dear lovely man on the motorcycle

August 31, 2011

i heard the crash and turned to see you land. i ran out of my car as fast as i could and got to you within seconds, already on the phone to 911. i told you first thing that i was with you and that you would be okay and that we would take care of you. i did not want you to hurt alone or to be scared. i prayed and prayed silently, just with my heart, as it all swirled around – the cpr and the blood and your precious pulse stopping and starting, your tan skin there, under my skin as we tried to care for you. i prayed with my gut and with all that i had that it would be an okay that meant your life would continue and that this would be the worst pain you were ever in and it would only get better and you would never again be so wounded.

i just walked past that place where i prayed with you and over you and held your hand and touched your chest just four short days ago. it was the flower that announced what happened after you rolled away in the ambulance with the sirens and the prayers and the tubes. a little sign on a flower – rest in peace. i told you that you would be okay, and although i know it does not seem like it to the people who loved you, it is a different okay because i know you are somewhere where there is no blood and there is no pain and there are no damn motorcycles or accidents or wounds. it is not the okay that i wished for you, but what is, is. this world is so damn unfair and unjust. i sit here crying over you – over your hurt, over the fact that we could not save you as we gathered around your delicate and precious self laying there. crying is so inadequate, i know. what else is there to do?

please know that being there with you was a great privilege. to see your precious life, and to hold your hand, and touch your skin. in such moments we are all so vulnerable. i want you to know, and i hope there is a way for your family and loved ones to know that it was only five seconds after your accident that you were alone. i got to your side and immediately reassured you, comforted you, prayed for you. shortly others joined who were equally as gentle and kind and helpful. you were surrounded by love. i believe that it is the case, wherever you are now, that you continue to be surrounded by love.

i did not pray in words the day that i was there with you. but here is my prayer now. i hope it finds its way to you somehow.

dear god, who is the god of love and peace, i do no not understand how this sort of pain happens. there are no good reasons for this. yet i know this happens. the world happens and pain happens and loss and hurt and unfairness and we are stuck here right in the middle of it, just trying to do something, trying to make our way. i am left only to breathe and pray and love and hope. to hope that there is a way to make sense of it, to hope that we can make less pain like this, to hope that the family of this man who laid there with me finds a way to make sense of this and live with this loss. it is all so fast. it is all so precious. in one second we are on our motorcycle, fast with the wind against us, and in the next we are laying there, everything changed. everything fleeting. in one second we are sitting in our car and in the next we are holding the hand of a stranger who is saying goodbye to this world. god, be with his family. be with those who loved him. be with him as he sits or floats or lingers in heaven, wherever that is or whatever that is, and looks down on the life that he had in all its beauty and brokenness. give us all the strength to be with each other as we hurt – as we long for those who we have lost, or as we lay in the ground one friday afternoon. give us the strength to love more, to remember well, to be at peace with the madness that is this world where things do not make sense and are not fair. may we keep loving. hard. may we keep praying. hard. praying with our hands and our feet and our hearts as we try to lessen the brokenness. in our own lives. and in others’ lives.

i’m so sorry, precious beautiful man on the motorcycle. may god have you in god’s embrace.

amen amen amen.


Occasional Post from Absentee Blogger

April 19, 2010

Even though I no longer actually write down the posts that I compose in my head, somehow it brings me relief and pleasure to occasional briefly write about what I would write about if I would make time. 

All is well at Camp Baby Toddler. Although I know all parents feel a bit overwhelmed and crazed with their cuddle bug, I feel like somehow the fact that our little one does not sleep ever ever ever more than eight hours per twenty-four hours legitimizes, somehow, the ensuing madness and chaos that is our life. Or at least makes me feel less inept. At our Mama-Baby play group last week a mother was kindly trying to give me advice (which I appreciated, useless as it was) about how they try to include their son in daily activities (thus not “over-doing” the adjustment of their own needs to their son). But, she told me, “After 7:30, then that’s our time. We stick to that pretty clearly.” I had a hard time not spitting my water out in hysterical, semi-diabolical laughter since we feel extremely lucky if our boy goes to sleep by 10pm. It is usually more like 11 or 12. And yes, I know I know, we could just put him in a bed and let him cry until he falls asleep of exhaustion and discouragement. But we just can’t do this for a range of reasons, and that is that, so our life is a whirlwind of lovely, crazy, hard, rewarding, sleep-deprived madness.

If I was not studying for my comprehensive exams and being a parent and sort of trying to keep our house from turning into a public health disaster, I would write about our church’s transition and growth as our minister of many years retires (and what is like to be one of the few young families in a church of mostly retired families), my on-going struggle to make sense of my relationship with Christianity, and how to graciously and kindly deal with watching your parents get a bit older and transition into different ways of being/different approaches to life.

