The air is crisp
the leaves are fire
their cumulative insistence
my Spring my Autumn
all come together
before Winter’s night.
An inner rein
that falls at whim
but pulling in,
when the world intrudes and troubles
like water waves
–ripples, flows, crashes, plays–
in time, in phase.
Photo: Lily sitting in the dark.
I have been babysitting, well–fishsitting– for a fish that one of my children won at a fair eight years ago. Eight years. So, Fishie (not his real name, just my nickname for him) and I are well acquainted and of course he is well cared for. I spent yesterday evening scrubbing his abode and replenishing it with aged and de-chlorinated fresh water.
I don’t talk to Fishie as in telling him about my day or pouring out my woes. I just say things like, “I’m going to feed you Fishie, don’t worry,” when he comes to the side of the glass to greet me, or I wave with my index finger and say, “How are you doing, Fishie?”
It occurred to me last night that he is the only living being I talk to some days with whom I have any acquaintance, and that I actually felt happy to see *A Fish* when I came home last night.
Last night I went to the grocery store. I needed groceries. I bought nothing. Why? Because, as serendipity would happen (as you regular readers know), I walked into the store and directly into the man I had been (past tense) dating on and off for a year. He was overjoyed to see me. He told me that he Cared about me. (Cared? Two days ago it was Adored and Love You So Much. But, upon reflection, maybe Care was actually a progression of thought as his idea of love didn’t exhibit much of the caring that should go along with actual love. He should have Cared.)
“Do you want to shop with me?” he asked.
No. Thank you.
“You know I care about you,” he said.
I paused. “Your words say so.”
“And I show it too,” he replied.
I raised my eyebrows.
“Sometimes!” he amended. “Sometimes I show it!”
Heh. Give him a medal for the sometimes.
I nodded and smiled.
I wondered if he’d think about what he had just said.
I left feeling very wistful, at first because I had wasted so much time on someone who would never really be able to love me. I had given him–us–so many chances, and listened to so many pleas for forgiveness and second chances. And twentieth and thirty-fifth chances. I was sad because we had such fun times, given our many common interests.
There must be a lesson: the place that your heart, mind, spirit, and soul are in is more important than any interests or worldliness. I realize that I had more or less outgrown him, grew strong enough to move away from his selfishness.
But, my strength has left a gaping hole in my social life. An affectionate, loving, giving person needs someone to love, or wants someone. Life feels so much better with companionship: sharing good times and sad, conversations and laughter, walks and dinners and hugs.
I suppose this sense of loss was compounded because I waited until my children were grown and doing well on their own before getting a divorce, so I had empty-nest syndrome on top of divorce guilt and upheaval. I *should* be used to Alone from my marriage. One of the reasons I decided not to endure that forever was so that I could Perhaps find love someday…
Not too much of a romantic idealist, am I??
All around me I read of strong, beautiful, giving, intelligent and amazing women who are Single. Why??? OK, some may be happy as they are, and we always have God to talk to (or at least I do) and then there is Fishie… and I have friends, neighbors, colleagues, and relatives. It may seem as if there are a lot of people in my life, but they all have significant others. All of them. Where are the good men? Or, let’s back up a bit: where are the single men? Good, loving, caring, single men?
Do I sound anxious? Over zealous or overwrought? Hmm, tone is difficult to discern sometimes. I am happy, busy, healthy, into my hobbies and my community and busy with my life. But, I did wait a long time–decades–to be single. I am about as patient and contained as humanly possible, or was. All I did recently was to (finally and with finality) remove one undeserving self-serving guy from my life and now I feel at such loose ends: do I move? Do I stay? Do I just keep keeping on, going to films and concerts by myself? Joining more groups, meet-ups, more volunteering? Having dinner with married friends?
Talking to goldfish?
This has been a vent. Thank you for listening.
Have a good weekend!
The woman with whom I work
thinks I am wealthy
denying only reinforces stealth,
The smoke alarm
wouldn’t turn off
and didn’t know why it was on
threw it in the trunk of my car
where it blared
until I could find the proper
I think that is a drink
that I need,
now that I am deaf.
I bought the best soil I could find.
Little black bugs
love it more than I do,
so all of my plants are vacationing
I found a Writers’ Group
but they don’t write,
(The poem-of-the-day, if you missed it, is here: The Evolution of Sorrow, from me to you.)
