African Rain Samba

The steady rains are here again

The washout wide across my path

Journey’s longer

Me and the downpour

and

tears

The steady rains are here again

The showers sting my feet

Journey’s longer

Me and the downpour and

tears

on

my

face

Rains came when

we

went

our

way

 

Rains came when we parted ways

Went our way

…Away

So far away

lyrics by lisa boyl-davis

 

Lyrics by me,

for a beautiful tune written by Danny Rash who plays one mean trombone,

arranged by Ted Lombard who plays some beautiful jazz piano.

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Bill Died Yesterday

 

Yesterday Bill died.  Bill, our friend.  The Bill with a smirk, always a wonderful smirk on his face.  The mischievous tinkle.  The face I always looked forward to seeing, I’d search for Bill across the crowded Sunday Morning service.  Worried he’d someday be gone.

What will the world be like without Bill?  Our kind-hearted friend.  The guy always with time to listen.  Who loved to see me.  The smile he’d get when he saw our kids.  The stories he and Ted shared, standing out in the church parking lot, unhurried – they would talk.  A car where they were standing needed to back out, they would move to one side, and keep talking.  They’d have to move again.  And still, so much to say.  Never too busy to share another story, he and Ted could talk about anything at all.  Bill holding onto his stick (“It’s not a cane”, he’d say) – his son had carved it for him.  He’d tell about the trips across the states.  All about the adventures.  About the wind at one of the rest stops so strong someone had to help him to the restroom.  Into his 90’s, he was still on the go.  He’d tell about his flying days.  He was a flight instructor during WWII.  Ted and Bill both loved airplanes, they had that in common.  Ted knows which planes he flew.  I can never remember. 

Bill would come along on church campouts.  He’d join the kids for the campout bike parades.  He’d decorate his bike up fancy too.  And always the twinkle, the smirk. 

Bill, such a thoughtful guy.  I remember telling him one Sunday that Marty, our son, who he was fond of, had graduated from H.S.  I invited him to the graduation party.  I really didn’t expect him to make it.  His wife had passed away and doubted he was getting out much.  He came walking up, a bit unsteady on his feet even then, but came to congratulate Marty. 

Losing his wife I think was so hard on him.  He’d tear up anytime he talked about her.   The wife he’d spent a lifetime with, raising so many children that at her funeral I lost track of the count.  Their children, birth children and foster kids.  A lifetime of giving love to each other, and to their many kids and friends.  Grace had a stroke and for years Bill took care of her, bringing her to church in the wheelchair, his patient easy-going ways.  It was definitely true love.

Bill would steal purses.  You’d be chatting with him, and get distracted.  A few minutes later you’d realize your purse was gone.  After scrambling, you’d notice across the room, your purse and a few others hanging from Bills shoulder.  He did this enough times that the church finally presented him with his own purse, which he faithfully wore with his Sunday best. 

This story, it happens everyday.  Good people are born, live, then they die.  He was 96, after all.  And still, I can’t make it OK in my head that it will work for Bill to be missing.  I suppose that would be due to the significant lack of Bill’s in this world.  The eyes that see you from across the room.  The sideways smile.  The twinkle.  The dry jokes.  The smirk. The trust to share a story.  Taking the time to do so.  The interest in others. The caring questions.  The lifetime of giving and loving.  A man whose choices benefited so many. 

I suppose he stole things other than purses.  Like hearts.  It’s a habit.  Whenever I find my seat in church, I hunt for the site of Bill.  Bill died yesterday.  Finally with Grace again.  The twinkle.  The smirk.  Though he’s gone from us, he’s where he’s been headed all along.  A little support through the windy patch, and he’s arrived.  

