Posts tagged “joy

As she lay sleeping

From one day…so many years ago….

“The sun’s light has faded and gone with its setting more than two hours ago.  The star of stars ended its daily cycle behind our valley’s western mountains as it has done every evening now for what must be the past several million years.  Now, left in the twilight created by the nearly concealed bathroom light around the corner from where I sit, my eyes perceive this bedroom-world in hues of light and dark.  Only gray, black, and lighter gray can be divined by my night-adjusted eyes.  In focusing upon the slowly closing eyes of my little loved-one, they disappear with my concentration, but if I look to either side, I can see them clearly, rather, as clearly as the suffused light will allow.  My baby’s purple dinosaur pajamas are only a darker gray than the blackened, navy sweat-shorts that I am wearing.  She is singing ‘I love you’ in her fifteen-month-old’s dialect as she fights the valiant efforts of the Sandman.  Holding her on my lap, I can smell the fragrance of her baby-shampooed hair, just as she, maybe, can smell the scent of ground weeds and back-yard vegetation that lingers on my hands as I caress her ever soft cheeks and jaw line.  The contest is finished, and that enchanter of sleep, Mr. Sandman, is victor yet again.  His wooings are too much for the protestations of my little one.  She has succumbed to the calling of sleep, where, hopefully, she will rest the night through – so that my bride and I can do the same.  Good night, Fair One.  Sleep well and know that you are loved.”

And from another….

“The Angel sleeps in the lighted room, peacefully unaware that the sun is as bright here as it was in the out-of-doors where she spent the afternoon playing.  Looking at her sleep, I am captured by the essence of a baby completely at rest.  The tiny curls at the back of her neck are slightly wet and somewhat darker than the rest of her not so long crowning glory.  Lying on her belly with the two middle fingers of her left hand motionless now, still from their suckling, she is oblivious to my presence and adoring eyes.  Her feet are bare, thanks to her own playfulness; you know she is proud that she removed the socks, smiling with her eyes almost closed to slits…she sleeps.  Tousled hair and tiny ears adorn her face and perfectly shaped head.  Her right arm is thrown forward and up where it rests on her favorite blanket; miniature lungs cause her little back to rise and fall with sustaining breath; sleep my Little One.  Rest safely for another day.  Sleep at your ease.  When she is gone, my chest will be empty where my heart now beats.  I never knew I could love like this.  I never cherished holding a tiny form as I do now when I hold her.  I was reborn too late.  My soul is miserable for not knowing how to love my own then, as I do her, now.  Those ticks of the clock have ceased even their echoing.  I hope they will forgive me.”

*****

This is a Favorite re-post from March, 2010.


Sometimes Golden

Does it ever exist in a pure form?  If we are not deaf, can we really experience it?  If we are deaf, do we really experience it at all?  I cannot answer for the deaf.  Their response may depend on the level or nature of their deafness.  It may be that, for it to truly exist, one must have never heard words to have them become thoughts.  For the hearing, however, I do not believe it exists.  We are only familiar with its silhouette, the mere image of its self.  This shadow is what we call “silence.”

When it appears that there is nothing present to stimulate our hearing, when we would normally say we are in the presence of silence, something creates a sound.  Even when it is just our thoughts, fears, imagination, or blood coursing through our lobes urging a tingling hum, true silence is not there. Its image, however, is a normal part of our lives.

Sometimes, it enters with a sly, tiptoe step; other times, it is so vivid, one would think it is the resounding tromp of a platoon of soldiers.  Casual circumstances, anticipated events and unexpected tragedies are all tinged with silence.

Walk with me…into the penumbra….

******************************************************************

Overhead, the loudspeaker commanded certain somebodies to go or come to such and such station on the third floor.  Swinging doors crashed open and closed, before and behind her.  The gurney banged into the delivery-room table, jarring her through the pain, making her wonder, again, if this was all worthwhile.

A multitude of thoughts sped through her mind while she was lying there, exposed with disregard, looking up at the ceiling, pushing, breathing, hurting, waiting.  But what about during that pause in her heart’s beating, in that long silence before the doctor spoke, what was she thinking then?  Did that interminable moment incubate the seed of anguish or jubilation?

