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I didn’t mean to cry I was just swimming along through Georgia and Jesus and 3000 hummingbirds The blood on the mountains of summer the broken blue sky dripped down my arm with the sweat While we talked such madness such beautiful madness The geckos slipped behind rocks the shadows seeped into sand and the crickets drowned out the stars I wish I knew how to be weightless I would fly like my dream breathless in laughter unconcerned about war and love Instead I am here broken heart on my sleeve praying for justice and mercy
My mom came to me yesterday. I told her it was ok if she stayed for a bit this time. She did not. In a few moments, her scent, her presence slipped away as suddenly as it had come.
I always wonder “why now?” There is no invocation, no special combination of feelings, no predictable place, no “I’d really like my mom right now”. Just a few moments that keep the possibility that love can reach beyond the grave.
I know it’s hard to believe this. You don’t have to.
I am sitting here drinking a latte at a local coffee shop and thinking about you. If I turn back time what feels like just a few years, this morning would have been spent sitting across from you on that big farm island in the kitchen. You perched on the window side with a cup of coffee and a cigarette, swirls of smoke ghosts drifting through the room.
Your early departure was painful. And I was so angry with you at the time. Your illness was zapping your will, your intention, your honesty, your beauty. Who you used to be was sucked down to nothing like the wine in the bottles your drank. We talked about intervention – but it was like you knew we were about to throw your world into even more chaos and would suddenly be “better”. You always knew so much. Your intuition was intense, your love big, and you were a fantastic friend. I guess I am a bit like you.
It’s been 7 years now and I am finally beginning to celebrate who you were. I cringe at sentimental remembrances that gloss over the realities I lived, but in truth, you were a wonderful, loving mom. I think you taught me my most important life lessons so I think it’s time to say thank you.
Thank you, Mom, for being teaching me kindness. You didn’t hold social status or economics as an encumbrance to friendship. And no one was outside of deserving a chicken enchilada casserole now and then. You worked so hard to hold your tongue when I was snappy and didn’t laugh at my growing up process. Sure you giggled with your friends about it– but you understood that my development was mine.
Thank you, Mom, for teaching me to try and understand when people are hurtful because we never know what pain they are holding. This affects my work and presence in the world every single day.
Thank you, Mom, for sticking it out with Dad. I adore that man, as you did, but since you’ve been gone, it has become clear that he has just a few tiny issues And you carried so much of the family in your heart and actions. You were the glue.
Thank you, Mom, for teaching me to love wildlife. “Your quail” at the farm tickled you so much. You found joy in small things, and in being touched by the wildness of an animal. I am a mystic, as you knew when I was quite young, and your love affair with beauty helped me feel that it was ok.
Finally, Mom, thank you for making me rub your feet. There is so little a child can do to give to her mom, and this act meant a lot to me. I appreciate the intimacy of that act, of how much it comforted you, and what a sweet (albeit stinky) way to be close. It was true love to ask for and receive a gift like that. (And I am still bothered I couldn’t talk my children into doing the same.) If you were here today, I’d rub your feet with lotion.
There is so much more I could say, but this will have to do. I am not angry with you anymore — the disease of addiction which eventually took your life was something you had so little control over. I have forgiven you.
If it’s ok, I’d like to think about who we were when I was in college. We were close, sharing conversation, laughing at farm talk, and drinking coffee together. I am so grateful for the gifts you gave me including the most important: my very life.
Love you, Mom. Give Grandma a huge hug for me.
i stepped into art this morning smack into a cherry blossom rain and I was brushed 30 or 40 times with globs of rose clouds as if God has been waiting for me to wake up and join the pink sky baptize me in warm kisses i am dizzy and floating in a summer lake 1990 cradled by mountains and pterodactyl clouds, children’s muffled voices falling like petals on Cherokee hills you drench me in sweetness so much more than i deserve i think i will burst sometimes or wake up and find it was all dreamed up or imagined or worse: untrue but today i had faith in what is and what will be when i joined the children dance in the rain while the “wise ones” watched like stuffed owls hardly moving sipping on bad beer we giggled and smiled and shared our best moves which were perfect in every way then we collapsed on the pink ground and felt the rain fall on our faces like prayers
I wish I could say something profound after my two weeks in South Africa and Madagascar. Maybe it was the density of our time there – or the mixture of poverty and joy that I am once again finding to be at the center of life. Maybe it’s just the jet lag. But I think these kinds of experiences sometimes need to just stew for a while until they begin to form something recognizable to others. The first step is for it to become recognizable to me, I suppose.
Conversing with a former Prime Minister, “advising” a potential Presidential candidate, driving through a city of 2 million without stop signs and hundreds of people competing for the road, peering at lemurs in a rain forest, and crying with a new friend because it is worth it to let your heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God… all of these experiences are beating in my heart.
Really, I don’t know what to say. But I want to share something with you, so if you don’t mind a work in progress, I’d like to just let my impressions breathe imperfectly onto these pages. It is a beginning of the intersection of my story with the story of Madagascar. Let’s see what happens.I am sitting by a rutted red dirt road Malagasy am radio 3 geese, and a couple of barking dogs are competing babies wrapped around the bent backs of tiny women laying wet clothes to dry on the dirt from the river wash across the valleys, lone people wade through rectangles of rice patties cut into fields of malaria swamps I have watched children and old women barefoot in filth-stench climbing on garbage piles Picking through god knows what I didn’t ask I couldn’t stomach it It is real garbage here Not clothing or old baby carrots or unwanted appliances Still Last night after a glass of wine, I lay down in a thatched roof hut to the rapping of crickets and cicadas, frogs, and the haunting cry of the Indri A chameleon skittered across the room, chattering a welcomed companion even though I stayed up too late for her company It was as if the night was carrying on conversation across a cup of coffee with friends as if God was strolling through the rain forest with me in her arms pointing at banana trees Such sweetness I did not deserve knowing what I know although I received it because I know how to eyes closed palms open tucked under a net like a princess
today I am fighting off the loneliness which punches like the wind cutting across The Ohio my daughters are baking snickerdoodles while I am following some portal that is mine alone to crawl through repenting today joy and rage are dropping from the clouds as always lust and sacrifice are raking my skin and I have consented to let whatever will be come as if it didn’t matter but yesterday? yesterday palm leaves were my street theater and they felt so luminous in the sun and with the wine … I was immortal Today is monday holy monday and none are rushing to assemble my dinner table or wipe my tears with a warm cloth or kiss me good-night or simply sit beside me knowing it’s just me holy week and this unyielding wind
I should be packing but the dinner dishes are crowding the sink, barely rinsed and I am here tucked under an afghan reading Walt Whitman to my soul’s content You see every sweater and trinket and plate has a story … pj’s and shoes and earrings the Djembe and Palestinian tapestry wheat from the farm and little grandma’s pie plate the scarf my friend brought me from Paris a year before she died I know inanimate objects don’t remember but if they could, i think they’d have tales to tell of birthdays and love making of 2am nursing and cold winter rains of unexpected visitors and counting the holes in the moon and listening for God and failing and falling and such unspeakable joy the most precious of all the treasure I couldn’t live without? the girls’ love notes from when they were 5 and 7 All of these layers that will never be shed I can hold in my heart with a melancholy sweetness and though leaving they come with me and in me and all around I am grateful and happy and blessed So for now, I will just let my heart feel