complacent-sea

out in the middle of the oceans
there exists a turtle,
the leatherback turtle,
a grand creature
who can grow as tall as a man
and weigh nearly a ton
and who dives deeper and
migrates further than any other
sea turtle in the world

this turtle which has seen the mysteries
of the dark, murky waters
that I will never witness
can live to be the age I am
now
but for many that never happens

the lovely, gentle giants of the water
have a favorite treat–
jellyfish
and they swim looking for the delicacy

all too often
though
a leatherback will come upon
a plastic bag floating in the water
and, trusting, mistake it for his favorite
food–
ingesting it
is the last thing he will do

a rainy Sunday evening in September finds
me weeping in the dark
over the fate of a turtle

and all of us
who seek the good
only to be mistaken
and taken in by what can
ultimately cause our demise
and break our hearts in two

“It hurts too much to smile”

The past couple of days our neighborhood has been filled with bicycles.  Riding up and down the streets.  Children racing and laughing and it has been absolutely wonderful, as they stretch their legs and spirits after long days of learning.

Yesterday Cooter and our Princess were out riding with friends, old and new.  Then it happened.  Cooter headed over to his best bud’s house and misjudged the distance and his braking power.

He got in a fight with a brick mailbox.

And lost.

It looked much worse than it was.  At least I hope so.  Once I ascertained that it was an external injury–really bad scrape down his jaw line on one side of his face, I was able to begin working on calming him down.  He was very, very upset and very, very shaken.  When he started to tell Mess Cat what happened when she dropped by, his chin wobbled.  Bless him.  More than this Mama’s heart can bear for sure.

What do you want baby–you can have it.  

He wanted something cold to drink.  And then not.  He wanted to watch TV, and I discovered that he gets and LOVES Tom and Jerry.  Whatever, man, I didn’t even know what to do with that.  So I chose to be thankful for the sound of his subdued laughter.

At his worst moment, he was pretty convinced he was going to die.  I assured him this was not the case, and what would I do without him?  Who would come in and smile and wave at me every morning?

“I don’t know,” he mumbled, keeping his mouth as still as possible.  “Ask Princess.  Or Daddy.”

Oh my.

He looked so sad.  Stoic.  When Anxiety Girl got on my last nerve worrying over him, I finally asked him, “Why do you look so sad?  Can you give me even one little smile?”

He sighed and shook his head. “No ma’am.  I can’t.  It hurts too much to smile.”

Bless him.  Bless this little guy.

Because he speaks the truth.  Sometimes our wounds are so great and so painful that even just a smile hurts too much.

And sometimes those wounds are not visible to the outside world, so folks are left wondering why we are the way we are–why we can’t bring ourselves to smile and join in the merriment.

Because life is hard, people.  And I daresay that every single one of us is sporting a wound or a scar that at one time or another or right at this very moment makes it hard for us to smile.

And when that happens, I hope that you have someone who will sit and watch Tom and Jerry with you and hold your hand and put healing things on your soul so that in time, with love and care, you can heal–and that they’ll be patient with you, as healing can take a while.

May we all find a way to work through the pain of the journey and come out on the other side able to smile again–even if there’s a scar, may we always be able to find a way to smile once again.

Love to all.

viahttp://tomandjerry.wikia.com/wiki/Tom_Cat/Gallery

viahttp://tomandjerry.wikia.com/wiki/Tom_Cat/Gallery

ps–there are no pictures of his “scrape.”  You’re welcome.

buried dreams

for J and for L, always 

over there in the far corner beyond the well manicured bits of the lawn
lies a little stone
in the grass
with a name
and two dates
that are the same

beneath the stone
all the dreams and hopes
and unwhispered I love you’s
are tucked away

never to be

hearts were broken
especially the one
whose heart he listened to,
the steady beat
preparing him for a life of his own

that was never to be

why can never be known
how, it is futile to ask
instead hands are held
and hugs are longer
and tears flow through smiles and eyes
that try to see the good

casseroles come
as they do
and cards and sorrowful phrases

until they too eventually end

and her hand is as empty
as her arms

and heart

and I wish I could hold her hand now
and hear all her dreams and hopes
all the words she needs to say
or not say
for the little one

who was never able to be

I lean down and trace the letters
of the name I never got to speak
the cheeks I never got to kiss
the eyes I never gazed into,
love intensely shining

the breeze blows and
the tall grass dances
to the tune played by the frogs in the bottom
as the sun sets

another day passes
and the pain remains
how long can she bear what weighs on her heart?
how long can I?

