Rawson Rise

Rawson Lake Photo by Jack Ng

Rawson Lake; photo: Jack Ng

 

It was their last day by the lake. The weather was perfect and the air was so crisp it squeaked. She inhaled deeply, savoring every moment. By that time tomorrow she’d be stuck in rush-hour traffic.

“See?” he pointed. “Even wood can’t keep its head above water at some point.”

She snuck a hand into his and squeezed. She wished she could give him sips of this place during what was to come. She wished she could tell him this round wouldn’t be as difficult as the ones before. That this one would work. She didn’t know if to hope or fear it being the last. It shattered her that she no longer knew what he hoped for.

She gathered the light around her, kissed his baldness, and rose to stand.

“For now, my love, let’s float.”

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Rawson Lake Canada

 

Unbeknownst

bare InbarAsif

Photo: Inbar Asif

 

Unbeknownst

To anyone

Pain stripped her bare

Inside her mind.

She put on a brave face

And smiled

So no one see

What hid behind.

But how I pray

She understands

She’s not alone:

Hope’s here to find.

 

 

 

Merriam-Webster’s word for June 6, 2018:

Unbeknownst

This post continues the blogging challenge in which Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, serves as inspiration a-la the “Daily Prompt.”

Want to join me? Feel free to link to this post on your blog, and/or post a link to your blogpost in the comment section below so others can enjoy it, too. Poetry, photography, short stories, anecdotes: Go for it!

For more visibility, tag your post with #WordOfDayNY, so your post can be searchable.

“Follow” me if you want to receive future prompts, or just pop in when you’re looking for inspiration. Here’s to the fun of writing and our ever-evolving blogging community!

 

 

 

 

The Lost Quartet

fishbowl

 

 

He reached into his pocket and rummaged around. “I’ve brought something to show you,” he said, eyes searching mine. “But it’s a secret …”

“Oh?” I offered.

“Well, sort of,” he shrugged as an uncertain smile worked its way into his cheeks. “I took them to school … but I didn’t tell anyone … because we’re not allowed to … The teacher woulda’ taken them away and other kids maybe woulda’ told her or asked to see them and then she’d know …”

I hiked my eyes up and nodded my expectation.

The grin grew but it still held a sheen of sad.

He pulled his fist out of his pocket and turned it so the back of his hand rested on the table, then ceremoniously uncurled his fingers.

Four grains of rice in tiny vials, strung onto a keychain ring.

“They have names on them,” he said reverently.

I squinted and reached for a magnifying glass. Handed him one.

Our heads met over the small nest of palm and he mouthed the words, more sigh than voice.  “Fee, Fi, Fo and Fum.”

A quartet recently eaten not by a giant smelling the blood of an English man but by a feline with a swishing tail who had knocked the fishbowl over and left not one golden scale behind.

 

 

For The Daily Post

The Blanket

diaryofaquilter

photo: diaryofaquilter.com

 

He took it with him everywhere: School, the doctor’s office, the park, the car, the dinner table. He carried it in hand, in the backpack, over his shoulder. It was to him a cape, a comfort, a memory of tucking in, a constancy.

It’s always been there. He couldn’t remember a time before.

Well-worn, oft-washed, much-handled.

His blanket.

Never out of sight.

He’d sit before the washing machine and watch it spinning, floppy, in a foamy sea. Later he’d guard the dryer as the blanket tumbled, already impatient to come back warm and scented into his arms.

He’d place it at the ready on the bathroom stepstool to guard him as he washed. A sentinel over his pajamas.

It waited right under the chair at mealtime, in temporary exile from his lap after his argument that the blanket could make an excellent napkin had failed.

Even at school, where he wasn’t allowed to hold it, he’d leave a small blanket-ear peeking out of his cubby; to remind him it was there, with him, waiting for the end of the school-day.

It was a coat of heart, a shroud of courage, a cover against storms of any kind.

It was almost part of him. His blanket.

Then the fire came. He was carried half-in-sleep and heavy-headed, by a man whose giant shadow painted wall-monsters against the orange flicker and the swirling smoke.

There was more flicker outside: blue and red and white and blinding. Shouts and calls and creaks and cries and movement. Yellow coats, red truck, bright door, funny mask.

And no blanket.

It was gone. To Blanket Heaven.

