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Who is the person who still loves?
Journal | Week of August 8, 2022
For those new to my e-community, and at the request of some readers, I’m piloting a weekly offering of snippets from my daily writing (tidied up a bit ;-)
August 8, 2022 | Monday
Every day, this arc. Waking into the first light seeping up, out of tree roots and ferns. There is only possibility. I whisper to the cats, stretching as I stretch, “are you hungry?” Yes, of course.
Filling bird feeders, a pause to breathe, slow and deep and on purpose. Good Morning.
Tea, scribbling, talking to the coffee pot as it sputters and drips, that black burst of caffeine for my husband lost in sleep. Then all the little boxes on the calendar. No walk today. Work on a presentation, emails like more hungry cats waiting, palliative nurse here in the am, then to the dentist in the pm, figuring out dinner, tucking the dishes into hot water. Later, I’ll try not to image that calendar page that is today, ripped away, gone, the calendar that is my life getting leaner.
Beyond the fog clouds, a gibbous moon takes over from the sun, making a million dim shadows around the house, in the woods, on my hands held open and outward to the night. Each palm is a pool of energy, releasing and accepting.
Hear all the tiny feet and wings settling into their secret places? Good Night.
August 9, 2022 | Tuesday
Missing animals and a partner, all gone to ash, a client once said to me, “How do I know if I matter anymore?”
Death takes away more than a beloved other’s body, their physical presence. How do you love what cannot be touched? Who are they without their familiar fleshed or furred or feathered features? Death can’t take away the connection, but no one tells you that, or what the connection is.
These thoughts fly through my mind fast as Mourning doves startled into flight, whistling.
Loss brings a hard question: Who is the person who still loves?
Whoever you are, or thought you were, shifts. So much I could tell this wounded heart. But, I don’t.
Whatever question you have, you also have the answer.
So, I turn the question back: “How would you answer that question if I asked it?” A long pause.
Then the reply, “Well, you’re here, listening to me, and that matters.” I say nothing, letting the answer nestle between us. The empty space between voices, words, is called being present.
August 10, 2022 | Wednesday
Three years old, their fourth summer, the cats are full of cat-ness now. Only an hour or two outside with me, they are pure attention.
“Listen,” they say with their bodies, crouching, tails whipping, “there are beings living beneath our bellies.” They are patient waiters. What is it like to hear a shrew in its dirt cellar, or smell a mole before it’s made its tunnel through roots to sun?
The world is a pocket, each moment pulling out a surprise.
Moments later, cornered, an alligator lizard lets go of his tail to distract the cats. The remnant wiggles and writhes, wild and startling, while the body slithers into mulch, still as a smiling stick.
Last April, tabby-boy walked around the yard, such pride, a garter snake gingerly in his teeth, the slender, ropy body trailing through leaves and petals until the striped fellow slipped loose, darting away.
Two days in a row delicate crossbills slammed into our window, yesterday a young female with her yellow hips, today the red male. Damn. I hate when our house gets in the way of their flight, and the windows fool their birdy eyes into thinking there’s a shortcut back into the trees.
Each time, I let the cats sniff and explore the still warm bodies slowly cooling in my palm. They watched as I layered the the wings, the crooked crossed bills, the stillness, under rusty redwood needles and fern fronds. When I whispered, Namaste, I think we all understood.
August 11, 2022 | Thursday
Some days are like this. A white expanse of paper in the notebook. A mechanical pencil in the fingers, lead poised for purpose. The mind somewhere else, or everywhere at the same time.
I write mandolin, then horses. Why?
Ah, I know. Last night, a quick glance on Facebook, a picture of friends we haven’t seen since the beginning of the year. They are music makers. They have horses, also two dog who dominate their photos. My husband was ill at the holidays, so they brought us music, which is way better than a potted plant or chicken soup.
I see her, singing, her small mouth setting loose a song, each word a tone bending and rising. I see him, his eyes closed, plucking strings. I’ve always wondered if it helps him hear the music within before it comes out.
I love how the mind lets me see them, hear them, look over at my husband in the winter light of that long-past afternoon, smiling and nodding to the rhythm. Now I write, thank you.
August 12, 2022 | Friday
Working on a lesson for a program this autumn, I’m thinking about symbols and serendipity. How do you hold on to those you love but have lost? That’s the question I want to help others answer in their own way.
Death, disease, dementia, divorce, deteriorated relationships—so many ways of losing.
In the midst of such serious thoughts, surprise, I’m humming a song. What is that melody? The mind at play with an old playlist. It’s Simon & Garfunkel. It’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” Part of my mind says, No, that’s not what I mean, and part is rummaging around in my mental file cabinet for the words to the song.
I sing to my torti-girl sitting on the desk, stalking the curser moving across my monitor. Slip out the back, Jack; make a new plan, Stan, until I can’t find a verse. Then, I make my own song, “50 Ways to Love Your Leaver.”
Silly word play? Maybe, though mind, body, and spirit all know that joy is a little song inside any grief.
August 13, 2022 | Saturday
She was circling and chittering, wild and urgent, as if confused. Raccoon in the pre-dawn darkness. Turning on the flashlight, I look for others. The only time I’ve heard such vocal worry is when there are babies nearby. Nothing in the leafy salal or clinging to a redwood limb.
Overcast, but two days past full moon, enough glow to watch her waddling and pacing, talking, apparently to herself. Smiling I think, Hurray, I’m not the only one. Then, not smiling, Rabid?
August 14, 2022 | Sunday
Stepping into another dim but glowing early morning, I whisper to the day, “Good morning.” Eyes closed, I listen.
Late summer, so the rowdy birdsong of June and early July has given way to quiet—but not silence, which doesn’t exist. The calm is spacious and tinged with emptiness—the last part belongs to one resident of my mind, the one that focuses on what’s missing.
Unwellness in the household, I inhale the morning, the cool air a form of kindness. Still listening, I notice instead the scent of a distant fire. I savor a long, slow exhale, releasing concern for what I cannot control.
Practicing my version of a lovingkindness meditation, I’m looking for that inner light as I think, may you know well-being.
Unexpectedly, there’s a response. That chittering again, but more than one voice.
Flashlight in hand, I tap a button creating a circle of light, scanning all around me. There, where birds will feed when the sun arrives, sliver dimes of eye shine. Baby raccoons!
Stepping back into the house, with tea and cats in the garden room, we watch through walls of glass.
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