Posted in #atozchallenge, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging from A-Z April 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, poetry, slices of life, Writing Sample

Q is for Questions and Quagmires: #atozchallenge Day 17 (belated)

Places in Time

There are so many things that can trap us

There are so many sucking places

Places we wanted to go too

Places we had to go

Go to the emergency room and to chemo

Go to the bathroom when he needed help

Help him to live with some kind of quallity

Help us to understand the journey we’re making

Making space for both living and dying

Making some of it up as we went along

Along the route time pulled us along

Along parallel but diverging paths

Paths that can’t coexist

Paths we’d once thought we’d share

Share as we once shared a bed

Share as we once shared a life

Life can sometimes hold quicksand

Life sucked away by cancerous quagmire

Quagmire of emotions and time racing by

Quagmire of problems and questions

Questions medicine could answer and

Questions for which there are no answers

Answers can’t bring us back together

Answers won’t tell us why

Why this man’s body devoured him

Why we three must go on alone

Alone without mate and father

Alone in a truncated marriage

Marriage ended with deadly certainty

Marriage that defined life for so long

Long for the hope we’d grow old together

Long conversations and years still ahead

Ahead now stretches a long time alone

Ahead was the direction we were looking

Loking into the mire for the reasons

Looking there can be more than futile

Futile time wasted pulling against the suck

Futile straining to create something new

New reality demands it be taken as it is

New loneliness the quagmire that wants to pull me in

In the darkest smallest hours the suction is strongest

In those lonely empty hours the questions haunt

Haunt with the sound of his not breathing

Haunt with the shape of him not in our bed

Bed shared for so long will never be just mine

Bed that belongs to the marriage and a place in time

Time must move forward and the quagmire must end

Time will be as it will and give no answers

Answers

End

I know – the Q post was due on Thursday, and it’s Saturday now.  It’s not something I intended; just a week that was crazily busy with my 13-year-old daughter’s blossoming social life, a Meet the Author event, and the adoption of Magnolia (whom we’re calling Noli Canoli Ravioli Stromboli, because we’re silly like that).

I’ve been scrambling all week, between traveling to social stuff and the shelter, both half an hour away, and taking down the bed Jim built for us (it was massive and he made it to last; it took Miah and I about 5 hours to dismantle it) and setting up the new wrought-iron sleigh bed (that took only about an hour and a half). Then there was the added rearranging to make sure my room could also be a “den” for Noli…

And, since last evening, life has been about her adjustment. She clearly had a family at some point in her life; her manners and ease in the house are too good for her always to have been a stray.  But she is still quite thin despite gaining a few pounds during her two weeks at the shelter, and she’s apparently in even greater need of snuggles (if you’ve never known a pit bull in person, you might be surprised to know that these “toughies” absolutely NEED to be close to people). I know she was getting lot of attention and affection from the shelter staff, but she needs lots more here.

Not that I especially mind…I’ve been a bit starved for snuggles myself, these last few months.

So, while this post was supposed to be about the questions and quagmires of terminal illness and death, but I think I kind of got lost instead in the quagmire of adjustments and aftermath….

Join us later today (I hope!) as we explore a settling reality.

On a quest for more Q posts?

Magnolia (Noli) on her first night in her new home, snuggling in.
Posted in #atozchallenge, April CampNaNoWriMo 2018, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, poetry, slices of life, Writing Sample

