Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Trying, attempting, striving

What I'm thinking about as I sit here on this last evening of February is how this month has given me the feeling of being in a blender for 28 days, tossed around, upside down and shredded. I'm thinking that even though it feels sometimes that I've made no forward movement at all, that I have in fact taken some steps. Little by little, step by step, I am inching forward. Although I am human enough to wish I could wake up one morning and the heartbreak would be behind me just like that, I'm also human enough to know that such great progress in a short time would not at all be real.

I'm trying to rebuild what was lost in me, trying to regain what was taken from me. I'm trying to use good judgement and move slowly and with awareness of how fragile I am and how I absolutely must trust time and keep going. Some days are better than others -- I think that's been evident here. As I re-build myself, I strive to keep out the negatives, the regret and the resentment. I also strive to override hope for what I know won't happen, to put that hope away. It's grueling work, that one. Sometimes I get stuck. I dwell on what is not and wish it was again. Last night was one of those times. Nothing good can come from such thinking and I've tried to move beyond it today.

I try to spend more time focusing on what I need and where I'm going, and spend less of my time thinking of or wondering about him and thinking about what was. I strive for healing, and it comes. And goes. And returns again. And then makes an unannounced exit yet again. Slow-moving and inconsistent thing, healing. I know, I know, it takes time.

How I wish this was over and I was beyond it, far beyond it. How I long for the day when all my little steps have added up to solid steps that have taken me to a place where my heart is no longer hurting, to a place where I no longer miss him, to a time when, well, to a time when this time is long ago and far behind me.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My SOS. Because WTF?

I'm angry, passionate, desperate, hopeless. What gives? I watch ballerinas twirl in spotlights held by lovers, encouraged and applauded. I glance over it all, remember that my membership card has been cut.

You gave me that light. I am bored in this night of stories, bored of being in the audience for a production I never asked to attend, one in which I'm too tired to participate. Bored with my own self, and this missing you.

Walking out the door, around the corner, I see her. Calgary. Open arms, open love, open compassion, big open smile. I'll stay a bit longer. Wrapping myself around her feels healing and safe. I sink into the surprise of her presence. She asks about you. I hang my head. The room is filled with many of the best I've known and taken from my past, want in my future. Save for you. Where are you? It should be enough, to round the corner and see Miss Calgary. We go to the time our friendship was formed. She thanks me for always defending her, and she means it. It should be enough to be thanked tonight. That's a lot; it should be more than enough.

How are YOU? Ah, she means it, and she listens to the answer. My growing awareness that all we went through matters not at all but for this feeling now. She makes my pain safe and healing in her arms. She tells me it will be okay. In her voice, I believe it to be true. In my voice, she hears the battle between hanging on and letting go. The wanting to heal, save for still being pummeled on the field.

All the love tonight, all the feelings and comfort, left me lost. There's one I miss, only one. Damn you for your absence. Damn me for not figuring a way to forge this path alone. For being the first one to leave the night, and I'm sure the only one to cry my way home. This time, this present, for all the faces and smiles and love I felt tonight, I can honestly say I'm so selfish that it is not enough. It's not you, it's not us, it's not the magic. It's not enough. It may be one day, it may be enough to fulfill me. Some day I might find myself there, deeply satisfied among the faces, the connections. But tonight I am not. Damn this loss, this yearning, this lonely missing you, this broken down hope. Damn this pain you left in the dust of your absence.

You tell me. Are you having as much fun?

And a strange dust lands on your hands, and on your face. On your face.

Seeing this

Almost every morning I read a page from a daily meditation book, drawn from the heritage and writings of the Cherokee Indians. Within the pages is powerful and faith-based wisdom, words and meaning that have helped guide my thinking, expand my love of nature, and also heighten my understanding of life. I've had and read this book for years. (The top corner of more pages are folded down than not, which after such a long time doesn't really prove helpful when I want to find something, so one year I started folding the bottom corner of the pages. That too is pretty useless now.)

Today's writing opened with this sentence: It is important to have a vision that is not clouded with fear. That would seem simple enough, obvious enough, wouldn't it? It hasn't been so to me lately. I do understand that we need to envision a path and follow it. And I understand that sometimes our visions change, or are changed for us, but it's still up to us to move forward. This is particularly true of my life lately. What vision am I carrying right now? Looking backwards and hurting? Looking forward and fearing? Those actions are reactions, not living freely and not on the path towards any vision. My life calls for me to bring forth a different vision, to have a steady heart and hand, and not only allow it but to follow it. Few things are spelled out for us, and we have to learn to focus on what we need, and include in that fulfillment. And visualize it completed.

A wait and see attitude is dangerous. Visualizing the life I want and staying with that focus, including discarding the fear and seeking the fulfillment, is a challenging idea to me at the moment. But it's been planted in my head. And it will grow.

