Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's Not So Bad, This Getting Older

So much good packed into a blink of aging that I'm working hard at denying - impossible when my children insist on registering each year and inch and snippet of new wisdom.

I arrive to work on this dawning of the thirty-two to be serenaded in the foyer by waiting co-workers intent on celebrating my birth to which I'm sure I blushed and nodded, embarrassed and thrilled.  And there on my desk, like a rainbow, six beautiful cupcakes wait to bless my taste buds and my waist line.  Such thoughtfulness!  No wonder I love my job!

Hours scattered in blessings on me - a plethora of emails and facebook posts, the visiting of my parents with their own little chocolate cupcake and yellow candle, the fireman picture from my ever-thoughtful sister, the flowers...



...He's probably 65, shuffling along the carpet, dragging one bum leg in a weird side-dodder, seeking me out, tucked there in my office at 628 11th Street.  He carries sunshine, bursts of yellow wrapped in cellophane and pink tissue paper and he places it on my desk and I think my face might burst because I'm so surprised.  I have never had flowers delivered to me.  Maybe getting another year older isn't going to be so bad.


I'm thinking dear husband has upped his game, cherishing our little joke with the scratchy penmanship on the card..."I would catch a grenade for you."   He denies any knowledge, foolish not to take the credit but honest and confused.

Then I know.  It couldn't be anyone else.  Her.  The one I will grow old with.  Are you the one responsible for the beauty on my desk?  And her reply says, of course, though her words say, "throw my hand on a blade for ya!"  And I know she really would.

It's rare.  This friendship we have - this freedom for honesty - this for better or for worse life sharing.  How blessed am I to be always welcome, always wanted, cherished even?


Of course, we had to go.  Through fog and freezing rain to spend a beautiful night laughing together, tears weeping down our faces - I wanted nothing else.  Not enough sleep but more than enough love and now I can get busy making my way to a fabulous thirty-three.  With bells on.

Christmas Cake


I felt the heaviness of the ending the moment it was over.  Like suddenly the lights on the tree weren't so bright and I couldn't believe how much space I'd lost in the living room - happily given up in anticipation a month ago, now facing the dreaded tear down that needs to happen but leaves me empty.

I adore Christmas.  I just wish it didn't leave me breathless, craving a week of straight sleep, just one moment to rest my feet...a cabin in the woods with just myself and a keyboard...

There's joy in the excitement of children - even in their hyper, bounce-off-the-wall, break the nativity Mary (which made me want to cry).  There's joy in the gathering.  There's joy in the food.  There's joy in the reason.  There's joy in the laughing later over the things that almost had me a snivelling mess in the kitchen...



Just a birthday cake.  That's all I'm responsible for.  A birthday cake for Jesus because the kids would like it.  Because it's a fun way to remember.

I thought I was being clever and time saving by using a boxed mix.  Double layer carrot cake.  Cream cheese icing.  Adorable little Baby Jesus in a manger with a doting lamb beside to lay atop.  Easy, right?

The cake splits coming out of the pan.  Crumbles into the icing as I spread it.  Poor Jesus sinks down in the top like he's drowning in a sea of white caps and red sugar sprinkles.  And I am furious!  It's Christmas Eve.  Santa gets delicious homemade cookies and eggnog and Baby Jesus gets a war zone.

Noa watches me fume..."It's o-tay, Mommy," as I struggle to glue things back together with more icing.

Scott comes in, half-grin.  My irritation amuses him.

"This is a waste of my life!"

And he laughs.

"Mommy's weeeeeal fwustwated!"

If I don't pull it together I'm going to get coal in my stocking.  So I give up.  Cover it.  Put it away for the night.  It's not worth it.

In the morning there is a fissure through it, cracked down the centre, pieces flopped to the side...Dear eight pound, six ounce infant Baby Jesus, please forgive me...I have no gift to bring, Pa-Rumpa-Pum-Pum!...



Coffee gurgles and the children open their stockings.  I make the waffles and cut the strawberries and fry the sausage and add extra marshmallows to the hot chocolate.  Gifts are opened and the intense lego building begins.


And I observe this mess.  This creation that has un-created itself before it could be called anything worth mentioning.  So I make pies.  And the house smells like cinnamon.  Like Grandma's.  And it doesn't matter anymore - that mistake.  I'm already forgiven.