Also, as a journey along on this whole parenting thing, I really learn a lot, especially from three blogs that I’ve added to my (generally shrinking) Google reader: Ph.D. in Parenting, Raising My Boy Chick and Kelly Hogaboom. Might I especially recommend this recent post, “on which it somehow did not take a turn for the Awkward,” by Kelly Hogaboom to OWL facilitators and parents far and wide considering how to teach our children about sexuality.


Healing Thoughts for Henry

July 5, 2009

Henry is the kitty of one of my dearest friends. I was there the day he was adopted. I adopted our Gustav the same day. Henry fell suddenly ill this week and it is not getting much better. I’m sure he would appreciate healing energy from all the cat lovers out there.

Get well soon, Mr. H.

Inbox


The Hardest Choice

June 8, 2009

The article below is a beautiful and heart-breaking piece about abortion past the first trimester. It is so difficult for me to understand how people cannot hear stories like this.

The Hardest Hardest Choice: Why I Had a Second-Term Abortion.


Life With Baby

June 2, 2009

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard

I am trying not to be worried that my house will never be as clean as I want it. Crumbs are not poisonous. They are not specks of doubt flung around announcing my inability to manage my life.

I was telling my partner – I need to think in terms of sanitation..the house must not pose a health hazard – rather than trying to actually keep it clean. I can understand a bit more now where good old Betty Friedan was coming from.

My sweet angel wants to be held. Always. I am not of the cry it out school of parenting. Or the school that thinks you can spoil your baby. He needs what he needs. He need reassurance. He needs my arms and my breast and my heartbeat. Still adjusting to his life that is his own and not 100% woven together with mine. As I said in an earlier post: It is flattering, but exhausting.

Yet. I want to life a life that is about love and peace and gentleness and kindness. Maybe I am some sort of cliche, but these things actually have meaning for me – they are not words – but a life that I long for and believe in. And it cannot be lived if I am running around like a mad woman muttering about papers that are not written or sleep that is not had or crumbs that have not been dust-busted.

So, I try to lose myself in my mesmerization. Let myself feel it. The soft skin. The wonder of our boy. The way his eyebrows are just little fuzzes that I can rub against my cheek while he is sleeping on my shoulder. Just let him sleep on my shoulder rather than try to put him down in order to do something else.

The way his breath smells sweet. The magic of watching him learn how to giggle.

How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

So I will do what I need to do – the work, the school, the cleaning, the errands – as I can. But when I cannot, I will smell his sweet baby breath. Sit and wait for the wild turkeys to come and get the corn we have put out for them.

Pray.

Breathe.

Cuddle.

And try to let go.


On Being a Mama

April 9, 2009

I promise this is not going to become a Motherhood Blog where I reflect all the time on my ever-so-unique situation of motherhood and the wonder of my Amazing Child. Heaven knows there are plenty of those blogs out there and don’t we all just love to read them? Actually there are some great and interesting ones out there, including some UU blogs that deal with motherhood/parenthood which I love. But I do get a kick out of some of the blogs I see that are not just for friends or family, but apparently for the world to see the Wonder of Child X and deal, in great detail, with the daily minutiae of parenthood. Fitting for children of babyboomers who often forget that the world does not revolve around them and their WonderBabies.

But. Still I wanted to briefly point out two cool blogs on motherhood:

Raising My Boy Chick – written by a feminist, queer-identified, male-partnered mama raising a boy. Sounds familiar to me.

And Mothers for Women’s Lib which is a blog out of the UK that I just saw this morning with this post On Raising Male Children. Exciting, I think. And then I read, “I’ve read a lot in the radical feminist blogosphere about how radical feminist women ought to refuse to care for male children.” Are. You. Kidding. Me? What a great way to give feminism a good and reasonable name. I mean, where are these bloggers that refuse to raise male children and what, might I ask, do they DO with them? As a feminist mama four weeks into raising a precious little boy, and as a feminist scholar (in-progress), this seems like both a bad idea in practical and moral terms (that is, giving away your child), but also pretty unhelpful in terms of feminism. How are we to reshape our world if we only raise feminist daughters? The blog Mothers for Women’s Lib makes a very similar point, btw.

This raises an important question as to how we might raise feminist sons. Or, if you are not happy with the f-word, I mean sons that are responsible, loving, kind, into equality, justice, race/gender/class awareness and analysis, and that sort of thing. It is hard to undo how our world makes far too many men. I hope we can do better in raising our little one. I, of course, welcome comments about how you do this. So much learning to do. Such high stakes.

