Sunday, March 19, 2023

 Rainy Day Musing 

         With a Touch of Truth


Violet was blue that Wednesday, a shade darker than she had been on Tuesday, perhaps less than she would be on Thursday. It had been like this for a while, every day she breathed a bit bleaker than the day before. She might have wondered why the days inside her mind were so grim, for outside the world was beautiful, the sun bright, the grass chartreuse, the sky cerulean, the wind but a mere breeze caressing her. Yet she did not wonder. She knew why her life was off-color. And that perhaps was the problem. . . or possibly a solution. Her intuitive nature had been a gift, she once thought. Maybe not. . . for now, for the first time, she had to live with a truth she understood from the inside out.


Violet had been in love once with a boy. He was funny, curious, and somewhat mischievous, but oh so lovingly so. He made her laugh. He made her cringe; she always was looking after him because he was headstrong. Headstrong! So, she bandaged his knees, bathed his fevers, and comforted him when disappointments set in, heavy weights that crushed him down. She did these things because she had adored the boy from the first day they met, and she was quite sure he had felt the same way for a while, maybe for a good, long while. But that was ages ago.


Now that Violet had reached the ripe old age of eighty-five, she had little left. She lived alone in a small apartment in a luxurious facility for seniors, lots of them, all of them residing in a parallel universe, a million miles away, figuratively if not literally, from those who had arrived after them, those who had been loved, as Violet had loved that little boy. The old folks did not speak of their losses; it likely hurt too much, but Violet knew the others shared heartaches similar to hers. “One need not be dead to be grieved after,” she wanted to shout sometimes, but didn’t, knowing her rant would fall on deaf ears. . .  or no ears at all. Besides, no one was listening. 


Violet’s senior counterparts, like she herself, spent their days remembering, gathering up memories in dried bouquets so fragile, the brittle sprays could disintegrate if one held on too long. So wrinkled hands like dead birds fell to empty laps and eyes blurred, the recollections set aside for another day. Minutes ticked by in a quiet so deep one might drown in it. Had the others, like Violet been hoping that today might be the day their past love would check in, stop by, say hello, give well wishes, flowers, candy, a hug? Or was that yesterday? They had hoped then too. They would tomorrow. Or would they?


How easy it is for the days, weeks, months, years even, to pass, waiting, anticipating, saddened to a depth one does not care anymore. Violet understood. And that is the truth. It took time, clear to the autumn of her life to understand but now she did. Caring, like hope were useless to her – different sides to one tarnished coin. She need not hold it or spend it; it was a throwaway, just like the love for a little boy.



Thursday, March 9, 2023

 A Little Piece About Losing It

I’ve lost it. Have you? Of course, you have. At one point or another all of us have lost our keys, our sunglasses, our reading glasses, our pen, our credit card, our wallet, our cell phone, our pet, or perhaps even our car in a crowded parking lot. The latter actually happened a few years ago. I went with friends to a Warriors game at Oracle in Oakland. Parking was easy. Finding the car in the pouring rain after a win when fans exited the stadium and the parking lot in an ecstatic frenzy with no one paying attention to lane lines or driving protocol, was not. For most drivers, it was one wild dash to the exit, every person out for himself. It is a wonder not one of us car-searchers was not run over and left for dead in a puddle. My companions and I eventually found the car after circling the arena in a concession worker’s golf cart for too many rainy minutes to count . . . looking, searching, wondering how the damn vehicle could just disappear. All five of us (and the kind employee) located the car eventually, swallowed up and obscured as it had been by the swarm of drivers leaving the game. By the time we spotted it, all of us were soaking wet and had long since forgotten our team’s victory. My friends and I tipped the cart driver generously before piling into the minivan for a soggy ride back to Sonoma County. Without a doubt the evening was memorable. And cold.


I suppose losing “stuff” is a part of life. Sometimes we’re too busy, too careless, too distracted, too tired. . . or maybe we’re sick. I understand that some people who have had Covid have lost their sense of taste or smell, maybe both. That could be concerning. Does it come back or is it gone forever? Depends on the person, I suppose, but I wouldn’t like it.


And what about losing one’s way? Who has been lost? Okay, admit it. Unless a person has chosen to enter a maze for entertainment, being lost is never fun and usually frustrating. It may make us late to wherever we’re going, we become flustered, and we use bad words. It’s true. I can remember a few times feeling stumped and alone. Where am I? How the hell do I get out of here? Who has had a similar experience?


