RoadWriter

Heart, Soul, and Rough Edges — A Gypsy Journey of Words and Wonder

Archive for the category “Dealing with Grief”

Facing Mortality

NOTE: This post previously appeared on my blog, http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/

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It happened many years ago. We had just learned  I was pregnant with our second son when I got a call from my mother, with the words no daughter wants to hear: It’s cancer. My mother had cancer of the colon.  She

had had a sigmoidoscopy instead of a colonoscopy. The lesion was fairly high up in the colon, and the procedure had missed it. Hthen-doctor, not the brilliant diagnostician his dead partner, my mother’s former doctor, had been, had been slow to put together the symptoms. By the time he did, the cancer had spread to the liver. It was October, and by June she was dead.

At about the same time, I was offered some freelance work that would have brought in a significant amount of money, money we could have used. But I had a full-time job, a small son, a pregnancy, and a sick mother. I turned the work down, instead passing on the name of a friend — he later joked that I’d payed for the addition on his house. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Instead of spending my weekends working, I spent them traveling back and forth from Boston to New York.

Here is a poem inspired by this experience:

 

Mother’s Day, Margaret Fieland

He died
the white-haired doctor
with smiling eyes,

leaving you
to the quick-voiced young one,
who called your cramps indigestion.

Your hair became
sparse as grass during a dry August,

your walk
creaky as the old pasture gate,

your frame as thin
and brittle as the bare branches
of the old oak.

until finally
you lay in bed, smelling
of old guts, too weak
to lift your head.

We named
the baby
after you

You cam find it and other poems in the collection Lifelines.

 

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Going Deep

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Eyeing Einstein (Washington DC, Len Graf 2006)

Today I wrestled and won a round with the mind-messing monkey that clings to me, snickering about all the things I should do, know I should do, intend to do, but never quite get around to doing.

You know the one — we all have them. Usually nags with “someone’s voice of reason”, at a time we’re feeling vulnerable. I hate this voice because it sings off-key, with nasty words that are too true.

In just over a week, I’m going semi-bionic, as I literally leap for that moment when my new left knee replaces the constant pain I’ve been in for a long time. Rehab will hurt like hell, I know, but, at the other side . . .

. . . assuming I make it to the other side. What if I don’t? What if something goes wacky? Expert worriers like me have long lists in our heads, and perhaps on paper. I trust my doctor, rehab team, hubby, hospital, and my own desire to experience some of the good life I’ve eliminated as pain and meds have limited me.

Enough of this! Today, I finally attacked and updated our wills. Nothing fancy, but they now reflect our intentions when it’s “time”. I raged at my mother for several years prior to her last illness and subsequent death, fifteen months later.

“Please!” I begged her. “I don’t care who you leave anything to, but DO SOMETHING. Don’t leave me with a mess to handle when you’re gone.”

“I’m taking care of it,” she kept reassuring me. “I’ll get it done when I’m ready. Dammit, Michele, stop bugging me!”

So she died at 2:00 a.m., on a Sunday morning, in a nursing facility, nothing updated, never told me her wishes, or anything of consequence. The result, as I probated an almost-twenty year old will, fractured the family almost beyond repair.

Fast forward a dozen or so years. Our lives are radically different than even three years ago, when I last updated our wills. Major changes to make so we don’t repeat our dysfunctional history. By the end of Monday, the new wills “should be” witnessed and complete. Then I can breathe, sleep, stop stuffing my face with ice cream (my drug of choice when stressed), and prepare for surgery with a clear and healthy mind.

In honor of my big step, I’m sharing one of my poems from LIFFELINES. May all of this help you make a good choice to finish something very important for your peace of mind.

Restless Peace

I remember…

…How excited you were
to start college at fifty-three,
wanted me to be part of it,
but how nervous I made you.

…Your camel ride,
and how you danced the Hora
without your cane
the last night in Israel.

…Your glitter days of decorating,
the treasures you collected
— herd of elephants,
music boxes, clowns,
gypsy violins,
Lladro figurines.
And flowers—
velvet red roses, especially.

Raw, returning reminder
of sorrow’s bloom.

…You were loyal to your friends,
ecstatic with their triumphs,
anguished in their agony,
fiercely protective of those in need.

…You felt whole when you gave
beyond your limits
of time and energy and hope
then crashed. Again.

And I remember…

…All the times we dealt
in guilt and blame,
held onto hurts and slights,
refused to let them heal.

…Your choices tore us apart,
those left behind.
Impossible to make peace
with your unfinished business.

…You told me, even at the end,
we were supposed to keep arguing.
When you stopped fighting,
I’d know you’d given up.

…We swapped mother-daughter roles
several lifetimes earlier.
I couldn’t parent you any better
than you tried to do with me.

…You had the last word
when you died.
Why do I
keep arguing with you still?

Michele M. Graf

Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon turned tragic this past Monday when two bombs went off near the finish line of the race. Two of our kids were downtown when it happened. Both are, thank God, safe, but others were not so lucky. Our hearts go out to all.

Boston Marathon

Participants in the 2010 Boston Marathon in We...

Participants in the 2010 Boston Marathon in Wellesley, just after the halfway mark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Blank page accuses me

but I’m wordless,
my mind stuck in the moment
I heard the explosion,

the second glass shattered,

viewing stands collapsed,
runners crashed to the street
from the bomb’s blast

A pressure cooker,
a timer,
nails and such

from the hardware store

Anyone could buy
at the Ace on the corner

put together in the garage.
No one would suspect a thing.

We have the method,
but not the motive:
neither who nor why,
and it leaves us wrecked.

We toss and turn,
wake at 2 AM,
imagined footsteps
clomp by our door.

Only a dream,

a stand-in for the worry
we are vulnerable,
fragile,

and anyone
with a few dollars,
a little know-how,
a stain on their soul,

could, in a moment,
change our lives forever.

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The Mystery- Dealing with Grief

The  Mystery

By Lin Neiswender

You were the cutest thing
So happy with a simple toy like green grass
A carpet to comfort your feet
Leaves blowing down sidewalks

Yours to track  by scratchy sound
When  wind blew stone-cold
Sharing a snack with the rest of the pack

Barking fiercely while picking goodies
from kitchen trash bin with no one home
Quick to guard me like a Rottweiler

But actually just a Shetland Sheep dog
Who then dashes behind me for protection
Mysterious fur shiny white, gray, black and silver

White lion’s mane, stripes  on face, back, chest, feathers on legs
He could have been a show dog if he was a little shorter
You are a shy but beautiful boy

But I know that someday
We will meet again, all of us,
Humans and dogs and cats  and everyone

As we dance our way

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I had to put my sweet Sheltie Smokey to sleep last Saturday.When I saw the suffering in his eyes and it seemed to say Mom, please do something for me. So I did the right thing and had him put to sleep. Cancer has taken another of my sweet dogs. I’m across the Rainbow Bridge still expecting to see him when I first come in. When thoughts come like that, I know I can find comfort about my decision. He is out of pain. What a good dog he was. So now life goes on with me and the cat.

 

 

 

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