Agitating the silence was the lazy humming of the overhead lights, the clanging of instruments into stainless-steel bowls, the beeping of the baby’s monitor and the rustling of paper gowns.  It seemed to go on forever.  The silence was too long.

The doctor was quiet, he didn’t say a thing; he just worked.  With swift, confident hands he untied the cord from their baby’s neck.  Still the silence, a moment more.  Did she dare breathe when her child had yet to take his first gasp of air?  Could she live if he didn’t?

Finally…the tiny cry!  “He’s fine – you’ve got a little boy!”  Happier words were never spoken!

He was just standing there, trying to be someone or something that she needed, telling her how beautiful their baby was, how beautiful she was, asking her, awkwardly, how she felt.  Snap-shot photographs of the last several months crashed through his mind as he watched with awe, this orchestration of birth.  Tears of relief and happiness streamed down his cheeks.  The silence was over!

******************************************************************

For the last two months of his life, he would have spells where something inside of him would cause him to cry out, almost scream with a nameless pain.  At first, they thought it was probably kidney-stones; then, they thought it might be his hips getting worse – they had known for years that they were bad.

Their veterinarian was businesslike in his description of a not-so-uncommon immune-disorder that affects older dogs.  This miracle-worker for animals went on to detail the possibilities of tumors, intestinal bleeders, etc., that could be causing the myriad problems.

After their dog was on mood-altering, immune-system-enhancing medications for about four or five weeks, they came home one day to find the evidence of internal bleeding in several locations throughout the house and yard.

One more trip to the vet.  One last trip to the vet.  The doctor explained how there was really nothing he could do to fix their dog.  There was nothing he could do to restore sound health to this old man of a canine they called their pet.  It was time for him to go on – to go wherever it is that old dogs go when they die.  After that last injection, that last yelp, that last beat of his heart, he just lay there.  He was gone.

Normal sounds of life still ring throughout their home.  The children and the other animals are still there; the planet hasn’t ceased its orbit; life still goes on, but…it is quieter than it used to be.  He doesn’t follow the man up the stairs or down the stairs, out into the yard or around the yard and back into the house again.  He’s not there waiting for a morsel to drop to the kitchen floor, not there to nudge a hand for some love.  No longer is he heard breathing, lying next to the bed at night.  They still step over his sleeping form when they get out of bed, but he’s not there. He is gone.  Except for the quaking in his master’s heart, he is silent.

******************************************************************

One could describe her life as very busy.  There was seldom time for her and her husband to be alone.  Hell, there was rarely a minute that she had to herself without interruption, without someone or something demanding her attention.  Managing a house-full of children and pets, attending the university with a full schedule and perfect grades while holding down a full time job required an enormous amount of time.  A full life.  One with many facets.  One with many colors.  A life with many concerns.

Not a torment, but a near constant preoccupation with the deeper, heart-wrenching aspects of other people’s lives filled her mind.  The lives of children.  Not only her own kids, but the rest of them too.  The ones whose lives were documented in the newspapers and chronicles of the day.  Children whose lives were put to paper in big binders with case numbers attached to them.  Innocent ones whose lives were casually thrown away by the give-a-damn adults who ran the world.  These were the ones who filled her mind.

Most disconcerting to her was the fact that she could not do much for these children at the time.  She still had to finish school.  Until it was over, she was bound to her current occupation.  Nowhere else could she make the kind of money she did and nowhere else could she have the time off from work to do the things she wanted to do.  Essentially, she was indentured to her meaningless, mindless, of-no-consequence job.  She would continue to be a flight-attendant until she had reaped every possible benefit from the company while pursuing her goal; until school was over.

From her occupation, one would be inclined to think that she liked dealing with people.  One would think she was a people-person.  One would also think she enjoyed the hundreds of faces and personalities she ‘mingled’ with every day at work.  One could not be more wrong.  She thought people were okay in the right setting, but not in those amounts and not in the confines of an airplane.

