Two More Hours

Approaching the valet parking attendant’s station Mom stopped the car just shy of the podium, clearly communicating she didn’t require their services while allowing me as close a drop-off to the door as she could navigate. “Find out where I’m supposed to park? I’ll wait here until you do,” she reminded me as I gingerly stepped out of the warm car into the too-early January morning. 

Limping my way through the doorway that read HEART AND VASCULAR CENTER I heard the eerily-loud swoosh of the large double doors’ opening and closing behind and before me in response to the arrhythmic motion of my own body lingering for that moment in their in-between. Left to occupy and to traverse the whole of the corridor between the double double doors behind me and the too-tall circular Welcome Desk — that felt well, less than welcome — here in this January morning, my mind willed my body forward quicker than my still-healing Achilles’ tendon wanted on its own. 

Diane, whose name tag was more visible than the visibility she clearly lacked buried there in the middle of her donut-shaped Desk, openly studied her open bible while expertly handing me my temporary admission tag. She was waiting and ready for me. Would her Jesus help me help my mom, I mused, and out loud asked, “Is it okay for my mom to come inside, to be here with me?” While not saying out loud: She has been sat in her car for all of the (too many) times she drove and dropped him, her husband (my father), at different double double doors that swoosh, through which his was the only admission permissible. 

“Oh sure, Honey. Just tell her to park in the garage below; the entry code is 5576. Then she just needs to ride the elevator to 2 and it’ll put her out right over yonder.” 

“5576” I repeat to Diane and to myself, preparing to repeat it to my mother, as I pivot on “thank you,” and limp back down the still-empty corridor, this time emotionally prepared for the momentary hold of the in-between and blast of the swoosh back into January. Her 2005 burgundy Crown Vic idles patiently; she ever-patient inside. I hurry toward her now-open window via my Achilles’ current (temporary) interpretation of mobility and spill the Good News two steps too soon, too caught up in the miracle of Diane’s Jesus to notice that January snatches sounds it mistakes for warmth, rushing them sideways into its own holding and release patterns not meant for man. My feet catch up with my mouth-to-window ratio and I repeat, “5576! You can park and come in and be with me! Diane from the donut, or maybe her Jesus, said YES! Take the elevator to 2 and I’ll see you inside!” and I pivot again, to traverse my now well-worn path through the double double doors.

We sit together, side-by-side. On the wall opposite is mounted a television whose channel is set to a children’s baking competition, but whose soundtrack is being supplied by the television situated directly above our heads; audibly we know the program is a home renovation and reveal show; we smile at the disparity playing out in front of us in surround sound. Mom shows me the green plastic wristband strapped around her forearm and I tap the sticker on my chest, indicating my admission tag is different because today I am different; I am the one going through the next set of doors alone and without her. The last time we two entered through double double doors together we received matching green plastic wristbands; mine still lives in the bathroom drawer where I slipped it off for the final time June 29, no longer needing to pass through any doors because his admission was a one-way pass. 

My visit is short, long enough for her to read one chapter, maybe two, and we walk out together leaving behind us the two televisions to face off to each other with their combined conflicting comedies. Hospital corridors and doors close behind us with a click, a swoosh and a seal, completing the transaction of our visit with a visceral finality I feel across the entirety of my back, like January’s sideways snatches not meant for man or for me. 

The valet parking attendant, whose services Mom ended up using, brings the car around to just shy of the podium, as close to the double double doors as he can navigate, and trades spaces with my mother still wearing her green plastic wristband. I limp and hop into my seat beside her, lean out into January, pull closed the heavy door, and turn and reach above my right shoulder to drag down the seatbelt strap, and click it into place, securing myself for our side-by-side ride back home.

Adding to the slowly-warming hiss of the car’s heater Mom softly says, her voice gradually rising in pitch, indignation, and notes of despair, “The morning we dropped him off for his surgery they made him come at 6:00 and then made him sit in that lobby — completely alone — for TWO hours! Why couldn’t they let me sit with him?! I could have been with him and held his hand for two more hours. None of this makes any sense to me.” 

“I know, Mom. I know. I am so sorry you couldn’t have those two hours together, side-by-side, on the other side of the other double double doors.” I don’t think even Diane’s Jesus could have helped us back in June the way January blew you through today. Sometimes global pandemics shut doors we would otherwise have walked right through and their gradual and inconsistent reopening makes no sense. 

