Posted in Lanscape of Loss, Light, Losing a friend, Loss & our nation

Vacancy

It’s Sunday night and the house is empty again. Aidan has returned to school, and our weekend guests have headed south toward Philly.

The hush. The still. The simplicity. Tonight, the empty house is a friend.

In this spaciousness, I am brought to tears. Not once, but several times, consecutively.

“We buried my friend today,” I want to say, but that’s not true. It was only her ashes we released over the Whetstone Brook because she was drawn toward it when she visited 5 years ago.

“I love that creek near your house,” she’d say.

“It’s a brook,” I’d tell her.

That trip was her first and only one to Vermont, and she came in the winter, and she hates winter, and she was very sick then too. But it was my 50th birthday, and I had planned a women’s weekend, and she wanted to be here, much like she wanted to make it to London during my semester abroad when we were 20.

Despite her fragile state (though fragile is never a word that could be used to describe my friend), she traveled alone ahead of her husband and our friends so that she could have an extra day before the festivities.

The sky grew dark by the time her train pulled in, and a light snow began to fall.

She and I walked up the hill to the Co-op to meet my family, and we took it slow, stopping often. “It’s okay, Kel,” she said, “I’ll be okay.”

We were wild together once—dancing, laughing, gallivanting—in London, in Philly, at the Jersey shore.

Now all her wild was inside.

Laura.

We got together again a couple years after my 50th for a long weekend in Cape May. We celebrated her birthday. She was doing really well that time. She loved the sea. Even in February.

No one knew it would be her last.

If you’ve followed me on Facebook ahead of the election in 2016, you may have recognized our friendship by our fierce arguments.

You may or may not have noticed the ways we “liked” each other’s family photos and celebrated each other’s milestones. You wouldn’t have known that behind the scenes, we checked in on each other’s kids and talked about her treatments and made plans to meet up when we could.

Laura talked a lot about making it back to Vermont in the summertime, admiring as she did all the photos I posted of the pond.

“My son Cameron has to get there too,” she’d say, “He thinks like you do.” (They’d argued fiercely too.)

On the day after the election, I posted an image of myself. It was reminiscent of the photo I knew as a child: the weeping chief looking over the littered land.

Laura messaged me immediately: “Maybe women will really rise up now,” she said, encouraging me, with deep compassion, even while celebrating her candidate’s shocking victory.

I missed the Women’s March. Laura was hospitalized that week, and died on the eve of the inauguration.

It’s funny that she’s come to Vermont again just ahead of the mid-terms. Her son Cameron and I talked politics all weekend, doing our part to bend the arc of history toward justice.

As we took a pinch of her ashes and let them go over the rushing waters of the Whetstone Brook, it began to snow.

~

 

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Posted in Lanscape of Loss, Light, Markers

love’s surplus


If able and inclined, raising kids helps open us to unconditional love which may have been buried in our own childhood.

Once the kids are gone, we may find ourselves with a surplus which we might invest in each other, and more poignantly, I find, in loving oneself, unconditionally, for perhaps the first time.

 

Posted in Light, Loss & our nation, My Bonnie

For the grandmothers


Peaches & blueberries & lima beans: Nana Burrows.

Corn on the cob & shell peas: Nana Lila.

Tomatoes: My mother, my grandmothers, my great-grandmothers, myself.

I find us in the garden. At harvest time.

And how is it that this matrilineality surprises me there?
Have I forgotten Eve? Gaia?

I resent the garden like I do all realms relegated to my mother because of course, they meant she had no energy, no time, no spirit left for anything else (if in fact she was admitted anywhere else.)

Even so, I marvel at the capacity of two days of vague autumn sun to ripen so much on the vine.

One must be hopeful to plant a garden and persistent and resilient. Gardening is foolhardy and often stunningly rewarding–body, mind & soul, but especially soul. To be intimate with the soil and the sun, the worms and the birds, the elements and disease is… Everything.

It is a holy act, gardening, in the dirt, on one’s knees.

A man in the garden is a beautiful thing. A child too.

But it is my mother and my grandmother and my great grandmother who I meet there, in the intertwining of the vines while I gather the green beans, reminding me of our lives, our paths, our futures–joined.

I harvest for them. I plant for them. I speak for them.

I hope–for all of us.

Posted in Lanscape of Loss, Light, Markers

The edge of now…


An increasing number of headachey days have been amplified by increasing bouts of indigestion and now depression, followed by this afternoon’s surrender to a napping meditation which stills me into the magnitude of my son’s footsteps in the room overhead, soon to be silenced by his absence; and didn’t I, once upon a time, numb my head in pain, so that all of the nerve endings were preoccupied, staving off the terror of too much understanding, which crept in at the edges of childhood, without proper companions to ease the way…

…And while this awareness does little to dispel the intensity of an approaching migraine, it does awaken me into my body, into the re-membering that I am not alone, that there are companions at the edge, at every edge in fact, even death; “a wide-open eye in the dark,” said the Benedictine monk of prayer, and hasn’t my life been a constant prayer, and didn’t I hold the hand of those more terrified than me, and come to sit beside others at their own edges; and once arrived across the shore into the sovereignty of my own belonging, didn’t I return to the dark, with a light, to find myself, and wasn’t she waiting, in the corner, and not just trembling, but beaming, welcoming me, here, into my body, where I find an unexpected lightness of being, like I did this afternoon in meditation, like I do on the mat, and for no other reason than instead of abandoning, I entered, Now.

Posted in Artifacts/My Bonnie, Lanscape of Loss, Light, Markers, My Bonnie

My Mother’s Cup

The sweetness of being with the same man for 32 years is that he thinks to leave this morning’s tea in the fine china that I bought for my mother at the London Design Centre off of Haymarket in 1984 during my semester abroad.

She kept it in her china cabinet all those years because after all, she was a coffee drinker; and perhaps I’d always meant it for me… in the future… when I’d be without her… welcoming a connection to my past and to her gentleness and to the light of consciousness between us.

Posted in Lanscape of Loss, Light, Voices

the other shoe

(after the storm)

Earlier this evening, I snowshoed down to the pond and into the woods, and along the way, I looked down to see that I was wearing only one snowshoe…

Later, we drove our car down our un-plowed driveway, and over to a friend’s house for a  gathering, where I opened the bag of slippers I’d packed, and found only one…

i think it was Anne Lamott who said (about the dropping of the “other” shoe):

Haven’t you heard, God only has one.

Posted in Light

Light through Winter

When I worked in a church (which is still a funny thing to say, even though it was only a year, and it was UU, and it’s no more surreal than saying I am a yoga/dance instructor), we would arrive to our offices on days like today, and it wouldn’t be enough to wear layers (that building was exceedingly cold.)

In order to face the work ahead of us, we’d each light a candle on our desks–the Minister, the Church Secretary and me–the Director of Religious Education Although we were each in our own office, there was something about this mutual lighting that lent warmth and connection on dark days.

I imagine that it was the minister who began this lighting ritual, being Swedish and all (a country whose northern climate deepens into a darkness unimaginable to most.) She had one of those IKEA lanterns on her desk, and I had one at home so I brought it in.

It’s a habit I continue to this day–lighting the darkness around me–not only at night–but at daybreak and throughout any dark day. (Though as I age I rely on battery operated candles and twinkle lights and space heaters and lots of hot tea.)

I adore sunlight in winter and rely upon it for sanity, but I’ve learned to welcome these shrouded days, cocooned in darkness, for the way they deepen my attention to what it is to lend light, and how light can bless even the hardest way…