Early November through December is the time of year I used to spent locked in my own padded cell of emotions. Soured holiday cheer, reminder of what wasn’t right in my life and the world.
. . . Survivor guilt at not dying when I was twenty; if I had, my father would have been sent home from Viet Nam early. A month in the hospital saved me and destroyed the family, when he died under strange circumstances three days before he was to return home. . . . Less than a year later, more guilt at finding the love of my life, my exact opposite, who’s lived with me and my insecurities for more than 45 years. . . .
Steve Jobs noted our inability to connect dots of experience prospectively. We cannot determine until well after events how they link, what their impact is, and how profoundly our lives change as a result.
“But for . . . ” my illness, and my father’s death, I never would have met my husband.
“But for . . . ” NOT getting a job I wanted, I was able to retire much earlier than would have happened if I’d been selected.
“But for . . .” putting myself in the right place at the right time, I’d never have met Carolyn Howard Johnson, which began my poetry-writing in earnest, and the discovery of the Muse OnLine Writers Conference in 2006.
“But for . . . ” that conference, I would not be writing this post today.
I sit here today, grateful for the people in my life, my personal safety and security, my needs met. As much as I complain about — and fear — the growing list of health issues I’m battling, I’m grateful to live in a time that provides me with care unheard of even a dozen years ago.
I’m grateful for my confidence that ebbs and flows, how I am learning incrementally to trust myself, test myself. I’m grateful for the clutter that drives me nuts at times — what I can share, what it teaches me.
I’m grateful to live here, in this country, despite all our problems and issues. I feel truly blessed to be able to write what I choose, vote as I choose, and speak — or remain silent if that is my choice.
I live the American Dream:
~daughter of a first-generation girl-child born here of stetl dwellers who left the “Old Country” with nothing, before WWI;
~ able to trace my father’s family’s journey on the Trail of Tears in 1839.
~”But for . . .” the holocaust and horror of WWII, these two souls would never have met at a USO dance in Chicago in 1943. Lost and found each other again. Lost each other for good 25 years later, in the next ripping war in 1968.
~ First of my family to attend college, and later graduate.
~ Connected in recent years to extended family I never really knew earlier.
My first post on our Poetic Muselings blog was just over three years ago. It was my introduction to you, our readers and friends. I’m reissuing it here, today, because it struck me as true, still, and what I’m trying to share.
We wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. May you find that spark, that “something” to give you peace of mind, courage when you need it, and lots of joy.
Turning Over Rocks
“Why be difficult
when you can always
My family’s motto,
when I was growing up.
We lived in clouds,
all or nothing mind-set
badgered us into paralyzing inaction,
promises meant to stop questions,
not solve problem
“Don’t answer the phone!” admonitions
when I was home alone, sick,
escaping whatever had me
in its grip that day or week
Blame and shame
games and names
hiding in books read
by shadowed night-light
to tame the monsters
lurking under my bed,
in the closet,
beyond the toys
strewn across the floor
beyond the closed door
to my personal space and mind
Child of parents
whose fractured worlds
never resolved enough to give them
strength to shelter their offspring
the way this one needed
But I was loved
and encouraged to dream big,
reach beyond what was,
by my father
live his words
not the life we had
I gained my own,
tiny shard by shard
years later, loved,
with someone who believes in me,
without needing to understand
more than he does
learn to trust,
push past fears, worries
I’ll never be enough, do enough,
justify my own existence
Learn I have to prove
nothing to the world.
I have the right just to be,
with my life
as I inch
Ⓒ Michele M. Graf