But since we two are here right now, side-by-side, how would you like to use your two hours?

Everlasting Monuments

The phone rang while she was driving and I intercepted Mom’s determinedly-fumbling fingers to reach her cell and make the safe answer to the call. On speaker he says, “Linda? Linda, it’s Mark with Everlasting Monument Company. I didn’t expect to be calling you so soon but it’s here! Would you like to come by and see it, be sure everything is spelled correctly?”

I only hold the phone, on speaker, next to her face while she keeps driving; she speaks on the side to me, “Would you like to go?” Yes, of course I am a yes. To Mark, “Can we come this morning? At 11?” It’s all agreed and arranged. Mom lets my oldest brother know that today on his birthday, the 54th anniversary of her becoming a mother, at 11:00 we are meeting with Mark to look at the piece of bronze etched with our parents’ names, images, and known dates of birth, marriage and death (Mom’s TBD). 

“It’s mounted on granite,” says Mark in response to my brother’s question, “and we do use cement.” His arm sweeps a wide gesture above the cardboard box and heavy plastic that have been cut open to reveal the undeniably impressive-looking grave marker on the floor at our feet. “What do you think? It looks great, doesn’t it? Is everything spelled correctly? Do you see why we couldn’t put a vase here? It clearly wouldn’t fit.” 

Mom speaks first, “Everything looks beautiful. It’s all spelled correctly. What do you kids think? And Mark, when I go all you’ll have to do is get my date and unscrew that plate and reattach it? That’s all?”

“Fifty years from now, I’ll do it myself, Linda,” Mark lies to her with his professionally-practiced soft smile, and we all smile in deferred reality.

I am ready to no longer be staring at the bronze plate etched with my parents’ names. Soon enough it will be cemented on top of the earth where I take myself to talk out loud with my dad.

From your mouth to God’s ears, Mark; let it be another 50 years before I need to have those out loud conversations with Linda.

Hallelujah

A deep deep inhalation followed by a full-breathed exhale — the all at once kind, looking like the wind emoji and wondering if this is what is meant by life imitating art? My wondering takes me underneath the exhale, curious if I can name it, say out loud the source of this Hallelujah’s inception. I know there is power in a name. I remember that “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19), and if Mary kept her things to herself, should I, too, keep mine? 

My full-breathed exhales are my Hallelujah Collective, a chorus of sorts, and much like Handel in his writing of his own Hallelujah Chorus (much better-known than my own), “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself seated on His throne, with His company of Angels,” I know my exhales are full of the god in me accompanied by my own company of angels surrounding, lifting, and lighting my next breath forward. 

Notable Hallelujah’s:

— Every time his touching of me stopped. Always temporarily, but stopped. In those moments I exhaled.

— 9/11 peace accord with my Self, the confirmation that we two, she and me, would remain standing but on separate ground from him

— He agreeing, without dissertation or discussion of any kind, to my having full custody of our co-creation, my whole heart, my girl

— The signature from a credentialed-stranger, publicly decreeing a legal unbinding on the outside of what would take more years apart than ever together to undo what twisted up and bound my inside beliefs

— A name, my own from birth, restored as patronymic for only a small fee + the paperwork

— Another signature, many times repeated, binding me to a home, a place, a mortgage, my own alone

— Dance recitals, voice performances, graduations, life moments complete with staged photographs to capture forever the unbindable and impossible to capture love for this precious daughter

— Graduate work with my own heart, Spiritual Psychology, reviewing, revisiting, forgiving, reimagining, and reinventing my own breaths and transmuting them one at a time into my own Hallelujah Collective, here to be treasured, acknowledged, shared and seen. By me. By you. For the heavenly seeing of the god in me bowing to the god I was, only always doing the best she could.

And look at her now: breathing.

Hallelujah. 

The Right Man

When the one place I’d been taught my entire life to feel the most secure, safe, and certain suddenly became uninhabitable for me, I wanted an exit plan that would ensure the love of those I was inevitably leaving behind remained intact. It’s taken years to navigate, but based on the security, safety and certainty on which I stand today, I feel nothing but gratitude.

I was raised inside of a strictly dogmatic theology: right and wrong, black and white, good and evil were as clearly defined for me as the ten words on my weekly second grade spelling test. And just like the learning of my weekly vocabulary words required writing sentences for a grade to be sure I understood every word’s derivation, pronunciation and correct usage, so, too, did my parents and Sunday School teachers require a regular repetition of concepts, scripture stories, and commandments. 

