survivor’s guilt

My mother and father are Jewish. So is my sister and her husband and their child. My cousins are Jewish too. So are my aunts and uncles. I am an atheist.

I grew up feeling guilty even when there was no cause for it. It is in my blood, (or this is what my ancestors say).

To wake up in an apartment with free warmth and free hot water and electricity in every room, lurking from every outlet, with a bed and clean sheets and windows without cracks and a working refrigerator keeping my perishables safe where my vegetable drawer is full from the farmer’s market where my closet has hangers hugging shirts and jackets and my floor is clean without holes or water damage and there is a roof above me and it appears secure.

To wake up.

To wake up with a father just one state away and a mother just a bus or train ride away and a sister just a bike ride away.

To wake up with love dripping from my wrists and hiding behind my ears and whispering from my calendar.

To wake up with a job to go to. Two jobs to go to. Four…including the ones that don’t always pay me.

To wake up without a cough or suspicious flu in my body. To wake without the need for medication. Without the need for hidden drugs in boxes, tucked away in the back of closet.

To wake.

I am an atheist and I believe in nothing and I believe that maybe I can believe in something someday when the haunt subsides. When the guilt goes away. When I start to really imagine life without having a secret affair with death.

To survive when others have not is not a feeling of relief. It reeks with the aroma of unworthiness. Music plays and all I can hear is why me why me why me why me why me why me why me why me why me why me why me why mewhy me why me why me why me why me why me why me why me.

Must I believe in some thing in order to make sense of this?

stretchmarks may be used as rulers when stranded in hardware store

How aware are we of what happens below our mouths? Below our chins? Beyond neck….past collarbones….the sloped hill of our bodies….how closely are we paying attention to the quiet language of our skin…are you in need of an appointment…when was the last time you had a pap smear, colonoscopy, have you recently had a stroke you were unaware of…is your eyesight blurry…how many taste buds can you decipher…are there strange sores around your mouth…how scratchy is your throat or belly…are you eating enough…check your scalp…check the calluses on your feet…are your heels cracked…smell your wrists/ do you detect an infection…how frightened are your roots…do your ankles swell…check your std/ has it flared again…how heavy are your bones in the morning…are your knees cracking…have your shoulders curled inward…what color is your urine…how often do you pee…what color was your skin last month and how does it compare to today…are you tracking your menstruation…how many pairs of underwear did you ruin from your blood…how often do you bleed…is it thin…what is your diet…how often do you walk away…how many sexual partners have you consumed/ are there stains…what is beneath your fingernails…what are your habits…how often do you consume coffee cocaine prescription pills alcohol…are you addicted to consumption…how many stitches have you received…have you removed all your cavities…what do you mean you don’t have health insurance…is your liver shaking…what swells inside you…have you filled out the paperwork…how crooked is your spine…what is your income do you have income…are your knuckles exposed…state your family history of diseases…what are you previous diagnoses…are you taking any medication…do you have frequent nose bleeds…what is the minimum you can pay out of pocket…how often are you out of breath…list three emergency contacts…have you signed a waiver…does anyone know you are here…who will drive you home…how often do you feel this way…who is your primary care doctor…sit still…stop crying…is there someone you can call…you are going to need to fill out some more paperwork…what is your mother’s maiden name…why are you crying…do you understand what this means…do I need to call in an interpreter…how long have you been feeling this way…