his mother made
the cutest Christmas stockings
for all of us,
a little family of stockings
with all of our names
that always looked so cheerful
This year he asked
Should I hang yours up?
And I said No.
How can I face
that happy little family
when my real life family
is… no more?
Now I’m sad
seeing just three stockings hanging up
where before there were four.
Ah, I should just get over myself.
It’s a stocking.
I could just hang it up.
Why all these hang ups?
PS I actually fantasized about asking his mother if she wanted my stocking back, being that it’s handmade and all and I kind of can’t look at it any more without sobbing. I pictured myself saying something like, “So I can just pry the letters of my name off, I’ll send it back to you, and you can keep it safe until he gets remarried. Then you can put his next wife’s name on it. I’m sure she’ll love it.”
I of course didn’t do that. High fives! The love that I still have for the woman far outweighs the satisfaction I would’ve felt at being so outrageous. Plus, with no one there to photograph or film her reaction, what’s the point?
I was a patient
in the hospital
and I saw why
we are called “patients”–
Waiting for everything…
To drink, to eat, to sleep,
to go to the bathroom,
dependent on someone else
Back home I’m still a patient,
but it’s different when
it’s your family.
In this context
I need to summon
patience for who they are
more than patience
as I wait for what I want
them to do for me.
My two sisters
My two cousins
were pall bearers today.
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
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.
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.
My little family of four
was flying standby today
and only two of us could board the plane
from Boston to Salt Lake City.
I didn’t want us to split up,
but my husband insisted, saying,
If we don’t do it this way,
it will be the same thing tomorrow.
At least this way, we’ll have a better chance
of all of us getting there,
even if two of us have to arrive later.
So I and my son boarded the plane.
My daughter was in tears as I hugged her goodbye.
I told her she’d have a fun date with daddy
and tried to cheer her up,
but inside my heart was breaking.
As our plane took off,
I held my son’s hand,
really feeling the distance expanding,
separating us from my husband and my daughter.
And it struck me that experiences
really aren’t so fun
if the ones most dear to your heart
are not there with you to share them.
Nothing can buy the deep feeling of connection
that blossoms from within when you spend time
with those you love.
You could be on an island paradise
with delicious food, beautiful weather,
and luxury accommodations,
but without your beloveds,
it all becomes quite dreary.
So hold your loved ones close,
they are the most precious treasures of all.
When you’re happy together,
when you cherish one another,
it doesn’t matter where you are,
it all becomes so lovely.
I can see an old family portrait
clear as day in my mind.
Everyone is younger
and our hair is pretty funny.
Our smiles cued by the photographer
but there was sincere humor in our eyes.
Mom, Dad, big sister, twin sister and me…
Yes I can see it clear as day in my mind,
but so much time has passed
and gone are the days of togetherness
under the same roof.
Each bird has flown to its separate nest
And that old picture is buried somewhere
in my father’s mess.
Here is the prompt for NaPoWriMo 2016 Day 2. My family of origin–rather than the family I created with my husband–sprang to mind.
We went to the woods today
it was cold and gray
and my hands stayed in my pockets
for a while at least
until I went to pick up my niece
and place her on my shoulders.
She was lagging, dragging behind
quite resigned to her tortoise pace
until I swooped in and lifted her
higher than the others–
mother and father in law
my other little niece
still a baby, worn on the back
of her granddad in a carrier
you couldn’t have asked for a merrier crew.
I grow so tired of the winter
heart splintered into many pieces
that can only be brought
together in the light and warmth of spring
weather; being outside is really the only thing
I could ever call my religion.
It was cold today, cold and gray,
and while not my ideal way to pray
in my favorite worship place,
still, hearts together in any weather
will always bring a smile to my face.