weaving memories

img_1370there are days when things are hard
when the beeping of the machines reminds me
of days long past
and goodbyes I wasn’t ready for

and the one lying in the bed
is holding a piece of my heart
I happily gave away long ago

it is on these days
that I am especially thankful to come home
to the brightly colored yarn
and hook
resting where I last placed it
waiting for me to pick it up exactly
where I left off

and with each stitch I remember
and weep
and dry my tears with the blanket
that I’m making with the
memories

over

it’s over, they said
nothing more that can be done
they tried their best
and so did we
but it just couldn’t be helped, they say

that one word I couldn’t wrap
my brain around
the one word that was to change my life
for always
over

in a fit of frenzied fury
I took everything that had been
and all the dreams of what could have,
should have been
and threw them out
GONE
nothing left to remind me
of it all
except the gaping hole in my heart
and the tear stained cheeks
and swollen eyes staring back at
me
in the mirror

how many times have I looked back
as I closed the door
for the last time
of a place
filled with memories,
turned the key in the lock,
and walked away
over

how many times have I tossed an acorn
or a flower
or a single leaf
into an open grave
and whispered “thank you”
before turning and walking away
over

how many times have I said goodbye
to ones I came to love
because our paths diverged
in the woods
our journeys separated us
and time took us apart
over

I look back at the bin of memories
and the dreams not known
and realize in my haste to let it all go
so nothing could pain me anymore
I also tossed in something that I fear
I might never
get back

hope

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cast of stones

there are times
on this journey
when the path is covered with brambles
and the way is almost indiscernible

this is when I miss your voice the most
and the wisdom
you shared as easily as the
stories from days gone by
and sometimes they were the same

you seemed so assured
of right and wrong
and yet I wonder if it was
always so clear to you

because frankly, the mud confuses me
and I’ve lost sight of the tracks you left
in the midst of it
I cannot read the compass you gave me
in this unchartered territory

and the Light you were as you showed me the way
seems a little dimmer right now
as time passes and the memories fade
and stories wander off on their own
with no one to tell them

and so I sit here
all alone
on the side of the trail
I can hear the people moving along at their busy pace
to and fro

listening to the buzz of their words
none of it really making any sense to me

I shiver in the darkness
hiding in the shadows
unable to go on
perhaps I will just stay here forever
as though I am broken
and have been given a cast of stones

with a heart too heavy to go on

where were you?

some are going to ask you, “Where were you?,” you know

and others will claim you were never absent

that all things work to the good

and words like that

 

I won’t ask you

I’m not sure I’m ready for the answer

but I do wonder why all the brokenness

in the midst of a day where my little boy

is beaming because he built his first

Lego model from start to finish

all by himself

and on a day that found my girl

dancing and singing and making up stories

while her big sister beamed and found joy in the

silly and yet important things

 

in the midst of all of that

why this brokenness?

the sun was shining, for goodness’ sake

so many had spoken to you and asked for help

 

my heart aches because they were after a dream,

but because someone was hurting and lost

they are no longer here

to dream

to laugh

to love

 

and I want to know why

but I am hesitant to ask

because I’m afraid of what the answer might be

was it me?

did I fail him?

or another like him?

did I fail to stop and smile,

pay attention, take up time,

give away the love you so freely give

just for the sake of giving it?

 

some will ask where you were

but I think I know–

weeping with the rest of us,

tears streaming down your face,

wishing it could have all been different

 

and it could have

 

if only

there were no brokenness

 

and that, you’ve left up to us, haven’t you?

 

Where were you?

pleading with us to look

and see

and love

 

and love

 

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To Me, Age 22

A tearful and joy-filled day of remembering someone who loved life.  Loved cooking.  Loved people.  Loved his family.

And loved my sisterfriend.

As I sat there watching the slide show of pictures of him throughout his life, including the wedding pictures–the wedding I had the joy of being a part of, in the same building where I sat today with the tears flowing–

I found myself face to face with my 22-year-old self.

I saw her and my sisterfriend, sitting side by side in the little office with the cinderblock and wood top desk.  I saw them working together to get the job done, but also they laughed.  And they listened to music.

And they talked.

And in those moments between payroll and accounts payable and making signs and calculating timecards,

a friendship was born.

