When was the last time you told your story?
This is a question poet/author Mark Nepo asks in his “The Book of Awakening,” entry for September 5th, page 303.
The question is an invitation to share your story as a way to heal, mend the heart, and come to terms with the past. Telling your story can save and liberate you. Write down your story or tell it, over and over again.
My only word of caution is don’t become your story or overindulge. That’s always a fine line to walk, one we might need to cross to fully understand and come to terms with our story.
So tell me your story?
Today, after a year and a half or more, I had the pleasure of catching up with one of my first CWJ coffee mates.
In addition to being an amazing Zumba dancer with the kind of energy that brightness up a room, she is a trailblazer, a wonderful soulful friend, and a gem among stones.
In her own words, check out her video on how at 38 she joined the Air Force, confronting fears and doing something not a lot of people would think of doing in their late 30s.
What fears do you feel you need to conquer? Hear her story and be inspired.
The coffee we never had…
How long since we had last seen each other? 20 or so more years.
You were a private person, only sharing with me about your battle with breast cancer after you had learned of my wife’s own illness with the disease.
You didn’t share or expand much of your own experience. Still, you opened up to me a few times and we bonded over that unfortunate predicament.
The last time you shared anything related to your illness was April of last year, letting me know, “I am fine. Treatments all done. Blood work good. Scan good…”
Today, I learned of your passing as I had shared another video with you of my son’s playing. Only last week, you had seen the previous one I had sent to you noting, “just watched your son playing Valeri on YouTube and he’s so cool and chill. Your son’s vibe is great.”
I shared your words with my son and he truly appreciated them. You didn’t get to see his last video and we never got to have that coffee we had so long ago postponed.
Funny, we weren’t all that close and only shared a few times in person when we worked together many moons back. The news of your passing breaks my heart. You were so young, vibrant, smart, beautiful. You will be missed my dear fellow Gemini.
You will be missed
We can say a lot say about 2020.
Personally, I have had worse as well as better years.
I experienced adventures, heartbreak, joy, disappointment, love, emotional hardship, breakthroughs, loss, stress, new connections.
I am grateful for all the experiences, contributing to my growth and place in this world. Also, grateful for the many good fortunes the year granted me – health, family, work, new friendships, and personal discoveries.
I know I have been fortunate in many areas where many have not. I humbly give grace and thanks for those many blessings.
As I review the past year, I wish you many good fortunes and many blessings for 2021.
Two fire trucks and an ambulance? Maybe more? I can’t remember for sure. The response came within minutes
The moment I do recall is when the golf cart flipped over. Everything at that time seemed to freeze while the cart made its way to the left side. I remember my hand grabbing to the right on the passenger side, holding, hoping not to be tossed over. The blue, motionless sky with its white clouds met my gaze in the slow progression of the weight of the cart to the side. The inevitable fall probably took seconds but it seemed like an eternity until the sounds of the emergency vehicles came blaring in, along with the sound of people coming towards us. All, from a sudden pause in time, came rushing in. Colors, sounds, smells.
“My foot. My foot” were the only words emitting from my mouth as I was writhing in pain on the pavement, moving side to side in full soccer player mode holding my left ankle. The driver, unscathed, was trying to talk to me, but I all I mustered in my anger towards him, “my fucking foot.”
My last day of what had been a carefree summer job, shared with a kid that lived up to his Italian last name, Pelusso, and another kid that looked like one of the Handson Brothers, culminated that morning with a ride to the hospital. Up to that moment, it had been a glorious summer.
Miles Davis, Ben Harper, Sugar Ray’s “Fly,” broken golf-carts thanks to our shenanigans, summer crushes, BBQ’s at a friend’s off-campus house, copious amount of wine and coffee that we smuggled out from the campus dining center, and careless times shared with people that came and went out of my life marked that summer.
Becky, Sonia, Val, Pelusso, Ben (aka Hanson), Brenda, David Muso, Sky; all now ghosts in the cemetery of buried memories. And then there was John, the kid responsible for flipping the cart. Pelusso and Handson had long been gone, having had gone for the summer weeks prior. John, the rookie, who was our replacement to work on the grounds of the campus, never made it past that first day of his job. His nagging convinced me to let him drive as we were heading back to the greenhouse after the morning gardening routine.
Months prior to that summer, nothing seemed to be carefree. No Miles Davis or other music to distract me. No girls sending me love letters. No long conversations with friends under the endless night sky. Just heavyweight of loss, thousands of miles away from life as I knew it, as imperfect as it was.
A call set all in motion, leading me to borrow $700 for the flight, scrape whatever monies I could gather, and leave everything behind –mostly, a challenging college semester with a thesis that was going nowhere. Making the decision to leave came after searching and struggling for an answer. “I don’t hold office hours today, but what can I do for you,” were the words that met me from my thesis counselor, not even before approaching her office doorway. “Nothing,” I said and I went to search for my tutor/mentor. “All should be fine. Stay the course” was his advice.
I don’t recall what time the phone rang following the next or the following days within that week as sleepless nights and the stress merged time all into endless hours of agitation and uncertainty. “How is the situation” was the question I asked my older sister’s husband. After hanging up, I set my travel arrangements back to New York City from Poughkeepsie. Two days later I was sitting on a plane heading to Quito, Ecuador.
The local population I found to be hostile. Their local transportation, inadequate and uncomfortable. The food? All I can tell is that the local cuisine sent me to the crapper for the whole week that I was there with my stomach twisting, and churning in painful cramps.
Home for that week narrowed to trips back and forth from my stepfather’s house to the hospital. My two sisters and I gathered in the waiting area sleep-deprived and hanging to hope. The comings and goings of those days have faded into threads of memory that I can’t completely untangle.