P is for Preparing Ourselves and Our Home: #atozchallenge, Day 16

Close Yet Ready

When strength fades away

When death grows close

Close spaces become hazards

Close off paths of travel

Travel through the new terrain

Travel through the final days

Days spent in reconsidering

Days spent in rearranging

Rearranging the furniture

Rearranging our priorities

Priorities must be reconsidered

Priorities shift as life ebbs

Ebbs into weeks then days

Ebbs until only hours remain

Remain together as long as we can

Remain connected still sharing our bed

Bed where so many conversations wandered

Bed where a son and daughter were created

Created a family that spilled ever outward

Created a life here with that bed as the center

Center ourselves in the love we’ve nurtured

Center ourselves for the death that’s approaching

Approaching fast although unwanted

Approaching to change everything we’ve known

Known each other’s breaths and heatbeats

Known deep love in all its many shadings

Shadings of sorrow edging each moment

Shadings of after as I rearranged the now

Now each change carries a message

Now I am always so painfully aware

Aware that these changes come with a message

Aware that we are crossing a threshold

Threshold between married and widowed

Threshold between what was and will be

Be with me always don’t die don’t leave me

Be healthy and strong and so filled with laughter

Laughter the music that always sustained us

Laughter lingers but now tinged with pain

Pain as his body is consumed by cancer

Pain as my soul faces a life lived alone

Alone in this room we’ve shared for so long

Alone in this bed he made with his own hands

Hands that shake now once caressed me

Hands grown feeble cradled our children

Children grown strong and healthy and happy

Children losing something I can never replace

Replace furniture and make spaces ready

Replace future vision with reality of now

Now

Ready

So, I’m back to being a day late with this post, but for reasons that relate directly to the topic of this poem.

On Tuesday, I participated in my second-ever Meet the Author event for my recently-published, Pushcart Prize nominated story, “Being Colette,” which was published by local small press 518 Publishing in the Dark and Bitter anthology. This is something I’d never done before Jim died, but he always said he wished I could earn money from my writing, and this is a start…

On my way to the event, I passed an animal shelter. I’ve been thinking that I need a dog to help fill the large empty place in my bed, and give me a companion to ease the pain of grieving as I expend energy in caring for someone who could use some TLC.

So, on my way home, I stopped and inquired about pit bulls or pittie mixes who might get along with cats and other dogs. Pit bulls get an undeserved bad rap – they are sweet dogs and so good with kids they used to be known as “the nanny dog.” Shelters are full of pitties looking for homes, but they’re harder to adopt than some other breeds. But our late dog, Corki, was a pittie mix, and he sold us all on the breed.

Within minutes, I was getting big sloppy kisses from a young pitty named Nadine, who had been found as a stray.

On a separate but now related note, I bought a new bed. I needed to stop sleeping in the bed Jim and I shared – the massive raw wood bed he built with his bare hands, and which he died in.

Part of recreating my life is letting go of the anchor of that bed. Eventually, we plan to make it a small raised bed greenhouse, so it can remain a part of our lives… but, for now, I have a wrought iron sleigh bed that is almost the opposite of the bed we once shared. It’s a concrete reminder that I am in a new phase of life.

So yesterday, Jeremiah and I dismantled my marriage bed, and assembled the new one I will share not with a husband, but with the dog I’ve renamed Magnolia – Noli for short. And today, while she’s being spayed in preparation for coming home, I’m catching up on what didn’t get done yesterday, and preparing my room for her occupancy and recovery.

And life goes on…..

Join us tomorrow (OK, later today), when we’ll explore Quagmires and Questions.

Peruse more potent P posts!

Magnolia (Noli) Burton, April 18, at the shelter. Photo credit: Lise Burton

 

 

 

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, Round Two, slices of life, The 12 Week Year, The 12 Week Year Three

Opening to the Now: #ROW80 Round 2 /#12WeekYear 3 Midweek 3

Hi there, ROWers and friends! 

It’s Wednesday – so that means it’s time to unveil my Week 3 Action Plan (Here’s my End of Week 2 progress). 

But first, a bit about my Tuesday:

  • I participated in my second Meet the Author event. The audience was engaged, and asked a lot of great questions.
  • On the way to the event, I noticed an animal shelter. I’ve been looking for a canine companion, and stopped on my way home…and met Nadine-who-will-be-Magnolia (Noli). We hit it off right away, and, once she’s spayed, she’ll be coming home with me. Tomorrow, we’re looking for a sister for her, because Lise wants a dog, too.

What’s new in your world this week?

Notes:

  • Wednesday: Weekly Action Plan
  • Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up.
  • Quarterly review after Weeks 3, 6, 9,
  • Final Review: after Week 12.

Goal Status:

  • Blue with Overstrike: Completed.
  • Green: In Progress.
  • Black: Still Waiting.
  • Black with Overstrike: 86’ed.
  • Red: Goal Change.