Where is refuge when one is inside a Boeing 737, traveling at 535 mph, at 35,000 feet?  Where does one hide from the constant analyzing, discriminating and stereotyping eyes of everyone aboard the plane?  Where does one go to flee the leering eyes of half-drunk, red-blooded males?  Where does she go to escape?  She locks herself in the bathroom.  In that closet-sized hideaway, she finds solace from the airborne hundreds.  She mutters oaths at the closed door and cries tears of anger and frustration in the company of her only friend, the woman in the mirror looking back at her.  Aboard the plane, locked in the bathroom, she finds it.  It has been there waiting for her.  It removes her from the meaningless chores and takes her home, if only for a few minutes, where she is important, where she is loved.  In spite of the engine noise and the storm of people on the other side of the door, it is there.  She has found her silence.

******************************************************************

They arrived on a Thursday afternoon in the last week of January.  Nobody answered their knock at the door, but they knew where the extra key was hidden, so they let themselves in and made like they were home. In a sense, they were.  This was where she had spent the last several years of her childhood and this was where they had started their courtship.  Now, this was their haven from the adult world.  They felt safe here.  It was always a pleasure to come home after being away.

He went to visit some friends for a while and she stayed there with the kids, recuperating from the trip.  After a bit, her sister came home from school and there was the usual heartwarming reunion that made the long drive worthwhile.  It was so good to be home!

An hour or so later, he came home and went out to the shop to put together some toys that her mom had bought for the kids.  Meanwhile, the older son was out in the acre, beyond the walled-in back yard, playing with his trucks.  The younger son was following her and her sister around the yard and house, visiting and wondering at all the things that fascinate two-year-olds like himself.  The phone rang and she and her sister went inside.  In what may have been minutes later, the older son called from outside the gate for his dad to come and let him into the yard.

Leaving the shop, where he was still working on the toys, he noticed the big-wheel floating upside down in the pool.  He let the older son into the yard and then went to see if he could reach the toy – floating out there, near the middle of the pool.  He noticed that the big-wheel was just sitting there, upside down, not moving and not causing even the slightest ripple in the water.  Just sitting there.  Suddenly, everything was quiet.  Out of the corner of his eye, he saw something floating near the opposite side of the pool.  Not something, but someone, a very small someone, face-down in the pool.

Rushing to the other side, he noticed again the stillness of the pool.  How long had his little one been there?  What period of time would it have taken for the water to calm after he had ridden the big-wheel into the pool?  How many minutes had his son been floating there in that god-damned silent pool?  Where was the noise that water is supposed to make when someone falls into it?  Why didn’t he hear the silence of the big-wheel?  Why in the hell wasn’t he watching his son?

No!  What would he do without his son?  It wouldn’t be the same.  Life would never be the same.  No!  He couldn’t die!  He fought the numbness in his mind and began to do what he’d studied so many times in the past.  Just last month he had taken a refresher course and he specifically remembered not to breathe too hard into his baby’s mouth.  Pounding on his back as if there was something stuck in his throat, he cursed and prayed for him to come back.  God, how long did this take?  Over and over again, breathe into his mouth, not too hard.  Push onto his tiny chest.  Now flip him over and pound on his back some more.  Come on!  Breathe!  Please, come on!  Yes!  Cry!  That’s it!  That’s it!  Breathe!  Come on – that’s it, cry, come on!  Damn the silence – Cry!

******************************************************************

The excitement of graduation night paled somehow in comparison to the spectacular event that would take place the next morning.  She and her family were going up north for a vacation and they had asked him to go with them.  Each of her sisters was bringing a special friend – and she invited him, her special friend.  The trip was a graduation present from her parents.  As a family, they had been to the lake several times in the past, so they knew he would enjoy it.

They left home early in the morning, hoping to reach the lake with enough daylight remaining so they could work on the boat when they got there.  In return for letting them borrow the houseboat, her mom’s boss had asked them to replace the carpet and fix some things that needed to be repaired.

The six-hour drive seemed to pass in less time than it actually took.  New scenery and friendly conversation caused the miles to slip away without notice.  Before he knew it, they arrived at the lake-town, located the boat and started to work.

With all of the work completed and only an hour of daylight remaining, they set off to find a suitable spot to spend the night.  When they pulled away from the marina he turned around and looked at the sky.  It had been brushed with magnificent hues of orange, yellow, rose and gold. This sunset would have made the sun-god proud.

The whole experience was an adventure to him.  In his seventeen years he had never been on a vacation with anyone other than his own family.  Now, he was there, at the lake, with his girlfriend and her family preparing to enjoy one of the most memorable events of his life – ten days on a houseboat with absolutely nothing to do but relax and enjoy life and its offerings.