Monday, February 26, 2007

On my own time

Did you see this morning?

Have you seen this day?

This day is so beautiful, so clear-blue-sky and perfect-temperature beautiful that it gives me happiness just to be breathing the air of it. It felt so good to be at the park with Cheyenne this morning that I could not be bothered to pay attention to the time or anything else really other than absorbing the absolute glory of the morning. It felt the same kind of good that I felt when as a very young girl my father said he would buy me anything I wanted - in the hardware store - and I put my little hands into the buckets of nails and enjoyed the cold feeling of the metal and he patted my head and laughed that I chose a nail. One nail. Or the time my design was selected for my school's Christmas card. This morning at the park felt like those times, like something special was happening to me, but something that I had also earned. It felt like promise and hope and grace, and it felt alive. And so did I.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Stepping on land mines

Do I do this? Do I? Do I dread this month so much that I somehow call out for more pain in this day, this hour into my life? Or does time wait for me, wait to pull me beneath the dark waters of these days that sit otherwise innocently enough in February? Hate in red ink arrived in my mail yesterday. Hurtful words intended, aimed, landed. I can aim, I can. But not like that. I have archery medals, riflery medals and still could not shoot my target as spot-on as she. Nor would I. Not with thought, not with words, not for a game of control. It's not true, that children's saying about sticks and stones and words. They do hurt, the words. They do.

Upside down, looking for release, insisting on staying here at home when three friends were pleading yesterday to place me in their home where they can watch me. I sat here instead and tried to escape. I looked through my archives. Two years ago I was struggling between the words scattered and released. The former seemed too loose and lost, and the later intentional and freeing. We had released my Father's ashes at sea, but were referring to it that day as scattering. Me being me, I got hung up on the words because the meaning was and is important to me.

My friend calls. I'm crying. She tells me she wants to protect me. She tells me she's spoken with my friend in Vermont. They worry. I am doing the best I can, I am. I am trying to mend and trying to do so without anger or bitterness for I do not want those negatives in my heart. It takes time. Much longer than two weeks. But there has been progress, sleeping through the night, unaided, for example. Sleeping in my own bed again. And yet, these legs I stand on are fragile and that point blank shot at me in yesterday's mail knocked me off my footing completely. Two steps back, three, four, however many, but I have to pick myself up again and the energy that takes is enormous. It's not about deserving better, nor is it a matter of fairness. Those are the obvious. No one deserves this, and fairness isn't applicable because I don't recall life signing a contract with me that said it would always be fair. But it is about my trying to move forward and getting unnecessarily knocked back down by red-ink cruelty. It's a battle I didn't sign up for, a war I'm not part of, and yet have been pulled into and knocked down by nonetheless.

And all the while I have personified the month of February, this thundering bully, this prison warden of months, and say to myself, in March, you'll be free. That may or may not be the case, but at least March will arrive later this week and I'll get to turn the calendar page to a fresh set of days. That much I can feel good about.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I confess these truths

I miss you. I miss the breath of you. I miss the shape of you, the feel of you. I miss the sound of your voice. I miss sleeping with our legs intertwined, our hands together. I miss the way you eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I miss the passion in your voice when you express your beliefs. I miss the new nicknames you gave Cheyenne. I miss hearing my name coming from your mouth, and the way you'd answer, Hi honey, when I'd phone you. I miss the scent of your neck and the curl of your hair. I miss the way your jeans fit your thighs. I miss your belief in me. I miss the way you watch over me. I miss you opening the car door for me. I miss awaking and keeping my eyes closed because I want only to feel us there for the moment, before letting the world into our day. I miss the way you re-name people, companies, concepts at your whim. I miss the way you chase your ideas, and I miss the way you net them. I miss my lover. I miss the way you talk and I miss the way you listen. To the world, the pulse, the light, the music. To me. I miss your heart and the way you love me.

I miss me. I miss the warmth you put in my heart. I miss the love in my voice. I miss grumbling at traffic not for the hassle but for the delay in getting to you. I miss my brake pedal on the passenger side when you are driving. I miss swimming in the pleasure of your voice, and the comfort of your quiet. I miss bringing your morning coffee to you. I miss the best in me that you inspire. I miss who I am in your eyes. I miss my stride beside yours. I miss learning from you. I miss the fun I had on otherwise mundane errands, save for running them with you. I miss putting your laundry away, and I miss cooking for you. I miss volleyball at Target. I miss manamana. I miss our pace. I miss the rhythm of our time. I miss the freedom and thrill of open conversations and endless topics. I miss my smile, I miss my laughter. I miss the way you received my love.

