Size of Sorrow

My sister and I have noticed some changes in our father.
Whenever we talk to him about ‘old times’ (instead of just sitting there staring vacantly out the window) his eyes fill with tears. He’s not totally crying but something is definitely going on.
We wonder what’s really going through his mind?
It was this thought and some help from the band “Tears for Fears” that are responsible for the inspiration behind this post.
I didn’t plan on posting tonight but sometimes you just have to let some of your writing go.


the Size of Sorrow

Carbon-copy days
Stain my mimeographed life
Wondering if today is some strange and future tomorrow

Time meanders away
some perpetual 36-hour day
But what is the size of sorrow?

a Fool on the hill
a sad silhouette of your absence
what remains breaks the heart of the borrow

Tomorrow is near
like an invisible tear
I’m wondering what is the size of your sorrow?

~m

Iced Calligraphy

Tomorrow morning I’m going to pick up a gift; a wonderful gift.
A while back I wrote something called “the Frozen Man” and I had no idea it would evoke the kind of response that it did.
I received numerous emails regarding its origin and inspiration and to be honest, it took me by surprise.
I’m not used to that kind of attention.
One email was from my dear friend Yvonne.
She is an incredibly creative spirit and does some incredible calligraphy and she asked if she could create a piece of art using “the Frozen Man” as the centerpiece.
I was thrilled and gave her my blessing knowing my words were in very capable hands.
When I checked my Gmail this morning I opened an email from her saying the piece was done. How cool is that?
To say I’m moved is a severe understatement.
Seeing an artistic impression of my work in this light has touched my very soul.
I called Yvonne after seeing it and told her I thought it was beautiful.
Being the humble soul that she is, she thanked me and said I was far too kind and that I was making much more out of it than I needed to.
I had to disagree. In a major way.
Check out the actual piece below.
If only my father could appreciate it.
Yvonne, a sincere thank you from my heart to yours . . .

~m

*ps – Yvonne does calligraphy professionally.
I already know of one other piece of writing that I’d love to see done.
Maybe you have something as well.
Visit www.yvonneelizabeth.com for more info
or email handlettering@yahoo.com

Not a chance . . .

“I think I may be beginning to disappear.” – Fiona (Away from Her)

Last night was a deeply emotional night for me.
For the longest time I’ve put off watching a movie called Away from Her
based on the Alice Munro short story called, “The Bear Came Over the Mountain”, a tragic but uplifting tale of a husband and wife of 50 years coming to grips with Alzheimer’s Disease.
It was all too familiar territory for me and I knew instinctively why I hadn’t seen it in the theater.
Sometimes I hate when I’m right.

The internal walls I’d previously built for emotional protection were deteriorating rapidly, waiting patiently to be torn down.
New and stronger walls were waiting in the wings.
Seeing yourself in virtually every scene of a movie is a powerful (and devastating) experience and something has to give.
My already shaky walls began crumbling before my very eyes.
Seemingly insignificant scenes were like storms in the night, moments of illumination exposing moments of denial, the mind’s premeditated closing of the eyes.
I was watching my mother and father on the screen as years of pent up heartbreak gently poured out of me.
And truth be told, it felt like prayer, a long forgotten Hail Mary . . .
I’ve written much about my mother’s many moments of clarity, the small gifts I believe are given to us from up above.
The last minute of the movie contains such a moment, an incredibly beautiful moment.
I could only sit and watch the credits roll by,
letting this “thing” happen, if that makes any sense.
I apologized to my wife for being so weepy.
She hugged me as I knew she would and said, “I understand. It’s okay.”
All the ancient walls inside me came crashing down and as of this morning I’ve already begun new construction, my Extreme Internal Makeover, if you will.
This post isn’t so much about my tears or my outward showing of intense emotion.
It’s about the willingness to ultimately set some of my shadows free.
And so far, it’s all good.
You’ll have to watch the movie to understand the significance of the post title.
I’m not giving anything away . . .
~m

Sunglasses at night

It seems improbable and physically impossible to feel alone on the streets of a city the magnitude of Boston but I’ve had such a day today.
I ate a meager lunch in a deserted food court, rode a ghost train with no passengers
(save for a lone and apathetic conductor that collected my money),
walked down an empty Boylston Street to an ‘I am Legend’-like South Station.
My mind doesn’t want to let anyone in today and I feel I’m struggling against a surreal and desolate landscape that is the city of Boston.
I loathe days these because I feel almost anonymous and somewhat disposable.
And nothing I can say or do seems to change anything.