I was the poster child for GOOD GIRL. I made every decision only through prayer; I participated in service opportunities at Olympic athlete levels; I turned every frown upside down and changed it to a smile; I quoted scriptures as off-handedly as the ABC song; I was a youth leader, showing my peers through my example exactly how easy it was to live righteously; I taught Sunday School for every single age bracket the packed Sunday service schedule could allow; I served a full-time mission. In Russia. I learned Russian to teach the Russian people in their own language everything I was told I know about God and Jesus Christ and the salvation of your soul. I know all about your soul, where it came from, why it’s here, where it’s heading next, and what you can do about it. I baked my own bread, could sew my daughter dresses, married the “right” man, kept a spotless house, served others without ever once thinking of myself, studied my scriptures, taught the 5 year-olds to be like Jesus, taught the 25 year-olds to believe in things unseen, taught the 55 year-olds to be less judgmental. 

The right man I married stopped attending church. No one at church asked why. They all made righteously safe assumptions about his whereabouts — must be at the hospital, obviously making rounds, so studious that one, God bless him. 

The right man I married yelled at me when I spoke to him without invitation, when I entered his (our) office unannounced — the computer and his access to porn lived there in the dark, when my (our) daughter cried (“Make her stop, goddammit!”), when his laundry wasn’t folded to his liking, when I wasn’t to his liking, when I weighed only 90 pounds and couldn’t feed myself or my baby or him but he wasn’t going to take care of me.

Do you hear me?

He wasn’t. 

Milestone Moments

I was this week old when I had my first taste of alcohol. Ever. Let me do the math for you. My half birthday was on October 1, making me 47.5 years old. My unlearning, letting go, and reidentification of Self as told me into Self as I create and choose me has now occupied a decade, plus at least four years more. There have been a handful of milestone moments in this my unlearning phase of the life I’m living. 

If I provide you a checklist it might be easier for you to follow along and keep track.

☑ Stop wearing the clothes I’ve been told to wear

☑ Start wearing sleeveless tops, shorts, and skirts above the knee

☑ Stop weekly attendance at Sunday service

☑ Breathe deeply when church members openly judge me and call my attention to my sins

☑ Actively engage in debriefing conversations with my daughter about what she is being told and taught and wonder if the entire world might actually stop spinning if we walk away entirely

☑ Remind myself my daughter’s accusation of me wearing a bikini is a sin is not my daughter’s thought but one planted in her by someone else

☑ Imagine, again, a world in which we live without the weight of what is expected, required and obligatory

☑ Show up to therapy and talk out loud to the sofa across from mine using language I was never taught correlated to marriage, relationship, and love. Words like rape and sexual abuse

☑ See that healing a wound I didn’t know I had will require behaving in a way I didn’t know I was allowed and I will, like Eve, sin in the eyes of others but in my own eyes, heart and soul understand the necessity of knowing I am not broken and be known by a man

☑ Go DEEP with the guilt of my learned bad behavior, spend countless sleepless nights praying and pleading with my God for forgiveness, understanding, and desperation that He not take my daughter from me, that the earth remain intact and not swallow me whole, that my sins not be as visible as Hester’s scarlet letter

☑ Drop therapy for making me feel worse on the other side of a session on the couch than progressing or understanding anything

☑ Know in my heart that constantly revisiting the past is no way to create a future

☑ Go back to school. Sure. Get a master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology because that’s the obvious thing to do

☑ Reinvent God and my entire relationship to Him. Wow. He is so much bigger than I ever understood before

☑ Say “FUCK” for first time

☑ Recognize that using the words SHIT, FUCK AND DAMN take practice to incorporate into my vernacular — for others’ comfort and my own

☑ Send my daughter to university in a city too far from my heart

☑ Begin what may be a lifetime of grieving the vacancy left in her absence, a void from 18 years of daily loving no longer with me

☑ Sell my home and downsize into a city that is too small to hold me

☑ Move across the country to check off others’ dream of LA living that was never my dream

☑ Keep dreaming

☑ Survive LA

☑ Complete my graduate studies

☑ Fall in love with being with my Self

☑ Reconnect and reinvent relationship with my brother, be fully and truly seen by him — the first and only member of my family to reach out to me for understanding, for loving and being together by choice

☑ Receive my dad’s cancer diagnosis with a criss-cross applesauce move back across the country, carrying and keeping only that which fits into the Civic. Nothing else matters.

