It’s late December, only days to Christmas. The kids are out of school and it’s dark already at 4:30 pm. All the lights burn in the kitchen where my husband is busy making sugar cookies with our girls. Flour dusts the counters and floors. A delicious aroma fills the house. I’ve got work emails to Read More
And when she shall die, take her and cut her out in little stars, and she will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night, and pay no worship to the garish sun. William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet And now it’s happened: I’ve lost my mother. Read More
The blue planet with her mountains Now as always be my territory. The blue planet with her rivers Now and always be my hunting ground. The blue planet with her cities Now and always be my home ground. The blue planet with all my goals Now and always be my victory! The Grandmother of Time, Read More
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child Sometimes I feel like a motherless child Sometimes I feel like a motherless child A long way from home African-American Spiritual I’m going to lose my mother. My grandmother lost her mother in 1920 when she was seven years old. Katie was the second of five children Read More
I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am. Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar There’s a stillness that descends on the hospital late at night, softening the harshness of bright lights and the sterility of hard floors. Sounds are muted and voices are hushed. Read More
“Are you going to Colorado tomorrow, Mom?” Sydney stands in front of the refrigerator and asks the question for the third time this morning. “No, honey. Two weeks, remember? In two weeks.” I gently nudge her out of the way to open the door and place the milk jug on the top shelf. “Two weeks. Read More
After Grief lives in our house. Among the furniture, between the windows and the walls, it sits; thick and unmoving. Grief rides, heavy, on my chest. I can’t get a good, deep breath these days. It weighs down my husband’s shoulders and molds his features. Grief seeps into our nights of restless sleep and dreams Read More
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies . . .
Lord Byron (George Gordon)
When I was 13 I sketched my mother’s profile in church. Regal, she sat with her chin tilted upward, receiving enlightenment from the pulpit, her features arranged serenely. Thick, auburn hair hung past her shoulders. The long feathered bangs of 1976 framed her face. To me she was breathtaking. She was the sum of her parts and more; soft hands that soothed, full lips that pressed to a fevered forehead, arms that embraced, a gentle voice that lulled away hurt.
Today the pencil drawing, its edges burnt and the pulp decoupaged onto wood, hangs in her apartment, my adoration for her captured; a living thing. From floor to ceiling, photographs of her children line the walls. She wraps us around her like armor to do battle with her longtime companion, multiple sclerosis. From 2,000 miles away I resonate her pain. I mourn her loss, little by little. Attacking itself, her body betrays; her mind, too, keeping its secrets and misplacing her memories. Read More
Brother and sister, together as friends,
Ready to face whatever life sends.
Joy and laughter or tears and strife,
Holding hands tightly
As we dance through life.
‘Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.’ Edna Buchanan said that. I can only assume the implication is that the relatives we’re stuck with wouldn’t be the ones we’d pick if given the option. On some days, I could see myself choosing friends over family, but in the end, I believe I’d take the parents and siblings I’ve got. Among this motley crew, the love is hard-earned and runs deep. We started small then divided by divorce and multiplied through remarriage, becoming a Modern Family before it was trendy. Actually, it was more like The Brady Bunch. From hell. Three parents, two brothers and seven sisters, consisting of steps, halves and wholes, round out my nuclear family; every one unique and each one, extraordinary. A complicated blend, the reciprocity is messy and even volatile—there’s been no lack of drama in 38 years. But in the hotbed of familial relationship, conditions are ripe to learn life lessons that just don’t come any other way. Lessons on love, forgiveness, redemption and transformation.
Flying over New Mexico on my way to Phoenix, I peer through the airplane’s small window and take in the vastness of the red rocks below. I’m going home, to the funeral of my oldest brother’s son. Read More
And so lying underneath those stormy skies
She’d say, “oh, ohohohoh I know the sun must set to rise.
“Paradise” by Coldplay
~For Richard, Heidi and Gabriel~
It was Sunday afternoon. The weekend that seemed to stretch out enticingly before me on Friday was, for all intents and purposes, over. I sat on the couch, mindlessly surfing Facebook and playing Angry Birds. I had what we call the ‘Sunday blues;’ that restless dissatisfaction that strikes around 5:00 p.m. along with the realization that my vision of a weekend filled with relaxation and leisure . . . well, it’s just not gonna materialize. This happens frequently. My days get filled with grocery shopping, running kids to activities, projects at home, work issues, and other mundane tasks and my fun gets relegated to Saturday night after the kids go to bed, but by then I’m so beat I pass out halfway through a movie.
I felt a coming shift in the weather foretold by a pounding headache that stormed my skull. Sitting alone I looked out the window at the gathering clouds. Malaise settled in as I thought with a sigh how the girls would be home shortly. I’d have to get up from this couch to start the nighttime routine; wrangle up dinner, corral kids into the shower and herd them to bed. I’d go through Friday folders (Sunday night folders?) and look ahead to everyone’s schedules, gearing up for another busy week.
But that was all before I got the news that my brother-in-law had died. Just 45 minutes earlier, while I was lamenting the end of the weekend, he had taken his last breath and given up the battle he’d waged to the finish. He and my sister were separated, but in the end, their differences didn’t matter. The strife and tension between them healed spontaneously on his journey from this plane to the next. When cancer took over his body, she took him into her home and tended to his dying. In the process she found forgiveness and focused on creating lasting memories for her son, their son. He is seven, my nephew; much too young to lose his father. And his father, much too young to lose his life. Read More