Archive for the ‘words’ category

On the First Anniversary of Your Death, the Letter You Never Read

January 31, 2017

Responding to your (hurtful) reply when I asked if you wanted me to come see you, about a month before your death.

I do hope you will be able to read this with an open heart and an open mind, for it is sent with love.

In 1976, I was five. I have no memory of my parents married or together. Certainly, your own choices, actions and in-actions have guided or influenced me as much as any of my mother’s have.

I take responsibility for myself, for the choices I’ve made. If I’ve hurt you. I am sorry. I have not been intentionally hurtful–rather, trying to navigate given my own limitations. I make choices which are heavily influenced by two Bible verses and by my own standards of how I can live (with myself) in this crazy world.

Psalm 19:14 “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Learned that at Delta Lake camp when I was 12)

Romans 12:18 “In as much as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (became really aware of this while learning how to manage my depression as an adult)

A part of your legacy (and my mother’s) is a commitment I made to myself during my sister’s funeral. I had just filed for divorce and he and I were in a volatile place. We had resorted to only communicating via email and avoided being in each other’s presence when the kids were around because it had gotten ugly. At the funeral, I was sitting in the second row on the left, facing the front of the room. He and our oldest son were sitting behind me–this man, with whom I had not had a kind moment for quite a while, had his left arm around my shoulders, holding me and leaning his head on my right shoulder while he held our son to us both with his right arm. I’ll never forget this gesture. I’ll never forget turning my head to the right–seeing my mother down the row from me, lost in her own grief. Then way, way, way across the room and down the row, seeing a glimpse of you, lost in your own grief. I thought “God forbid something were to happen to one of my children, their father would be the first person I’d go to, would be the person I’d share that experience with.” I felt very sad that you and mom could barely acknowledge, let alone comfort one another.

This became a foundational moment, a cornerstone for how I moved through my divorce and eventually, how I fostered a new relationship as a co-parent. It also guided how I accepted and encouraged my children’s step-mother. I remember thinking “in 30 years, this divorce and all of the heartache we’re going through now will simply be a part of the story. I will not carry bitterness” Not that that doesn’t require daily practice sometimes more than others–just that it is a fundamental part of my parenting. I was able to heal and to purposefully live into Romans 12:18 as best I can. I hope this has benefited our children in the way I believe it has.

I’m sad that you don’t seem to have been able to find similar peace. Sure, you’ve moved on and created your own life, new relationships… but you seem bitter and that makes me sad for you. It has certainly impacted our relationship and the choices made.

I tell you this perhaps so that you might see some of my perspective and remember that for a long time, my perspective was one of a confused and wounded child!

I also tell you this so that you will know that I hold no resentment toward you. I hold no current pain for the little girl I once was. I have forgiven myself, learned to love myself and do hope that perhaps you will forgive me if that is needed, as well.

My most sincere hope, though, is that you will know freedom in understanding that I have also forgiven you. Perhaps all will be released back to God–it is not mine to carry (nor yours).

I will think of you–whenever I see deer or when I’m in my kayak on quiet water. I will think of you when my oldest learns to fly or when we discover some connection of genealogy together. (Remember that his name was inspired by our find that Griffin Craft was our first ancestor from Britain. He came over on the Arabella with Winthrop’s fleet and was a founding father of Roxbury, MA. He made rope and was a surveyor. I always thought it was interesting that his son, John, married a woman named Susanna White. You and I dug all of that up at the library in Portsmouth when you visited, just before I found out I was expecting my first child.)

I will think of you and I will remember to live in peace. I will hope the same for you.  

 

 
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A Glimpse Within

June 28, 2015

It is this beautiful boy’s 18th birthday today. I celebrate him now, as ever.

Wisetrout's Blog

My child is filthy.  His clothes hang disheveled, covered with mud and soot.  I can smell him from several feet away.  His face and hands are nearly black.  His shins are covered with blood from bug bites and brambles, sweat drips from under his baseball hat.  He’s smiling as I walk toward him. 

I ask him about his day.  I expect to hear about building camp in the woods, about making a fire without matches, about whittling a bowl from a log.  He is a Forest Scout and this is his first day of Earth Skills camp.  On other such days, he’s talked of juniper tea and eating roadkill.  He has built himself a shelter of branches and snow and spent a February night there.  He has talked of hiking to the middle of the Maine woods with only a compass and some cryptic directions back to the path: left at…

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Editing

November 19, 2013

For Fred

You don’t say yessah to a woman who writes

prose like a dance

Message and method makes you fumble

You can say wanna because it’s spontaneous

And she’ll dance on the beach

with You

under a full moon, remembering

the promise of unseen choices

Unchosen

When anything was possible

until neither of you remembers words

And the magic of the moment becomes a still reminder

Of the miles yet to go

You and me

July 22, 2012

Euphoria ebbs
like Magic
until it becomes
that
which I
cannot describe

Me, with my words
stunned but
not silent
Reaching

It’s like the ocean
It’s like gardening barefoot
It’s like skipping stones
It’s like music
It’s like writing

I don’t understand
yet
I know

Contentment
All is right with the world
Heart overflowing
Belonging

Me, here
with You

eventide

September 6, 2011

“Sometimes, if you’re too strong, you can’t be stretchy and if you’re too stretchy, you can’t be strong” –a wise yogi said this today as she prompted me to forget the shape of my body and just breathe. She was talking about my physical self, but I actually laughed when I realized she’d articulated a truth I’d been dancing around for a while.

