Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Vigil

i must have been eight years old the first time i saw Aslan. i'd already experienced several girlhood crushes, but the Lion ~ he was my first great love. and it was the terrifying, wrenching, insurmountable kind of love that you might put away into some unlit corner for a time because (wrench) the pain of it, but you could never, ever forget it.

oh God, the Lion's eyes as his mane fell onto the stone. the painful but determined resolve with which he laid himself bare!

i didn't know.
i did not know allegory at eight years old.
i did not understand sacrifice, or the precarious nature of life, or what it meant to give your life to the service of others.

i cannot speak for my sister who watched with me ~ she, five years old ~ we, holding hands in stunned silence and solidarity ~ both of us hating the cold white witch, and surely understanding in the depths of our created hearts what it is to be tempted.

i cannot speak for my sister because she must speak for herself, albeit from the other side now, where surely she has found Aslan alive, has touched his mane, has been healed of every hurt, every crush, every temptation to turn away.
.
.
Vigil
by QUAN BARRY

Tonight we will function like women.
The snow has gone away, the ice with its amniotic glare.
I clasp my sister’s tiny hand.
We will not turn away
Though spring, spring with its black appetite,
Comes seeping out of the earth.

The lion was sad. He suffered us
To touch him. When I placed the bread of my hands
In his mammalian heat, I was reminded
That the world outside this world
Is all vinegar and gall, that to be a young girl at the foot of a god
Requires patience. Timing.

The White Witch has mustered her partisans.
Because I am fascinated by her bracelets strung with baby teeth,
I will remember her as the woman
Who grins with her wrists. From my thicket of heather
I note that in her own congenital way
She is pure, that tonight she ushers something new into the world.

I cannot stop it. I cannot stop it just as in that other place
I could not keep the planes with their spiked fires from coming.
Though in this closed realm the smell of camphor is overwhelming
I have nothing but my hands to use
In ministering to the dead. Here too
My hands must suffice.

Hush now while I testify. They are shaving him.
The corona of his mane falls away
Like pieces of money. In the moon’s milk light
Her bangled wrists grin as she raises the blade.
Something is diffused. In whatever world he comes again
There will be women like us who choose to.
.
.
i wrote and re-wrote this until it spoke my piece, and then i checked the publication date of the bbc production, the one to which i refer.

it was nineteen-EIGHTY-eight, which means that i was eighteen and not eight, that my sister was fifteen and not five.  it means that i had a one-year-old daughter, and that i'd known more than just a few "childhood crushes."  it means that i knew a lot more than i did when i was eight years old.

but there's no changing this.  i wrote exactly what i see in my memory, exactly how i feel in my heart.  i was eight; she was five; we were holding hands.
.
.
in the first months after my sister died, i was searching one day for someone else to say for me what i couldn't.  it was a quick find, something i've known ever since was not an accident, and i go to her still when i don't know what to say.  Grief by Richard Brostoff via T.  whoever she is, she is also my sister.

if it seems i've followed her lead, then yes, absolutely.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Funeral Pyre

I don't remember my first funeral,
the one for my pop who'd once
paid me a quarter to open his medicine bottle.

I remember my second funeral,
the one we don't talk too much about.

I remember when more distant relatives began to go,
and I, having reached the age of horrible-to-be-around,
would not attend their services, their farewells.

I remember wondering if it would come back to me.

I remember my uncle, my cousin, my cousin.
I remember my high school friend,
and my long-ago fiancé.

40 years of funerals now,
and what I remember best
is that I can write what and how I durn well please.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Publisher's Clearinghouse

Remember several weeks back, after two weeks with a desktop fan in the bedroom, after three months of the clickety-clickety sound of the ceiling fan, after nearly a year of its hanging by wires and without globes, when, whilst my husband was at work, I single-handedly installed the new ceiling fan?

Last night, the new one started clickety-clickety-ing.
So I fixed it.
Now the light won't come on.

And that's how we got here.  That's how I know it's time to stop and clear another space before going back to putting the house back in order.  [(Which I've been doing for a week at a manic pace.) (Inference.)]

Relatively speaking, I expect this to be a post of few words, which is especially weird considering that this, by necessity, will cover a span of several years' worth of unwritten words.

In various places, at various times, I make references to THE ANNUAL YEAR-END POST that's been so traditional, so important ~ the one with the family picture...

