Posted in God, Lanscape of Loss, letting go, Light

WTF God

Dear God,

WTF!

Why you keep giving me awesome things and then taking them away!

6012
Licorice
Colorado
Trisha
Lila
Innocence
Childhood
Magic
Conception

And the worse yet–motherhood! Sacrifice everything. End up with nothing.

And love! 
31years with only one possible ending.
Loss

WTF God! I hate you! I wish I never met you! You suck!

Knowing you. Loving you. Has been the biggest heartbreak of all.

Why such separation? Why do you mock me from the sky? Why aren’t I your only. Where is YOUR constancy? Why do you hide? 

I am terrified to find myself tip toeing toward you again. 

I have only just recovered from our breakup.
39.5 years ago.

There!

THE END.

On, and Fuck YOU!

(sorry about that.)

hope you’re well & all.
let’s have tea sometime.

~

(Written February 2017 in Writing Down the Light program with Joan Borysenko at Kripalu)

Posted in Ancestors, Artifacts/My Bonnie, Lanscape of Loss, My Bonnie, Spring

Our Mother’s Grief

Though I was 19 before I knew that I wasn’t, in fact, her firstborn–something she confided in the small kitchen of her new home (after she left our father’s), a confession which was meant to be a cautionary tale of fertility (her own at the same age, but alas 3 years too late for me)–it was too late. I had already assumed her burdens, spoken and mostly unspoken, embodied, and here was yet another—a heartache she carried alone for so long—her firstborn daughter, delivered at a Home for Unwed Mothers, less than a year before she married my father, pregnant with me.

“He wouldn’t let me talk about her,” she said. “I just wanted to know that she was as okay.”

Do all firstborn daughters & onlies and even sons carry the weight of their mother’s grief?

Which is not to say, there weren’t other inheritances.

The light of my mother’s consciousness.
Her dedication to study.
Her devotion to home.
Her innate gentleness and good nature.
Her capacity to see a whole person even in those who had harmed her/us–at times to a fault.
Her loneliness. Her isolation. Her martyrdom.

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Posted in Ancestors, Lanscape of Loss, My Bonnie, Spring

What women share

All over the interwebs, I’m struck by the honesty, the rawness, the sobriety of this Mothers Day. Is it the weather? (It can’t be snowing everywhere.) Is it the nation’s weather?

Women are waking up to REAL. Speaking truth. Feeling pain. Sharing it. Tending it. Using voice. Claiming space. Including space for joy and rest and reclamation. May it be so.

My compassion tonight extends to all those who have mothers who hurt them. (And all those who have children who hurt them.) And all those who feel less than (or have been told they’re so) because they aren’t mothers. (And all those who wanted to be mothers, and had to find another way to mother.) And all those who have lost a child. (Or a mother.)

The profound depth of what it is to be a woman–what we embody, experience, feel, surrender, claim–is shared among us no matter our race, our faith, our nationality, our politics, our procreative status.

Mothers Day 2019

~

An old friend from college sent me this song today, set to a poem by Maya Angelou.

Phenomenal Women

Posted in Lanscape of Loss, Light, Markers, Return, Spring

Let It Be

It was a quarter of a century ago that I spent SpRiNg Vacation bleeding, assured by technicians & physicians that everything “looked good.” (My progesterone was just low and so they gave me some to take.)

It was this night that I would wake before dawn with a kind of rhythmic cramp that I’d never felt before, on & off, on & off. I thought I had a stomach virus.

By morning, I knew something was wrong and so I woke my husband and we drove an hour to the hospital. The midwife extracted the intact sac from my cervix. At least that’s how I remember it. That’s what I can still feel between my legs all these years later.

April 19th.

I’ve never forgotten the date even though the agony of loss was later overwhelmed by the joy of two sons, but not until I miscarried that fall. We had conceived immediately that time, living in the little ski rental beside the brook above the mill across from the cow pasture, our first place in Vermont.

It was the grief of the first loss, at the end of the first trimester, after a year of trying, that drove us from home–from the sea to the Green Mountains.

I was teaching 3rd & 4th grade in a little school nestled against a mountain just across from the ski place when they called me with the results of the ultrasound. I took the call in the nurse’s office and then went into the bathroom and sobbed before returning to my classroom.

I left that school after a single year. I loved my students, but I had fallen into despair, working 12 hours days, which was never enough, thinking my life would always be like that.