I get a seat on the train and I put on my sunglasses even though it’s 5:30pm and the sun has set on the city.
UV protection for the soul, I think,
as I contemplate a jump into a vat of lukewarm self-pity.
No, that would be too damn easy.
The past several weeks have wreaked some serious emotional havoc on my sorry 49-year-old ass and this is the aftermath, an ardent and internal hangover; it’s temporary but so very intense.
I come to realize that I’m just really tired and can’t seem to catch up.
Exhausted, actually.
Sleep doesn’t help.
But writing it out has immense possibility.
And it does.

“How are ‘ya?”

{Oh, God . . . not that question again, ad nauseum}

{Me smiling}
“Just another day in paradise, buddy, just another day.”

And I carry on.

Still somewhat alone.

For the time being . . .

~m

Ps. happy birthday to Smoke &Mirrors (2.22.05) {you people are sick} :mrgreen:


Leader of the Band

Dan Fogelberg ~ (1951 – 2007)

In my early years of playing music, Fogelberg was a definite musical influence on me.
I saw him perform in 1976 at the Orpheum in Boston (the first night I ever smoked a joint, now you have some serious dirt on me).
I wooed my wife way back when performing many of his tunes.
Whether you liked the guy or not, he was a peaceful man and a very talented songwriter.
I saw this news clip on Yahoo this afternoon.
God, I have another reason to hate Mondays.
I am very sad tonight.
I’ll stop there.
Should you ever get a chance, listen to “Souvenirs”.
Click on the photo above for Fogelberg’s website.

And here is a sunrise
To set on your sill.
The ghosts of the dawn
Moving near.
They pass through your sorrow
And leave you quite still…
Sitting among souvenirs . . . 

Sleep in heavenly peace, Dan . . .

~m

Not enough love in the world

I found a crumpled piece of paper on the train the other day and could see there was some writing on it. Being the perpetually inquisitive one, I picked it up and flattened it out.

It read:
I watched you sleeping
you’re beautiful

A simple, eloquent and somewhat heartbreaking note rolled into one (kind of disturbing, as well).
I wondered about its recipient as well as its author and how long this obsession had been going on. You just don’t see someone one day and write a note like this. This has been quietly simmering for sometime.

I’ve watched people sleeping on the train and more often than not, it ain’t pretty.

This must have been a very different scenario. Admiring someone from afar but never getting close enough to touch must be a terrible kind of living hell.

Maybe these two people knew one another but one of them couldn’t seem to bridge the impossible chasm between them for reasons unknown.
Six words rich in meaning written on a carelessly dropped (and crumpled) piece of paper. To me, it smacks of a significant sense of loss and incompleteness for both parties involved. The note isn’t the issue here as much as the story hidden deep within the text.

I told my wife about it and she wondered if the note was even delivered or if its author crumpled and dropped it, a thought that hadn’t even occurred to me.
Words like this have a weight and possibility to them and I can’t imagine not letting them reach home.

I think back to the number of times I gazed at Pamela from a distance, afraid to approach her for fear of rejection and embarrassment.
I know I fell in love with her face long before I knew her soul. Needless to say, we run deeper than the oceans.

And though the waters are much rougher these days than we’d both like, I consider myself a lucky one; my message in a bottle was ultimately delivered and read and I thank God my words found the still waters of acceptance.
I’ll never know any more about that crumpled note, but I wanted to give it some light hoping in some small way that it too, might someday find its way home.

~m

Yellow

Had to share this.
It’s from my good friend Yvonne . . .
Wish I could take credit for it

~m

The yellow shirt had long sleeves, four extra-large pockets trimmed in black thread and snaps up the front. It was faded from years of wear, but still in decent shape when I found it in 1963, home from college on Christmas break, rummaging through bags
of clothes Mom intended to give away.

“You’re not taking that old thing, are you?” Mom said when she saw me packing the yellow shirt.
“I wore that when I was pregnant with your brother in 1954!”

“It’s just the thing to wear over my clothes during art class, Mom. Thanks!”

