Seize the change.

“Am I really crying over a mug?” I asked myself.

I’ve been noticing how its message has been fading, its picture becoming blurry. Oh but I love this one! I use it every day. It holds the perfect amount of coffee and later, water. I wrap my often chilled hands around it as I soak in the steam. It’s handle is strong, not flimsy.

And it’s message… I just adore. “Seize the Day”.

I’ve started to search the internet for a replacement. There is not one!

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And the story… my best friend came to visit from states away. It was two weeks after moving into a new apartment, the first one I had by myself. It was also a week or so after a very tough breakup. Also a first.

We went to see Newsies premiere at the local playhouse, years before its Broadway run! As we flipped through our Playbills, I stopped, “Oh my God. I know him!” One of the actors was the husband of my high school theatre director.

During intermission, we breezed by the concession stand and I commented how great that mug was.

I use this mug every day. I don’t even know why I own others.

The letters are worn, from holding, from love. But from not letting go. I love cupping my hands around it.

It’s big at the top, smaller on the bottom. It has a great message. It has a story. It has my history of this place, that first apartment on my own.

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And yet, it’s worn. It’s becoming old and grey. Dingy. Outgrown.

I’m not sure what I will do with the mug. Can I love it in this state? For all it’s been through with me?

Regardless, I will seize the greater opportunity for change.

Tactile memory

Confession. I have had my mother’s sewing machine sitting in my kitchen for nearly a year.

At some point last spring, while cleaning out my storage unit, I thought, “I should take this home to play with it. To see if I really need to keep it”. It’s shuffled around in my kitchen, between this corner and that.

Today, we sat together.

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I opened the machine and smiled at this old friend. I learned this trade on her, under the guidance of my Mom. I smiled at the 1990’s printing. But more….I smiled at how easily this all came back.

It was a treasure-hunt of my mind. To go back to the corners of childhood and htink- yes, this is where the thread goes now, and WAIT, oh goodness how funny you placed the spool in the wrong place!

And getting it to work, what a joy. There was laughter and a smile and a soft current of memories.

How Mom always had me thread the needle….and today I remembered why. (Cuz its DANG hard and small!)

How I made countless (ok probably more like 3) skirts, tons of bags, and one beautiful gown on this machine.

How we always used it on our kitchen table for the best lighting in the house….as I did today. WIthout question.

How tactile these memories were….and how easily my own remembrance of how to use this machine was- its the most mechanical tool from my childhood.

I have no project to do, nothing to sew, but rather explored this joy. I remembered a package had arrived for me so stepped out my back door to walk to the mailbox.

 

Immediately. A blue jay. Mom.

 

What beautiful gifts there are. Not in spite of this pandemic. But concurrently. With this pandemic. For life is whole.

Amen.

4.5 & HBD

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I have no idea how it’s 5 years. I know its not….but, it’s almost. 

10 years ago, I sat under your roof. Easily able to chat with you.

12 years ago, I saw you SPRINT towards retirement- with the expertise needed in a global crisis. A meltdown. I will always want to talk more about it with you.

15 years ago, you visited me at school to see me in a theatre production. You both never missed those. Or my b-ball days.

5 years ago, we were in the battle of our lives. It feels like a lifetime ago and the blink of an eye. We had all your cousins over to your nursing home to visit you for your birthday. It had been decades since all 6 of you had been together (and yes one was missing, but still!)

In this moment, one of the cruelest elements is that our relationship is frozen in 2015. I don’t know what it would have been like to be the adult daughter I had yet to become.  I don’t know how you’d support me or be frustrated in things I chose. Not that I’d choose differently. But I wish I knew, versus speculation.

I want to go to a Bruce concert with you. Would you even like that?

I want to go to the brewery that opened within walking distance of our house. Would you find that strange?

I want to take a hike and a bike ride with you. Would you still be able to?

I want you to teach me- anything. Would you still cream me in tennis?

I wanted you to be at sis’ wedding. There is no doubt you’d want to be there too.

I want you to be at mine. Be there. 

5 years. 4.5 years. What’s the difference? They both hurt. They both mean I miss you.

 

Happy birthday, Dad. I wish you were here. Hug Mommy and Nana. Forever and always.

All of these

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All. All of these things are you.

Your name. One of our favorite topics to discuss. 3 blocks from where you worked, where you slept that night, what made an impact on your career and life. And the big, red stop, the moving on… and huge affect on our life. 