 

All I Ask

by Gordon Jenkins

Beautiful girls, walk a little slower when you walk by me

Lingering sunsets, stay a little longer with the lonely sea

Children everywhere, when you shoot at bad men, shoot at me

Take me to that strange, enchanted land grown-ups seldom understand

Wandering rainbows, leave a bit of color for my heart to own

Stars in the sky, make my wish come true before the night has flown
And let the music play
as long as there’s a song to sing
And we will stay younger
than Spring

Space Junk

Tomorrow I get a prosthetic.  A strange fake thing that is suppose to look real, feel real, make me look normal. I hate it already and I don’t even have it.  I want to hurl it as far as my lame girl throw is able.  I want to see if the damn thing skips on water.  Can it knock a branch clean off a sturdy tree?  I want to know if it can smash a window, a lot of windows.  Maybe go through one window at the back of the house and keep right on going until it flies through the window at the other end of the house.  Fling the thing far away until it takes to orbiting the planet with the rest of the space junk.

Plastic nauseates me.  When girls grow up, we seem all very much alike until we mature a bit… and eventually part ways over plastic.

 

Some girls to the land of stuffed bras, fake nails, 6” heels, pasted lashes, hair spray stiff. The rest of us might try awhile to improve ourselves with the many aids, but finally hate the confinement so much we give in to the realization that we are one of the plain girls that’ll have to do.

I know folks with a missing foot or arm are thankful for the prosthetic that enables them to be who they are, and move about, but how does a fake breast help me at all?  I can’t wear it swimming.  I’ve read stories of those out for a swim seeing the embarrassing thing float by. Can’t run with it.  Can’t sleep better with it.  Just a spiteful reminder of what’s gone each time I put it on and take it off.

But tomorrow I get the prosthetic.  I can’t stop the flood of tears that surprise me.  My gut aches with the sobbing.  I’m so angry.  I can’t sop up the mess fast as it comes.  Strange, but deep down I feel like getting this fake breast tomorrow seals the deal.  Like it’s an agreement with the insurance agency that I’ll have my breast taken off and kept off permanently.

So that’s it.  Every personal medical crisis I’ve experienced in my life has been resolved over time.  Never before have I had a medical loss for good.

Not just the loss of my breast, forever gone, but the loss of how I do life.  Carefree and wind blown in my own comfortable skin.

Slide22 (2)

I’ll wear a prosthetic for the sake of everybody else.  People have the right to go out and about and not run into a one breasted woman.  I guess it’s final.  I do need one. Dresses will never fit right, nor coats nor bras without.  It’s not a replacement of what once was part of me.  It’s clothing filler.  That’s all.  And besides, it just might do on a dull afternoon as a discus.

Amelia

To Float Away

cropped-summer-and-fall-2013-269.jpg

My four year old is pretending again.  “She’s my mommy.” she says, referring to our sweet friend enjoying an end of the day swim with us.  “You’re the shark!!” My little chatty butterfly points to me.  I smile and feel the stab.  I love her pretend world.  How can her little innocent play feel real?  With the cancer diagnosis, the mastectomy, being told my genes have a high return for a whole variety of cancers, early and deadly – I’ve had to fight my thoughts.  My hyper-focused husband trying to manage the random task of raising our kids alone.  The impossibility of that.  Another Mommy raising our 10 year old tender powerhouse child,  our 4 year old butterfly, and our two older – independent but still needing a mom at times – kids who have just starting college.  There’s no way around it.  The kids will suffer. I’ve been feeling for a while now that bit by bit I’m floating away.  Far away to another place.

To one who has never seen the whites of the eyes of death, the rational goes something like this: “We all die sometime.  It’s just a matter of when.  It’s a waste of time and energy dwelling on it.”  Those words belong to folks who have not had their invincability yanked away.  When invincible is removed, there is the reality of the thing. What the family will have to deal with – what will be missing.  It’s ugly and raw when it’s real.

It would have been so kind of our foremother and father to never have tasted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  The way that concept is taught leads one to believe that the first bite delivered a mouthful of sweet goodness that instantly changed to the sour rot of evil.  I’m thinking, however, as days and then years strip away one security blanket after another, ache after heart breaking ache, that the slow stripping away is the gruesome process of fully knowing the difference between the two, no longer able to frame hideous evil as natural, but knowing evil as evil, period.

Butterfly’s innocent pretend words sit heavy on my chest as I float on back across the pool.  I glance upward.  I’m surprised to see high above me the ceiling is mirror.

