Thursday, October 11, 2018

Thoughts on Funerals: : Why it's important to go to them

It has been a year since I wrote here last.  Nearly to the day.  In one month, it will be a year since my baby brother, just shy of 33, took his own life.  That is a whole other blog post, a long long way off, but after his death,  I retreated into myself, filling journals, but everything was too raw and too private to share with many others.  Even my sweet and beloved family.  We were all suffering in our individual ways and to share my burden with them felt like piling extra weight on them.  I just couldn't do that.  I had my safe people.  My therapist.  My journal.  They got the bulk of my grief.  (They still do.  It has not all gone away.)

Just after my brother died, the last of my grandmother's cousins died and then a friend's husband.  As I got dressed and was driving to my friend's visitation, I realized that I now have my "funeral clothes."  Dark, comfortable, appropriate and I chose them without thought.

I also realized that I have let go of this notion that it is not appropriate or distasteful for me to go to a funeral or visitation.  My friend and I haven't really had much contact beyond Facebook for nearly 10 years. We were co-workers at the job I had before coming home full time with my first child.  And my grandmother's cousin?  The last time we spoke was at my Grandmother's funeral when I was 17.  I thought of her fondly, but we didn't keep up much.  Her funeral was about her friends and her life and I was glad to meet them and know them.

If it were a year ago, I would not have attended either function.  It would have felt awkward and uncomfortable.  I would have been thinking about myself and my little bits of shame that I had not been a better friend or cousin, worried if people thought my blue tunic was too happy a color for funerals and did I look nice enough.  But as I was driving to the visitation I realized more deeply that funerals are about none of that. 

When we had the service for my brother, the church was filled to bursting.  Standing room only.  Aisles filled with fellow police officers, friends of ours from childhood, friends of my parents, other men and women who were officers from other counties who didn't necessarily know my brother that well but stood in solidarity for a fallen brother, and Marine brothers, from his time in the service, who stood stoically in the back.  I never once looked at those faces and thought "They don't deserve to be here."  I thought, "My brother was loved and thought well of.  If only he could see this now.  If only he could know how much he was loved and respected." and also "My family is so well loved."  The faces of the people who came and hugged my neck are a dark blur of tears.  But I look over the register they signed and remember that they were there.  That they cared. 

And it matters that they were there.  It matters.  My friend V looked out over the people in the visitation and saw my face and smiled.  I hugged her neck and she began to comfort ME over my brother.  I accepted her comfort and she accepted mine.  We talked, quietly smiled and she gently, with one finger, caressed the face of the body her husband, smoothing his breast pocket as he lay there.  I wasn't repelled. I was...not glad...that's not exactly the right word, but in some way it was the right word.  Glad that she had this moment with his body, with friends, with remembering him and celebrating him.  And knowing she didn't care that we hadn't kept up for 10 years, but that she was glad I had come.

I was glad to drive 30 minutes for 10 minutes with her.  Glad it brought a smile to her face that we could talk in her time of grief.  Glad that in some way, it uncovered a bit more grief for me so I could tend to that part of me that is still broken and healing.  It was important to go.  And so I will continue to.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Poem : : First day of School Vacation

These little people
who have been
like the walking dead
for months on end
as the school days
droned on and on
Barely able to put
feet on floor
in the glare
of the light
when Mama comes
to wake them up,
Are squealing
and bumping
and giggling
and building
and whumping
in the pre-dawn
hours of
the first day
of school vacation.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Poem : : My Feet Use to Be

My Feet Used to Be

My feet used to be
Bare and free
Calloused and agile
Gauging the bark
and strength of the branches
as I climbed.
Sinking into the soft red clay
of the well-worn path around the lake,
in spite of the carpet of pine needles,
gallantly thrown
like a cloak over a puddle.
Expertly avoiding the crabby crawdad
under the rock
who did not appreciate two giant invaders
into his watery domain
Quick stepping
on the hot black tar-top road,
softened by the sun
so my indented footprints
were left behind.
An advance scout
Sent out
test the strength
of some cobbled together invention
made by kids with too much time
and too little building experience
on their hands
Now they are prisoners
of age, injury, fitness goals, work, and propriety
Swathed and suffocating in cotton socks
and always shoes
My feet remember
how it used to be
to breathe

Monday, June 26, 2017

As the Day Ends

In the click of the lock as the day ends
In the hum of the a.c. outside
In the thrum of the mower that the neighbor uses at 9pm as if that is the perfect time for firefly lit yardwork
In the woosh and spin and click of the hookup of the dishwasher that is
An anachronism in this kitchen made for the 50's
In this house made for the 20's
In the stones that hold 100 years of time in the history
of earth and death and grass and Hackberry star seeds
To the rhythm of the breath of sleeping babes
Who dream and become old men and old mothers
In the passing of the sun and the moon as it grows fat and lean
In the seasons and the years and the lifetimes that this place
Held and lost and held and lost until this moment.
My bare feet on these creaking boards, once trees, once seedlings, once acorns,
Once one hundred feet high on the limbs of their mother
Carried here.  To now. Where the mint takes root in the glass on the sill
And the van beeps as I double check
And the lock clicks as the day ends.

