Sunday, January 21, 2018

Brother

Herself speaks.

This evening, at the rosary service for the young man, one of his brothers sang a song. And hearts broke anew. God, have mercy. Rest easy, young man. You are loved, from here to beyond.

Brother, by NeedToBreathe

Ramblers in the wilderness we can’t find what we need
We get a little restless from the searching
Get a little worn down in between
Like a bull chasing the matador is the man left to his own schemes
Everybody needs someone beside em’ shining like a lighthouse from the sea

Brother let me be your shelter
Never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

Face down in the desert now there’s a cage locked around my heart
I found a way to drop the keys where my failures were
Now my hands can’t reach that far
I ain’t made for a rivalry, I could never take the world alone
I know that in my weakness I am stronger
It’s your love that brings me home

Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Double Decker Dogs

They help me work at the computer. 


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Education Is A Mighty Good Thing

Will be spending some time in the building in which I found this plaque.  Thank you, American people, for making higher education possible.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Godspeed, My Hamster Friend

Herself speaks.

Rocky the hamster, ancient and venerable, has gone to meet his Maker.

He had done well despite his advanced age; he ran and snacked and hoarded his food and fluffed his nest and rootled about in the bedding of his lair and regularly peeked out of his habitat to greet us and ask for treats. When he emerged from his nest yesterday evening, though, it was clear that he was ailing. He chose to rest out in the open by his igloo, eyes mostly closed, curled comfortably with head resting on paws. He did not seem to be in pain. I touched him lightly, and he did not complain. (Previously, he would flinch or run at contact; it was clear that he was well beyond those reactions now.) He was waiting for the right Time, and it was clear that Time was near.

I provided a square of fluffy bedding and a piece of sweet potato nearby to him, in case he felt a need for nesting or a snack, and let him be.

And then he greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, equals, they departed this life. —J.K. Rowling, Tales of Beedle the Bard

This morning, his body remained curled gently in its spot, and he was gone. 

He was a handsome creature, even in death, with his soft grey fur and his little rounded ears. He looked  peaceful. I removed the giant nest he had built these past few months in his exercise wheel and put it into a box; I tucked him carefully into the nest. He has his stash of kibble within his nest to carry him into the Afterlife, where sunflower seeds will abound and all shall be warm and safe. Godspeed, my fine tiny fur friend. 

We will bury him with the other pets in my in-laws' garden. It is a Good Resting Place.

Farewell, Rocky. Thank you for your time with us. 

No automatic alt text available.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Monday, January 15, 2018

Benedictus

Herself speaks.
Quite serious again today.

We continue today to process the death by suicide of a young man of our acquaintance. Bits and pieces of information come to us slowly, filtered through a variety of people of varying closeness to the family of the young man. There was first word of a terrible note, implying that this last act was an act of rage. Later information softened the tone -- it was in fact a simple text, not a note, and it was, more than anything else, an ever so sad message. Heartrending.

While anger thus has no purchase on which to stand, sorrow and regret and and immense, encompassing anguish have descended and perched on every surface. No one knows what to do, what to say.

We cannot change what has happened. How do we lead forward the grieving? Day by day. Hour by hour. Minute by minute, if necessary. Breathe. Let it wash over us. Breathe again. And those for whom it may help, we pray.
-----

FOR THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF A SUICIDE.
-- John O'Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us.

As you huddle around the torn silence,
Each by this lonely deed exiled
To a solitary confinement of soul,
May some small glow from what has been lost
Return like the kindness of candlelight.

As your eyes strain to sift
This sudden wall of dark
And no one can say why
In such a forsaken, secret way,
This death was sent for …
May one of the lovely hours
Of memory return
Like a field of ease
Among these gravelled days.

May the Angel of Wisdom
Enter this ruin of absence
And guide your minds
To receive this bitter chalice
So that you do not damage yourselves
By attending only at the hungry altar
Of regret and anger and guilt.

May you be given some inkling
That there could be something else at work
And that what to you now seems
Dark, destructive and forlorn,
Might be a destiny that looks different
From inside the eternal script.

May vision be granted to you
To see this with the eyes of providence.
May your loss become a sanctuary
Where new presence will dwell
To refine and enrich
The rest of your life
With courage and compassion.