Wait! What about positive losses – weight, debt, toxic friends, addictions, compulsions? Loss need not be bad. It often takes enormous effort and makes a person feel proud to lose something that no longer has worth. While the overall concept of loss is usually viewed as negative, it isn’t always. I wanted to add that perspective – a reminder to us all.


Good or bad, losing is a part of life, but, unlike misplacing one’s keys, it is not always easy. Some of us have lost a friend because of an illness such as dementia. How sad is that? Is our loss equivalent to theirs? Do they feel lost in another world? Are they lost at all? One can only speculate. Or, of course, we may lose someone because of a relocation, the simple passage of time, or because of an estrangement – a falling-out, a divorce, an unexplainable loss of connection. Those losses hurt, plain and simple, perhaps because the answer as to why they occur is not discernible. . . or, more to the point, we have chosen not to look closely enough to understand. That’s on us.


Greater than those losses that are seemingly final however, is death – the death of a loved one is the most difficult, heart wrenching loss of all, the one that never goes away no matter how hard some of us try to hide the pain. No matter the circumstances, losing a dear friend or family member torments us deep inside, the loss heavy, an anvil weight that we lug with us wherever we go. We may be able to shift that burden sometimes so that it doesn’t feel quite so onerous, so others can’t see, but it’s there always. We will take it with us to the end when we too die somehow, some way.


I have lost a few friends and family in the past few years, and for that reason I have been contemplating the notion of loss and its multitude of forms. I’ve actually had a mini post-it with the word loss scrawled on it and tacked to my computer to remind me of the insignificance and the significance loss can represent. It’s mind boggling actually how one simple word – loss – embodies so many nuances. But so it is. No need for anyone to lose his or her mind thinking about loss too much. After all, it will keep happening. So, buckle up. At best, loss may be a plus, but more to the point, it is a nagging certainty and more often than not, a damned inconvenience. Best simply to roll with it. Loss isn’t going away. 



Wednesday, March 8, 2023

 Owning it – Our Day, That Is


It is International Women’s Day. Good for us. We have a day all for ourselves. Even though we are being tested daily in myriad ways in a society that, more often than not, appears to have its priorities askew, its perspectives perverted, and its fidelities nearly obliterated by the need for power and control, we hang in there. Our tenacity certainly lends credence to us, our gender, our womanhood. 


If I were able to go back and have a heart to heart with the little girl I once was, I would. And what would I say? Here are a few things I would tell myself. Believe. Believe in your talents, your potential, your second sense. It will save you. Think. Think things through before jumping in, out, or all about. The hurts will lessen. Learn. Learn whatever you can. Never stop searching for knowledge. It comes in many forms and can ease over you like a warm wave or slug you in the face without warning. Take it. Caress it. Wallow in it. And don’t worry. It never stops. Learning need never end . . . nor should it. Be accountable. Conscientiousness, dependability, reliability are yours for the taking. Just do it. Love. You are loved, you will love, you will lose love. Love is not always easy to understand, to negotiate, or to let go of, so when you feel it, enjoy. When it comes time to let go, do. Let it go, no regrets. Live. Choose to live with dignity, knowing your worth, your limits, your autonomy. There is no one like you; there never will be. Yay!


On this day, this International Women’s Day, let’s be joyful for all the strong women who have come before us, who have opened doors or crashed glass ceilings, who have shown us the way, who have loved us. And let’s delight in ourselves – for our hard work, our caring natures, our ability to love, and our strength in loss. We are all so different; yet we have so many similarities. We have chosen varied paths, occupations, partners, lifestyles. We may not always agree, we will butt heads, we will push away toxic others. But not to worry. That’s a good thing. We are, after all, individuals. And, at the end of the day, I bet we can agree on one thing: No matter what, on this International Women’s Day, and every day, let’s stand together celebrating our capacities to tilt the world, even if in incremental degrees, to be a better place. 


Monday, February 20, 2023

 On Staying Home       


Recently I had a conversation with my hair stylist who, like me, is a homebody. She is a beautiful free spirit who thinks deeply, cares ferociously about many things including the Earth, including others. She is a gardener, an artist, a drummer, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. And she is perfectly content being home alone. She finds it peaceful. So, when a few times her daughter has voiced concern – “Aren’t you bored being at home all the time? Don’t you hate being alone? Are you ever afraid? I worry.” – she has been quick to reply. “No worries,” she has assured her girl. “I’m fine, happy, and perfectly content.”


I relate. I love being home. My husband, my best friend, is here too doing “guy” stuff, taking naps, or cooking some pretty tasty feasts. I have two beautiful German Shepherds to pamper, koi and orchids to tend, a garden to grow, weeds to pull, pesky chores to do, books to read, and writing that calls me to the computer every day. Writing – it’s the gift that keeps me grounded and makes me happy. Creating is fun – and hard – but mostly enjoyable and so rewarding when words appear in print just as I had planned. So, like my friend, the stylist, at home I am fine - happy and content.


