Friday, July 29, 2011

church on the radio.

every sunday at 11 am i listen to church on the radio. it's broadcast from a chapel at boston university on the banks of the charles.

i am not a religious person. not by nature and not in practice. but i have spirituality and beliefs that run deep and get deeper as i get older.

i love church on the radio.

and when people find out that i listen to church on the radio or that i love the virgin mary or that i regularly pray, sometimes to god, they give me the same look they give me when i try to convince them that i am not a vegetarian and that i am not a 'hugger.'

it is simply not fashionable among some segments of the population to believe in god. or his son. and, some people simply don't believe. and that's just fine with me. always.

but. i do. i also believe in gaia and witches and fairies and the absolute divinity of a much needed cheeseburger and the salvation that comes with a well timed dirty martini. three olives, please. and if you think i'm being cheeky adding in the last two you don't know me very well.

i believe in so many things, my spirituality is shaped by so much it's impossible to pinpoint any one influence. and yet it's funny how there are those who zero in on my 'god thing' as it has been called.

and i fully understand people who don't believe as i do, that there is a god. god. or any god. though the way i see it is that beyond the god we all know from experience or popular culture is that there are many. gods. and they aren't all male. and they aren't all gods. thank god. really.

the thing about belief and spirituality separate from religion is you get to choose. and no one gets to tell you what you choose to believe is wrong. NO ONE.

believing in the ability of something/one to call upon, in the existence of transcendence in its many forms, in the divine here on earth, is crucial for those of us who are mere silly mortals. and the beauty of the world and our individual relationships to it is that there is so.much.there.

and yet even in my belief of god there are also those who discount it as blasphemous. not real. because i don't believe in the way they believe. which is the most ridiculous notion. NO ONE gets to tell me what i believe is wrong.

there are a million ways to kneel and kiss the ground. whether you are on your knees or are arms open to the sun or flipping on the radio. painting a picture or creating a meal or nursing a baby. spirituality and belief take so many forms it's impossible for me to even fathom judging another for how they find theirs.

the other night i was in an angst that can only come from it being the day AFTER the day you turn 40 and the fact that a parent is dying and your children are growing older and the world is such a mess how do any of us even get out of the bed in the morning. so, i went on to you tube. and i listened to all the songs i loved from when i was young. a time when all practical experience to the contrary my faith in the world should not have been as strong as it was. and i basked in the reality that it just is. that life has its own rhythms and mine was to just go with it.

music was my prayer to find the handhold. to keep me steady. to hold me. to ground me.

and who is to judge whether that is 'just as good' as kneeling or confession or knowing the bible or you don't know or praying to a 'real' god. NO ONE.

i have these two friends. and both of these friends have a child(ren) who require more of their parenting skills than other children do. more of their 24/7 parenting hands on than other children do. all of it. all of them. all of their presence in nearly every single waking moment. all of their patience, their expansion, their faith. they are pushed daily, sometimes hourly i'd imagine, to find the balance. lather, rinse, repeat.

and both of these women have THE most incredible smiles i have ever seen on anyone in real life. the kind that not only meet their eyes but they bore into your soul and they settle there. and they burst open. and you smile, too. it's amazing, really.

being in their presence brings me a peace and a measure of comfort, a reminder that life is and ours is to just go with it. like they have to. like they do. and they do and they are smiling. to have faith that life is not what we have been given, but what we choose to make it. no matter what. and they show that to me with their actions and with their smiles. it is divine. it is peering into to the light.

and who is to judge whether that is 'just as good' as kneeling or confession or knowing the bible or you don't know or praying to a 'real' god. NO ONE.

lately the world seems to be so incredibly tragic and sad. it threatens my sensitivity on the regular. there isn't a day that i don't consider giving up the paper and scrolling past the news on the internet. but i don't. won't. considering is as far as i get. because burying my head won't make it go away.

it's then i am reminded of a quote by abraham lincoln "I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day."

and that's when i remember that i am not alone. not alone in my overwhelming grief and incomprehension. that my belief and spirituality give me somewhere to go and lay it all down.

and i think that's quite amazing. really. i think being able to lift my head or get on my knees or sit in front of the buddha in the back yard under the big pine tree or talk to my friend who has been dead for too many years or turn on the radio or you tube or re-read siddhartha or the dharma bums or create a meal that takes hours and is wolfed down in 7 minutes or do yoga or get wildly drunk or watch pretty in pink for the millionth time and to lay it all down is such a gift i cannot imagine not having that.

