The sweet and the sour and fruit on the vine…..

A whole heap of time has swirled past
since I last met with you here and I can’t say for sure why
except that I’ve opened this laptop often,  just brimming with words,
that then bottleneck and quickly subside like a low tide falling.
I let my fingers stammer for a little while and then release them to go outside
with a basket on my hip to work in the garden instead.
I come ’round to read your blogs  and my muscles draw me first
into the art room where I pour easy streams of paint into a paper plate
and begin swiping on another layer to hold space for the words
so that when they finally do tumble onto paper somehow,  they’ll have somewhere interesting
to land and maybe artfully arrange themselves.

Who am I even in this new season?
It’s taken me a minute to give a long and loving listen
to learn what this woman needs from me.

Quick back story:  I was immunosuppressed before Covid hit;
for years I’ve been extremely allergic,  tagged “overly” sensitive,
and so was super mindful to take care because I knew that if I got the virus
it may likely pound on me pretty violent,  as most viruses seem to do.
A common stomach virus can drop me because it’s gonna take a while.
I can’t actually physically throw up (lovely, right?).
I had an experimental surgery in the early 2000s because of reflux so severe
that my doctors at UNC guessed I needed to have a go.
Of mistakes I’ve made,  this was a big one.
Had I waited a few years,  as my intuition suggested,
I would’ve discovered that reflux is just one of the many
auto-immune symptoms that I’d need to navigate
with a lot of creativity and patience in the decades to come.

So it wasn’t totally shocking that Covid would hamstring me for a while with long haul symptoms.
But my healthy husband?  That shook me.

When after a vigorous move and  months of navigating my own confounding symptoms
my husband went suddenly ill with acute kidney failure,  I felt raw with fear.
For a short while I thought he may die.
Instead came the challenges of his living a newer normal –  high doses of prednisone,
insulin shots,  and wobbly with weakness.  And all the new what-do-we-do-now’s.
I had been pivoting away from our family business, gentling down, and suddenly that move
became as hardly do-able as all the other new necessities to navigate.
But ride each wave we did
and when anxiety stormed down a torrent,
I went out and dug in the garden like it was my only thing.
I guess trauma requires new dances
and this became mine.
Life became new normals and dances and gardens and ways.  And all of it mattered.

I hold them as delicious gifts now, the days when my body and brain show up in ways that I understand.
I’m learning new work-arounds for times when they don’t,
like using food enzymes to support a bum pancreas,
and implementing more structure to help with the buggy brain that can fog my windshield with sudden haze,
and talking myself through the panic that can jump me like a prowler
with a random wave of nausea or sudden chill.

Honestly it’s an unfamiliar place,  this learning to give myself some tender loving time.

To have to bend low and be patient,  sometimes as if with a toddler,  has been a level of care
I’ve never offered to myself before.
And as I do,  tentative and awkward,  I’ve felt this compassion rise
because I feel it vivid the spaces where this woman
could have used this kind of support always from,  well,  me.
How did I leave her last in a line
that never reaches the end?

This challenging stretch of road has been a ruthless and beautiful teacher.
I’m glad for these fresh cracks
and the way they’re letting the light crawl in,
bringing me somehow closer home.

Sometimes my heart flutters shy in this newer,  more tender relationship with myself
and I’m having to sit with it for a minute
before I can say the things.
I mean it sincere each time I write that I’ll be back to you more regular soon.
But I’m holding no space for the hurry I’ve long inflicted on myself;
I’ll be back when the wind fills my sails;
for now it’s maybe enough that I’m keeping them set.
And watching my garden grow:)

Sending love to you and to your own friendship with yourself;
you deserve the very most beautiful and best
there in that sacred space.
I hope you make some reservations to invest
and go gently.

“Inside your chest
lives a little nightingale
who never sleeps.”
– Alexandra Vasiliu

Big joy in sending out a package this week to Renee Clark
who likely doesn’t even remember leaving a comment
it was so long ago that I posted.
Baby steps:)
I’ll wait until I come back more consistently before offering another giveaway.

 

Cheesecake with cherries and I won’t go away….

119
I want a quick time-out to say plain what this story is not.
I’m not moralizing;  don’t have an agenda.
If I ever carry a sign,  it would be to champion hope
.
Women face impossible decisions and need a tender grace,
not oversimplified,  whitewashed shoulds.
I’m pro-life.  Pro-choice.  Pro-solution.  Pro-people.

There isn’t a whisp of politics about any of this;
I’m just telling my story with tender care to offer some hope and healing.
Yup.  That’s all.  Back to the story;)

Now they’ve gone silent.
I email the address they’ve given,  eager to know how she is.
I don’t hear back.  For days I reach and get no reply.
A week passes and something rumbles hard inside – an ancient, angry ache.
I make a bold phone call and finally get a person who will take the time.
Her name is Edith and  her voice is soft as I tell her,  gentle but firm,  that I won’t go away.
She hears me and my voice grows taller.  They have their politics and I will respect
but I want them to know that I’m here.  For her.  In whatever way she welcomes.
She  is no longer a child and I won’t go away.  Not unless Allison says.

