Sunday, August 23, 2015

RIP, Charlie

I went yesterday to Houston to have my port flushed. I was a little annoyed that they were not able to set it up so I could have this done at home. It is, as you probably know, about a five minute procedure. But I determined to make the best of it and to treat it as an adventure. We had a good trip. Afterwards we met my aunt for lunch at Pappasito's. On the way home, we stopped at the new Buccee's in Baytown, where I had my picture taken with Buccee. Go me! Adults in costumes make me a tiny bit nervous. The thought occurs to me now how it makes some people more comfortable to be in costume, and suddenly I am thinking of all the masks we humans tend to wear. In looking at it that way, costumes don't make me as nervous. I am familiar with, and somewhat accustomed to, masks. Though I am working hard to strip most of mine away. But that is not at all what I came here to write about.

I had a friend years ago. We worked and lived together for two summers, part of a young staff at a church camp. We kept in touch a few years after the summers ended. I spent some weekends at her house in-between working at the camp but we eventually lost touch and didn't even send Christmas cards. This was before widespread internet. When we got a computer and internet, and I learned you could find people on the internet, I searched for her. But I couldn't remember her married name. Finally I found that out and looked again. After a few tries over a few years, what I found was her obituary. And I was saddened by the fact that I'd kind of just missed being in contact with her again. She was a good friend with a dry, sassy wit, a delight to know. Why do we allow ourselves to lose touch with people we love?

When I found her obituary, I was more savvy on the internet and I located her older brother. We'd met a few times when I was staying at her house and we'd talk a bit about poetry writing, as each of us was dabbling in that at the time. For a short while, we'd connected on that level and we shared our poetry with each other. I'd written my friend a letter after she died and I sent it on to him. He seemed to have enjoyed that and shared it with his family. We might have emailed a couple of times more after that. He was an intelligent guy with a lot of different interests and after the poetry discussions, I'd always wished I could have connected with him on a more consistent level but he was way older and I never had much opportunity for interaction with him.

So, yesterday, my husband showed me the picture of the sister I'd been looking for. She is a friend of a friend on Facebook and I was glad to find her. She was only a couple of years younger than my friend and I. Her brother must have been about fifteen years older than we were. Anyway, as I was looking on the sister's Facebook page, I saw that her brother had died last December. I hadn't actually seen him in years so it was a shock to me to realize he was 73 years old. In my mind, I saw him as young as he was when we first met. I was saddened again. 

My friend, her brother, her younger sister--these were people who occupied very short spaces in the time frame of my life, but they left warm memories and indelible marks on my heart. 

RIP, Charlie. Tell Ruth hello for me. . .

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Yellow was another of the prompts from August Break 2015.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Last Year

The picture here is part of a reflection photo that I took with my phone. It was actually taken about a year ago. I may have already posted the photo without the words, which I only added today.

I've been participating in August Break 2015 (Susannah Conway, I've only missed two days so far, which is kind of amazing for me. I haven't been posting all my prompts here, but many of my posts lately have been partially inspired by the work I've been doing on these prompts (and perhaps the result of some of the things that have been going on in my life in the last year or so).

Something has caused me to wax poetical! I kind of like it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Something Different

Perhaps I should have used the word "boundaries" instead of "barriers"? I don't know. I was just playing around and worked rather quickly.

This is a collage of three different photos. Mostly I was experimenting and seeing what would happen if I...

This is what happened!

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Enjoy the Ice Cream, or Life, Whatever The Case Might Be

Going in to the labyrinth, when I was in San Antonio with my friends, was also an enlightening experience.

In the week after I was told I had no evidence of cancer, a classmate of my sister's died. I assume from cancer. My cousin died after a routine gall bladder surgery. Both were far too young. I was left wondering how things worked the way they did--why am I still here and others are not? What does this mean?

One of my wise friends mentioned to me that she had decided I'd been forced to join a club to which most folks don't want to belong. I'd always been aware of being in that "club" of parents who had lost a child, another club to which no one wants to belong, but I hadn't thought of having "the cancer" as being forced to join that club no one really wants to join.

And because she is a statistical type of thinker, she also mentioned that not only was I in the "cancer club," I was also in the subset of "survivors," where of course, we all want to be. But that brings it's own set of stresses and not everyone gets that privilege.

