Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Although I enjoy the good times in life, I know that these are not the times that make us grow. They are not the fertilizer in our soil or the rain that waters our roots.

Lately, I seem to think about home a lot and about the people who were most important to me in my forming years. Even though I haven't seen or spoken with many of them in getting on to two decades, in my mind and heart, I can so easily imagine turning to them in times of need. Their friendships long ago were that important. And I knew their heart and that they also knew mine.

As adults we become such guarded and shielded individuals. The cars we drive and the houses we live in symbolize our good character and choices in life - laid out for all the world to see. Funny, where I grew up neither mattered so much. It was instead the integrity of the people who lived in said houses and the things that were spoken of them in the community that characterized them. I was brought up to believe in people, not dollars or logos on cars.

Tonight I am sad. Heart-breaking, tears falling, breath catching kind of sad. One of those friends from so many years ago lost her dad recently. And in my heart I'm reaching out. And I want to say that I'm sorry for the loss, but it sounds trite even though I don't mean it that way. And I want to tell her all the things I remember about us growing up together - both for her and for me - to remember those countless sleepovers and biking in the summer and trying to skateboard down the hill with the turn at the top, learning to put on makeup in the tiny little mirror on her dresser and talking for hours about all the things that truly mattered and yet didn't at all.

I think about some friendships and how they never changed me or challenged me. Terri always did that. She introduced me to things I wouldn't have found myself, might not have even thought to look for. And she satisfied in me the need to have a friend with equally obsessed thought tendencies about the universe and what it all meant.

In my mind's eye I picture us as kids with such clarity. The things we did, the places we went, how similar and shared our experiences were and how equally different, all at the same time. It brings me comfort. Knowing that a part of my life was traveled and intertwined for a time with such a significant person and her family. We had no symbols of wealth or status, only friendship and people around us doing the best they could with what they had been given.

Her dad has been on a journey of dying for many years. When I was a kid, he was a healthy and vibrant man with a quick smirk/smile and always a kind welcome to me in his house. I recall nights when Terri and I stayed awake so late talking, that her dad would actually get up and leave to go work in the woods before we would fall asleep for the first time. I never knew him well and yet I spent a lot of time in proximity.

When we grieve it is not for those who pass on but for those who remain. Tonight I am giving an exhaled sigh for a journey that has come to an end. A journey that has stamped a mark on those left behind. To deal with and forgive and accept and release and embrace - all of those conflicting emotions we feel in life and now must also deal with in the absence of someone loved. I'm overwhelmed at the thoughts of it all. But you always were stronger than I, perhaps this is why you have been entrusted.

I wish I could always live courageously outside of the boundaries of societal houses and cars. And for the moment I can. My heart is with you, my dear friend. May the sun come out and shine warmly on your garden of life.



Terri said...

Oh dear girl, you bring a tear to my eye. What a lovely thing to write.

I am back at work (day 2) and in a new job role, no less. Nothing is the same...all new work, and the life experience of losing a parent. It is all surreal and I cannot stop all day long thinking about Dad and all the sad and wonderful bits.

It means the world that you would write this, so beautifully too. When someone you care about loses someone, your heart breaks a little too. We are not left the same afterwards, even if we have a small association. Dad always really liked you, so the association was not small, as it might seem now looking back to long ago.

I love what you wrote about our life being about people and not about things and all the branding we do nowadays as adults with careers and cars and bank accounts. It is such horseshit and I know it, you better believe it. It was wonderful being home. The death was as good as they can be (I will tell you all about it some time) and the wake was wonderful. There were so many visitors and it seemed like 200 or more. You know, it is exactly the people like YOU that one waits to see coming through the line up. No words need to be spoken to those people. You just "get it". There is something about a shared history in our early years that really makes an enormous bond. It is having the same history of place and people, even if your life has been totally different for the past 20 years.

I cannot tell you how pleased I was to see the beautiful flowers from you (and your Mom and Dad). I was remiss as I meant to email you immediately to say thank you but have had zero interest in being online after writing that one post. That was the only hour I spent online since I got back. Somehow online things seem irrelevant in life. I don't give a shit to read decorating blogs right now.