A spark in the sky now. A spot of cloud. A star.

Lost along with Curious George and Teddy Ben and his dinosaur car.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

 

 

 

“A Bandaid for my heart”

She asked me if I knew about dying.

I said I knew it hurt when someone we love died.

She nodded and fiddled with the pencil, poked the tip against her finger, poked again. Again.

I wondered if she was trying to make the hurting take a form she understood through the pinprick of a just-sharpened pencil. I gently put my hand on hers.

She looked up at me, thankfully without embarrassment or worry of judgment. Feelings weren’t easy for this child, whose very early years were filled with much that couldn’t be expressed and had no wording. Her grandfather passed away right before her birth and a hue of grief lingered many months, adding to her mother’s post-partum depression. Her mother has recovered since, and the home was generally caring, but unspoken early patterns of if-you-are-quiet-you-won’t-overwhelm-mom and waiting for another’s space to open so you can have your needs met still played out often. The girl, not yet ten, was more likely to attend to others’ feelings than her own; more likely to dismiss her anguish to not distress others.

I smiled at her and she smiled back shyly. Her eyes glistened and she sniffed.

“My dad told you?”

“Your mom did.”

Her eyes flew to mine, surprised at being thought of. She took another breath. Tears slid down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry, Sweetie.” I handed her a tissue and snuck a bit of extra affection into the gesture. Just because. She noticed. Smiled the sad smile again.

Her great-grandmother died two nights before. Her father’s grandmother was a fixture in the child’s life. A rock. The one who filled the gaps, stepped in, held, held on. An elder in the best sense of the word. There was a love there that spanned generations. A special bond with this child.

It was a gentle death, the mother said. Doctors believed the grandma had passed away peacefully in her sleep. No pain. No long decline. That was a blessing, but for the child this loss still hollowed.

“I didn’t get to say goodbye,” she whispered.

“I know. I’m sorry.” I moved a strand of hair off her cheek. “You can still say it. Maybe not in the way you’d have wanted, but still …”

“Yeah,” she sniffed. Dismissed. Reconsidered. Looked up. “How?”

“Any way you can think of, almost.”

She pondered. “Dad said she can hear me. In my dreams. In my thoughts.” Her eyes probed. She wanted to believe it.

“I believe that’s possible, yes.”

“How?”

“I don’t know exactly. I just feel it. In my heart. About people I love and passed away. It feels right to me that we are still connected, that in some way they can hear me.”

Her eyes overflowed again but her face softened. “I think I’ll talk to her. Tonight, maybe. You know, just me and her.”

I nodded, smiled.

She sighed. Drew in a shuddering breath. Sighed again.

“I miss her,” she whispered. “It hurts. I wish I had a Bandaid for my heart.”

hands-and-heart

 

Half-Angel

What do you do with a grieving child?

You listen. You hold. You listen some more.

You offer tissues, you offer a hug. You answer lots of questions.

You nod. You tell stories. You honor the small memories told.

You come up with suggestions–or rather, embellish on those that the little one has.

You produce boxes (“too little”, “too big”, “too not-good”, “I don’t like it”, “okay, this one …”), find padding and ribbons and stickers, along with a few extra hugs.

You write what’s requested. Erase the letter that did not look perfect. Write it again. Erase. Write once more. You understand that it has to be just-so.

You provide blank paper and crayons, markers, highlighters, scissors. Play dough.

You oblige to search Google for questions your answers were not good enough, and come across five hundred other interesting things that lead to more questions. Distraction is good medicine, too.

You write down a protocol for ceremony, number the steps, change the order.

You make a headstone from tongue depressors and card stock. Give another hug.

You write the name of the departed. Erase it because it did not come out perfectly. Write. Erase. Write once more.

You draw a picture and told it “doesn’t even look like him.”

You are saved by a photo from the bowels of phone memory–a snapshot of happier times.

You give more hugs. Another tissue.

You stay with. You listen. You know that no small loss is small. That no one is truly replaceable, that loss is confusing and brings along with it the worry of losses far bigger and questions too scary for words. You don’t go where the child does not take you. You comfort, you understand.

What do you do with a grieving child?

You listen. You hug.

You promise not to forget.

You tuck the drawing in the folder (“but be careful”) to keep it safe.

