Smiling at Death

Your whole life was wrapped around you
on that day,
propped up on a pillowy white cloud,
a few extra ones, cool, crisp
arranged in a special way,
a privilege for the dying.

How could your tiny fragile frame
have carried so much,
braved storms at sea,
ministered prayers from pulpit.
The swimming lessons you gave me;
you had the patience of Job.
And the turnip faces you carved
for Halloween, they were perfect;
(you would have cringed at pumpkins.)
But then you could do everything in my eyes;
you knew everything too.
I remember you trying to
show me how to use a slide rule;
I still haven’t a clue.

And there,
on a warm day, early May
in a special bed for the dying,
lay all of that,
your whole life in a cradle of time,
and it weighed next to nothing –

except for your smile.
Your smile was stronger than ever,
big enough to carry us all
as it led you, without doubt,
to a place you had always believed in
and where you were sure
we would meet again.

I remember you turned your head toward me.
Is my grandma here yet, you asked
in whispered voice.
Now it was my turn to smile.
I looked into your bright but fading eyes.
Yes dad, I said, I think she is.
And you slipped away,
smiling at death

Advertisements

The Tree, Heraclitus and Me

 From where I sit at home my gaze falls every day upon the same tree in the garden.  It has been a focal point for thoughts, reflections, doubts and fears, my coffee companion and a calm source of inspiration for the beginnings of many poems, which leads me to wonder where I would be without all that surrounds me in my particular corner of the natural world, its beauty and how it speaks to me. The tree appears like an old sage, calm, stoical and accepting no matter what; I could learn much if I took more notice. It weathers storms as well as scorching sun without expectation or judgement, and today it is telling me in its own gentle way that very soon all will change, and it will be okay.

I don’t like change, but as we know it is the one constant in life. I researched the origin of these wise words; they were said by Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher pre Socrates; he lived 500 years BC. I think he and the tree in my garden would make a good team.

So, how do I manage this constant of change in the context of my illness and its pernicious nature as it steals more and more from me? I think, sometimes, not very well, although this may be a little harsh (tendency to berate myself lingers), until I remind myself or receive a reminder from elsewhere that tomorrow’s bit hasn’t been stolen yet, so why dwell on something that hasn’t happened.

Life’s journey takes us along many different roads; some of them we can feel are unwanted and, for me, Multiple Sclerosis is one of them. Along this frightening path so far I have stumbled over stones and tree stumps of disbelief, denial, grief and despair many times. Some of those tumbles have been headlong. I have sustained heavy bumps and bruises, most of them very distressing, but maybe necessary, to bring me to awareness within that I never thought was accessible, of coming to know myself with all my imperfections and faults, learning to acknowledge them without judgement, rather like the tree. As time passes, hopefully what I continue to learn will gift to me some wisdom to reflect on all I have accomplished in the past and to celebrate it so, rather than bemoan the fact that those things are no longer possible for me to do.  I am presented with daily challenges (we all are), and I can either use these as opportunities for growth or see them as an obstacle in my way; the choice is mine.

The road is long. As a friend of mine says, who has travelled alongside the debilitating effects of MS for many years, “We do what we can till we can no longer do it, and then we find something else we can do”. The key for me is to keep on finding, and feel a sense of peace and contentment with it despite the changes, a new satisfying place to arrive at. I visualise a purple hillside strewn with heather where I can allow myself time to simply be, and admire the ever changing view of my part of the natural world.

Today the wind blows wild. Leaves are falling up instead of down; a few branches are broken, others have snapped and fallen to the ground. The tree stands tall, roots grounded firmly in equanimity.

 Image

The “Bee”!!

Hi everyone,

I decided to post a photograph of myself as a bee at our recent Halloween party, one reason being for fun, as a few people have asked to see this “splendid” sight. But another reason is to lighten the mood a little after my last poem.

In order to manage this condition of MS, I often use practices which are Buddhist inspired. One such practice is to liken our emotions to the weather in its ever changing states, and simply allow ourselves to feel rather than fight the feelings, acknowledging that they are impermanent and will change.

I am a great follower of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen Buddhist monk, author, poet and peace activist. His book Peace Is Every Step has helped me enormously since my diagnosis, to come to terms with subsequent physical limitations and the accompanying roller coaster of emotions.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh, Stepping into Freedom: Rules of Monastic Practice for Novices

Image

 

Wendy L. Macdonald

My faith is not shallow because I've been rescued from the deep.

Pitching Pennies Poetry

the work of smzang

Grit Flow

courage, resolution, strength of character

Veggiewitch

...adventures of a Crafter-Mama!

The Fat Damsel

Poems To Survive In

roughwighting

Life in a flash - a weekly blog on daily living

Some Good Things

Musings of an explorer...

Poet's Corner

Poems, poets, poetry, writing, poetry challenges

Seasonings

Just a little poetry...

Traces of the Soul

Whispering insights of this, that, then and there

Gramma Krackers

Words of the Wise Krackers

dVerse

Poets Pub

leaf and twig

where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry

Petals Unfolding

The Story of LIFE ... My Way

Awakened Words

Poetry and Other Ramblings