☑ For the first time in my 47 years come home as my Self, wholly, fully, in my loving

☑ Live simply as the presence of Love, loving both my parents exactly where, who and why they are. I am Love. And I am loving every single minute.

☑ Meet Grief again and in an entirely new way on June 29

☑ Take a deep breath and taste a mimosa because the earth won’t swallow me, my mom still loves me, my daughter will always be mine and I will keep creating me. With love. As love. Only always.

Cloud Gazing

Cloud-gazing is a time-honored portal of childhood and I have accessed this portal throughout my entire adult life — each time I need entry to another place or even moment in time. Sometimes I look beyond the obvious elephants and ships on the ocean to what message the image might carry for me in this exact moment of our meeting. What is it this bunch of balloons needs me to see, remember or to do as our paths cross only once moving away from each other faster than we are toward. If the balloons drift past too quickly for me to comprehend or to divine their meaning, I know a dragon or a butterfly will shortly be along to tell me again, as often as need be for me to remember. Until the next time I seek solace in the itchy grass beneath my neck and embracing my legs, each blades’ edges reminding me to be here now, to look around while being grounded. What message is here for me this time? And for what purpose will I return again and again — my lifetime membership to this playground of possibility renewed automatically with each use of the portal. 

He wasn’t much for dreaming or for cloud-gazing that man to whom I said, “I do.” He wasn’t much for anything or anyone not expressly connected to his own advancement or to his cloudless story of his own creation. He was easily provoked and always disgruntled. The tea leaves’ reading he pursued was dark and alone. Invitations to join him in agreement, pity and emotional poverty I readily declined. My sky still filled with clouds and my ground still covered with grass. His sky was always dark and stormy and his ground was no place I wanted to willingly lie down and get wrapped up. But I felt trapped, held by the gravitational pull of covenants and commandments, the seal of others’ disapproval and disappointment, the obligation of procreation and parenthood.

He disowned his own grandparents. 

Made it legal, got a notary public to sign and seal the letter of declaration in his own handwriting. He told me to sign my name, as if this were mine together with him, this burden of story and dark clouds and wanting that which he thought should be his, entitled by way of internal suffering. To exist in his orbit was to co-exist with a reckless child, out of control, lacking any sense of personal responsibility or decency toward others. Only ever MINE I DESERVE THIS YOU OWE ME I DID THIS ON MY OWN I DON’T OWE YOU ANYTHING and so on. Exhausting. Always.

I refused to sign his letter. An isolated act of independence. One that did not go unnoticed or without punishment, retribution, retaliation. Always his clouds conjured payback because his storm was always keeping a scorecard. His ground is strewn with hard objects against my bare feet; I always step with caution on that ground. I’ve been injured so many times when I skipped lightly, mistaking rocks and gravel for fresh grass.

His mother didn’t know to tread any way but with love. I can imagine the depth of her pain when the phone call came from her own mother — and not from her own son — about the notarized letter she had just received in the mail. 

I had two notifications of the receipt of that letter I did not sign:

1. A package in the mail containing a beautiful one-of-a-kind matryoshka we purchased in Russia for his grandparents. There was no note included.

2. A phone call from his frantic mother certain there must be a mistake, a misunderstanding, a message she never received. 

His retribution for my not signing: explain to her myself the mind of her own son, which gets its directions from storm clouds, stony ground and a life story whose past, present and future are as dismal as the dark-inked signature of the notary.

My portal to that other place is well-worn and the clouds in my wished-for sky never see the storms that can’t escape me. 

Schooled

Sitting on the edge of my daughter’s raised bed, legs and heart hanging listlessly over the side, I watch her unpack and arrange her laptop, her Bluetooth speaker, and a small picture of us that will be her replacement of me for the up-until-now daily seeing and being with her face. Lost in my own thoughts I maintain a steady stream of encouraging babble, suggestions for low-maintenance succulents and whether any additional throw pillows might be needed, all as a coverup for my inability to confront in conversation what I do not understand or have control over in my own heart: That my actual heart is not coming home with me today. I am leaving her here amongst the just-purchased pillows, tiny succulents, color-coordinated organizing bins and shared bathroom. Here with strangers who will become friends, no way to get or give a hug, and innumerable opportunities to discover and access the truth of how truly remarkable she is. 

“Mom! That’s internal misogyny and you need to check yourself.” 