Relationships, Family, and Home:

Family Stuff:

I facilitate Miah’s driving at a pace that’s comfortable for him.  

  • A missed turn led to a driving adventure Sunday.
  • Discussed vehicle maintenance plans and road test.

I facilitate kids’ social travel and time with friends as desired.

  • Sleepover/friend visit for Lise.

I register for Unschoolers Rock the Campground 10  and reserve our rooms at the Northeast Unschooling Conference.

  • Registration is open for URTC.
  • Discussed room plans with my kids and Lise’s best friend, who will be our guest..

I facilitate their efforts to make our home a space where they can invite/entertain friends.

  • Encouraged/discussed room cleaning with both.
  • Began reading Hygge.

I spend 11:11 gathering materials for each child’s third quarter homeschool reports.

  • Both kids shared some of their independent activities.

I facilitate both kids’ learning as needed.

  • Art, drivers’ ed, French and English grammar, literature, home economics, music, and more.

Home Stuff:

I facilitate home and yardtending, asking for assistance as needed.

  • Bedrooomtending; dishes; general hometending.

I post three items (already selected) on a local yard sale site.

I rough draft a schedule for hometending as a baseline for action.

I touch base with Lise about next steps in baking/selecting a mop she wants to use.

Relationship Stuff:

I schedule lunch/coffee dates with two friends.

  • Will meet my friend Darcy on Thursday.

I send thank you notes to Jim’s sisters, and contact them via text to touch base.

  • Texted both.

Professional/Financial:

Writing/Revising Stuff:

I complete the first revision pass of “Storm at Song Glass Cabin” (short story), and return to publishers.

I collect materials, organize, get beta feedback, apply, finalize layout, and submit my Secret Project.

I use April CampNaNoWriMo to complete the rough draft of Still Nameless (Kifo Island #8).

  • 30,819 new words; 3,705 this week.

Blogging From A-Z April Challenge: The Alphabet of Grief – complete 26 posts.

I check in at Story A Day, catch up on recent podcasts, and begin collecting story sparks for this year’s stories. If there is a way to get advance notice of the prompts, I utilize it.

Learning Stuff:

I complete Pixels to Platform intro and Module 1.

  • Watched Video 1 for Module 1

I complete two 11;11 learning sessions for How to Write Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck.

I complete organization for How to Revise Your Novel, and one 11:11 learning session.

Networking Stuff:

I serve as an DIY-MFA Pixels to Platform Master Class Ambassador.

I answer blog comments and visit other blogs on my current informal schedule.

I complete current chapter of Stained Blood, return to author, and highlight next section for revision.

I touch base with author next in my queue, and another possible beta author regarding manuscript schedule.

I post current goals and Dark and Bitter reading video/transcript to Patreon, and update Facebook Writer page and blog sidebar.

Family Financial Stuff:

I go through current receipts.

I set budget for groceries, eating out, and monthly expenses, using receipts and bank statement as guides.

I contact insurance agent (re: business insurance).

I read at least one article or blogpost on a financial matter.

I talk with both kids about what prosperity means to them.

  • Discussed with Lise; opened topic with Miah.

Body, Mind, and Soul:

I return to tai chi on Thursday, and swim afterwards.

I shift opening of 5k training to next week, so Noli can be part of it.

I make chicken and rice soup; garlic parmesan chicken, bone broth, and a pasta bake.

I meditate and journal daily, and twice daily at least three times this week.

  • Meditation (Insight Timer at 3:33) and journaling each morning.

I read at least one spiritual growth article this week.

I allow myself sufficient time for rest, recreation, and reflection, without guilt.

  • Time with friends; Spider Solitaire; dog adoption; Fixer Upper.
  • Meditation, journaling, pondering ongoing.

I share my experiences with others as I am inspired.

  • Through blogging, and in person.

I create art that allows me to explore and express my emotional state.

  • Singing and writing.

I memorialize Jim’s place in my life, and make changes as I am moved to, without guilt.

  • Through writing, and in life (shopping; financial decisions).

ROW80 –

The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have A Life!

ROW Along, or Cheer Us On!

We’re On Facebook, Too!

This was Corki, our late pittie mix. Noli looks like a purebred; same sweet face and disposition, though….