As I looked at my much younger self, I wanted to whisper–

That one sitting right there?  The one you just met and are getting to know?  The one who is funny and vivacious and kind and smart and is putting up with you right now at this very minute?

She is your sisterfriend.  She is going to continue putting up with you.

One day, you will be able to say, “I’ve known her for over half my life.”

One day, you will hug each other and hold on tight and whether the tears are yours or hers, whether it’s her sadness or yours, it won’t matter.

Because you will share the journey.

You will be there to laugh over the crazy things people do, the choices they make.

You will be there to stand up for each other, to say, “hey, this girl right here–you’d better treat her right.  Or else.”

You will be there to stand off to the side and bring comfort merely because you are there.

There will be periods of time, years maybe even, when you won’t hear from each other,

but when it all boils down to it,

when things get hard or wonderful or life finds you in need,

that one, she will be there for you.  Just as you better be for her.

Life doesn’t always deal you a friend like that one.

The one with the bat.

The one with the smile and laugh.  The one with the stories.

The one who will carry your stories with her to the grave.

The one who will let you into her family, who will share love with you just as she does.

Hey!  You!  The 22-year-old me who thinks she’s got it all together, who thinks life is rolling along pretty well–engaged, new job, college degree…..

Yeah, you do have it pretty good

but not because of any of those things.

It’s because of that girl right there.

Your sisterfriend.

And all of the women like her.

Who stand strong and love their friends fiercely.

Yes, girl, you have it good.  Now reach over and hug that girl next to you.  Both so young, both have so much wonderful adventures and heartache in front of you.  And it will be okay.  Not because it won’t hurt, not because you will get over it, but because you have a friend to share the journey with.

And to sit in the dark with you when the lights go out.

Because, my sweet self, they will go out.

No, don’t worry about a flashlight.  That’s only temporary.

Grab your sisterfriends.  That’s what light eternal is made of.

Friends.

 

Wishing you all a friend who will spend the next twenty-four plus years putting up with you.  (And a small warning, once you offer to use your bat “as necessary,” there are some folks who are hard to get rid of after that.)

 

Love to all.  Especially my sisterfriends.

 

What Do I Do Now? Part II

pic of words

So tonight I was on the phone with my sister when my cell phone rang.  It was a number I didn’t recognize, but since it was a Macon number I asked my sister to hold on and I answered.

It was Mac.

My friend who just three weeks ago told me he was done with his recovery and that he’d rather drink.  And that I could forget him and he’d do the same.

My brother.  The man whom my family loved as one of us.  The man who shut the door, and I didn’t know where he was or how he was.

He is in a rehabilitation/detox program.  Again.  He’s been there since Monday.  Before that he was staying by the river.  They tell him they’re going to put him in a halfway house in town soon.  He didn’t want to talk too much or answer any questions as he was in a public room and wasn’t being allowed to talk very long.

Okay.  I just sat back and listened.

Visiting hours are Saturday.  From three to four.  He wanted to see if I wanted to come.

The same time that is already spoken for.  Something else entirely but it’s something that I have to do; others are involved, and I can’t change the time.  I don’t know if I would have been able to go see Mac had I not already had this obligation, but I like to think I would have.  Could have.

I just don’t know.

He said he understood.  That he’d call me when he knew more about the wheres and whens of them moving him.  And he gave me his ID number so I can get information about his case.

I am thankful he’s getting help.  I am extremely grateful he is off the streets and not drinking.  The thing is I didn’t roll my eyes as he said, “I just can’t live out there anymore.  I can’t make it.  It’s not for me.”  But I did listen unemotionally.  There was no joy or “yay, way to go” in my mind or my heart.  I’ve already heard these EXACT. SAME. WORDS.  Last November to be exact.  I’m just not sure I’m ready to get back on this roller coaster.

I’ve told my children, especially my teenager, that there’s no story you can’t bring home with you.  No matter what, you can tell me.  I will always love you.  ALWAYS.  There may be consequences and repercussions, but I will love you.

And Mac?  He’s family too now.  So does that apply to him?  Can I listen to his stories and support him?  I told him I would always love him, and I will.  But can I do it at close range again?  Can I watch him walk this path again?  Can I support him as he does?  Cheer him on?  Can I put my heart out there?  Again?

I wish I could say without question, Yes!  I wish I could say I will.  As many times as it takes.  Yes.  But I’ve seen the damage and destruction that comes from addiction–on more than one occasion–and I just don’t know.  I’m tired and I’m scared for him, and I just do not know.

But I do love him and I always will, and for tonight, that will have to be enough.

The One Thing I Don’t Want to Be…..Especially on Sundays

pic of Sunday calendar

Another Sunday.

Today is the third Sunday since we have stopped serving meals on Sunday nights at Daybreak, the day shelter for folks in need up in Macon.  I hear that our friends are doing well at the other places that serve, and for that I am thankful.

My Sundays look very different now.  Actually they are still morphing, in transition.  No longer do I make sure my sink is totally cleared on Saturday nights so I can fill pots in the sink on Sunday.  No more inventory count no later than Friday to check my stock of coffee, tea bags, sugar, marshmallows, Swiss Miss, and so on.  No more getting up early to get things started–washing and sanitizing four coolers and then preparing ten gallons of sweet tea, over three of coffee, and then, season dependent–five gallons of hot chocolate or hot water.  It took me a while, but I finally had the process down to a near science.  It’s the little things in life, people.

I do miss our friends, but soon I will see them there at a different time and in a different capacity, so I am thankful for that.  What has surprised me is that I miss my Sunday ritual.  I do not mean to offend, but it had become a bit of a holy time, this preparation of the vessels and preparing the drinks.  I used the same pot and bowls and measuring cups and spoon each week.  And the cleanup was a special ritual as well.  This routine that took up much of my Sundays for over two and half years was familiar and it brought me comfort.  Each step I did, I knew what task was next.  There is something very comforting in that.  All the way through the day, knowing what came next.

Late last night I was thinking through our options of things to do today.  The past two Sundays have been good, filled with being with family and life-affirming goodness.  Things I love.  Today promised to be no different.  I have done things I would not have planned before, as my day was already full.  And in a good way.  Last night as I thought over the coming day, I wondered how long it would be before it no longer felt strange to have Sunday as a day to plan whatever or not plan at all.  I remember years ago, before any of my children were born, Sundays were very relaxed.  Up and off to church, dinner out with friends or family, then home to peruse the big thick Sunday paper and all those salespapers, and then usually a nap weaseled its way in.  Really, really laid back.  I was so complacent.  Maybe I was not completely unaware of my brothers and sisters who are living such hard lives without all their basic needs met, but I certainly was not mindful of it on a daily basis.

So I figured out last night that one of my fears in all of this is that I go back to that complacency.  Just because my Sundays have changed drastically doesn’t mean that theirs have.  I worry that the time will come when I don’t miss the ritual anymore, that a Sunday will pass that I don’t think about our friends and the fact that it’s raining or cold or hot and wonder how they are doing.  I don’t want that at all.  I want always to pause at some point in my day, particularly my Sundays, and appreciate whatever I am in the midst of; but I also want to have a quiet moment to recall and give thanks for all of these Sundays in the past and the people whom I have gotten to know–and what they have meant in my life–the people and the days.  I do not ever want to be complacent again.

Especially not on my Sundays.

What Do I Do Now?

Yesterday in the midst of the joy of family and all the good stuff, I got some bad news.

My friend, whom I have had the privilege to walk with for a couple of years, let go of eight months of sobriety and all that hard work.  He gave it up to return to his life on the streets.  And drinking.

My heart is breaking.  Again.

It was February of last year that my friend Mac* turned himself in for probation violation.  He was on probation for arrests for things like public drunkenness and loitering.  Nothing violent, all charges related to his alcoholism or his state of homelessness.  He was tired of it all, so he found a cop he knew and turned himself in.  He detoxed at the jail.  It was a few days later that I saw his picture on the LEC website and started writing him.  We had been building a relationship over the past year or so, off and on, when he would come to the Sunday night suppers.  Even drunk his mind worked well.  Even sober his legs did not.  He is witty and expresses himself through the written word very well.  But above all else he is an artist.

Mac's butterfly.  We were so hoping for his own transformation, leaving behind his old life.

Mac’s butterfly. We were so hoping for his own transformation, leaving behind his old life for a new beautiful, healthy one.

He especially loves tribal art.  He also does pencil drawings that have taken my breath away.  When he came for my oldest’s graduation in May, he had a beautiful cane that he had carved and inked and put a glass eye in at the top.  I asked him where he got the wood, and he replied, “The woods.”  And he laughed.  Well of course.  It was gorgeous.  He has a gift.

I have celebrated his successes.  I have been with him in court, speaking on his behalf, about the good in him, and the future I could see.  Another friend and I drove him to the treatment center that accepted him as a patient.  When we arrived, he felt so out of his element.  He pointed to a bench in some azaleas and said, “Well, there’s a spot for me.”  When we got to the door and knocked (we had arrived after hours), a sweet lady came to the door and said, “You must be Mac.  We been waitin’ on you.”  He replied, “I’ve been waiting on y’all all my life.”

When a friend and I visited him for Family Day eight weeks later, it was obvious he had made friends and was well-liked and respected.   He done good, as we would say growing up.  The next day he moved to a transitional program in another town, about three hours from here.  He hit the ground running.  He went to the scheduled meetings, he made friends, and he took on the job of cleaning the main office and taking care of the roses.  He was so proud of those roses.

He had some bumps in the road.  He had times that dealing with authority was a little hard for him.  He came home last November and decided he just couldn’t go back.  The power of the alcohol was stronger than his desire to get better and have a home.  He spent a week on the streets, and I spent a week vacillating between worry and anger.  The following Sunday he showed up at the supper at the day shelter and said, “Please take me back.”  The people in charge at his place up north had said he could come back.  However he had to detox before he got there.  Mac spent another ten days doing just that, and then we found someone to drive him back.  He was back on the right track.

I was so hopeful.

He came back again in May for graduation.  He looked better and seemed happier than I had ever seen him.  He seemed…..not as restless.  I told him I thought he was in a good place.  He agreed.  When we said goodbye after that Sunday lunch, that was the last time I saw him.  I hugged him bye and told him, as I always did, “Love you brother.”

He had a court date yesterday.  Apparently he was picked up during that week in November for some kind of loitering or other similar charge.  They would not accept that he was living out of town and back in a program.  They insisted he show up.  (Note to self–Write a letter to the court about how well that all turned out.  Angry letter.)  I planned to go and pick him up on Monday from his home up there, but he told me last week that he’d already gotten a bus ticket.  After talking with my friend who works with a ministry for the homeless about how to process this, I praised him for taking care of his business himself.  I was a little sad though because I had looked forward to visiting on the ride back.

We planned to have supper on Monday night to celebrate his birthday later this month.  It never happened.  Late in the day he cancelled, apologizing that he’d already told his friend from AA that he was staying with that he’d go to a celebration at the fellowship hall.  He didn’t want me to be upset.  I wasn’t, but I didn’t know when else I’d get to see him.  He promised me he’d have his Mama drive him down to see us on Tuesday.

He texted yesterday morning that they had no record of his required court appearance at the courthouse.  I heard nothing else until yesterday evening when I asked him if he was okay.  Long story short, he decided he’s not returning to the transitional program and his roses and his disability hearing he worked so hard to make happen–that other people worked so hard to make happen.  He was drunk with his AA friend he’d been staying with.

And so it goes.

I should have known.  And maybe I did.  I was very worried last week when he planned the trip for himself.  Back in May he was so careful not to be by himself.  This time he kept me in the dark about so many of his plans.  I’m not sure when or if he was by himself and what exactly happened.  But I should have been more prepared.  This is not my first rodeo with an alcoholic.  In my “previous life,” I was married to one, and I learned then that trust is not something to give easily to someone with this disease.  Yeah, I’m a codependent from way back.

Today I was lucky enough to enjoy impromptu fun with a dear friend and her toomuchfun children.  What a crew we had in the back of the van.  Big time fun with allergy shots en masse, a lunch together at a new restaurant for us (always nice to add a new “food allergy safe” one to our list), and all kinds of pre-teen drama going on in the soft play at the fun center.  We laughed so hard, sharing stories and more stories.  I thought about Mama’s rainbow last night, and I refused to let Mac’s choices steal the joy of the day.  If I had to mope, I was “saving it for the plane,” as my friend Baddest Mother Ever was once advised.  A joy and laughter-filled day.  I’d do it again if asked.

When I got home, I called Jay, the man in charge of the transitional program, to see if he knew anything.  Yes, someone drove Mac up to get his things and then he left.  “Tara,” said this compassionate man whom I’ve been talking with for about a year, “you do what you want, but I really think you need to let him go.  He’s going back to what is familiar and you can’t change that.  I’ve been doing this a long time and we can’t understand this choice, but we can let him go and pray he finds the peace he’s looking for.”  Good advice I guess.  But easier said than done.  I guess I have to switch off the “care” valve.  I don’t know how to do that.  Instead I will worry and wonder and crane my neck looking for glimpses of him as we drive through downtown.  I will grieve.  Again.

I am thankful for another sweet friend who shared her story of addiction with me late last night.  She laid it out there for me–this was his choice, and it has nothing to do with me.  He has to accept responsibility for his actions.  It means so much that she would share her story, and that she absolved me from my guilt over this.  Why don’t I feel better?

Tonight I am thankful for a joy-filled day that I didn’t let Mac’s choices steal.  I give thanks for friends who listen and care and for a friend who loves and trusts enough to share her story so it could help me understand a little better, so I could maybe gain a little perspective.  That is true courage.  But I am also angry.  Angry that alcoholism has taken another person I care about.  This isn’t just being mad at a friend who made a choice I don’t agree with, this is someone’s life at stake.  He has nearly died out there before.  I’m angry with the court system that couldn’t leave well enough alone, accept documentation that he was in a legitimate program and write off the minor infraction in deference to what was best for him.  I’m angry with the people in the town where he was–that no one reached out and said let me be a friend to someone who could use one.  He so needed to start building a life with people there, making friends and becoming vested in that community, building a new life.  I’m angry and sad that it’s likely I may never see him or hear his laugh or put up with his teasing me again.  And I’m angry with myself.  That I let myself get to this place again, despite all that my past experiences have taught me.  That I can’t let go of the idea that maybe I wasn’t or didn’t do enough.  If we are God’s plan for helping others, then what on earth just happened here?

As all these thoughts march through my brain tonight when I lay my head on my pillow, I hope I will also hear Mama’s voice:  “It’s okay to feel angry.  Now you just have to be careful what you do with that.”  And that’s what it boils down to, isn’t it?  Okay, now what?  What do I do now?  How do I let go?

 

*not his real name

The Tie That Binds

Once upon a time, eight or nine years ago, there were three little kittens.  They lived with their Mama and their people next door to my parents’ place at Blackberry Flats.  They played and frolicked and were very cute.  One day their people started loading things up and moved away.  And they left the three little kittens behind.

This is when I met the kittens.  We assume the people took Mama Cat with them, because we didn’t see her again.  But those three–two calicos and a black cat, they were left behind.  To fend for themselves I suppose.  It was a hard decision for my parents, whose last cat had died, and they really weren’t looking for anymore.  They called around to different places, but in the end, my parents found themselves the “parents” of the three little kittens–Pumpkin, Marshmallow, and Rev.   (My Aub helped name them.  Her younger sister called the boy “Revray” when she was little, her version of Reverend, his chosen name.) Rev was aptly named because he had a little splash of white where a clerical collar would be, you know, if the cleric were a cat.  My brother is a minister, so Mama thought this was a cool connection.  He was no longer the only “reverend” in the family, so to speak.

The funny thing is, he looks kind of fierce here.  I can only think he must have been hot and had his mouth open panting.  I can assure you he was not fierce--this cat was a teddy bear.

The funny thing is, he looks kind of fierce here. I can only think he must have been caught mid-meow. I can assure you he was not fierce–this cat was a big baby.

It was Marshmallow who moved on first.  She took up with a family down the road.  Then a few years ago, Pumpkin went off for one of her adventures, and she never came back.  That’s how it is with country cats.  Sometimes they leave and you just don’t see them again.  It can break your heart, but that’s just how it is.

So that left Rev.  Mama’s baby.  One day Rev came back from one of his adventures with a severely injured ear.  After a few days of them cleaning it and it not getting much better, Mama and Daddy decided to take him to the vet.  Since that time, he has had this funny tilt to his ear that made him look rather pitiful.  And he could play it up too.  Whenever I’d go over there, especially in the past couple of years, he would walk up and start meowing, like he was never paid attention to or fed at all.  It became something of a joke, that I would open the door and holler, “Mama, when you gonna feed this poor cat?”  And she’d laugh and say, “Yeah, right,” and proceed to give me the details on how much he’d already eaten that day.