These things were on my mind as I was walking into the labyrinth, that I didn't know why I was blessed to have made it into the survivors club, that I was extremely grateful for the privilege, even while I was filled with sorrow for those I knew whose lives had ended way too soon. Life just isn't fair and I can't explain or understand why these things worked out the way they did.

I decided that day that "why" is a useless question, at least where things like life and death and the number of days we are allotted is concerned. I wanted to go back and ask my friends what they thought about the value of why as a question, but we got off on other things and I forgot all about it.

Fast forward to today, while I was reading backwards in a "daily book" that I read, looking for quotes to put in my calendar, in an attempt to add color and depth to the pages.

On July 15th, I was told there was no evidence of cancer. I was also told they would see me again in October. So, occasionally, when I pass on the news that "I am all clear," I whisper silently to myself words like, "at this moment," or "as far as I know now." The prospects of having to go back in October, and again, every three months for three years, and then every six months for two more years before I could be really declared "cured" weighed heavily on me. I joked that I was now that I was declared "clean," that I could now go out and start living again. In three month increments. Of such things are the stresses of the survivors (but I'll take that stress, I'm not complaining, just trying to figure things out in my head).

Anyway, somehow, during that walk into the center of the labyrinth, the weight of those three month increments was lifted and I came to realize how I just need to take my life one day at a time, and not waste a minute of it worrying about what might be. We all get what we get in terms of days to live.

Okay, I'm rambling here! Today, on the July 15th page of this "daily book," there was this quote. I don't know how it didn't scream "I'm significant!" on July 15th when I first read it. Maybe I hadn't heard the good news yet, I don't know.

But it seems to be a good philosophy for me to employ any time I let the "three month increment" blues take over.

"My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy the ice cream while it's on your plate--that's my philosophy." Thornton Wilder 

Sunday, August 02, 2015

A Convoluted Prayer of Thanksgiving

For all the people in my life who remind me
(who gently admonish me?)
to "Breathe!"

I must really need the reminder because it is a common thing for me to hear.
Or maybe it's just a good thing to say 
when there is nothing else to do.

Still, I am grateful 
for friends who can be present
with me
and breathe with me
when there truly is not much else
that can be done.

To sit in that rather helpless place
with another
is not an easy thing to do. 

Those who can do it well
are a balm to the soul.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Note to Self: Before I Die: Live

I've spent my whole life trying to stay out of trouble with people, some people more than others.

I have scurried around trying to guess what I should be doing, or should have done, so that I am not in trouble with anyone. And sometimes, there are precious few clues as to how to avoid being in trouble.

It is a pitiful way to live.

On the "before I die" board I wrote "live."

I walked an outdoor labyrinth when I was visiting my friends this weekend. I'd only previously walked the canvas labyrinth laid out in the gym of a local church. While walking the labyrinth I was given, among other things, the word "freedom." I felt guilty because I'd told my friend I'd come to the kitchen to visit while she did her thing. She didn't need any help. That's what she said, and I trusted her enough to have meant what she said--there was no need for me to try and find some hidden message in her communication (and that's a related blog post for another day). But the labyrinth called me. My mind was quieted as I walked to the center. Still, on the way out, I fretted because I was being gone so long. Thirty, forty minutes, what is that in the whole grand scheme of life?

And yet, that is how we waste our lives, a minute here, and a minute there.

But I digress.

While walking out from the center of the labyrinth I discussed with myself the option of skipping the path laid to complete the labyrinth and to just stop the walk and go to my friend, like I said I would.

And my spirit told me I, and I alone, held the freedom to choose. Feeling the tautness of freedom placed like a graft in hopes of creating new skin, I breathed a sigh of gratitude and chose to continue the walk.

(And I was in no trouble at all with my friend.)

Today I bless myself with the hope that I will feel the weight of my own (hard earned) freedom and may I truly live before I die.

Thinking about this right now, I know my thoughts are partially influenced by a sermon I had not yet heard when I walked the labyrinth on Friday. The pastor was speaking of troublesome times and referred to the strength of trees, admonishing us to "feel the weight of your trunk" in times of struggle. She also said to "trust your roots." Those two phrases will remain with me for a while. And will eventually show up in one of my thangs, I imagine.

One of the things I loved about the idea of "feeling the weight of your trunk" is that we talk all the time about feeling the weight of negative things (depression, loss, grief, cancer), so why not focus on feeling and being aware of, and grateful for, the weight of more positive things (strength, growth, healing, love)?