how long before our hands touch
and our tears fall together
tracing a river in the dry wasteland
where we’ve been for so long

far too long

By Lionel Allorge (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Lionel Allorge (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Isaiah 43:19 

For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

Still Squaring Up…..Thirty Years Later

There has a been a lot of pain and joy and violence and heartbreak and celebration and divisiveness and reunification in the past two weeks.  Almost more than I can begin to take in and really wrap my brain around.

It has me feeling a bit discombobulated frankly.

Or maybe that’s the headache.

This afternoon I went into my bedroom to get something I’d left in there, and as I rounded the corner of my side of the bed, I heard the voice in my head.

It was from over thirty years ago.  I guess I must have tucked it away really well, because I haven’t thought about this in years.  But today, with all of this that has been going on–people posting and shouting and crying out to be heard and understood and others crying out for things to stay the same and just folks crying in general–it all came rushing back.

And it near about sent me to my knees, weeping.

I was in elementary school.  In the county I grew up in, there were two towns.  The one I grew up just outside of and the other one where everything happened.  This was where the 4-H office was, and it was also where the old school my Daddy attended growing up was.  The 4-H group used an area in that school for their Square Dance classes.

When I first heard of the classes, I was excited.  When I was in third grade, only a select few had been allowed to go to the gym to learn square dancing.  I was too young to understand why, so I can’t answer that question now.  I just know I was not one of them.  So when this opportunity came about to learn through the 4-H club a few years later, a club I was involved in at my own school, I was elated.

My parents were willing to take me, something I don’t take lightly now, being a parent who is part taxi driver much of the time.  Daddy took a book and would sit in the car reading, as best as I can remember.  As I was the only one from our town attending, I didn’t know anyone else there.  There were three girls who were welcoming to me, and I was so thankful.  When the caller announced, “Square up!” the four of us stood waiting for partners to join us.  And off we went.

I loved it.

My Mama made me a couple of skirts and a crinoline.  I loved the feel of flouncing around in them and my bright white tennis shoes.  I had found something I truly enjoyed.

Then one night one of the ladies who was volunteering as chaperone called me to the side.  She quietly suggested maybe I’d want to square up with someone else for a change.  I can hear her voice now, but I can no longer see her face.   I can still see the dimly lit room and that tile floor, all scuffed and dull from years of use, but her face is gone.  Which is probably for the best.  Some things are better left forgotten.

She was strongly suggesting that I change.  While she didn’t say it in so many words, it was very clear to me, shocked as I was, that she thought I should leave my three friends because they were black.  African-American.

I was in shock.  Speechless.  Broken.

That’s what drove me to my knees today.

I had forgotten what that felt like.  To have someone in authority telling me whom I should be friends with, hang out or associate with, whom I should care about. For someone else’s prejudices to be inflicted upon me.

And here we are.  Over 30 years later.  We are still seeing this happen today, and it is heart wrenching.  People who are so certain that their way of thinking is the only way–the right way–that they believe everyone else should abide by their beliefs as well.

I don’t remember exactly what I did in that moment, except that I do remember feeling sick.  And dirty.  And I remember going back to my friends.  And squaring up.

Because that’s what you do.  Stick with your friends.  Even when others suggest they are “less than” or you could do better.

What I’m having trouble remembering is whether or not something was said to my Daddy, or if I ever told my parents myself.  I can only imagine what my Daddy, who came up during segregation, would have said–the man who told me later in life that when I was in high school, he searched his soul and decided that if I ever brought home a boyfriend of a different race, the only thing that mattered was if that person loved me and treated me right.  The same man who also shared that if one of us came home in a serious relationship with someone of the same gender, he would be okay then too.  As long as we were loved and treated well.

Because he loved us.  And that’s all that mattered.

Mama too.  She was all about loving folks.  And feeding them.   But that’s another story.

