Haiku Horizons, Dawn

 

Mourning, an Angel

Coldness, sadness, slap my face

Dawn’s funeral, still.

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Stretching to the sun

pink, yellow. puff balls of dawn

invite me out, play.

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Dawning of the day

Yesterday’s nightmares have passed

Rejoice, start anew.

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Haiku Horizons, Scrap

NATIONAL METALS JUNKYARD - NARA - 544831

NATIONAL METALS JUNKYARD – NARA – 544831 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I face the corner

tossed away, back handed slap

I do not fit in.

*  *  *  *  *  *

You, lie, back- stabber

try to steal my character,

Dishonest people.

*  * * * * * * * * * * *

The scraps of my soul

Now discarded in gray ash

Shows me who YOU are.

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

Breathe, stay in Goodness

Don’t be influenced by them

Let your own heart rule.

Enhanced by Zemantaphoto credit: Wikipedia, National Medals Junkyard, NARA-544831

Ordinary Days Are Magical

chocolate covered cherry

Image by circulating via Flickr

I woke up this morning, not to the shrill blaring of my radio alarm clock, or to a shaken shoulder but when my eyes opened and turned to the window.  It’s been a long few days and today I have nothing planned. I did a mental body check of all my ailments: Fibromyalgia aches and pains were present, my right leg still hurt  but was manageable. My knee still throbbed from my recent fall on the icy pavement but my mood was good. I had ten hours of sleep and while the sun was not shining it could have been. There was no snow in the forecast, reason enough to celebrate.

I started driving to the supermarket, because food, comfort and love equals nurturing for me.  I didn’t really need much except an idea of what to cook for tonight’s dinner and a destination. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the grocery store and new items celebrated my return. Marshmallow yellow chick peeps out the day after Valentine’s Day? Okay. A discounted box of chocolate covered cherries? I love those and I am not proud. Sugar cookies to make for my children and various treats for my dog, Callie’s, upcoming birthday in March. (shh! it’s a surprise party.)

I felt a little guilty because the simple, routine, “mom” things that I was able to do today, I did with less grief. As many of you know, my friend Dawn died on Friday night  and after the wake and the funeral and some time, today I woke up void of a dark, painful shadow. Then I remembered Dawn’s family, her father and mother, her husband, her siblings and her three children not able to escape the haunting grief. I felt guilty for being relieved and it pains me to write this.  I have been in their place before when my father died so I know, I truly KNOW what they are going through and how much it hurts and for how long.  I grieve for my friend, the twinkling green-eyed Dawn, but not the same way her children, her husband and relatives are grieving. Not even close. I feel bad that I have the luxury of distraction.

Strolling through the market I decided what I would be making for dinner, ravioli with a thick marinara sauce that I add a small can of tomato paste to, a store-bought fresh pizza, mozzarella and tomato salad with basil with drizzled olive oil and a multigrain loaf of Italian bread, still warm to the touch from the bakery. It’s rare that my family  eats at the same time these days but I feel happy with them just being home, together for a little while. Next year, with my son in college, it will all be very different.

That is why today, a simple trip to the supermarket and a walk through Target with a Starbucks gift card felt special. I bought a skinny vanilla latte with a shot of espresso to manage my afternoon weariness.  The simple touching of my dog’s fur, and playing with her outside in the snow felt like a gift.  An ordinary day at the supermarket felt, to me, like a five-day vacation to the Bahamas. It’s true that you don’t appreciate normalcy when you have been overwhelmed with an abnormal amount of grief and sorrow or horrible pain from any disease. A simple day that ends with a hot bath, sleepy eyes and a half-smile, is indeed, a miracle.

Because Love Has No Religion

Roses

Image via Wikipedia

I am slowly, very slowly and intensely taking off pink nail polish from my finger nails as if it was the most important task in the world. I feel like a surgeon scrubbing in to make him/herself totally antiseptic. It feels like that to me but I don’t know why exactly. I don’t know the codes or rules for going to a wake but I know, for myself, I have to wipe away every sign of sunshine from my hands because that feels right. My hands look plain, wrinkled, weather-beaten and bare. I’ve stripped off every clue to color because my friend Dawn is dead and the world feels color-less and grim.