Their days were filled with leisure.  They would cruise through the waterways of the lake’s filled canyons staring in awe at the massive boulders and rock lining their passage.  At different times of the day, they would pull over to the bank, tie up the boat and go hiking.  Climbing the rocks to the highest point they could reach and then just sitting there, admiring it all, wondering at the forces that combined to create such a marvel.  Other times, they would get out the inflatable rafts and go off by themselves, paddling along, enjoying the theater of nature before them.  Whatever they wanted to do, they did.  Sleep, eat, drink or swim.  Whenever they wanted to do these things, they just did them.  No schedules were allowed.

One of the best things about the whole trip was the time the two of them had together. Uninterrupted, they could talk for hours.  If there was nothing else to say, they would sit in the quiet splendor of their retreat and simply be together.  Saying nothing, just being together.  Near enough to touch, near enough to feel each other’s spirit within them.  A time of true communion.

At night they would lie next to each other on the roof of the houseboat and watch for stars shooting across the sky.  They felt as if they were in a cathedral, looking up past the darkness of the canyon walls to see the ceiling of stars overhead.  It was truly a magnificent sight.  The greatest artist ever commissioned to paint a chapel ceiling would have balked at the thought of trying to recreate the incredible brilliance of this heavenly portrait.

To say it was quiet on the lake would be an understatement.  Barring all other experiences from their memory, this place would be the origin of silence.  There were no clocks or schedules on the lake.  There was no screaming society telling them what to do and when to do it.  Silence ruled…and because it ruled, they were free.

******************************************************************

Once again, I do not believe true silence exists.  For a hearing person, I do not believe there is a condition possible where there is absolutely no sound.  We can only recognize the shadow of silence, its image.  Whether it is tarnished or golden, blatant or subtle, mediocre or spectacular, the silhouette is what we call “silence.”

*****

This is a Favorite re-post from September, 2009.


Together again….

Time finds us in different places and for various periods and then it brings us together again, sometimes, and the meeting is more than could be asked for; it fulfills the soul and rocks the body and leaves us exhausted and sated and wanting only to relish in the love and company of that other one, the one from whom we were separated for a time…and long to be with again and again.

May our separations be few and our love enduring….


A Christmas Letter to a Friend…or Two….

As I sit here in this enchanted place that filled my dreams in my yesterdays and look around at what has become the reality of my everyday, at the white covered mountains and winter-bare trees, I reflect upon the things that I wrote in this season of the past year and marvel at what has changed and what has remained the same.  I am thinking, too, of the friends that I spoke to in “Yes, I Spoke of You,” those noble and precious people who peopled my past and still live in my memories as I live in this new and present place.

When I read those writings from this time last year, I reflect on the workplace happenings of the holidays in “Postscript to a 9-1-1 Christmas.”  It’s crazy, now, how my Christmas and this season are so different than they were last year.  Instead of participating with my friends and co-workers in that Christmas morning banquet as we and they answered the call, I am sitting at home with part of my family, part only, as those friends are away from theirs for a bit, taking care of their citizen callers and officers for a shift of so many hours and then.  They are writing more workplace holiday memories into the stories of their lives as I sit on the outside and remember what used to be.

There won’t be any or many Christmas cards sent from our house to yours this year.  Life is still busy and crazy and boxes remain unpacked in their various places throughout the house as we’re trying to reassemble our uprooted lives and find places for those pictures and things that bring comfort to our hearts and souls when that need is real and upon us.  Not many cards sent, but friendly faces and friendships remembered in this faraway place, those intangible tokens of an enjoyed and lived life.

So I wish you all happiness and peace in this holiday season, and I thank you again, as I have thanked you before, for creating those new worlds within me that are our paths walked together, the stories we’ve shared and lived in our workaday lives, and the experiences that have bound us together as friends.  I thank you all.