My sister sent me a cassette tape in the mail. “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” I’d always loved bridges even though I’d planned to name both babies after the Beloved who I lost to one. I still have that plastic Easter Egg that I painted this month all those years ago–a small-petaled flower and the name: Lila.

“When you’re weary, feeling small. When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them off.

I’m on your side…”

I never went back to teaching after that, not full time, but next week I’m returning to that school to consider a classroom support position, twenty-five years after I left.

Perhaps there’s a bit of soul retrieval going on behind the scenes with both boys graduating, one from college, the other from high school, and the book about my grandmother rounding its last corner.

Let it be.

That was the other song from the tape that ministered to me,

“Mother Mary comes to me…

Let it be.”

I’m still learning what that means.

Posted in Lanscape of Loss, letting go

Middles

visipix.com

Whenever I have trouble getting the woodstove going, I think about that family when I was a girl in Colorado.

Why did that fire, unwanted, burn so easily?

And then I think of other things, like pregnancy. A single spring at the bloom of 16, one terrifying conception after the other, while a decade later, an entire year of yearning, followed by one heartbreaking miscarriage and then another.

And what about gardens? We work so hard to grow things, while other things grow no matter how hard we labor against them.

Criticism is like that. Sticky.
Compliments. Slippery.

People take their lives while others fight to hang on, leaving behind lovers or life’s work or little children and the span of light-filled years expected to unfold…

I don’t like puzzles much, except for the edges. I like the edges of brownies and cookies too. Movies and storybooks run along the edges–the crispy, chewy stuff–without all the soft middles of indigestion & weeding & building the fire & making appointments.

When we do die, I wonder if all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place and look beautiful.

I wonder if we look back and wish for more middles.

Posted in Apprenticeship with my own passing, Lanscape of Loss, Light

Winter Meditations

Decades ago, I came across a quote that spoke of kindness like drops of water filling a vessel until it spills over.

I wonder if it’s the same with hurts. Does everything accumulate? Is there always a tipping point?

Or should there be no accumulation of anything? Should everything flow, pain as well as kindness?

Do I grasp and hold onto injury as much as I do love?

What would come of opening and feeling all of it without holding on?

Instead of weighted and bruised and scabbed, my heart is as soft as a petal.

~

Whenever I have trouble getting the woodstove going, I think about that family when I was a girl in Colorado.

Why did that fire, unwanted, burn so easily?

And then I think of other things, like pregnancy. A single spring at the bloom of 16, one terrifying conception after the other, while a decade later, an entire year of yearning, followed by one heartbreaking miscarriage and then another.

And what about gardens? We work so hard to grow things, while other things grow no matter how hard we labor against them.

Criticism is like that. Sticky.
Compliments… slippery.

People take their lives while others fight to hang on, leaving behind lovers or life’s work or little children and the span of light-filled years expected to unfold…

I don’t like puzzles much, except for the edges. I like the edges of brownies and cookies too. Movies and storybooks run along the edges–the crispy, chewy stuff–without all the soft middles of indigestion & weeding & building the fire & making appointments.

When we do die, I wonder if all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place and look beautiful.

I wonder if we look back and wish for more middles.

~

Sometimes I avoid going to bed because I feel too overwhelmed about climbing the stairs and flossing my teeth. And when I finally do face it, I’m surprised and congratulatory, “Yay, Kelly, you did it,” but then another night comes, and I’m overwhelmed and resistant all over again.

Sometimes I resist going to bed because it’s a little like dying and I don’t want to miss anything.

Sometimes I go to bed just so a new day can come and I can have another cup of tea.

But back to flossing. If I gave it up, I think I’d get more sleep. Less teeth. More sleep.

Posted in Lanscape of Loss, Markers, My Bonnie

Benevolent

It was my mother who taught me to watch the signs, to wink at the synchronicities, to see all things, even the inanimate, in possession of soul, and to view the world, despite its imperfections, as she was herself, despite hers—benevolent.

Her life and that of my youngest crossed paths, for a single month, and now, eighteen years later, when he has unexpectantly returned to the nest, we embarked on an epic road trip, covering 8 states and 1,900 miles in under a week. Because we could.

Because one of my youngest cousins was getting married in Tennessee. Because the groom and his friends were scientists & engineers (& goofy & interesting) like Aidan aspired (and now needed encouragement) to be.

We drove west out of the Green Mountains into New York, past Albany. “I’ve never been this far west,” Aidan said, and he was right, but still this surprised me because hadn’t I’d lived in the Rockies as a kid and returned as an adult, and hadn’t Aidan always been with me?

