Sunday, January 28, 2007

Cinderella

Today, my family celebrated my birthday with me.

My dad sat at the head of the table, looking thin, tired, but happy.

The cake said "Happy Birthday Cinderella."
So sentimental, a name from childhood,
a name he called me when I was a little girl.

In a month of difficult days for all of us, this day was...beautiful.

And now I sit alone in the candlelight, in the quiet, and for this moment, I am completely at peace, surrounded by the warmth, the laughter, the enormous love they all left here for me, wrapped up like a birthday present, mine for always.

And I am so grateful.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

untitled

(i am waiting

ever watchful

for the moment
i will begin
to make sense
of what I've lost)

and will i remember love

and will i fall back into life

and will i wake up
and find within myself
color
and laughter
and joy
and purpose
and

(me)

and will i remember
all of the things
that ever mattered
in the first place

and will i see the stars
and will i dance
like a child
like a poem
like a song
underneath them
(once again)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Rainer Maria Rilke

Feeling inspired tonight after reading this passage from "Letters to a Young Poet":



"We have no reason to harbor any mistrust against our world, for it is not against us. If it has terrors, they are our terrors; if it has abysses, these abysses belong to us; if there are dangers, we must try to love them. And if only we arrange our life in accordance with the principle which tells us that we must always trust in the difficult, then what now appears to us as the most alien will become our most intimate and trusted experience. How could we forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."

Absolutely beautiful.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Love him as hard as you can

I've always had an image of my father in my head (read Santa). Strong, healthy, full of life. When I think of him, that's who I see in my mind's eye. He is eternally young, he is the man who carried me on his shoulders, he's the man who fulfilled my tomboyish dreams by letting me haul lumber through the woods with him, plow snow in the winter with him. He stands next to my mother, also eternally young, cheering me on at softball games and track meets, at high school and college graduations. He's the guy who has always done the heavy lifting for me, the guy who has fixed my broken cars and broken faucets and, on occasion, my broken heart.

Of course, reality is entirely different. This past week, I've watched my father go through major surgery (cancer) and I've come face to face with his mortality. This man is different from the one in my mind's eye: weaker, frailer, grayer...tired. And braver than I ever imagined. Watching him endure this, and watching my mother sit at his side, has been an extraordinary lesson about love. It's like having a beautiful snapshot of what is possible if you can find that one true thing.


I offer a brief glimpse:

It is just a few hours after surgery, and my sister, mother and I are all sitting around his hospital bed, watching him, waiting for his eyes to open so we can tell him he is still here with us. When he finally does wake up, he looks at my sister and me and winks (he has not done this since I was a little girl) and then his eyes connect with my mother's, and it is a moment I can never let go of. She says "you did good Freddie" and she begins to cry, exhausted from the waiting, relieved that he is here, frightened of what's next. He reaches for her hand and says "it will be alright" and I am amazed that even in this moment, his first thought is to comfort her, reassure her. The love between them is electric, their connection palpable, and for a time, they speak a language that only the two of them understand, simply by looking into each other's eyes. He falls asleep, his hand wrapped so tightly around hers that for 20 minutes she cannot move. It is the most beautiful, heartbreaking thing I have ever seen.

Later that night, when my mom and I return home from the hospital, she gets a phone call from an old friend who recently lost her own husband of 55 years to prostate cancer. They talk for a long while, and when she hangs up the phone, my mother says "the last thing she told me was to love him as hard as I can."

I tell her she has done that in a most remarkable way.

She cries a little, and says "Darl, I believe I have, and do, with all my heart."

My parents have given me so many gifts, and the most profound is this: they make me believe in the possiblity of love.

It is most precious.