The story of “they”……

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My childhood ended the night my water broke on a cold hospital floor.
Mortified, I quickly apologized to the nurse who walked in
and questioned,   eyes still on her chart,
“You’re still giving this baby up?”
It was brisk business.

“Yes,”  the word comes from the far back of my throat and I’m embarassed by the sound.
She raises a syringe to my arm and rubs vigorous with wet cotton
that smells like my pediatritian’s office.
“This will help dry up your milk.”
Dry up.  I know these words.  They mean don’t feel so hard.  Don’t say too much.
Stay small.  And sweet.  And agreeable.  A shot to help me be agreeable.
Let’s all just get through this as pleasantly as possible,  they seem to say.
But this doesn’t feel like Becky and Patty anymore.

I’d moved in across the street from their families
the Summer before second grade and we’d quickly become friends.
Becky showed me the picture of her home-going
one hot afternoon while we played inside with paperdolls.
There were two smiling parents standing on a white covered porch,   a baby safeheld in their arms.
“So you’re adopted,”  my mind wrapped around the idea as I took in the happy of her room.
“Yes,  and Patty next door,  too.”   Patty,  whose Mom’s quick smile filled the kitchen while she fried bologna slices and offered more tea.
I loved their home.  And the way my name sounded when her Dad said it warm,
like I was more than a guest at their house.
It hasn’t been so terribly long ago since he drove us to matinees and little league.

I can see their houses from the window when I hear the results of my pregnancy test.

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The weeks that follow are a hard tumble on some heavy rocks and I agonize.
This is an impossible decision.  I don’t see a  win-win……there just isn’t one for me.
I call them – the place where Becky and Patty’s parents smiled.  I picture again their birthday parties
and scavenger hunts, shiny roller skates and the tree house that their Dad’s together built.
They of the porch sound kind on the phone and will become a strong voice in my ear
as my belly grows.
They are the matronly ones that knock on my door for the nine months before she is gone
and each week the last several of my pregnancy.  The ones sent to support my choice for adoption
with words like “unfit” and “unwed” – the ones who assure that everyone isn’t meant to be a mother.

They have come to harvest my baby.  At least that’s what I feel,  but I don’t say the words.
My own voice goes clinched like a fist holding on because I’ve made up my mind
and I hate them for trying to take what I’ve already decided to give.
A new family is going to be born and I won’t be a part.
I am the outsider;  they coach me on my role.
It’s my job to disappear.  They will not offer me a shot for this.

It’s a difficult delivery and I spend hours in recovery before I’m wheeled back into the room where they will come with the papers.
I cannot stop crying and send them away.  I read the impatient fear in their eyes and feel the push,
the press, the please don’t screw this up.
I can feel how anxious they are to not disappoint parents. Her parents.
But I can’t sign right now.  Come back tomorrow.  It’s not going to happen like this.
I won’t be stripped of her.  I call Brother B.

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This grandfatherly man is my pastor.  I haven’t known him long but right now he is my lifeline and I need him to come.
He does and pulls on gloves and gown and,  with him,  they roll her little bed out into the hall and let me take her.
B is patient as I push her cart,  carrying her with my eyes,  to the sterile room where I offer her my finger and she holds on tight.
He begins to pray out loud and I dig down deep to say my heart to the One who I believe is listening with love.
“I’m not giving her away.  I’m not,  dammit.  And they’re not taking her.  I give her to you.  Take care of her,  please.”
And so it is done.

I don’t meet their eyes when I finally sign.   I don’t answer later when they call to see how I am.
How do they think I am?  I’m bereft and between.  I’m counting days,  suspended;  I have 28 of them to change my mind
and I will myself through each one.
I want her waiting to be over…..for her parents to have and hold her wholeheartedly.
For her to belong.  I busy myself against the pain.
I have become in every way un-fit.  I don’t fit anywhere,  an outsider.
I avoid old friends.  I’m a face person and I read too much on theirs.
And I see babies everywhere.
~  ~  ~  ~  ~
Now,  29 years later,  they are calling again and they want information fast.
My head  swims and I buckle just a little with each wave,  but I’ll ride them in time and with joy.
I’ve been on the out and life has tossed me a line,  offering to pass her a note inside.
They’ve let me send an e-mail.  Medical advice.  But she needs more from me.  I know it.
She needs to know my whys.