I miss us. I miss being with the one I know and the one who knows me. I miss the closeness, and I miss the connection. I miss the past, the present and the future. I miss the dream and I miss the promise. I miss the alpha and the omega, the faith, the hope, and the love.

I miss you. Oh, I miss you so.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

From satellite to self-sacrifice

The satellite radio that came with my new Honda has allowed me to get somewhat back in touch with music that I would otherwise miss since Houston radio options are controlled by corporations run by suits who see music purely as a business rather than an art form. I used to listen to David Dye's World Cafe and discover some good stuff there, but that's no longer carried by our Pacifica Network station, so to hear that today I'd have to drive to Austin and stay up until 1:30 in the morning, or connect online while I'm at work, which is seriously frowned upon by our IT department.

The other day on one of the blues/country/folk satellite stations I've grown fond of (called Lifestyle, which is totally lame but with station names like Verge and Judy, it's not too out of place) I heard an unfamiliar song by a familiar voice. I knew it was Lucinda Williams, and hit the display button until I got to the song's title, Rescue. The hair on my arms stood up as I listened to that song, recognizing every word and feelings behind them, feeling that her words were speaking directly to me. It's one of those songs that comes into your life at one of those times. And the song was followed by another, Are You Alright? And there she was again, singing my heart. I later learned that the songs are from her new album, West, which was released just last week.

Lucinda Williams has a way of turning pain into beauty and since the first time I heard her sing, I've been soothed countless times by that magnificent writing talent of hers, and of course her unique and expressive voice singing them. She refers to the songs on the new album as written at a time in her life when she was dealing with the pain and struggling of losing her mother and also the ending of a romantic relationship, and having to step into her own future. Hello?

I want these songs in my life, want to discover them and know them and have them calm me in the dark hours of now. But I will not buy the CD because for Lent, I gave up shopping. Well, not the necessary shopping such as for groceries, but, you know, the other stuff, shopping for unnecessary things like more clothes or candle holders or make-up, or yet another pair of black shoes. Things I do not need, things driven by want.

If I were to do so, to buy the CD, I'd be dishonoring my commitment of self-denial. And this is but the first opportunity to practice that commitment. And to be honest, as much as I want the CD, the discipline feels good and right. I guess this means that for the next 39 days, I'll be repeatedly listening to the CD's 20-second sound bytes on Amazon. We'll see how the IT guys at the office like that.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Solid steps

For the past three years, the bottom shelf of my refrigerator door has not been a shelf at all. The plastic piece that fits into the door and holds the bar across the shelf had broken, rendering the shelf unusable. Which is frustrating because that's the shelf that holds the tall stuff, bottles of water, say, or a bottle of champagne.

I've kept the broken piece and the metal bar on the floor in the pantry thinking one day I'd look at them and they'd be magically fixed, or more likely, I'd figure out what to do.

This morning I looked at that plastic piece and couldn't bear it another minute. It's a Kenmore, so I called Sears. I don't know why I didn't figure that out three years ago, but it honestly did not occur to me. And it's a good thing I called them because when the woman on the phone asked me how often I cleaned the coils, my response was, I have to clean the coils? Seriously, no one told me. Then I had to ask her where the coils were. After my education, I placed my order. A coil cleaner brush and a replacement shelf part are on their way to my mailbox. For a total of $6.05. When I hung up the phone, the sense of accomplishment I felt was monumental. I even patted myself on the back.

That's how the day started, which for me lately is pretty solid.

And it kept going just like that. I attended the Ash Wednesday service at church and it felt good to be there, to pray and sing, to worship and listen. After the service, I drove the long way to my mother's house, sunroof open, windows down, the sun on my skin and the wind in my hair. When I was visiting Mom, she was in good spirits. She asked me how church was. I asked her how she knew I had been to church. She made a funny look on her face and said, Because your forehead is all black. I had forgotten, and quickly reached up to my forehead as if I could feel the ash there. She gave a little laugh. Then she smiled at me, and I smiled back at her. And it felt good, that moment between us.

Spiers Strength St. Martins

When I drove home from Mom's, I took the same long road, again with the windows down and the sun shining through and on my skin. It felt good. I felt good. And at that point, I had two choices: Go home and catch up on the work I'd missed, or postpone that and take Cheyenne and her boyfriend Isaac to the park. Cheyenne's been in high spirits lately because Isaac is staying with us while his people are out of town. She was in even higher spirits when I grabbed her favorite collar and told her we were going to the park. I don't know who enjoyed it more, them or me, but I do know that the three of us enjoyed it very much.

