Reflections on Hope (part 2)

 Reynard 8-2009

 Fox by Brett Sutcliffe (August 18, 2009)

The Possibility of Hope

Maybe im still searchin
But I dont know what it means
All the fires of destruction are still
Burnin’ in my dreams*
 

Corn Queue Henry County Indiana Julayne
Corn Queue, Henry County, Indiana, by Julayne from When Worlds Collide

I’ve sat down at this “add new post” page for the past four nights. I’ve sat, waited, and then closed the page. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say; more, it’s that my mind seems to be in recovery mode still after so long away from this forum that gives me a voice, as if I’m in the same room with a long lost friend, and we are still in those first few moments of awkardness, when there are a million things to say, but none of them seem to be the right way in which to begin again.

I love this blog. I appreciate the people who stop by just to read and even more, those who leave comments and words of encouragement. I love being part of a bigger blogging community, filled with people who sent me messages over the past three weeks, letting me know that they were out there if I needed them, that they would wait for me to come back.

But my last post was so full of despair that it actually left a physical pain in my heart. To put into words all of the bigger things that have happened over the last two to three years somehow makes it more real, and therefore, that much harder to reconcile.

That post also did something else to me: It made me a bit nauseous. It smacked of poor, pitiful me, and far too much navel-gazing. So let me just pause here to apologize for being so maudlin. Admittedly, though, wearing a virtual hairshirt every once in a while does seem to help.

But time to move on.

I wanna come in from the cold

Tree Frog at Rest
Tree Frog at Rest by L. Liwag

Last night, as I sat here, I heard the wonderful chirrups of the tree frogs in the backyard, and then as I was walking through the dining room, I looked out in the backyard and noticed that a strap on the pool was vibrating. A tree frog was inside the little tunnel, and every time he sang, the strap vibrated.

He was too far inside his shelter to get a picture, but I could see his small green body peeking out. Unfortunately, my invasion of his space made him cease his calls for a bit, but in about half an hour, I could hear him again.

And make myself renewed again

Uncle Melchors Trumpet Flower
Uncle Melchor's Trumpet Flowers

My uncle’s funeral was Saturday. He never regained consciousness. I wanted badly to go to the funeral, but the family lives almost 800 miles away in Florida, and this just isn’t the best time to rent a vehicle and get a hotel room.

So I stayed in touch by telephone. My aunt, who retired only last year, told me that all of the people who used to be in her department came over one day and did her yard. What a wonderful gesture. My uncle loved his yard and would send me pictures of his flower gardens when they came into bloom.

To hear about people who cared, taking the time to care for one of the things that he so enjoyed made me smile. A happy remembrance.

It takes strength to live this way

Tillie Happiness b&w
Tillie Happiness

Today, I braved the brightness of the sun to play ball with Tillie and Shakes in the pool. I think that I must have done a good job because both of them are sound asleep.

Tillie is a ball hog. The only way that I could get her to release the ball in her mouth was to tease her with the other tennis ball. Wanting both, she would drop one while I threw the other ball, and then I would throw the ball that Tillie dropped for Shakes to retrieve. Quite a complicated system for a simple game of water tennis.

I found myself relaxing, though, and just enjoying the moment—something that I do too rarely. I didn’t think about anything of consequence, and I just focused on exercising the dogs and looking at the birds flying overhead.

The same old madness every day

Captain Corey
Happy Birthday Corey

Tomorrow is Corey’s birthday. He is none too happy. It’s all well and good for me to try to point out to him that he is hardly old, but he doesn’t hear me. I know old. He isn’t old.

When I told him to go ahead and flirt with someone while he was at Costco, he said that he couldn’t because he was losing his hair. What bollocks. He has a head of beautiful, healthy hair, and he is losing a few hairs a day in the shower, undoubtedly because of the stress. My husband is too funny.

We won’t be doing too much of anything to celebrate this week, but with any luck, maybe we can have sushi sometime soon.

