Overheard at the Airport

I made it to the gate in plenty of time, but all the seats were already taken. I decided it was not a bad idea to stand anyway, so I stepped just off the carpeted area onto the dull linoleum of the wide corridor full of people coming and going, some of them slowly sauntering and others sprinting, panting and sweating, panicked, to make it before the door shut and they would be left to the harrowing ordeal of arranging a different flight. There were other people also standing there waiting for boarding to begin; some alone engaged with their phones, others chatting in small clusters, a mom with her toddler playing a kind of chase game in a small circle that made me smile.

I suddenly became aware of a man in a dark pink polo shirt talking with someone on the phone. I realized that person was in the airport somewhere and he was trying to tell them where he was in the sprawling center of global transit. He said, “Well I can stay on the phone with you while you find your way here.” Whoever it was must have agreed, because he continued to chat with a look of amusement and happiness on his face.

I began to wonder and imagine who this beloved person might be? “Did you catch up with everyone you wanted to?” he asked. Then he mentioned how they must be in the glass walkway now. He laughed at something enthusiastically. I became more and more intrigued, and was now looking forward to seeing this mysterious person perhaps nearly as much as the man in the dark pink shirt.

Possibilities flooded in. Something in me thought they must be a woman, by the tone of his voice, the way he laughed, how he wanted to be right there with her until they would finally see each other from some distance away, waving at each other. Perhaps she would run to the gate, or both of them would run through this sea of people, all heading to some other city, state, or country, but these two finally arriving in the destination of each other’s arms. Could she be his wife, daughter, sister, new love, old flame, long time friend and confidant?

I cheered internally for new love. That would be maximum theater, pure passion, and I relished the thought of witnessing such a scene.

I heard him say, “Come down the stairs at the dinosaur.” Then beaming a smile, “I still don’t see you, but you must be close. Guess what color shirt I am wearing.” I wanted to rip the phone from his hands and say, “Dark pink! His shirt is dark pink, now hurry up and get over here so I can see the passionate climax of this story!”

He mentioned we would be boarding soon, and something about how it was up to her if she had time.

I was about dying now, and wondering how it was possible she was not here yet? Did she stop to pick out a quick gift for him, or duck off behind the T-Rex skeleton breathing heavy, considering whether to meet him at this gate of destiny or run away among the sprinting and panicking people?

He finally said, “Oh I think I see you now, yes I do. What, you don’t see me yet? Really?” Then a wide smile and a wave.

There was no running at all. He just stood there waving and beaming that smile to someone in the crowd, that I in great frustration could not tell apart from any other of the people in the crowded corridor.

Then she was there. Yes, a woman! I knew it! They embraced and kissed on the lips not a peck, but not the long kiss of fiery passion I had been writing in the cheap romance novel that had sprung up in my brain.

He said something about passing by, glad she made it, and something else I could not hear. I caught him telling her to have a safe trip, and talk soon. Then she turned and walked away.

Just like that, she walked out of my life forever.

The lady at the gate got on the overhead and announced our flight was ready to begin boarding.

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Praise

to praise the present moment

do anything

that comes from the heart

the body

imagination

it could be anything at all

the smallest thing

or a grand gesture

dancing just now

a simple sway

i thought, can i call this a dance?

it is not much

but what is ever enough?

this

that

the other thing

no

being here

being moved

in the way of this moment

praises it fully

anything given can be claimed

a thing is not measured in degrees

not in the heart of right now

returning is returning

we all know this

as we breathe

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vision

I bought my first pair of reading glasses today. I knew things were getting blurry. The other day I could not read my insurance card on the phone with the dentist.

The crew we hired is here washing the house exterior and all the windows.

Glasses and clean windows.

Perhaps they come today auspicious omens of clearer vision on all levels, in many dimensions.

I have been looking for good words lately and not finding them.

Perhaps it is not that they have gone missing, but that the view has been blurred, like eyes a bit weaker than I knew, or windows that have been through seasons of weather.

The thing that occurs to me is to soften in the seeing.

Accept help as needed; like glasses, or a cleaning crew, even the weather, the aging, the words that are hiding in plain sight, all of them here doing their part.

 

 

 

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Floating

A lot of my life happens in my imagination these days, even though there is an actual reality occurring right here in the present moment.

I have a restless grief tinged energy over the lost time and space of now as I constantly seem to lose my gravity, the ground seems to disappear, floating into dream space, I struggle to pull myself back into the orbit of this body, this breath, this life.

It is a strange weightless space, this fertile void.

My husband lost his job back in July.

The abrupt and violent rocket launch with its blast, pressure, g forces, stomach dropped through the floor, catapulted into an emptiness, painful, shocking, bright at first and then a vast dark unknown.

The fertile void.

It is a double life in a way or a half life. Glass half full or half empty?

Part of me is living the daily routine, the usual stuff, here in Forest Hill, MD.

The other part is floating out there like a dream craft waiting for ground control to report where the landing pad is located.

For awhile it seemed like a job in Arizona was likely, so I spent hours of many days imagining myself in the desert, the sand and heat, the cactus garden out back, a swimming pool, days of long canyon hikes. Not to be.

Then it was Chicago, after that Milwaukee, maybe Tennessee.

Floating and dreaming each new life in my head.

Until.

No.

No.

No.

We do not know where our next place or next thing will be.

But it will be. And there is a life here now. My writing always occurs to me as proof that I do in fact exist. I have a location in myself. That is true.

Stephen is cooking dinner. We will go feed and walk our dogs now. Tonight is the homecoming game at school, so Avery is off to that. There is laundry waiting to be folded.

And just now the song by Modest Mouse pops into my head, my head always a world of its own.

