Sunday, April 16, 2017

clink, clink, clink

My father had that ability to immerse himself in the moment, perhaps more so than anyone I've known. Whether he was enjoying his favorite Paciugo gelato - black cherry - while sitting in the car on a hot July day, or slamming any door in the house if the Tar Heels lost a basketball game, or tearing up listening to a beautiful aria; he totally embraced all that defined or surrounded moments in time. (One was during WWII, in Paris, sitting on the curb eating a treat of canned (maybe stolen) peaches.) 

It seems for most of his life, as if he didn't fear but yet was guided, unaware, that any moment could be his last.

This was heavy on my mind this Easter Sunday as I celebrated with family and friends. I so wanted to emulate my father but yet, my heart still grieves. I pretend to be in the moment but I'm still very much aware of the me who watches me.

Throughout the afternoon I proposed toasts: clink clink clink! I absorbed and enjoyed the music in the cafe. I ate well. Life seemed good. And when my nephew complimented my earrings, knowing in a glance they must have been a gift from Kevin, I teared up. Just like Daddy would have done.  

Maybe tears continue to be good. 

I came away from the bustle of the bistro knowing that I am still healing. Still healing by willing to be there, willing to risk the pain of a memory, be it by a bite of anything, a song, or a toast: clink, clink, clink!

Whether it is me, or it is the me who watches me, we are together trying so hard to live in the moments. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

dream cafe

I'm sitting at the bar with Joe, sipping a mojito, trying to get my mojo back.  Writing mojo, reading mojo, cooking mojo, appetite mojo, joie de vivre mojo ...  I'll settle for any one of them.

Truth is, I'm sipping a cucumber martini but the writer in me knew mojito worked the sentence, so maybe I'll grasp that as mojo and be content with it.  I'm certainly not content with much else.

My life with Spoke was bliss.  My life with Spoke was defined.  We had our rhythms, our patterns, our traditions.  Life was so good, until that day it wasn't.

It's been six months now.  The white plastic Baylor bag stuffed with his clothes removed in the ER, still sits in the corner of the mud room next to my green, rubber garden boots.  I am not ready to look.  I am not able.

I watch Joe run the bar.  For hours, I watch Joe run the bar.  I think.  I think a lot.  And then, last call, I think some more.

There's a new life awaiting my design.  I am free to make it anything I want it to be.  Oh, yippee.  How does one build a life they don't want?   

Had it been possible, the day after he died, to plop me smack into my new life, it might be easier.  Old life gone, new life here, that was then, this is now, get over it.  

But it's all on me now; my days are slow and hours can seem to stand still.  I'm not yet well, not creative, not willing, not myself.  The new life is laying itself at my feet in baby steps allowing reality to settle in; redefining will take time and it's a steep, long, and winding path. 

My rhythms, my patterns, my traditions will emerge.  Hopefully, one day I'll be joyful again. 

But for now, I'll sit with Joe at the barIt is a home away from a home that's not yet a new home.  

Dream Cafe, Lakewood, Dallas

Monday, March 28, 2016

the ninth day of spring

I may have said a few curse words while trying to cover these cascading plants, their thorns cutting through the plastic bags and cutting me.  It was bitter cold that evening, and threateningly low temperatures were predicted, but I was determined to get them through the winter.

The two pots of flowering vines were Spoke's favorite plants from last season.  He doted on them.  He nurtured them through July and August.  He told me often, how glad he was that I had chosen these: one all pink, the other pink mixed with salmon colored blooms.  They were like us; a pair, of the same yet different.

Bougainvillea are suited to Dallas summers because they require several hours of sunlight a day, but even so, Spoke made sure to rotate the pots so one never got more light than the other. 


My time without him, measured by the passing of Christmas, the beginning of a new year, his would have been birthday, and now Easter, I had accepted that the plants were never coming back to life either.  Imagine my joy, the first spontaneous wave to hit me, when I spotted the new growth.  Leaves are small, some miniscule, but visible!

We're in for a hot summer, I hear.  If these vines survive, if I can woo them to thrive and to bloom, I won't mind the heat.  Not one little bit.  I will bask in the joy they bring.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

in the pool

Treading water.
Whether, on any given day, you inch into the pool toes first, get up the nerve to dive off the high board, or are pushed into the water, you find yourself in the deep end of what feels Olympic in size, treading water.

Even if you are a good swimmer.  Treading water.

Even if you've been thrown life jackets and floats. 

Treading water.

     Treading water. 

               Treading water.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

lightness of being

Easter is coming.  That calls for a Sunday Brunch, and for me, no brunch is as fine as one with live jazz.  So that's what I'll be doing this year; enjoying a four-hour repeat of last year, with family and friends lining both sides of a very long table but without the better half of me, the love of my life, seated to my right. 

I was asked by perceptive and kind friends if I thought I could handle it.  Emphatically, yes, I know I can.

I think I'm doing tremendously well.  I will brag without hesitation, for getting to this point of doing well, has been earned.  It's earned in the deepest, most private and painful moments on the darkest days and nights I've ever known.  If I can survive them, I can handle anything.  

So, blow that horn, mister sax man!

Ironically, the sonnet below is a piece I've loved for many years and shared with too many peopleI would read it to Spoke before I slipped it in each condolence note to be mailed, my voice always struggling through my tears; tears which he had come to anticipate. 
He would expect and accept nothing less.


When he died, the poem was no longer heartbreaking words on paper but a portrait of my new life.  Where I went, he was there.  He was pain.  The pain stalked me.

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year's leaves are smoke in every lane; 
But last year's bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go--so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, "There is no memory of him here!"
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.  

I knew I could not remain in the constant state of pain.  The grieving widow I became, was all about me and not only did its focus not relieve my pain, it did nothing to honor the man I love. 

As mysteriously as winter is turning to spring, I am pushing myself, much like a bulb, to higher ground where I think I will settle for a while, maybe even bloom.  As we were attached in life, Spoke continues to be with me.  I finally feel his presence within me.  I see the signs he sends.

Heavy weight has been lifted and I have a lightness of being.  Memories and longing still consume minutes of every hour, but I have come to more graciously welcome, embrace, and celebrate them as reminders of, and gratitude for, our love story.  I know Spoke would expect and accept nothing less.   


Time Does Not Bring Relief (Sonnet II)
Collected Poems, Edna St. Vincent Millay

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

you were

You were the CIRCLE to my square
You were the CREMA to my espresso
You were the ANSWER to my prayers

You were the UMBRELLA to my rain
You were the PULSE to my heart
You were the FOREVER STAMP to my letter
You were the SWEET to my sour
You were the CRAWL to my run
You were the POP to my champagne
You were the KISS to my goodnight
You were the FOUND to my lost
You were, will always be, the LOVE to my life