The snow was a foot deep, maybe two,
the streets unplowed,
Houses stood close together, and shuttered,
sidewalks were buried,
the sky empty.
As she made her way to work,
I followed her black boots
in my snowsuit, in my little red buckled boots,
Hurried, as best I could, climbed,
I meant to
get ahead of her
because her white stockings
were sure to be soaked,
her feet cold,
by the time she arrived.
I couldn’t overtake,
and she was unaware.
I was a mere trudgling, there.
I called up the path:
but she did not turn,
she did not pause.
The tall dark elm trees
as far as I could see
mere specks on the trampled snow.
I left her at the hospital,
but no one knew.
I was but a small shadow
in the winter streets.
I had meant to blaze a trail,
but only my little fingertips burned,
my feet I could not feel
by the time I got home.
What does she have?
I asked my aunt,
With her fuzzy hair
with her cat-eye glasses
and red lips.
What sickness? I implored.
“It is called Valium,” said she,
in a puff of smoke.
It was a disease of which I
had never heard, so I prayed
that first it was not fatal,
that soon she would be well
and with us again,
and then that it was not contagious,
that a whole hospital
would not become sicker
on her account,
though the sick treating the sick
There was some satisfaction
in knowing this,
Ah, so it is explained,
Why she is so distant!
It is so that we her children
do not catch it,
do not catch the dreaded valley-hum disease.
I was comforted by this knowledge–
we all take what we can get, after all–
hugging myself with my own little arms.
I found winter to be
I am alone in the kitchen. I stand with my forearms on the counter, watching the toaster. In he strides, will not meet my eyes. Where are you going? He does not reply. Can I go with you? He does not stop. The back door slams.
I reach the curb as he drives away. I am the last to see him.
I stand in the doorway surrounded by darkness and her sobs. I see her, folded and small, like a handkerchief discarded on the bauhaus couch…
In the yellow kitchen they buzz like flies. I want to shoo them away. How dare they be here, before me who belongs? My stares startle them. They fidget in their dark suits, ice clinking in glasses, heads bowed.
I stir Cheerios in a bowl of mostly milk. I feign nonchalance while the radio reports his death. No, they get it wrong. They say accidental. You can’t believe the news, you can’t believe anyone. I am young but some things I know.
Upstairs, bedrooms with brothers and sisters, me in the hallway. She, looking down, takes me by the shoulders: “You have to be my big girl. You have to be strong.” Presto, magic, the child goes away. I become an adult this day.
This seems an appropriate week to talk about miracles.
I’ve never claimed to have all of the answers. I had a religious upbringing and am a spiritual person. I’m open to the possibilities of all that I know, as well as of all that I do not know. The universe is a wide and wondrous place.
Depending upon your religious or spiritual background and beliefs, you may already believe in miracles. Faith is believing even when cerebral reason thinks otherwise.
I’ve written about Miracles here before. I’m going to do so again. I especially send this out to all of you who are are struggling, depressed, or feeling stuck in dismal situations. That was how I felt at the time this happened. I can’t exactly explain it so I’ll just report it as best I can. Some things are uncanny and sometimes coincidences and serendipity are our life preservers, or maybe just maybe there truly are miracles.
I’ll let you think what you will, but hopefully this will give you hope if you need it, or at least food for thought if you care to read of the possibilities and weirdnesses of life.
A little background, and my apologies to those of you who have been reading here from the beginning and know some of this:
I had a difficult marriage. It was my fault that I got married when I did. I should not have. I will forever have guilt for that, but I don’t regret how I stayed in the marriage as best I could for as long as I could have. I really tried, I persevered, I was the best wife and parent I could have been, my children are wonderful and I love them. But… it was bad, right from the beginning. The red flags of control were there, and then its heavy hand, among other things. If I had not been so young, so trusting, I might have seen the warning signs, and if I had not been so shattered going into my marriage, I might have known what the whole of me needed in a relationship. I am sorry and regret that I didn’t see and didn’t know.
