“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” ~ Carl Jung

Lone Sakura Cherry Blossom, Japan

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” ~  Crowfoot’s last words, 1890

Cherry Blossoms over the Potomac, Washington, D.C.

A heartfelt welcome to my new readers. In the last few days, I have had another spurt of comments from new readers, which is always wonderful. I love to receive comments of all kinds, so if you are just stopping by for the first time, please take a minute to let me know what you think.  

Moving along . . . I’m not sure what possessed me, but I went into the bathroom a few hours ago and cut my hair. It feels better, not as heavy, but I messed up the front a bit. I have to say, though, that I’m not upset because my hair is growing so fast that within a month, it will probably be out of control again. I long for a really good haircut, actually a totally new style. Not short as I look horrible with short hair but something just below the shoulders. It really sucks not being able to pay for a good hair cut, but since I’m not really going anywhere that matters, I can’t justify the expense.  

I don’t know how much of a post this will be. I’m not sleeping again. Yesterday, I finally fell asleep at 7:30 in the morning, and then last night, I fell asleep around 5:30 in the morning. Corey was working 11 to 7 last night, which is a bit unnerving because once I finally fall asleep, I’m alone in bed, but if I wake up in between, which I inevitably do, he’s in bed next to me. You can imagine how that might be a little unsettling.  

“I found a journal in the coffee shop that said, ‘write something and leave me behind’; the open page read: ‘If you want to experience time travel, look into the face of the night because the stars illuminate the past—breathe in their stories.’” ~ C. Troise

Weeping Cherry, Newark, NJ

I’m not sure where I found the above quote, but I love it because it’s the kind of thing that I would do if I were going to coffee shops on a regular basis. One of my favorite places to write in my journal is the Starbucks on Shore Drive, which runs parallel to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. This Starbucks, which has a deck, faces the water, making it the perfect spot to sit in the spring sunshine, sip coffee, and write or read.  

One time when I was hiking and camping with some friends, we came across a small shack on a trail. Inside was a hiker’s journal containing comments from people from all over the world, people who had stopped for a moment in their journey to add a few thoughts, read some of the entries. It was like finding a little treasure in the most unexpected place.  

I haven’t written in a journal in ages. I mean, with this blog, there really isn’t a need for my journal. However, once Corey goes back to sea (here’s hoping), we plan to begin  keeping journals again. The idea is that I write in mine while he’s away, and he writes in his, and then we exchange them when he gets home. We have filled two journals in this way, and we were in the middle of two others, but we decided that since we’ll be starting a new chapter of our lives when he finally gets a boat, that we are going to start new journals instead of picking up where we stopped.  

If you have never kept a journal, you might want to think about doing so. I used to make my literature students keep reading journals, which I know was not a small assignment. However, that being said, if they worked on their journals in the way that they were supposed to, then they would have no problems with tests and the final exam. I’ve never believed in teaching literature in a vacuum, just standing in front of a room full of people and lecturing to them about what something means. Meaning is subjective, depending upon numerous factors, and anyone who tries to tell you that X poem means exactly Y is full of baloney.  

“When you are older you will know that life is a long lesson in humility.” ~ J. M. Barrie

  

Yoshino Flowering Cherry, Forest Lawn, Norfolk, L. Liwag

Tonight is my reality show night—the finale of Project Runway, another episode of cat fights on RHNY. Speaking of which, I was reading my online news sources today, and somehow I ended up on a page about the newest housewife on RHNY. I honestly don’t know how I landed on this page, and I cannot remember the name of this latest entry into the supposedly real world, but one thing that I do remember is that when I first saw her, I did a double take because she looks so much like someone I was friends with years ago.  

Same thin nose and thin lips, same color hair (although it was a natural color for my friend), even the same body shape. This was another one of my friends who dated my ex and who he left by the wayside. We remained friends for many years, even though she left the area. And then something happened when she was in town for a reunion, and we haven’t spoken to each other since. One of those things that you don’t really know the reason for but you aren’t concerned enough to actually do something about. Too much time had passed between us, and we really didn’t have much to say to one another.  

Anyway, so I had a bit of deja vu when watching last week’s episode, and it made me stop in my thoughts and wonder whatever happened to her, if she finally found the person she was looking for, if she finished the degree she finally pursued. I have a vague memory of someone telling me that she had cancer, but I might have dreamed it. I have that problem with confusing dreams with memories.  

Speaking of dreams, the other night I had a right strange dream in which I was trying to find a job for a realtor I knew, and I took her to my old boss, but he was in a new building, and didn’t really want to talk to me. Last night, I dreamed that I was in a hotel for some kind of conference, and I ended up going into the kitchen to find lemon slices and cinnamon sticks as garnishes for some wine bar. You see? I cannot even relax and have fun in my dreams; instead of drinking wine and wearing beautiful gowns with the rest of the people in my dream, I go searching for lemon wedges. That must be significant somehow.  

