Eileen

After this visit, I drove away along tree lined autumn parkways, past the French Meadow Bakery and the CC club, through downtown, toward home. I put each of my babies into colorful nighties, under yellow orange green sheets in lively rooms. I wondered, one day, will they blow a kiss to say goodbye? Will they cry out for me, 90 years from now?

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Getting There Takes Some Time

Eileen sleeps the sleep of a traveller

Fitful, pulling at her own translucent limbs

transparent skin gathered up and quilted together by scabs and small bruises

at 93, this is life

imagine

at 23, this life

applying final touches to pursed ruby painted lips

she blows a kiss to mother and then away, down the steps, a man there waiting,

or a gaggle of girls There is a war on

Friends admire her raucous laugh, tease her for dancing clumsily, share secrets

she will take to the grave

Now, frail and pointed, a body uncovered and empty, she carries only these

Eileen reaches out Cries out for Mama, for Mother

She accepts a stranger’s hand, calms, lets go a tear which travels

over her desert cheek in a sideways trajectory

gradually finding its way along the cracks and fissures left there by time

Through plastic blinds, the moon blooms into fullness, a moon just made for traveling

Tonight Eileen will be traveling

 

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He called and said, “Whatever You’re Doing, Drop Everything and Go”

IMG_4111It’s always a random Tuesday or Wednesday, the day everything changes, the day the clouds roll in and everything is no longer what it was, no longer what someone expected it would be. (and can I get a little harmonica here for my muse, Bruce Springsteen…) “All those things that seemed so important, well, Mister, they vanish right into the air…” So, if you pray, however you do that, please throw one up there for my friend whose world just tilted on its axis. Thanks.

In the upper left corner of a narrow lined page halfway into a quality, vinyl covered, silver spiral bound notebook, three letters are scrawled in worried capitals: A P L

Saved there because, when you called, I was busy, in the middle of something important and I didn’t want to forget.

It mattered.

Swirling from corner to corner of a person halfway into a quality, creatively crafted life, three poisonous letters tear away every plan you’ve ever made: A P L

You said, Leukemia, the APL kind.

The sound of those letters sighing as you let them go out into the world, I won’t ever forget that, the way those sounds became

everything that mattered.

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I’m Going to Miss These…

My friend Marybeth woke me up today when a loud buzz announced a new message coming in from Australia; subject line said: I’m going to miss these…
In the flash of time between reading that subject and opening the message, so many thoughts went through my mind about what “these” could be. Marybeth is on a year-long adventure with people she likes a lot. What’s there to miss? Uncomfortable beds? Beautiful people? A certain tree, plant or flower? Bugs? Fascinating accents? Unforgettable cuisine?

And then my phone died.

So, instead of plugging it in, I rolled over and thought about what I might miss someday. I have been on a life-long adventure which, God willing, should continue for the foreseeable future. But what about this place, this week, this day will I miss when I look back on it? The man beside me, snoring in a quiet, kind of soothing way? The coffee pot clicking on by itself? The paper dropping from some invisible hand onto my doorstep?

I miss the babies who became my children, yet I love those young adults as much as I ever have. I miss the gardens outside the incredible house we just sold to a stranger in exchange for a handful of cash. I miss the Christmas holidays I thought we’d celebrate there. Soon, I will miss that handful of cash. But what is there about now that I will miss? What am I forgetting to wrap my arms around and enjoy? What is already in my life that I will see in the rearview mirror and long for? What do I have that I will one day wish I held onto?

Last week, I stood outside my mom’s apartment building, a place we call Fawlty Towers (because my family relabels names of places). I stood with three people I care about. One lit up a cigar, two shared a single cigarette, and I carried a heart-attack in a bag (aka Chinese food and a dozen chocolate chip cookies). I will miss summer evenings in front of Fawlty Towers. I will miss our singular family culture. I will miss these three people, when some of us are gone. Perhaps they will one day miss me. I suppose so.

The whole carpe diem thing kind of got the better of me about then. So I rolled out of bed and stumbled through the kitchen, to the garage. As I hopped on my bike, the icy morning air woke me up for real, and I steered my trusty old ten speed toward Lake Harriet. Most people, even people I live with, don’t know I do this. They would tell me not to; it’s dark, it’s cold. But these morning rides are the best. I’m going to miss these.

 

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Easter Reflections

Easter Reflections

Half-way around the lake, I had to stop and snap this pic. The sun and the trees and the water all intertwined in a way that seemed really cool and kind of meaningful to me as I finished my run.

I think my mind was spinning creative because I (woke up too early and) went to sunrise mass this am, where the conversation was about dandelions, including Walter Wink’s quote about trying to kill Jesus. Do you know that one?