I held myself together, more or less, but I knew that I had to get out eventually. I had been kept down for so long that Stockholm syndrome sounded familiar. I had gotten to the point where I so inwardly trembled that I couldn’t even concentrate enough to lose myself in my usual refuge of music and books, let alone could I create anything at all. Maybe parts of me were already dead. I didn’t have anyone or anyplace to turn. I felt so alone, and so scared. That feeling of standing on the edge of a cliff? Yes, I knew that feeling. I might die if I stayed, or I might die if I didn’t. I couldn’t see ahead, at all. I felt so alone in my heart.
I was alone in the house, too. It was quiet, still, and dimming toward evening. I wasn’t much of a crier, had gone through whole decades in the past when I hadn’t been able to cry at all, but I couldn’t contain myself any longer. I went to bed and sobbed.
I sobbed for hours.
And then, when I was all cried out and felt as if nothing much was left in me, I did what I had done at other times in my life when all had seemed lost: I prayed.
I grew up praying, mostly in a casual way day to day, mostly prayers of gratitude and light conversation with my God, but this– this was a plaintive prayer of desperation. I prayed, over and over, like a mantra:
“Please dear Lord, please send me a miracle. Please show me what I should do. Please Lord, I am so afraid, please send me a miracle, I am so afraid…”
(I know. What a wimp!)
I fell asleep on my wet pillowcase in the midst of my praying.
I awoke suddenly, the light too bright, the music too loud. The first thing I heard was: “Believe in miracles… I’ve a feeling it’s time to try…”
It was startling to awake to those words, to the music blaring from the radio next to me. It took me a moment to get my bearings. Had I left the radio on? No. I hadn’t had it on. So, the alarm on the radio must have been set to a music station, and must have gone off. Odd time for that, in the middle of the night; it was maybe midnight or one a.m. Who would have set an alarm for then? No one in my house, not purposely anyway.
I sat up in bed, listening to Fleetwood Mac, puzzling over this odd coincidence.
Had I just happened to wake up at the precise moment to hear that appropriate line of the song? Or, I thought maybe I had heard the song in my sleep and awakened because I had subconsciously anticipated the word “miracle”. That made sense to me. That was a possibility. So, a strange coincidence, maybe.
It was as if Someone heard my doubts and confusion. It was as if Someone thought: “That wasn’t enough of a clue for you, woman? OK then, take this–”
The phone rang.
It was my cell phone, charging next to my bed. This sound too was startling, and I felt a quiver of panic: who would call me at this hour, in the middle of the night? Not only was the late hour a concern, but the only people who had my cell phone number were a few immediate family members, amongst them my children. Mostly I used my cell to communicate with them. And, because I was a mother, I was quickly worried about my kids… calling at this hour… because they didn’t, and wouldn’t… unless there was an emergency…
My heart was pounding in my chest as I answered the phone: “Hello. Hello?”
No answer. Oh dear Lord!
“Hello? Hello?” I could hear something, but no one was answering me. I listened closely: I heard my son’s voice (I felt panic). I heard him laugh (and panic subsided somewhat). I heard him saying his name, again and again, and then someone else repeated it, and then son said it yet again to correct the mispronunciation of the other person.
I was listening to a conversation like a fly on a wall.
I was listening to an introduction, my son (then away at university) to someone else. My son couldn’t hear me. He must have… butt called me on his cell phone? He had never done that before, never has done it since.
Odd timing, to say the least. Not only that, but what I heard, over and over, was his voice and his name.
To me, this meant something, this was significant. The thing is, I have only to hear my son’s name and I think: Miracle.
This is because he was a baby who was not supposed to live. The head of obstetrics at our hospital had given him no chance of even being born. Zero/zip/nada. I won’t go into all of the details here, but when that baby was born, and born fine and healthy, the first thing that the doctor said when he put him in my arms was: “I want you to know that this baby is a miracle.”
And the last time that I had been in despair was when I was told that there was “no chance” for my baby. What I did then, after I sobbed myself empty, was to pray.
It seemed I had answers to my prayers of despair, twice. This time I’d had a reminder of the other, as if Someone had said, “Don’t you remember? Nothing is impossible.”
When I hung up the cell phone, I didn’t feel so weak. I certainly didn’t feel so alone. I felt calmed, and I felt strong and determined for the first time in years. I knew what I had to do.
The next day I learned that my son had been at a party, meeting a girl from another country, and who knows how he happened to call me.
I only know that he did, and when he did.
Coincidence, serendipity, or minor miracle. Take your pick.