Jesus probably prefers pie anyway.

And now it's over.  Garland already dusty.  Snow heavy and dirty.

And I'm ready for summer.  Or a really good vacation.  Pa-Rumpa-Pum-Pum!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Hustle and The Bustle


Christmas.  We wait for it.  Count days.  Eat advent chocolate. 

I wish you could catch it.  Just grab a piece and preserve it  - form it into something beautiful - but it's just too fast. 

I'm watching hours fly in a blur and the bustle of shopping and the lines at Walmart and the discussion of the perfect decor atop the Jesus birthday cake and the baking and the wrapping and reading the Grinch fourteen times and the school concerts and the church production and the papermacheing set-pieces in the kitchen and the 'yes, we're still having staff meeting on Wednesday' and the 'why does Zander get the biggest present?' and 'can we open them now...can we, please...PLEASE???' and the eggnog and the forgetting to buy cream cheese and no time to write and nights are too short and how on earth can a family of five fill the laundry hamper in one stinking day?...

"Mommy, what do you want for Christmas?"

"Oh, not much...I'd like to sleep until 10:10, wake up to a knock on the door which is the delivery of a perfect cup of coffee and then I'd like to sit on the deck and drink it while Harry Connick Jr. plays Winter Wonderland on a grand piano in the snow."

"I don't think you're getting that."

Yeah, I don't think so either.

As much as I yearn for stillness a part of me loves the chaos because in it all there's just enough time to build memories and laugh together.  It's no Harry Connick Jr. but I'll bet he doesn't smell like gingerbread!






Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Parking Violation

"Pardon me?"  He's leaning over to the passenger window, white beard stained tobacco yellow.  He's three decades too old to have kids go here.

"Yes?" I say.

"Do you think I came at 2:30 just to let someone like you block me in?"

In fairness to him, I am about two feet from the curb - tucked nicely behind the Staples delivery van.  In all fairness to myself, we are in the large school driveway and I'm at least six feet ahead of him - more than enough room for him to pull out around me.

"Are you leaving right now?" I ask him.

"Doesn't look like it, does it?"

The condescension flaming off his words digs at me and I am immediately angry but I lace my voice in holiday sweetness, "I'm so sorry.  I'll move it right away."

I go back to my car, pull it out and across to the other side of the driveway.  Then I walk past him again and smile on my way to get Liam.  I hope he feels like a turd.

I collect both boys, feeling victory boil as I get to pull out of the parking lot before he collects whatever rug rats he's responsible for.  Looks like you didn't need me to move after all.  Merry Christmas, Scrooge!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Where Angels Fear To Tread

There are certain jobs worth avoiding at all costs.  The problem is, avoidance doesn't solve anything - it just prolongs the inevitable.

We didn't really believe the extent of the damage an ugly little beast could create.  Classic denial.  It just couldn't be that bad.

And now the snow flies.  And the floor is freezing.  And it just can't be forgotten.  There's no sidestepping frozen tile on an early morning.

Rats.  A thousand curses on their beady skulls!  Killing them all was only the first step.  How they mock us now from their blighted coffin beneath the floor...You poison us? - we'll show you - we'll pull down every little piece of insulation, tear it up, poop in it, make you think you're safe through the sweet waves of summer, make you forget, make you avoid and then BAM - winter, bet you didn't know linoleum could feel like ice, did you?   Bet you thought you'd won.

I am a sight to be reckoned with: my father's coveralls, rubber boots, hair tucked up into a toque, bandana over my mouth and nose, hood tied tight against any invader, work gloves - pretty is for the birds.

A deep breath and a decent into the bowels of Queen Street hell.

Here is the cork of joy.  Here is some wily demon erasing all things bright and beautiful.  Here is solitary confinement.

The work lamp pierces shadow and scatters ghosts.  Dust dances in the beam, filthy pirouettes of mocking delight.  It smells of dirt and emptiness - this place never touched by sun or love.  There is less than two feet.  I am restricted to my back or my belly and I move slowly, replacing insulation that is salvageable and awkwardly stuffing garbage bags with what is not.

I feel them all around me.  I feel their eyes.  Their whiskers.  The tickle of their ghosts.  I have disturbed this, their holy ground.  I hum to kill their hold and I hold my own until a fat, scowling carcass falls, bouncing off my stomach to rest, staring at me through empty sockets leaking nightmares.