Aside from the times,I shared with my sisters talking and laughing at each other during those long days, what I remember clearly is that when I first arrived on a Sunday to the hospital, I got to see my mother for the first time in almost three-years. Did we share hours together? Or just moments? I can’t say for sure. All I know is that was the last time I saw her alive. I remember her laughter and love. The next time I got to see her was her lifeless body.
The whole night before that morning I didn’t want to move from the waiting area. I held my desire to go to the bathroom, even as my stomach was killing me. Finally, sometime around the morning hours, I gave in and decided I could not hold it anymore. The bathroom I remember being one level down from where we were. Of course, minutes after I had sat down on the toilet, I began hearing my sister knocking on the door.
I knew what that meant. Whatever hopes I had for my mother’s situation to turn had disappeared as the days in the hospital prolonged. I remember praying, something I had not done in years, with a plea to God or the Universe to perform a miracle. As no news came with each passing hour, evening turning to morning, I remember just pleading for her suffering to end.
I walked out of the hospital with crutches in-hand. Luckily, the golf cart misadventure ended only with a sprained ankle, my foot the size of a football, and a scar as a reminder of an unforgettable summer sprung by loss.
The birds are calling
Bright golden hair illuminating against a gray sky
Cold rushing and penetrating
Sudden silence wrapping the seconds in a moment of reverie
Music emanating from a car breaking the spell
Meditative trance of passion ensuing the night
Birds are calling
Foreboding of unspoken truths
Silence wrapping reality
Birds are calling, carrying memories
The unspoken remains in silence
Did I love her?
I did care for her and, to use a phrase she introduced to me to, I adored her.
Did I see a long-term future/relationship with her? If being honest, I didn’t for a variety of reasons.
She came to my life unexpectedly. We shared a great three/four month romance/relationship.
All came crashing without any warning, at least that I saw. One day, I went from being “her favorite person in the world” to an abrupt text, “I’ll always appreciate knowing you and for the time we have spent together!”
No explanations beyond that the relationship or whatever we had was too much to balance with everything else, etc.
Anger and hurt fueled me for while as I could not let go of how she ended things over a text — I had expected at least a phone call after the times we shared.
But anger moved to trying to understand her situation as a single mother of two with a full time job. In my mind, I have come to somewhat of an understanding, if indeed she was truthful.
Regardless, all I can do is truly wish her happiness. She brought light and joy into my life. I wish things had ended differently and that we had shared more adventures together. I am grateful for the experiences, memories and lessons we did share. I will carry those in my skin, heart and mind. Those will live in me. Yet, I am letting go of what I cannot control or understand.
I am letting go of my hurt, anger and wounded ego. I am letting go of my of attachment. I am letting go of my desire for her smell, touch and passion. I am letting go of trying to understand her reasons. I am letting go of a hope for some type of reconciliation. I am letting go.
As she looks into the horizon, I wish her only the best with many blessings for a bright and happy life and future. I wish for her to find the balance she needs. I wish for her to find someone that will treat her and her children well and give them unconditional love. I wish for her to heal from the wounds she carries from her divorce. I am imagining her laughing and enjoying a happy life, filled with love, joy, and free of suffering. Sweet thoughts and blessings of love for you, my dear, dear friend.
I will end my rambling with a David Whyte poem that captures my sentiments better than I can ever express them:
BLESSING FOR UNREQUITED LOVE
A blessing on the eyes that do not see me as I wish.
A blessing to the ears that can never hear the far inward footfall of my own shy heart. Blessings to the life
in you that will live without me, to the open door
that now and forever takes you away from me,
blessings to the path that you follow alone and blessings
to the path that awaits you, joining with another.
A blessing for the way you will not know me in the years to come, and with it, a blind outstretched
blessing of my hands on anything or anyone that cannot ever come to know me fully as I am,
and therefore, a blessing even, for the way I will
never fully know myself, above all, the deepest, kindest
wishes of my own hidden and untrammeled heart
for what you had to hide from me in you.
Let me be generous enough and large enough and brave enough to say goodbye to you without understanding,
to let you go into your own understanding. May you always be in the sweet central, hidden shadow of my memory without needing to know who you were
when you first came, who you were when you stayed
and who you will become in your freedom now that
you are passed through my life and gone.
With that, my sweet friend, I say goodbye.
Today, I officially turn 47.
George Floyd (46) never got the privilege. Nor did:
Ahmaud Marquez Arbery (25)
Eric Garner (43)
Ezell Ford (25)
Trayvon Martin (17)
Tanisha Anderson (37)
Tamir Rice (12)
Natasha McKenna (37)
Baton Rouge, (37)
Philando Castile (32)
Botham Jean (26)
Atatiana Jefferson (28)
Dominique Clayton (32)
Breonna Taylor (26)
Those are only a handful of men, women and children whose lives and light were unjustly cut short, all because of their color of their skin.
My heart aches for the experiences and lives they never got a chance to live.
My heart aches for their families and friends who will never hear their voices and laughter again.
My heart aches for my son’s best friends, all of whom are Black. I love those kids; my heart aches hearing their despair, sadness and fear they feel.
I am blessed to live another day. I am blessed to experience and celebrate a joint birthday with my son on this day. I am blessed and grateful for my family, friends and wonderful network. Yet, my heart aches.
On this birthday of mine, I wish for peace, healing, and change. As a country, a nation, and as individuals we have much work to do to change the current narrative.
I want to hear in the wind your laughter.
I want the sky to bring and shine upon me your light.
I want the birds to bring me your voice.
I want for the day to radiate in me with your happiness.