“I can’t believe there is all this country I’ve never seen,” he said, “Now I have to go everywhere.”

I chose this westerly route at the advice of friends to avoid the traffic around New York and Philly and DC, and Aidan heartily endorsed a longer route once he realized that we would pass Scranton.

“Scranton!” he said. “Scranton, PA?!!”

His enthusiasm was unfathomable as was his request to stop there, particularly when he showed such little interest in a detour to Monticello on our way south.

“Dunder Mifflin is in Scranton,” he said.

We continued past Scranton (though I took photos at his request), traveling south on Interstate 81 for an audacious 678 miles–through Pennsylvania and into Maryland and West Virginia.

We took turns with our respective audiobooks. Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry,” (which he downloaded “for me” because he had already read it three times), and “Half of a Yellow Sun,” by the phenomenal Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which was the more captivating of the two (in my opinion.)

The next morning we drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains in a snowstorm, with elevations exceeding 2,500 feet, which is where we found ourselves, stuck behind a box truck whose cargo caught my attention and grief, just as the characters in “Half of a Yellow Sun,” professors and parents and school children, found themselves steeped in the trauma of war.

“What is that?” I said. “Chickens?”

“Turkins, maybe,” Aidan said, navigating into the passing lane.

“It’s so cold out. Why would the truck be open like that?”

“There’s no company name on it,” Aidan said as we passed.” They don’t want to advertise.”

I snapped a photo of the cages, thinking there was beauty in the angles and color and light even as it pained me to see it, and thinking that I wanted to share what it is we do to animals before we eat them.

“This is why we get our food locally,” I said, as the truck faded from view, and Aidan nodded his head before pushing play on his second book, another Neil deGrasse Tyson’s, a new one that he hadn’t read: “Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military.”

All of this cast a spell on the afternoon–the high elevation, the wind, the snow, the chickens or Turkins, the war in the novel and the alliance between profit and killing.

“Let’s listen to the radio for a while,” I suggested, hoping to lend a sense of place, but it was then that the announcer said, “The poet Mary Oliver had died.”

This darkness stayed with me as we crossed into the Smokies and then it receded when we arrived at the site of the 1982 World’s Fair, and took the elevator to the top of the Sunsphere where dozens of relatives–uncles & aunts, nieces & nephews, siblings & grandparents–gathered inside a 360-degree view of Knoxville, Tennessee.

By the time Aidan and I left Knoxville three days later for the long drive home, we knew our way around town and had each found our favorite coffee shops–his downtown, sleek and minimalistic, and mine comfortable and homey in the historic part of town.

Our return trip was delayed by weather and so before we left Tennessee, I found us an establishment that served chicken & dumplings (in the town where Dolly Parton was born in fact, on her birthday weekend), and this meal nourished and delighted us, even the next day, as set out north on 81, out of the Smokies again, listening solely to “Accessory to War,” because the extra day meant that my library loan had expired.

We moved at a clip with Aidan was behind the wheel again, insisting on doing all the navigating himself, as he had throughout the city.

“There’s an accident up ahead,” he said, pointing to the GPS. “But this is still the fastest route.”

The traffic slowed as we approached the scene and I felt how strange it was to move in procession among the eighteen wheelers who had been such a nuisance on our journey, though there were fewer because it was MLK Day.

Their gray somber pace reminded of the teenage sport’s team who arrived at the funeral parlor, heads bowed, uncharacteristically subdued, outfitted in suits instead of cleats, as they walked past the coffin which held my lifelong friend, who died this very weekend, an unfathomable two years ago, for whom the site of the box truck with the chickens or the Turkins, would have been unbearable, so large her heart for the creatures among us.

The accident, if that’s what it was, seemed to have occurred on the soft grass up head between the north and south lanes of the highway, but I didn’t see any vehicles as we approached.

“I think it’s construction work,” I said, pushing pause on Aidan’s audiobook. But as we passed the site, he said something chilling, just as I realized it too.

“The chickens.”

The cab was barely recognizable, but the birds were.

I remember holding Aidan in my arms while my mother took her last breaths. I never understood why my sister needed to photograph even this, but those photos became precious touchstones of life, of loss, of love, and the benevolence of all that is, her passing, his arrival. Her dying palm cradling his newborn head.

We drove in silence for a good while as we continued on 81 through the Smokies and when we pulled over at a rest area just across the border in Virginia, Aidan asked if I would drive.