Monday, March 13, 2017

An Invitation to Beckon the Lovely - the passing of Amy Krouse Rosenthol

I am typically not a fangirl, but I was and will always be a fan of Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She died today. Amy was a writer, an essayist, a film maker, a mother, a wife, a finder of magical and beautiful things, an encourager of others to find their magic and beauty. I watched her film, read her books and like a total nerd, wrote her a letter

She wrote me back. We didn't agree on where bowls should be racked up in the dishwasher, but in all things serendipitous, beautiful, and so unexpected they seemed magical, we each found joy. Me, because she pointed it out for me (and many others) and got my head out of my own crazy, lost in baby-land, navel gazing and her because she was a perpetual optimist who had her eyes wide open and searching for it. I strive to be like that. She made things. She did things. She gathered other makers and doers to her side without fear or comparison (or the paralyzing self doubt I am plagued with) and I watched her in wonder. They made things together. 

When I read her post in the NYTimes about her husband (a dating profile of sorts in hopes that he'd find love after she was gone), that was when I realized she was passing out of this world and I sobbed like it was news of my best friend dying. I had to go to bed early. I was a wreck. For a virtual stranger. But that was the way she invited people in. To know her through her writing. To make them laugh, and think, and wonder. I am grateful that she was here as long as she was. I am grateful that she shared so much of herself and encouraged others to beckon lovely. 

In honor of her, I will do as she asked and beckon the lovely into my life.  To look for the magical, romantic, serendipitous, silly and beautiful.  To open my eyes and live more deeply in gratitude.  And when I forget, as inevitably I will, I hope that you, my community of lovelies, will walk beside me and lift my head up to see the sun rise.  I will do the same thing when it is you who cannot look up from putting one foot in front of the other.

Thank you, Amy, for all that you brought to this world.  You will be sorely missed.

Her movie
Her Books
thebeckoningoflovely website has been taken over by some insanity.  Don't go there. is much better.

Monday, January 09, 2017


I didn't know we were poor until it was pointed out to me, with sneer and disdainfully curled lip, topped with perfect blond curls and giant grosgrain bow, that I always wore the same dress to church. 

I didn't know we didn't have what others thought we needed because I had the wild woods, the endless Texas sky, a creek to dig toes in mud, and a library so full of everything I could ever want to read, (I wanted to make it so no one else could check out books and I would go A to Z and read them all.  If others checked out books, how would I know what I missed?), 6 playmates, logs and leaves and forts and trees, a lake and a flat bottom skiff and shiny brass hooks to catch those 'sucker fish' with, with the night crawlers dug from the leaf beds, where the long, tar-top driveway curved and ran to grandma's house.

I learned while my sister worked her first job to buy nicer things than my parents could afford so she would feel like she fit in.  And she permed her hair and her eye lids turned a shimmery blue to be like those other 90's teenagers.  I learned when the kids around me asked if I had worn those jeans yesterday.  I had.

I learned when I saw your house and realized that mine was different.  That there was a hole in the floor, where the only thing between me and the chickens underneath the trailer was a green shag carpet.  It bowed there and we jumped over that spot between the living room and the kitchen.  And the thought of you coming over and knowing that about me, made my insides roil like a nest of rattlesnakes. 
My three haven't learned.  And we haven't lacked.  Until now.  When the job goes and the money dwindles and the roil comes back.
I am gloriously grateful today that a trip to buy new Storm Trooper shoes for a gift is all the birthday he needs.  He hasn't discovered it yet.  The Lack.

And this I know to be true, even if I don't manage to live there, The Lack, no matter how much we have or buy or give or fill up with 'things' and people, it will never go away.  There will always be someone with more and will I compare or will I be content?  Will I envy Disney and nicer, bigger houses and vacations and fancy mini-vans?  Have I given the illusion that I have transcended the envy of 'stuff' but still envy bodies, and beauty and youth, and relationships and compare my inside to your outsides (and Facebook feed)?
Or will I close my eyes and find quiet in the lack?
Can I find quiet in the din of this noise in my head and this twisting roil of rattlesnakes, that's true name is Fear of being known and rejected?
Can I get by with filling my eyes with envy instead of the peace brought by the lack thereof?
Or can I live here? In the Lack?  And hand over my worries and fear and just be content?
Sweet Lord, I hope I can.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Dust if you Must - Poetry I like today

Dust If You Must

by Rose Milligan

Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there's not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear, and books to read;
Friends to cherish, and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world's out there
With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair;
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it's not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust.

Text Source
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