today i am sick. my throat is sore. i need soup. i need a shower. i need to clean my house. i want someone to hold me and i want to be left fully alone. my father is dying and has just been put on a constant and double dosed morphine drip. they said it could be hours. days. maybe a week. two weeks. more? one cannot know with these things. it's in another's hands now. he's 3200 miles away. i need to brush my teeth. i'm afraid of the new bathing suit in the box on my desk. i'm afraid. i'm at peace. i'm hurting. my sisters are in pain. my family.

i have been on my knees and lifted my arms and i have taken the deep breaths and i have said, are you there? because pretty soon my heart is going to break. and i just need you to hold me in the light while that happens. so that i can be okay. eventually.

i've called on who i need and now i'm listening to stevie nicks. one more tool in my spiritual arsenal. breathing easier.

and i tell you what, if i didn't have that, all of it, i cannot imagine how this would and is all going to play out.

hold on to what you believe in and don't let anyone fuck with that. NO ONE gets to tell you what you believe is wrong. hold on to it because at some point, if it hasn't already, it will be your greatest gift right when you need it the most.

be blessed, x.

Friday, July 08, 2011

it was enough.

good lord are you sick of me yet? when does another's grief become just too too much, right? remember when i used write about boybarian hijinks and accidentally wearing a maternity dress? the time i tried to buy 'long and lean' jeans at the gap? super good times.

not today. today i woke up with swollen eyes and a broken heart. after falling asleep in a puddle of tears.

i think the worst part of someone being sick and in the process of dying is that it's such a...process. there are so many layers. and you have to navigate each one. have to. if you don't you'll just have to go back.

and when i woke up this morning i saw what i had written in the night:

'for my father,

It was enough.'

and i cried again.

because it's true.

because i wouldn't change a thing.

because i am certain this broken heart is complete underneath.

it was enough.


Monday, July 04, 2011

leaving. jet planes. and all that.

so i left again yesterday. i say again because every day i left my father for the evening it felt like leaving for a lifetime. because i was trying not to count down the days until i left for good, but i did it anyway. counted the days. and left. it seems like all i'm doing is leaving lately. this time, for good. is it? god. i hope not. but i can't think of it any other way.

i miss my father. i miss seattle. i can't not think of it as my home. i lived there longer than anywhere. and with no actual hometown left seattle became it. plus, and oh yeah, that's where my family is. and when your family is getting smaller it feels so far away to be so far away. it hurts like hell.

but i had to leave. and so i did. and because even in grief i can't go anywhere without tripping the wire that signals 'things are about to get weird' i set off security at the airport. they scanned my stuff and something was suspicious. so they put me in the slow cooker x-ray thingamajig. and that's when it got good.

'ma'am can you step over here.'

so i step to the side and a very beautiful woman in a very official uniform is talking into her shoulder radio (to the person who is looking at my x-ray somewhere else) and then informed me

'there were some areas of suspicions on your person. the uh, chest and upper inner thigh region to be exact.'

and the WTF bubble pops up above my head. so basically she's telling me my girlie parts are suspicious and tripped off some alarm. nice. not to reference pornos twice in one week of blogging lest i gain some kind of reputation, but really? i call 'em like i see 'em. and this is a seriously good set up.

'i suspect it's the bling on your shirt-'

okay. i have to stop the story and interject here. to clarify, i did not have 'bling' on my shirt. i do not own anything with 'bling' on it. BUT i did happen to be wearing this t-shirt i picked up on a whim to go with a skirt i refuse to wear because i can't find the right sandals. and this shirt happens to have a few sparkly seed beads at the v neck part. i'm not saying it's the most fashionable shirt, but it's cute and happens to have a FEW sparkly beads. which are NOT bling.

i'm not sure yet how my crotch tripped the alarm. but we're getting to that.

'i suspect it's the bling on your shirt. still, i need to wand you and then pat you down. where the bling is. in the area of your cleavage.'

and of course i want to make a joke. like 'well you're not my type but it's been a long time since i've seen my husband and you know what grief can do to a girl and i do like a drink first but what the hell carpe diem right?'

but of course i don't. because those fuckers on 9/11 made sure the airport can't be funny anymore. even though it's just good material going to waste most of the time. such.a.bummer.

so she gets down to business then she asks me to empty my left pocket because that's where it was suspicious on the screen.

so i pull out a wad of tissue and wouldn't you know it, FIVE lucky pennies. the ones i found on the floor of my father's room. i carried them with me once we took him into the hospital.

'lucky pennies.'