Ramblings, undifferentiated stuff of whatever

I sit here and wonder, truly, at the cause, the origin of my anxiety at working this job.  I know that lives can be in the balance and I can be held accountable for whatever goes wrong, but why is it so unsettling?  People around me seem unaffected, content, and otherwise the opposite of me.  The sweat runs in streams, almost, down my side, darkening my shirts under the arms.  I am only talking to people…people just like me.  I had a brain lapse first thing this morning and I don’t think I have recovered.  It was an obvious call in which I just couldn’t grasp from my mind the type of call that it should be coded.  The supervisor said, “What do you think?”  It seemed like a real “Captain Obvious” moment that seems to have set me back somewhat.  Self-confidence is at a low.  The people seem particularly irritating today, as well; and bossy, and ignorant.  I am out of kilter and they are primed and ready.  There were moments I felt like I wanted to explode from the frustration.  The Quiet Room was beckoning.  I couldn’t smart off and that’s what I really wanted to do.  But now it is lunchtime, my sad book is finished – I’ll have to get the rest of his books, too, Robert Stone.  So the day is half over – or more, actually, and when I leave I get to drive to Avondale to get my baby.  Softness, gentleness; reason for going on, reason for living, for many things.  It’s not creative, but it’s expression.  The pen is to paper and the elements are flowing.  Flashes of images: the anniversary card I put by the coffee pot three days early, knowing I will put one out for the next three days as well, a flash of Josh, the garage, my chair by the piano, the plant running the length of the stairs, my mom, and more.  “Everything is proved upon the pulses.”  And?


And where it stirs is unknown but for the stirring.  And then.  I looked within to find the reason and the reason’s reasons.  Closed eyes and opening heart.  Searching for the portal that will release the flood.  Searching for the portal.  I finished a book, most sad, about the destruction wrought in a family by a sick parent and an obsessed parent.  One child who was born with something wrong and hovered over by the sick parent, and another child who was adored by the obsessed parent and loathed by the sick one.  Hated and loved simultaneously.  The loved and hated child ended up losing her own mind and finding the end in darkness.  Finding the soothing nonexistence of death.  It was sad to watch her coming undone.  It was sad to feel what her loved one, her mate, was going through while partaking in her life, when they talked about things that were better left unsaid, but had to be, unavoidable things.  The kinds of things that further rent and harmed the other party.  And then?  The quiet house came undone.  The foundation rocked and never stilled.  Well, it was only to be stilled in the loose and fragmented mind.  The torn heart that hadn’t learned to love.  Where would she find salvation, since her god was dead?  Where would she rest her soul if she had one?  By mine.  By mine in the eternal hereafter.  And then?  How the chords come, how they burst forth in song that means only what the heart knows and the tongue fails to express.  How it stirs, from deep inside.  I would that I could listen internally forever.  I wish.  Oh, I would that the song could flow unrepentantly, without hindrance, without impeded thought and constraint by others’ eyes.  Soothe where the damage is done.  Assuage the recklessness, still the torment; show the way to clear sight.  And then.  And then.  The chords release the chains.  They release the worries and concerns pent up within.  They release what the tongue and lips cannot.  They release.  Find the saving release in their escape.  And then.  With ease.  And counsel.  And tight throat.  The door opened, the heart closed.


In a fever, I slipped from scene to scene, desirous of the portable pen to capture the thoughts and bring to them a permanence that was otherwise not theirs.  It was a cyclone of images that whirled together and apart and had a semblance of meaning that could have been deciphered with someone’s unease.  Places I had been and faces I had encountered in many unreal ventures of living and existing outside of the normal self.  Whence came I to understand the unattainable?  Whose life had been caught in the web of searching and find?  That is all.


