Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Mother Heart

Who knows how to get an angel in your life? We can look for angels but we cannot schedule for angels. We can have a visitation but often we are not clear that they have been with us until later.
An associate who I had worked with for many years had a very traumatic loss. I waited until life had quieted and called her. Death is a tsunami. Inquiring what she might need she did not dwell on her loss. She remembered our common interest in writing and asked if we could sit and write. She had a book in her, a story of the men in her life. She came after work. I intended to minister to her. I made tea, gave her a card and a candle. We did not linger on her loss. I had had a very recent death in my family. All the scurry and phone conversations and prayers and still my tears were stymied by too much backstory.
We sat in the suns fade, gave ourselves a time limit and began writing. The keys click gave a solace. Sitting there she emboldened me to look down the dark hole of loss. A mom whose child had been snatched, who would live with loss every day that she breaths put words on to the page. I put words to the page. And she was an angel who led me through my own dark. Here is the story she gave me.

Oh fear
Oh fear
Today I sit with a mom who has lost a child.
It was not on the roadside so we cannot build a street side sign to commemorate the horror of this event. He has a name, a christened name. It is this name she said over and over to God through the years when she prayed for him.
Dearest Father, and his name would fall like magnolia blooms from her lips. Petals of hope if she said his name enough it would be insurance not only that his soul would be saved but that she would precede him in death. Her prayers were not answered.
He was sliced from her bosom but never from her heart.
She found him in this expansive room of love. She was already a mom, a special needs teacher. Children were her purpose. Even in a house full up, three, four, from somewhere in the land of longing came his call. One more, and one more…
He came to her scathed as an eight-month-old baby. Taken away or turned over to the state. He had dimples, and bunchy hair and a soft heart.
He had a leg missing and life could just take his breath away. He needed every breath to live. He was not frugal and wasted his words, watching how a one legged boy could make others dance to his banter as he spewed his words about. He did not have his mother fear. He came in from a body that was no a sanctuary.  He was a survivor, had death wanted him it had had it’s chances or so he thought. Death is a malingerer.
I am trying to write an ending for a book. One character must die, so I must kill one. I am burdened by this. I feel like the biblical characters that go seeking of Solomon. Someone just show me, cut this baby in half for me.
Should one die slipping on an ice patch, or careening a car into a tree. I have a friend whose son did not die. He lived in a hospital bed for six years with his skull missing from his face, taken when he splashed against a wall and his brain inflated with swelling. She had prayed that he live.
Are prayers ever answered?
I need these women who fill the pages of a novel to have some peace, some closure. I want all those that rad to have a sense of completion. I want it neat for them. I want them exorcized from me. I want my life back. I bet my friend wants her life back. She wants it to be her birthday and she wants him to show up at her party with a myler balloon bouquet that rustles with love.
Another mother, died this day. She was called about twelve years ago. Her work truck slipped gear and came down the hillsides and crushed her beneath it. She say heaven her mom was there. But her children were here; her boy was still much boy. He was just twenty-two. She saw the light but a voice from this side called her back I cannot leave Jake.  Some force some thing that spurs mothers on kept her going.  She lived twelve more years. Now her son is a man. He got the call, Mom’s gone.
Oh mothers and sons. Once death wanted my son. I did pray, but my power was greater that God’s, I looked into his boy eyes as they spilled back into his head and he said when it is your time it is your time, I commanded him stay. We only want life. We only want breath for our children. The circle is skewed at all loss. I will write an ending for the book. These other stories have none. I pray. And all pray.
 While traveling I saw an icon image of Jesus in heaven. His mother lay in state on earth in repose. It was the opposite of my common vision of heaven. I never thought of the mother and how she had to continue to forbear. Death must not win> life must prevail until the end.
And there will be no amen.
“Amen” is a Hebrew word that stems from the word aman, which means, “to be faithful, support, or confirm.”