'those should have been put in the bins, ma'am. how deep does your pocket go?'

'i guess it's pretty deep.'

'well, it must have shifted toward the middle of your body. i will still have to pat down your inner upper thigh. please spread your legs and hold out your arms.'

so i do this and i can only wonder if life is really this amusing for others or if it's just me. my pocket full of lucky pennies shifted toward my girlie parts and now i'm being treated like a criminal. oh, and this is not a private exchange. i'm right there where everyone is bustling about to get shoes on and laptops back into cases and i'm just in their way.

'okay. you're good.'

and i want to say, well now how do YOU know? you only got to first base. but instead i say thank you and have and nice day and go to get my stuff.

and once i'm on my way in the airport this thing happens that's been happening since i was first in seattle. i keep seeing my father. not my father, of course, but i keep seeing men who 'could' be my father. you know, if he were well. if life had been different. if his life had taken a different turn. healthy, robust, on his way somewhere. for business or pleasure or life different from the one he has now. if he was really the travel writer he tells the nurses he is. if he had married the girl from high school he's loved since he first saw her. if he wasn't dying. if if if.

the lack of dignity in air travel depresses me. i fall promptly asleep when the plane takes off. and when i wake i trip the weird wire again. the 10 year old boy next to me is getting the news from his mother next to him that when he's 18 he will inherit one hundred thousand dollars. she's on her third bloody mary (and has to be told the bar is now closed) and seems irritated at telling him. she says she and his father wanted them to change it to 21 or 25. and that it's his to do what he wants when he's 18 but that she's his mother and he should do what she thinks is best. save it for a master's degree, or a doctorate. to put down on a nice house.

and the cynical bitchy part of me is like way to go lady. he's 10. go ahead, put this on him now. set his path.

but she's just being a mom. she wants for him all the good things. and if this means one narrow path that she decides is 'all the good things' then so be it. she's parenting the best way she knows how.

and i think about my father. and how he never encouraged me to go to college or to get my homework done or to 'pad' my high school resume with activities that 'look good.' i'm sure we never even discussed my high school resume. or why i missed 60 days of school a year to stay home and watch love boat re-runs. or why i failed nearly every math class i took. why they still moved me up, to the next grade. never once did he ask me what i wanted to be when i grew up or encouraged me to go for it.

now, this does not mean he didn't love me. or didn't parent me. like the drunk mother beside me he just did the best he could. and giving me wings was probably out of his grasp when all he was doing was just trying to hang on.

i think about this and i wonder at what i could have done had the woman beside me been my parent. did i miss out on anything? did i want to be a doctor or a lawyer? did i want my master's degree? in what? i am a nearly 40 year old stay at home mother of two with a half finished college education and i look like shit on paper. what did i miss?

and i realize i didn't miss a damn thing. that by my father not giving me wings i found my own. and i did what i found i wanted to do. i delivered babies on the border and got married and got divorced and had babies of my own and got married and everything i did i did because i wanted to.

well shit. not everything. who 'wants' to get divorced? and who wants the broken hearts and dreams that come with living a life, that come with not yet learning how NOT to be an asshole? but you get the picture. so for lack of a better word, 'want.' i did what i wanted to do because i wanted to do it. not because someone else wanted me to do it.

and while my resume would suggest otherwise, i am happy and accomplished. my heart and my life are full to bursting.

and i will tell you what, don't we all want that for our children? for them to follow their hearts and do what makes them happy? i'm not saying my father didn't have dreams for me, i'm just saying that the dreams i had for myself were able to fill the space left by his inability to do what the woman beside me is doing for her son.

and that is parenting the best way you know how. even if the kid has to pick up the slack. even then.

and just like that i become the weepy creepy woman on the plane. and i don't want to scare the boy next to me so i cry quietly. i wish i were home. and in awhile i am. well, in awhile i am in boston. 'home' for now. and i am happy to see my own boys and the husband. but i want to scoop them up and drag them home. not to poet's corner, our new home. but our 'home' home. back home. seattle. to be with my father. until it's not possible anymore. to be with our family. to build the fence around our hearts you can only build with family and friends and familiarity. i want to go home.

and i think to myself, girl, you better hold on. you are days away from being 40 and you knew life would be different, but you weren't prepared for this. this is the kinda thing that makes someone think whiskey in their morning coffee is a good idea. or 'i KNOW! let's have a BABY!' shit like that. this is gonna hurt like hell. so hold on and try to avoid the rabbit holes that seem to be popping up on the regular.

lather rinse repeat.