Friday, May 30, 2014

Twining twisting vines of loss

Ah, the landmark moment of
a year
So incredibly long when you look at each
     there were birthdays without him
     there was an anniversary without him
     there was potty training without him
     there were so many tears without him, about him
     there were so many cups of bitter fear and anger because I am without him
     there were books and shows without him, Jimmy Fallon without him
     there was a P!nk concert without him- and he liked her first
So much nothing, so much speed when you don't look
life like a freight train
and each month long moment blurs
past the windows
while the smoke fills your lungs, a dragon breathing into your soul
a burning longing
creating ashes full of dancing confusion
as circular as leaves singeing along the corners
of a camp fire

How is it I sit here
a passenger on a freight train
an empty seat beside me
and too much luggage to carry
while my fingers fumble for other fingers
to twine

Thursday, May 29, 2014

can love? rambling Thursday night thoughts

ugh.  I am wandering in the realm of overwhelmed.  I feel like I have been wandering there long enough that I should start to pay rent soon.  And if possession is .9 of the law, I wonder if that means I might own part of that land.

I find that I want desperately to focus on the things I am grateful for, but how can I find ways to be grateful for things when every time I focus there, I feel guilty because he is gone?  He wanted to live forever.  He hated thinking or talking about dying.  I wonder how someone who was so afraid of death could have faced it so simply, so bravely.  My thought is that it had to do with his stubborn nature, his determination, and the fact that GBM patients just, well, shut down...they get more and more tired and they fall asleep and are gone.  And I guess that is how he went.  I also guess that this is a more or less decent way to go, insofar as it is painless and could be so much worse, with cancer.

I find that I am deeply afraid.  People on the outside tell me how much courage I have, which is quite a comfort and compliment.  Because I don't see it.  I don't feel it.  I feel lost and small and foolish and lonely.  I kissed a neighbor of mine.  He is the same age that John was when he died.  It was very very nice.  I didn't expect it.  And then he ended it, before it began.  And now, I feel like he opened the door to a whole lot of angry inside me.  I am angry that the universe took John....I'm angry that I keep hoping for stupid shit that won't work.  I am angry that I live in a country where I can have so much and feel like I still have so little...I have a home, I have a bed and I have a computer, a cell phone, more than one television, a blueray, an ipad...when I met John, I don't think I had very many of those things.  He wanted to move me into the 21st Century.  I had been renting a room  in one farm house, with no heat and horrible wood stoves.  Our toilet water actually froze during winter break.  Then I rented a room in another farm house with a pool and heat and cable, but still...a farm house.  He teased me.  Both the flat screens we have were presents I bought for him for different Christmases.  The blueray player was a Christmas gift from me to him as well.

I don't think that means anything.  It's just an observation.  I don't care about stuff very much.  A year is not that much time.  I think of him every day.  I feel the lonely every day.

I think that there are not really good or bad people.  I think there are lots and lots of mixed up people.  I have no amazing quotes.  I have no advice or insight.  I find my mind wandering to the loss of breath the day his diagnosis came through.  I think of Aiden diving and wish like hell that I could get him diving more.  I want Cilly to dive.

Basically, it terrifies the HELL out of me that all of it and everything is all about me.  I am intensely overwhelmed by all I have to hold up, and I do my best to pray deeply that love mixed with fear and confusion can carry us through.  Because, well, I DO have a lot of

Monday, May 26, 2014

time movement

Channeling my babies
I watch a fat yellow black
buzzing ball fly
beneath the bottom beams
of their home.

--I remember:
kissing his cold dead feet
cleaning his, forgive me, fading drying lips
translating his thick mumble-tongue
    to friends with planes coming just a little
    too late

--I remember, too, things
   that hadn't happened yet:
graying hairs framing wrinkled, silly faces in front of
the pyramids
beside the Sphinx

--And also, somehow, I remember things
   that are about to be:
Too many to choose from roads
choices and again more


When, at this point really
the only choice
should be

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

that ever was...

"...may came home with a smooth round stone 
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me) 
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea"
                          e.e. cummings, from "maggie, millie, molly, and may"
I shared this with my students today, and it made me think
of all the things that coexist

inside a moment

a drooping mouth, dry and trying to speak
a two year old's song "I wub it daddy"

feet crunching on glass-like lava

a breeze that blows your wedding veil
at the moment you invoke family lost 

allowing your tongue to  trace an ancient belly scar, learning his lines

laughing at how loud you said "I do!"

a live trampoline comedy show, paused, so he can take his knee in a crowded gym
and open the box that means forever

big, big fights about all the little things, wrapped in a screenless window room
in the Swan Hotel on the Thames River

holding hands while driving

rolling your eyes at yet another diving story

wondering why it is so hard for him to say you are "beautiful"
and trying hard to smile when he says "pretty" instead

and the soft, quiet, firm moments
with candles lit and the door locked, sweating and breathing heavy.

