Community

I dreamed I was with my mom in Colorado, it was not long before she died….in the dream we were at the top of a beautiful mountain town, after lunch and a day we were on the winding road down when she said “I just want a community, we need a community, maybe one or two things to build it.”

There were other elements in the dream, some of which was tangled up, but the messaging was so clear it woke me up with a start. For as long as I can remember my mom has always focused on community, it was the most valuable resource on earth to her. When we were kids in Molokai’i the connection with families in the food co-op or neighbors, to moving to Albuquerque, which in part because of finances was barren of enriching community elements, through all of that my mom struggled for community. Even at the end of her life, it was a focus. Some of her happiest moments last year were at my sister’s house, everyone gathered for a Saturday dinner, or talking long into the night with a various assortment of my friends at a barbeque in my backyard.

My mom loved social situations, but whether she knew it or not she was also amazing at community building. When she was in a room with any person it became a community, and the shared bond made things feel better, somehow more important, and significant, an affirmation that even the act of being alive by itself had a greater meaning. This affinity was passed on to me, although it has certainly been difficult the last several months because it’s something that’s tied to the grief around not having my mother anymore.

All

We carry our desire to visit the river in our heads

Although we only occasionally make the effort needed to see it, that winding mud flat just there, really, adjacent to us.

We decide our feet don’t need to dip in the current yet, we can wait.

As much as we talk about things we should do

Mostly we are distracted.

 

The elegance assigned to love is rarely ascribed to death

The stately garden on some expansive estate in the hills

A secret meeting place for lovers

The hum of time, place, and people

At just the right moment

Does not visit a deathbed.

 

But they are the same

Beyond the messiness

Disappointment

Fear

Missed expectations

The mottled purple flesh

Of an argument or gasping breaths to stay alive.

 

Yes, they are the same

Beyond the lover’s glance

Relief

Joy

True compassion

The twinkle in an eye

Inviting the whole world in

 

All poems are about love, in the same way they are all about death

The next small moment

I got the chickenpox last week. And then, apparently, strep throat too. It’s probably in large part the result of workaholic behaviors, added on to all the other stressors in my life.

Four straight days of a 102-104 degree fever mashes your ability to think coherently. But I did have a moment of recognition, having watched my mom suffer through cancer, treatment, and everything in between I now understand more about that feeling. Watching the four hours go by on the clock until the next dose, finally relaxing and breathing for the hour before the medicine starts to head on a downtrend again. Your life becomes about small moments. A milkshake takes the shape of hope that someone else would have for a new job, love, or traveling somewhere exotic.

My mom went through 4 1/2 years of suffering, though of course that’s not to say there were no good moments. There were plenty of good moments, but they didn’t come with any promises. For a while there I lent her my eReader, but at times even that was impossible, despite being unable to do anything besides lie in bed. The hunger to read a book becomes subsumed by the need to have a small moment free from pain, no matter how short.

We are here on earth to suffer, and our responsibility is to accept everything. People preach acceptance but try to control their lives. There isn’t any such thing as control. So we must accept and be open, instead of making our hearts and lives stiff and inflexible, bound to be broken eventually.

 

Currant

I was jogging down an unfamiliar running path by the river a few days ago and I had this connected moment where I realized the ribbon-y, winding path is a lot like our lives. The more we try to anticipate the curves and push against them the less likely we are to adapt and learn/love what we can, instead we end up making 90 degree angle turns where we could have gone with the current.

The right time to cast off civility

I keep thinking there’s a right time to cast off civility.

As if I’ll suddenly realize that you are fine and I can’t affect you anymore and I can now express the depths of frustration that I was driven to by our failed marriage. Oh now, this is the time to tell you that your inability to truly decide to commit your life to me was the largest void in my life. That your finding solace in the arms of other lovers was an an indictment of my starvation for intimacy.

And I swallowed my pride on so many occasions that it grew to be a monster of swirling anxiety in my stomach and when it reared up it ate me, and not you, because of civility.

I fear incivility because my heart might tell my intellect that my mom dying was the cost of freedom from you. The emotional truth doesn’t take issue with the facts, it simply sidesteps them. This moment: at her memorial service, you standing in the driveway crying because I would not take a walk with you. As the most important person in my life was removed from my life.

Even now, freedom apparent, civility still binds me to the person I was supposed to be. As if the world could take anything away more valuable than it already has.

The anger runs icy water through my blood, the Atlantic ribboning across the desert. This is not the right time to cast off incivility. But cast off it shall be.