Yesterday I lied and said I can't write about him.
His strong fingers still holding onto fragile memories.
I want to protect him, keep him from the hurt that can surface
when words pour over an open wound.
So I lied again and told him that all I want to do is write about how I'm crossing my delicate fingers,
waiting for memories to let go
and for me to slip in.
And I lied again. And again after that.
And then it happened
That version of him disappeared. And all that's left is truth.
Sitting together, as words fall on wounds that will take forever to heal, if at all.
We stare at them, and each other.
And let us happen.
And learn that harmony isn't found in the letting go of our long-lived memories,
instead it's found somewhere in the letting go of the fight.
Love needs room to grow, and there's no room left
in a space filled with war.
To sit and think and write of the agony and despair of being tortured by endless supplies of surrounding loss - is to wallow in our weeping. To place grief on a pedestal, and press pause. Our tears slowly turn to clay, sculpting endless supplies of surrounding…words. Our frowns struggle to lift us to places forgotten, to avoid falling into the still of life’s estranged but necessary other half. When it’s not planes, trains or hugs that gets us there, it’s the pen. Retreating to now, the moment that leads the way to those forests -where all sides of trees are veiled in rusted moss- those cold and heavy forests, where we begin to connect with nature, and rustle through a sense of being nurtured. We’re forced to embrace void and fear, our long-lost siblings. Soon we’ll say goodbye to our Winter in Spring, knowing that as long as there is life, it will come again. And Summer will come to burn the shade off the trees. But for now, we weep. Wallowing in the moment, until we can put the pen down and allow the clay to become dust.
I was gonna write about how today marks the anniversary of meeting an angel. An angel who - while disguised as human -came into my life like a tornado, bringing heaven and the stars with him, only to as quickly -as the just fed happy hummingbird- fly away, leaving a necessary, and wonderful, lasting impression. But…we’ve all heard that love and life story, and I might tell it later.
Instead, this morning I received the always dreadful news that another good guy has left us to cancer. (this cancer stuff is getting old, by the way) He’s a best friend to one of my closer cousins. All of us the same age, at that point in our lives when priorities surface, self-awareness speaks to us through the language of birth, loss, career transitions, and through the restlessness of the realities of a monotonous life. Our realities a little more settled in (just a tiny bit more), making it easier for us to understand each other.
So the other day, when my cousin communicated to me how devastating Oscars recent cancer journey has been —for him, my cousin— I realized the impression that Oscar has made on his friends. I again, was reminded of the power of friendship, and how powerful a lasting impression can be for one another, just by nature of being a good person.
Oscar leaving us, is a tremendous loss. I’ll always remember him as the badass UCLA left guard, who in high school stood out from the rest of my cousins friends because of his teddy-bear heart and because he was a vegetarian. His pro-football career cut short by his first battle with this horrible cancer demon, he instead became an amazing father, and remained very close friends with many of the same people he grew up with; a testament to his character. It wasn’t until recently, after twelve or so years, that I started to catch up with him again, and easily discovered what a wonderful father he became, and the loving soul that remained.
May Oscar rest as he lived, in peace.
“The winds that sometimes take something we love, are the same that bring us something we learn to love. Therefore we should not cry about something that was taken from us, but, yes, love what we have been given. Because what is really ours is never gone forever.”
in the end
there are no swan lullabies.
no memories of uncomfortable stories,
to bring us comfort.
no bitter-sweet last minute offerings
of secrets, no final surprise.
no last chance at an unfamiliar hope.
not a smile for unsung bliss.
no church bells to harmonize
a timeline of glory, agony, defeat…
not an embrace to leave us
warm and loved. only a body removed.
a soul left somewhere for the living to rescue.
“…when we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all beings.” ― Sogyal Rinpoche
It’s been ten months since I last saw her alive. It’s been exactly a year since her last birthday. She was sick then, could hardly breathe. Listening to her music reminds me of her breath. It was always a struggle for her to breathe freely, openly. It’s no walk in the park feeling obligated to a life caring for a mentally ill mother. I would watch her live vicariously through her mothers wildly naked choices. Naked wasn’t a wardrobe choice for her mother, it was a thoughtless pursuit of finding herself. I suppose it’s always easier to look for a needle when there is no hay. Her mother looked, and looked…and looked. She never did find anything. Maybe that was the point, to find her self in the deepest part of the forest. My friend however, was handed this obligation, this struggle, her mother, and she observed. She cared for her. She analyzed it all over and over again, until her years of tears made her sick. She found too much. Her death was slow, long, debilitating. Her mother’s death, not too long after, was quick but I can’t imagine less debilitating. And I, we, look back at all of it, searching for clarity. I think the only thing we can do is love those around us, a little bit more. Continue to sympathize with those that struggle. Such a fragile, precious life, for all of us.
(i’m writing something about this subject, in depth, and not so enigmatic. this note is more of a way of processing, externalizing something so….well, internal.)