“I want to write her a letter.”

I’ve held my love up quiet for three decades,
waiting for a door and it has opened.
I will be censored, every line scanned for approval,  but I’m free at last to write
and I begin to push my pen and shave off tender portions of me
to offer Dear Allison.

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(So much back story,  I know.  But I can’t tell it any other way.  I’ll wrap ’round and ’round
the staircase until it’s told,  this Summer series.  Hold my hand if you get dizzy;  we’ll steady each other:)
Thanks for being along.)

“But what if the great secret insider-trading truth is that you don’t ever get over the greatest losses in your life?
Is that good news,  or bad news,  or both?  The pain does grow less acute, but the insidious palace lie that we will get over
crushing losses means that our emotional GPS never finds true north,  as it is based on maps that never mention
the most important places we have been to.  Pretending that things are neatly boxed up and put away
robs us of great riches.”
– Anne Lamott

Listen how they shine…..

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Hey, tenderheart.
I noticed you there and felt it to pass you this note.
If it fits,  feel free to wear it;  if not,  toss and hear how beautiful I think you are:)

You know that little breath you hold?
The one you kind of save back for when you’ll finally feel permission
to relax into your place
at the big table.

That breath you suck in tense
until the someday when you’ll actually be enough
where you’re still feeling rather less than.

Can I whisper into that place?

There is something quietly and genuinely significant about you
already.
There’d be a sad, dark hole in this living canvas
without you.
You’re a custom fit,
particular and priceless by design.

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Walk outside and look up at the stars tonight;
listen how they shine,
winking and nodding and noticing you back,
the whole inky blackness of the vast night sky rolled out in welcome
for,  yes,  that would be you,

the universe extended generous to affirm you
just exactly where and how
you are,
each of the beats of your beautiful heart
prized by the lover of all wild things.

What if you let this love name your value
and let that breath go.
Stand beneath the great wide sky,  all small and mighty and cherished,
and breathe all the way down,
past the dregs of your fear,
and embrace it,  your fit and flow.

I totally dare you:)

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“We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found,
already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously
who we were born to be.”
– Anne Lamott

I’ll be sending a little love bomb to Robin of Gotham Girl this week.
Another care package in the drawing for this week.
With big joy:)

 (This is an older write;  I’ve re-worked it and am putting it on the menu again
with some freshly sweetened hope.  Let me know if it speaks)

Healing in harsh places……

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I’ve been living into some larger parts,
spreading wings in gimpy places
and letting raw things speak until old shame bleeds through.
It’s a shiver to stand in the open like that,
leaning brave into the hope that gentle ears will hear it true
and hold it tender while the knife slices clean.
Healing often happens in such ways.

But sometimes healing comes when winds are bitter,
when words splinter like rocks knocked over ledges,
and the pain shatters trust like a crush fracture
and you betray the one you’ve learned to blame
because it’s  habit to believe that you deserve standing stoic in the cold.

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When your heart goes tender for the one you’ve asked
to hide away the pain,
and compassion begins to blossom for the one
you stood in the corner in shame
(that’d be you,   m’dear),
healing happens even in harsh places.

It’s a healing thing to a world of hurt when you begin to show yourself a little love.
Compassion isn’t just for others.
There is enough to cover us all.

Light and love and liniment
to your own listing places,
especially to those parts of yourself
you’re just beginning to learn
to love.

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“But you can’t get to any of these truths by sitting in a field smiling beatifically,
avoiding your anger and damage and grief.
Your anger and damage and grief are the way to the truth.
We don’t have much truth to express unless we have gone into those rooms
and closets and woods and abysses that we were told not to go in.
When we have gone in and looked around for a long while,
just breathing and finally taking it in –
then we will be able to speak in our own voice
and to stay in the present moment.
And that moment is home.”
– Anne Lamott

In shadow and glare…..

