Rockwell

I hope that you are

Surrounded

By people you love

Who adore you in return

Entrenched

In pleasant conversation

Laughing so much

You forget the time.

I hope that you are

Submerged

In food and merriment

Your belly full,

Your heart at bursting.

I want these things for you

All the time –

Not just now,

Not just today.

But today

I want to tell you

In case you need to know

You are so treasured

So cherished

Even when it seems

You are alone.

xo

Weep Not for the Memories

Driving today with my elder son in the back seat, a Sarah McLachlan song came on the radio.  I smiled and sang along.

I will remember you/Will you remember me?

Don’t let your life pass you by/Weep not for the memories.

There’s a surface meaning to the song, as with any song, and at first I was only thinking surface thoughts.  Swiftly transported to a simpler time in my life – high school and early college days – when love was messy and dramatic and fascinating and painful and I wanted every part of it.  I also thought about my brother, (who is probably Sarah McLachlan’s number one fan), because he used to burn me CDs and make me notes on what to listen for.  He’s an audiophile, I can’t hear the things he does, but I still loved getting CDs from him, and I listened to them dutifully and repeatedly.

As the song went on I started thinking about the lyrics having a deeper and more profound context. I imagined a conversation with my Grandaddy Curtis. He’s been on my mind the past few days.  I see him standing in front of me, smiling.  He was always smiling.

“I will remember you”, I say.  “Will you remember me?” He nods at me silently. It’s like a verbal handshake – a pact – we make.  “Weep not for the memories,” I say to myself.  I miss him, but I am not sad.  I have been loved more earnestly and well than some people will ever dream, and I can only be grateful for it. Sarah kept singing:

You gave me everything you had, you gave me light.

I leave the imaginary scene and focus my attention on the road ahead.  The sky looks a shade or two grayer than it did this morning.  I’ve heard it said that for as long as you are remembered and loved by someone you never die, not really.  Your love becomes your legacy.  So in my imagination, Grandaddy and I made a deal to keep the other alive, through love and conversation.

You know that age old question – “If a tree falls in the woods…”?  Well, let me put it to you another way.  If a person exists – if a human life is lived – and there is no one to bear witness – is it truly lived?  What proof is there to point to that person, what certainty can we have about them?  I suppose the answer depends on how much you think existence has to do with things like community, connection, love, family, and legacy.

Isn’t that what every person wants?  To be remembered?  To have mattered?

Existential crises are a part of the Human Condition.  We all, whether we realize it or not, whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, yearn to matter.   I believe with all my heart that this is why we are driven to create.  Most of us (maybe all of us), usually from a young age, feel a compulsion to make.  Writers, painters, singers, dancers, even people who create in different ways, like businessmen and inventors, all respond to the familiar call to make something of their lives – and by extension, of themselves, of their time here.

To be honest I think this is (at least in part) why some of us have children.  We want to leave behind something of significance, and we want someone to bear witness to our lives. We want some assurance that the stories we grew up with – the recipes, the traditions, the places and people we love, even the dimples passed down on our father’s side – don’t cease to exist when we are laid to rest in the damp, dark earth.  We hope that the generation we raise will be better than us, we hope they aspire to greater heights, we pray they will work as hard as we have to make some kind of mark on the world, to give their contribution to the collective.

We want it all to mean something.

It’s futile.  It’s absurd.  It’s romantic and brave.

And isn’t it a lot like writing a manifesto in the sand?  We toil and sweat and bleed and give of ourselves, mining the depths of our hearts to produce something raw and true and worthy.   The tides of time will likely wash it all away eventually.  We know.  In the back of our minds, we have always known. Yet we can’t seem to help ourselves.

Stranger still, there is inherent value in the markings left on the beach, even if they aren’t seen or acknowledged on a global scale and even if they only last a fraction of a second.  Ironically, the value isn’t as much in the words as it is in heart and motivation of the person desperately scrawling them; not as much in the thing created as in the creating.

Sounds like one big, terrific, cosmic joke.

Perhaps the punchline is this: Love is what lasts.  Love is what transcends. Only love.  Real love is eternal.  It exists here and it exists in the after, and it is the only thing that does.  So really, all this creating is nonsense, and all our sleepless nights and working lunches and grand projects are useless, except for the loving.  Who we love, how well we love them, whether and how we express it, where we allow it to take us, how much of that love we pour into others and into the universe is what bleeds over into the cosmos and echoes in the night sky after we are gone.

I’ve heard it said that for as long as you are remembered and loved by someone you never die, not really.  Your love becomes your legacy.

I will remember you.  Will you remember me?

 

 

 

 

Yellow Legal Pad Circa 2006

I am never

Not thinking

About him.

p e r s p e c t i v e

When you’re sitting down there on the floor, all cried out and delirious, eyes red and swollen, flicking the lamp switch back and forth, mascara smudged all over your face and you just can’t see that it doesn’t matter if he has her or she has him…

You can’t see because right now you’re just deep in it, you’re thinking about boiling bunnies and you are still turning the goddamn lights on and off while blasting Madame Butterfly through the speakers and wearing his cologne because he shattered your heart…

You were Alex for him, a damn good Alex too, until he decided Alex wasn’t what he wanted and all the things that made you exciting and intriguing now make you a human land mine and he’s afraid of taking another step…

I want you to know that it doesn’t matter if he lied or broke your heart or used you or made you feel cheap, that he spat out beautiful bullshit with a Cheshire grin, it won’t matter after this momentary break or in any other instant after…

It won’t matter because you’re not Alex. Alex was never who you really are, only a part you played once, someone who fit his mold and expectations, who made him feel important, a woman who thrilled and intimidated him, a woman he callously dismissed and discarded…

It won’t matter because the truth is evident now, you can see it and taste it and feel it, that fire burning in your gut, that voice that tells you you’re stronger without him and you were made to handle tough things, the one that dares you to prove it to yourself…

It won’t matter because – plot twist – you’re Glenn Fucking Close and when this moment is over you’re going to stand up, put your pants on, take a long drag off a longer cigarette and go eat some over-seasoned salmon on the balcony of a hotel where the sheets cost more than most people’s dignity and you will never shed a tear over him again…

And that, my dear, is perspective.

