dear mother, i’m sorry

dear mother,

i’m sorry. sorry for taking up space. sorry for breathing. sorry for being loud or overbearing or rude or brash. sorry i’m stupid and fat and not very polite. sorry i’m not good. enough. too much. just sorry.

how sad is that? seriously, how fucking sad is that?

today we continued our seemingly endless task of going through files and papers. three legal sized cardboard boxes, jammed with papers from the past. every thank you card ever received. christmas letters from 20 years ago. funeral programs from her sister and her parents and friends. tiny photos from 80 years ago ~ her sister holding her in the backyard. a faded picture of the house where she was born. wedding announcements. baby announcements. letters from boot-camp. address lists. medical records. taxi vouchers.  church bulletins.       33 cent stamps. knitting patterns. mother’s day cards. accomplishments. gratitudes. awards. her baby book.



and tucked into the baby book was a little handmade book. inside were drawn pictures of “work”, “play” and “rest.”

the cover of the book is the story.


it is poignant and heart-rending as a reflection of what was.

positive and hopeful as it reveals the way of transformation and growth.

much of my life has been lived apologetically small. through pain and sorrow, through grief and life and death, through the years, something shifted.

i held on and refused to let go. and i have a new letter to write.

dear mother,

i know my truth.

i am courageous.

i am wise.

i am stronger than strong.

i belong.

i am free.

i am me.



p.s. i love you

so what, i’m i rock star

10+ things you might not know about me

1.  i can’t carry a tune in a bucket. but in my imagination I am tina turner or beyoncé or in my wildest dream i am pink. my musical soul when no one is watching is wide open, in rhythm and wild.

So What

2.  as a child i dreamt of being an artist or an art curator in a foreign museum or an archeologist, searching for hidden treasure

3.  i love Helsinki and Venice ~ the color of the air, the anonymity, unexpected sacred space.

4.  four years ago I purchased my first new furniture: two matching loveseats. everything else in my home is used, repurposed, major marked down hand-me-downs. there are 6 chairs (two that were picked up from the side of the road) in my garage waiting to be recovered.

5.  my footwear of choice: Birkenstocks, Keens and any pair of ruby red shoes.

6.  i love reality TV. maybe for a warped reason, but when i watch craziness unfold on the screen it makes my own life seem “normal”.

7.  floating is freedom. on an air mattress in a mountain lake or in the backyard pool, on an inner tube down the river, or in the grass on the front lawn.

8.  sweet peas make me swoon. so do lily-of-the-valley, peonies, stargazer lilies, vanilla ice-cream and grapefruit slices ~ the candy, not the fruit.

9.  silver, as in sterling, is for everyday use. so is china and crystal and linen napkins. somehow, oatmeal is transformed

10. i still remember the moment at the top of the mountain, just before planting the ski poles into the ground with snow covered eyelashes. wind in my face. pink cheeks. numb fingers. frozen ears. the thrill of my hearts abandon.

11. i don’t like chocolate.

tending time

two years ago i planted the garden. strawberries and peas, tomatoes and cucumbers and lettuce. beans and peppers. a poor excuse of unsuccessful corn. sunflowers.

much has changed in two years. last year the garden produced dozens of weak starter tomatoes and unexpected left over onions. the rest of the garden boxes yielded weeds and bugs while the soil turned to clay.

even the flower pots wintered over the summer months with dried out mums and long-legged pansies and root-bound geraniums.

my body and spirit were in survival mode. weary, bruised and unable to find root.

this week the task has been amending the soil, weeding two seasons worth of starters and wind blown stragglers. with great intentions herbs were set out to prepare for planting.

photo 2

yes, there are times when things die because they are not tended to, cared for, nurtured, fed, watered, planted.

photo 1-2

there are other times when even two years of neglect cannot stop the growth. onions. raspberries. roses. it is now tending time.

photo 3

from where i stand

Residents of The Sequoias listen to Eleanor Hammer, whose resistance to using a walker ended after she fell during an exercise class, play a piano recital at the assisted living facility in San Francisco, Aug. 29, 2014. As the American population lives longer, fall-related injuries and deaths are rising quickly. (Ramin Rahimian/The New York Times)

from where i stand

1115 every day. and 1645 every day. they line up. queued against the wall, waiting for the the double doors to the dining room to open.

a tiny lady with a plastic bag tucked under her elbow, so small she could might be a whisper, uses one leg and one arm to scootch herself forward. she is dressed in mismatched clothes and oversized shoes, bent over in her oversized wheelchair, plastic flowers attached to the right arm.  she is unable to speak yet she lifts her eyes from her slump and smiles.

a tall, upright regal woman, dressed in red. a wool plaid, pleated skirt hits mid calf, a matching sweater set and black proper shoes, hair bobbed straight at her earlobes, showing elegant pearl studs. she shuffles along with her walker, inch by inch.

a man, his face weathered with deep crinkled lines, checkered shirt buttoned to the neck and tucked tightly into his belt, sits outside the beauty parlor listening to chatter. a distinct smell of permanent solution sifts into the hallway.

the couple bickering. both in hawaiian shirts, she with a glass of white wine and dripped in costume jewelry and a walker, he with a drawn face and newspaper under arm.

facility chairs line up next to wheelchairs next to walkers, filled with bent bodies, fingers curled together, gray heads blend together, eyes closed, eyes open with just a hint of sparkle, waiting for the doors to open.

down the hallway, one by one doors open and close as wheelchairs begin their journey out of their rooms. walkers and three pronged canes hold weary bodies up as they wait for the time to be nourished and fed, to sit together over a meal and share time together.

a family member calls this “God’s waiting room.” i imagine that might be a way to make sense out of a major change of view. maybe it is an attempt at humor. or discomfort. or lack of words or understanding or an unwillingness to accept the reality of life. maybe it is a way to push pain and loss further away. maybe it is fear. i only know it feels like an unwillingness to see and accept an important part of growing older. and it misses the point.

when we can’t see others, we can’t see ourselves.

stories and sadness, gratitude and longing, anticipation and weariness. waiting for a smile, a touch, a question. waiting for the doors to open. a place at a table.

waiting for the dessert special of the week. red jello with fruit.

from where i stand.


tears are the medicine

sharing from lists and letters

“20. I make my own medicine, forged from the unwanted and the welcomed, the movement of my hips and the scar that runs up my back.

Tears are the medicine, the way they came in the collapse, and how they just kept coming, a cry that felt like it had no particular origin and yet was somehow for everything, all the things.

The grief is the medicine.

The aloneness is the medicine, and the feeling it, and finding what it means, to be sovereign and stand in the gaps where the terror and the light shatter all the lines.

The showing up is the medicine.

The snow is the medicine, how it’s like watching a silent film, how you keep staring out the window and seems like it should make sound except there is none.

The silence itself is the medicine.

So is steam, and the open lungs in the sauna and the antlers at the edge of the woods.

So are donuts, and saying I’m sorry for the thing you did that hurt even as you will also never again apologize for your existence or your life.

So is being here, all the way, the way all things can be medicine. Because being present for your own self and with your life, entering into it rather than leaving it — this is the medicine. And it is mine.”