Monday, October 15, 2012

To be seen

I turned 51 this past week. This time last year, I was sitting in a week-long silent meditation retreat. It would have been nice to do again, but 51 doesn't really require it.

I kept putting off celebrating my 50th with friends this year. I imagined an open house with art supplies, food, and ending with a worship circle. Only women who could celebrate quietly and walk in the woods would be invited. But then there were hospitalizations and deaths and more deaths. Who had time for a party?

Instead, I bought a German chocolate cake from a local bakery and took it to my Quaker meeting for snack two weeks ago. This was the last Sunday while still 50. I didn't tell anyone, but my heart knew.

Happy Quietist Birthday!

Bringing attention to myself is fraught with all kinds of emotional landmines.

This year my mother sent a card with a little note. She wished me a happy birthday and year. That was nice. But then she went on to write about how she remembered digging out my father in the silo while pregnant with me.

Being trapped in a silo was serious stuff. He could have died. But he refused to let her call the local fire department for help because he couldn't bear the teasing he'd get.

The thing is, I was there. I remember sitting on a bale of straw in a cold damp barn with my second sister. I was 4 years old and my other sister was 3 years old.  We were there, miserable and afraid, for hours. Mom was pregnant with my baby sister.

When I read this, I thought it finally has happened. Mom has lost her marbles. And, she is now projecting anything difficult in her life onto me.

I called my second sister: Can you believe it!  and I think Mom has finally lost her mind.

She laughed and said Mom told her ten years ago that she dug out Dad while pregnant with her.

As crazy as Dad was, he at least could tell stories with some accuracy.

Partner came home and listened. He noted that it was an honest mistake and I could get upset about it or accept the initial message of wishing me a happy birthday.

I reread the card:
Have a wonderful birthday and year. The years have flown by since I forked silage to rescue your father a few weeks before you were born. Ah! What memories.  With love and admiration, Mom

Thanks for the memories, Mom. With love and admiration back at you.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wishing things were different

Wishing things were different. But they aren't.

Sat on my cushion today. Flickers were picking at the ground. A flock of flickers. Five. Pecking for bugs. Right outside my window. A reflection of my mind. Survival. Eating. Very busy. Digging with intensity. Strong beaks. Peck, peck, peck.

Wishing the drive for survival was easier.

The birds were in the shade of trees. Their markings, like the shadows or autumn leaves, allowed them to search without the crying hawk in the distance bothering them. So, they've got something going for them.

The breath. I am breathing. The repetitiveness of the news seems stuck on crazy, sucking the life out of me. No wonder our kids are fascinated with zombies.

Can you imagine the moment when the breath ends? Perhaps a crushing pressure from a  heart attack or asthma attack or an earth quake's final blow as buildings collapse? Or as prisoners in secret detention camps, who live daily with death defying moments pushing down on them, drowning them?

We just don't know what we are doing. We just think we do.

Our bodies live in a zone where life goes on until it stops.

Dead is dead is what I thought with certainty as I sat across from my father's dead body. Not Dad is dead. What the hell?

Finally was another thought. You always talked about death. But after 76 years on earth, it finally happened.

Don't you bother me, I silently threatened his dead body. Yet three months after dead is dead, you showed up in my dreams like you did in life with a sinus infection and strong coffee on your breath. His signature blend of the living and the dead.

I think I almost prefer the scent of pure death and it's finality.