No more hanging out under the table hoping for scraps… be done with that!
All of a sudden she began to whistle. By all of a sudden
I mean that for more than thirty years she had not
whistled. It was thrilling. At first I wondered, who was
in the house, what stranger? I was upstairs reading, and
she was downstairs. As from the throat of a wild and
cheerful bird, not caught but visiting, the sounds war-
bled and slid and doubled back and larked and soared.
Finally I said, Is that you? Is that you whistling? Yes, she
said. I used to whistle, a long time ago. Now I see I can
still whistle. And cadence after cadence she strolled
through the house, whistling.
I know her so well, I think. I thought. Elbow and an-
kle. Mood and desire. Anguish and frolic. Anger too.
And the devotions. And for all that, do we even begin
to know each other? Who is this I’ve been living with
for thirty years?
This clear, dark, lovely whistler?
Loved this as much as I did? Check out more on the poem’s author, Mary Oliver, by clicking here.
It’s no secret I haven’t been writing this year. Since getting my first diary in 1989, I’ve not written this little.
It’s humbling to watch someone you love decline and them be equally aware of how hard it is to believe what’s happening. What’s happening? Shaky hands, forgetting who is around and what’s physically possible like standing, dressing yourself, body not communicating with spirit and the dance of humility and grace. My step-mama will stop mid-task and look up at me to say, “isn’t this weird?”
Navigating a wheel chair, learning when to step back, being patient and restraining yourself from “helping” was what this week looked like.
After midnight is when she decides to assert her independence the most and takes inventory of what’s in the fridge and freezer. She can’t be alone because she may fall in her attempts to stand. She knows it’s hard to not step in and thanks me for it. I let her do her thing for anywhere close to an hour so my dad can rest and then put her to bed which takes another 30 minutes or so. Everything takes longer than you plan. Taking a shower is a luxury for everyone, especially a long hot one. It’s like having a newborn, a toddler, a fire to put out and all changing minute to minute.
Having kept things on hold after my mom was given less than a year to live, when we reached 16 months I was given a hard push to get back to living my life.
I evaluated my goals with work, my academic goals for my own personal means and more than anything found myself declining invites to attend births, dinners, parties, concerts and traveling. I just didn’t know what to plan for and what my family needed. Would she survive? Would my dad need me to move in for awhile?
This month, we were told she may have only three weeks to live and it will be three weeks this Tuesday.
Trying to decide how much time to take off of work now to be with her or to help with the funeral is the strangest conversation in my head. It’s just unclear what the timeline is.
When expecting parents are given a due date, the birth team knows to be available three weeks before and after. You’re on call, you’re fully engaged and willing to throw all plans out the window for what’s best each moment, then you’re changing diapers, you’re up all hours and again, you throw out all plans for what’s pressing, for a nap or taking a phone call to the advice nurse. It’s the same coming into this world as it is going out it seems.
There are random moments of quiet to reflect, things are left half done and with the delusions it’s hard to swallow the shouts and confusion. When I catch my breath I yearn to know the difference between giving up and giving in, between letting go and surrendering.
Today my parents finally met with hospice and talk about the reality of what’s going on after a week of no sleep and really bad days.
It’s not lost on me that do this with and for a lawyer who used to run a home health care business is surreal.
Luckily, today was a good day for my stepmom but that meant that there was more of a fight to not give up and ask for help.
Note to self from Self: Preparing is not giving up. Acknowledging the decline is not being negative, it’s being wisely proactive.
Can you imagine being 47 years old and having little to no motor function after being an Iron Man athlete? My mom is stubborn, never gives up and always presents a solution if addressing a problem. The only towel she throws is a terrible one when the Steelers win points.
What does it look like to be positive, believe anything is possible with a good attitude when you have an inoperable brain tumor and things are getting bleak?
With little sleep, little time and lots of love, I can say this- the difference between giving up and letting go is patience, kindness and compassion for yourself and those around you.
There can be peace or fear in realizing that we don’t have control ultimately, and what we do have control over (being able to get up, speech, behavior, our bodily functions, thoughts, choices, beliefs) is subject to change. Babies don’t see poop or having to be carried as bad, they don’t judge these things nor themselves. Pride and grace are what we fight for as we leave our body and the awkward slow dance of requesting assistance is a massive part of the process.
Being a participant in what’s happening rather than fighting it is key. Fighting for yourself can look like fighting the world and reality but giving your best has a different quality, surrender is the ingredient.
I believe there is no blanketed clause or cure-all approach. Every person, situation and moment is unique which makes it even more complex to know what’s right.
What worked this afternoon in the kitchen didn’t work at 3am on the bathroom floor last night. Surrendering to each moment keeps me sane, knowing all things must pass and knowing I’m supported to do what’s right, to be here now is The Serenity Prayer in action.
Be Here NOW is not simply the title of a book or something to put on a t-shirt but a practice.