 

Posted in #atozchallenge, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging from A-Z April 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, poetry, slices of life, Writing Samples

N is for No More of So Much: #atozchallenge Day 14

Love Amid Loss

An end to morning coffee and conversation

An end of snuggling close and making love

Love is more though than physical touch

Love can’t be ended at the bottom of the cup

Cup once overflowing now holds only dregs

Cup not half full or even half empty

Empty moments turn to empty days

Empty weeks empty months empty years

Years ahead yawning hollow as deepest caves

Years of marriage piled deeply all around us

Us has been in my vocabulary for so long

Us is a word that belongs now to my past

Past the point where we can fix this

Past days of easy love taken for granted

Granted twenty years ten months

Granted a small bundle of extra days

Days spent in revelry and days spent in spite

Days of joy many days of sorrow woven through

Through the everyday magic of being a team

Through the everyday challenges of being a family

Family we nurtured and sustained

Family we created for ourselves and of ourselves

Ourselves always our greatest strength

Ourselves too soon parted by his death

Death that brought the end of our team

Death that brought the end of our marriage

Marriage that seasoned and matured us

Marriage we were still negotiating

Negotiating with death is impossible

Negotiating this new life is essential

Essential for this shattered team

Essential for those of us who remain

Remain here though death claimed him

Remain behind in the land of the living

Living together his children and I

Living a new life we create as we go

Go forward with many backward glances

Go on living because we are still alive

Alive and not as bereft as we seem

Alive as his love’s lasting embrace

Embrace us now hold and keep us

Embrace us as we gather

Gather to share the love he gave

Gather our memories to sustain

Sustain us in these times of sorrow

Sustain us even through his loss

Loss of a cherished partner and friend

Loss of a life but not the gifts he bestowed

Bestowed

Friend

In the days between Jim’s diagnosis and his death, I seemed to keep bumping into things that were going to end with his death. We hadn’t been intimate as often even in the preceding months – as he’d grown sicker with what he assumed were digestive difficulties, he lost interest – and I realized at some point that we’d had the last intimate encounter we would have.

We had taken a trip to Maine in October.  We had always talked about visiting Acadia National Park, and, with the kids old enough to remain home alone, it was our first romantic getaway. Realizing it was also the only one we’d ever have was a deep regret we shared…

I wasn’t prepared for the loss of simple conversations…but, as his disease progressed and death neared, lucidity became sporadic, then infrequent, then almost absent……and then, in the final days, words faded away altogether, sealing us in two different realities, with a threshold neither of us could cross.

And so he died, and I live, and I’m still finding those things we’ll never have again.

Yet, at the same time, I’m also finding that he left us with so much that we can hold to, and use to carry us forward.

Join us again tomorrow, when we’ll be opening to new possibilities…..

Read more N posts here.

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2018, Challenges and Contests, Round Two, slices of life, The 12 Week Year, The 12 Week Year Three, Writers' Resources

Where Am I Now? #ROW80 Round 2 /#12WeekYear 3 End of Week 2

Hi there, ROWers and friends! 

It’s Sunday – time to wrap up my Week 2 Action Plan (Here’s my midweek progress).

What I accomplished this week:

  • A lot of hometending, provisioning, homeschool, and family stuff.
  • Accepted invitation to appear at my second meet the author event.
  • Laid groundwork and made a bit of headway on 2/3 classes.
  • Kept up with #atozchallenge posts, and CampNaNoWriMo word count.

What’s on deck?

  • More hometending, provisioning, homeschool, and family stuff.
  • Meet the author event on Tuesday.
  • Much more classwork; and begin researching a WP hosted website.
  • Keep up with both challenges.

How do these suit my greater purpose?

  • Every one of these goals is a step toward raising of my children well, and/or developing a writing career which offers my readers something of value while sustaining my family.

Have you asked yourself these questions, lately?

Notes:

  • Wednesday: Weekly Action Plan
  • Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up.
  • I review/adjust my Round 2/12 Week Year 3 after weeks 3, 6, 9, and a final one after Week 12.

Goal Status:

  • Blue with Overstrike: Completed.
  • Green: In Progress.
  • Black: Still Waiting.
  • Black with Overstrike: 86’ed.
  • Red: Goal Change.