Can everyone say that? Probably not. Surely a good many people would go batshit crazy if they stayed home as much as my friend, the stylist does, or as much as I do. The Covid lockdown is evidence in itself. The general population could hardly cope. Now, however, Covid lockdowns seem behind us and folks are out and about as never before. So, have they left home behind? I don’t think so because home, it seems to me, can be anywhere – the mall, an airport, a seat in an airplane, the office, the beach, a boat, a golf course, a retreat, a mountaintop, or even a muddy bank beside a stream. I know people who are at home running alone down a country road or riding a bicycle for miles at a time. In that regard, the old saying is correct: Home is where the heart is.


But what about the homeless? What about them – the ones in tents, on sidewalks, in an alleyway somewhere? Can a rusted out, tireless, beat up trailer be home? I don’t know. . . and yet on some level those places must become home for those whose fortunes have led them there. Is theirs a home they could never have imagined? Is theirs a home that was inevitable, predictable? Those questions are so unfathomable they make my head swim. Yet I speculate. Is it one’s ability to accept, adapt, and cope that makes home become home? Is it?


I wonder. Folks in this country live in castles, in tract houses, in condos, in apartments, in farmhouses, in tenements, in motels, in cars, in tents, and under the stars. Does one domicile deserve the title home more than another? Home is defined as a place where a person finds affection, acceptance, peace. It is where we find contentment. Outside wrapping aside, it is where we want to be. 


With that, enough said.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

 Mental Exhaustion 

I took a nap today. I don’t often do that. Though I have retired from my profession as an educator, I always am busy. Myriad tasks, some important, some not, keep me moving. Even if I am stationary, I am either reading, writing, or I admit, perusing Facebook or playing Words With Friends for a few minutes with folks I do not know, and a few I do. Today, however, my body simply said to me, “Take a rest.”


A friend of mine died a couple of days ago. She was not young, not old. She was not expecting to face death quite so soon I can be certain, but her illness came on like gangbusters and didn’t give her a chance. I do not believe I am wrong to conclude she was not ready. Neither was her family. Neither was I. And that, perhaps, is the reason for today’s exhaustion – a delayed reaction to news I was unprepared to have to accept, news that her death was near and inevitable. My friend, Maria, died of brain cancer, a very aggressive glioblastoma that took her life less than two months after her diagnosis, its evil tentacles crawling through her head, vicious and uncontrollable. When I was notified of her condition, I phoned, I texted, I sent flowers, my husband and I visited, we took more flowers . . .  and we stood helplessly beside her listening to her mumble cooking instructions. She remembered her father. She reached for her husband’s hand. And she held mine. Warmth. I remember the warmth of her touch. I will never forget it.


And I remembered that God-awful feeling – powerlessness. It was the same feeling I had when I sat beside my son, Alex’s bed in the weeks before he passed away, also of brain cancer - only his was different - a nine-year battle fighting an oligoastrocytoma he named Chet that though debulked, poisoned, and radiated eventually took his young life. He was thirty-nine – a handsome, funny, hardworking, blue-eyed firefighter, a CAL FIRE engineer, a man who always gave more than he took, a man that everyone who knew him, loved.


In the hours that have followed my friend’s death, besides being hounded by deep sadness, I have been unsettled, launching into tasks too mundane to mention, though I will: doing laundry, vacuuming, cooking, baking cookies, bathing my dog. And I have created other chores. Finally, after nearly ten years, I shredded documents, Alex’s documents – taxes, financials, medical records, photos too blurred to show an image. I have sorted through boxes of my son’s old photographs – of fires and firefighting, girlfriends, long-time friends, family, and pets, lots of lots of pets. It was heart wrenching at times to peek yet again into intricacies of my son’s life. 


And I was reminded. My friend’s family will take on that chore, that responsibility sometime in the future, of sifting through their loved one’s “stuff”. They will cry, their hearts will ache, their pulses will pound, and they will grieve over and over – one time not enough. They will be exhausted. I hope they can rest. I hope they find elusive peace to ease the pain. I really do. Reflection helps, too. It does. Like naps, musing diminishes the exhaustion that results from unfathomable loss. That is why, with this piece, I cherish memories. 


Rest now, my friend. Rest in peace. You, like my beautiful son, will live on, precious memories bridges to the past, reminders of our profound love for such beautiful souls.