But I meant to email you. Mom is sending a Thank You card to your Mom and Dad and I said I would email you and also get your address. can you email me your address? The flowers were lovely - in fact, they were so nice, they were the only arrangement we brought back to the house with us. They were all carnations and didn't look too funeral-y, so I brought them for Mom's living room. The rest of the arrangements looked very funeral-like and I could not bring them home or dismantle them. Many were sent to the nursing home and some were dismantled to rescue the flowers. But yours came home and I was so happy they were yours! So, thank you! It felt like you were there!

When your Mom and Dad came through the line it was very nice. Love them both!!

Thanks for writing this. I have been on the verge of tears all day and sit here at the office at 6:30pm (trying to figure out my new job role, which sucks when you have had a life change and just want everything that remains to be the SAME!). And I checked my post to see if anyone commented, and YOU did. So you have made my eyes flood with tears, which was good because they needed to come today and it is just me and the janitors here now anyway. ;)

I like two particular things you wrote:
"Tonight I am giving an exhaled sigh for a journey that has come to an end. A journey that has stamped a mark on those left behind..." which sums it up completely. I cannot get my head around his coming to an end. It is a lot to get your mind around and there is so much to digest to it, just all the emotions and all the mixed feelings and all the memories to file away slowly. I have never experienced anything quite like this and let me tell you, it is harder than you expect to put someone away forever in your mind. It will take months to process it all, I think.

I also like "I was brought up to believe in people, not dollars or logos on cars". Ain't that the truth?! You go home and there are people of all incomes and shapes and sizes and histories and they are there for you and part of your life. But in the city, we just associate with our own educated class and everyone is similar and competing and no one knows how to just BE and let it all hang out and not give a shit what anyone thinks of them. There is such VALUE in community and such worthlessness in these empty city lives full of nothing but bloated ego's. I have known that for a long while. I have known for a long while that people matter and things don't, but it is hard to enforce those rules in this place where you don't know a damn soul and get measured constantly by your career, etc. I feel constantly evaluated WITHIN my career as we are forced to constantly EXCEL and set objectives and all that crap. It is all so false. I hate being rated in life for the content of my brain. I prefer to be judged on the content of my heart.


Thank you darling! Big hug and we'll have to talk some time very soon. You are a sweetheart for wriitng that nice thoughtful, tear-jerking post.

Sorry this was so long - I should have emailed shouldn't I???

xo T.

Smarts said...

So I cried when I wrote it and now I cried while reading your response! I think I needed it both times.

I hope you are able to find some space to breathe in the coming days, even with a new job, which I feel for you in that now is probably not the easiest time to make changes in career, forced ones especially.

It makes my heart glad that there was such a turn out for the wake and funeral. I would have expected nothing less. If I could have been there, I would have. I want to get a card off to your mom to let her know I am thinking of her.

I always liked your dad, too. I thought he was funny and I could tell that he was often amused by himself. Both he and your mom always took the time to talk and were interested in the bits and pieces of my life.

I'm relieved to hear that the flowers were nice. I told mom mini-carns as I recall them being a fav of yours. I'm also thrilled to find out they didn't look 'funeralish'. When I die I hope for buckets full of gerbers and daisies.

I don't envy you and your mom the next few months, trying to figure this all out and get some perspective. I do trust that you will both be granted rest and repreive from the burden and stress that I'm sure your dad's illness placed on your both. I wouldn't be surprised but that you feel him very near for a while yet.

It would be good to get together again. Perhaps in the summer. Our last visit brought me great happines and felt like we never skipped a beat. But all the best friendships are like that, aren't they!

Get some rest and take good care of yourself. Much love. A

joanne said...

thank you for writing this and for sharing it... for your writing has always been so lovely, reaching down deep into those places in your heart and giving a voice to those places with courage and honesty...

so much of what you write is where i am at also... this spring has been full of highs and lows with the process continuing toward the ending of one life, and the struggle to hold on to it for another...

i live in an area where the boxes people wrap themselves in are so very important to them... in the end, did it matter what you drove in 2009? the thing that will matter is the love...

as i read your post i was reminded of a post written by a dear friend who is in the last days of her life struggle... she wrote a post about Easter... she wrote about how lucky she is... lucky because all of her family came to spend Easter with her, some of them surprising her from far away... she felt so blessed to be so loved...

i am so grateful you wrote this piece for your friend... to honor her and her father and all they mean to you... and i am so grateful you wrote it and shared it too... it has reached out and touched someone far away who feels every word with you...