Posted tagged ‘death’

night terror

October 3, 2010

To shake you awake from this nightmare

Or scream you awake

Screams of my own terror

You’re going to kill yourself

You won’t stop

Until you’re dead.

I cannot

bear the thought nor can I

hold you as a child; when everything was somehow


Even though that is a lie.

Chaos, insecurity, scarcity

I know my own version of that story

Everyone does-

Well, everyone we’ve loved, anyway

And the cruelest lesson of all:

Love cannot save you because you won’t

Give it to yourself

I cannot love you enough to make you

happy, content, peaceful

Though I would tear out my own heart

Just to give you one minute of




September 26, 2009

What is it about the ocean? 

I woke up in a funk this morning.  I was feeling fragile and working hard not to begin the day in a mess of tears.  There was no reason.  It’s grief or it’s happiness or it’s fear or it’s gratitude; doesn’t matter.  In those moments, I struggle to stay present lest I be lost in emotion.  Then in other moments, I am so present I get overwhelmed.  There is no balance between grace and the horrors of this world.  Grace always wins. 

I had the good fortune of being near the ocean this morning.  Sky and water bouncing into each other in a dance of fluid light. Soft sand still warm enough for bare feet, defying the coming of fall. Waves, the constant motion,fall09 069 a lullaby. I had an urge to fling myself onto the ground and make angels in the sand.  I think it was a desire to hold the earth and sea with gratitude for its gifts.  There is an indescribable peace in such moments.

When I was five, my sister Debbie took me into the waves at York Beach.  She was twelve.  I worshiped her.  The waves were solid, bone-numbing they were so cold, huge.  Debbie took me out to where they were breaking and held me in front of her. She would yell to me “here comes a rumbler, get ready!”  I was terrified and thrilled as a wall of water well over my head crashed with enough force to knock us both backward.  We tumbled in the white water.  Sometimes, she would hold onto me all the way in and we would end up in a heap on the shore.  Most of the time, we got thrashed violently; held down and spun like seaweed so that we couldn’t tell which way was up until we were thrown onto the sand.  I learned to surrender to the waves.  Fear gave way to thrill once I realized that eventually, I would crash onto the beach, find my breath, stand on solid ground. 

I realize now–this memory, which I love so well, is part of what binds me to the ocean.  On the surface, it is me and my beloved sister playing on a summer day.  It is innocence and laughter.  It is me trusting my sister, without question, enough to allow her to hold me facing waves: scary and uncontrollable.  It is learning to allow the ocean to cradle me as it overpowered me.  It is understanding that eventually, it would deliver me to solid ground.

Deeper, this memory, like the ocean, sustains me. I am drawn to both.  At the beach, I cannot be trapped in my head.  There is no will or need to cope or to seek or to struggle.  Some part of that five year old surfaces and I am trusting and innocent and allowing the ocean to carry me.  I see now that it was up to me to determine how long I waited on the shore and recovered my breath and balance before I went right back into those waves.  I see now how it has become a metaphor for life.  My anguish, my questioning…the tender ache of life’s bittersweet blessings…grief, happiness, fear, gratitude:  I am learning again to trust that each wave will eventually return me to solid ground as long as I surrender to it.

dropping stones

September 11, 2009

IMG_0845This morning, sitting in my quiet house with a cup of tea, I heard the church bells from the church on the corner tolling over and over.  At first, I thought it was the bells from the Academy up the hill, calling the kids to class, but that bell happens earlier in the day and only rings once or twice.  This was persistent.  The slow cadence was sad and ominous.  Then it occurred to me: it is September 11. 