It's all there.  It's all gone.  It is empty, over-full, lost and seated deep inside you...
ebbing and flowing with every ocean tide
that ever was
and ever will be.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Wednesday night poem

I went out last night.  I was supposed to meet a friend, but she got tied up with crazy kid stuff.  So, I ate, had some good beer, chatted with some people, and wrote...and I thought I'd share the first one...I have to reread the others before posting them.  I felt okay...but deeply I wanted to write about that, about "empty"...

Sit With Trembling Lips
and empty bowl
cracked in lightning lines
not yet shined with
still letting breezes through
slithering lines of snake air
    winding words, serpentine circular stories
replaying records worn beyond skips
       and repetition
to a place where sound           drops
drizzling dried tear rocks
onto unpainted dirty toes
Toes that danced in the rain
and curled around other toes
twining like vines
transcending lattice walls

strange and lovely
full of space
        and hollow homes to
minor-key moments
creating fractal lenses
in broken binoculars

should I look through
the right way
and see far away?
My eyes keep finding
the smaller circles
and tiny things, close up
sing me vision songs
from just 
and it makes me

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

tripping while dancing

I like this quote.
It makes me think, though,
that I should remember that embracing the misery and learning from it
examining it like a cell in a microscope
or wearing it, in moments, like a purple hat
that makes me strong.

I wonder, though, if perhaps that is not the case for everyone?

I don't kids are feeling it this month.  I'm not sure I have a poem in me...I just feel like I'm DOING this.  I am not making myself anything...I'm putting one foot in front of the other.  Sometimes the steps go cockeyed and sometimes I step on my own toes.  Sometimes I am totally dancing.  Perhaps, like my oldest before he learned to crawl, I'm mostly rolling around on the floor, forward, left, backwards...just oval type motions across the floor.  But I'm moving...I'm swimming...I'm trying...

I am tired of listening to my own thoughts.  I hate it when I think of hospice.  I hate it when I think of how things were...the moment when I decided I needed to get significant help, more than could come to the house.

I just have this.  I carry it.  It won't go away.  I just feel so damn angry!  That is the hardest emotion for me to manage, I think.  I'm NOT angry at John.  He would have stayed if there was ANYTHING he could do about it...but I'm angry at Cancer for taking him, at life for making me start over.  Damnit, I had an effed up time starting in the first place, and continuing, and then I found such a loving guy.  But that is irrelevant.  Not insofar as really big things, like my kids or the reality of his love.  But because I have to try again.  I'm not crazy for loving you...I'm crazy for needing to try again.  But I do.  And that makes me angry.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Is it?

a question rang
Is that
the ONLY
version, perspective
of your story?

Can I switch my perspective?
of course I can.  Which is NOT
to say
it is an easy game

I feel myself trying
to do this--
I attempt to remember
the pain-stories I've worn
a series of
ripped Cinderella dresses, shredded

trying to learn
to sew
the granddaughter of an expert seamstress
who passed less than nothing on

in order to put together something
patchwork new

I see the pain and it is colors
it colors my gown
in fiery blasts of golden reds
I taste the tears and
sew every last one
my train- a shimmering gauze of glitter, pearls, and sequins
my hair- crystals of frozen salt songs simmering in solid moments
my ears and neck- gems and solid dew drops made only to adorn and decorate

that these things happened
see the underclothes
the simple things that cover the basics
the tale that Stars

Myself.  The One Who Made it Through.
Who came out the other side
like the Dragon Mother, Daenerys, Fire Princess
Alive inside the flames
and hatching creatures
fierce and magical
often unpredictable

No matter

I am adorned in shimmering
color strong as the sun, patchwork patterns
and messy moment pockets

I'll learn
to ride my dragons
and scream the songs
of the wind

Sewing the seeds of our future
inside the the nutrient rich death of days
gone by...

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Elven dreams

and my empty
ties to your empty
full of beauty
a silhouette of Shaina
Yiddish beauty
and a simple name
masking a man of many facets

Mother, father, daughter, son
connections intertwining
electric moments of lighting
cracking through earth

fire filled water moments
things that don't
make sense

the mustard seed story
where pain
is what binds us

I will feel these things
like fingers in a closed box
searching for what's inside
for the strength the tears send
for the connection the blood brings
for the gifts that loss can be

Cracks and openings and light coming in
from unexpected places.

-for a beautiful soul I never met, Shaina Ellette

Friday, May 9, 2014

I will

I feel the heavy,
I feel the salt.  I feel every moment
of together and every moment
of empty and gone.  My darling oldest son
keeps telling me how he misses his dad.

The last two nights, we have looked at albums.  He tells me
he is scared that Dad is gone.  He says that scared, to him,
is like a mix of sad and angry.  I tell him that
no matter what I am going through,
that even when I am struggling, I will ALWAYS
have enough
strength for him.

He has been hugging me again for a while.
Tonight he started giving me kisses again.  He tells me
that when Dad was alive, he loved us both equally and now,
now he loves me

I think of the lives I have lived.
I think of the swings that have been taken at me,
at the parts that make me a woman, at the parts
that are my safety place, the areas where
most people
build foundations of love
they have too often been empty rooms and battle grounds

I have refused to stop
pushing through to a place where love
can germinate
deforestation is pervasive
but I have
weapons, of a sort

I know how to send ice into my veins
and stay warm and pliable
I'm not saying it doesn't
But I know how

spider web veins of pain and hope
woven into hammocks swinging through time
are rides
I am familiar with
I may have even woven a few
of my own

I have a small and silent vow:
I will wait until night time

I will give them everything.
I will search my past
each place of pain
I will relive it, if necessary
in order to recognize, embrace
to drink the salt water

there is bleeding
and there is
and I have done both

There is never
a way to keep your kids clean
but there is the option:
let them know they will not bleed alone

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Learning to juggle

I will chalk today up as a sad and angry day.  I didn't know it was going to be that way.

We got to church late and I was already frustrated, but I wouldn't say I was overly sad or angry.  But the whining wouldn't stop and it was building and building...deep breathing was keeping it just barely at bay.  Then, I sat with Aiden in the front row and the music started.  It was the two young men who'd grown up playing their violins in the church...they are amazing.  And a thought that had been roiling around in my brain and careening into my heart throughout the last few days finally crystallized:  I do not really believe I will ever again find anything even close to the love I had for and with John.  I know I profess the desire to remain open to love and willing to try and look, give and receive.  But the "game" of dating isn't one I have ever ever been good at- I'm too honest, to strange a mix of things, too unconcerned with the dance of how to create desire...John had a strange patience and determination that waded through all my muck, doggedly persistent...and I think of how sometimes love just falls apart...people grow apart.  I think of how two people meet, feel attraction, live and love together for years, and turn around and find that it is all gone, or that it never really was...after losing John the way that I did, I just don't know that I have it in me to go through all of that mess.

These thoughts hit me like a tsunami, crashing down the highway, crumbling roads and homes into chunks of deadly rubble, and I started to cry.  And I couldn't stop.  So I got up and left the church to go sit by his name plate.  I cried and told him how much I miss him, I cried and stared into the mulch, fondled a blade of green smooth grass.  I cried and covered the death year beside his name.  The rest of the day was a blur of trying to hold myself together...I napped with my youngest, we ate pizza and got some groceries.  There was a lot of barely tolerating loud and playful behavior.  They got baths, hugs, kisses, and I even brushed their teeth.

Laundry is not done.  Three dog walks and they still pooped in the house.  The living room is a mess.  I have no idea what I have to wear tomorrow.  I know that I need to find the strength to smile and be fine and stuff away my pain.  So while I am able, I let it show.  I think, sometimes, of how certain friends say that it seems that I am doing well, that I am healing and I seem stronger.  I wonder if they think that as I reach each milestone, I should continue moving forward.  I see how cyclical this thing is called grief.  Intellectually, I have known for years that it was not a matter of moving through one stage and on to the next.  But I get it now, deeply.  My ears get it.  My knees get it.  I make it through a day.  That's wonderful.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?  I am grateful I have certain places where I can let it out instead of bottling it up.  I am grateful that I have the personal strength to do both those things.

I also think of how confusing my feelings about the kids are- they are so very hard to keep up with and the frustration of the fighting and whining and constant messes...and they keep having to eat!  And they keep growing and needing new clothes and I can't even keep up with figuring out what they have currently that fits or doesn't fit, let alone getting it out of the house when it is finally too small...but I look for things to do, because of them.  Because of them, I find moments of joy, I remember to go outside, I have people to hug and kiss and I hear daily expressions of love...I think life would be a little bit easier and a whole lot more painful without them.  Although easy and painful seem to cancel each other out, so, there's that...