Happy girl What a pair! Good day

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

To Sir with Love

Those school girl days... do you remember? You would pick me up at the front of the building, I'd skip out of 5th period math, jump into your car, fall into the the draw and growing familiarity of you, burst with the smile you always pulled from me. We'd steal the afternoons and fill them with our understanding and saving of each other. We'd drive and laugh and listen the music that we did not know then would become our soundtrack. You bought me that blue shirt and I blushed at the counter as you paid because you were the first outside of my family to buy me anything, the first to place beauty on me. You'd drive me home and we'd pause, knowing there was too much between us to place our kiss upon my innocence. Still, we were connected. We were two into one, together. We were drawn to each other, sought each other, knowing all along what we felt. Always, we held each other in the highest. Before we ever spoke the words, we loved each other. Lord how we loved each other.

And every time you pushed me away, you'd still tell me I was beautiful and I'd look in your eyes and know you loved me too much to be with me. And I'd walk into my house and put that blue shirt on and fall asleep thinking that the one person I loved thought me beautiful. And I was too young to think that love should be any different than being pushed away.

Through the years, through the summers, through much of college, I remember you then and there, your summer skin, your crooked grin, your hockey skates, my roller skates, the dancing, your seeking eyes and your beautiful mind, always open to me, always there, the thrill of your ideas, your energy, you inspiration, our conversations. The thrill of the music we shared. The thrill of our connection. I found home in you, and you found it in me. We found in each other the divine safety of unspoken yet knowing love. All I needed was to know that you were there. All I knew was that if you were at least in the room, that was enough. I remember the purity of our youth, our tentative love. Beautiful memories, yes. Even the pain then, even the years of being beside you and not being able to be with you. I knew you loved me. You knew I loved you. We placed it high, we kept it pure.

And then years later you came to me and I loved you. Oh how I loved out. Out loud and free.

It's tainted now, my heart, my belief. Those memories, that hope. You speak of you, I speak of you. We have something in common, you and I. We both love and worry about you. The hours and hours I spend worrying about you. Futile.

Still, our path, our future, was right there.

Right there.

If you wanted it, I would have given it to you. I did give it to you, did I not? With open arms and mind and love. Hope and faith and home. The most enduring, the most beautiful, the love we discovered and realized after so many years. The warmth of unwrapping thirty years of love. I believed in you enough to believe in you. That's a funny sentence to write but it makes sense, at least to me. And I know to you. I believed in you. Damn, I believed in you so.

It's like walking through wet sand now, without you. Deep effort. The memory, the purity of what you taught me then, of knowing you now, it's all obscured by the dark muck of your most recent messages written on my heart. You've darkened this heart of mine, wounded me, scarred me. Halted my dreams, fogged my memories. You left me without involving me. You stole my voice, my memories, my dreams. You took it all from me, from my heart. You took it all.

And yet, so many of the tears I cry now are for you. Are we so connected that I suffer your lessons for you? Can that be love? These days I spend my time thinking about all the things I did not do - when I had the chance to - with you. The times I pulled you into peaceful sleep, rubbing your forehead, touching your soul with my fingers. Had I asked you to stay awake a moment more, I would have told your sleepy self how much I loved you, how I cherished you, I would have reached for you, reminded you how you were wanted. I wasn't through loving you. But would I have salvation now? In all our conversations, did I pay attention to what you did not say, when I listened with full heart to your words, held you as you weeped. Had I paused long enough from bandaging your soul, would I have seen your bleeding as more than your pain? Would you have seen mine? I had the love, I had the salve. I had manamana. I lived our time together in the wishing chair, in the saving of you.

Pathetic? I think she was right. Her ugly words echo back and back. I shut my eyes, shake my head, and agree. So different, she and I. I fear for you for the selfish games, the manipulative heart you slumber beside. Your morals were never backed into a corner. Your morals should have spoken their own voice. I told you once to give trust wings. You marveled at the concept.

I tell it to myself now, give trust wings. Fly away.

Pathetic is that the fear and worry I have that you are in a life and hands that will harm you, that will quiet your voice, your beauty, douse your fire. For gain, for the prize, the blue ribbon. What will happen to the soul I knew? Who will tend to your dreams? Who will encourage your ideas, your growth? Who will love the man I know, who will give life to his heart? Who will give lift to his flight?

A strange feeling lands on me, my hopes, my dreams. Shattered faith from your explosion falls as dust landing over my heart, my face, my hands. I am covered with the painful particles of us. The strange dust of your absence.

I grieve you, I grieve us, for the beautiful youth that we were, for the long line of our connected hearts and lives that now have separate paths. I grieve the absence of hope. You turned that sunshine of ours into darkness. I search this place for your lost face. But you are gone. These days are cold, grey, silent. These days are without our dreams, without you. I know you, and I know that in all your broad imagination, you still have no idea what this has done to me. You know what it has done to you, but not me. In time I will stop searching my life for your lost face. In time, you will be absent from my heart. In time.

