Posted in Lanscape of Loss, Pure Love

God does not spill milk…

Years ago I came across a stunning piece of writing by a woman married to a State Trooper in Maine. She looked at death unflinchingly and wrote about it exquisitely and I was jealous and moved which is why I decided to buy her book, Here If You Need Me, when I stumbled upon it  at the second hand store, and then chose to bring it along on an unexpected trip to Plum Island, to the house of a friend, who offered her home, while she was away in Maine, without her husband, because he too had been killed in car accident, just over a year ago, when he was in the state that I call home.

Gail & I had been friends since college, long before husbands and children and the New England chapter of our lives, back when she could quit her job at the the last minute and surprise me at the airport and we could take off to Europe with backpacks and no reservations.

She messaged me about her empty house because she knows I need the ocean and new places and maybe because I am a writer–writing about an accident that punctured my life long, long ago.

“God does not spill milk,” Kate Braestrom writes. “God did not bash the truck into your father’s car. No where in scripture does it say, ‘God is a car accident’ or ‘God is death.’ God is justice and kindness, mercy, and always–always–love. So if you want to know where God is in this or in anything, look for love.”

I hated God when I was 14. I never forgave that God. But I found lots of love with a capital L in other places. I found God in the music. In becoming Mother. In loosing my mother. In loving the Earth.

Kate’s words also stirred in me a renewed reverence for the bed I’ve shared with one man for the past 30 years, and something else, unexpected–a deeper sense of the heart and days of those who serve as officers of the law.

Drew’s professional life had an intimate physical aspect. He had to do brave and loving things to and with the bodies of others. Take, for example, those he arrested, particularly those who fought back, the ones he would have to wrestle with, the weight of his body pressing them into the ground, his mouth against an ear, shouting instructions (“Give it up! Give it up!”) as he groped beneath a sweaty belly for hands and weapons… Once he took the tiny hand of an abused four-year old girl who led him out back, behind her house, to show him where her father had chopped her puppy to pieces with an ax. Drew held the shape of that small hand in his palm for weeks. There were the bodies of those, on receiving official police notification of a loved one’s death, collapsed against his Kevlar-stiffened chest and wept…

When I was considering careers, my uncle offered to get me a job at DuPont in the event that I didn’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer, but much to the dismay of my extended family, I chose teaching. Now I think of his second wife, just four years ahead of me at the same university, who has worked for DuPont ever since, most recently leading the global Kevlar team, and I feel pride, even if it didn’t save Kate’s husband from the truck that slammed into his cruiser on a bridge in Maine.

Kate ends her book with an email to her brother, the one who can’t believe that she has decided to become a Chaplain (for the Maine Warden’s Service) after her husband’s death.

I think one reason I like working with crisis and death is that all the complicated and complicating tools of our natal tribe–the intellect, rational analysis, the all-pervasive irony–all these are useless. It doesn’t matter how educated, moneyed, or smart you are: when your child’s footprints end at the river’s edge, when the one you love has gone into the woods with a bleak outlook and a loaded gun, when the Chaplain is walking toward you with bad news in her mouth…

Before departing my friend’s place (the one she recently rented after the sale of their home of 20 years)–still filled with unopened boxes and pictures waiting to be hung–my husband went to the hardware store and picked up some wall hangers and filled in the empty spaces on her walls, while my son filled up the tires of the bicycles on the deck, and I filled a note with all my favorite memories of her and me, and left beside it a pint of maple syrup and raspberry jam from our road.

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Posted in Lanscape of Loss, Pure Love

Love & politics

The Women’s March, the inauguration of a misogynist and the death of a dear friend who supported his candidacy are woven into the fabric of this weekend for me.

My husband joined the march in Montpelier last year, without me, too consumed was I in grief to leave our home.

The irony is that my friend died the night before #45 was inaugurated.

We fought about him intensely on Facebook, while in private messages we connected around her health and our sons, and in person we doted on one another with love.

On the day after the election, Laura was so present to my grief that despite her joy, she ached with compassion, messaging me encouragement about how pushback on #45 might give rise to even greater women’s empowerment.

Laura loved animals and was fierce in protection of them. She was a strong woman. Outspoken. Big-hearted. Even when we were girls.

Although we came of age in the same shore towns and danced at each other’s weddings, we both moved away, and the distance between us magnified with time and the all-consuming responsibility of parenthood, until a funeral brought us together, and she said,

“Let’s don’t wait so long,”

And we didn’t.