Yeah.  Finding a balance.  It's just that it seems that I find a sweet spot and spin well for a small bit, and then the platform I call my life knocks into the empty place, the decimated hole, and everything careens and crashes, dumps and tilts and skids with screeching metal edges...the new normal, perhaps, is that there is no true balancing when there is this much pain.  Like a juggler just learning to toss the balls, they stay in the air for random, unpredictable amounts of time, and then crash down on your head and scatter to the edges of the room.  The only difference is that I am not learning to juggle for entertainment.  I am learning to juggle for the lives of my kids and for what is left of, no matter how many times they drop, I suppose I will continue to crawl around picking them up and trying again....but right now, I want to go to bed early.  And I don't care that I didn't do laundry and that the house is still a mess.  Perhaps I should, but I don't.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Number 9

being a life-long Beatles fan, I thought I would entitle this day, which would have been my ninth anniversary, accordingly.

Sometimes, I get a bit dizzy with the pain, loss, and insanity of it all.

I'd like to get to official double digits

It doesn't matter.  Number 9, number 9, number 9....twisted and strange and clangy.

I'd like to put in an official complaint about the whole, "squeaky wheel gets the grease" thing, because it seems like what that really means is that the only time anyone says anything is when things are going wrong.  Which is to say, I would like to officially ask the universe to find a way to bring to the attention to the powers that be the fact that I do an amazing job.  I did not just lose my husband, which is hard enough.  I lost my best friend, the only family that showed me unfailingly that there was support and love no matter what, the father to my children, my helper, my partner.  And I have three little ones, two dogs, three cats, plus a household to take care of...nothing is done to the level of amazing.  But I adore my kids and they know it.  I will let them see me grieve and give me comfort.  Because it is what our world consists of and to hide from it would hurt them.  I absolutely despise the fact that people think I would do anything other than be the best teacher I can be.  If I am in a dark place, that does NOT mean I am not strong enough to be professional, loving, guiding, inspiring...I feel like so much of my world, of the Western World, needs the lesson of the Mustard know that all of us are touched with pain and darkness, loss and grief and hurt and fear...these things do NOT make us less or unhealthy or weak or even messed up.  They make us, well, ALIVE.  The only time we avoid these things, is when we die.  Darkness, yes.  Pain and fear and loss and loneliness?  Of course.  I am a widow. I am only 40 and my husband was only 45.  We have three small kids.  Of course there are the dark things.  But damn-it, my heart is strong.  Full of the desire to love and grow.  John would not have loved me if I did not have this in me.  I would not love myself the way I do...I fought for so long to see my strength and my independence and to believe in the love I have inside.  I don't have to fight for that anymore.  It's there and there is no denying it.  I will never again question these things about myself.

But why must life present to me situations to, yet again, question and doubt the motives of others?  Why do so MANY of us create closed, strange, petty places, where expressions of caring don't go direct to the individual?  Where you don't go to someone struggling and offer help and support, love and friendship?  Instead, people judge and report, like we really do live in 1984.

How can we make our world what we wish it could be?  The Buddha says that (as far as I am able to understand in my limited experience) we must live what we wish our world would that small and consistent way, we make it what we wish.  I'm trying so hard...and I see many many lovely people who offer that to me, but they felt this way before actions seem to change nothing.  More simply, I find others who agree with me.  It is akin to the time when I canvassed- you were frustrated if you looked for people whose minds' you could change...instead, you kept knocking on doors till you found the few who agreed with you...

I understand that we will not all agree.  But why can we not find ways to acknowledge strength, to offer comfort, to create community??

Sigh.  Anyway.

My ninth anniversary.  Last year, there were friends all over and we had fires and roasted marshmallows and John was in his hospital bed in our living room.  It hurts so deeply when I think about how I had to go from seeing him on the trampoline, bouncing and flipping and amazing me, to unable to walk in the space of a couple years.  He was one of the best people I have ever had the honor of knowing, and knowing that he loved me, that he chose to make new people with me through the love of our touch...THAT is an honor.  And I promise I will try to allow that to carry me through the hard times.  I miss you, John.  I'm so deeply lonely without you.  I don't know how I will find someone who can touch me the same way, physically or emotionally.  I truly HATE that I must try, but I know I must...I deserve love.  And you believed that too.  If it could be you, I would chose that a hundred times over and over throughout time.  I can't have that.  So, I also promise to never ever let you go completely.  You are half of our babies.  You were the one who tamed me deeply and truly.

I will hold onto that, when all else frustrates me.  Thank you for everything.  Happy anniversary to my favorite grown up human being.   You have my heart forever.