Slumbering in every human being lies an infinity of possibilities, which
one must not arouse in vain. For it is terrible when the whole man resonates
with echoes and echoes, none becoming a real voice
. ~ Elisas Canetti.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A dog of many collars

Cheyenne has almost as many collars as I have shoes. She has her everyday red nylon collar, the one with her rabies tag and city registration on it. She has her red rolled leather collar, a light brown leather collar, her black leather collar, an orange Life is Good collar, a green collar, two blue collars and a black collar which are the same basic nylon as her red everyday collar but, you know, a girl likes to wear different styles as well as colors. She also has her two Christmas collars with jingle bells on them. Each one of those collars has a tag on it with her name and my cell phone number. Well, some have her actual name and some have nicknames, such as Tiny Hiney, Monster, and Shiny. Each collar also has a matching leash, because that's important, like shoes and purses, or belts. With the exception of her black long-lead leash, I like to keep her collars and leashes matching. It keeps my world orderly, understand.

For Christmas, Cheyenne's two Godmothers gave her a new collar to add to her collection. This collar is by far her most feminine collar. Okay, truthfully, it's her only feminine collar. It's brown with a cream and green paisley design swirling around it, and a small gold tag with a paw print on it. She loves that collar. If I hold up two collars before her, she'll choose that one every time. Usually, I only put a collar on her when I walk her or when we're going somewhere, but she loves that collar so much that I let her wear it all weekend. When I took it off of her Sunday night, she insisted on looking at it and sniffing it up and down, and then she followed me downstairs and into the garage and followed my hands with her eyes as I hung it up with her other collars. Then she stood there looking up at me with what I swear was sadness in her eyes, as if I'd taken her favorite toy away for no reason whatsoever.

This morning I chose that collar for our morning walk. And a happy dog again she was.

New collar

Saturday, February 17, 2007

This road, it's a long one, but it's not without love

I've survived one week, and the looping thoughts like he was here this day last week, or we were doing that on this day last week, etc., have now been bumped by the date. I'm not past the point where my body wants to refuse food. Thankfully, however, I am past the point where my stomach violently returns whatever I've eaten. In seven days, my body has dropped 15 pounds. It's startling and unhealthy, but I am addressing it through liquid nutritional supplement meals. I'm able to sleep for longer stretches through the night. And today I have not cried. Not one single tear has fallen from these sore eyes. Lord, progress comes slowly, but it does come.

It's hard enough to be broken, to realize you can't go through it on your own, to not know what to do. And to admit it. It's hard to realize and say out loud, I need help. But there have been friends who have let me say it. And they've shown up. There have been arms and hearts and compassion. There were (and are) stretches of days this week when my dear friend in Vermont has called me hourly, letting me pour out my heart to her, and speaking to me in a tone of such love and compassion that I could close my eyes and feel her fingers rubbing my forehead and she could actually calm me. It's been torture for her to be apart from me as I've gone through this, but she has closed the distance and we've been together.

I didn't leave the house much at all this past week because I haven't felt able to and even if I had, I've been unable to drive with the crying and shaking. Two different friends have taken time from their days to take me to two different very necessary doctor appointments, and wait for me in the sterile boredom of a waiting room with year-old magazines. One friend delivered flowers to my door, with a canister of warm chicken soup. She just showed up and rang the doorbell. One friend talked to me for much of her drive from Dallas to Houston, letting me speak and returning strong belief in me and support of me. And one friend hung the flagpole and flag from the side of my house today, a gift she'd given me for my birthday last year but one I lacked the equipment and knowledge to hang myself. I needed, really needed, some change in this house so that I could feel it was my own and be comfortable here again. She and another friend have helped me with those changes this week. Inside and out. The closets, the electronics, the garage organization, furniture arrangement, storage, you name it. There they were, beside me, helping me figure it out.
at my door DSC_0004

I've received some wonderful support from comments made from friends here as well. Wise and compassionate words I've read again and again.

Yesterday, I could again drive on my own, a bit shaky but not risky. I went to my mother's and sat on her bed beside her, crying as I unraveled the story and told her that he was gone and that my heart was broken. While she couldn't answer me when I confessed I had no idea what to do, she did express her sorrow and pulled me close to her, where I sobbed on her chest as she rubbed her fingers through my hair. I needed my mother and for those moments, she was there, right there, loving me and consoling me. Once again I was the daughter and she was mothering my wounds with all her love. God works miracles and that was one. A small one in the grand scheme of things, but monumental to me. Absolutely monumental.

These are gifts of time and patience, compassion and love.

