settled into myself both as an adult[2] and as a person with a stable and safe primary relationship, I’ve also started wanting to broaden the membership of my family, if you will. For some people this shows up as a desire to get pregnant, start the various adoption processes, and so on. For me, it’s showing up as a desire to cultivate close familial relationships with people in my leather(dyke) community. to be an Auntie, as Leah Lakshmi would put it. To be a witch in the Terry Pratchett sense of the word.

    What I’m getting at here is that, no, you are not wasting your motherhood.

    To put it one way: If you ever get to a point where, yes, you want raise children into adults, want kids who you don’t have to give back at the end of the day… there’s a freaking nation of kids in foster care who would really like parents they can rely on. The window of Motherhood – even literal mother-hood – doesn’t end with menopause.

    To put it another way: There are a lot of ways to build a family.

    Take care, hon.

    [1] My sister and brother, on the other hand, are both all for it… eventually — I’m looking forward to us being the Big Gay Aunties for them, the way my Big Gay Aunties are for me. 😉

    [2] It’s funny… The stuff that gets coded as Motherhood? All that stuff about coming into your own, being a confident woman who’s in charge of her own life? Creating *all the things* and building/nurturing multiple types of relationship and community? It can just as easily be coded as Femme-nicity if you take out the literal “children” part of the equation. 🙂 It made me smile a LOT when I realized that. 🙂

  2. Barring a miracle, my family will likely die with me. My two female cousins have produced offspring, but they’re on my mother’s side of the family, and don’t share my father’s name. My two paternal-side cousins still have a different family name. One has a kid, but the other has mental illnesses that tend to work against being a father. My other cousin in this family was gay; I appear to be a dedicated non-breeder although with a girlfriend. We’re all a lot older than we used to be.

    Some days it keeps me up late, crying, that I have no child of my own. Other days, it appears to be the best thing for the planet, and it fills me with joy that I have helped ease the Mother’s strain even a little. I’ve found a couple of kids to mentor, to pseudo-adopt over the years. Perhaps someone will remember to say kaddish or the equivalent for me when I’m gone. It’ll have to be enough, right?
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  3. I’m so sorry for your loss, and that it took me this long to say so.

    I know the worry about family even though mine is fairly large; the younger cousins don’t really know me except as someone to do a doubletake at when they see me at the local grocery on my all-too-rare trips home, because they know my face, but can’t place it.

    Family is a tricky thing. But any loss of it is almost always pretty damn hard. Love to you and yours.
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