And may your lost loved one
Enter into the beauty of eternal tranquility,
In that place where there is no more sorrow
Or separation or mourning or tears.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Light of God

Herself speaks.
Quite serious today. 

Today, we bear witness to a grief that is not our own. It is a grief that is as terrible as grief can be.

May the God of all consolation and compassion,
have mercy on His child;
Mary, Mother of Sorrows, who knows a mother's anguish,
into your arms we place this child,
Please hold him close and comfort him.
This I pray, Amen.
-- adapted prayer of Fr. Brian Cavanaugh

Yesterday morning, we learned that a young man of our acquaintance took his own life.

I don't really have any words to express the pain that radiates outward from the gaping hole that has been rent in the fabric of the world.

In between the shock and the grief, there are questions. So many questions, and yet so few answers.

His parents: what do they do? How do they move forward? How do they even breathe, eat, continue to live? And what of his siblings? His extended family? His friends?

Do they blame themselves? Of course they do. Who would not? Yet it is not their fault -- no one truly knows what despair lives in another's heart.

Still, there will be those who will be cruel and question: how did you not know? Yet sometimes, the greater the inner pain, the more effort a person puts into hiding it from others. We each live within the fortresses of our own minds, and our walls can be unassailable.

There will be anger. Anger unsatisfied, for there is no relief in blaming those around the young man, or even blaming the young man himself. It is a blind, white hot rage, that ravages every thing and yet feeds the pain rather than burning it clean. When will it cease? 

There are unthinkable details to address: How to plan a funeral for someone we thought would outlive us? What to tell other people? Here in this Catholic community, there will be old-school whispers of mortal sin. God, in His infinite mercy, will surely reach out to the anguished soul who found this to be the only choice. Will humankind be as loving?
-----

Yesterday, I went grocery shopping. As I picked up a few special items for the Offspring, I thought about the mother of this young man, who will never again go into a store without seeing her son's preferred foods and feeling the pang of his loss. These are the mundane aspects of life that are now forever altered. Echoes of loss, everywhere, always.

We spoke with the Offspring briefly about what had happened -- the young man was their age, and it is important not only that they understand such pain happens to people we know, but also that they are reminded we are here for them, no matter how hopeless things seem. As if we could, somehow, protect them with words against the Darkness.

Darkness can be strong. The relief of Nothingness must be alluring. We cannot judge those who have chosen that path -- nor ourselves, for failing to notice as their steps along that path took them beyond our reach. People are mysteries, sometimes even to themselves.

How do we help those left behind in the wake of this terrible loss?

We can be present for those who grieve him. And we can speak his name, both now and in the future, and talk of him kindly and gently. For his ghost is here among us, and perhaps, by remembering him with love, he will finally be surrounded by the peace that eluded him in life.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Tiny Head Bear

Offspring the Third finds the bear very amusing, indeed. 


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Dua

Herself speaks.

Tonight's earworm: New Rules, by Dua Lipa.

I like the video. What a lovely group of young women, and a charming portrayal of the power and strength of female friendship.

Because I am a thorough introvert with a mere handful of Important People, I cannot imagine having such a squad of good female friends upon whom I could rely. I find the idea appealing. I wonder if the reality would be beneficial, or exhausting?  I'll never know.

Nevertheless: this is a good song, with witty lyrics and a solid message. I hope you enjoy.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Share?

OH HELLO OFFSPRING THE SECOND: WE, TOO, ENJOY POPCORN. CARE TO SHARE?


Monday, January 8, 2018

Spurned

Herself speaks.

There was a small article in a regional paper today that might have passed unnoticed, but for the way it was phrased:  "Spurned dance sparks assault of man, woman." Apparently a man repeatedly approached a table of strangers, "trying to berate a woman into dancing with him." (Because berating someone to dance with you... works? What the hell, dude?)  After she repeatedly declined, and her brother stepped in to try to help, the man physically assaulted them.

"Spurned dance." Look at that phrase.

Why is it not "repeated harassment escalates to assault"? Why is the focus on the woman "spurning" the man, rather than on his egregious behavior?

This, People, is why women are so often conciliatory -- because they fear escalation. This woman most likely thought she was safe with a family member, yet she received escalation anyway.