When I was a child, I spoke as a child and understood with the mind of a child.  What was a child?  What was the child in fetters to become upon release?  How would he know when the release came?  What herald could he trust?  They lied.  Thought censor prohibits reality from speaking with its multi-tongued lucidity and confusion.  The escape was unknown and lost to reasonable thought.  Never gave it another thought.  I guess I thought that this is just the life that I have and that’s it.  Of course I considered running away, but where was I to go?  Where could I go?  Naive in life and experience, fearful of the wrathful hand, I just endured.  Simple enough.  Behind the water conduit pipes that had been placed as playground equipment in the common yard, I lay contemplating a destination.  Further down the dirt road I went then, seeking any kind of escape, leading nowhere, but away.  The two tire-ruts that constituted the perimeter road lead further into the woods and then beyond the split to that one spot where we found the snake.  Torn open, its heart still beating, it had two firecrackers shoved into its internal organs, then BOOM!!!  A ringing and tingling of all my senses, fingers, and ears – scared me to death.  Unexplainable, I would certainly get my ass beat if discovered.  My ears still ring.  I have been discovered by none other than myself.  The snake symbolizes rebirth, everlasting life, and so she lives forever in my ringing ears.  Die not.  Salvation was scrawled out on a piece of notebook paper when I was sick.  The perfect crucifixion scene with the wind and everything.  I was ill and alone in that.  I have searched and cannot find.  Beyond the conduit and into the woods was a hole that had been dug into the rich earth.  A shard from a green ‘7- Up’ bottle left a scar on the little finger of my left hand.  Blood dripped into the dark soil, somewhat like a drop of mercury sliding across a tabletop.  Different though, it collected smaller bits of the dirt as it rolled further into the hole.  The pain shot up my arm and into the shoulder, registering finally at my brain before I knew what I had done.  Ok.  One of the neighbor kids would sneak out of the house with a baggie full of Oreo cookies and a cardboard can of frozen orange juice concentrate – Minute-Maid.  It was fun because it was stolen, but in truth, it wasn’t a good mix of flavors.  We hid in the conduit, out of sight.


Another day brought my father and me out into the yard to play catch.  One of the things that dads and their boys do.  It was not a sunny day and the grass, I believe, was nigh unto dead – it must have been winter or late fall, maybe early spring.  The ball kept coming to me faster and faster.  It stung my hand afresh with each catch.  I would toss the ball back to my father and he would burn it back to me.  With each rotation of his arm, I would wince inside at the thought of missing the ball.  I knew it would hurt like hell if it smacked me in the face – if it happened to glance off the outer edge of the pocket, missing its target.  Hey, batter, batter!  Hey, batta, batta!  Maybe the glove wasn’t the target.  My father. He told me later, when I was an adult, that he wanted to quit playing catch but didn’t want to spoil my ‘fun’ by simply calling it to an end, saying he was done…so he just kept throwing the ball harder so I’d want to quit myself…and I guess I thought the attention was good, it was positive somehow, I mean – he wasn’t yelling at me or beating me or ignoring me, so it must have been good…and I kept tossing it back to him…and he kept firing it back to me…it ended somehow…and he remembered it all those years later. I know why I remembered…but why did he?


Yes, they spoke of angels’ wings and other sacred things.  They, and I, sat on the edge of your mental periphery and scouted the ideas and concretized miscalculations that you had made in viewing us.  We happened to notice the wrinkle on the side of your one eye that was caused by long and hard pondering of things that you thought went around in the night of our minds.  You disclosed to nobody the inner dealings of those tangled nerve endings and beseeched your own unknown for the release.  Too bad.  You are captured in your self.  We are freed from your perpetual gaze, for we exist without you, and you do not.  You are your own imagining.  We live.  Free.  To free.


Fall from grace and find your own self.  Search those nether regions and un-lose your self.  We have and have not.  We have and are having to do that which is not.  We have seen the eroding sand castles on invisible shores.  We have observed the tide wearing away at the unimaginable.  We are.  We are beyond the imagined ourselves.  They have not unknown what in us lies.  Unimagined.


Looking through the mind and seeing out of the physical eye, I beheld that there were bars before me, like the frames of leaded window panes, structured, yet unmade.  Pointing the sight of my gaze, the lines began to sway in rhythm with themselves; undulations, and parallel.  Gone in the glimmer of the flicking eye; moving like a mouse along the baseboard.  She runs from the quiet become loud and hides beneath the empty wrappings of warm bodies.  And gone.  The spirit mouse vanished as though she never was.  Hiding in my mind.  You are pure crazy.  And then.  Bring on the cat to find the hiding.  Her little heart beats beside the shining of the stars, and the tiny eyes, while unmoving, see the world from an inch above the soil.  How do you acquaint the hunter, or scoop up the broom to unliven the furred runner?  Baby whiskers see, hear, and smell – me.  No.  Unfind the hiding.  Live, beat little heart – you are not of a roach.  My prejudice against ectoskeleton life- forms reminiscent of fouled kitchen appliances brought into pristine dwellings separates you from this lesser being.  Live and enjoy your diminutive yet worthwhile existence.  Live and enjoy!