Yelling at trees (episode 3): Serial Story

Yelling at trees (episode 3): Serial Story

Yelling at trees is a serial story that is written from the perspective of a fictitious amateur female blogger, Kelsey Whitney, and is published through Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and this blog.

Yelling at trees (episode 3)


It’s a strange thing about death—it’s that although you’ll have known people who have died, and you’ll have known your whole life that you’re gonna die someday, and that all people will eventually wither and pass away… even through all that, it can still catch you by surprise, and be so unexpected. And maybe you’ll say, when it comes, things like, “I never thought something like this would happen.” Which in your mind you know, rationally, that that don’t make no sense, but in your heart it’s about the truest statement you could make.

Death just doesn’t make any sense. There’s something so unnatural about death, so permanent—and permanent in the way that mountains are permanent—like although you might try to take a shovel to dig away the mountain of death, and you may dig earnestly for a hundred years, but after all that’s done, the mountain is still gonna be there. There ain’t nobody that I know of who can kill death, and we ain’t got a big enough shovel for it.

The funeral was this past Thursday—it was cheaper on a Thursday… I didn’t speak. Rodger did: he thanked everyone for coming. He said that Sue and him, and me, and the rest of the family were all grateful for the people who’d come from out of town, on a work night. And then he mentioned all of Ben’s finest qualities; and he read a statement that I wrote out ahead of time, something that I wanted to say, but knew that I couldn’t get through it, not in front of so many people, and not without falling into a blubbering mess on the floor. He said, that after the diagnosis, that we all thought that we’d have more time, Ben included, but God had other plans—which is a real swell way to say that you can get rear-ended by a drunk driver while being diagnosed with stomach cancer, the same as you can as if you were completely healthy. The car don’t care. The car’s gonna hit you irregardless. It don’t care that you were already dying. A car’s gonna do what it’s gonna do, but it’s a real nice spin to put on it, to say that “God had other plans.” And maybe it helps Rodger and Sue, ’cause they’re so churchy, to think of it that way; but I wouldn’t say it like that. Maybe it’s not so much “God’s plans” as it is Jack Daniel’s plans, or Michelob’s plans—and who are we to say that, if there is such a thing as God, that He had anything to do with it, and what an evil plan that would be too: to send a drunk driver to kill someone who was already dying.

Tonight, I went out into the woods again, and I didn’t yell at the trees this time, so much as I cried to them. I sob to them, but the trees don’t answer back. I say “why?” through the tears in my voice, but still they don’t say anything—so what’s the use in yelling, if nobody hears anyways.

Added: One more thing, during the funeral I saw my cousin’s youngest step-daughter typing on her cell phone–during the funeral service! Turn off the button sounds, why don’t you! And if we weren’t already at a funeral, I might have murdered her.

“I hate technology,” she says as she types away on her grief blog, which is what Sue calls it. I can’t think anymore, and it’s late, so I’d better stop typing.

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Yelling at trees (episode 2): Serial Story

Yelling at trees (episode 2): Serial Story

Yelling at trees is a serial story that is written from the perspective of a fictitious amateur female blogger, Kelsey Whitney, and is published through Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and this blog.

Yelling at trees (episode 2)

First of all, I’d like to start off by saying that when I’d called my sister a psychologist in my previous post, what I’d meant to write was “psychologist”—to show that she wasn’t ever one, but has only gone about parading herself as one.

And secondly, I think I’d kind of have to offer an apology to my great-aunt Maggie, who went around telling all her neighbors that her great-niece had “finally got her doctorate,” as if Sue, my sister, had ever tried at it. And so, sorry to Aunt Maggie, and sorry to Sue, ’cause I didn’t have to be as sarcastic as I was. So, sorry Sue. You and Rodger have been so helpful to me during this “transition,” as you call it; so much so, that I don’t have any reason for letting out my bitterness on you, or my anger, and grief, so that you can be the “cleaning woman for my emotions.”