Relationships, Family, and Home:

Family Stuff:

I facilitate Miah’s driving at a pace that’s comfortable for him.  

  • City driving:  emergency detour, emergency vehicle convoy, and unfamiliar locations.

I facilitate kids’ social travel and time with friends as desired, and check up on Unschoolers Rock the Campground.

  • Birthday party for Lise; sleepover/visit plans next week, weather permitting.
  • Checked URTC group page; nothing new.

I spend 11:11 gathering materials for each child’s third quarter homeschool reports.

  • Not officially, but learned about independent activities through conversation.

      I facilitate both kids’ learning as needed.

  • Art, drivers’ ed, French and English grammar, literature, home economics, music, and more.

Home Stuff:

I facilitate home and yardtending, asking for assistance as needed.

  • Made deal with Lise –laundry traded for fries.
  • Bedrooomtending; laundry; dishes.
  • Yardtending: raking/decluttering.

I post three items (already selected) on a local yard sale site.

I rough draft a schedule for hometending as a baseline for action.

I touch base with Lise about next steps in baking/selecting a mop she wants to use.

Relationship Stuff:

I schedule lunch/coffee dates with two friends.

  • Coffee date w/Eden Mabee.

I send thank you notes to Jim’s sisters, and contact them via text to touch base.

  • Texted both.

Professional/Financial:

Writing/Revising Stuff:

I complete the first revision pass of “Storm at Song Glass Cabin” (short story), and return to publishers.

I collect materials, organize, get beta feedback, apply, finalize layout, and submit my Secret Project.

  • I have secured 4 beta readers (3 more to ask).

I use April CampNaNoWriMo to complete the rough draft of Still Nameless (Kifo Island #8).

  • 25,273 new words; 9,264 this week.
  • More than halfway done.

Blogging From A-Z April Challenge: The Alphabet of Grief complete 26 posts.

I check in at Story A Day, catch up on recent podcasts, and begin collecting story sparks for this year’s stories. If there is a way to get advance notice of the prompts, I utilize it.

Learning Stuff:

I complete Pixels to Platform intro and Module 1.

  • Running behind due to an extremely busy week; intro viewed.

I complete organization for How to Write Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck, evaluate my current progress, and complete one 11:11 learning session this week.

  • Finished organization and reread lesson materials.

I complete organization for How to Revise Your Novel.

Networking Stuff:

I serve as an DIY-MFA Pixels to Platform Master Class Ambassador.

  • Made a couple of comments; haven’t been there as much at end of week

I answer blog comments and visit other blogs on my current informal schedule.

I complete current chapter of Stained Blood, return to author, and highlight next section for revision.

I touch base with author next in my queue, and another possible beta author regarding manuscript schedule.

I post current goals and Dark and Bitter reading video/transcript to Patreon, and update Facebook Writer page and blog sidebar.

Family Financial Stuff:

I go through current receipts.

  • I’ve decided to begin with this week’s receipts.
  • Sorted, and found a box in which to home them.
  • #babysteps!

I set budget for groceries, eating out, and monthly expenses, using receipts and bank statement as guides.

  • Began organizing current bills/receipts, and kept an eye on transactions electronically; paid electric bill.

I contact insurance agent (re: business insurance).

I read at least one article or blogpost on a financial matter.

I talk with both kids about what prosperity means to them.

  • Discussed with Lise; opened topic with Miah.

Body, Mind, and Soul:

I return to tai chi on Thursday, and swim afterwards.

I reset my 5K training; prepare to restart next week.

  • All set.

I make chicken and rice soup; steel cut oats; a pasta bake; and steam sweet potatoes in Instant Pot..

  • Purple and Japanese sweet potatoes steamed.
  • Ingredients purchased for pasta bakes and soup.

I meditate and journal daily, and twice daily at least three times this week.

  • Meditation (Insight Timer at 2:22) and journaling each morning.
  • Night journaling 2/3; Night meditation (Insight Timer at 1:11) 1/3.

I read at least one spiritual growth article this week.

I allow myself sufficient time for rest, recreation, and reflection, without guilt.