And then there's Jessie. Jessie who has been in my life I was two years old. She's changed my diapers, walked me to school, taught me to braid and has always called me her Sweet Baby. Jessie who worked for my mother and father cleaning their house three times a week for most of my life until her body got too old for that type of physical labor. Jessie is part of the family, and my third parent in my heart. On Valentine's Day, she called me to wish me a happy day. She immediately picked up the sadness in my voice and I spoke to her of it.

And she said to me, Sweet baby, I have something here and I want to read it to you: God is love. Love always takes away pain. Love opens all doors and love changes the impossible. Love soothes the wounded heart and soul. Love takes away fear and love goes beyond one's feeling. Love brightens one's day, and soothes all situations. Love heals the broken heart. Love grants a brand new day. Love is full of grace and mercy. God is love. And you are my sweet baby, and I love you.

As she was reading to me, I felt that she was saving my life. I wrote down her words as she was speaking, so that later I could wrap them around me in her voice and let them soothe me again. As I sit here right now and read them one more time, my sad heart feels some warmth seeping in. Because those words she read me, they are amazing and true. Love does change the impossible, and love is full of grace and mercy. I've been shown so much of it this past week, and it has helped me face each day and get through it when I had no idea that I could do so.

By the grace of God's love, through prayers, and the love and devotion of dear, dear friends, I am able to take steps. This road will be a long one for me, but I have stepped onto it and for now that is enough. Tomorrow is a new day and I'll be in it. Burdened with heavy heart, absolutely, but I will be there.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What I know today

I know that once despair fades, progress can begin. Despair is what I feel though, heavy and dark. Despair is the dividing line between those who can take impossibility in stride and those who wilt with its weight. I'm strong, I know, but even the strong can stumble and fall, even strength can be worn down. A sympathetic friend said to me this morning, You've been around the bend this past year, this is the last thing you needed. That's it right there, my erosion and, the last thing I needed, my fall.

In the past few days I've come to understand that despair absorbs strength, strength gives way to weakness and the weakness robs us of our will to overcome.

I know I need courage to find that will again. I know I need to be brave. I know the despair needs to fade so that progress can begin. I am doing what I can.

Monday, February 12, 2007

If you could read this

Today is your birthday. Today is also the fourth day that I've been able to do little more than cry. Sleep is elusive, eating impossible. Friends are worried about me. One says to me on the phone, you're not coping. It's true. I'm not dealing with this with any sort of success at all. She pleads with me to go see a doctor, ask him for something to help me through this. I don't want to medicate myself but also can't stand the weight of the pain, the feeling of hopelessness. On the way to the doctor, I cried at the irony of it all. You got off medicine when you were here because you were happy and could think clearly, and now that you're gone, I'm being urged to get on something. Bittersweet irony, that one.

You left me to fix what you left behind when you came to me. When you returned, you broke me. I don't want to be broken. That you love me now or still, and miss me now, only saddens me deeper. You are not here and you will not be here again. Friends ask me how I know that, and I tell them it's the truth, I know. I will not see you again.

Right now, I sit here in the deafening silence of this house that was just so recently filled with our voices, laughter, touch, happiness. Our togetherness. Right now, it's as empty as I am. I just don't know what to do.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

This is a man's world

I stand beside his absence. Insomnia and pain, my new companions. I understand that it will take time to heal, I do. I am living my minutes waiting for them to evolve into hours, and the hours to turn into days, the days into forgetfulness. My friends are confused and angry. With him. They are protective of me, bless them, but anger is not what I can hear right now; anger is not what I feel.

I feel fear. I am afraid because the love I feel lives on in my heart. I am afraid because I have not heard his voice. Afraid because he lived here and we had made this house into our home. Now it's back to my home, and I'm afraid of being here with his absence, afraid to be here with the ghosts.

I am afraid because of the pain left for me in the wake he left behind when he drove out of my life.

Tomorrow is his birthday. On my fridge are two Bob Seger tickets held by a magnet from a trip we took over Christmas. The concert was one of my gifts to him, a show we were both looking forward to; one neither of us will be attending.

The problem is that my love is pure, and very much alive. The problem is the sadness I'm left with. And I don't know what to do with it, or myself. But I can tell you this time he's gone for good. I know that, and I suffer that now.

Wednesday is Valentine's Day.

Hey internet, can you spare a rock large enough for me to hide under?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Wednesday's child is full of woe

It's 5:30 in the morning. I'm drinking coffee, burning a candle, smoking a cigarette from the pack you left behind. Your absence and my emptiness fill this place. You left a book, a photo, a Christmas present I had given you. You left your creamer in the fridge, your cookies, and the jam that you like. You left movies for me to return. You left empty shelves in the garage, your bike hooks hanging from the ceiling, and spaces of nothing and empty hangers in the closets. You left an emptiness in our bed. At the bottom of a note I'd written to you weeks ago, you wrote that love is never wasted, and you'd always love me.