But the truth is that, while I've taken the picture for more than several years now, I've only made the post two times.  For each of the last few years, I thought I would do it, and that I'd tie everything - all the missing stuff included - together with some neat-o words of vast importance, something that would stir your heart, inspire you to change your life.  blah blah blah.

By now, though, we all know that I do this more for my own self (and gosh, I hope with at least a smidge for Jesus) than for anybody else.

[(I just don't know why that doesn't make me go faster, use fewer words, worry less about sentence structure.) (Never mind, it's me we're talking about.)]

Ready?  Ready.


This was the first such picture and post, taken on Christmas Day, 2013.  As noted pretty clearly within, A Picture's Worth says much about how little you might know from just a photograph.



The next year, within hours of taking this Trigger Happy picture, I was being diagnosed with pneumonia.  The weeks that followed were just plain weird, but the thing I remember most about this particular morning, about this entire span of time, is the wondering if my youngest girl would be with us the following Christmas.  These were my Zombie Momma days.



2015.  No post for this one.  My youngest girl was incarcerated ~ which turned out to save her life!  But this Christmas morning was the day after my sister succumbed to her long, though very private battle with addiction and depression.  I was with her on Christmas Eve, at home to make breakfast and take this picture the next day.



Christmas morning, 2016, was ... I hate to keep saying, "weird," ... but I don't know what else to call it.  It was my first without my sister, and my family was still in the midst of so many battles.  That's all I have to say about that.



And now, This Christmas ...

Not everybody is here, but what you can't know just by looking at this is that we're still all together.  Ethan, Joshua's brother, is holding a ninja turtle.  I am wearing my sister's boots.  But these are merely photographic representations.  My sister, my grandbaby, all those I've held dear but have lost ~ they are in my heart.  No picture can completely show you that.

Still, I will still take pictures.  My husband rolls his eyes and huffs nearly every time I say, "hold on, let me get my camera!!"  And every time, I'm like dude! bro! brah!








How could I not take the picture?!

And with that, I finished (so I thought) and published this!
⌚⌚⌚
Remember how I said, "post of few words"?

Later, in another conversation (I was having with myself), I noted that I'd really not prepared to write this one.  (Forget that I've had the last two years to work it out!)

It seemed to me that I had just collected all these sentences in my head, shlumped them into a pile way back in a corner to gather dust, and that they just needed to be smoothed and laid out, first to last like a train, and that once I'd completed that arrangement, I would be relieved of their weight.

And sure enough, after I published, the pile began to burn off.

2017 was a $#?+ year, to say the very least.

It should have been one of my best so far, being that in '17, I moved from employment (keeping books at home) to vocation with my heart's place of ministry.  And truth is:  it was one of my best years in that way.  And being there, being where my heart is, with people whom I love, and who have returned much care and ministry to me ~ it's a great big part of what got me through the other stuff.

I know that I am not the only one who went through other stuff, who suffered loss or trial or Good God, what is happening?!! in '17.  Some of what went on, I saw, even if through a pixelated haze.  Some of it ~ honestly, probably most of it ~ I just plain missed.  In any case, I owe some kind of apology to those of you to whom I should have reached out but did not.  [(excuse, evident.) (but no excuses.)]

In another conversation (I was having with myself), I quipped, "dates don't matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. you'll write " '18" on your checks now, but what else has changed, really, if you haven't?"


18

That date matters now.  A lot.  And always will now.

And it's like everything else, at least for me.  I move along through the days; I drink my coffee, do my work, sometimes write things down.  It might all seem pretty ordinary on paper.  It's just a life.  An ordinary life.

But life is extraordinary ~ everything about it!  I cannot look at anything around me without seeing the holographic nature of it.  This life ~ where numbers and colors and "first to last" mean more than just the first glance would imply.

So, here now.
This will be the end of this.
This pile, cleared and published.
I am changed now.
But not yet done.

I pray the same for you.

The Long Dark Pause

of the soul.  until i correct that last post.


and now,
13 hours after discovering
that the overhead bedroom light
had ceased to work,
thereby casting me into a tailspin,
a complete wtf(ire) am i supposed to do now,
which led to the whole blogging/picture thing,
and which, honestly, i did not believe myself to have planned,
to have thought out thoroughly enough that it would resolve itself in so short a span of words,
but on which, as i now reflect,
i wish i'd spent just a smidge more time,
realizing in hindsight
that it ended too abruptly,
and really,
without any kind of closure,
what i've learned
is that
i was reversing my light switch and chain pull.