Category Archives: family life

Circles of Quiet Joy

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I search everywhere for a gift,
just something, something
so that I don’t show up
empty-handed.
Then I remember
the real gift cannot be given
or taken away.
The real gift
comes from
an inextinguishable source.
The real gift
doesn’t change hands,
it changes hearts.
We all have this gift,
and if we could really see it,
we wouldn’t
be running frantically to the store…
We’d sit in circles
of quiet joy,
the light of infinity
mirrored in one another’s eyes.

How Amazing!

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We spent the morning at the pool.
It’s January, and we’re at the pool?
How amazing!
Then we went home, had lunch,
took a nap.
Wow, we can slow down and rest?
How amazing!
And then we packed a meal
and headed to the beach
for a sunset cookout.
We boogie boarded with the kids
catching gentle waves
that took us back to shore.
We ate our meal
complete with fresh pineapple
and watermelon
and it was twilight as we were finishing.
A couple of cute little hermit crabs appeared
right as we were packing up to go.
The ocean serenaded us with her sweet song
as we walked back up the path to the van.
I feel happy, whole, rested, complete.
Wow, I’m on vacation?
How amazing!

So Many Memories

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My two sisters
My two cousins
and I
were pall bearers today.
Five women
pulled our grandmother’s casket
out of the hearse
and wheeled it
up the aisle of the church.
Because my grandmother
was strong in her faith
she made sure to bring us to church
every time my sisters and I
spent the night at her house.
She taught me the Our Father prayer
and how to find hymns in the hymnal.
I remember how she’d pray,
kneeling, eyes closed,
resting her head in one hand
while the other held her rosary.
Because so many of my memories of her
involve the church,
the reality of her passing
really hit me
as we walked into the sanctuary.
The familiar strains of Ode to Joy
filled my ears.
The sound of the music
and the beauty of the space
touched my heart.
I cried as this moment
made her death seem
even more real.
The service was beautiful,
the luncheon that followed
went smoothly.
On the long ride to the cemetery
I got to thinking about
the ways we honor the dead
and provide closure for the living.
There were some final prayers
and then it was done.
I took a rose from the bouquet on her casket,
whispered goodbye Mom-Mom.
Now I’m home with this single flower
and so many memories.

Reflections After My Grandmother’s Viewing

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She looked so peaceful
as if she were sleeping;
I expected at any moment
she would wake up and speak to us.
Beautiful flowers surrounded her
and pinned to the bouquets
were notes of sympathy and condolence.
Many friends and family
came to see her and pay their respects–
Why does it  take an event such as this
to bring us all together?
I touched her hands, her face,
so familiar to me;
they felt foreign
with all the warmth gone from them…
And yet still there was this surge of affection
seeing her there, looking so peaceful, asleep.
I wondered about this tradition.
The body in the casket
was not my grandmother…
it was the garment she wore for 94 years.
My grandmother is everywhere now,
my heart knows this.
I can feel her love now more than ever.
I looked and looked, but I couldn’t see death…
only life in its many forms as its flows
from one state of being to the next.

Mom-Mom’s Passing

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I got to say goodbye to her yesterday.
We heard she wasn’t well,
had lost consciousness for a while;
they had called for the priest…
So we left in a hurry
hoping to get there in time.
When my mom and I arrived,
she lay there pale, asleep,
mouth partially open.
I touched her face,
took her hands,
said
Hello Mom-Mom.
She opened her eyes
and I was so glad to look into them.
She smiled at me, said my name,
told me my hands were cold,
I laughed.
When I asked her how she felt,
she said
Tired. I just want to rest. I’m ready.
We all took turns
spending time at her bedside
and she thanked each one of us
for all we had done.
I never knew that spending time
with a dying person
could be so sweet, tender,
loving, intimate.
I watched my aunt and cousins
and mother cry gently now and again
Just like I.
We joked and laughed with her,
the hospice staff were sweet
and affectionate with her too.
I sat beside her on the bed,
stroked her hair, her cheek,
massaged her shoulder,
held both of her hands.
I kept hearing her say goodbye
to everyone.
She told me she was tired,
that she wanted rest.
I heard my cousin say
Everything is taken care of,
you don’t need to worry.
You can let go 
when you are ready.
And my sweet Mom-Mom,
so childlike, innocent,
so soft-spoken now…
she looked into my cousin’s eyes
as my cousin smiled and nodded.
It was a privilege to hear her speak
to everyone, saying some of the last words
she would ever speak,
so many words of love and gratitude.
And then it was time for me to go.
I kissed her several more times,
told her I loved her again and again,
breathed in the smell of her soft cheek,
so pale.
Goodbye Mom-MomI love you.
I love you too, hon.
When we received the news of her passing
I felt so grateful to have had the chance to say goodbye,
to feel complete in the last words spoken.
This beautiful life that has an end…
When we witness the end of someone else’s life,
it reminds us of our own mortality,
and motivates us to take advantage
of the time we have.
Could there be any greater gift?
Thank you Mom-Mom
for the gift of your life
and for the gift of your passing.

This Is My Post for 11/26

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I’m writing this at 1:05 am on 11/27

but this is my post for 11/26,
so read this as if it is yesterday.

My children are STILL giggling in the sofa bed,

refusing to go to sleep.

We are in West Virginia

for a little family vacation.

My husband is asleep;

so is my nephew,

but my two kids are stubbornly 

attached to staying awake,

playing and laughing.

Now my twin sister is instructing 

them to sleep; they quiet,

is NOW the moment when they sleep?

Nope. There they go again.

Just next door my mother, father, 

older sister and her boyfriend are sleeping,

and tomorrow we’ll take a ride 

on the Polar Express.

I love this moment, feeling so tired,

welcoming sleep,

if only my children will let me.

Meditate First

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Guilt and shame
Rage and frustration
Disappointment and impatience
Hopelessness and despair…
all before 9 am.
I should’ve awakened early
and meditated first.

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It was my daughter’s first day of first grade.  My in-laws were preparing to leave.  The house was in chaos, and what I thought was an innocent request to help with the garbage was somehow interpreted as a tyrannical outburst which mortified and outraged my husband.

I think I need to develop the discipline to get up and meditate first before I speak to anyone–even when I’m tired and am seduced by the idea of meditating at some point mid-morning, after I’ve had my coffee and the number of humans in the house has been reduced to two.  When I sit first, I have a tendency to be more calm, more insightful, more patient, more aware, and this translates into better, smoother interactions with my family.

I’ve known this for a long time, but sometimes I flub up and can’t manage to get up before everyone else.  This is where I need to remind myself that I’m human, and sometimes life is messy.  I can offer myself a good dose of self-compassion and give myself a break for once.

I’ll try to wake up earlier tomorrow and see what happens.