There I am, floating body, floating away.  Tight throat, tears slipping into the chlorinated blue around.  Letting-go bruises deep.  Bruises that throb.  I float there, thinking how I despise not feeling safe the way I once did.  I hate myself for being stuck in this floundering place of uncertainty. The pain turns my thoughts sideways and twisted.  “The kids will be better off”.  I’m thinking I will never be able to give them what they need, even if I live a long life, I will never feel safe again, impossible managing the day to day in a state of floating away.  I flail, wanting loose from the heaviness, this march toward goodbyes.  I want to run.  Run wild. Run and swim and fly far and strong.  I think of how I love to move.  Think how confining death will be.  Still.  Immovable. Anger burning.  I’ll never be able to talk Adored Man into letting my ashes float upon the water where at least the pieces of me will be moving.  More gut retching.

The side of the pool supports my aching head.  Irritated, I think myself to be ridiculous, breast removal almost 3 months behind me.  No chemo, no radiation, clean margins.  Pathetic drama and stupid.  I hate myself.  Treated water washes the reddened face.  I pull myself together and cross over, back to the other side of the pool.  To our friends and kids in time to hear chatty butterfly say “Mom, you are a very nice shark.”  She senses everything.  I hate myself even more.  “God, I need your help”.  I start to fake laugh and chat through tight throat.

We manage through our evening swim.  I return to the room with kids in tow, get the evening duties rapped up, say our good-nights.  As I wind down on my bed, I open the Bible to the random text of the night.  Psalms 88. Oh Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried out day and night before you.  Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry.  For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to the grave.  I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a ‘woman’ who has no strength, Adrift among the dead…You have laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the depths.  Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you have afflicted me with all your waves.

Did that just say waves??  OH MY GOD.  He sees me.  Jaw slides out of palm, a tired profile down onto the cool white sheet.  Still.  A shiver runs through.

I put the verse within range of my site. …“Lord, I have called daily upon you; I have stretched out my hands to you. Will you work wonders for the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise you? Shall your lovingkindness be declared in the grave? Or your faithfulness in the place of destruction? Shall your wonders be known in the dark? And your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?  But to you I have cried out, O Lord, and in the morning my prayer comes before you.  Lord, why do you cast off my soul? Why do you hide your face from me? I have been afflicted and ready to die from my youth; I suffer your terrors; I am distraught.  Your fierce wrath has gone over me; your terrors have cut me off.  They come around me all day long like water; they engulfed me altogether….”

Some would not find this text comforting.  I do.  A man after God’s own heart is in the black place I’m in.  There is no happy ending.  It’s the dark throbbing heart of all of us trapped on this death laden planet.  His journal is not painted rosy to make tolerable.  It’s written exactly how things are.  No tidy rapping it up.  David does not suggest one should look on the bright side, count blessings.  He does not remind himself or us that others have it much worse, to forgive and forget, to deal with it.  The chapter is not missing a thing, because it’s the path of deep and lasting healing.  In the book Pilgrims Progress, Pilgrim takes a path to the Celestial City.  The only path to the City takes him through The Slew of Despond, the sloppy mud hole where sin and the consequences of evil can suck us under if not for help sent by God for each of us who pass through this dark place.  “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Those are words of Jesus Christ.  God himself passed through this blank swamp.

Research backs up what the Bible models.  In order for a person to heal from trauma or loss of any kind there are steps that must be taken.  One of the steps is depression – i.e. hopelessness.  Short cuts create emotional wounds that in time become toxic cesspools.  Wounds that block the healing process for years, permeating multiple layers of a person’s wellbeing.

I close my eyes.  The image of me floating away lingers.  God reached me tonight, by sharing with me a scripture of dispear.  He has painted a different picture, helping  reframe this hopeless struggle.  I’m drifting away, but on a Sea called Grief and Loss.  I’m still here.  Experiencing once again another tearing away of the security blanket called invincible.  Another bite of sour evil.  And feeling it.

“Mom!!, Mommy, Mommy, I’m telling you something.  The Butterfly’s voice gets louder and higher.  “I have to go to the bathrooooom!!”  Slipping out of bed, I smile.  Ya, I’m still her Mommy.

Amelia