I recoil.  Backpedaling.  I hit my head on a beam and lay straight back in the dirt, my breath causing the dust to roil and laugh.  My heart races, wild and off-beat, and I find my own rigor mortis - frozen here on this bed of earth, this grave of the countless horde.

When I am calm, I can carry on.  When I crawl I can hear a snap and pop and I know I've just put my knee on another one.  It breaks apart beneath me - nothing but bones and fur.  I feel it's fury in every shiver on my spine.

This is the ugliest place in the world.  I miss the sun.  I miss the living.

And when I am resurrected - birthed from the trapdoor in a burst of tearing eyes and coughing - I count my blessings in a scalding shower, burning the fibreglass from my pores, steaming death from my lungs, sucking sunshine from the window and feeling the kitchen the floor that is a little less cold now that I've descended into the darkest pit where even angels fear to tread.

More rat stories?
Look Who Wears The Pants Now
Massacre At 212 Queen St S
Where Angels Fear To Tread Part 2

Monday, December 5, 2011

Don't Stop Believing

I see it happen.  That little piece, breaking off from the magic of childhood, crushed by the truth he's sure he has witnessed.  The end of the believing.  Fairies aren't real.  I have failed him.

There's worry etched across his face, like maybe he's in the wrong, like maybe I was right and by not brushing she overlooked the newest falling out.  "Dare wasn't any money under my piwlow."

And I take it like a punch to the gut.

"Did she fowget me?"

"Maybe she's just late...or maybe you didn't look hard enough..."  I am discretely moving into the bedroom where I palm a coin off the dresser while he follows me like a sad shadow.

"But I wooked evwywhere!"

"Do you want me to look?"

He shrugs, "I duess." And follows me up the stairs.

I dig around his bunk, a ziplock baggie with baby tooth disappears into my sleeve.  I reach down the edge of the mattress, just in case she dropped it back there.  I make sure it 'tings' against the side...such a clever minks am I!  "Liam, look!" I present the coin - all apology and magic.

He takes it.  He looks at it.  He looks at me.  He's annoyed.  "You dust did dat."

"What are you talking about?"

"You dust put it dare!"  And he marches down the stairs.

And I am the worst mother in the world.

He announces to his brother that my foolery will make no fool of him and he hurrumphs when his brother defends the sweet fairy..."Mommy's right, she was probably just running late or something...she probably snuck in when you were downstairs."

"Whatever, Zander!  Dat's so dumb!"

And because I am ruined over my ruining I spend my lunch break perfecting the ruse with a clever letter designed to magically appear among the mail.


I read it for him.  He is skeptical.  "You dust wote dat."

But as night falls, he can't stop himself from looking for the moon, seeking out that bright star to the right, straining for a glimpse of that shinning dream - because maybe, just maybe, fairies are real, maybe magic is real and maybe his tooth really is a brand new star.

Want to make a letter of your own? Pop over to my retail page and grab yourself a sticker pack!

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What Is A Writer?

I've had a few days of pouring energy into something that has seemed to bubble up from the core of me the moment I claimed a loss for words.  Funny how that works.  Like by claiming the missing I conceived the finding.  How by the voicing I damned the damning.

I read this today: "Write something that you can't stand NOT to write."  How can I stop if it's pouring out all on it's own?  I can't.  I couldn't stand to stop.

I have this vision of running away - anywhere will do - running away to just write...to let my fingers do the talking...to see this from conception to the birthing in one large unbroken breath.

I had this notion that to be writer you had to be "published".  But don't you only need to write?  To make music with words; verses with rhythm, harmonies with synonyms...to create something from nothing, from empty space where no story lay before - that is a writer.

So yes, that is what I am.

And all I want is to create something beautiful.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In A Novel World

2,569 words.

Pages of notes.

A growing list of research bookmarks.

Characters that are already breaking my heart.

A humble beginning but a beginning no less.




Tweeting the journey...@writeablackbird

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Writer's Block

I have felt stuck for a while.  Like maybe I'll never write anything good again.  Like I've used up every idea, sapped every notion, defeated each inkling before it's conception.

I have felt sad.

And desperate.

And empty.

And itching to pour out something of worth.  Something that might move you.  Something that might change you.  Something that might enter a conversation in a grocery store aisle in a, "have you read it yet?" kind of way.

Maybe that arrogance is what blocks me.  Did Leonard Cohen really think he'd change the world when he sat down to write?  Shall I step up to the humility plate and claim it as my homestead?

Instead, I am claiming today - this grey-skied dreary - and I will saturate it in black and white and the tap tap tap of words I'm not really thinking about but may read back later and think, "finally!"

Friday, November 25, 2011

Rewards of the Day

They come out of nowhere, whispers of goodness that catch you off guard and fuel your day.

1. I almost didn't go.  The line-up was out to the street but Noa was chanting "Tim-Bit!  Tim-Bit!" and if I didn't join the chugging train of fellow addicts I might have had to spend the day hiding underneath my desk.  So I traded my toonie for my sanity and was well on my way before I even noticed...


Did they know that I'd had a morning of 'I hate my clothes', 'My toes are funny looking', 'If only I could loose that ten pounds'...?

Probably not...but that's the thing with grace...it comes right when you need it.

2. I arrived to the ever-cheery 'Good Morning' from the ever-cheery best person in the world to work with.

3. I got to hang up my coat on the horrifyingly ugly black and brass coat tree I rescued from the church attic and I like it simply because it's horrifyingly ugly.

4.  I turned up the heat to 25 just because I can - because I don't share my office with anybody!

5.  I got to kick off my shoes and slip on my fuzzy slippers because comfy feet are seriously conducive to serious creativity.

6.  I got everything on my list done and checked off in Christmasy green ink.

7.  I took Zander to the bank where he opened his very first bank account and deposited his Fall Fair cheque in the staggering amount of $68.25.

8.  We stopped at the local thrift store because of the giant Papa Smurf in the window and I walked away with a pink cardigan, winter boots to replace my busted-at-the-seams, a Christmas Angel wreath for the front door and two Christmas candle holders.

9.  Outside the store was a box marked 'FREE' and in it, as if they didn't know he was a character from Toy Story 3, Noa found a Fisher Price Chatter Telephone and proceeded to walk it down the sidewalk like a puppy, pulling the little yellow rope and giggling as it chattered.


10.  And, as a perfect ending, I had a willing and splashing and singing helper as I washed the dinner dishes.



Yep...it was a good day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Brushing

She crawls behind me on the couch, small hands pressed gently against my neck for balance as she perches at my back.  "Ten you take out you ponytaowl, Mommy?  I wantta bwush you hayar."

I unlock strands from a frayed elastic, letting it fall in a messy sheet, kinked and dull from it's dinner time prison.

"Whoa.  You hayar so long!  Wike Punzzle!"

"Like Rapunzel?"

"Dat's what I sayd...just wike Punzzle."

She already has the brush and lays it gently upon my scalp, pulling it down through tangles, whispering..."caow-fu-wwee...caow-fu-wwee..."

She plants a hand on my head and curls her face around to look at me.  "Do you wike dat, Mommy?"

"Yep."

Back to brushing.  "I haff to be caowfuwl."

"That's right.  I don't want you to hurt me."

"I wouldn't.  I be caofuwl.  I be nice.  Weal nice.  Wike Santa!"

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Will I Survive?


There are a few moments of silence before the yowl of a tortured animal screeches through a quiet Sunday - before he can catch a breath to make such a noise, this death-wail despair.
"It's bleeeeeeeding!" and he's high pitched and panicked, feral and shifty as he gasps and sobs - great splashes of pain down a twisted face.

The offending floor - unfinished and uneven in it's docile wait for the new - remains stoic and unapologetic for the stubbing that has split the pinkie.

He limps to the bathroom.  Trail of blood upon his foe, crimson stain upon this personal ground zero.

"I - tan't - bweath," eyes so red they too seem to bleed.

"Slow down.  Breath deep."  Like a yoga instructor.

I clean his wound, battle nurse to his war-lesion.  He shakes and shutters, sobs and sniffles.  I rinse the cloth, watch this whirlpool of pink - his life coiling around the porcelain drain.  

I cut the gauze and apply the ointment and secure with bandages because I have no medical tape.

His face leaks.  "Am I dowing to survive?"

The final piece secured.  Some of my best work.  "Of course you are."

"But has dis ever happened to anyone else in da wowld?"

"Worse than this, even."

I gather him and his snot against my sweater and I carry him to the couch but he won't let go of my neck - hugging me hard like I might absorb all that pain and carry it away from him.  "Did evwyone else survive when dis happened to dem?"