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Miracle is a Change of Perception

I have this thing I have been doing lately I call them holy holidays. I just take a day off from life, whatever it is that I fill up my days with that I call life and I go to a place that is considered sacred. Perhaps it is an outdoor labyrinth, or a mid week healing service at a Catholic church where many come to reflect on a deceased holy man queues up in Rome for Canonization.
These holy holidays are not typical Sabbath Sunday practices.  They are excursions taken to tend to the weedy landscape of my mind and soul. Now in retirement my life is formless and aimless. Often I am a lost pilgrim seeking refuge and connection.
These events have been a solace for me.
 I do not schedule them but intuit when my soul is in need of replenishment.
When hungry I go seeking.
On a golden Wednesday autumn day I went the friars chapel. It was full up of congregants.
I could tell by the stir of my agitated heart that tears were waiting a spill. The music had not even begun and already this nameless sorrow wants to reconcile itself with my heart.
 I have not yet become wise. Wise woman always have tissue at the ready. Wise woman accommodate for tears by being prepared.  Eternally in denial or just a bad girl scout I have nothing on which to blow my nose.
Crying is hard. Crying and not blowing is the worst.
At least I have evolved into the knowing ”It’s okay to cry.”
There are lots of little old ladies at this place. I may be demographically one of them, but these are the sweet types whose bag matches their shoes and they put a rinse on their white hair so that it looks like they have snow halos. These are women who are prepared to cry. They have cried much and come prepared.
(Tears are like tooth fairies and Christmas; it is all about the surprise.)
Just adown the pew from me sits a lady whose erect posture tells me she is all about form, I am certain she has a tissue.
I bend past our seatmate a very elderly man that seems her partner. (In the rulebook of my mind men do not carry tissues but have hankies, used hankies).
I whisper. Church whispers always seem louder somehow. She roots in her purse and pulls me out a perfect little Kleenex.  A comradeship, a women with Kleenex in her purse understand a woman who needs to cry.
I chat some pleasantries.
“Shush!” says her husband as he glares at me. I have violated some sanctimonious code of church ethics.
(Maybe this is why I church shop on weekdays and can never quite figure out which box to check under religion. I have been shushed away from to many homes, hearts, and altars.)
Sitting there in the pew I next to the crotchety old man who chastised me I go to my safe heaven of my clangy armor of character defects. I begin to judge him. I am thinking ill thoughts about him, wishing him ill will.
 The organist begins to play the familiar refrains of hymn.
Tears take hold and they spill themselves. The dark heart is not heavy.
The shusher man talks out loudly many times during the service, “What did he say?”
It seems he cannot hear. I notice his hearing aid protruding like a growth from his hairy ear. He did not wish to silence me, but he lives forever in a place where all sound is noise. My chatting just reminds him of the cloister of his silence.
Softened by this knowledge, I sing the refrains of the Mary hymns loudly, in worship. Glad for the freedoms, of spilled tears, and the miracle of my change in perception regarding my seat mate and my unburdened heart. I settle in hoping the service alters the desert landscape that drew me hear on a fall afternoon.

The brothers in their brown robes mingle giving the microphone to the congregants so that they can claim their miracles, express their gratitude or ask for divine intervention of some looming disease or life trauma.

The church glows more golden in the autumn light. All have born witness and they ask us to close with the Lord’s Prayer.
“Our Father …”
Now I am slightly agitated, in a quandary should I hold the hand of my seatmate or not? I am no longer angry but how much can a heart expand in one day?
I swallow hard my pride. I take his hand. Or does he take mine?
 It is spent, his flesh worn from time but lifeblood’s pulse warms his palm. We are palm to palm. Intimate with some unspoken thing. His hold is firm and fast.
The prayer proceeds.
I have said the words of the Our Father so often that they can be perfunctory, redundant. This day though as we come to the words “ forgive us our trespasses,”
he talks to me. Not in words but in his grip of my hand. A radiant heat courses from his palm to mine. He asks me to forgive him.  I can feel this even though he does not speak. Forgive me the shush, my need to exert little controls in a world in which I has so little power. Forgive my envy of your hearing, and jealousy that my wife speaks to you but I no longer can hear her sweet voice.
The prayer ends, “As we forgive those who trespass against us…” And a same fire flees through my flesh to his, my flaws, judgments, the ways I fall away from love, turn away are redeemed now. And that day I understand while holding hands with an old guy in the church the refrain of the prayer that says, “for thine is the kingdom the power and I have an instant glimmer of God’s glory. Amen