DSC00928

I have written her the first letter and Edith suggests that she wants to write back.
My heart can barely hold still when a week before Christmas they call to say that her letter to me has been mailed.
It arrives on December 23 – I’ve popped out for awhile and my husband phones to say that it’s on the kitchen table.
I get lost on the short trip home,  driving the wrong way up a one way street and stand up a lunch date
who will later forgive me and offer the name of a good counselor:)

She is beautiful.  More deeply,  genuinely beautiful than I can describe.
Her words paint  pictures that I’ve longed to see…..her childhood,  her passions,  her heart.
I wallow in the moment and linger between the lines,  finding grace in nooks and crannies.
Edith tells me that Allison has said of my letter,  “She writes like I think,” and  I’m bowled over by hers.
She is so my girl:)
My heart swells with love and thanks and I’m eager to reply.
Christmas comes and goes like a dream and I send off a second letter,
this one typed up quick and scuttled off like a text.
I’ve loved these first shy lines to each other and I scurry to show that I’m in.
I’m in,  Dear Allison.  So very.

ripplecherishedited

I await her response and Valentine’s candy appears on the store shelves.
I scoop up some chocolate  for her as I do for each of my lovies….will send some sweets her way
and it wows my heart  that I get to do this now!  It’s crazy joy:)
I don’t tell many just yet; these are tender beginnings and I sense the need to walk in whisper.
And I feel keen their shadow,  like a monitor standing over my shoulder
and I hope to wriggle free and reach out to my daughter on my own terms.
But I’m full up with gratitude and delicious hope and another month passes.
Her birthday is approaching;  I’m actually going to get to send
a birthday package for her 30th.  For the first time ever – my heart is turning sommersaults.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I’ve celebrated each of her birthdays.  Always with roses.  Rose – it’s the secret name I gave her.
And with cheesecake topped with shiny red cherry pie filling from a can.
It’s what I craved when I carried her and I imagine somehow that she loves it,  too.
I realize I’m new to her but she has been with me for all her days,
present in my heart at each family pray,  forever on my mind.
At night,  when my husband and I say our love over each of our kids,  she has been included in mine.
In a way I cannot understand,  we feel her.

When my daughter Hannah was 4,  she’d come to me and asked, “where is my sister?”
She’d sensed her, in the sweet intuitive way of a finely tuned child.
I’d gone pale and completely botched the moment; it was piss-poor parenting
and fresh fuel for the shame that often struck me dumb or babbling.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I try to side-step this same shame that hunts me now as I wrap my heart around her coming birthday
and wonder what I could ever give that would be enough for the first gift she’ll ever receive from me.
I’m haunted by all that I’ve missed  and feeling it sorely.
I’ve been 30 years warned to stay away. Leave her to those she deserves.
I feel like I’m high atop a building and walking a line;  one slip and I may lose her again.

126
“I overheard the man whisper, ‘I am a lover not a fighter,’
and to myself I thought,  I am in fact both.
For is it love at all
if it’s not worth fighting for?”
– Tyler Knott Gregson

I’m posting this Summer series bite by bite
and I realize I ricochet all over and around with this story
but it feels real this way
and I want to tell it true.
I appreciate your kindness and your company along.
Just so much:)

 

heartsick and healing…


I’ve been shocked so hard
by news so bad
that my footing feels floppy,
as if the earth has a really bad wobble
and I’m queasy from riding in the back seat
with cold wind rushing at my eyes,
stinging my vision cloudy with tears.

My wings tremble,
and letting go muscles seize up tight
as heartache punches air from chest
and I’m homesick for feeling safe,
and  wonder if I’ll find my way back there again
through the thick walls of sadness thrown up
when a dear one goes missing
and prayers go unanswered,
his body pulled from the river
bound with chains and concrete
and horror pounds on a family
who have loved this one so well.

and today  the charcoal morning mist
lifting off the Autumn peaks
doesn’t shove the bricks of sorrow
off my chest
and I climb until I’m shaking
and my questions tumble out
and find no answers in the wind
but comfort comes and finds me still
and croons her ancient songs

how there is rest in even this,
tense mind driven to understand,
a grace to lay it down
and listen to the love
crying out in every leaf and twig and flower,
pressing their prints into broken hearts
and etchings in the pain.


Is it worth it
to love and lose so hard
?

… the wind whispers “yes”
and the leaves flutter healing
and the mountains shoulder the sorrow
that my heart can’t keep,

 my soul settles soft into mystery
and,
face pressed firm to blue sky,
there comes a heap of  help in letting go
of the driven-ness
to know,
to know.

 “I didn’t need to understand
the hypostatic unity of the Trinity.
I just needed to turn my life over
to whoever came up
with the redwood trees.”

-Anne Lammott

I’m a bit late posting this week.
I’ve been heartsick over the tragedy
of a dear-to-my-heart family who lost their gentle son
in the worst sort of way
and didn’t want to post
until I could write true.
It took awhile to wrestle through.
I appreciate it when you come around and read
….it’s joy to share.