Sometimes Our Six-Year-Old Knows Best

Relax. Breathe. Focus. These were the words my friend whispered over and over as I precariously made my way across the slack line for the first time. He whispered them again the second time, as I gripped his hand a little less tightly.  And again, the third time as I risked letting him go for a split second, once, twice before lunging for the pole at the end of the line. I jokingly said it sounded like a metaphor for life.  He nodded his head sagely, agreeing. It has been a hard few weeks.  Spring used to be our favorite season with its slew of celebrations: my birthday, his birthday, our anniversary, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day.  Now, I will have to ride out each of these days with his loss reverberating in my heart like an anvil striking, over and over again. The other day I went searching through the pockets of his jacket, hoping to find some remembrance of him, some little sign that he was still around, that this was just a bad dream. I found an old piece of tissue paper and a couple of metal rods.  That’s all there was. It didn’t occur to me before, but it seems the colors of the grief keep changing, the nuances to the loss, the heartache, keep shifting. These days, the color of grief is loneliness.  In the beginning, I had welcomed being alone.  I needed the privacy and space to let it rumble through me without having to put on

There’s No One Home

  No one is home. There’s no one home. Do not come knocking today. The curtains are drawn, The door is locked. Do not coming knocking today.   Can you hear me from inside? I have the music turned up loud To muffle the sounds.   Holding my pillow tight to my chest. Do I think it is you I am holding so tight? Squeezing like breath?   Do not coming knocking today. There is no cheerful smile. No bright hello No thanks for coming by, offering to help.   The eyes are closed, The windows sealed shut, The blinds turned tightly.   Underneath the pounding of the drums, The railing of the guitar, Can you hear my cries?   The volume is turned up full. I rock on the bed, Swallow the corner of the pillow To gag the sounds, Gag the pain. I can’t tell the difference anymore.   Please don’t come knocking at the door. Can’t you read the ‘do not disturb’ sign, The ‘do not ring'?   No one is home. No one you’d want to meet. Straggling to the door Eyes swollen Nose running Don’t make me pretend you are welcome.   What more signs do you need? I am not home. To knocks and rings Questions and calls Texts and concerns.   Let me lick my wounds Curl up in the blanket Suck my thumb, if I could. Alone, at home.   At last. The knocking stops. The rings end. I am finally left

Passing the Torch

Classic Cozy Craftsman, 5 Blocks to Beach. This week I open my home up as an Air BnB.  The idea came to me when my daughter told me she would be leaving for Colorado.  This wonderful new start for her had left me wondering what I would do with a soon-to-be empty house. The preparation has been a mix of emotions.  On one hand, there was the excitement and pleasure of fixing up the room, painting and cleaning and going to town on Amazon.  On the other hand, there was the resentment, even anger, that this was at all necessary. If Mike had not died, I would not need to be doing this at all. Yesterday I was in the room putting on the finishing touches, hanging pictures, picking out the books, and I looked at the desk we had brought in.  It had been Mike’s, brought west from Ohio.  For months I’d left it out on the porch thinking to get rid of it.  It had gathered dust, rain, cobwebs. With the BnB, I now had a place for it, though it definitely looked the worse for wear. I went out to the garage and found sandpaper, a can of wax, some rags for wiping, and went to work.  I confess I do not have the patience he had for wood working.  It was his creative passion, the way writing is mine.  He would plan and measure, cut and sand, prime and paint, and he would fairly glow when

The Cracked Mirror

This March I turn 56.  And for the first time, it is not a birthday I welcome.  It will be the first one without my husband since we married over 26 years ago.  My daughter is leaving home and moving to Colorado five days later.  And I look in the mirror these days and feel old.  Not just older, old. It is not something we often admit, certainly not in public or polite company.  And yet here it is. I look in the mirror and see .... Skin that does not snap back the way it used to. Wrinkles in new and ever-expanding places. Gray hair that shows more quickly. Age spots have become constellations across my arms. I need glasses to put on my makeup. Even the shape of my body is changing.  No longer quite so pert nor quite so round. Gravity is having her way with me. Egads.  If this this doesn’t scare the men away... I consider turning off the tap to this train of thought, but then decide, what the hell, in for a penny, in for a pound. Let it pour, let it rant, let it overflow the banks. No way out but through. And so, the pity party rages, and down the rabbit hole I tumble with … Stories about being old, and used up, with nothing to offer, and nothing to give. The flirting is finished, the feeling of being delicious and desirable, done. I imagine what will it be to walk into a room and feel no

Days Like This

And then there are days like today. When I am called to make soup,  with onions and celery and carrots and ginger.  It is my version of Miso soup, hearty with many vegetables.  I slice and dice and sauté and stir while classical music plays in the background. I go to make a cup of tea, staring out the window at the garden filling in beyond.  As I take in a deep breath of the Earl Grey, music in the background, and the soup cooking on the stove, it hits me.  How much I miss him. Amongst the sizzling onions, and wafting steam, and the scent of garlic and Earl Grey.  How very much I miss him. I grasp my belly as I consider escaping the feeling, finding relief in some other task to do. My taxes need reviewing, the trash sits full, the dishes are dirty, my emails are waiting.  But instead I choose to let it come.  To rise up and overflow the banks, to welcome the grief rather than push it away. It is nearly spring.  Daylight savings is around the corner, the days are getting longer.  There are the sounds of birds calling for their mates, and flowers are bursting out in bloom. But on a day like today, I sit myself on the couch, letting myself sink into its welcoming arms.  We have become good friends, my couch and I. Tea in hand, tissue nearby, I let it rise, overflow its banks.  How much I miss

Braver Together

Sometimes we need a hand to hold.  Even though we know we can do it, are strong enough, smart enough to do it, sometimes, we somehow, just don't. Sometimes we need a little extra help, to get us over a hump, a bump. To give us a hug, or a sweet smile, to hold our hand for a little while, as we grow the muscles to do it on our own. Several weeks ago, I wrote about the Rapp Saloon and my desire to read at their poetry open mic. And how, for any number of reasons, I didn’t go. Then last Friday night, my dear friend and writer/teacher extraordinaire, Deborah Edler Brown, sent me a text.  “Hey, want to go to the Rapp Saloon tonight?” Yes.  Yes. Yes. No hassle, no fuss, no anxiety. She came to my house, we had dinner. I drove, it was dark, there was rain. I parked. Then into the room we went, all warm and cozy, buzzing with other poets who were there to listen and to read.  A deliciously delightful host invited us to write our names, a one-line introduction, and something we wanted to share. She began to call out names, and then it was my turn. To walk up to the mic with my poem, “Wells Gone Dry” in hand, and begin to read. I heard my voice echoing in the microphone and looked out into the room, seeing my dear friend’s face, smiling, encouraging me on.  I trembled only a little,