  • Time with friends; Cake Mania; TV; shopping; Fixer Upper.
  • I’m still not sleeping as much as I need, but am allowing myself more restful days to compensate.
  • Meditation, journaling, pondering ongoing.

I share my experiences with others as I am inspired.

  • Through blogging, and in person.

I create art that allows me to explore and express my emotional state.

  • Singing, home decorating. and writing.

I memorialize Jim’s place in my life, and make changes as I am moved to, without guilt.

  • Through writing, and in life (shopping; financial decisions).

ROW80 –

The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have A Life!

ROW Along, or Cheer Us On!

We’re On Facebook, Too!

My life very much feels like this, lately…

Posted in #atozchallenge, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging from A-Z April 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, poetry, slices of life, SoCS, Stream of Consciousness Saturday, Weekly Features, writing prompts, Writing Sample

Marriage Metamorphized with Metastasis: #SoCS and #atozchallenge Day 13

Anywhere in Sickness

Monsters in the closet and under the bed

Monsters can lurk almost anywhere

Anywhere we imagine them with our fears

Anywhere in the body where they can grow rampant

Rampant cells divide and multiply and divide again

Rampant growth consuming what was healthy and strong

Strong as his body and strong as our mature love

Love that slew every monster that came

Love that wrapped us in armor of everyday magic

Magic that put wonder into simple things

Magic we counted on in our darkest days

Days with little money and worries to spare

Days when rainbows and birdsong filled our lives

Lives shared with happiness and sometimes frustration

Lives made richer when we two became one

One home one bed one path tread by four feet

One purpose in the life we shared

Shared coffee and meals and arguments and joys

Shared a little more than two decades

Decades more we thought we’d have

Decades to grow even and ever more

More life and more business to attend to

More tears to shed and living to do

Do the things needed to raise our kids well

Do what we needed to embrace our own dreams

Dreams postponed while the kids were small

Dreams that were taking on more concrete shape

Shape of a future we never will live

Shape of a tumor-monster that killed

Killed my husband of twenty years

Killed my children’s loving silly dad

Dad and husband strong and solid

Dad snuffed out by that greedy cancer

Cancer ever hungry could never get enough

Cancer swelled and sucked away energy

Energy and strength all given to the monster

Energy gone and marriage metamorphized

Metamorphized as the cancer metastasized

Metastasized from pancreas to liver

Metastasized with deadly speed

Speed of the change from being his partner

Speed of the change to become caretaker

Caretaker a job that I never expected

Caretaker a function I served as my honor

Honor the vow I took twenty long years ago

Honor the vow of in health and in sickness

Sickness that made of him a man in grave need

Sickness tended my final wifely service

Service

Need

 

I actually wrote this poem early in the day, but then had plans that kept me away most of the rest of the day. Now, though I’m feeling so tired it’s hard to type, I’m here, because I’ve made it before midnight all week, and don’t want to blow the streak…

Marriage changes when a spouse is terminally ill. The growing infirmity shifts the partnership relationship to one of caretaker and tended. When the disease progresses as swiftly as Jim’s did, the changes can come at a truly dizzying pace.

It was exhausting, often frustrating, and consumed my time much like caring for a newborn in reverse. It became, in the last couple of weeks, almost impossible to know how my days would pass. Things we’d thought, in the beginning, we’d be able to see to together, became things I’m still dealing with three months after his death.

There were times I sobbed in sheer hopelessness at all the things that needed my attention, and the grinding fatigue as they piled up, no matter how much effort I expended…I was also angry with him, sometimes, for the things he might have done when he was well, but didn’t, even when I asked.

Maybe it was a form of grieving, and of dealing with the monster growing unchecked in my beloved’s vital organs.

But, through it all, I was honored to be able to do this for him, however imperfectly. I knew it was the last service I could do for him directly, and, after all, I didn’t promise to just be with him when things were good and he could do for himself…but in sickness, as well as health, to death did us part.

This post does double-duty for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday post, where the prompt is “mon” as a word or part of one. You can find more SoCS posts here.

And come on back Monday, when we experience No More of So Much….

Looking for more M posts?