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It’s planting time and I’m down in the dirt on my knees
a lot
so I thought I’d scatter some seeds and pour some water
on our maybe parched places
because the harsh glare of living dries us quick
and we sometimes need a little soak.

~You are mighty,   even where you’re weak.
Especially where you’re weak,
those gimpy places a powerful nudge
to tag someone in who is stronger that way.
Some dreams just won’t bloom
while we’re lone-wolfing it.

You are beautiful.
Devastatingly beautiful.
It’s that unique beauty that breaks the back of the slave-making system
that demands you “be like” something else.
Go ahead and shine……there’d be a dark piece of missing sky
without you.

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 There are seasons when you’re hidden,
protected beneath loving wings that can make you feel
unseen.
Don’t despise those quiet places;  there is wisdom in dormant things.
Your Spring will come.
Some seasons aren’t mild;  don’t fear the shadow
or the glare.

You’re no random bunch of molecules in motion.
You’re here by design,
artisan handcrafted.
(I’ve a gazillion questions,  too,  but I know it to be true.)
I see it in you.
A fierce beauty……..something stunning.
Just so,  so good.
And you’re delighted in by a Love that sings yes and joy and belonging
over your being.

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“I get thirsty people glasses of water,  even if that thirsty person is just me.”
-Anne Lamott

Love and lift to Leslie of Let a Joy Keep You
as my little zine zips across the miles to your hands this week.
Thanks for all the kind comments;  I love this community
and your shiny way:)

a little love story…

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I hold a warm and tender memory of a Valentine’s Day long ago,
before those awkward years when my body seemed to shoot up way too high and lanky and sooner than my schoolmates grew into theirs,
and my dark hair too stringy and my soft voice too weak
and a fog rolled in and shadowed some years in lie.

I was seven then,  and jazzed with heady delight as I scrambled down
the hill to the creek with my heart-covered shoebox hugged in close,
feeling the delicious shuffle of valentines and even some happy rattle
that I hoped would be candy tucked inside
a particularly generous envelope.

I’d worked hard containing my excitement ever since morning
when we’d been released from routine to deliver our valentines
to the pink and red boxes with names printed over the slits
we’d carved to receive the offerings dropped inside.
Then,  we’d been give an rubber band to secure the contents ,
safe and hidden,  until we got home and could finally open them.

It was the sweetest torture I’d ever known.
Even thought we’d been instructed to bring a valentine for each child on the list sent home,
and I’d spent hours at the kitchen table carefully choosing just the right one
and lovingly writing the names,
my tongue pressed between my teeth as I slowly penciled my affection
for each kid I watched with wonder each day at school,
I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d get more than a hand full.

I didn’t feel pretty,  didn’t dress like the popular girls
and was fairly terrible at catching pop flies in kickball.
I didn’t expect to get anything from any of the boys
and maybe not much more,   besides.

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But here was a whole box full of little white envelopes with my own name printed on the fronts.
I gingerly opened and studied each card,  some signed,  some a mystery,
but one from each kid in my class and even from pretty Mrs. Clark
with her smooth,  silky,  not-at-all- stringy hair.
It felt like a box full of miracle and my heart could barely
contain itself.

This feeling was an intense kind of goodness.
I was being affirmed,
noticed in a way that let me feel it slowly
and without the painful stares and glaring demand to process it all quickly
in the smooth way that I lacked.
It was one of the most powerful things I’d ever experienced,
feeling both safe and known.

It wasn’t,  of course,  a safe or loving community at all.
Because kids will be kids
and my idealism was,  well,  idealism.
But seeds were dropped deep into that tender girlheart of mine
that have grown into powerful longing for community and tribe
and loving support.
It helped stir a passion for tending the gardens in my life,
for the beauty of whispering  life-giving truth
over another being.

I’m so grateful I  get that here, with you,  dear reader and friend,
and I thank you for the honor
of getting to speak into your life from time to time.
Maybe these days the words sound trite,
but it’s honest and true and ever so worth writing down.

I love you.
I do:)

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“I don’t want something special.
I want something beautifully plain.”
-Anne Lamott