Wednesday, July 19, 2017

For Trace

May 22nd, 2013.
July 17th, 2017

4 years, 56 days apart.

His mother died.  She hated her name, Theresa.
So we called her Trace
She was tiny
fairly brilliant
a voracious reader
an amazing mother.

she told me that, when she was young
she would garden
in spiky high heels
and climb out the window
of driving cars on the highway
like the preachers daughter
in Footloose

Setting up the Christmas tree
was an adventure in getting stabbed
a thousand tiny times
since the lights MUST
be wrapped
and wrapped again.
I will say it made for a stunning show
though I let that tradition go

She told me how she did some of the magic things
he never knew:

She was terrified
when he went on biking trips.
A secret whispered in the upstairs library
watching a delicate, slowly spinning
music box, unpeopled bicycles
riding an endless loop

She was terrified
of water and, as far as I know,
never learned to swim
His job was setting himself on fire
traveling to England, Japan, New Mexico
and diving from 10 meters into a 10 foot deep
swimming pool

If he thinks he can, he probably can.

The circle closes
on eyes and dreams, truth
and lies
like it does on every living thing

I miss what never was
and what I hoped for
what she gave the world
and created with her strength
the beauty she spread
with every unshed tear
and each determined step toward the future.

We are here
in time and space
and whether or not we see them
We are not alone.
Our fibers
were spun by them
and every inch of our souls
sing their songs
in tears, sighs, dreams, and giggles.

And the fireflies
will light our way.

The fireflies
will light

Sunday, June 11, 2017


Resilience:  the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness

A most desired quality
One, quite frankly, for the ages
A child of long ago, awaiting her father's ship and hoping it comes in soon
A young boy of not quite seven stating his appreciation that his dog is only one,
    because that means he has many years before he dies
The core of Odysseus,
surviving his battles and, even more
surviving his return

The rhythm pulsing below your favorite songs
and the leaping loops of alliteration
that lap at the toes of every poem
that has cracked open
your heart

It's my life
it's my poem

A soldier's life
and a widow's lot
are not
so different
after all

the world does not operate on rules defining what is right
it spins and turns
topples and twists
unbalanced in the magical night

and we do not get what we deserve
we get
what comes
and what we see, what we choose to see
it's about what we believe
like the demigoddess
I believe
in love

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

For John and Jacqueline I can

Four years
and my veil is lifted

It seems like I haven't
been able to really

till now

and now that I can,
the colors are coming back
the pain pricks sharper,

and oh!
but I shake my head
at the foolish things
I have done

I notice the crowd
surrounding me
and see
how few of them
can even pretend
to understand

and I can hear
hear her
hear her reaching from my heart
down my throat into my soul

some mystical version
of vine like self
I hear her
whispering my need
to be
kind, brave

and the wind taps my shoulder
so I turn my head

oh, yes.  Yes, that honors them too

I must also be kind and brave
for Me

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

brave enough

This grief thing is an emotion with the energy source belonging to a super villain in some show like Flash.  It really feels like it never ends.

It feels like I have a cord
and that cord is

or perhaps, if not unplugged,
someone attempted to make a type 1 plug fit
into a type 2 socket

So close.  But it hurts
and bends
and people
they start to judge you
for not fitting in
they point out every single time
you don't work right

And there's nothing to ground you
no where to recharge

Except it is my heart
my soul
the tips of tired, sacred parts of me
that are disconnected

so much so
I don't know
that I even remember
how to see me.

People search for purpose
make goals
strive for success
and ladder climbing
and wins

The only thing that makes sense
to me
is a purpose contained
in connections

the light
and the dark
loving each other
loving me

wrapping us all in swirling majestic
dichromatic rainbows
twisting themselves out of half hidden prisms

There is no win or lose
no ladder that does not
break down
to mulch

I'm trying to open my windows
to let the light AND
the dark in
learn to swim in the seas of  saturated
without twisting
so fast in the winds of change
that I choke.