I wanna kick these blues away  

On other fronts, Brett is trying to gear up mentally for the school year. It looks as if they have set up his schedule for him to go every other day, which is wonderful.

I’m hoping the day off between class days will allow him to rejuvenate and to feel less pressure. If this works out well, he should miss less school and be able to stay more caught up with his work.

I’m very grateful that the head of the program at his school, as well as his guidance counselor are working with us and trying to come up with a way in which Brett can succeed this year.

Unfortunately, Eamonn was not able to start fall semester, as I had feared. Even if we had come up with the funds, we don’t have a second vehicle at the moment, and the fate of Izziethe Trooper is uncertain at best.

I feel really terrible that we weren’t able to get everything together in time, and to make matters worse, my ex called me up last week and cursed at me for three minutes for not getting the financial aid taken care of. It was a short conversation that ended with me saying something along the likes of, “If you’re so freaking concerned, why don’t you do something about it.”

Talking to a brick wallHis (my ex’s) reasoning that I needed to take care of everything and was falling down on the job was that his schedule is so full, and if that my computer was broken, why didn’t I go to library or something to use a computer? My pointing out that the financial aid was just one part of the equation didn’t matter. When I tried to tell him that even with the tuition taken care of, there was still no vehicle.

He actually asked me what happened to the Trooper, this after I had a conversation with him over two weeks ago about the Trooper dying on the way to Ohio. That’s the problem with trying to have rational conversations with someone who has an alcohol problem: You never know their condition when you tell them something important, and then they claim they were “never informed.”

Of course, I thought of a really good rejoinder after the nasty conversation ended: He lost the right to speak to me when he moved out of the house . . . This from the man who never took a day off to take any of the kids to the doctor. I did it because somehow I let him drill into me that it was easier for me to take a day from work.

Then I thought about it for a minute. He should have never had the right to speak to me that way. Why did I give him that right? Too often, verbal abuse isn’t recognized, even by its victims.

I wanna learn to live again . . . 

Butch Edentons Sunset
Sunset by Butch Edenton

Which brings me back to the subject of this post: the possibility of hope. I won’t pretend that Corey and I have a perfect relationship, but we have a really good relationship, and he doesn’t verbally abuse me. He doesn’t belittle me for my weird habits, and he loves me, imperfections and all. As do I him. Immensely.

Life has sucked lately, a lot. We run into walls, and we seem just cannot seem to get a break. But as I have been reminded of all too much with the loss of my uncle, we live in minutes and hours, not days and years.

I will make certain that Eamonn is ready for college next semester. I will take extra care to watch out for Brett’s signals that he is overwhelmed. I will enjoy the joy that my animals bring me.

I will remember to tell Corey that I really do appreciate everything that he does for me, even something as small but caring as making sure that I have Pepsi in the house. And I will appreciate the fact that I have a partner in life who could belittle me if that were his way, but it is not. His way is to tell me that he loves me every day of my life, to lie to me when I ask if I look fat, to tell me the truth when I ask about my writing, and to love and care for Eamonn and Brett unstintingly, including taking both of them to the doctor more times than I can count.

They are my shelter, my comfort, my great joy, and my peace of mind. With them, I really need nothing more.

Shantih, Shantih, Shantih.

Thank you for allowing me to be self-absorbed and for your kind words. But thank you more for continuing to visit here, for reading my words, and through your own words and beautiful images, for reminding me of all of the good and wonderful things in this world, one of which is this poem by one of my favorite writers, Langston Hughes.

Goodbye Uncle Melchor.

More later. Peace.

*Lyrics from “Dark Road,” by Annie Lennox

Mother to Son

by Langston Hughes

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

“And they were canopied by the blue sky, So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful . . .” ~ Lord Byron

yellow-lab-goes-sailing

Blue Skies and Smooth Sailing

“Green calm below, blue quietness above.” ~ John Greenleaf Whittier

sunny-day

Today was a good day. Nothing at all special happened, which is part of what made it a good day. The sky was an amazing, cloudless blue, not hidden by any haze. Temperatures were in the mid 70’s, and a light breeze was blowing.