“And we’ll all float on ok…”

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pinwheel

I held the pinwheel up and blew on it so it spun fast enough that the green and blue swirled together.

I turned it quickly toward him but the wind went out of it so fast. Energy moves and flows out to another form, a new expression of itself.

So I resorted to holding it in his line of vision and propelling it with my finger, choppy, but it still caught the light, and sparkled across his face.

He smiled.

On my ride there I wondered if I would be out of my depth. How could I possibly be prepared for this? I did not know what it would be like, look like, sound like, smell like.

I read to him from the SpongeBob book I bought yesterday at the bookstore.

The email said he loved SpongeBob.

My first visit to pediatric hospice.

Two words that we wish would never meet. Pediatric. Hospice.

He listened and looked at the pictures, a glimmer of happiness on his face.  Or at least I hoped that was what it was. He snuggled his SpongeBob stuffed toy with his sock covered hands.

I returned to the pinwheels. This one was stars and stripes. I spun it and it twirled, stalled, I propelled it again.

His respirator hummed, the breath of him, but he could not blow on the pinwheel, or read a book, or speak.

Seventeen years old. A ventilator. A feeding tube. A mother taking respite.

I showed up uncertain, with a SpongeBob book, pinwheels on his windowsill, autumn light catching the spin and shining, movement, stillness, my breath, a ventilator, seventeen, hospice.

How life spins and sparkles, on the air and energy, in a moment, changing form.

We are like pinwheels spinning; beautiful, catching the light, full of energy, radiant, grace in motion, and when it seems we have stopped, stilled, energy is not destroyed, it only changes form.

The truth of that is infinite.

 

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Bookends

I went for a walk today on a local trail.

I get out in nature to move, breathe, feel, think, find the center of myself.

On this particular trail I walk 2 miles out, where it turns into city street, and back to the parking lot. A four mile hilly forested trek.

At the 2 mile mark there is an apartment complex alongside the trail. As I got to that spot I found myself a sudden witness to a family conflict. A young woman with dark hair, ponytail, holding a small dog like a baby. An old woman, grey haired, stout, slightly hunched over. A willowy, tall, young man, stocking capped, with a dark tattoo sprawling across his neck, flannel shirt, cigarette dangling. A fight about money owed. The young man accused by the women, “never going to see the money again.” Young man desperate and agitated, pacing, pleading with a hint of anger.

“Mom. I said I will get the money to you. Mom. I am not a fucking liar.”

Mom.

That word dangling in my atmosphere as I walked out of range.

I am a mother of four.

I could feel the sons anguish, the pain.

I could hear the mother’s disappointment, and worry.

Conflict. Relationship. Blood.

I walked with this for the two miles back.

When I arrived at my car I still felt the echoes of that exchange. A sadness.

As I opened my car door to leave, an old pick up truck pulled up alongside me.  A middle aged man with a scruffy beard emerged from the truck, wearing muddy boots, worn shorts and t-shirt. He walked to the back of the truck and lowered the tailgate.

I felt my heartbeat increase in pace. My sorrow turning to nervousness. I was alone there with him.

He pulled a wire cage to the edge of the bed. I watched him lower the cage to the ground delicately, he opened the small door, and gently with whispers I could see on his lips but not hear, he coaxed the chipmunk out to freedom.

I got in my car and drove home.

 

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Dance

Dance is a home and shelter.

A language I have always spoken with myself.

I understand her.

She understands me.

Dance is the spiritual practice of my flesh and bone.

It breathes me awake.

It empties me out.

It fills me up.

The dance takes all of me as I am.

Dance accepts my joy, my sorrow, my delight, my rage, my ecstasy, my grief.

It does not ask me to reject or deny any part of who I am.

Dance is the complete me.

My dance sets me free.

 

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tidy

I like my surroundings tidy. I was not always that way. I still am not as tidy or fastidious as many people, but I get more averse to clutter as the years go by. Perhaps this is because of the accumulation of loss and my ongoing initiation into grief. And this is not a testimonial to the superiority of tidiness, just something that is occurring for me. My experience is only mine, nothing more, nothing less.

Learning to let go is being amplified and reflected in me and around me.

Letting go creates space for me to breathe and feel in.

I think about forgiveness and how I am learning that often it is not an act of hanging on, but letting go, releasing becomes a blessing.

What we cling to holds us captive, especially when it is no longer meant for us.

That is hard. That kind of giving of freedom to another. Letting them set sail. Watching them go toward and then beyond the horizon.

Letting things move on and past us when it is time is a sacrament. Listening to the echo of the love, and knowing that that love is not lost but arriving in a new place, a distant shore, is to honor it and hold it.

Maybe it is not really tidiness I crave, but to simplify it all down to what is essential, so I can focus and fully love what is here and beautiful in this moment, and all the moments that are meant to be, until the next bon voyage.

 

 

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alive

grasp of a hand

tilt of my head

toward the center

reach

twisting

constricted

expanding

heat of breath

humid

bead of sweat

cooling

down my cheek

moving in

to the marrow

the core

incised

opened

exposed

trembling

to stay

here

heart pounding

rush of blood

ocean inside

pulsing

alive

 

 

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company

It finally got warm today and the sun took on the brighter hue of light that is a signal of the definitive turn of the season.

I sense my own kind of turning.

I sat in a new favorite spot this morning by the river. A rock that rises just high enough above the water that a small surface is mossy but dry.

It reminds me of a rock I used to go sit on in college, a refuge for my troubles, a resting place for my broken heart.

Rivers with rocks that hold me suspended over water, a place apart from people and their world, what that demands, and how impossible that can be, and more to come home to myself, and discover all the love and beauty that hums and blossoms out there.

Rivers and rocks seem to want to be there for me. I am grateful for that. They are good solid company.

 

 

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