The journey of a marriage, in one poignant song. I’ve loved it for years, but now it has new meaning…

Posted in #atozchallenge, April CampNaNoWriMo 2018, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Just for Fun!, Life Writing, My Poetry, poetry, slices of life, Writing Sample

L is for Laughing Our Way to Death – and Beyond: #atozchallenge, Day 12

Marriage Within Truth

We laughed a lot when we were brand-new

We laughed our way into a marriage

Marriage that began with a slew of in-jokes

Marriage that produced two laughing children

Children whose giggles were balm to our souls

Children whose chortles were our favorite music

Music that filled our little home with delight

Music that told us we were getting this right

Right and left up and down laughter everywhere

Right from the beginning laughter filled the air

Air carrying mirth everywhere we went

Air lighter and brighter for our merriment

Merriment we shared with every passerby

Merriment offered freely and given with glee

Glee that swelled and filled our lives

Glee that sustained us when sorrow came

Came to take from us our precious second son

Came to show us the even then we could laugh

Laugh at gallows humor when that’s all we had

Laugh even through the tears we shed

Shed the mourning shrouds to tend to the living

Shed the numbness of grief with the best medicine

Medicine that offered healing no anti-depressant could

Medicine that nurtured bright living for our surviving son

Son who gave us so much reason for joy

Son whose happiness became precious treasure

Treasure each breath and tiny toddler joke

Treasure the dimples the giggles the squeals and smiles

Smiles we found again when our daughter was conceived

Smiles we clutched when told she might not live to be born

Born into this family fractured and remade

Born heathy and strong and ready to embrace hilarity

Hilarity she brought from her earliest days

Hilarity that made us a new kind of whole

Whole arsenal of humor our family shares

Whole of our secret weapon against life’s cruel snares

Snares like cancer we never saw coming

Snares that snatched away that big laughing man

Man whose barrel chest produced such wondrous guffaws

Man who once kissed a fish to make his girl giggle

Giggle our way through more than twenty years

Giggle like crazed children until we were in tears

Tears flow now for all that’s been lost

Tears that season our laughter with new sorrows

Sorrows eased by the humor we find

Sorrows unshadowed by little jokes left behind

Behind this great loss is even greater truth

Behind this darkness is a long laughing light

Light

Truth

Jim and I laughed. Before we were lovers, we were friends, and we laughed. Once we were dating, the hilarity escalated.

One night, I called from work because he was going to give me a ride home. We lived at the edge of the Grand Canyon then, and I worked with a woman he’d casually dated before we met, and who was sensitive about his moving on. When he picked up the phone, and gruffly said, “Yes?” (Jim hated the phone!), I responded, “It’s me.”

“Me who?”

“Me me.”

A pause. Then, “Mimi? I told you never to call me here.”

Part of the reason I married Jim were his jokes (mostly off color), and his ridiculously improbable stories.It was during the one about the pomegranate that rolled up the hill that I knew I wanted to be with this man forever. Here was a man who could be silly with me, and would. But, when life was serious, he’d take me that way, too.

It got serious in 2003, when our second child suffered a brain injury at birth. It was Jim who made me laugh the first time, as he was getting ready to bring me home from the hospital where three-day-old Elijah was lying in a coma in the NICU. His joke was wildly inappropriate – but it fit a situation for which we had no rules, and I clung to it until life offered something better to laugh about.

Even when he was diagnosed, he still found things for us to laugh about. “Most of my life, I’ve worried about my weight,” he said. “But now I’ve got a magic wand. The weight just comes off!”  He joked about his terminal cancer as a “free pass” to eat and do what he wanted, because there weren’t going to be any repercussions worse than death.

His last joke came about a week before he died. I’d helped him with a shower I knew would be the last one, even though I don’t think he realized that he’d be bedbound from that point forward. He was lucid less and less by then.

I was helping him dress – something else he could no longer do on his own, and he caught our reflection in the mirrored closet door.

“Look,” he said, conspiratorially. “My wife’s here.”

I miss him – but we’re determined to carry on the laughter in his honor.

Come on back tomorrow, when

Marriage Metamorphizes with Metastasis.

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A mutual favorite song for both Jim and I: