Sometimes you sit in a room with someone who is doing something hard. You sit with them and let them do the hard thing. You sit with them not doing the hard thing for them. You sit there not answering the questions facing them unless the questions are some version of, “Can I do this?” The only answer you say out loud is, “You’ve done hard things before. Of course you can do this.” You offer them sips of water. You keep the glass filled.
Pray for her happiness.
Not for her to get right
see the light.
Not for her to fall at last
to her unscarred knees.
Pray instead for her actual
An angel, a puppy, a music note.
She was not wearing these when she left.
Neither the black and copper choker,
the latticework of wire,
the abalone cuff.
She had not strapped on even one of the five Wonder Woman watches
to keep track of the time
it would take.
If she had clasped the anklet with its tiny bells falling against her foot,
we may have heard her go.
She didn’t want anyone to stop her,
we tell ourselves.
She waited until the house was quiet
In the story we tell of our family, the Fall 2019 chapter will be entitled “Haunted by Tragedy.” Three people close to us died unexpectedly in the span of four weeks. The past few months have been consumed with sorting belongings, planning memorials, and dealing with the aftermath of loss.
This weekend, we held a joyous and moving celebration for my friend Eric Dixon at one of the pubs where he played many winning games of trivia. This marks the last of the tangible tasks left to the living. The heart carries on with the intangibles. Here is what I shared at Eric’s service.
It is the music that finally does it. Sylvan Esso, “Funeral Singers.” It’s not the song’s particular connection that splits me open. It’s the fact of the music. That I can hear so much better, that I have learned to taste, appreciate and eventually love music that would have never existed for me if not for Eric. I’m guessing this is true for many of us here. How many of us can say — show of hands — that it’s because of Eric that we know King Crimson? I bet we all have lists of things we call our own now because Eric’s enthusiasm infected us. For me? It’s Galactic. Janelle Monáe. The author Katherine Dunn. The mathematician Martin Gardner… and that’s just the start of my list.
In 2017, my workplace started offering us bereavement leave. Two days per year. I’ve barely noticed it in my benefit package, let alone taken it. With an active tween and a couple of fit and overscheduled parents, it didn’t cross my mind that I would need to use those two days.
Or that those two days wouldn’t come close to covering the need.
I believe in living a poetic life, an art full life. Everything we do from the way we raise our children to the way we welcome our friends is part of a large canvas we are creating.– Maya Angelou
Sometimes your prayer weighs as much as a dump truck
filled with all the lost things
you dredged from the place you are trying to rebuild a home.
Sometimes it weighs as much as an ember at the center of the pit,
mostly ash but still burning.
Sometimes your prayer presses against your throat
you don’t know if you’re supposed to spit it out or swallow.
Sometimes your prayer hides inside the lines of your shadow.
That’s the only thing. Do anything else at all.
But don’t call.
Eat too much peanut butter. Water the plants. Walk the dog in the pouring rain.
Empty the suitcase. Start the laundry. Place the new pottery dish in its place.
Think about him again.
Don’t call. Continue reading “Listen Instead”
But lies were for people who didn’t believe in the future. Who saw only an endless stretch of present without consequences or change.
– Yoojin Grace Wuertz, Everything Belongs to Us
One day the ground begins its thaw.
The blind things just below the surface shift
in their sleep.
4.5 billion years and nothing has jarred the rock
from its grinding rotation.
We know this much: even if we hold it to us,
even if we drive the stakes to pin it in place,
what’s old will slough off.
Continue reading “Truth Or”
Bright smile and thick glasses. He slips the frames into a pocket while striding over to claim proximity.
Bigger than I’ve been since pregnancy. Stripped of makeup, wrinkled and pimpled and rank with sweat.
Side planks face to face.
I’ve known his name exactly three days.
Here we are grinning like teenagers and losing count.
Not done yet.
Dedication to each small climb, each tiny triumph. Here an apex.
A falling away.
Even on Skyline Drive, you’ve got to pull over and step out. Otherwise it’s just another commute.