*Note:  I'm striving for a "happy ending"...although our ends are all the same.  I keep asking myself if I can just give up on love...if I can accept a life of just my kids, both blood and classroom.  Because of everything, THEY are my purpose, my blessing, my gratitude.  However, I know that living only for the children sets a bad example.  You can drown and come to hate yourself, which is not a thing to model for growing humans.  They learn SO very much from what and how we do, that what we say is close to irrelevant. do I DO this right?  I do not know.  I thought I was finding my way.  I went from barely being able to breathe, to thinking I had found a path, to being sucker punched and all of a sudden hurting more than ever.  I realized then, I was breathing I hadn't slid far backwards.  It's just that now that I can breathe, I can also see all the things that surround me.  I see loving and distant friends...and I see clearly how much I want a partner and a lover...and how I accept that as okay and healthy.  And I see, too clearly, how difficult that path will be to find...I'm keeping the directions for everything kids, my pets, myself, my household, my job...and in the juggling I am dropping.  In the dropping, I am tripping.  And it is hard, so hard, to get up for the 6,124th time.  But, after laying in the dirt for a while, there is nowhere to go, but up.


I ask for help.  There is no lesson more valuable to model for my children than basic humility.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Where am I?

We are rapidly approaching 4 years.  FOUR YEARS.  Sigh.  I have started trying to donate platelets on a regular basis.  Turns out it was me, not Molly, who has a very high platelet count: 420.  Higher than 450 is indication that you have something going on that should be checked out, but in the 400's is very helpful.  They get the amount they need much quicker.  But they have to be careful to not take too much, because only a certain amount can survive.  These are all things I learned on Saturday.

My lessons right now consist of relearning how to be here and now, be a widow, a solo mom, be Sabrina, and not be clawing desperately at the life walls that surround me, begging for a way to not have to face any of the things that I have no choice but to face.

I just took a moment to think about whether or not to talk about how the political situation is affecting me.  I decided, for now, to leave it.  And mention only that my fear about the trajectory of things caused headaches so bad that no medication touched it, I had to have an MRI, they thought I might have shingles, or trigeminal neuralgia, they gave me 4 different prescription medications which did all of nothing so I ended up in the ER.  They gave me a shot of valium, which tickled the pain.  I'm seeing a chiropractor finally, taking ibuprofen and tylenol in alternating doses and hating the drugs big time.  Valium at night if need be, but to be honest, I'd rather drink a little too much wine than screw with a drug like that.  So...

Baby steps.  That's all I've got.  I hid from the pain looking for sexual connections because the power of visceral physical connection hid the pain that made it so I could not breathe.  Breathing is pretty essential for life.  So I did that dumb thing I revert to...and it, of course, didn't work.

But through those silly and understandable efforts and reading The Little Prince to my class, I had a thought that I hope might be a realization to guide me.  It is just this:  I would like someone who can tame me.  I mean, that's what John did.  We didn't have the words for it when it happened.  But I figured it out when we planned our ceremony. I asked my friend to read the part of the Little Prince when the fox and he talk about taming...I want someone willing and wanting to come to me at a certain time each day, so that I begin to look forward to their step approaching.  And I'd love it if someone could be the kind of person that would put up with my strange and potentially difficult to predict desires for compliments and comfort.  And, if that person would also trust in me to arrive for them, hope for me to arrive for them, around the same open their heart, just a tiny bit at a time is we can learn each other...and trust me enough to be annoying around me...the gift of that would fill my heart and soul to a place of joy.  And I would be grateful.

But I can only control me.  Not other people.  So I don't want to swipe left or right.  I guess I would rather be alone?  The man at the Red Cross blood donation center, when I told him it had been almost 4 years, quietly and briefly, without judgement asked me "So, you don't want to be with anyone again?"  That was the first time I've ever gotten that question.  I guess, enough time has passed, and I am not with someone...perhaps it is not about what I want, but what I will allow close to me and to my children.  I have never been a planner that way. I never had a type.  But I look for a heart.  John's heart, oh it sang to me!  Which is funny because he was a HORRIBLE singer!!!  But his heart...yeah.  I always worried I wasn't the right match for him because I am not an athlete and could never keep up with him.  Perhaps, what mattered to him and why we made sense, is my heart...perhaps my heart sang to his, too.

Think I could find a way to put that on a dating profile?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

reading books I love, putting away dishes, and learning through tears

I forget, sometimes, that I really like chocolate.  I know that sounds odd and potentially arbitrary.  But it's true.  I also forget other things...bigger things...if you can get bigger than chocolate.

We are approaching 4 years.  You'd think that the knock-you-on-your-ass tears were pretty much done.  And by "you'd" I mean "I'd".  But then, once again, I'd be wrong.

