Good Riddance, 2012

Every year is a mixture of good and bad, but I’ll be particularly glad to see 2012 pass into history.

The year wasn’t all bad; we did manage to move into a house that we love, even if the circumstances forcing the move were stressful.  I started working on material for a new band with my pal Hal, and I feel like I’m growing as a musician because of it.  Most importantly, Lannette’s ovarian cancer scare at the beginning of the year turned out to be just a scare, not the real thing.

However, the year has been overshadowed by the death of my mom in March.  When family members die, I tend to grieve very slowly and it usually doesn’t hit me hard until long after they have passed.  When my brother died on January 1, 1996, I didn’t really deal with it until well into 1997, when I was able to write this poem to say goodbye to him and deal with my own guilt about pulling the plug.

When my last grandparent died (I was 12), it wasn’t until months later that I was flooded with grief and loss while sitting on the couch, watching TV.  I just suddenly started crying, scaring my parents.

I have no idea when that cathartic moment will happen in regard to my mom’s death.  I certainly miss her, and I wish she wasn’t gone, but I haven’t broken down yet.  I wish it would happen, though, because waiting for the shoe to drop is stressful, and I suspect that my state of semi-grief has affected my relationships with family, friends, and coworkers over the last few months.  My anxiety has been elevated all year, and I’m convinced that’s partially due to not having dealt with her passing yet.

Here’s hoping 2013 is a happy year for everyone, myself included.

The Survivor

for Lannette


The reflecting pool stands still

Against the backdrop of empty chairs.

The Gates of Time measure off the minute

When everything changed. Golden

Cranes soar above the museum floor,

Elder brethren to the one above her bed.


“But she’s not a survivor; she wasn’t in the building.”


In her ears, the blast still rings

Plate glass shards impale like arrows,

Smoke still swirls

Whenever people disbelieve.

Every doubt another piece of rubble




But like the grand American Elm,

She stands tall, a survivor.


Image ©2004, Poem ©2010 by Stace Johnson

Uncle Sam and the Deep Blue Funk

I’ve been in a deep blue funk for a while, and today’s news didn’t help much.  I found out that my Uncle Sam died.  It was not unexpected, but it was not really welcome news, either.  I’m just glad he wasn’t in pain when he went.

I’ve never been very close to my extended family, but I can say that Uncle Sam was the uncle I enjoyed being around the most when I was a kid.  He was my mom’s “little” brother at over 6′ tall, and he embodied the southwestern personality of Coyote, the trickster (as opposed to Trixter, which is an entirely different thing.)  And man, he made a mean pot of posole.

Adios, Sam (Sheridan) Moulder.  I miss you already.

The Decision

$125.36 for round trip tickets.  No luggage.  That would have been $40 more.  No family.  That would have been at least another $165.00.  My credit card only had $127.50.

“Mom, I’m coming out.  I’ll be there when Judy’s there, so you’ll have the family together, like you and Dad want, at least for a couple of days.”

“Good!  I’ll be happy to see you.  By the way, I wanted to let you know … we didn’t intend to hurt Lannette by not inviting her.”

“Well, you did.  That hurt me too.  I’m still not happy about it.”

“I’m sorry, hon.”

The Call

You know those calls that you expect to get someday, but not today?

“Stace?  This is Dad.  I want you and your sister – just the two of you – to come out here for a few days.  It’ll probably be the last chance we have to get all of us together.  I’ll pay for it.”

“Dad, you can’t afford that.”

“I’ll take it out of our savings.  It’s important.  When you get here, we’ll talk about some things and watch the old home movies.  Try to be out here within the next few weeks.  No more than a month.”