I’m raw. Tired, vulnerable, a bit wounded of late. I’m baffled; relationships aren’t what they seem, people I love are hurtful, I stay connected long beyond the point of loving or healthy or safe. I’m fearful of the force of unknowns in an uncertain time. I’m depleted by the constant effort of being my own best friend. Vigilance against the impulse to shut down wears me down.

I’m determined. Intention and effort combine to manifest new roles which serve an authentic identity. I’ve been working toward this place for four years– learning who I am beyond and because of loss, yes, but also a discovery. There is a core beauty, intuition, gratitude and faith which sustains me. Laughing with my children, lying on the hammock, savoring the kiss of a man I could love, swimming in the cold ocean, the hug of a lifelong friend– Grace reminds me every day how abundant and precious and fortunate my life is and creates the desire to fling my heart open wide.

As in my yoga practice, I struggle in life to find the sweet spot between strong and stretchy. I get glimpses of it. On retreat in Mexico, yoga and love brought me out of the shadows of cynicism, fear, defeat. Challenged gently to keep my heart open, by meditation and conversation and kindness, I went into my yoga practice vulnerable yet mindful of every sensation. The sound of the ocean just beyond the studio doors, the grit on my mat from days walking barefoot, the tenderness in my body from challenging it over the course of a week to stretch and bend and twist, the breath of my community practicing in unison; all vivid yet secondary to the quiet within as I moved without any thought beyond breathing in and breathing out. Toward the end of my practice, my teacher came and wordlessly shifted my body out of the modified version of my forward bend. I focused on her deliberate breathing in time with me. As she lay along my back, she whispered, “it’s about trust” and moved my head to the floor into a full expression of this asana; which I’d never experienced. In that moment, the essence of me existed in eventide. Peace: my mind, body and spirit met the split second homeostasis which would draw me toward eternity. I know it is possible.

And so, I’m realizing that there is nothing to do. The compulsion to draw inward, to protect myself, to flee, can exist alongside the impulse to acknowledge everyday blessing, to follow love, to rejoice. I’ve been trying to choose. I’ve been simultaneously compelled to hold tight and resist or to let go and allow: swinging the pendulum between too strong and too stretchy. The lesson is this: breathe. Forget trying to manifest some outcome. Forget trying to modify or create or coerce or discern. Breathe. Stay focused. Trust the steps I’m taking toward my dreams. Meditate, pray, practice yoga. Savor friendship and my boys and chocolate. Write down the things which make me sad or scared and then burn them in a ritual of release. Write down the things which make me smile or say ‘thank you’ to the universe and read them every day. Be a wise trout. And in that stillness, trust. Love, community and circumstances will collide with intuition, identity and grace; resulting in that moment when all is in perfect balance. It is enough.

Shimmering

May 5, 2011

The following are attempts to create poems about the birth of my boys, written as part of a project for grad school…the only writing I’m doing these days…

Griffin
Middle of the night water flowing
Dawn breaks after a slow walk in the morning mist
Carrying a blue sky Strawberry festival day
And the intensity of anticipation and effort
Vivaldi and honey-laced ice
the large soft hands of a capable shepherd
Trust and surrender to the
Welcome cries of eagle-lion
Myth and magic and mystery become
Divinity in my arms

Andrew
Jupiter rising within my impatient belly
It’s today! I think
But then re-think when everything stops
And the midwife decides not to come
Hours of disappointed inaction and I hardly
Notice when I start laboring again and
By the time I start paying attention it’s
Chaos and it’s just you and me little Jupiter
No time for conscious support it’s primal as
My body and my baby take over
A cacophony of action until twelve minutes after
The midwife arrives
You arrive
Time stops
Music stops
As the universe makes room for
This unspeakable love

indulgence

January 17, 2011

“Sorry, no matinée today”.

I’m on a “mummy date” with my five-year old. We’re supposed to see a show about paleontology. Not happening. We’re at the planetarium on campus and the building is empty. It’s creepy. We stand in the lobby for a minute; discussing why it’s called a matinée and why it’s canceled. I’m trying to think what else we can do to make the 45 minute car ride worthwhile. The Children’s museum closes in less than an hour. It’s bitter cold. We had a snack in the car, so an early dinner is out. I’m not familiar enough with the city to quickly come up with ideas and my limited search via cell phone isn’t helpful.