We were together at the shore on her last birthday and before that in the mountains on my 50th, and we had plans to be together on the weekend before the Inauguration, but Laura ended up in the hospital again where she remained until I received these three words from our mutual bestie on the morning Trump would become President:

Posted in Pure Love

Love never ends

Friday the 13th was the birthday of my first love.

It was a very imperfect love–one that hurt us both deeply–and spit us out, 7 years later, but also one that saved me when I was young and so needing love.

A decade ago, twenty years after we went our separate ways, I wrote him a thank you of sorts. I recently came across it. (Now edited for privacy & punctuation.) I wrote it to him on Valentines Day, aided by what someone said to me after the death of a beloved:

Love Never Ends.

Good Morning xxxxx, Happy Valentines Day!

…The kids are still asleep. It’s still dark out, and we’re having our
first ‘real’ snow of the season (maybe even a couple feet.)

Casey has moved the cars off the driveway and up against the woodshed so that Jimmy can have a clear plow when he comes.

His out of town trip was called off so he’s gone back to bed with the boys; while I wake with a greater understanding of love.

I dreamt of you.

Whenever I do, I’m filled with a warm enveloping feeling-
which my spirit “gets,”but my mind always puzzles over.

Today I’m clearer.

I understand that “Whenever two of you are gathered in my name, there is Love.”

I understand that as such young ones, of good heart, and pure love, we were tapping right into Spirit.

It’s the same current that runs deeply beneath my day to day life with Casey, and one which we access to renew our love again and again.

It’s the same current that runs through all of life and supports
all relationships–though “form” often gets in the way of accessing it.

The love itself is never polluted, only our ability to tap it. Sometimes we need to move away and dig a new well. I’m sure we both know lots of friends who have done that; marriages ending.

Funny, that when you appear to me in my dreams, like other lovers, but perhaps stronger with you–that feeling of bliss–the dream gets more and more complicated as it goes on. Just like we did.

Perhaps the chemistry between two people, between you and me, is a portal–to the Divine, and perhaps certain twosomes create a larger portal.

That might explain why despite our different lives, despite our happy marriages, despite time and loss of connection, whenever I see you—at my mother’s funeral and at xxx brother’s, I feel such a strong hit, a pull.

Perhaps that’s what pulled my eyes to you on the stage at {our highschool} where you made me laugh with your
curtain trick.

Perhaps that’s what pulled you across the cafeteria to
my table to ask me out.

Perhaps that’s what pulls all of us–connection
to the Divine.

I know there are other attractions, in form, but I’ve
heard it said that the romantic paradigm is an archetype for the ecstasy of knowing God.

For this I must thank you.

You gave such good love, that I knew what to look for…

In a husband,
in life.

I knew how I wanted to feel.

Not all that messy stuff between us in form, but that pure love you gave, or that we gave rise to together.

And I now know what God is even more.

Happy Valentines xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx.
With deep appreciation of the love you shared with me,
and prayers for that love (the Divine stuff) to flood your life as it
does mine with Casey and my boys .

xxx and xxx and xxx and xxx are lucky!

You mother is on my heart right now. She gave good love too.

Actually your whole family was a wellspring of love in my life.

I’m forever grateful.

Kelly

Posted in Lanscape of Loss, Lila Stories, Pure Love

Remains

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7/18: She is crushed, then incinerated.

7/19: I find out about that.

7/20: I search through her house for something…
that particular thing, that something that was close to her and will keep her close to me
despite the unfathomable absence of her in this house.

Beneath the tissues and cotton balls and cu-tips, I find this.
Her lipstick is pressed against it.

3 and a 1/2 decades later,
it still is.

Posted in Lanscape of Loss, My Bonnie, Pure Love

Mercy

mercy-and-grace13 years ago, this day delivered a crushing grief.

7 sisters & a single brother lost their mother to cancer. The youngest two were still in highschool.

Despite a life decimated by pain, by separation, by divorce, by alcoholism, by teeming loss–we were there for each other, and for her.

Mercy is the legacy our mother left us; her life’s trials and tribulations tousled by grace.

May we always be worthy.

Posted in Pure Love

the medicine of music & movement

On the eve of my wedding day, my alcoholic mother hit bottom after a month without food, and my trusted friend (aka. fiancee) uncharacteristically got so drunk that he was still attached to the toilet the next morning and appeared on the altar with broken blood vessels circling his eyes.