Tonight I’m still a little shaky.  For a few minutes today I was a pre-teen and had my world rocked all over again.  I was overwhelmed by the shame of feeling like I was doing something wrong, and yet also confused because I was pretty sure I wasn’t.  Once again I feel the weight of being responsible for little people and shaping their thoughts and hearts.  I don’t want to mislead them.  Ever.  I’m thankful for this memory resurfacing today, painful as it is, as it has reminded me to guard against prejudices–those get passed along very easily, even when we aren’t trying.

I want to take a page from my parents’ book on this one.  Love all.  And let my children know again and again there is never a story or person they can’t bring home to me.

Let’s go out there and make this world a better place.  PLEASE.  And please someone show me that we have moved beyond where we were thirty years ago.  My heart really needs that right now.

Love to all.

By le vent le cri (Love you!) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By le vent le cri (Love you!) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

They Are Watching Us

I’ve been cranky this evening.  With my poor family.  And I only threw Miss Sophie’s “baby” for her to retrieve about ten times.  Just sad.

This happens when night comes and I still don’t know what I’m writing about.

And tonight that’s exactly where I’m at.

I don’t know what to write.

It’s not writer’s block, although thank you Facebook ad for the link to find 101 topics to blog about.  Actually, I have to admit that was a little scary.  It’s like you’re listening to my conversations around here or something.

No writer’s block.

No.  What I have is a loss of words.

Two very different things.

My heart is aching.  My mind is almost numb to the news reports and stories shared about the most recent act of violence reported on nationally.  (Because we can all be sure, sadly the shootings in Charleston are not the almost the most recent acts of violence in our world.)

So much pain.  Brokenness.  Fear.  Anger.  Divisiveness.  Distrust.  Hurt.

I sit here contemplating my plans to write about the heat here in Georgia or about what Cooter said the other day that had us all cracking up and saying, Yes. That.

It just all feels wrong tonight.  Each and every day something happens that proves we are not as far from where we once were in this country and world as we would like to be.  Not very far at all.

But for some reason, this incident is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.  I cannot bear to hear one more story of hatred and violence and separation of communities.  I just can’t.  Like so many others have said, “It’s just too much.”

Many years ago I was the director of a not-for-profit childcare center for low-income, working (or in school) families.  Only three of the thirteen staff members were white.  Most of the time our children were all African-American.  One morning four-year old Whitney was in the office with me for a few minutes.  She was a beautiful girl and very sweet.  She looked up through the plate-glass window to the front door.

“Oh here comes Miss Dee!” she said happily, seeing the sweet elderly Caucasian Assistant Director come in.  “Here she comes.”  She clapped her hands.  She looked again at Miss Dee and then looked back at me.  “Huh.  Miss Dee is a white lady.”  She stared for a second.  “We have a lot of white people who work here, don’t we?”

Y’all.  It was the first time that sweet child ever saw color.  EVER.  I could see it in her face and hear it in her voice.  The very first time.

Our children are not born with the vision to “see” color.  One day they realize the differences, and what they do with that knowledge has a lot to do with us.  And what we teach them from that moment on.

I am uncomfortable.  As a middle-class white woman, I do not feel like I can speak to the pain and brokenness in the racial divide.

And yet, as a human being born and taught to love others–ALL others, I must speak out.

My Mama and Daddy taught me right from wrong.  We were not allowed to say many words–and “hate” was one of them.  We  were never, ever allowed to leave someone out.  That could get us in more trouble than a little bit.  We were taught that all life is precious.  All life.  No matter the shape, size, color, beliefs, dialect, country of origin, sense of humor, nothing–ALL MATTERED.

And I expect if they were here, they’d be just as torn up over all the goings on in our world today as I am.

Only they’d have wisdom to share to help me process it and figure out what I can do to change things.  I have nothing right now.

Except my words.  And they gave those to me, so I guess this is a start.

I know this has been happening for a long, long time.  This division and pain and fear and pointing fingers and killing of innocent people perceived to be “less than.”  I guess it’s just taken me this long to get fed up enough to say something.

And for that, I am sorry.  I should not have been silent in the face of injustice and hatred.  EVER.

Tonight I’m asking all of you to think of four-year old Whitney.  Think of the little ones around me and you and all of us who are looking to us for love and guidance and examples of how to love.  Knowing that, let’s go out and love others and give the children one heck of an example to follow.  Let’s love the mess out of folks–all folks, those who live next door and those whom we see at the grocery store, and those we come across at the ball park or the restaurant or on our walks into the office building. Those who think or look like us and those who don’t.  Seeing that we love all, that we treat all people as if they matter (BECAUSE. THEY. DO.), the children will begin to do the same.

