Growing up in the woods my fondest childhood memories are of the times I spent outside. The feel of the forest in early spring when the trees are just beginning to bud out. Sitting in an ocean of yellow buttercups. Bullfrog croaking, hazy summer afternoon, Patter of rain on countless leaves. Somehow on the way to becoming an adult I learned that laundry, grocery shopping and email were more important than making time for myself to get outside. I have deprived myself of this potent medicine oh, how I have been deprived… Yet sometimes when I get over myself and I take time to get outside, my soul is pretty much instantly restored. I get to bask in this incredible feeling of clarity, insight and harmony. When I am outside I receive the beauty, the space, the inspiration to move, dance, BE with what is. In my dreaming I merge with the Universal Intelligence. In that place I am sending blessings of love in all directions.
Tomorrow morning I hand over the keys to my old house. This evening I brought my children, 7 and 9 years old, over to the old house to say goodbye. We lived there for almost five years, and when you’re 7 and 9, that’s a good portion of your life. They had fun running through the empty house, their whoops and hollers echoing off the bare walls. I walked room to room, thanking the house. I said goodbye to the experiences it held, good and bad. I said goodbye to the kitchen island, the epicenter of my creative expression there, where so much fabric was cut for sewing, so much art was made, many meals prepared, many words exchanged. So many feelings now. Relief to let go. The pain of still healing wounds, the memory of the grief and loss, and the love that was shared there too. I can remember all of it. We returned to our new home, still piled high with boxes, little paths running through them. I made a big pot of chicken soup and we sat in the kitchen together, the kids goofing off, giggling with their noodle mustaches, droplets of broth flying… I’m grateful for them. Just when I thought my heart might break from another surge of memory, they remind me that home is here and life is now and love is real and present and there is nothing missing.
Frequently it happens that I am struck by a memory of the times we were together, a family of four, and although we had our challenges (like everyone else) all was well with the world. Two beautiful children, jobs we liked and were good at, a home, a life together. And then one day it all changed. You were done. You blamed me. You betrayed me. I have spent nearly two years trying to get back on my feet, and I’m almost there. I’m certainly stronger now than I was at this time last year… But what do I do with the memories of before? Sometimes they are enough to bring me to my knees. I can see our children happy, smiling, I can hear my voice. I can see your face. I can hear you telling me you loved me. And then one day… you didn’t love me anymore. One day you told me that your pain was my fault. You told me what you were doing was brave, that it took courage to leave. I disagree. I think the real courage would’ve been found in your willingness to see your part in all of this, and in your ability to ask yourself why you were hurting so deeply that you would betray the woman you married and wound her the way that you did. Today it is cold, gray and raining outside, perfectly matching the state of my heart. I miss my children. I miss our life together. And I know I would be fine, if it weren’t for all the memories.
This is too much work! This is the last time I’m doing this!
as she served us
a gorgeous Christmas dinner.
I was four years old.
I felt really sad,
wondering what future Christmases would be like
without Mom-Mom and her dinner.
Imagine my surprise when
the following year, like every other year before it,
she served us a beautiful Christmas dinner.
Everything affects me these days.
I want to be so good,
and then I remember…
It all comes flooding back:
We were married,
then he was done,
then he met someone else,
lied about it,
and finally he’s moving out.
Finally I’ll be able
to reclaim my space.
Now how to navigate
the emotions that hurt?
How to find the courage
to stay with my experience?
It’s turns out that I really don’t know
as much as I once thought.
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.
Today’s prompt references Joe Brainard’s I Remember. We were invited to list a series of memories, being concrete, using these details as the “connective tissue” of the poem. I’m tired. I remember being tired a lot. I’m not sure how this will go, but who ever is really sure? Who is in control?
I remember being born.
My twin sister waited while I went first.
Upon exiting my mother’s womb,
I was promptly set aside
because I was fine
and the spotlight was on my sister’s predicament–
breech, slowed progress,
doctor wanted to get the forceps,
my mother said, “HELL NO!”
and pushed her out.
She was blue.
They hustled around her,
making sure she was breathing.
I was cold and sad, crying,
I wanted to go back to the warm place.
I felt alone.
This is how I remember my birth.
To this day, this drama plays out
in our adult lives.
I am always fine,
and the spotlight is always on her predicament,
her struggling while everyone watches
as she gets pushed to the next stage.
Will it always be this way?
Can we be reborn where we are both fine?