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an ocean made for drowning

August 17, 2017 Leave a comment

This is a peculiar darkness,
a humming thing
made of low magic, a creaking
heart that betrays itself,
limping through a song of shadow,
until everything is different,
and there is no going back.

Sometimes, silence
is an ocean
made for drowning,
a tide of conflicting
forgiveness,
the rush of hands
receding,
the taste of salt
on sin.

The truth is often fashioned
out of secrets, tucked
like a quilt
so that no one looks at it
too hard, a pretty wreck
of what was
and what-might-have-been,
reframed by what is,
longing threaded through
with too steady a hand.

No one can unmake time,
and that is love, ticking
fast with each passing second,
unnamed
and faceless, beneath
the doubt of past mistakes,
unmoored
and set lost, not free.

Everything is a consequence
of something else,
sometimes it’s an echo
of old, familiar ghosts, a mourning
that speaks beneath the din,
purposeful in the quiet,
begging not to be seen,
open hands
that tell too many stories—
the bang of a door
no one ever walked through.

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Hitting Rewind on the Heart

August 7, 2017 6 comments

 

Today, it’s been five years since my mom died. The strange thing is that it feels like yesterday and, somehow, a lifetime ago. I suppose that there’s some truth to that last part. There’s no way I could be the same person I was, before. And while there is no rewind button on the human heart, it sometimes hurls itself, unbidden, backward. This is one of those times.

 

It’s funny, but no one warns you that it will be like this. No one tells you that your memory will be sharp and full of things you’d rather forget. No one lets you in on this damned little secret: you will wonder what if I had…, even though it’s cruel and pointless. The smallest detail will float to the surface, all quiet and claws. The smell of a hallway. The face of a stranger. What someone was wearing. The grief and fear and panic that swirled in a moment that hangs, before everything suddenly stops.

 

I think about what happened that day. And then I think about the days that followed. The people I spoke to. The people who reached out. The early morning phone call. The genuine care and love. It’s those things that got me through. It’s those things that made me stronger. And no matter what, I’ll always be grateful.

 

Because when everything is horrible and the world feels like quicksand, what matters is who shows up—however that is. What matters is those who can sit with you at your worst and not run. It’s easy to be around someone when things are great. But that’s not the measure of a person, relationship, or heart.

 

While I miss her every day, sometimes in expected ways, I’m grateful for that lesson. I pay more attention now to how people behave, how they step up, how fiercely they love when it is difficult or inconvenient. And yes, I pay attention to who stays and who vanishes. Who slips out of sight when there’s a lull or a hurricane.

 

I’m a different person, now, but I am still my mother’s daughter. If you come to my house, I will feed you. This is not a question. You will eat. There will be coffee. I will absolutely burst into song at some point. If it has four legs and a tail, I will hug it. I recite poems and nursery rhymes from memory. I do not suffer fools or meanness. I will get between you and your worst trouble. I show up when everything is a wreck of stupid. I love beyond all reason. And while I will hold a vehement grudge against someone who has wronged someone I love, if I love you—I will forgive you.

 

This day is always hard, but the way it’s hard is always different. There’s not set expectation or rule for getting through it. But it’s definitely something to get through. People call things like this an anniversary, but that’s too happy a word. This day was the last day of Before. That’s it. That’s all there is too it.

 

Sometimes, I can’t help but think about what my mom would say about certain things, if she were here. How would she react? What crazy face would she make? She was never one to be able to disguise how she really felt, ever. When I do something she taught me, I imagine she’d do it better, either effortless or with her trademark calamity. I mean, it was never Halloween if she didn’t burn herself at least twice. And forget a neat and tidy kitchen on a holiday. Inevitably, there would be food on the dog’s head and a mess on the stove.

 

But that’s the beating heart of life: the mess. Not the pristine way in which we straighten the house for company or purge a closet of its clutter. The madness, the chaos, the detours, the chances, the changes, the raw and unexpected moments. This I know as surely as I’m breathing. Too often, I think, we try to live inside the lines. Try to behave a certain way. Try to keep things orderly, neat. But I think, perhaps, that’s only good and healthy for pretenses, not a soul.

 

So, starting now, take more chances. Don’t tidy up your heart. Don’t take the easy way. Don’t be smaller just to fit yourself into someone else’s puzzle. Miss someone? Call. Have a dream? Take a single step after it. Love someone? Say it. See someone do something cool? Tell them. Make art. Kiss passionately. Sing along to a song at the grocery store. Dance in a parking lot. Let go of things you shouldn’t be carrying around anymore.

 

If you do one thing with this life, live. The pieces will fall into place. And the next moment is always uncertain, so don’t waste it.

 

XOXO