What's left are all the boxes I filled to make room for you, all the changes and effort I made for you, all the holes I have to fill, the sadness I feel. And this weighty quiet.

Oh, and me. I'm here.

Two years ago today I sat in the front pew at my Father's funeral. Today I sit across from the chair you sat in just yesterday morning.

Timing never was your strong point.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

My girl

It's hard to tell if those are ears or devil horns atop her brown head. I know what most of those who know her would say. In fact, a friend once gave me a framed photo of her for Christmas. The frame was red, and printed on it were the words Devil Dog. It was a two-part gift that came with a framed photo of her dog. That frame was green, and printed on it were the words Angel Dog.

Though she is loved by many, I am clearly the only one able to see her halo.

Bat dog

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

What can I say?

I wish I could remember the exact details, the dates, the paths and links of how I found her. I had seen her site and she had seen mine. I had commented; she had commented. She knew who I was but I did not know the same of her. On a comment I had made to one of her posts, she commented back and eluded that she knew me. Intrigued, we exchanged a few more comments and then went to personal email addresses for her story.

Turns out that she used to work for my father's company in Louisiana. We did know each other. She took mercy on me a long while ago when my father sent me to that office to conduct some writing workshops. I was fresh out of college, very green and very nervous. I wouldn't dream of admitting my shattered nerves at the time but she sensed it, and she calmed me down, graciously and without a hint that she was in on my secret. I could not have gotten through that day without her.

She found my site by googling my father's name after he died. In our email exchange she shared things with me that I'll keep between the two of us, but she also told me that my site was one of the reasons she started blogging. I'm honored by that because I enjoy reading her words daily, and in a way that is my own, each time I go to her site, I feel a connection to the page because what's there are the life and words of someone my father admired.

Last night she sent me an email:

Just a note to send a few warm vibes your way to maybe help you through a difficult day tomorrow. I feel the same kind of admiration for you that I've always felt for your father. You're so strong, your instincts so natural and good, that he must be beaming with pride at how much grace you've shown under the pressure of the last two years.

There'll be a Louisiana arm stretched out to wrap around your shoulder all day tomorrow. Lean on it if you need to.

Receiving an email like that from a woman like her is better than being a little girl and finding the prize I'd hoped for at the bottom of a Cracker Jack Box. It's the kind of gift that reminds me how loved my father was, by so many people outside his family. It's a gift that reminds me of what a wonderful and kind and generous man he was and how very lucky I was to draw him as my father. Luck doesn't begin to describe it. You had to know him to understand the honesty in those words.

Several months ago, my Louisiana friend sent me a couple photos of my father. Photos I'd not seen before, which are a wonderful thing to have after you've lost someone. This one in particular, I adore. That's my father in one of his elements. A work party, with people he respected and enjoyed, a cocktail in hand. A smile on his face. (The only things missing would be a boat and a fish.) You can't tell in a black and white photo, but that shirt he's wearing was very colorful. The man liked his colors. Seeing this photo, I don't see black and white, I see those colors. And that puts a smile on my face.

I share the story and the photo today because both warm my heart and both have aided in making this day less about mourning and more about celebrating the amazing man, and the awesome life that was his. As time passes, this is how it should be.

Today, I have worked, visited my mother, and spent some quiet and prayerful time in the chapel at our church. I've read emails and taken phone calls from generous and caring friends. Shortly, I'm going to meet a friend to drink a martini in my father's honor.

Simple remedies, simple kindnesses, and a long arm from Louisiana, they help to heal the deepest grief. In being reminded I am not alone, there is healing. In that healing, I am able to carry on.

Monday, February 05, 2007

On the eve of my reality

A good friend of mine once told me that when you see a red Cardinal it's God's way of telling you that your loved ones are doing okay, safely in his hands. Naturally, I like that bit of folklore.

This weekend, I saw several Cardinals. They were at the feeder hanging from the low branch of the Live Oak beside the back porch, and they were in the woods across the way from the back porch. I smiled at each sighting as if I were seeing a signal from my father - not a drifting white feather, but a bright burst of red life.

The entire weekend was of birds. Finches and Chickadees, Hawks and Sparrows. The trees were alive with their chirping and twittering, calling and hooting. With the bedroom windows open, I awoke to their songs at dawn, pulled up the covers and snuggled deeper into the music and the breeze seeping through the screen and over my skin. This morning, I poured a hot cup of coffee, wrapped myself in a blanket, and sat outside listening to the symphony of bird sounds.

Still Pause Dad?

It was only after the sun rose high enough to send the chorus into hiding that I glanced over at his chair. And could not move my eyes. Soaking through me was the awareness that he's been there, right there in that chair, listening to the same morning songs as I. Time's seesaw of it all, him once there and now no longer, me there still. And the sights and sounds carrying on without him, but me still there to witness.