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

“Let Her Cry,” a classic from Hootie and the Blowfish 

  

  

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Buying Silk Flowers

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Cherry Trees in Bloom, Kyoto, Japan by Q. T. Luong

“Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul.” ~ The Koran

Bringing Beauty Where None Exists

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Blooming Cherry Trees, Akasaka, Japan

This afternoon I created a new floral arrangement to put on Caitlin’s grave. I had hoped to put it together yesterday, but I still did not have everything that I needed. I used to perform this ritual every year, twice a year. I would buy silk flowers and make an arrangement for spring and summer, and place it on Caitin’s grave on her birthday—March 26.

Then I would make another arrangement around the end of October for fall and winter. I would put this arrangement on her grave near the anniversary of her death—November 7.

Eventually, I stopped this ritual. I don’t remember exactly when, but I think that it was near the time of my father’s death, which also occurred in November. I cannot remember why I stopped or what was behind my thought process.

But this year, I decided that I really wanted to make a new arrangement and go to the cemetery. My desire probably arises from my recent series, Vale et Memini, in which I chronicle Caitlin’s illness and death.

So I purchased silk flowers again, and it took me back to those days gone by in which the actual ritual of selecting the flowers was enough to set me back for days, sometimes weeks. I would walk the aisles of Norfolk Wholesale florist for hours, putting together flowers, and then putting some back because I did not like the color scheme. Every choice that I made was personal and instigated by my need to bring beauty to a place that is not beautiful.

I remember that after we buried Caitlin in the infant cemetery, I was so depressed by the lack of trees and fresh blooms in that particular section of the cemetery.

Most of the older sections had beautiful maples and oaks surrounding the periphery, but not the infant section. Consequently, I approached the groundspeople about purchasing trees for the plot. Based on their recommendation, we purchased five Chinese Yoshino Blooming Cherry trees. They planted four along the back of the lot, and one on the end of the row where Caitlin was buried.

This was a family project. Everyone in the family contributed money towards the purchase. Then, about four years later, we purchased one more tree to be planted on the other end of Caitlin’s row.

Now, every spring when the trees bloom, the infant cemetery is surrounded by beautiful pale pink blooms. It was the best investment that I ever made. Other parents hang wind chimes in the trees, and for the most part, the groundspeople do not remove them. At first they thought that I had hung all of the windchimes, but I had not. I was content to have just the trees and the blooms.

The infant cemetery has unwritten rules of conduct for visitors: if someone is visiting, most people will wait in their cars until the parent or relative or friend has finished with their visit so as not to intrude. Many people who visit there do not just clean their children’s gravesites, but will pick up stray trash and set right flowers that have fallen over.

It’s a horrible fraternity to belong to, but at the same time, there is comfort in being with people who are just as devastated as you are and who can truly understand what life has become for you.

On that note, I will close with a few poems from the vault that reflect my varying states after Caitlin’s death.

“Each flower is a soul opening out to nature.” ~ Gerald De Nerval

From the Vault:

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Cherry Twig by Rose Siegl-Ibsen

On buying silk flowers
for my daughter’s grave. A ritual I have created for myself to prepare me for the anniversary of her death, the logic being this:  If I can take her beauty that I have made, then I won’t have to dwell on the painful truth that brings me to a grave in an infant cemetery on a Monday afternoon in November.
 

 

 

Norfolk,Virginia in

Forest Lawn Cemetery,
among the stone faces of the cherubs
and the silent marble lambs
I have finally come to know
that it is all here, you see,
that no matter how far I travel from this place,
how hard I try to rebuild with what is left,
the piece of me that was you
will always beckon me to return here–
to this soil, this cold earth,
which cradles but does not comfort.
Nothing is nurtured here.
where renewal is as lifeless
as the silk poinsettias,
lovingly placed, then forgotten
left to fade beneath a late winter sun
warm as April, but without the glory.
In this most solitary of places–
crowded with souls long gone
and those newly taken–
here in this small plot of land,
lie the lost dreams
of too many fathers,
too many mothers,
who buried their hopes with their children
in this ground, fertile with sorrows.

 

 

Last Possible Second

Do you have any idea what it is like to hold someone you love until she dies?  Until that last second when all sound is gone and you are sucked into a void—complete nothingness.  And then the monitor doesn’t make that steady beep any more, and all of a sudden, you hear all of the sounds that had been there all along, but you had just stopped noticing them:  the footsteps, the nervous coughs, the sounds of the other monitors attached to other patients.  But most of all, you hear your own heartbeat.  It starts somewhere deep inside of your gut and pulsates relentlessly within your ears.  And you would give anything if the sound would just stop.  If your heart would just stop.  If all of the noise would just stop.  Because if it did, then you would never have to move into that next second when you know for certain that all possibilities have ceased to exist and that the pain—a pain that you have never felt before, are unfamiliar with, are not used to assimilating and reacting to—that pain has only just begun to consume you.  So you wish most of all that your own heart would stop, just as hers did.  And then neither of you would ever have to feel the pain again.

 
Small Silent Victories

I did not.
I did not go.
I did not swallow
the handful of pills on
what would have been your first birthday.
I did not allow myself to return to the emergency room
to slay the resident who said you only had a virus.
I did not allow myself to stay barren forever.
I did not let myself stop feeling things when
I could have stopped feeling anything.
I did not forget how to love others.
I have not forgotten how you smelled.
I have not forgotten you.
I have not left.
I am still here.
I am, still.
I am.

 
More later. Peace