Of decades and dearness….

It’s a new decade
and my one little word surprised me quick:

When I was a girl,  there was one warm little word that could smooth back the hair
from my upset and calm the afraid-and-alone of me,
sometimes offered by my mother and also my grandma Creasy
when I was particularly deserving.
“Dear”
“You dear little thing”
As I grew too big and clunky,  the word became reserved for babies
and petite girls who minded their manners and kept their thick shiny hair tucked
neatly back off their faces.
For puppies and lambs and darling things.
It meant worthy of notice,  of affection,  of protection,  of love.

The remarkable thing about being dear was that
it seemed to come without a single bit of effort on the part of the beloved.
It was as if the essence of the dear one squeezed sunshine and smile and safety
like orange juice from another soul.
It was delicious to be dear,
a soul-soothing energy that made it okay to be seen.

It was potent pain to lose your dearness.
To become un-see-able or worse,  unacceptable,  by love,

As I’ve journeyed through the years I’ve learned and un-learned to hustle  for my dearness
the way you do when you’re still figuring it out,
and I hurt on hearts,  mine and others,  the way you do
when you’re not sure that it’s settled already – your unique value –
in the grand design.

This past year was gift in that it stirred the deep of this primal pain
as I lost the body of work I’d created over the past decade to a hard drive crash
while my mother slowly died
and layers of my shell peeled away,
begging the scary questions we toss like covers in the night.

Several months before she passed, I began to make old photos into cards and write my love
and memories in bundles for Mom to draw from when she needed a lift.
In this way she let me say how dear,
let me lay my heart on the foot of her bed
and feel a home once more in that place.
As I listened and longed for some words in return
I felt it keen the hunger to feel dear again to her,
the little girl of me reaching for her smile.

She was unable to give it,
and so one of the gifts in her passing is a sharp sense of purpose
standing up strong inside where it once felt like a dream being dreamed
a torch to say the things – to say how dear – into our motherless places.
Those holes left behind by the imperfect lives of our mothers and by our own
imperfect capacity to receive what she had to give.
We wound our kids without meaning – even in wanting only ever to love.

This year I’ll tend the memorial garden in my heart,  in part,
by making space to say the things out louder,
to cluck soft and hum tender over our dearness.
To honor my mother and the mother in us all.
Because we’re here for just a few short seasons,  like a wisp,
and I don’t want to leave any of my love ungiven.

So here it is,  dear – my one little word.
And here’s to our dearness.

“You have to find a mother inside yourself.  We all do.
Even if we have a mother,  we still have to find this part of ourselves inside.”

– Sue Monk Kidd

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.

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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.

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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:)

 

days of laughing sky…

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If I had a day that I could gift you
it would be one of  spacious laughing sky
lit by love so bright and tender and easy
that it fills you like a song
that you’ve been thirsty to hear,

a whole pool of it pressing firm and kind against your ache
till the knot of it comes untethered
and your tears run clear till they turn
to the sweet sound that healing makes
when it blossoms deep inside,

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the kind of sky that pulls the troubled
from your heart
with every sip your eyes take
so that you feel it down inside
that you’re wanted,  welcome,
waited for with a knowing hope that enjoys your process,
this ruthless patience hovering over your unique unfolding
with fierce affection
(you’re right on time,  m’dear)

and smiling,  nods and understands,
“see here,  brightwing,  how even in your process
you’re my shining star and there is absolutely nothing
that you have to do or get right or sort or fix or tweak
so that it’s good.

I’m smitten,  all the love of the universe,
with you.”

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If you look up right now,
I imagine you can hear
it whispered in the breeze
just exactly where you are.
Hear?

“If you must err,  do so on the side of audacity.”
-Sue Monk Kidd