The photographer’s car broke down on the way to the hotel, and up until the last minute, my father refused to ride to the church in the limousine with me because it would leave out my stepmother.

When the flowers arrived all wrong, I needed a drink, and so I had some champagne with my bridesmaids; but it was the the music that finally soothed me–at the church with If It’s Magic–and later at the reception with funk where I danced the night away, despite my father’s urgings to visit each table in conversation. It was selfish of me to ignore my seated guests, but I was in desperate need of the medicine of music and movement.

When my grandfather died the following year, music continued to be a source of solace. My sisters and cousins gathered at my apartment and we relived a dramatic rendition of  “My Way” first given by our grandmother when we were children.  We brought music along too, The New Jersey Mass Choir, and let their voices echo in the vestibule before and after that sad service.

From reel to reels with my father in the basement of my childhood home, to 45’s in my bedroom, to 8 tracks in my boyfriend’s car, to mixed tapes made for friends, music continues to soothe and  celebrate the days of my life.

When I gave birth to my son, at home, I had my husband turn on the CD player with Lauryn Hill and then James Taylor to ease me into the opening necessary for delivery.

Music continued to be medicine when my mother was in the hospital.  My sisters and I sang, Wade in the Water.  and later infused the ceremony that celebrated her life with so much music that people called the funeral, “a musical.”

Landslide and Amazing Grace offered by two different soloists on guitar, and even an impromptu Tora Lora Loo, by me, in honor of the lullaby my mother sang all our lives.  Lean on Me, brought us through the private burial;  and mixed tapes got us through that winter when we encountered the dark face of loss.

It was just a handful of years ago that I found a way to make the medicine of music and movement a regular part of my life, by incorporating it into the healing work I do. Now I actually make money creating soundtracks and chakra dance parties for people of all ages.

I think on the medicine of music as I select songs from my iPod for my upcoming 21st wedding celebration, and I am so grateful to all those who make the music that moves us–inside and out.

Kelly Salasin, May 19, 2011

Click here for more on the power of MUSIC

Posted in Pure Love

Silly Love Songs

Caravaggio, vispix.com

Kelly Salasin, 2011

Silly to think, that after ALL the sentiment your young heart poured out in love letters and flowers and proclamations of undying love, that it is unflinching I, who ended up being the truly romantic one.

That 25 years later, when a song stumbles forth from my shuffle of 2,000, it still stirs my heart with the aching loss of love…

It’s sad to think

We’re not gonna make it


And it’s gotten to the point

Where we just can’t fake it


For some ungodly reason

We just won’t let it die


I guess neither one of us

wants to be the first to say good-bye


detail Caravaggio, visipix

And funny to think, that everyone around us–all those friends and loved ones who endured our ups and exponentially growing downs–could see the ending that we refused to find.

And even odder, that it was YOU–who once held on sooooo tightly–who was the one who finally let go, without so much as a goodbye… when I had been the one who was always leaving…

I keep wondering

Wondering

What I’m gonna do without you


And I guess you must be wondering the same thing too


So we go on

Go on together

Living a lie


Everytime I find the nerve

Everytime I find the nerve to say I’m leaving

Those old memories get in my way


Lord knows it’s only me

That I’m deceiving


That all these years later, this last verse still racks my body with the truth of how fragile that gift of love came to be…

There can be no way

There can be no way

This can have a happy ending


So we just go on

Hurting and pretending


Convincing ourselves to give it just one more try…


In the end (our ending), this powerful, independent woman, discovered how to be a “girl”–weepy and dramatic.  And you, a sullen and overly sentimental boy, discovered how to be a man–powerful and clear headed.  Although it didn’t feel like it at the time, I got the better of the end–of our ending.

Farewell my love

Goodbye

We are each middle-aged now, and neither of us knew that I would be the one who refused to say Goodbye.

Leave me in the past,” you plead, not wanting to be paraded in my mind–let alone in my work as a writer.

Bosch, visipix.com

But what I’m coming to understand, is that it’s not really you that I want to hold onto, but the love (albeit a little dramatically)–the love which comes from the same place from which I pour heart into my life, and into my writing, and into my sons, and into the man who’s shared my bed since you made this room for him inside.

So that 25 years later, I am still moved by a song or a memory or a poem that I once shared with you~

 

 

 

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true,

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

~ W.B. Yeats

(song lyrics by Jim Weatherly, as recorded by Gladys Knight and the Pips.)