Tag Archives: grief

A Letter to Mumsy

Hi, Mum. We haven’t talked in a while and there is so much to catch up on. It has been such a crazy year filled with really great things, and things that worry and terrify me. I miss our chats. We didn’t always agree, but we could always talk. Well, at least once we had sorted our roles out and found a space we could share.

You didn’t know, last year, but I had lost my job. I didn’t want you to know because, well, you didn’t need the worry. Things worked out, I was able to cobble things together, keep the bills paid, and find my way to you. I think you knew something was stressing me because, even though I asked repeatedly if you wanted me there, you wouldn’t say yes. I am told that you made sure our customary teddy bear was with you constantly in those last days. So many people had so many wonderful things to say about you. I treasure those thoughts even now.

I’ve missed our talks. So, this Christmas Day, well, I’ll write you a letter.

Last fall, I had patched together an arrangement of contract work, tax returns, and part time work to get me through to another permanent position. As sometimes happens, the timing was impeccable, and I found a new job that I love dearly. It is challenging, but not stressful. Although I’m still the number cruncher, my work contributes to an organization that helps a lot of folks manage and recover from mental health issues and substance abuse. The team I work with is amazing and, although the salary started lower than where I had been, the benefits are quite juicy. I’m doing some of that doctor stuff I was always hounding you about. Oh, and I have a raise coming in a month, and a retirement account starts growing in two. Sigh, such a journey I’ve been on to reach this point. I’ve even started the renovations on the house

I do so miss our talks about what is happening in the world. Again, we didn’t always agree, and you were often more forgiving than me. Well, sometimes not so much. As we often discussed, the things happening in my country are crushing my heart. It’s not that I don’t understand that we need to protect ourselves and that we need to make sure that agreements are advantageous. I just don’t get the venom. It hurts. So very much.

Even you would be angered by the constant re-writing of history, of the seeming unwillingness to check on the most basic of facts. We allow ourselves to be influenced by the waves of social angst and rarely stop to question, to research, to make a choice anchored somewhere in reality. So, we accuse people fleeing a disaster we helped create of being terrorists. We talk about mowing down populations simply because they represent something we were taught to hate. Although for months I have been talking about the instability of the markets – I was told the economy was the best it had been in years. Farmers are going bankrupt, there’s barely a place in the country where minimum wage can provide decent shelter, food, and clothing. The money so graciously given to our largest companies was spent reacquiring stock, rather than investing in people and material growth. Our infrastructure is collapsing, and we want to build a wall – a wall where one already exists where it is feasible. Border patrol wants technology, yet there are those that are pushing to give them a monument.

Health care is going through the roof and people are dying because they cannot access drugs that have been around for decades. You were diabetic. I have no idea what your drug costs would have been had you survived. Even if your cancer treatments were still working, could we have afforded them? That is a heartbreak I’m not sure I could have handled. You, in your stoic way, would have trudged on through. We seem to have no will in this country to care for people in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The whole system is a mess. Thank God I have a job that provides the coverage I need. I am one of the lucky ones.

The international scene is a mad man’s ball. We have no idea from day to day who our allies will be, or who is now our enemy or competitor. Yes, I know we were in a place where we needed to push back and rearrange some of our agreements – but kicking the whole world in the balls was probably not the best idea. And the people we have always known were not our friends – well, evidently now they are. They can do no wrong. No friend is a true friend if there is no room for accountability. I hope our boat can float long enough to survive this storm. I honestly do not believe we are in a position to respond to another Pearl Harbor or 9-11. Many of the folks that could have guided us have left or been excused. I know from experience that no matter what your intentions and other skills may be, learning the job in the middle of a critical event is not the best idea.

I do have hope. I really do. Each day I meet people who, like me, continue to work toward the best moment for now. I find people who are kind, who believe in the underlying ethics of seeing the best in folks whatever their gender, sexual intent, faith, race, or personal quirks. I see people who genuinely care without being naive. I have no notion of what the next 20 years will bring. Thanks to you and my maternal genes I have a pretty good chance of finding out. I do know that when things appear to be heading into a catastrophic train wreck, I hear the voices of two people I know and care for the most. Two people who managed through depression and war. Two people I love. You, and my beloved husband.

Merry Christmas and sleep well, Mum. You’ve earned the rest.

Mumsy Memorial

Memorial for Delores Troxell, December 2017.

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It is time – past time.

I can’t feel your pain.
I’ve tried, I even thought I knew
How you felt.
Scared
Alone
With nowhere to go,
No safe place to know,
It would all be fine.

I can’t feel your pain.
I’ve tried, by reaching back,
All those years,
When I was abused,
Bullied,
Stalked,
Manipulated,
Frightened, and alone.

I can’t feel your pain.
I’ve been tired,
I’ve been hungry,
Depressed,
Trapped;
Even, yes, even
Had my life threatened.
But I always found a way,
A way to live another day.