All of these things are you.  Whether I want them to be or not. Whether you wanted them to be or not.

And that is not all of you. You are so much more.

Reflector, writer, surmiser, father, son, friend, uncle, nephew, brother-in-law-who-was-really-more-like-a-brother, giver, speaker, historian, statistician, pray-er, teacher, athlete, runner, leader. And more.

There are even aspects of you that you sought to change and you let us witness that. Showing us that it is not weakness to grow, to strive. And it is not wrong to be imperfect. And it is good to recognize and honor our shortcomings.

Dad, I miss you. More than words will ever express. Some days, it is all fine. Others, the flood of “I miss you”‘s must, just must, be shed.

But I’m learning. There is no schedule to this time. There is no checklist for grief. And in these moments I find you.

But I also find myself.

I miss you, perhaps forever and always. And today, Happy Valentine’s Day, Dad.

Melancholy and the magic

When I recall those last days, I lack vivid memories, or a flow to the days. Rather, its disconnected memories: Sis in Poland, me later off to the Hamptons. Figuring out how to handle an ER admission – passing each other in the night. My boyfriend moving in.  A freak storm and a tree falling on my car. Working next to Mom’s hospital bed. Interviewing a potential new employee in her nursing home room. Life stood still and life went on. Such is the paradox of death while trying to remain alive.

I don’t remember who attended what service. Partially because less than a year apart, in the same season, we welcomed friends for Dad and then friends for Mom to say goodbye.

I remember making the announcement to please sing at mass per mom’s request. I remember my best friend, her new baby, and her mother coming down and bringing light and levity the repast.

I remember the priest saying something irritating in the eulogy referring to Mom’s dementia – almost making fun.

There are fragments and shards and somehow woven together but don’t make a holistic view of those days & one month leading up to everything. But anything traumatic can affect our processing.

Mom, we honor you today. It’s incredible how much I’ve missed you this year and these last few months. I am often amazed by the dance of melancholy and magic that happens when I miss you.

Such as it was this morning. I had “things to do” but listened to my intuition to get out in nature. As soon as I hit the trail, I was enamored my the beauty of the light hitting the evergreens, cascading down to the dirt. I’m overwhelmed by presence and love and sadness, feeling so incredibly connected to this world while missing you in the depths of my soul.

It’s bittersweet. It’s a sad smile. It’s a belly laugh with eyes glassy with tears. This is the journey of death too soon, of grief and of loss. And I still find that paradox shocking and beautiful at times.

So, I’ll eat some ice cream in your honor, cuddle some babies, hug dear friends and family, meet a new puppy, while I’m feeling like 3 years ago was a lifetime ago,  like yesterday and somehow an experience that occurred outside of my body, my everyday life.

I miss you more than I can express right now- and I’ll bring that love to all I can.

Oh, Mom.

There will come a day.

There will come a day, where the TV show you loved ends. When your favorite author no longer pens a new novel to read. When your favorite ice cream parlor closes forever.

 

These pieces of you are shattered glass. Mostly catching the rays of the sun and beaming them back to me. But sometimes, just a few times, they prick and I bleed. I hurt, just because of the connection these things have to you, dear Mama.

 

The show- you loved it because the extended family came together every Sunday to share a meal. The author- she was a local girl, overcoming adversity with her passion for writing. The favorite ice cream shop- a simple chain in our hometown. Our place.

 

Sometimes I partake in these joys, forgetting the connection to you. Other times, I feel you so present.

 

But there will come a day when they cease to exist. And I do not welcome the rush of that moment.

 

Because- there will come a day where some, simple, easy connections to you are taken away. When the novelty of a flip of a channel, a page or the joy of an ice cream cone no longer bring your memories rushing forward.

 

Perhaps, it’s because we are meant to create new one. New memories, even with your physical form gone. “Mom, you’d love this wacky new flavor!” or “Can you believe he decided to act in that movie after 10 years on such a different kind of show?”.

 

But.

 

At least there will come a day where I see you again. And until that day, dear Mama, I seek you out in many corners of this world. Until there comes a day…..

Found you, Mom.

I found you, Mom 🙂

 

First in a tour in the underground of Portland. How you LOVED learning, especially about local history. I realized halfway through how much I share this trait with you. You were with me in the Shanghai tunnels, the riverfront, and even the learning that the ‘seamstresses’ were really ladies of the night.

