Sunday, May 26, 2013


"It is singular how soon we lose the impression of what ceases to be constantly before us. A year impairs, a luster obliterates. There is little distinct left without an effort of memory, then indeed the lights are rekindled for a moment - but who can be sure that the Imagination is not the torch-bearer?" ~Lord Byron

In the midst of all of the BBQ's, intoxicated buffonery and road trips, Memorial Day is time set aside in a world that often moves too fast, for those of us fortunate enough to still be among the living to remember those who has ceased to exist as we do. For my family, Memorial Day is a time to remember how the dead lived. We share stories and rejoice in lives that made ours richer. We exchange our sweetest memories like children sharing a melon in the middle of summer, happy for the company.

Personally speaking, it was restorative to share stories about my father with my family this weekend. His loss is easily one of the greatest in my life, but when I talk about him with others that knew him, I feel his presence. I can hear his laugh when my Mom shares a story about early in their marriage when she was coaxed by him to assist on the farm by guarding an impossibly high gate used to keep hogs in a particular pen while he and his brothers tagged their ears (so if they were to get loose, they could be returned.) Somehow, the hogs became startled and made a beeline for her, causing her to abandon her post and somehow jump a fence that was double her height. When she smiles in the telling of this account of her younger years with my father, I can feel the warmth of a love that lasted a lifetime. When I close my eyes I can see him taking her hand and saying he owed his life to her, that she had been his entire world. My Pop's was always the storyteller in the family until his passing. My mother has now taken up the tradition and tells them in such an animated and passionate way, that I just know my Pop's would be proud. It was a small gathering that we had at my mothers house this weekend, and I was the only one of her children that could make it, but we were a group rich in memory and love. When my mother blessed our meal, her voice cracked when she expressed her gratitude to have everyone gathered at her home and I could practically hear my Pops whisper "You did good, sis."

While I didn't move terribly far away from those mountains I called home for nearly 20 years, I might as well have moved to another planet when it comes to tradition. You don't see as many people gathering to decorate cemeteries, or reaching out to one another to remember their dead. Death is clinical and formal. Death is a severing thing, cold and insurmountable. The dead are gone, unreachable, disconnected. People are always moving forward, believing that strength is forgetting. This is alien to me. The dead are guides to those of us raised a little further South (or who have been raised in homes by those who have). My Dad always paid his respect to members of our family and community that had passed on. He always sent flowers, he always shared stories, he always visited grieving family members. Always. When I was younger, I didn't understand why we always had to pack up and go to what felt like every funeral in our small town. I didn't like the heaviness and grief. Why would a person want to be spend their weekend shouldering someone else's pain? Did he like having a shirt that doubled as a handkerchief? Now that I'm older, I see that he was alleviating some of the heaviness and that his XXL heart needed to have time to grieve every life that he no longer got to share. He always brought kind words and funny stories with him to any funeral. Even in the most tragic of situations, he had a way of lightening the mood and giving the families a minute to breathe in air not entirely saturated with loss.

I suppose all this rambling is my way of taking that breath. Visiting his grave with Mom this weekend was tough, in spite of the beautiful weather and the humbling beauty of his final resting place (imagine the Shire and this is pretty darn close to what the memorial garden AKA cemetery, looks like.) Spending time with Mom, my brother and his wife and my Aunt and Uncle and really reminiscing was comforting in a way that you can't describe to someone who see's death as a medical term instead of a spiritual passage. I don't want death to be a wall that locks him away from me. Talking about him doesn't hurt, it a balm that soothes. It encourages his memory to live, strong and tall in my heart and mind. When my family gathers and the stories about him begin to flow, he is there, once again providing comfort, joy and a commitment to family. Memorial Day is no longer just another paid holiday for me.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I really and truly love rainy days. I love the way rain makes everything look and smell so vibrant. Honestly, I think the only time we get to smell true nature in this age of oil and machine is when the rain can wash away the chemicals that coat our grass, the pollution that pumps into the air from our know, all the stuff that hippies like myself are always complaining about. Spring rain is especially promising. After a good, steady, spring rain you can practically see life in motion. I was convinced yesterday that after a storm my cucumber plant had grown an inch. Maybe it perked up like I did after getting a dose of cool rain drops kissing my face. I don't run when I get out of my car in a rain storm. I walk and let the rain drops gather in my hair, on my clothes, in my eyelashes. I let it permeate me, my entire being, and wash away any negative thoughts that have been clouding my naturally silly and sunny disposition. Rain inspires frogs to sing sweetly to us. I can't think of any sound more soothing than that of a frog chorus (which is probably why I have a playlist dedicated to the sound.) Growing up, my family and I lived next to a pretty formidable creek. Spring was always heralded by nights filled with frogs harmonizing, most likely dancing together until morning came. I don't live anywhere near a creek now (yet!) but frog songs still soothes the more savaged parts of me after a long day. Rain encourages us to slow down and look at what we're doing instead of blurring from one task to the next. It comforts us and lulls us to sleep with loved one's. I'm pretty sure rain is responsible for every great story every written. Without out, we wouldn't have food to eat (I need not mention how essential water is for these bodies we're inhabiting, shall I?), oceans to swim in, we wouldn't live. Appreciate the rain. Let it inspire you. Let it renew your perspective.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Let it Go

There are days when the world breaks my heart. Nothing particular happens, but a thousand tiny "somethings" upset the precarious balance I've fought tooth and nail to achieve in this chaotic world. The techniques that I've been practicing, such as meditation and reflection are desperately insufficient weapons when the tidal wave of disappointment swallows my mind. The tiny monsters that have been pushed into the recesses of my mind whose names are "doubt", "fear", "hate", and "loneliness" are washed into the fore front, clouding the light that keeps them at bay. I am too tired to think past my misery and I am defeated in this moment. I am frantic, drowning, with arms and legs that have grown tired from treading a lifetime. I sink, slowly, cold quickly stealing the warmth from my flesh. I stop fighting and float, drifting down more quickly now. I can't see the world anymore. I can't heart the sparrows singing sweetly. I can't smell the roses blooming in my doorway. I taste only water, frigid and relentless. It tastes like every bad word spoken in angst. It tastes like every embarrassing moment where my gut curls and flutters. It tastes like every promise broken. It tastes like lovers drifting away from one another, quietly going deaf from the silence of all the words they never say. It tastes like half truths, restlessness, and the guilt of every wrong choice you have ever made. I open my eyes and see shadows swimming close. I float further still, suspended in my thoughts, lost and drifting in them without hope, without purpose, and without the will to pull myself out.


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