They ended pretty abruptly today though.  Almost as quickly as they began.  Beginnings come from odd and somewhat pointless places.  I was putting dishes away.  I just watched the last (latest) (on Netfix) Supernatural and I was sad because I miss being friends with my brother.  And as I was putting dishes away, it occurred to me that I wasn't supposed to do that ALONE every damn time.So this time, it began with small, square dishes.  Most of those damn dishes I bought with John.  He was supposed to wash when I cooked.  That was always the deal.  But now, well, there isn't a deal.  I just do what I can, when I can, so sometimes it sits.  But the small, square dishes with the orange and blue and yellow stripes made me cry.  Because I can touch them and remember dozens and dozens of meals we've had on them.  Without him.  And he was supposed to BE there.

I stopped crying midstream, though.  Because I realized that those tears existed because he tamed me.  I was Real to him and he was Real to me.  And what a gorgeous damn gift it was that we each took the time to break through for each other.  There is NO better gift.  And also, I realized, I have a community of folks that care about me.  I have a chance, every day, to walk into a job where small humans look to me for hope, curiosity, support, encouragement, and love.  Love.  We don't often have access to that in our work lives.  But I do.  I keep hoping to find friendship there, at work, with adults.  It doesn't really happen.  And I find my worst anxiety triggers stepped on almost all the time.  But still...I get to go to work, and share love.  I get to comfort little ones when they cry, even if I don't understand why.  Even when I DO understand why and cannot do a damn thing.  I can be present for them.

And yes, I want the chance to tame and be tamed again.  More than anything.  And that makes tears stream like a stuck drinking fountain.  I think I am done and I walk away and realize, um, yeah, nope.  Left that one open and it's still going.  Heh.  Oops.

And that's okay.  It's good to want that.  I think.  I believe it is...and what I KNOW is that I may not always do the best with my plan book, but I walk in my classroom every day fighting for the chance to love, cheer for, believe in, help, redirect, and listen as much as possible to as many humans as I can.  And when I come home, I do it again, at defcon level 10 for my babies.  Whatever the situation.  And that, that is a blessing.  Even if I do end up on the floor, caressing a photograph with a sparkling smile from long ago...a guy in a blue t-shirt with a monkey on his shoulder and smile lines like sunshine parenthesis, crying so hard I have to bite on a paper towel to dim the sounds and allow the kids to sleep.

I guess if I had a choice, and the choice couldn't include him, I'd choose to bring on the tears.  Because every moment with him made me a better person.  In so many ways.

And also for them

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Something simple

Something fairly simple occurred to me today while I was on my morning commute.  I realized that no one is coming for me.  I obviously need to explain that, so here is my attempt.

I remember when I was a young-ish teenager and all bubbly headed and romantical...I had occasion to walk away from a guy or two.  Each time, I walked stoically ahead, forcing myself not to look back, praying that they would follow me...that they would come for me, take my hand...tell me I was wrong and that all the love blah blah starry stuff was true for least for the moment.

Needless to say, that didn't happen.  Pretty much ever.

And then, just like EVERYONE says, I had had enough of the ridiculous way I was behaving.  I decided to stop dating, quit smoking, stop most of the drinking and take a year to figure out how to do "stuff" right.  That was in 2001.  A week after that (this is the "everyone says" part), I met John.  Not only did that man come after me, come for me, but he didn't let me leave.  My illustrative story is the one about him hiding my keys:  it was early on in our relationship, perhaps two months?  We were arguing over something dumb.  I got out of bed in a snit and went to the living room.  I fumed for a while and then decided I was done and was going to leave.  Except, he had hidden my keys so I had no choice but to stay and talk it out with him.

So, when he died, the first and only person to ever have come back for me, it was like this part of me that was trying to rebelieve in romance stuff was dropped straight down a cavernous, slick walled, black as night well.  This part of me couldn't see, couldn't hear, was afraid to reach out and touch, so I went to my fantasies...I went to stories and movies and silly tales of widows who fall in love with their dead husband's best friends, or who are surprised by a long lost love from their high school years caught in a decent marriage that doesn't quite touch their soul...the universe takes care of its wounded birds, right?  Windows open that are actually big enough to be doors, and successful relationships come in all shapes and sizes...not everyone has to stay married till death and not every divorce has to end in hatred.  Maybe, just maybe, love was winging its way to me on the dust of something I'd swept away...always known and never expected...and someone might say "As you wish" and make me feel as beautiful as Buttercup.

The thing is, no one is coming.  I have peered into passing cars, watched fathers alone with their kids at the grocery store, eyed men working on the side of the road, puzzled over the guy at the table just beyond ours...every man I see, I've wondered "is he the one that will come for me?"  and I'm tired.  I'm tired of hoping.  I am tired of telling myself not to look and then, immediately, filling that incredibly brief hole of time with a caveat calling for that rule to kick in:  as soon as you aren't looking, he will come.

No shit.  But I already played that card.  It was quite lovely.  And I sat with it, with him, till his last breath came, which, for the record, was way too early.

And besides, the universe taking care of its wounded birds doesn't mean that what you lose, you also get in return.  It's not quid pro quo.  It's an ebb and flow that sometimes spills.

So I think about OTHER books I've read and wonder if my family was cursed and the women on my mother's side are doomed to raise their children alone.  I AM the third generation doing just that, after all.  Granted it's for a reason quite different from that of my mother and of my grandmother.  But it still comes down to my children growing up without a father, never seeing a man treating their mother with love, never seeing an argument between grown ups handled and fumbled and apologized for...

And please, do not misunderstand:  when I say that no one is coming, it doesn't mean I won't necessarily try to find love or won't be open to it if it appears.  But no one is coming.  I want to see that fairy tale.  I want the maiden in her tower, pining away, awaiting the kiss to break the spell like Fiona in Shrek.  Except REALLY no one is coming.  And she gets fed up, and slays the dragon herself and kicks the front door down in an explosion of dust and walks out, hands on hips.

Then maybe she has some adventures on her own and a shit ton of hard and boring days.  And...I keep trying to come up with a way that she can pick up a guy, throw him over her shoulder, and carry him off into the sunset...except wouldn't that still be a version of someone coming for someone else?  And if I change it into something sweeter, more gentle and where they are all simpatico, that makes me want to sucker punch the universe.  Because really??  No.  Just, no.  NO ONE IS COMING FOR ME.  And THAT's what that over-the-shoulder image is attempting to do:  be the manifestation of the simpering wish that someone would still be out there for me to find and hold hands with.

I do not believe that we all have one and only one soul mate.  I believe there are many matches for everyone and it's a matter of timing, placement, and desire to put in the work at any given moment. So losing John hasn't closed My One True Door to Love.  He was amazing and annoying and wonderful and self centered and thoughtful and kind of obnoxious.  He was mine and all I ever wanted to do was work on learning how to love him better and teach him to love me better and, lucky me, I'm pretty sure that he wanted that too.

But he's gone and I am here.  And for the first time since he died, I actually did get mad at him today. They say that anger is a part of the grieving process.  I haven't been able to get mad at him because he fought the cancer tooth and nail.  I get mad at CANCER.  But today, just for a bit, I was pissed that I am here doing this asinine dance in my head about the meaning of all this, and I'm doing it because he is gone.  I knew that drinking, smoking, and bad choices about men were on my horizon when he died...I know how I tend to screw up, and I was so PISSED that he left me to all that shit again.  I didn't want to DO that anymore.

I guess I just need to keep repeating it.  No one is coming for me.  No one is coming for me.  I do not like it.  And it's okay.  I can handle it anyway.  No one.  Is coming.  For me.  No one.  There is no "as you wish", no "you make me want to be a better man", no more hidden keys.  I don't want to think of it like my friend said, that now that we have kids, it's all about them because they didn't ask for any of this.  I watched my mother and grandmother stop living for themselves and live only for myself and my brother.  That was not healthy and it did NOT work out well.  So I do know that I need to find a way to live for me, to perhaps believe in love again.  So possibly, this mantra I need right now, this restating the fact that no one is coming for me, needs to be adopted as a temporary focusing tool.  For now, what I need to learn, is that no one is coming for me.  I don't yet know what the lesson after that shall be.  But I cannot hide from my grief inside the desire to not be alone.  I am alone.  I have been alone before, so that in and of itself cannot be my lesson.  Perhaps it's just that I need the year that I promised myself 16 years ago.  January to January.  It seems like an eternity.  It may turn out that it passes like one, too...or it may only be a moment.

I guess it really isn't all that simple, after you scrape the surface off.