"Every single one."  

And this seems to calm him because he finally lets go and leans back against the arm rest to begin his recovery.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Game Night

Let's turn off the television.
Let's put away video games and computers.
Let's play.
Let's pull out the old game board.
Let's not worry that we've lost all the pieces because we've got enough jellybeans for a hundred games.
Let's laugh and roll and count and move and remember that this is what it means to be a family.




Thursday, November 10, 2011

Is That Real Life?

The Princess Bride
Our hearts are stolen: captured by Buttercup, awed by Westley, forever destined to quote Indigo Montoya...

"Dat's towtowee my favwit movie!" Liam makes his declaration as credits roll and bedtime calls.
"Mommy, is dat weal life?
"What do you mean?"
"Like da movie?  Is dat weal life, like in da past ago?"
"You mean swords and pirates and princesses?"
"Yeah, like da movie?"
"The movie isn't real but swords and pirates and princesses are all real."
"Whoa...seeweeously?"
"Seriously!"
"Whoa...I'm gonna be da Dwead Piwit Woberts!"

And so...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Outta My Head

"Mommy, Mommy, Mommy..." He's running from the living room, half-eaten apple in hand.  "I have a loose toof."  There is an edge of panic, discovery creasing a frown between his eyes as I explore the new wiggle with a finger.

"You're right, Liam, it is loose!"

"Hmm."  He gives it another joggle.  "Is it just falling outta my head?"

"It's going to fall out of your mouth."

"Oh."

Later...

"Mommy?"

"Yes, Liam?"

"I wealized that it is just falling outta my head and it's 'cause I just bwush the top teeth and you said if I don't bwush all my teeth really good they'll fall outta my head and now they are falling outta my head and I think I should maybe bwush all my teeth better all over."

"You always need to brush your teeth well but I don't think you need to worry about this one."

"But should it hurt if it's just a loose toof?"

"No, but it might if you play with it a whole lot before it's ready to come out."

"Oh.  Well, it hurts."

Later...

"Mommy?"

"Yes, Liam?"
"Should you call the dentist?"

"Why?"

"'Cause it's falling outta my head."

Later...

"Mommy, Mommy, Mommy..."

He finds me in the kitchen.

"I dust wealized that this is a baby toof and baby toofs are supposed to come out!"

"Of course they are - you have nothing to worry about."

"Oh, 'cause I thought it was 'cause I don't bwush good."

"Do you still want me to call the dentist?"

"No way!"

Next day...


He bounces out of the kindergarten room, grinning wide to show the gap.  "My toof fell outta my head today!" But he's not worried any more, all concern is bent towards the tooth fairy and whether she's really real or not and if she'd rather collect a tooth in an envelope with a Donald Duck sticker or a clear, plastic bag.

losing his first tooth

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Meanest Mom In The World

An absence of video-games is like have an appendage removed without anesthetic.  He is crying on the way to school because never has there been a meaner mother.  I watch him in the rearview.  He's trying so hard to fight it - to show up with puffy eyes is to show up weak.

"Why can't you just take away the video-games for tomorrow?" He's hiccupping and leaking.

This is the result of yesterdays backseat fight between boys who were grouchy and tired and bored.  A consequence that hurts is one that works - I refuse to bend to tears.

"You were warned.  Maybe next time you'll listen."

"But - it's - game - day!"  Students who aren't attending the Halloween dance may go to a 'Game Room' - to which everyone is bring their DS - to which it would be lame to come empty-handed - to which it would be lamer to bring Molopoly.

"Do you still love me?"

Glare.

"Will you forgive me?"

Shrug.

"Maybe later?"

Tear.

I hug him in the school parking lot.  He resists but I grab his arms and wrap them around me and he tries not to smile.  "Don't fight with your brother."

"I know."

"I love you."

"Love you, too."  It's gruff but it's almost like he means it.

I go in to kiss his cheek and he lets me.

"Have a really good day!"

"Yeah."

And he's gone to tell his friends how mean I am so they'll feel sorry for him and he'll feel better.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Letters For GiGi


"How do you wite pum-kin?"

Liam has found me folding funeral clothes into the suitcase.  His fingers are tattooed blue.

"Why?"

"Tause I dwew a pum-kin on Gwampa's card and I want to wite pum-kin so he knows it's awmost Hawoween."