I didn’t know what to expect at the wake; I had only been to one wake before in my life and that was thirty-five years ago. We arrived before the official hours and already the room was packed. I saw her husband, John first, and I hugged him, then their oldest daughter who hugged me as if to comfort me. Her middle son  sat tall and straight next to his friends and did not move, his eyes riveted to his mom’s casket. The youngest child was the most heartbreaking of all, he belonged to no one in that room. He was in his own world, going to the casket, returning to his seat, going to the casket and returning to his seat, his eyes on no one, alone in his private world. He sat neither with family or friends, he was in his own fragile bubble, looking younger than his years.

I thought in death, Dawn would look more like herself than she did in the last stages of her life. I somehow expected to feel comforted that I would see my friend as I had remembered her. I went slowly  up to the coffin although I was terrified; I knew it was something I had to do. But, inside my head, like an unrestrained child, inside my head I was screaming with disbelief and anger “this is not OUR Dawn” I thought, “THIS IS NOT OUR DAWN.”  In the coffin lay a woman I didn’t know, an old woman, with too much makeup. They had prayer cards with a picture of Dawn at her finest: natural, loving, with one of her great big smiles and that is what many people said they wanted to remember her by. Even though I felt the same way, the images for the next three nights when I tried to sleep were of Dawn in the open casket, someone I didn’t know, a stranger.

There were flower arrangements everywhere. A huge arrangement made from roses, dark, crimson roses that formed into a heart; it must have stood six feet tall. There were many other flowers, yellow, white, pink, every color you can imagine and as tall as one can dream.

Her husband John, then came over and put his arm around me to show me something. “I hope you don’t mind” he said but we used your letter to Dawn as our prayer.” In front of me, I saw a piece of paper with the words I had written FOR Dawn, many months before she died. It was called “Praying For Dawn” and somehow after writing it, I thought I would take a chance to drop it off at their house. It was meant for Dawn and her family, and yet here at the wake hundreds of people clutched the piece of paper that I had written.

Her family members wanted to meet me, they said they had all read it many times, I had no idea. I do remember that after I dropped it off I got a voice message in the back of my answering machine from Dawn, thanking me and telling me she loved it. I could barely make out her words but I never erased that message.  I gave my condolences to Dawn’s mom and she said “Oh, do you like that prayer, one of her friends wrote that!!!”  Somehow through my trembling lips and tears I managed to say that ‘I was that friend.’ I swear her eyes lit up and she thanked me and told me how often the family loved reading it. She asked ME if she could introduce me to Dawn’s father who had wanted to meet the friend that had written that poem. After the introduction, he hugged me, and then took my face in his hands and said “God Bless You”  “Thank you for writing that about Dawn, you captured her the way she really was. ” He told me he had wanted to meet the person who wrote it and knew I was a neighbor but didn’t want to walk into the wrong house and be embarrassed.”  I told him where I lived and told him that he and his wife were welcome to visit me at any time.

The emotional intensity for me was overwhelming. I was honored that they used my piece of writing at the same time I was in total emotional shock. People were complimenting me on something that I forgot about since I have written many pieces about Dawn in my blog. I looked at many of my earlier blog posts and I practically have a whole book about Dawn.

My husband practically had to drag me out of the door since we needed to get our daughter to her afternoon class. I saw an old dear friend that I hadn’t seen in a long time and we wrapped our arms around each other crying. “I feel so lost” she said, “I just feel lost.” We all felt that way, I think. Lost without a piece of sunshine in our lives, deprived forever more of this gift of a person who brought enjoyment to everyone she met. Dawn was our fighter, never giving up yet she still lost the fight to this horrendous disease. Dawn was our light, she was our strength, there was no one she didn’t like…..well, with the exception of a little dog in the neighborhood….We all laughed remembering that and it felt good.