It’s not a perfect system.  It’s as broken as we all are really.  But if we start showing the little ones how to love and loving their little spirits for the sheer joy of loving*, then one day we might have a violence free day.  One day people of all different backgrounds and beliefs might be able to sit and break bread together with no fear of misunderstandings or acts of hatred.  One day, we might just get this living in community thing right.

But it has to start with each and every one of us.  And it has to start now y’all.  Tonight.

Go surprise someone and tell them you love ’em.  And mean it.

Let’s fight hatred with love.  Darkness with light.  Pain with a healing touch.

Love.  To.  ALL.

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*My oldest was blessed to know Rev. William Hurdle, who served as Chaplain at Wesleyan College for over sixteen years until his death in January of this year.  When I think about loving folks, the line that seemed to be his mantra never fails to come to mind.  “Love for the sheer joy of loving.”  That dear man knew how to love all and love well.  I was watching.  So were many others.  Who’s watching you and your loving ways?  

What I Was Wearing…..and the Why

The night my Mama died, it was after midnight before we left the hospital.  My sister Mess Cat and my oldest Aub and I headed back to my Mama’s house since it was so late.  We were exhausted, and despite the fact that there were at least three beds (two doubles) in the house, we all three piled up on the two couches in the big room and tried to get some rest.

The only clothes I had with me were the hospital-filthy ones I was wearing.  Perhaps you know the ones–those that you can’t wait to get out of and drop to the floor and only touch again with two fingers to drop into a washer for a long soak and washing.  I also had a pair of clean knit pants that I had thrown in a bag when I planned on spending the night with Mama at the hospital–purely for comfort’s sake.  When I got up the next morning and began to get ready for the day of meetings with the funeral home, florist, and many others, I threw on the knit pants and grabbed a sweatshirt I’d gotten for Mama at the GW Boutique.  It wasn’t lovely, but I was clothed, and that was a far cry better than I felt like I could do on the inside.

We went and did what had to be done.  Driving around in pouring down rain, putting the pieces together to honor Mama and her life as best we could.  It was a hard day.

But here’s the thing I’ve been thinking about lately.

I was out.  In public.  In those knit pants and a sweatshirt.  An Eeyore sweatshirt.

It wasn’t a pretty sight y’all, I can promise you that.

I remember my one friend we saw, smiling and saying, not unkindly, she’d never seen me when I wasn’t in my jeans.  And that is probably the truth. My jeans are pretty much the staple of my wardrobe.  Everything goes with them, and they’re comfortable (if not always fashionable–as my Fella says, “Comfort is king”).

Occasionally a picture comes across my feed on social media where someone (sometimes it’s a person I know and sometimes not) has taken a picture of a person out “in public” who is dressed in a unique way. Or their look is unusual for one reason or another.  And someone chooses to take a picture and point out just how unusual the person is.

Okay, I’m just going to call it what it is.  They’re posting it to make fun of that person in the picture.

And it’s not just on social media.  There’s a whole website devoted to the shoppers of a certain Mart, where photos of folks who come “as they are” have been photographed and put out there for all to see.

Oh me.

If someone took a picture of me the day after my Mama died, I could have made one of those pages or I could have been an interesting Facebook post for someone.  I am sure my fashion choices (oh did I mention the main color of the outfit was grey, but the only shoes I had were camel colored suede?) made some folks’ heads turn.  But the thing is, there was a reason why.

And I would wager a bet that there usually is in most cases.

I’m not innocent of this myself.  I point out interesting folks.  But I have to draw the line at taking a picture and poking fun.  I just don’t see how that is serving any purpose other than giving the darkness and brokenness in our world a more solid foothold.

I have to wonder why this makes folks feel good about themselves or why it’s considered entertaining.

Tonight I’m thankful for this memory and for the reminder to be on watch for my own pointing fingers.  People are people, and most are doing the best they can with what they have.  Who am I to point out their mismatched clothes, their peekaboo underwear, their fascinating hairstyles, or anything else for that matter?

We’re all in this together.  I need to remember that, and that there’s always more to the story than what meets the eye.

May we all begin to truly understand that.

Love to all.