Her accusation brings my full attention back to a conversation I can’t repeat on a straight line. “I’m sorry. What did you just say?”

“You need to check yourself.”

“No, the part before that — the term you used. What was it you said?”

“Internal misogyny?” 

“Yes,” I hear the words linked together and something clicks together inside my head. “Tell me what that means,” even though the knowing at hearing the words has already informed me.

“It means you, yourself, are a misogynist. Against yourself. You were raised that way — think about it. Everything in the church has taught you that you weren’t as important or as worthy as a man. And you believe it, so you speak it, live it, repeat it.” 

Listening to her define and describe these words, and my experience to me, I hear the truthfulness, the shocking awareness of her rightness, and I weep. For me. For the numerous dots that are suddenly being connected, for the shame at being caught as the one minimizing, mistrusting, misbelieving myself.

Quietly I thank her for showing me myself and my opportunity to unlearn what I have been conditioned to be and wipe away my tears for the moment.

We finish the unpacking, the organizing, the putting away of what’s obvious and right in front of us and walk our way back across the cold-tiled floors of her now common area, through the carpeted co-ed hallways smelling of cardboard and congestion, down the completely packed and awkwardly silent elevators, spilling ourselves into the lobby on the need-an-ID side of the security desk. Here we have our final hug in this public space.

Walking away from my Heart I feel the strings begin to loosen, and I weep openly for the loss of perceived control, for the seeing of the strings that have been in my hands all along and with gratitude that at 18 my Heart outside of my actual body knows more than this 43 year-old still beating body with more strings yet to clip. 

Love Out Loud

Growing up in such a large family meant many things were certain:

1. There was never not noise and commotion

2. If you wanted seconds you had to hurry through your first serving

3. Everyone shared a bedroom with at least one other person

4. Gardening was how we fed ourselves and participation was not optional

5. We all sat down together for supper every night

6. Monday nights were reserved as family nights, no exceptions

7. “Emergencies” like bleeding, broken bones or illness earned you focused, and often immediate, attention from 1-2 stretched-way-too-thin parents

8. Bedtime was a three-ring circus operating precariously under the supervision of an always-distracted ringmaster

9. Anytime the arguing got loud enough to draw the attention of a neutral party, said neutral party would start singing my parents’ favorite hymn for just such an occasion: “There is beauty all around, when there’s love at home. There is joy in every sound, when there’s love at home” and their singing would be met with shouts of “SHUT UP!” from the arguing parties now being reminded that Love is not supposed to be so loud. But who wants to think about love when such injustices are being committed against you right here in the family room?!

Loud. Love actually is loud sometimes. At least that’s my experience in my family of ten: how could it ever be anything different than it was? Than it still is even today with all eight of us siblings grown with families of our own? We love out loud. It’s what we know to do because our parents loved us out loud through every “Make your bed” reminder; “It’s your turn to help with the dishes” warning; Saturday morning listening to Daddy singing “Old Man River” with his left arm draped on the open windowsill of his 1976 red Ford pickup truck while I sit quietly buckled into the middle seat feeling his bigger-than-life right arm bump against me every time he shifts gears; the steam escaping Mama’s old iron waiting alongside the hum of her Singer sewing machine stitching my dreams-come-to-life dresses; after-dark-only games of Ghost in the Graveyard with Daddy as both ghost and protector when his surprising roars scared me to tears; the turning of oft-turned front wheels against the gravel drive coming or going with yet another precious cargo driven by an exhausted chauffeur mother.

Love is loud.

I wouldn’t hear it any other way.

The Gardener

The potatoes need to be dug up. The long-dead green bean vines need to be pulled out and composted. The cucumbers haven’t been harvested in at least two weeks; their ability to materialize and then immediately engorge themselves on the vine is nothing short of magical. Sadly, the cukes we have eaten, no matter how small I pick them, are bitter and no amount of salt has been their salvation. And the tomatoes — we planted 14 of them, maybe six varieties, but 14 different plants. They’re prolific, to say the least. The squirrels and birds are getting well-fed on the abundant crop. I can’t eat them all. We talked about salsa, tomato soup or even spaghetti sauce, but haven’t picked more than three tomatoes since that wishful conversation three weeks ago. 