Perhaps I understand,
In some small way,
How deep the ache,
How sore
Your soul.
But now I see,
It never goes away.
For you it’s every day.

The air you breathe,
The ground you walk,
Is filled with hate,
And fear,
And terror.
Barely in the shadows,
But growing ever stronger,
Reaching for us all.

As hard as I try,
It seems no more
Than Insult,
to your
Torn,
and battered
Heart,
to say,
I feel your pain.

Perhaps, as small
As it may be,
My voice can help,
My life can show,
That hate
is never,
ever,
ever,
the answer.
For the love of all
Creation has provided,
It is time.

It is time to end the pain.
It is time to be there
For the black,
For the Muslim,
For the gay,
For the PEOPLE,
Of our earth.
One person at a time.

I will do my best.
I will share.
I will talk.
I will try to reach
Minds,
And hearts.
And I will hope.
I will not say,
I feel your pain.
But I will be here.
I will hold you.
And one day, together,
We will find the dawn.

Sunrise 3

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Filed under Humanties for the Unbound Mind, My Journey with Job, Personal Journeys, Poetry

Yahrzeit: A Day of Remembrance

In Jewish tradition one observes the passing of someone close to you four times a year. Yom Kippur, Feast of Tabernacles, Passover, and Feast of Weeks. And then there is the annual remembrance, Yahrzeit. Yahrzeit is observed on the anniversary of a person’s death, using the Jewish calendar. In my case that would be April 17 of this year. My husband was half Jewish but I know his abhorrence for that time of year, so I choose today; the anniversary of his departure on the Gregorian calendar.

To understand the tradition you must know something of the Jewish approach to such things. There are periods of grief, but there are also periods during which the memory of the person is preserved in all of its living grace. A way of learning to treasure those that went before us, and a hope of the path we will follow into some unknown “then.”

I’m not terribly good a formalized prayers, so I have chosen to write a poem. If memory serves it may be the first in a year.

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He left me in the spring.
Not in the dead of winter,
When cold, gray skies surround me.
When days are short,
And love itself,
Huddles ‘neath the rain and snow.

He left me in the spring.
Not in the chill of fall,
When brilliant colors oft betray
Arrival of the frost.
And love itself,
Feels the bite, and seeks the warming hearth.

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He left me in the spring.
Not in the heat of summer,
When days are long and hot.
When the grass grows brown,
And love itself,
With thirst, seeks cool and breezy shadows.

He left me in the spring.
When birds sing, and trees grow green.
When flowers bloom and life awakes.
Perhaps to show me future hope,
When love itself,
Becomes the strength
– to face life on my own.

Deer

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Filed under Personal Journeys, Poetry

Appropriate Footwear

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A few weeks ago I made a journey to the sea. It was a short journey. As I tell my friends, close enough to visit but not near enough I may have to run. Way out here on the far western edge of the Washington peninsula we have the choice of the Pacific shores or the beaches of bays and coves. My new home is less than an hour away from both Ocean Shores and Westport. My visit this time was to Westport.

I chose Westport because, unlike Ocean Shores, I had never been there. I had, of course, hoped that my husband would be with me on this adventure. It was not to be. So for my first visit to the pounding surf I chose a safe route – a new memory.

There were a few hiccups. I no sooner arrived at a lovely sunny and windblown beach than I discovered that the batteries on my camera were about to die. For some reason beyond me, the backups I usually keep in my camera case were not there. Well, wasn’t that lovely. The second issue was that I, well, didn’t seem to be in appropriate footwear. It was tempting to just carry my shoes and stroll barefoot through the sand. I’m not quite ready for that.

I still spent time, watching and listening to the surf. Letting that timeless beat ease some of the pain of being there alone. I always loved the ocean. Whenever I was stressed, unsure, tired, frightened, worried that things in life had just gotten “too big” for me – I escaped. To the shore, or to a mountain, or a vast moonless sky, but always somewhere bigger than me. Somewhere that made “stuff” smaller, more manageable, more doable. This time it was the ocean surf. The heartbeat of the earth. How much closer to nature can you get and still be a separate entity?

I drove into the tiny coastal town of Westport and wandered through the shops, found some batteries, and had lunch at a seafood place. I walked the piers and managed a few pictures. Hesitant, first steps toward being a “me” and not an “us.” All in all, it was a pleasant, though bittersweet day.

This weekend “holiday” from unpacking, rescheduling, house fixing and whatever else is going on in my life, helped me pause and take inventory. There are times when you lose someone who truly was your soul mate that the loss grows into a deep and hungry black hole sucking the life right out of you. But there are also times when that love is so great that it won’t let you quit. Will not let you forget the dreams that can still be lived, or the person you have grown into because of their care. I think I’m learning. I just need to do better at having appropriate footwear, oh, and a few extra batteries.

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