I sent a prayer in that moment.  Blessings to those whose grief is tied to this day.  Peace to an endless conflict with eight years of countless victims.  Gratitude for safety and abundance in my own day-to-day.  I sang a song.  I remember…

That bell signaled the rhythm of the day.  It has been a day of reflection on grief and change.  When I have these moments of consideration, I imagine that I am swimming.  As I swim, I carry a bag full of burdens; stones which weigh me down and threaten to drown me.  As I meditate on a circumstance or acknowledge a care, I imagine dropping a stone into the depths.  Usually when it lands, it kicks up some emotional sludge and muddies the water so that I must stop swimming for a  minute lest I be lost.  Eventually, things settle again and I can resume swimming. It is easier as I drop my stones, easier as I release my worries to the universe with the faith that eventually the water clears and things right themselves again and I can swim unburdened. 

  I had a very long conversation with my former husband about our children and our co-parenting and our hopes for the future.  I told him his resentment is a burden for me.  He told me he is sorry for that.  I let go of that stone.

I had someone ask me if there is any possibility of reconciliation with a lost love.  There is not. I re-read letters he wrote to me and then I put them away for good.  I let go of that stone.

As I was cleaning out files and putting papers in order, I came across journals written two years ago, when my world changed so drastically and so suddenly that I am still catching my breath.  I cried tears of compassion for the woman who wrote those pages as she tumbled about in an angry ocean of grief, illness, uncertainty, loss, anger, exhaustion.  She is me, yet removed enough that I can read of her pain without experiencing it again.  I cried tears of relief that I can see the scars and remember the injury but that I know the healing and the lessons and the blessings.  I did not drown in that ocean.  I am a powerful swimmer.  I let go of stones for every circumstance and every fear that did not come true in those deep and despairing days.

And tonight, sitting in my quiet house with a cup of tea, I wait for the mud to settle and the water to clear.  When it does, I know I will move forward with intention and integrity into the blessings of this journey.  They often arrive on unexpected currents.


June 27, 2009

It’s hard to count my blessings today, though they are many.  It is the anniversary of significant loss for my family: the day my step-father died.  He was a generous, kind-hearted, quirky man with a heart for friendship.  He never once complained as he was dying.  Though his body betrayed him, his spirit held strength, dignity, resolve right to the end.  If you could get past his physical state–his body literally wasting away–you could forget that he was ill.  He kept us laughing until a few hours before he died.  He kept us together.  It is only since his death that we have come to realize that this man was the glue for us.  He tethered us with trains, antiques, boating, skiing, snowmobiling,barbeques, “date night” with our mother which some of us so often would crash…and it has been since his death that we have wandered around, bumping into each other.  We recognize ourselves collectively: “family”, yet we are individually forever changed.  Subtle yet obvious.  Perhaps it would be easier today, perhaps memories would comfort but for the torrent of other griefs woven together with his death.  If it was just him we mourned–but it is a web of loss, begun with him.  We miss those moments of everyday,  of which he captured so often on film and kept record within his journals.  We have our memories.  We have those photographs and stories; “the log never lies”.  We have so many objects, collections of cars, tools, books, watches…on and on, so many objects, now stored away and without meaning because he is gone.  He, who we realize now, was the meaning.  And his death was a beginning, though we did not know it at the time.  It was the beginning of a path into the certain “valley of the shadow of death” for all of us.   The splintering which began when he breathed his last has become shards scattered far and wide.  We are shattered by divorce and sudden deaths which havelatham taken some of the remainder of us and  by  other changes we could never have foreseen and would have run from had we known.  The work now is begun, these two years later, to find those fragments we recognize.  We hand pieces of ourselves to each other.  We exchange the slivers we carry, unrecognizable, hoping for identification.  Some of this comes as we continue to gather in similar ways to what has always been.  Some of this comes in the quiet of our hearts when we realize it will never be as it has always been.  Still, we have this hope: that those pieces will fit back together yet create a new form.  It will be familiar enough to comfort us yet different enough to make us constantly aware of our loss.  We will someday see it as the vessel which has carried us through our grief as we greet each other in the light of another day.  We will gather and count our collective blessings, realizing that they are what binds us now in this new form.  We will say yes, and love remains.