Sweet child needs to pee, so we travel a few deserted hallways to find the restroom. He’s giving me a what for because it’s the women’s room. I tell him the sign on the stairway door across from this restroom says that the men’s room is in the basement. Not an option. He gives me squinty eyes and heads for the stall. A few seconds later, I hear him mumbling at first, then louder, “oh you can’t be serious!” It sounds exactly like when my mother says it. I’m smiling, despite that he’s obviously in some kind of mild distress. “Hey, pal, everything okay?”

Suffice to say, he’s pissed, literally, and I’m doing my best not to laugh about it. He’s giving me a commentary fit for the stage about how it happens that a five-year old, *practically grown!* can end up with pee on his pant leg.

We clean up as best we can. I’m trying to figure out how to salvage our “special” time together. I decide the only thing to do is to visit the toy store and find some ice cream, despite January in Maine. What else?  Off we go and within minutes we are lost in the world of toy store. Puppets. Kites. Model dinosaurs and dragons, books, games, wooden trains and play kitchen. He’s holding a couple of fierce dinosaurs, Utahraptor? Ovaraptor? He knows what it is. The other is a Velociraptor and I’m sure about it. “Mum, you know my birthday is just around the corner”, he says. “You can get one now, honey.” I say. “Oh, no. I could never decide which one”. I sneak them both to the sales clerk and ask her to set them aside. “Well, you can choose something for now” and he does, a glow in the dark skeleton pirate who rides a monster crab and carries a sword and a pistol. Not my favorite of his choices, but it assuages my disappointment about the day. We buy some board books for a friend and a craft kit for another friend’s birthday. We buy a WWII era plane with a red propeller. It’s about 3″ long and fastens to a bike handle. We decide it’s the closest we’ll get to making the airplane and history obsessed big brother’s dreams of owning a plane come true. I buy myself a craft kit, too, realizing fully that I will have zero time to start it anytime soon. I can’t help myself though.

I’m carrying the toy store loot, including the birthday surprise dinosaurs; we decide to take a walk. I’m looking for ice cream but I don’t say anything to the kid. It’s super chilly but we’re laughing as we walk. He takes my hand and pulls ahead of me, pretending to be a dog. I pull him back playfully and say “heel” as I did with our pup. Several times, I automatically call him by the dog’s name, which he finds hysterically funny. I don’t even realize I’ve done it! I’m noticing every detail as we walk. The smell of garlic from a restaurant. The wind whipping up tears and stealing my breath. The weight of the toys in the bag on my arm. The press of his hand against mine, warm in our mittens. The little upward pitch at the end of his giggle.

Turn the corner and we’re at the most wonderful “authentic” Italian gelato shop. The kid has no clue but I realize we’ve hit a jackpot. I order coconut and he orders something–I can’t remember the Italian name for it–translated, it means “deliciousness combined with chocolate deliciousness to make supreme deliciousness”. He shares, as long as I use my own little spoon, which is purple. His is pink, but he insists it’s orange. We have the discussion again about how there are no “boy” colors and no “girl” colors but he squints again and I know he’s the king of discipline for holding his tongue.

He takes his skeleton pirate out of the box and immediately starts the giggle. “Lookit this mullet, mum!” I’m about to ask what he knows about mullets when I remember showing both of my boys some prime hair band videos from the 80s just a few nights earlier. When was the last time you watched “Jump” by Van Halen followed by Ratt, Poison, Motley Crue and Warrant? Try telling those guys there are “boy” colors and “girl” colors!! We get a kick out of the skeleton mullet and he’s happy playing for a minute. I’m eavesdropping on the people next to me, savoring each bite of coconut deliciousness, when I realize that this beautiful boy of mine is not -so- quietly singing, “she’s my cherry pie, dunn nan na na naaaa na na” over and over while he’s lost in monster crab play. Okay, so the Warrant video was a huge mistake. I’m sure he’ll take it up in therapy when he’s older.

As we’re cleaning up our table and putting the toys away, he says, “Mum, what do pirates have to do with Jesus?” I can’t come up with anything appropriate quickly enough so I ask why he asks. “I just always think of Jesus when I think of pirates.” No idea. I know I’m giving him a dumb look but I’m caught between marveling at his comment and the sheer joy of this very moment. A few seconds later, “mum, do you know why the universe is here?” I wait, he’s not finished. “No, not the universe, I mean earth. Do you know why earth is here?” This is not a question he expects me to answer. He expects me to say, “no, honey, why is earth here?”, which I do. “So the moon has someone to appreciate it.” The dumb look again but now I’m just giddy smiling. He doesn’t miss a beat. Takes a deep breath and lets it out. “Mum, this was the worst day of my life. No movie, no paleontology. I thought for sure people would be near me and [he breathes deeply through his nose and then gives a few short sniffs with his face a crinkled in mock disgust] ‘oh man, why does that big kid smell of pee?’… but it’s not the worst day. I got a cool toy. I got that yummy European ice cream, what’s it called again? and nobody sniffed me.”I’m nearly crying now, just so in love with this boy, this moment.

As we leave, he takes off his mitten and puts his hand into mine. We’re quiet as we walk along, trying to remember where we left the car. A perfect day.