I snap the price tag from his new pin-stripped vest and use his blue marker to spell out pumpkin on the back side of the tag.

"Thanks, mom!" And he runs back to where they are all bent over their secrets, spelling out their love for Grandpa in shapes and colour.

"I drawd a wainbow, mommy, look it!" Noa waves her page like a flag - mad dashed splashes of her vibrant spirit across a page spilled with her gift.

"Well, I dwew Batman and Wobin and the Joker."  Which, in Liam language, means you are eternally special to me.

Zander doesn't want to show me his letter.  I tell him that's okay.  He's not saying much but there is a sadness that hangs on the edge of his smile as he praises Noa for her passionate scribbles.


When they see him - the him that doesn't look like him - the him that is left behind - cold and stern and stiff in a black suit - they aren't sure what to do because we all know this isn't really Grandpa GiGi lying so still and unbeing.  We settle the sunshine of their offering in the seam of his resting - this grandpa goodbye - their final embrace enveloped in their farewell creation - and it's like dressing darkness with hope.

Liam peers over the edge - not afraid to touch the wood that touches death.  "Did they cut off Gwandpa's wegs?"

"No, honey, they're just covered by the bottom half of the lid."

"Oh.  It wooks wike they cut them off."  And he rides his finger skate-board along the rails of the coffin because he's five years old and what else could amazing rails like that be for?  And really...it's not like Grandpa would mind.


Zander's tears are shinny.  They settle there at the rim of his eyes, pools of grief, until one blink spills them among his freckles.  This is the last time he will see his Grandpa.  But he's not looking at the stillness - he's looking across at the living - at the Grandma who is weeping for the husband she has lost - at the Grandma he never knew could cry - and this breaks something inside him.  He squeezes my hand and wipes his nose on his brand new blue shirt.  He doesn't let go of me until he settles beside his cousins after the family parade up the aisle.  His softness moves me.


They get lost on the way to the cemetery.  The pastor has said her piece and ashes to ashes and dust to dust and the funeral director spills a cross of sand upon the casket.  The crowd moves away slowly and we are whispering thanks that God stilled the rain for this one day.  My sister, flustered and all apology (that I wave away - it doesn't matter), wields curious children through the iron gate.  We have this moment as our own.  Leaves crunch as we guide them to the grave where he hangs suspended on green cables.  Dirt mounds to the left, hidden beneath fake sod and I find it offensive and crass.  A bearded man in brown coveralls stands beside the hearse, arms loosely crossed and waiting, face of practiced patience.  We don't have to hurry.

"We'll be able to come any time we want," I tell them.  "There will be a stone with Grandpa's name on it."

They peer over the lip, at the darkness at the bottom, at the box that holds a piece of their heart.

"Does Gwampa still have our letters?" Liam asks.

"They'll always be with him."

"Dood!"

And he's found his peace, safe with Batman and Jesus.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Very Merry Un-Birthday

It is devastating to stand before his glowing and shatter him with the words he knows are coming.  "Grandpa GiGi's funeral is on your birthday."  An apology is only words to a boy so set on sticking a candle in his decade here.  Big plans and two digits reduced to shadow in this living that has only been about dying for so long now.

There are miracles floating about.  I call them sister.  He calls them aunt.  They gave him the celebration that circumstance almost stole away and I will be always and forever grateful for their selfless offering when I had nothing left to give.




Monday, October 24, 2011

Putting it Back Together Again

When it all crashes down, when it falls and pushes, when we are broken - that is where the truth lies - that is where we find the ones who love us - down there at the bottom of the pit - taking on the burden of our tears.  Because we're already dried out.  Because we've already cried an ocean and burned our eyes raw and have nothing left to give.

To be loved is to be carried.  It is to be met in the darkness.  It is to be given permission to feel what we feel without apology.  Permission to laugh or cry or sleep or eat chocolate caramel cake at 2 am just because it makes us feel a little bit better.

And I feel like we'll make it through.  Peace will replace sadness in this beautiful mélange of family and friends that make it possible to carry on.