Today has been hard for me. Everything seemed to remind me of Ben, and I’ve just spent four hours going through old photos: picking through old printed albums, and swiping back and forth through my cell phone galleries, zooming in on his face to see all the details, to keep him in my mind, if I can’t keep him anywhere else, and kicking myself for ever deleting a single photo.

A few months ago, not thinking anything of it, I’d gone through my phone, trying to save space, deleting any photo of myself, or of us, in which my hair wasn’t quite perfect, or if my smile seemed not full enough—but now, I’m longing for those photos I’d “lost.”

It’s funny, you can get rid of something as garbage, one day, and then a few days later, those things you’d “lost” can become your most treasured possessions, that you can never get back. I ran through the battery on my phone looking at all those photos today, and I’d left my charger at work: so Sue had to drive up to invite me over for dinner, instead of calling.

“Have you ate yet?” she asked me.

“Since when,” I answered.

“Since today, I hope,” she yelled from the other room, as she was packing up my things, so I could “stay for a couple days.”

No, I hadn’t, and I told her that.

“Well, what have you been doing?”

“Looking at photos… till my phone turned itself off.”

That’s why you weren’t answering,” she said, coming out of the room with my suitcase, over-packed. “It makes sense now… I thought you were mad at me.”

I tried to smile at her, but that part of myself doesn’t seem to have come back to me yet. “I’ll be mad at you when you need it,” I said, “but no, I ain’t mad.”

And now I’m over at her house, tucked into the guest bed, on my laptop, talking to you, my group of internet strangers.

Added: Sue just came to the door in her pjs, ones with catfish printed on ’em, saying that mom and dad want me to start getting together a list of Ben’s relatives that we want for the funeral. “They’ll take care of our side, and all the details. You don’t have to worry about a thing—you just show up.” she said. Which is nice of them all to be doing so much for me, for Ben really, and at that moment was the closest, so far, that I’ve come to giving a smile. I could feel it on the corners of my mouth; and though I didn’t smile, it’s good to know that I might be able to someday. And that maybe after all of this that’s happened, there might be some sort of normalcy that might return, like the slow drips of summer rain, to make sure that everything doesn’t dry up and whither away forever.

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Yelling at trees (episode 1): Serial Story

Yelling at trees (episode 1): Serial Story

Yelling at trees is a serial story that is written from the perspective of a fictitious amateur female blogger, Kelsey Whitney, and is published through Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and this blog.

Yelling at trees (episode 1)

My sister, the psychologist, says that I should write a blog. She says that it will help me “learn to deal with it,” and that writing “might give me a way to express my inner pain.” What a pejorative way to say that. And anyway, what if I don’t want to “express my inner pain”? And how is sharing my deepest pain with a bunch of complete strangers online any bit healthier than simply taking a walk through Jones’ Creek and just screaming at the top of my lungs?—which is what I told her. But of course to that she said, “Well, fine, go on and scream your head off out in the woods, too, if you think that will help.”

I did. And it didn’t… It just made it so my pre-schoolers couldn’t understand me the next morning, during circle time.

And another thing, “how is writing going to help me ‘learn to deal with it’?” I told her (my sister Ana). Some things you can deal with: you find out you owe back taxes, you pay them; you’re driving back from Fayetteville at midnight and your tire blows, you call for a tow truck. (And it takes them two hours to get there.)

But there are some other things that can’t be dealt with. And when somethings are broken, they’re just broken forever. And no amount of writing to strangers is gonna fix that—there’s no AAA for death.

“I never said it was gonna fix it,” she said. She said it was only supposed to help me learn to deal with it. “I know somethings are broken and they can’t ever come back,” she said. But maybe by writing about it, it’ll help me to “learn to live in the brokenness.” ‘Cause a blog, she says, is more than just a story; it’s a conversation.

And so that’s the story of why I’m writing. There’s a lot more to say, obviously, but I just don’t think I’m at that place yet to talk about it, maybe next time. And you can feel free to leave your comments down at the bottom; and if I don’t answer right away, it’s probably ’cause I’m down at Jones’ Creek, screaming at the trees.

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