These are the kinds of spring days that we have too seldom in this area as early spring tends to jump straight into summer, with hot, humid days and hazy sunshine. So on a day like today, I took advantage of the gift nature had presented me, and I sat out in the back yard in the warm spring sun. I took a book, but will admit that I didn’t read many pages.

Brett, too, joined me outside, as did the dogs. Corey seemed more relaxed as he sat in a chair outside talking to his mother, something that always seems to calm him. I took the portable CD player outside and put on some tunes, making for an altogether laid-back afternoon.

I will admit that I spent much more time gazing upwards and daydreaming than I did concentrating on my book. If I had to tell someone exactly where my thoughts wandered, I would be hard-pressed. It was the kind of day-dreaming that has no rhyme or reason to it. I just let my thoughts float on the breeze and go where they wanted.

“I never get tired of the blue sky.” ~ Vincent van Gogh

Granted, the morning did not begin quite so peacefully as today was opening day at the park that lies directly behind our house. I was awakened at 8 a.m. to sounds of horns as people vied for parking spaces. Then the PA system came on, and the realization of what day it was hit me right behind the eyes.

I know. If any of my children were playing in the league, I would be full of excitement at the prospect of opening day. However, since we have lived here, opening day has become something to dread: cars parked haphazardly in the park’s lot and up and down the streets, litter in the front yard from people who have no consideration for other’s property, and lots and lots of yelling of  “go, go, go, go.”

You might think that after all of this time I would be used to the clamor, but somehow opening day always seems to impinge upon my reality in the most unpleasant way. Today it was blaring horns early in the morning.

Eventually, the police will come by to ticket the people who seem oblivious to the fire hydrant in the corner of our front yard and the no parking signs on our side of the street. When I try to warn people, they think that I am just being nosy and ignore me, so you’ll have to forgive me if I take some small amount of pleasure when they finally get their tickets.

” . . .the blue sky, it seems so deep, so peaceful, so full of a mysterious tenderness . . .” ~ George MacDonald 

But back to my day: mysterious tenderness . . .

FSE009

We sat there in companionable silence, all of us, lost in our own thoughts. I looked around the yard and realized that the gardenia bush would be in bloom soon, and thought about the lantana that needs pruning in the front of the house.

The Jack Russells spent a lot of time with their noses turned toward the heavens, their eyes closed. I remember when we first got them, as small puppies they would sit in the backyard with their snouts turned upwards and move their heads back and forth slowly, almost synchronized. Their noses would twitch as they caught different scents on the wind.

In our house, we call that action being “sun puppies.” Tillie, however, has not quite mastered the Zen of being a sun puppy. She can remain still for a minute, maybe two, before she is off, ferretting out a ball for someone to throw. From experience I know that few Labradors tap into their inner Zen until they reach about three years old.

My old lab Mokie used to love to sun herself, and in the winter, she would take naps against the sliding door whenever the sun was at its brightest on the rear of the house. Once or twice I have found Tillie by the glass door, and it is a sweet reminiscence.

“Darkly, deeply, beautifully blue” ~ Lord Byron, Don Juan

Later, after everyone had come inside, Corey and I were talking, and our conversation drifted to the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Even though he spends his professional life on the water, and he loves to landscape and garden, I told Corey that I thought that he was more of a fire element, not just because he has a fascination with fire, but because of the qualities of fire: it warms; it is unpredictable and passionate; it can mean death, but at the same time, it can bring forth new life, renewal by cleansing an area for new growth. Fire is an element for those who constantly seek change.

earth-air-fire-and-water

Although my star sign is Aquarius, and I love the sound of water, I think that I am more closely allied with air. Everything about the sky amazes me: the creatures that soar and move through the air, the clouds that can occlude or refract, the night sky with all of its stars. I have even put glowing stars on the ceiling of my bedroom so that on the darkest of nights, I still have the heavens above me.