The truth of the matter: women never feel safe. There are always men (yes, we know, Not All Men) who feel entitled to our attention, who feel they can dictate our behavior, who think badgering someone into compliance is an appropriate way to interact with another human being. Men who trample our wishes and our desires and our sense of security. Men who manipulate and make us uncomfortable and wear down our defenses until we acquiesce, because we are more afraid of what will happen if we do not agree than if we do agree. And even though Not All Men, we do not know what type of man any given stranger is. We err on the side of caution. Escalation can happen anywhere, at any time -- even when out with a sibling to enjoy some music at a local watering hole.

This is unacceptable. And we are done.

Stand strong, sisters. The time to be conciliatory has come to an end.

L. Perkins
Image found here:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shadow-boxing/201711/metoo-watershed-moment


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Rage in the Machine

Herself speaks.

Sometimes a migraine persists in an undercurrent, like a just-healed wintertime crack in the tip of a finger that threatens to open up again. This is one of those lingering times. I am inexplicably angry, and everything is Very Loud, and the amount of energy required to overcome inertia seems to be far, far more than usual.

Despite this Black Cloud of Headache/Anger, it was a lovely day outside. So I took elderly three-toothed dog for a slow amble around the block, allowing him to sniff every blade of grass he desired at his leisure. It was soothing to be outside in the waning afternoon light.

I have a tremendous longing to be outside, away, with tent and camp chair, simple stove and simple needs. It is almost a visceral desire, to be among trees and under the sky. I shall keep the kernel of this idea warm inside my heart, for it shall be the Happy Place to which I return when the outside world is unduly pressing.

I will see you there.

Image may contain: dog and outdoor
Walkies. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Friday, January 5, 2018

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

PB&J

Herself speaks.

I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner tonight. With a yogurt-in-a-tube on the side. Plus two chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Ah, the ideal childhood meal.
-----
I have found myself contemplating aspects of my youth lately: the foods of yore; the yard in which I played; my favorite toys. There is an evanescent, overarching emotion in the reminiscing that defies simple explanation. Perhaps it is a desire to have no obligations other than to try hard in school and to practice the piano. Wouldn't that be marvelous? I would enjoy that.

Perhaps even more, though, there is a primordial longing to be nurtured. Someone fix me something to eat, send me upstairs to take a bath, pick out a stuffed animal, tuck me into bed. Please. I am tired and overstimulated and need quiet and rest. That would be lovely, indeed.

It is hard to accept that as an adult, that particular longing for nurturing will no longer be fulfilled. I remind myself, I do not want what I cannot have. No sense in wishing for what cannot be.

And I make my own peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The best I can do, all things considered, is to try to nurture myself.

Image result for handmade wooden apple with tea set inside
This wooden teaset-in-an-apple, which reminds me of childhood,
was found here: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/343469909061103339/

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Closeness

Herself speaks.

Both of the small dogs have seemed to require more up-close-and-personal attention the past few days. Perhaps the comings and goings of the holiday season have affected them in a similar manner as they have affected me -- there is a distinct need for the quiet solace of one's favorite people. It is a difficulty made more pronounced by the occasional unavailability -- whether because of time constraints, distance, or their own personal needs -- of those who are most comforting. Alas. Such it is.

Fortunately for the small dogs, I am available. Rest easy, small dogs. It will be all right.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Leaves

Herself speaks.

The weather was beautiful yesterday, and I took advantage of it by raking leaves in the back yard for a couple of hours. It was thoroughly enjoyable. The smell of the leaves reminds me so much of childhood: every fall, there were giant piles of leaves into which we would fling ourselves from off of the swingset. Swing, swing, higher and higher, until finally *release* and arc and fall into the leaf pile. The leaves were earthen-scented, vaguely damp (with the occasional slug -- shudder) yet oftentimes still crunchy. Maple, oak, chestnut. Leaves, leaves.

The leaves here in the southwest lack that damp earthen-ness of those in the northeast. They are, nevertheless, quite satisfactory. They gather up against rock walls and in the dense desert shrubbery. They crunch underfoot. (A few autumns ago before Cherished Friend moved to his own northern corner of the desert, there would occasionally be an opportunity to shuffle through the leaves on the walking path we would take. I always liked to do so.). Leaves, leaves.

The leaves of autumn are bittersweet. Still, they are lovely.

Tiny Dog is intimidated by the leaf pile.