What I love about right now is that in Liza’s delusions she hasn’t lost her humor. What I love about right now is that when you need to cry you can be left alone. What I love about right now is if they need me, I’m here. What I love about right now is practicing being here right now and that everything I’ve learned as a doula, a yogi, a friend, a business woman, a student, a teacher, a daughter is serving me today, tonight and tomorrow.
In honor of my stepmom’s favorite album of all time…
Back to school next week! Time for a new start.
What would your day/week/life look like without your consistent complaints? Better yet, what if you turned your focus onto what you ARE grateful for?
Now by no means am I saying to ignore or avoid that which doesn’t feel so fresh BUT I challenge you to look at the little, bizarre, mundane and glossed over things in a “real talk” way. An example of what to be grateful for? Your toilet, your friend who lets you know you have gunk in your front teeth, the fact that you paid half your bills on time, a book you’re reading, the cute boy who winked at you last night, the voicemail from your goddaughter, teabags, student loans, apples, record players, having a yoga practice, having any kind of practice, your dad, your mom, your clean sheets, your gas mileage, your eyesight…
So let’s give ourselves some commitments and homework in a really fun, enjoyable way:
30 Days of documenting gratitude STARTING SEPTEMBER 1!
My dear friend Gemini Adams and I are challenging you to BE GRATEFUL for the 30 days of September.
Just post a daily status update, video or instagram pic and tag it with #sograteful then challenge your friends to do the same! #beinspired
Because the Woman I love lives
Inside of you,
I lean as close to your body with my words
As I can–
And I think of you all the time, dear pilgrim.
Because the One I love goes with you
Wherever you go,
Hafiz will always be near.
If you sat before me, wayfarer,
With your aura bright from your many
My lips could resist rushing to you and needing
To befriend your blushed cheek,
But my eyes can no longer hide
The wondrous fact of who
You Really are.
The Beautiful One whom I adore
Has pitched His royal tent inside of you,
So I will always lean my heart
As close to your soul
As I can.
Happy Valentines Day to you all and to all a good sight for the look of love is in your eye…
Eye of the beholder, what is first sight?
Here’s a present for you in honor of love and heart…
Happy Friday loverlies, bathe yourself in kisses and when in doubt, just keep following the heartlines on your hand…
Si si sé que puedes!
Le sigh, Florence and the Machine, always a good choice no? Love that red!
In college, I remember holding one of my besties while she sobbed that her boyfriend called her “replaceable” and asked me to pour her another cup of wine.
At the time, I thought it was an incredibly cruel thing to say and this phrase stitched itself into a lot of heartbreak hotel sleepovers.
Now, thanks to copious cups of pinot noir, filled journals, tear-filled pillows, crazy expensive international phone calls pre-skype and hours of meditation, I understand that we receive what we believe and things only stick if they go uninvestigated one and two, ultimately nothing is permanent and nothing is “replaceable”.
You can never control someone’s roaming eye, our fate, another person’s definition and relationship to integrity, others’ actions and you can’t safeguard yourself against a breakup. If it’s not meant to be, it’s not and better for it to our free will to take action (not reaction).
The whole people are in a life for a season, reason or lifetime bit is helpful to keep in mind.
“If a train doesn’t stop at your station, then it’s not your train.”
- Marianne Williamson
Enter Ralph Valentine giving…
Tis the season eh? No, but seriously, being chosen or not, at the end of the day shouldn’t be your narrative evaluation report card people. Boo on that, choose yourself always and if someone gets you or not, winning!
Someone choosing something other than you, in hindsight is always a gift (even if you can’t see it initially).
Which brings me to something I NEVER thought I would EVER say about all this: THANK YOU.
Thank you to every woman or man who came in towards the end of a relationship that originally threatened me and freaked me out. You helped me understand my partner’s character better and ultimately, opened the door for me to leave a situation that was no longer working and have a harder time returning to a broken record that didn’t need to be on repeat.
New lovers don’t replace us, they just keep our past beds warm and therefore keep us out. At first glance, we may feel out in the cold but really, we’re out in the world and we’re free.
The bookmark pillow talk “replacement” person hopefully will stay long enough for you to break the habit of looking back and wondering what if. Thank you to every person in my life who started something and became my launchpad and litmus test beaker despite my protests.
Truly, thank you.
Neat-o factoid: This doesn’t just apply to a break up with a lover either, this is life – life IS your relationships (work, academic programs, friendships, apartments, your work-out, yoga, meditation, your budget, everything). Re-re-re-re-petition will continue to occur until we learn from our past and make better choices. It’s all good, you’ve got plenty more opportunities to do better and accept yourself more for the next round. As my dear and oh-so wise little French neighbor says in broken English over black coffee, “Sweetie, the only competition that’s worth having is with yourself, just do better next time.”
Don’t fear “the competition” because YOU ARE IRREPLACEABLE, period.
To the left, to the left,
Enjoy a little perspective from the the sister you probably never had...
Here you will find posts that serve as food for thought- real things worth talking about that often aren't and instead, opening the door to them.