And you use a tissue yourself, when the child wonders aloud if dead fish get to have wings and continues to answer himself:  “Yeah, because they have fins, so Benny was already half-angel.”

beta fish

On Nov.7–Making Peace with Suicide–a recommended new and powerful book!

Launching November 7, 2014!

Making Peace with Suicide: A Book of Hope, Understanding, and Comfort

By: Adele Ryan McDowell, PhD

Sometimes a new book comes along that deserves a special shout out–this is one !

I am delighted to help spread the word about Adele McDowell’s new, powerful, and heart opening book.

I’ve known Adele for almost 18 years now, and she is the real deal: knowledgeable, compassionate, deeply empathetic, super-sensitive, and down-to-earth. She understands human suffering and human potential, the depths of pain and the triumphs of spirit, the reality of trauma and the tangible hold of hope.

The combination of her skill and personality make her the best person to approach and manage such a tender topic, and she does so with much heart and practical advice.

The book is filled with information and much needed explanations to one of the most heart-wrenching realities of human connection and loss. It is also filled with anecdotes, candid testimonies, and personal paths through grief and healing.

 

Read it!

Join the launching celebration on November 7 and be one of the first to own a copy!

Get it on November 7, 2014!

Making Peace with Suicide: A Book of Hope, Understanding, and Comfort

By: Adele Ryan McDowell, PhD

Get it on Amazon November 7! http://www.amazon.com/dp/0982117620/ref=pe_385040_121528360_TE_dp_1

About the book:

Insightful, compelling, and compassionate, Making Peace with Suicide: A Book of Hope, Understanding, and Comfort takes a good hard look at the world-wide phenomena of suicide.

This book is designed for anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide and felt that sucker punch of grief; for anyone who is in pain, walking unsteadily, and considering suicide as an option; and for anyone who works with, guides, or counsels those feeling suicidal and/or suffering the profound grief from a suicidal loss.

Making Peace with Suicide includes stories of courage, vulnerability, and steadfastness from both the survivors of suicidal loss as well as the unique perspective of the formerly suicidal. It offers shared wisdom and coping strategies from those who have walked before you. It explores the factors leading to suicide and the reasons why some do and some don’t leave suicide notes.

Making Peace with Suicide sheds light on the phenomena of suicide vis-à-vis our teens, the military, new mothers, as an end-of-life choice, and asks if addiction is a form of slow suicide. It provides a seven-step healing process and opens the door to consider suicide and the soul, the heart lesson of suicide, and the energies of suicide.

If suicidality has impacted your life, Making Peace with Suicide is a must-read! You will be guided through the unknown territory, given insights to allow understanding, stories to help you heal, and ways to make peace with a heart wide-open. Making Peace with Suicide is good medicine for the body, mind, and soul.

Praise for Making Peace with Suicide

“Suicide is one of our most painful, difficult, confusing and wounding of human experiences. Dr. Adele McDowell addresses this topic with love and beauty. She non-judgmentally restores empathy, compassion and understanding.  She courageously offers deep tending in a “place of primal pain.” And she is comprehensive, sharing the history, complexity, universality, and even positive dimensions of this mysterious act. Whether you are contemplating or have survived the attempt, lost someone to suicide, or counsel and help these populations, Adele McDowell’s Making Peace with Suicide will bring you hope, healing, compassion and understanding.”

–Edward Tick, PhD; Director, Soldier’s Heart; Author, War and the Soul and Warrior’s Return

“With sensitivity and compassion, Making Peace with Suicide explores the depth and breadth of suicide and offers insights and healing. This book is essential reading.”

–C. Norman Shealy, MD, PhD

“No topic could be more timely than suicide. This remarkable book addresses people who have contemplated ending their lives as well as those who have to deal with the aftermath of those who succeeded. But it will also be invaluable to mental health workers and military chaplains, especially those who deal with young people who have been bullied and veterans with PTSD. For such a complex topic, Dr. McDowell’s writing style is reader-friendly and the stories she presents may well evoke tears. Her wise recommendations include teaching self-mastery techniques to help people cope with the stress of a success-oriented society. I have read many books on this sensitive topic, but none with the breadth and scope of Making Peace with Suicide.”

