He measured his time in semesters,
she, in trimesters.
His work was in bettering himself
even as hers was
in raising a child
who would want to do just that.
A Rock is a Hard Place to Sleep
She’d brought the Precious Moments snow globe
that played “In the Good Ole Summertime”
& the ladybug that turned the ceiling into a celestial night sky,
in her swirl-pink bathrobe,
scented with Dove,
so that when the sounds
of the Interstate overhead
vanished into thick air,
& the lights were turned out
in the shabby shelter
that was their 6-week purgatory
for being poor,
it would be just like all this homelessness business
was but a bad dream.
After she lost her son,
she tried to live everyday
with her daughter
to the fullest—
tried to capture every memory
in 1000’s of words
& in 100’s of pictures–
but found that in trying
to document it all
at such an incredible
level of intensity,
those moments of
she found that the future—
some of which may or may not
was stealing from the present
that she tried to hold on to too tightly,
for it so soon became the past.
The day was young,
the night was long,
that date of March 4th–
the date Sydney breezed into the Reedsy Bluesy Cafe
where Tammy O’Shanter told her that Adelaide
was the only one who had ever ordered chocolate milk (never coffee)
and a truffle brownie drenched in caramel syrup
every morning for breakfast
while she completed her morning crossword,
leaving behind more questions than answers.
Sydney waltzed into the Pence State College library
where Addie was always on the waiting list
for the newest installment of the Chocoholics Anonymous,
even as she was always late returning it,
leaving behind a Dove candy wrapper like a pressed flower,
which she had used for a bookmark.
Sydney ran into the man to whom Addie had been “practically engaged,”
into Addie’s best friend with whom she had shared the part of her life
her sister hadn’t seen,
and the mother they’d shared a space with–
a woman who had known Addie in a completely different way.
This all happened on her way to her Celebration of Life
(which they called funerals now),
with Addie as the guest of honor,
but the celebration had begun early
as Sydney retraced the steps Addie had taken every morning–
to gather the memories she would take out like holiday keepsakes–
memories she would take out when it only seemed
that she had run out of her own.
She lost her religion,
but found her faith.
She lost her church family,
but found lifelong friends.
She lost her livelihood,
but not her life—
only her quality of life.
She lost her husband,
but found a better one—
one who saw not
what she could become,
but who she was
in the Here and Now.
She lost her mom,
but found new memories—
memories of who she’d been
when she hadn’t been
She’d spent her life
not paying attention—
to details or anything else—
but death and loss
had sharpened her senses,
if only to reclaim,
in some small way,
that which had been lost.
If we had
but one day
to know a person,
and if everyone was good,
would the world be a better place—
for does not familiarity breed contempt?
If we could give life,
then separate for life,
knowing that life was in different,
but loving hands
for 6569 days,
could we live another day
to make another life?
If there were no husbands or wives—
if there was no sleeping with the same person twice,
would we sleep around less,
or even more?
Could we fall in love for a day,
only to have to go away?
If we never slept in the same house,
but had to go from one town to one city to the next
there wouldn’t be a smell in the world
to bring us back to such a place
that not one could name.
If we could never read the same book
or watch the same movie twice,
would we pay more attention?
For in a world such as this,
there would be neither building
no permanence of person or place,
for everyday would be a new chapter
marked by days—
not of progress,
but of making it to,
and making it through,
the next one.
1. Waking early, to everyone else still sleeping
2. Recalling an old memory, & being able to hold onto it
3. Remembering a new word I learned, for it is another color to add to my literary palette
4. Writing a new piece that seemed to come from nothing
5. Drinking a cuppa java while sharing my writing with new friends
6. Reading a handwritten letter from an old friend
7. Getting good news in the mail, & sharing it with whoever will listen
8. Running into someone who remembers me from years past, for it meant I’d made an impression
9. Realizing I accomplished a goal I’d never made, for it was inside me all along
10. Parting with something that meant little to me, but means a great deal to someone else
11. Discovering a Brady Bunch episode I haven’t seen
12. Listening to old Christmas music while a fire on the television crackles
13. Having all the ingredients for a new recipe, & deliciousness ensues
14. Remembering to pull my Mexican Coca-Cola from the freezer at just the right time
15. Enjoying dark chocolate with hazelnuts or marzipan
16. Driving to the beach when it’s 82 degrees with a breeze
17. Finding the perfect seashell—a tiny glimpse of the celestial kingdom
18. Burning calories while playing outside in the shade—MOMents that Heaven are made of
19. When twilight lasts as long as the day
20. Stopping to breathe in the scent of the gardenias
21. Capturing a butterfly with my camera
22. Climbing into bed & falling asleep to the sound of rain
23. When I see my husband as he sees me, & know, I chose the right one for me
24. When I make my daughter laugh & know that yes, I was meant to be her mom
25. When I see something old in a new way, & it’s like the first time I’ve seen it