Ulaí, my ex – daughter – in – law visited me unexpectedly today. She is schizophrenic and also a poet.
I never understood her poetry, but always appreciated the rhythm and metaphors she uses. She has even published a book. She had not written poetry in a very long time. Today she asked me for a coffee and to listen to her book full of all brand-new poems.
She is a shy woman, who often does not talk for long times or just talks incoherent, but when she reads her poetry she becomes alive, all her shyness evaporates. Her voice is strong and carries and she does not care if a hundred people watch her.
She is not sensitive for her listener either. You have to sit put for what suddenly seems an infinite time, she ends one poem and starts with the next and looks at you to make sure you are attentive.
I decided to listen. I did not understand, it was all the same, every poem filled with stars and moons and laughing children, love, love pure as a flower and the morning dew. The word CELESTIAL was repeated and ETERNAL and LOVE and LOVE and LOVE…
For the first time I did understand: these are her dreams. In these images she describes her deepest desire, all our deepest desire: being in beauty and loved for forever.
She was the love of my son´s life. He carried her on his hands. He awoke their two boys, prepared breakfast, lunch and dinners, went to school meetings and doctors, while Ulaí mostly lay in bed. When she got up, she would dress up and roam through all the bars downtown and sleep with whoever crossed her path.
After ten years my son gave up. He fell in love with another woman. But he still listens to his ex – wife, when she calls desperate at night, when she wants to read her poems, when she needs money.
She had a loving husband, two gorgeous children, a house, a garden, a dog, a cat, a family, she had the morning dew on flowers and laughing children, but she could not love any of this. She cannot love herself.
She got into booze and all kinds of drugs and would do anything for the next dose. She came to my house trembling with paranoia and she broke my heart and scared me to death. My son was the only one, who could talk to her in the right way, so that she accepted the psychiatrist, the injection a very expensive clinic we paid (no public mental clinics here for cases like that.)
She recently returned. Finally she does come and visits her sons. While she read me her poetry, her younger son came and gave her a present. She hardly noticed. Her older son said that he was hungry. She did not care. She read me about laughing children from her poem.
I looked at the attractive woman she is. While she read she chain-smoked I do not know how many cigarettes. I felt deep compassion. What a pain to feel this deep desire for peace and love and in reality being on the exactly opposite spot.
After she had ended reading and finished her last cigarette I told her how happy I was that she writes again, that I will help her sell a new poetry book. Then I went to prepare breakfast for my grandsons.
Sadness is left in me.
I had breakfast today with R.
He is maybe a couple of years older than I. R. is a filmmaker, writer, composer and pianist. A few years ago he suffered a stroke, he says that exactly then his wife as well as his lover left him. Once enough recovered, he came to live in the museum here in town, he is the pianist there, gives 4 concerts a week. Very few people come to the concerts, he tells me, but in the US he does not pull crowds anymore and he loves the piano in the museum. It is a Steinway. Even though the museum receives a lot of money from organizations worldwide, they did not want to pay for fixing their Steinway. R. organized private donations and now the piano is tip top, he exclaimed very proudly to me today.
“I think that you are in love with this piano," I remarked.
He laughed and nodded.
Then my schizophrenic ex - daughter - in - law arrived. She wanted to read me her new poetry.
Behind her huge sunglasses she looked smaller, thinner and more fragile than ever. She told R., yes, she speaks English and then she just made English - sounding sounds without producing real words. We asked several times and she repeated the sounds, but nothing could be understood.
R. left. My ex - daughter - in - law laughed and seemed very happy. I liked that, because most of the time she is in a panic. She hears the voices of 5 Zapatistas, she says, 2 women and three men, who day and night plan how to torture and kill her. Today she talked, now in Spanish, for a long time; still I could not understand anything for quite a while. Finally she raised her voice a bit and told me that she had finally found this man, who loved and protected her. He also loves her two boys and foresees great futures for them.
“This man also loves you a lot, Kiki," she said.
I liked to hear that finally or at least for a while there is a peaceful and loving presence inside her. Instead of destroying her, now there is someone, who takes care of her.
She then read me her poetry. It was just like the last time: all about heaven and morning dew on flower petals, love and laughter and happy children.....
When she ended, she said," I am hardly eating. You know, everything is so contaminated. I do not want to be poisoned."
Then I understood why she looked so much thinner since the last time I sat listening to her reading me her poetry.
She then confided, “Just now, Kiki, before I came here, they took me to the moon. Can you believe it? I traveled to the moon and they caressed and bathed me with moon dust. It was just wonderful, I felt so very happy. It was like the most luxurious spa you can imagine and it did not cost me a penny!"
I left her sipping a cup of coffee and chain - smoking cigarettes. It is the first time in many years that I left her filled with happy fantasies.
She calls me at 4 in the morning. Her voice has changed. She speaks slowly, like an old woman.
She called me again this morning. She fears that now they will come, they will sacrifice her, torture her. Who? The Zapatistas, the bad people, men, her father.
She suffers in this hell since about 10 years. Sometimes medication softens the hell, but soon she is back in it, if she takes drugs to escape this underworld, it just returns so much more fiercely.
Yes, she is my ex - daughter - in - law, who I have written about before.
This morning she pleads," Kiki, I am at the end of my life. I cannot continue. I am like a person in the last stages of cancer. I want and need to die. I need you to have compassion and please: kill me!"
It absolutely breaks my heart.
" I understand you," I whisper," I know it is hell, where you are. I would love to help you out and I do not know the way. I love you. I have compassion, but I cannot kill you..., nobody will kill you."
Now I sit here, shaken, because it is so obvious that noone will kill her and that maybe it would be an act of compassion and mercy, it breaks me. I am at the utter limit of life and love and helplessness....
That was yesterday morning. Today, solstice, Mayan supposed End Of The World, in the midst of the dry season continuous rain, thousands of Zapatistas came to a silent march through the city. She was fascinated by the Zapatistas and in her inner nightmares feared them. She hung herself this afternoon.
We went and looked at her, dead in her coffin, with her boys, we stroked the glass that covered her and talked to her and said what we needed to say. She looked peaceful and serene and: liberated! That was good.
The supposed End Of The World has passed. The solstice, the shortest day of the year. Zapatistas marched in the streets, silent and dignified. They were the central theme in Ulaí´s mostly horror visions. It rained cats and dogs. That day she chose to hang herself. Her world ended.
Today, 22nd of December, the streets are empty, the sun changes every rain drop on every tree outside into a jewel right this very moment. Another day. We will accompany her to her cremation now.
Art by Kiki