 

Later in the day, after palling around shops and bookstores in Nob Hill, I realized there were Redwoods. REDWOODS, Mom!

 

28 years ago, we went to Yosemite for one of your big birthdays. I don’t pretend to remember, or want to count back to which one. But it was my first time on an airplane, my first time out of the Tri-State area, and first time in a National park. All things I now love.

 

You wanted to see these majestic  beings. I don’t know why- but we went.

 

So, in my red and leather jacket, ballet flats, I took a city bus and landed on a closed trail. “Rats, I thought” and my tired soles cried “no”!

 

But good old Google maps found another way.  A road, through the forest could take me to the “redwood observation deck”. Round and round this road went. Sigh.

 

Then a trail. Than others to follow.

 

Soon, it was like Fern Gulley opened up. Down into the depths of the trail we went, only to be overtaken, over-blown by the sheer beauty of these redwoods.

 

 

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Spot the little people!

 

They are magic, Mom. You are right.

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I sat on a stump. Took in the view let out my breath and sobbed. Because I found you, Mom. In your majestic redwoods.

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You are always with me, but this was an altar, a church, a holy space for us. I felt you reminding me to keep on this path of loving myself, so deeply. I recalled when you pulled in me, when I was angry about my sleeplessness and tried to push you away. And as that gremlin has crawled back to me now (insomnia) I smiled and loved you more.

 

Mom. Mom. How could I ever love you more? Even in missing you, I am filled with immense gratitude for you- for bringing me into this world and not leaving me alone in it. How I wish I could have shared these big beautiful trees with you….but oh, I KNOW. I definitely did.

 

Bring us sunshine, bring us ways to love & heal our selves, bring us patience, dear Mother. For I miss you, and love you. Amen.

Being lost and being in the now  

5/20/19

 

It’s ok to be lost. Because I want a journey, an adventure, a love, of a lifetime.

 

I let go of the distraction of a false & temporary security now for the unplanned path- the inspired life.

 

Anxiety rises up.

 

I meet her. Observe her. BUT I am not her. She appears because I’m birthing forth this new way of living- one more from the soul & intuition – not from my beautiful, logical mind. You may appear, I will welcome you- but you will not be given center stage. Nor do I think you will be a constant companion.

 

I step forward with a bit of trepidation- but mostly excitement.

 

I stick my feet in the green wet grass of growth, grounding me. Earth beneath my soles. In this moment, (this one now), here. I’m not lost. I’m right where I need to be.

 

Only this step matters. Not what I think today the ultimate destination may be- that may change. So I remain present to the now, this is the moment, the only one that matters. This step is what I am called forth for- let go of all else.

 

This love. This radical self love, it’s eternal. It’s for me.

Perspective in crossing

“There isn’t time for a hike”, says the ‘productive‘ often dominant corner of my mind. But the sun was peaking out from a sky becoming more mired in grey clouds, and the for the foreseeable future, rain was in the forecast. “Come on” I said to only myself, “everything you need to get done can be done in the next rainy days”.

Off I went to a wooded walking path in my town. 20 minutes, I convinced myself. Then you’ll get back to your to-do list.

Below is a photo of what it looks like the first around. I looked at this crossing knowing I wanted to be deeper in the woods but I can’t see how to get across this without becoming wet.

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So around I went. Walking, breathing, thinking, just being in the beauty. When my mind rushed to the next things to do today “No, I said. Be here. Be in the woods and in THIS moment”. Why wish away our lives?

20 short minutes later I came to the other side of this creek. I could see the small, stone path in the upper right of the photo that I hadn’t seen before. What had changed?

A matter of perspective-  the stone path was so clear, so easy to now see.

In life, we often come to crossing we feel we cannot manage or cross. But with a bit of time, and pivoting our understanding of the challenge ahead, we see a new path. A new way across.

With these two elements, I no longer had to forge an unknown trail, but rather step on a few well placed stones that someone ahead of me on this path, had laid down. Suddenly, from a new angle, how simple it all seemed. And what a triumph I felt!

Perspective. So important, so crucial and how easily I could overlook you.
May my steps me guided, my travels light. May I remain true to this moment, placing my mind with my body in the present and not so far ahead in the future. Amen.