Rev, checking out his territory at Blackberry Flats

Rev, checking out his territory at Blackberry Flats

We were lucky to have great neighbors and family.  During Daddy’s (was it almost a month?) time at Emory in 2009, and his month long stay at Houston Medical Center in Spring of 2011, my Aunt, my cousin, and our neighbors all took on the taking care of Rev.  This was huge, as Daddy, when he got so sick and was in the hospital the first time, was about ready to give Rev away.  I’m so glad that he didn’t, because that cat was someone for Mama to fuss over and care for after Daddy died in November 2011.  Oh, she’d fuss.  “Come here, you sorry thing!  Quit telling Tara I haven’t fed you.  You know you just took a couple of bites and walked away not fifteen minutes ago.”  Mama couldn’t leave his food out all the time because of the three types of critters who would tote it off–the ants, the stray cat that came up, and the dogs from down the road who took a liking to anything that was Rev’s–including the empty food dish at one point.

During Mama’s HospitalStay in January and February, we had no idea how long she would be in the hospital.  Our neighbors assured us they didn’t mind caring for Rev, that we were to focus on Mama and not worry over him at all.  Our Sweet Neighbor told me, with a chuckle, that her son-in-law could be seen from time to time, walking over to the house to play with Rev (who knew he was so playful? either one of them?).  Again, what a blessing.

And after Mama passed and we were all in a daze, they told us to take as much time as we needed to regarding the decision about Rev’s future.  I wished there had been a way for him to stay put, but that wouldn’t have been fair to anyone, including Rev.   My sister and her husband decided to take him to live with them outside of Atlanta.  I held my breath, crossed my fingers, and told God that for whatever silly reason this cat meant a lot to me–and I hoped he would be safe.

And he was.  Rev left his back porch haven for three days right after moving in with them.  I don’t know if he was out trying to thumb a two and a half hour ride back home or not.  But after three days, he decided it was a pretty good home, he returned, and he stuck pretty close to his new family after that.  They lived within viewing, shouting, and walking distance of the neighborhood pool.  When my brother-in-law had a neighborhood association meeting at the pool in early spring, Rev walked down with him, presided over the meeting from a table, was properly fussed over, and walked back home with my BIL when it was over.  I giggled over that one.  Country cat was adapting to suburban life pretty good.  When my sister and her son went to the pool on recent visits, Rev went to.  He preferred not to swim, but he hung out until they were ready to go.  I love that he embraced his new life with such whimsy.

Yesterday evening my sister called me.  “We’ve lost Rev,” she said sadly.  In the freak bad storm yesterday afternoon, he was killed.

I did what I have been doing a lot of lately.

I cried.  I cried on the phone with my sister.  And when I got off.

And then I called my Aunt.  Another thing I’ve done a lot of, bless her.

And I cried.

I know, it’s silly.  He’s a cat.  But my Aunt reframed it for me, and my whole soul cried, “Yes. This!”

She said, “Well, after all, he’s a tie to her, to them.”

Yes, exactly.

Rev could exasperate Mama almost as much as I did.  (Which may explain my added fondness for him–he could take the heat and the focus off of me from time to time.) He would worry her with his ear or other small booboos he might show up with.  But he was vocal, and he knew how to stretch his head up to her hand, wherever it was, to get a scratch and some loving.  And he could make her laugh.  When I think of Rev, I think of Mama.  And all the things I love about her–her spunkiness when she’d tell him like it was, her tender loving ways when he needed it most, her mock (?) frustration when he’d make me think he hadn’t been fed, and her laughter.  Oh I miss that laugh.

And so tonight I’m thankful for the story of Rev.  For a cat who was adopted, who loved and was loved, who took his situation in stride and adapted.  When I think of Rev, I think of my parents, who fed the hungry and gave those without one a place to call home–and not just cats.  I think of the love and generosity of the best neighbors and dear family, who gave of their time freely so we didn’t have to say goodbye to another family member prematurely.  I give thanks for my sister and her sweet family who took Rev in and loved him and treated him like royalty.  And I grieve one more connection, one more tie to people I love and miss with every breath, gone.

I only hope, that when Rev got there to see Mama last night, he didn’t turn the tables and tell her WE haven’t been feeding him.  I really don’t want to hear about that one day.  Rest in Peace, our funny lop-eared Rev.  We love you.  You will be missed.