But for now, he is asleep on my chest in his little carrier, precious, lovely, perfect, and innocent. A pretty special time. Even if I am delirious with sleep depravation and my poor cats are traumatized by having their position as my babies usurped.

Time to nurse.

Peace.

E


My Cup Runneth Over

January 19, 2009

To the extent that there were Bibles in my life growing up, it was the King James Version all the way. I was a competitive child and wanted to win every contest, including the Bible verse memorization contest at Mt. Zion (the church where my Baptist family goes and my dad grew up). I memorized this verse in this context (along with, amusingly, lots of verses that are not significant at all but were easy to memorize and, thus, win the contest). This passage still speaks to me even though I rewrite it a bit in my head these days.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

I love this for so many reasons. A God that restores my soul. That invites me to lie down in green pastures, and walks with me along still waters and is with me when I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death. I don’t even know really much what a rod and staff are, but reading it in this passage, it just sounds comforting. I always sort of skip over the part about the enemies, and get to the part where God anoints my head with oil. Have you ever had your head anointed with oil? I have, and it makes you feel so special. (As a side note, I tried to figure out a way to incorporate this into a healing service at a UU church a few years ago, but it was just a little too much, I think, for the congregation at the time. I have not given up though.) Surely, I will dwell in God’s house forever. And ever. Sweet. I just love the idea that no matter what I do, or where I go, God has built this house of love around me – full of still waters and pastures and, yes, even valleys of the shadow of death – but in all of this God is with us. It is coming back to these sort of verses – with such a long tradition (I can see myself right now saying this along with my Mammaw and my Dad and my Aunt and all the elders of the church who loved me so much) that I miss Christianity and think maybe I could become Episcopalian. I know I can’t. And won’t. And don’t want to. But sometimes the thought sneaks in.

I thought of this verse now because every once in a while I am just knocked over by how much my cup runneth over. I sit in my nice warm apartment, two cats at my feet and one sleeping on my rocking chair pillow behind my head, eating frosted flakes, drinking tea, with my supportive, kind, lovely partner in the other room. We are both working on our computers – him for his job (we feel so lucky he has one these days) and me for my school in my doctoral program that I am so lucky to be a part of. And I just think, geesh. What a life I live. Full of love. From my friends and my family. A faith community we love. Gosh, it even makes me feel thankful for our neighbors downstairs who are playing very very loud base right now. Ah, the lessons they have taught us about loving your neighbor! It is hard when it is literal and your neighbors are not very lovable. But I suppose the idea was to do it especially to those who are not lovable.

So I am thankful this evening. And, as a side note, procrastinating on a paper that is due. But it doesn’t take away from how thankful I am. And how ashamed I am, sometimes, that I am not able to better be thankful for all that is good in my life instead of focusing on all that is not that good. Gotta work on that. Or even, as they say, pray about it. Give it up. Hand it over. And know that I will fail again and again, but must just keep opening myself up to change and transformation and keep in mind what I wrote about for the New Year. Trying harder isn’t always the way to go. So, maybe I will not try harder to be thankful, but see if I wait, and walk in green pastures and beside still waters, listen, rest, praise, and worship… maybe my thankfulness and gratitude have been there, and I just need to be able to see it and let it wash over me.

Or something like that.

Much peace, E


Thought for the New Year

December 31, 2008

From the essay “Do Not Lose Heart”, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by persevering on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails….

We are needed, that is all we can know….

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.  Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely.  It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.  What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing…

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul.  Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times.  The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire.  To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both, are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.  Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.  If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

And, I believe, this is all we can do. What we can. Our best. Pushing ourselves to love when it is hard, to be kind, to try to be just, to speak up when we feel called. And to encourage each other in this, with understanding and strength.

On to 2009.

Much peace,
Elizabeth


A Hard Winter for Animals

December 16, 2008

Here is an article in the Globe that deals with the issue of shelters being overrun (and adoptions being down) due to the economy. This relates to my post just a few days ago about little ways that you can help shelters struggling during this time.


Murray – April 2007-September 2008 –

September 1, 2008

He was very loved little cuddle bunny who very much enjoyed watching the foster kittens play, being groomed by his best friend Gustav the cat, and eating Papa Johns pizza and as many treats as he could get his paws on. He left us gently this evening at Angell Memorial Hospital in Boston after looking at us and saying (with his eyes), “I’m ready to go, okay?” Wolfgang and I were with him as he felt gently to sleep.