Posted in Apprenticeship with my own passing, Lanscape of Loss, Loss & our nation, Voices

Faces go to God


Like the flowers & the season & the light & even many loves, everything, including me, passes.

And doesn’t that make it hard to breathe?

On Wednesdays, I used to say to my children (and myself): “Don’t say, no, go with the flow,” which is perhaps why, in the absence of their presence, I wake on a quiet Wednesday morning to a spontaneous meditation of letting go.

Loved ones. Precious times. Personal highs (and lows.) Resentment. Bitterness. Dreams. Teeth. Muscle tone. Heartache.

There was a time when if I didn’t hold on tight, it would all be gone. Much like I ask the leaves to do when a strong wind comes too soon.

“Hold on!” I say, “Hold on!” not wanting a single leaf to leave before it’s reached its peak; before I’ve had every opportunity to savor its color as if such a thing is due.

How did I come upon such entitlement? Is it American? White? Middle class? Does such a subscription simply accompany each incarnation?

What if instead, I offered to the leaves and my heartbreak: “Let go! Let go! Let go!”

My stomach clenches at the thought like it did that September morning at the shore when they came to take my mother and carried her out in a bag right past her tomato plants, still ripening on the vine.

Didn’t she love her tomatoes. With salt. Don’t I still. 4 remain on my counter, the last of summer’s gifts.

And didn’t I feel, after she took her last breath, after we opened the bay window above her dead head–the whoosh of love. The freeing of energy. The opening of the door to heaven, whatever heaven may be.

To everything, there is a season, and sometimes the season is too short.

It’s this lack of certainty that unnerves me. Do I have 2 years left like her? Or will I be taken this year, suddenly, like my grandmother was at the age I am now? Or will I live on like her mother, long enough to dance at my great-granddaughter’s wedding? (Wasn’t my Nana something!)

My very first friend Glenn had Leukemia and maybe that explains my lifelong meditation on death or maybe it was my father’s and grandfathers’ occupation: physician, or one of my earliest jobs: in the morgue. Or maybe this is the pre-occupation of aging, “The apprenticeship,” as Whyte says, “With our own departure,” or maybe this is just the way my mind has always worked, like that of my firstborn’s, who was there when his grandmother died, asking me later or was it before:

“Where do faces go when they die?”

To which he responded himself:

“Faces don’t go to coffins. Faces go to God.”

Or it could be the leaves barely yellow blowing from the trees, the house once filled now empty of children, my mother gone 18 years, too many days in a row of dark and dreary, and the light, this morning, returning, with a rosy hue, a perfect color–for relinquishing everything.

“Let go, let go, let go.”

I’ll give it a try.

~

AUTUMN

By Monza Naff

Urge me to drop every leaf I don’t need
Every task or habit I repeat past its season
Every sorrow I rehearse
Each unfulfilled hope I recall
Every person or possession
to which I cling-
Until my branches are bare,
until I hold fast
to Nothing

Blow me about
in your wild iron sky,
crush
all that’s puffed up,
fluff
all that in me needs
to go to seed,
send my shadows to sleep.

Tutor me
through straining night winds
In the passion of moan and pant
The gift of letting go
At the moment of most abundance
In the way of
falling apples, figs, maple leaves, pecans.

Open my eyes
to your languid light,
let me stare in your face
until I see no difference
between soar and fall

until I recognize
eternity
in single breaths,
faint whispers of cool air
through lungs.

Show me the way of dying
in glorious boldness
Yellow,gold, orange, rust, red, burgundy.

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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 My Bonnie, Voices

a motherless mother’s chant…

(a guest post from a beloved)

bb9ca5041163ba25e5969b03511ad796I don’t have a mother.
I don’t need a mother.
Because I have him.

I don’t have a mother.
I don’t need a mother .
Because I had them.

I don’t have a mother.
I don’t need a mother.
Because I have her.

I don’t have a mother.
I don’t need a mother.
Because I am.

~Lauren Salasin Czaplicki

Posted in My Bonnie, Voices

September 1st

(a guest post from a beloved)

“September is bittersweet for me…

There was a time I literally cried my eyes out when September came because it meant my summer friends were leaving…
Nights hanging out at the arcade came to a close along with most of the stores.
My street, which had been a constant party, was emptying.
School was starting, and I dreaded it.

As I got older, I began to love September–the cooler days, empty beaches & restaurants.
Parking spots!

Then it happened…

She was taken from me in September, just like my summer friends, just like the crowded streets, the dock parties, the fun.

The pain of September returned.

My mother was gone at what was supposed to be my most ” fun” summer, ever, at the shore–my 21st .

While all my friends did Ladies Nights and Monday Nights at the Princeton, I sat by her bedside.
Slept in her bed beside her,
bathed and changed her.
Read her the crossword puzzle every day.

September came and by the 7th night we knew she was leaving us.

I lay in her bed all night, surrounded by all my siblings and their babies on air mattresses covering her living room floor.
I chose to stay awake all night and stroke her hair and sing her the same lullabies she sang to me as a little girl…
Telling her to let go…
We would be ok…

I left her bedside early that morning to get the coffee started, while everyone else was still asleep, and as I did, she took her last breath.

September would never be the same.

I long to love September as all the locals do, but l just can’t.
The sounds, sights and the cool air just bring me back…

Back to saying goodbye to my friends as a child,
and back to saying good bye to my closest friend, my confidante.

The feeling is always the same on September 1st.

I’m not sure why I’m writing this now–16 years later. I guess seeing all these posts of how lovely September is and wanting so badly to join in…

Maybe by sharing there will be some sort of release.”

~Bonnie Salasin Brown
September 1, 2016

Posted in Poetry, Voices

The Gift of Grief (David Whyte)

One of the radical edges of experience is grief…

The prospect of facing up to the sharper edges of grief can prevent us from having the fullest experience of whatever frontier we are on… (because ) it’s always a great temptation to retreat away from that frontier…
to just “deal with it”…

This narrows the understanding of what you are actually confronting…

 The essence of the ability to feel the fiercer edges of experience is to fully incarnate our life at any one time;
the edges are our existence ripening, and the experience of them allows us to taste the ripe fruit of our experience, thereby celebrating and understanding the particular season that we are experiencing…

 Attempt to feel your aloneness in as startling and clear a way as possible…

The Well of Grief

Those who will not slip

Beneath the still surface on

The well of grief

Turning down through its

Black water to the place

We cannot breathe

will never know

The source from which

We drink

The secret water

cold and clear

Nor find

In the darkness

Glimmering

The small round coins

Thrown

By those who

Asked

for something else

There is a cycle of experience which human beings are heir to which is part of their inheritance…
If you do feel grief and loss fully, it’s suddenly placed in some kind of enormous context that makes sense, that gives you an essential understanding of the beauty and magnificence of the world which we occupy.

(David Whyte)