Rest in Peace, old friend

Rest in Peace, old friend

Why I Want to Wear Black

pic of gibran quote

Yesterday I spent most of the morning with my children cleaning my great aunt’s house.  It has sat empty for over three years now.  We have a new realtor and high hopes this time.  When I went in for the first time in quite a while on Friday, meeting with the realtor, I knew we would have to come back and clean.  It was not a requirement or even a request.  It was a gift to one of the strong women who helped raise me.  I couldn’t kiss her forehead when she left, nor could I wash her face and hands one last time.  But I can make sure that folks who come into her home know someone cares and that it doesn’t look thrown away.  So we vacuumed and dusted and polished and swept.  It was a sacred morning.

Last night I was filled with sorrow and joy all at the same time (I know, I’m the crazy one in our family), and the first thing I thought was, “I want to tell Mama.”  And it all came rushing back.  I’m afraid the emotional tidal wave had me pouring my heart out in a raw, broken way.  And I’m sorry about that.

But I feel raw.  And broken.  Even still.  I get invited to do lovely things with wonderful people, and I want to do these things.  But when I think about it, the panic sets in and I just can’t.  I am so sorry for that too.  The panic.  The not being able to do things.  Be with people.  I do apologize.  But there it is.  And I don’t know what to do about it.  But wait, maybe?

This morning I thought about something I wrote less than a month after Daddy left this world.  Considering the trip I took on the Grief Wheel last night, I offer this for whatever it can be.  An explanation.  An apology.  The map of where I am for the time being.  With love to all.

I originally wrote this the morning of 12/13/2011. It is just as true today, and even more so.

The journey is over
He, who fought so hard, and did so much to stay
Had to leave
He told me so
Not long after he left and we all said goodbye
I saw him, in my dream
We were all gathered to say goodbye, and he was there
I ran to him and hugged him
“What are you doing here?” I was ecstatic and a little confused.

“I’m sorry,” he said as he hugged me back
“I had to go. I’m sorry.”
He looked so good. Healthy. Strong. Ready to take on the world again.
To create with wood and words and make us all laugh and keep us all straight. He looked full of life.
I know he is healed. So many remind me, trying to bring comfort.
One said, “God needed your Daddy more than you did.” I don’t think so. I cannot breathe sometimes I need him so much. But thank you for taking time to speak to me.
Others choose not to say anything or ask anything. Grief is not a fashionable accessory. It can make a lot of folks uncomfortable. And that is okay too.
And those that ask, I wonder. How long can I be honest? How long can I tear up when they ask? How long before someone tells me enough is enough? How long before the world continues on, as though the sky did not fall, as though it can still breathe, as though he did not even exist? As though none of this matters anymore?

There are things to do, hustle and bustle, and appointments to keep, projects to produce, shows to watch and restaurants to visit, vacations to take, and trips to plan. How long before Life throws its hands up and says, “Really we must go on without you, because this whole grief thing…..well, it’s really getting old.”
Perhaps the tradition of wearing black for a year is not as unfounded as we may have thought. If one is mourning, and one is marked as a mourner, perhaps that is enough. There is grace in that, I think. So that when I start to cry in the candy aisle at the grocery store, because I just thought about buying that candy for him because he loves it, folks will know. Or when I feel drawn to the cancer center, to reach out and hug someone going through just what we have, maybe folks won’t think I’m strange, because they will know. Or when I am trying to remember the name of the person who worked with Daddy, and I think, I need to ask him…..and then it hits me, and I burst into sobs. Folks will know. I need for them to know.

I need for them to know, because one day, one day soon I fear, I will reach out and grab hold of the closest person around and I will beg them to hold me, to wipe out all of the brokenness in this—my Mama who is alone; my sister who shuts the door to her office and cries at work; the grandchild on the way who will never know what a special man he is and was; my children who miss him so, the oldest who misses the man who loved her and raised her and the youngest who doesn’t know what to make of all this but just misses his car playing buddy who let him drive his cars around the rails of the hospital bed…..over and over; and his sister, who cries quietly because she misses her brother. I will reach out and grab hold and I won’t let go. As I cry and sob and let it all out, I won’t let go. Because I’ve done that already, and it hurts so much I cannot breathe. I need for them to know. Because I cannot forget.

pic of things quote