The ground is every bit as red as the heavy-laden plants, littered after the crowd dispersed and left their fruit behind to decay without attention because the gardener is gone. He’s not coming back to clean up the messiness of what he so meticulously planned and we then planted. His spreadsheets, order forms, lists, and labeled popsicle sticks now lie in piles I can’t find or make order out of the weeds in their wake.

The zinnias clambering all summer long for the front seat screaming, “SHOTGUN!” are now elbowing each other in the face and tumbling toward the ground, unable to stop the stampede they started and my attempts to fence them in again look paltry in comparison to the original vision of ordered tall down the middle, medium next, then shortest on the outside, cascading heights along both lengths of the flowerbed. Is this overgrowth and death and abundance just because it’s late August or is it because the master planner, the gardener, is gone? I know he’s not coming back. 

I love being in the garden, although double-edged for me. I feel closest to him there, weeding, transplanting, harvesting. And saddest for the same reasons.

I dug up all the potatoes. I started with the pitchfork but couldn’t dig without stabbing one spud on every plunge. The potatoes were too close to the surface; they were planted just before I got here. Helpers from elsewhere came to assist; to be directed and taught by the gardener: how to turn your soil, how to lay the yardstick to measure your stakes’ distance from each other, how to slip the string over the end of the opposite stake making the line taut, how to hoe down the row as you go and exactly what amount of space to leave between each hill, and how to bury them so completely to ensure their growth into brand new potatoes. 

Their greens were beautiful; the prettiest the gardener had ever seen. When he went away I kept watch, kept watering, kept talking to the buried spuds. There were potatoes popping above-ground! It was too soon. They were green like their tops — I had to bury them again, had to coax them back down, give them more time, do the work that the gardener trusted others to do but they weren’t deep enough. I could see evidence. Bucket after bucket after bucket of mulch I shoveled, hauled, dumped and spread. I laid a fresh and false blanket on top of the bed, urging the potatoes in whispered tones: Keep growing; it’s not time yet.

I laid aside the pitchfork and dropped down to my knees. I dug with my hands, cradling each potato to wipe it of the earth dirt clinging to its sides before tossing them into the now mulch-free buckets that buried them back down two months ago.

They aren’t all strong and mighty like a Russet is “supposed” to be, but the gardener worked through me to grow something in the end, something that we did together. And after the harvest buckets were hauled inside, I cried my own buckets of tears, weeping for the gardener whose harvest survives him but lies buried on the surface of the ground, visible beauty decaying, seeding, burying itself until it flowers again in its season.

The Best We Can

My dad died. But that didn’t happen in a day. There was all the stuff leading up to my dad dying: the Christmas diagnosis, the chemo treatments, the scheduled surgery, the excessively long recovery in the hospital, the restrictions in place because of Covid preventing us from even entering the hospital to be with him during said recuperation. And then the three phone calls: 

1. Your dad’s leak hasn’t repaired itself yet but I’m sending him home in three days’ time because he will heal better at home than here alone. It’s going to be a long slow process. I’ll talk with you soon; I’m off to the OR for the rest of the day.

2. Your dad is being moved back to ICU and probably being intubated. Oh and his heart stopped for eight minutes talk to you later, maybe? bye.

3. You need to come to the hospital right away; your dad’s heart stopped for another four minutes, hurry, don’t stop, come NOW.

Hurried phone calls, quick text messages, even faster than a heart beat prayers ascending, so many questions, too many thoughts, overcrowding emotions, hurrying up to slow down a goodbye.

He 

She 

We 

Are all really doing the best we can.

He — my dad — is doing the best he can to breathe, to heal, to beat in time with his desire to stay.

She — my mother — is doing the best she can to breathe, to hurt, to heal in time with her desire for him to be here with her.

We — my Self and siblings — are doing the best we can to breathe, to hold, to choose our parting words before the parting is gone, leaving a trail of should haves in its wake.

He — my dad — couldn’t sustain his own living will. 

She — my mother — couldn’t hold on to a heart whose beating isn’t her own.

We — my Self and siblings — couldn’t have imagined the single-file opening of parting through which we have now walked, exit option non-existent.

The best we can is shattering, heartfelt and unavoidable. 

“Any feeling fully felt leads to love,” says Gay Hendricks. 

“Just lead with love and there’s no need to feel your way back to it,” says I, my Self, my heart bursting open wide from its freshly-tender new room with a view, no door back to where it lived before, there is only an opening to a deeper place, it’s ahead of me and not behind. And 

He

She

We

Are all really doing the best we can right there.