Two days later I arrived at the church forty-five minutes before the service and again, there were many people inside. The church was beautiful, I had never been there before. The stained glass windows shone from the morning sun, the polished wood seemed inviting and homey. There were many new flowers, everywhere. So many people from our little community were there, every religion was represented, people from all parts of Dawn’s life were there to show their respect: sports teams, education, friends, family, neighbors, some of  the neighborhood kids, friends and their parents for all three children and the middle school Principal. Our community sometimes gets a really bad reputation but when something happens to one of our own, we come together as one. Our little town becomes so protective and so loving of one of its own; it’s happened before. Many years ago when a young boy had cancer, the town rallied together as well.

Both Dawn’s daughter and husband spoke at the funeral. Her daughter is a young woman with the most grace and poise I have ever seen. This young woman will be famous one day, I guarantee it. Everyone was either wiping their eyes or just letting the tears stream down their faces like leaks out of a rusty, old faucet. After the service the pallbearers brought the coffin out to the hearse. I saw a random pink flower on the ground that escaped and as much as I wanted to pick it up and touch it I couldn’t. It didn’t seem like the thing to do, it belonged to Dawn.

One thing I did not know was the tradition of the hearse and all the cars attending the cemetery making a final good-bye to the house where Dawn lived with her family. We drove around the loop as well and all I could think of was Dawn’s enormous Christmas wreath that she was always so proud of, hanging still around the front door. It seemed to me so heart-wrenching to do that, to watch her family ride in the car passing their house where their mother would never again live. Maybe it’s for closure too, I can only guess.

After that, we all went to our individual homes, sighing, looking at the ground, crying, solemn and gloomy and still, feeling that we were in a different world, a new reality. I don’t know how long it takes before the death of someone really hits you and takes its toll but I do know that it does take a while. After the company, the distractions, the food and the flowers, the only thing that matters is that there will be an empty chair at their kitchen table that no one can ever replace. And, at all her children’s’ games, their mom will not be there to encourage them and support them. Whatever condition Dawn was in, good or bad, in a wheelchair or not, Dawn was always there for her children, rooting for them, happy for them until the very last breath she took to say a peaceful “good-bye.”

Losing Dawn

Farmland near Queniborough. Unploughed stubble...

Image via Wikipedia

I will never look at the afternoon winter light in the same way again. My friend Dawn died today, February 11th, 2011 when the sky was blue, the sun shone through wind-swept trees next to ice and black snow, nudging a path. From inside, it looked too pretty for someone to have died.  The sun was low and beamed on the bare empty branches like gold necklaces or a child‘s long, blond, sun-streaked hair.

I knew for a long time that my friend Dawn was dying. All of us in the neighborhood, walking partners and friends knew how her breast cancer metastasized to brain cancer. Hearing the words from my friend Margaret that Dawn had passed away a couple of hours ago in her house, was still shocking. Shocking in a mute, surreal way. It’s not as if I thought she would make a miraculous recovery, but if we didn’t see or hear about her, she was still okay and that was soothing and comforting. Intellectually, I should have known better; I didn’t. Knowing someone is going to die is so very different from their actual death. I couldn’t feel a thing.

I remember writing: “Praying For Dawn” on my blog and I made a copy for her. She read it and loved it and told me her family read it too. She even left me a message on my answering machine to say “Thank you,” I never erased that message.

Her daughter had just started college in Vermont as a February Freshman a few days earlier yet there was a car from Vermont  parked outside their house. Dawn and her husband John have three children, her daughter, age 18,  the eldest, her middle son, 16 and their youngest a boy age 14. There is no doubt in my mind that Dawn refused to die until her daughter was at school, just like my father lived through Christmas and died five days later, ten years ago.