–Stanley Krippner, PhD; Co-author, Personal Mythology: The Psychology of Your Evolving Self and Haunted by Combat: Understanding PTSD in War Veterans

“Finally. A book that explains—in the simplest of terms, in a non-sensational, non-academic manner—the phenomenal, worldwide epidemic we call suicide. If you read one book on mental illness and how it affects our world, READ THIS ONE!”

–Ginny Sparrow, Editor, American Association of Suicidology

“Adele bravely and compassionately tackles a topic that many people avoid discussing—suicide. Yet in the understanding of it, the confusion and sense of loss is greatly eased. Making Peace with Suicide is rich with insight and healing methods all intended to help heal the void we feel when we lose a loved one to suicide. It’s also written for those who are suicidal to help them understand their pain and despair, and to let them know there is always help and there is always hope. I wish I had this book to read when my best friend took her life.”

–Carol Ritberger, PhD, author of Healing Happens with Your Help: Understanding the Hidden Meaning behind Illness

“This powerful book, written by a psychologist and former suicide-hotline responder, speaks to us all, about a present epidemic, surrounded by shame, taboo and secrets. Offering many personal stories, Adele helps the reader to find peace speaking to both those who believe they’re the only person who has ever felt this desperate and to the survivors whose lives are thrown into turmoil. This excellent book, full of useful resources, is essential for everybody who feels alone with their issues of life or death, bringing greater understanding, acceptance and comfort.

–Christine Page, MD, seminar leader & author of The Healing Power of the Sacred Woman

“As a minister/therapist for more than thirty years as well as a wife who lost her military husband to suicide, I have never found a more compassionate, effective book on suicide and its aftermath. This book serves many needs and highlights the myriad ways in which suicide changes one’s life direction. I cannot say strongly enough how powerful and helpful this book is.”

–Rev. Colleen E. Brown, Unity minister

“The loss of a loved one by any means is traumatic. When the loss is by suicide, in addition to the grief of the loss itself, survivors are often left riddled with guilt, anger, shame, and endless questioning, by both themselves and by others. In Making Peace with Suicide, Dr. McDowell gently and brilliantly weaves vital suicide survivor education with comforting and inspirational thoughts and quotes, all designed to direct the reader on a path of healing, resolution and peace.  A must-read for anyone who has been touched by the tragedy of suicide and left to answer the question, ‘Why?’ ”

—Carole Brody Fleet, award-winning and bestselling author of Widows Wear Stilettos…; Happily Even After…; and When Bad Things Happen to Good Women

“A subject such as this is never easy to digest. However, with Adele’s wisdom and guidance through her experience, this is a must read. We are in a new world now. Let Adele’s wisdom guide you with her insights for a new perspective on suicide.”

–Mona Delfino, author of The Sacred Language of the Human Body

 

Get Making Peace with Suicide on Amazon, November 7!

In Memoriam to The Fallen

 

memorial candle flag

yom-hazikaron-memorial-day-

In this evening and upcoming day of Memorial

As Israel remembers its fallen

As parents, siblings, loved ones weep and mourn:

Let it be the last day of new pain

Let there be

Please, oh God

No more war.

Anywhere.

No more dead, no more graves

No more maimed

No more grieving.

Let the bloodshed be ended.

Let the warmongering cease.

Let those who entice pain, find ways of words.

Let those who live hate, open hearts, make new doors.

There’s a way.

No more war.

We’re all people.

All someone’s baby, sibling, loved one, neighbor, friend

We all share more than what can divide us

We all hurt, love, hope, bleed.

No more violence.

There is no need.

Let there be

Hearts that open

Light to hold, hope to share, peace to mold.

Let there be

No more war.

As we weep for the fallen

As we remember what happened and wished that did not

As we tally the terrible price

The unnecessary ripping

Every death, every wounding

Agonises an ache in our hearts

A hole in our souls

Let there be

From now on

No more war.

peace can do better

no more war

You Can Still Hear

laughter

… and judging from today

You were amply, multitudinously loved.

Your laughter was what every one remembered

Its memory snuck giggles into sobs

It was what brought smiles

Into the tears

And light

Into the sorrow.

I can hear your laughter still.

It lives within me

As it does within so many others

Blessed to know you

And the bubbling of your kind and precious laugh

In life.

In love.

Transmuted into light.