Sometimes just being together is enough to mend the brokenness.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ending

I traced the map of your life - these roads of yesterday - these tracks of wisdom that tell your story.  My hands, dripping in youth, against your face - so soft, dripping in history.  Eyes that wouldn't see me - only reflecting myself back, fighting the closing, captured on something beyond our own reality.  No sign of your knowing but the calming of your gasping when my fingers fell in a hushing rhythm upon your brow.  One tear, set upon the side of your face, so beautiful that I let it linger there, a prism shinning heaven.  And when it spilled, running down the landscape of your life-well-lived, I traced it's path like a bridge over troubled waters - this worn tear road - and silently screamed my prayer, "Let go, Let Go, LET GO."  But, no matter our desperation to see your peace, each time your laboured breathing broke, each pause that felt like ending, we would squeeze your hand or brush your hair - anything to bring you back because we were just as desperate to keep you here.

We cocooned you in love, this heart out-pouring, this memory pot-luck.  Minutes became hours and hours become days and we forgot if it was morning or afternoon and still you clung to a life that had reduced you to a shadowed corner of the man we will never really let go of.

All you needed was a moment.  Did you think it would hurt us too much?  You, waiting until your love laid her head down to bed, until we were distracted and laughing over a Canasta table, only then - with the sound of her dream breathing and our silly game giggles, did you finally let our prayers be answered.

We were there within a blink.  Saw the closing of your eyes.  Woke your love and watched as she caught your final heartbeat - cradled against her palm like a gift that she will forever carry tucked into a pocket of her heart.

The instant peace.  The relief.  All that struggle wiped clean from your face.  And we can breath again.

"Is Gwanpa GiGi in heaven?"  Liam's still too young to really understand.
"He's with Jesus," I tell him.
"Weelly?" Noa quips.  "Wit De-sus?"
"Yep.  What do you think he's doing right now?"
"Eatin' ice cream!" Liam says, grinning and turning back to play like it's the most natural thing in the world.

Sleep well.  You will be missed beyond a capacity I have to even understand.  Every breath of your goodness has sweetened this world and you leave behind a beautiful legacy of strength and integrity.  Thank you for loving me.






Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Until We Meet Again

Darkness leaks around the edges of the windows.  Midnight creaks within our bones.  We are vigil-weary. You are the strongest man I know.

It's strange.  Watching the unfolding.  This ending.  Here, where your world has been reduced to these four walls.

This is your happily ever after - her leaning over you, singing Jesus lullabies, wiping tears that shine like love.  You grip her hand like forever and I have to move back because there's no reason it should be me to catch that final breath - that last piece of you that floats out into this dry air and paints us with your spirit.

Where does it come from?  This will to fight?  So hard that you won't even close your eyes.  They shine glassy and sore and unseeing even in their openness.    Don't you know that by closing them they will open on a new tomorrow...one that lays far beyond the reaches of these pale, uncompromising walls.

The weight of the love here is close to smothering.  Has any man ever been given more?  You're practically drowning in it, aren't you?

You're withered and white but I remember the sound of your laugh - so easy.  A heart chuckle.

Half of my life has been lived with a Fred-space carved into my heart because you forced your way in there even before I decided that I would let myself love that boy of yours.  And that me-space in yours...I know it's there...you take that with you...hang onto it...keep it safe...until we meet again.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's What I Have To Give

I have nothing to say.  But my words could fill the sky - a cloud of sentiment and tribute too blue and heavy for this ceiling of the world.  Will it crash?  How could I know?  I've never been here before.

I can hear your living.  I hear it rasp and catch and sigh.  I think your living sounds like dying and I think yesterday was the last time I will ever see your eyes.  Such spark they used to have - flirtatious grin and joy-streaked future.  Spark!  You're really going to burn it up, up there, aren't you?  Tear up those clouds like a carnival child.

Last night we spilled the table to overflowing with you - patina of beginnings and middles and ends...these time machine stamps of your imprint on a world unaware of what it's loosing.  The forever that danced in your face, no thought of here today - that is what we must catch and hold onto.  The forever beyond the closing.

Should we count your breaths?  Should we count out each second?  Count it blessing even in the wounding?  Should we capture the last?  Bottle it up as a beacon of your spirit and settle it on the window still, a playmate for a peek-a-boo sun?

I don't know how to stand beside you and small talk like you're listening.  It's not in me to pour myself out for you in any way but this black and white moulding of words.  If you'll take it, it is yours.  This word.  This goodbye.  This heart that has for you enough love to fill the world.

I have nothing to say.  But my words could fill the sky.