What do you say when it’s actually over? Sometimes, nothing. The call I got from my friend should have clued me in but it didn’t. When she said “are you sitting down?” you would think that I would known immediately but I didn’t. My first thought was about my friend’s mother who is in her eighties. I, very slowly,  sat down. Thirty seconds later it hit me, “Oh Dear God, not Dawn,” I whispered into the phone. “Yes, she said and paused, Dawn passed away today, two hours ago.”

She died in her house, around the corner from me. Her parents who live on the Cape had come down a lot these past few years.  Margaret and I used to see them walking arm in arm, crying as they tried to walk slowly around the corner, holding on to each other for support. It took every bit of self-control not to run to them and hug them but they didn’t want to see Dawn’s friends, friends who were living when their daughter was dying. Would you?

Before my father died he used to say that “nothing is as important as your health” all the time and I remember it. I too, know grief. Now, I am grieving for my friend and her husband, children and their extended family. I am glad my friend’s pain and suffering are gone but knowing someone is going to die and them actually dying are two very strong and separate emotions. It’s the feeling of in between; it’s too new to comprehend and yet it was about four years in the making. Four years when I first noticed her bald, shiny head and twinkling green eyes standing outside wearing a cap in the pure, naked sunshine.

I laid beneath a sheet, two fraying cotton blankets, one dingy white, one blue, a thick burgundy colored comforter and an old beige puffy down comforter. l huddle beneath these blankets and still my hands are freezing and so too, my toes. I dig deep down inside the blankets and try to cover myself but I still don’t feel warm, I think I will never feel warm again.

In Memory Of Dawn

Praying For Dawn

The Dead Sea just before sunrise. The picture ...

Image via Wikipedia

It starts in the evening, the darkening of the sky, winds starting to get cold enough to slap your face; you try to remember what summer felt like. It all goes by so quickly that we are all taken by surprise. A friend looks weak and frail and even though you see her from a distance, you gasp inwardly and feel your stomach plummeting right down to your now-numb toes. You pray, you hope, you wish on the first star that sparkles brightly in the too-black sky.

This is a story about a real woman, a beautiful woman with three lovely children and a wonderful husband. A woman who is nice to everybody she meets, and when out of interest you ask her how she is, she replies, always with a smile and the word “fine.” She doesn’t ask for help unless she really has to, she’s proud and positive and a very loving woman. This person has been sick in the past and we pray that she is not sick again but we fear that she might be.

Not too many people know details, people, friends, well-wishers talk and NOT out of malice or gossip, but only out of love and concern. There is a whole neighborhood where she lives that is on the watch for her, keeps an eye on her, follows her slow, measured walk.  People are always friendly to her incredible children because they are great kids; They love their mom with all their heart. Everyone loves her, she is a friend waiting to meet you. She makes a mark on your life so that you feel blessed to know her, to see her lightening-quick spirit, the stubborn warrior, the beautiful woman she is, inside and out.

In the middle of the night when things feel grossly exaggerated, and emotions run high, we look for dawn, for the first shimmer of hope, having made it through the night. Night time is for monsters, and anxiety, it’s where your dreams become nightmares and you are waiting for the sunrise to hurry. It’s only when dawn arrives that things feel more positive and hopeful.

It is staying up and saying “I will fight this” with the most determined, strong voice. Sunrise, sunlight, peacefulness brings hope. We pray, we weep, we think, we beg. Life is so unfair sometimes and this person does not deserve this; she deserves hope and treatment and the knowledge that good friends, acquaintances, people in the community love her dearly. She should know that she leaves an indelible mark on every person she meets and if you asked her if she knew this she would laugh heartily and deny it. We know the truth though, we all do.

We pray, we love, we ask God for blessings for everyone’s friend. Let the dawn come quickly and erase the troubled nights, replacing them with hope and a circle of love from far away and near-by. We pray for strength, courage and healing. We pray individually in a thousand different ways, we pray in groups, in hushed whispers; we all pray together, for one woman, for one family to be blessed with hope and strength and with great, everlasting love.