Misdiagnosed- A Memory

This picture (below) was taken a little over a year ago at Children’s Hospital of Atlanta. We had taken Wy to our local ER and that visit quickly turned traumatic, as we were told he (95% likelihood) had leukemia.

Leukemia. Cancer. The ER doctor said words like “morbidity” and “prognosis”. I didn’t cry. I remember clearly that I, quite uncharacteristically, did not dissolve into a heap of tears. I was angry. Indignant. I came here expecting to hear he has the flu, and now you’re spouting life-expectancy statistics? I was mad. At who? I don’t know. Everyone?

It was close to midnight. I called my dad. We drove home, left our older son with family, packed a bag and traveled to Atlanta to be seen immediately (around 3 am) by an Oncologist. It was a quiet car ride. I texted my Doctor friend and my Mom (who is an RN) the entire time.

In my stomach I felt sure the doctor was wrong. I don’t know how, I just knew he was. Wyatt had fought through so much just to be born. Just to be our son. He can’t have gone through that kind of hell in order to live, just to die two years later. It wasn’t possible. I believed he was well. Sitting in the back seat of my father’s sedan, I felt an overwhelming peace. Wyatt was ok. My job was to be calm for him and to gather information, so that’s what I would do.

Still, it was a tough couple of days. Blood tests, screaming, scouring Google, waiting. Sitting in the Oncologist’s office a few days later we waited to find out the lab results. Wyatt gave in to his exhaustion and fell asleep on the palm of my hand. I was exhausted too. I started giggling. I think it was that nervous kind, like when you laugh at a funeral. None of us had really slept in days.

Thankfully, Wyatt was cleared as quickly as he had been diagnosed. We weren’t given much of an explanation, and frankly I didn’t care for one. I wasn’t mad at the ER doctor and I wasn’t upset at what my family had just been through.

I remember this string of days with enormous gratitude. So much gratitude, it probably seeped from my pores. My big little guy was healthy, and all was right with the world.

This whole fiasco is on my heart today as Wyatt has been very difficult this weekend. I am reminded of how much I cherish him, and how quickly things can change. I take a deep breath, regain composure, and hug him tight. I’ll take a temper tantrum over a night in the ER every day of the week.

Wyatt and his beloved Doggy

artist’s dilemma

it’s tough to write about things i don’t know about,

and i do it with some amount of humility

careful not to overstep or offend

which usually results in rubbish

it’s tougher to write about personal things,

but much more real, raw, accurate

which usually results in spectacular prose

not everything here is autobiographical

(except my disdain for uppercase, that’s all me)

writing a book right now – a novel – a fiction

it’s hilarious how much of it is drawn from real life

and how much of it is drawn from this other life,

one i’ve imagined a million times but never visited

and how authentic they both feel to me.

it’s not that one is real and one is imaginary

both are real, to me. both are me. both are.

i want to present a story that is gripping, heart-wrenching,

imaginative, amusing, compelling, magic.

to do that i have to tell my readers things i’ve never told anyone

admit to things, examine them, lay them bare

i’m mostly ok with that, except

judgement, of myself and of my work – that is myself

i think all writers feel this way, or at least

the good ones do.

In Response to a Letter I Shouldn’t Have Read

The Popliteal Fossa

Some guys say knee pit

What the back of the knee’s called.

[Also, I hate you.]

Which is to say, I don’t hate you at all.

Unsolicited Advice

Don’t choose a woman who is smart, if you don’t want to be stimulated, challenged, and pushed to explore.

Don’t choose a woman who is beautiful, if you don’t plan to worship and cherish her, body and soul.

Don’t choose a woman who is brave, if you want to remain comfortable, never evolving or growing.

Don’t choose a woman who is strong, if you don’t plan to support and encourage her as she learns to use her power.

Don’t choose a woman who is mysterious, if you don’t respect the darkness in her or the magic she brings to your life.

Don’t choose a woman who is funny, if you are not willing to laugh with her, be silly with her, look like a fool for her.

Don’t choose a woman who is sensitive, if you don’t plan to understand her, reassure her and keep her safe.

Don’t choose a woman who is wild, if you don’t want your life turned upside down, your heart in your throat, your guts in your mouth.

Don’t choose a woman who is creative, if you don’t want to hear her talk about her ideas, her art, and her fascinations.

Don’t choose a woman who is honest, if you don’t want to know the truth.

Don’t choose a woman who is a healer, if you don’t want your wounds nurtured, or your heart mended.

Don’t choose a woman who is romantic, if you don’t plan to sweep her off her feet with grand gestures and fantasize about the future with her.

Don’t choose a woman who is a lover, if you don’t plan to open your heart fully and give her everything she so magnanimously gives to you.

Don’t choose a woman who is a fighter, if you don’t want to fight for her and challenge the world at her side.

 

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Knock, Knock

Hello

My name is Healing.

I came here to allow your vulnerability, to show you truth, and to wrap you up in the warm blanket of trust.

Hello

My name is Forgiveness.

I came here to help you embrace your humanity, and to learn grace and non-judgement of self.

Hello

My name is Compassion.

I came here to give purpose to your pain, and to show you that we are all connected. We are one.

Hello

My name is Love.

I came here to speak wholeness into your fragmented spirit. To infuse your soul with divine light. To help you see that your worthiness is inherent, and peace is your birthright.

May we come in?