Discussions of peace during a reflective afternoon. Casually walking down quiet streets of a sleepy LI coastal town. Reflecting on life, living, pretense and want. Discussions about peace and its refusal…or is it just a lack of awareness? We didn’t agree or decide. Yet, as I rounded the corner, the antique shop message embraced my consciousness just enough for me to connect with a smile…
she had been lost since his death more than ten years ago. their birthdays were the same. on friday, valentine’s day,this year, she found her way back to him. as i sit still trying to connect with the God I … Continue reading
Today, the snow is softly falling outdoors as I prepare for a testing day at school. Bureau drawers clutch turtlenecks of diverse hues, much like the differences in kids I encounter every day. But today, I stop and choose a … Continue reading
Sometimes the days speak in ways hidden to most, but clear to us. Thursday, I stayed after the workshop was over, speaking with the Science Department Chair about problems and making life better for our communities locally and at-large. … Continue reading
We grow up. We grow old. But the pain of loss never quite leaves our minds, our spirits, our hearts. It was thirty years ago today that my father passed to another existence after a painful death from Hodgkin’s Disease. I recall seeing him in the hospital bed, stomach expanded, unable to speak but making sounds of anguish from the intense pain he was feeling just hours before his death. I had to leave…I could not watch him suffer. I left my mother at his bedside and drove home literally blinded with my own tears, trying to expiate any sins, any pain he had left in the vestiges of his corporeal form. As I ran into the house and closed the door safely behind me, I cried out to God, “Please take him, don’t let him suffer anymore!” Truly, no sooner had I uttered those words than the phone rang. The hospital had called to say he had just passed away. I broke down to the floor on my knees.
Later, I wrote this poem in tribute to the days and nights both my mother and I cared for him, as he had wished, at home until we could no longer. We took turns – mornings and afternoons – keeping watch and going to work or in my case, university. The oxygen tent at home, the tears that would suddenly fall from his eyes made life almost a numbing routine for us. And of course, watching someone loved suffer remains always a slow deterioration of everything normal.
So as I prepare to leave this early morning for work in the semi-darkness, I choose to touch my father’s soul another time. I choose to try and connect through the feelings of familial love and all his sacrifice for me, for our family, for his life. And I end as I start, with this prose for him. Riposa in pace, papa.
Screaming eyes, wild with pain, breathing plastic and conscious tears, wordless noise, dripping blood
metastasized rising…to surface and give up a spirit.
That same spirit used to take me to baseball games,
call me “names” in jokes and jest, play a hell of a game of pool.
Still…to buy us presents under the tree.
Still…to relax with melting ice cream and smiles.
Just a dad, but he was mine.
Just the why…I can’t forget.
‘Cause his pain hurts me
For all the spirit is inside.
The “why” I live and seek to strive.
His spirit in memories as I die in them again and again.
They live in me and I in them as all is fulfilled .
“Now that there’s nothing new to risk, I’m free to…” Tom’s thoughts stopped short. His mental words slammed shut as an empty feeling overtook, keeping him awake, eyes darting over the darkened horizon just one more time and back to repeat the motion, again and again. He wondered how many children the age of his son, Chris, were trying to sleep under the starlit sky. He questioned the motives for his presence, his training, his execution of every order, just as commanded.
“Nothing new to risk…””
His third tour of duty and his fears now dissipated into numbness. He felt more mechanical than he did human, empty, void, corroded.
“Nothing new to risk…”
He had seen life, felt it vibrate and obeyed orders to extinguish it as well. “Now I’m free,” he instinctively thought, “nothing is new, nothing matters.” His eyes closed to the snap of gunshots.
shuffling feet, dried crackling leaves, stone of granite, my heart bereaves
as if it were almost yesterday, the child’s laughter in gentle play.
your gnarled fingers worn by life, weaving, knitting yarns and strife.
your silken wisps of snow-white hair brush my soul’s nostalgic care
and concern for this is the day that years ago you passed away.
so as i brush a leaf away, a tear is shed, a smile will stay
for your deep love, i still feel today forty years since you’ve gone away.
you shielded me through your sacrifice. yours had been an immigrant life
protecting the child without, within, your selfless love erased the sin
that grew, collected over the years as children’s dreams became grown-up fears.
and so still today after so much time, immortalized within this rhyme,
you have become my light of hope, a ray of light inside to cope
with all these trials to endure. your mantle clothes me, soft and pure
with a grandma’s love, our lives of nurturing on earth and above.
Why’d I lose it like this?
My sorry ass on this bench of steel,
damned days, tough nights, alone, too real.
That flash, I feel no pulse, no breath
how could I, your man, have caused your death?
Eyes focused, cracked cee-ment skies above,
I ‘fess this sin to you, my love.
Still I ain’t quite sorry for this sin,
your cancer, baby, was doin’ us in.
Will these bars of steel always be so cold and real?