I slipped it into my suitcase before she could object.
The yellow shirt be came a part of my college wardrobe. I loved it.
After graduation, I wore the shirt the day I moved into my new apartment
and on Saturday mornings when I cleaned.

The next year, I married.
When I became pregnant, I wore the yellow shirt during big-belly days.
I missed Mom and the rest of my family, since we were in Colorado and they were in Illinois.
But that shirt helped.
I smiled, remembering that Mother had worn it when she was pregnant, 15 years earlier.

That Christmas, mindful of the warm feelings the shirt had given me, I patched one elbow, wrapped it in holiday paper and sent it to Mom.
When Mom wrote to thank me for her “real” gifts, she said the yellow shirt was lovely. She never mentioned it again.

The next year, my husband, daughter and I stopped at Mom and Dad’s to pick up some
furniture.
Days later, when we uncrated the kitchen table, I noticed something yellow taped to its bottom. The shirt!

And so the pattern was set.

On our next visit home, I secretly placed the shirt under Mom and Dad’s mattress. I don’t know how long it took for her to find it, but almost two years passed before I discovered it under the base of our living-room floor lamp. The yellow shirt was just what I needed now while refinishing furniture. The walnut stains added character.

In 1975 my husband and I divorced.
With my three children, I prepared to move back to Illinois. As I packed, a deep depression overtook me. I wondered if I could make it on my own. I wondered if I would find a job. I paged through the Bible, looking for comfort.
In Ephesians, I read, “So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will be standing up.”

I tried to picture myself wearing God’s armor, but all I saw was the stained yellow shirt. Slowly, it dawned on me.
Wasn’t my mother’s love a piece of God’s armor?
My courage was renewed.

Unpacking in our new home, I knew I had to get the shirt back to my mother the next time I visited her.
I tucked it in her bottom dresser drawer.

Meanwhile, I found a good job at a radio station. A year later I discovered the yellow shirt hidden in a rag bag in my cleaning closet. Something new had been added. Embroidered in bright green a cross the breast pocket were the words
“I BELONG TO PAT.”
Not to be outdone, I got out my own embroidery materials and added an apostrophe and seven more letters.
Now the shirt proudly proclaimed, “I BELONG TO PAT’S MOTHER.”
But I didn’t stop there.
I zigzagged all the frayed seams and then had a friend mail the shirt in a fancy box to Mom from Arlington, VA.
We enclosed an official looking letter from “The Institute for the
Destitute,” announcing that she was the recipient of an award for good deeds.
I would have given anything to see Mom’s face when she opened the box.
But, of course, she never mentioned it.!

Two years later, in 1978, I remarried. The day of our wedding, Harold and I put our car in a friend’s garage to avoid practical jokers. After the wedding, while my husband drove us to our honeymoon suite, I reached for a pillow in the car to rest my head.
It felt lumpy. I unzipped the case and found, wrapped in wedding paper, the yellow shirt. Inside a pocket was a note: “Read John 14:27-29. I love you both, Mother.”

That night I paged through the Bible in a hotel room and found the verses:
“I am leaving you with a gift: peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really love me, you will be very happy for me, for now I can go to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do, you will believe in me.”

The shirt was Mother’s final gift. She had known for three months that she had terminal Lou Gehrig’s disease. Mother died the following year at age 57.

I was tempted to send the yellow shirt with her to her grave. But I’m glad I didn’t, because it is a vivid reminder of the love-filled game she and I played for 16 years.
Besides, my older daughter is in college now, majoring in art.
And every art student needs a baggy yellow shirt with big pockets . . .

Pink

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I wanted to post to tell all you ladies that visit Smoke and Mirrors to PLEASE GET CHECKED!!!!
It’s important for so many reasons.
Early detection saves lives, period.
Please just do it.
I’ve lost several close friends to this insidious disease and I don’t want to lose anymore.
Check your body and check it often.
I pray for all of you, everyday.
A few risk factors you should know about:

  • what you eat
  • how much you weigh, and maintaining a healthy weight
  • how much you exercise
  • whether you smoke
  • whether you drink alcohol and if so, how much and how frequently
  • the types of chemicals in your environment
  • whether you took hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal symptoms for five years or longer

As my dear friend Carnealian says, “Feel your Boobies!!!” . . . .
Click HERE to give some underprivileged woman a free mammogram

~m