I am no philosopher. I am neither optimist nor pessimist. I’m not an “ist” but I am a believer. I believe in strength; I believe in character; I believe in believing. I am hopeful when there’s hope; I am doubtful when there’s reason to doubt. I speak up and speak my truth. More times than I’d like to admit, a teaching nun has called me “A brazen article.” I can’t help it: some things flummox me. “Why do bad things happen to good people?” and conversely, “Why do the wicked prosper?”
My very good friend has just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, an illness that took the life of my nephew only two short months ago. I feel as though I’m living in a universe that can only be described as unfair, uncaring, unfeeling. My friend is my opera buddy, my go-to for book recommendations, my sounding board.
But this isn’t about me, is it? It’s about his prognosis and his fear and his family’s apprehensions. What can any of us do but accept the unacceptable? We all know that we are born with an expiration date. We try not to think about it, but when we know we are critically ill, that expiration date is writ with an indelible stamp in our consciousness.
So, I will be hopeful when there is hope and celebrate the fact that this diagnosis came about as the result of an emergency room visit unrelated to the cancer, which might not have been discovered for a long time otherwise. I will visit. I will listen. I will pray. I will be.
“Hope is a thing with feathers,” says Emily. But I like the last stanza best:
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
My memories may be
But not facts.
The morning I questioned Daddy
Might have been late afternoon,
Maybe on the back porch
Not in the garden
It might have been early evening
After the 9 o’clock whistle.
The sun was shining;
It was raining.
There was a thunderstorm and
We were singing
So I wouldn’t be afraid of the lightning.
Maybe we talked about
Uncle Giulio, built like a fireplug,
Good homemade wine
And a good story.
Uncle could talk the devil into heaven.
Maybe I made it all up
In my head,
To paint a picture of
What is really true.
Scent of innocence
Happy Meal toys
McDonald’s French Fries with Ketchup.
I love you.
Still house of happy memories.
Reading my old journals.
One of them, from the eighth grade, written in a code
I can no longer decipher.
Shall I toss it this year,
giving up hope that I will ever figure it out?
1962 contains some gems,
compliments from one friend (frenemy?)
“I really admire you for taking tennis lessons because you know you’ll never be any good.”
“I like sitting next to you in church, because then I don’t worry about how bad I sound when I sing.”
“You are a really good listener. I guess it’s because you never have anything interesting to say.”
“That’s a good color for you. It doesn’t make you look washed out like you usually do.”
Each little nugget a small pinprick to my teenage ego.
I want to revisit the girl I was then
And tell her,
“Keep smiling. When you are in your ‘70’s, these words will make you laugh.
And you’ll still be standing.”
Trying to write a poem
On this dreary morning.
Thoughts jumbled in my brain
Like sentence fragments
Bursting with energy at recess.
No apparent direction.
Look to the East, and
Look backwards in
Things I didn’t say,
Should have said,
Might have done
Trying to write a poem.
The PBS series “Call the Midwife” is back for its 8th season. I’ve been a fan since the beginning, and watching it on Sunday, brought me back to the birth of my first child. He was born in the heyday of natural childbirth. We practiced breathing and relaxation exercises in weekly classes with our “coaches.” Somehow, the actual experience wasn’t quite the piece of cake I was led to believe:
I shut my eyes tight,
I want the car to stop.
Let me out!
Someone else can have this baby.
“Are you okay?”
“Sure, I’m just peachy.”
10 minutes apart.
5 minutes apart.
3 minutes, no minutes.
One continuous wave.
So many people in the room.
I’m in a movie.
She’s talking to me.
Stop telling me what to do.
Gumby-headed baby boy Dougherty.
The last day in 6 words – 12 times. Before I do that, I want to say that once again this has been a challenge and a joy. Reading the posts of other slicers has inspired me, and writing daily for an audience has enriched me. Clare, Rose, Lynne, and Aileen, who read and responded every time, you can never know how much that meant to me as a writer. Having an audience is very satisfying!
Thank you twowritingteachers.wordpress for the opportunity.
Thanks, Betsy, for retrieving spammed posts.
Thank you, slicers, for thoughtful comments.
I learned to trust the process.
Thanks, Lanny, for teaching me that.
I discovered new structures for poetry.
I found books I need to read.
I made new friends, bloggers all.
Thank you for renewing my hope.
It’s been 31 short writing days.
Six words can say a lot,
See you all on Slicing Tuesdays!