I find tremendous peace in all of those things, but the one thing that I love to behold in the sky is the mixing of my elements: a thunderstorm in which the rain pours down, the sky is back lit by shooting spears of light, and the air moves through everything, causing the trees to sway, the leaves to turn inward, and the earth itself to run in rivulets.

“I believe that if one always looked at the skies, one would end up with wings.” ~ Gustave Flaubert

wings-in-flightAnd now that evening is here, I find that I still have a smile on my face, something that has seemed to elude me for forever, it seems.

The only thing that is missing now is the sound of the water gently flowing from the pond, but if I am patient enough, that too will happen. Today is the kind of day that so many people take for granted, but I am learning to appreciate better as a result of the greyer days of the past. Tonight I am will lay my head on the pillow and give up my destiny to the fates.

I can feel my steady heartbeat in my chest. I can content myself with the steadfast love of the man beside me, the family around me, and the friends who keep me close in their hearts.

Perhaps tomorrow my worries will return with the force of a tree bending under the weight of winter ice, but that is tomorrow, and I am not going to spoil this day with troubles that I cannot change in the space of one day, one week, or possibly, one month.

I will leave you with the words of the amazing Carl Sagan. There will be more later. Peace.

At a few hundred kilometers altitude, the Earth fills half your sky, and the band of blue that stretches from Mindanao to Bombay, which your eye encompasses in a single glance, can break your heart with its beauty. Home you think. Home. This is my world. This is where I come from. Everyone I know, everyone I ever heard of, grew up down there, under that relentless and exquisite blue.

~ Carl Sagan

Grace in Small Things #37

coreyme-at-cake2

In Each Other’s Arms On Our Wedding Day
 

It’s All Relative

I’ll try to be more attuned to the purpose of this exercise today. So I will write about the things that truly matter to me the most: family. Since I can only write about five things, this will not be all-encompassing, but it will include some of the most important.

1. Corey’s arms. Not only do I love the shape of his arms, not big and bulky and overdeveloped like monkey men, but I love what they do for me: they hold me up when I am falling, literally and figuratively. They enfold me and keep me safe from harm. They are the place I return to again and again when I need affirmation that in spite of all of the bad things that are happening, we will make it through as long as we work together. They are my save haven and my bulwark against the darkness.

2. My son Brett’s art. He is an amazing artist. He drew an incredible picture  in pencil and charcoal last year that I haven’t had framed yet. But when I do, I plan to hang it in the living room. It is so reflective of him, and I could tell how proud he was of it when he brought it home and presented it to me.

3. My son Eamonn is a right pain in the butt, but each morning he wakes up singing. It’s the most amazing thing. He always wakes up singing, and if he doesn’t, then I know that he doesn’t feel well. He has a built in barometer and thermometer.  I am not a morning person myself, especially since most nights I don’t go to bed until 4 or 5 in the morning, but I envy this in him.

the-eyes2

4. Alexis has the most beautiful eyes. One is grey/blue and the other one is more hazel, and she has long lashes. We were never quite sure where the blue/grey eye came from, but when my dad died, his brother Ben flew in from California. Uncle Ben had bluish grey eyes. Apparently it was a recessive trait on my grandmother’s side as she was Spanish. Before then, I had never seen a Filipino with blue eyes, but my uncles told me that it is actually not so uncommon because of the Spanish blood that runs through many bloodlines in the Philippines.

why-yes-thank-you-well-have-another-2
Why Yes Thank You, We Will Have Another

5. My sister-in-law from my first marriage, Ann, has always been a friend. In fact, her daughter Rebecca was born right after my son Eamonn, and they went to school together up until High School. We used to push their strollers and walk Alexis to grade school so that we could get some exercise and lose our baby weight, and  it was just nice spending time together. Over the years, she has been there for me through every major problem in my life, never asked questions, just asked how she could help. We have lived less than half a mile apart for almost 20 years. It’s true that you don’t get to choose your relatives, but I have been incredibly fortunate in the ones chosen for me.

That’s all for now. More later. Peace.