Make a wish Big Foot Sniffing it out

Tomorrow is another day, another X on the calendar. A day, a date, a year. A memory possessing the pull of gravity. Time is linear not round and yet the years circle back, dates collide with my heart. So well I can set my watch by them.

This afternoon, the sun was shining open and warm. Even though I had a doctor appointment and just enough time to make it there, I looked at Cheyenne and thought time would have to wait. I could not leave without going on a walk beforehand, would not rob myself of a few more minutes in the warm air and bright day. As we strolled the path, she sniffed out mysterious scents of interest and I connected with mysterious gifts awaiting me. The old Oak on the river's bank, one, and the drooping and open seedpods, two. The strength and stature of age, the delicate beauty of life and renewal.

Stretching upwards Nature renewing

In the roots and stretch of that tree, I saw him. In the renewal and promise of those seeds, I saw me. In the distance between, I saw us. The words of W.B. Yeats whispered through my mind,

O Chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music,
O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

On the eve of my memory

The drive to the cabin can take over two hours, or a little under two hours. Depends on which route you take out of Houston, and how many stops you make along the way. We got a late start out of town this morning and we took the long way, but I wonder if we left any earlier would we have seen the hawks along the Farm Roads. Seven hawks. Regal and rare.

Hawk Winter Trees

I came down here to feel close to my father, to pass through this weekend in a place where he used to spend much of his time, to a place where I can still see him standing in the kitchen, or sitting in his chair. I came here to spend my weekend with him in the way I feel best - surrounded by the nature he loved. I came here to feel him in my heart while I put my feet in the grass and gazed through the winter trees, leafless and cold, revealing a broader view of the unknowing sky.

As darkness pulled its blanket over the light of the day, a fiery strip of orange hummed like an electric riptide unzipping the blue. In the woods across from the house, an owl called out, a young hawk circled. Cheyenne chased an Armadillo. All else was quiet and still. That's what I wanted from today. The earth's sounds but otherwise the odd comfort of winter quiet.

It was the kind of day he would have loved. He would have paused on the back porch, set his mighty hands on the wooden rail and observed the land, the sky, the owl and the hawk. He would have enjoyed the chill in the air and he would have done as I did - take a deep breath, take in the moment, feel at peace.

Standing at the rail as I was, and thinking about him as I was, I could have cried but instead allowed the smile that I was also feeling. Because as much as I miss him and as much as my heart aches, I know that this apple did not fall far from his tree. Seeing a day like today, a day that he would have relished in, and to live it while feeling him in my heart, so that in a way that transends the distance we are for the moment together again, that's the kind of good feeling that I've learned to take.

Friday, February 02, 2007

A fine line between you and John Doe

He didn't show up for work. He didn't call. Not the job, not his girlfriend, not his friends, not his mother. Silence. They worried. They called each other, wondering aloud, Where is he? His wallet was at home, inside his wallet his ID. Important, that. He does not drive a car. He rides his bicycle. Or he uses Metro. Or he walks.

My niece cried to me, I just keep picturing him hurt in a ditch somewhere.

Inside the critical care unit in a hospital in the medical center, a young man in a coma. A broken arm, a broken leg, a tracheotomy fit to a respirator, a feeding tube in his nose, half his head shaved for draining fluid from his swollen his brain. For five days, his name unknown. Five days of John Doe.

Five long and anguish-filled days. His mother called the police, and every single hospital in Houston. More than once. She filed a missing persons report after the mandatory wait time.

A witness to the hit and run called an ambulance and the police. The police connected the dots after the missing person report was filed. The phone call to his mother serving up a potent cocktail of relief and terror.

The details are unknown, beyond what the witness saw. Type of car known, license plate not known. Somewhere, someone walks beneath a heavy load of guilt. And fear. A nauseating and dark mixture to carry through life.

Inside the CCU, respirator bellows rhythmically rise and fall with a lonely whoosh sound. His mother sits beside him. Monitor lights of green reflecting on her face as she gazes at her son, hands wrung in worry and prayer. The only relief is that he has been found.

And again he has his name.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A note to the second month

Dear February,

Back again so soon?

I've expected your return, of course, even kept my eye on your inevitable progressing to the present. Still, it's hard to believe you are already here again, cloaked as you are in your grey and rainy indifference. As the calendar page turned, I've braced myself for you. I'm wearing my boots today, no coincidence. It's how I see you, how I feel I need to be prepared for you. Armed, if you will, to see you. You, the Judas of the months, the betrayer of my heart. You are a painful reminder of what I already know, a sad bridge I must cross over to get from January to March. I ask only one thing of you: Be mercifully swift in your passing days.

Give me that much.