Saturday, October 27, 2007
I just spent the last hour and half speed cleaning the house. I have been working on it all week but could never wrap it up. Tomorrow is Sunday and I want to wake up to a clean kitchen, a table without socks, old newspapers a petrified bits of sandwich and old milk cups.
It would be nice to have some clean towels, a faux leather sofa that isn't sticky, and a floor that doesn't turn your socks gray. I am pretty sure I have achieved that and I am all sweaty to prove it. While I worked I talked to you. From the outside I must have looked like a maniac running around a mile a minute all hopped up on pecan brownies talking in an empty house.
Your brother is out at a party, your sister is in her room watching the Soprano's because she knows I don't want her to watch it in the living room, the violence puts me on edge. Your Dad went with your brother because being here with me is like having a kidney removed with a serrated kitchen knife. We just don't like each other anymore.
I was talking to you about the kitchen, how beautiful it is and how long I waited for it. Remember planning it? It never came together, always something. A week after you left it arrived in bits and pieces. I think you made it happen from where ever you are. I can imagine God saying "You can do one nice thing for your mom" and you saying "Let's make the kitchen beautiful she will know it is from me" I do know it is from you, I just wish you were here in it. I would give anything to be bitching at you for leaving a big mess, for leaving nut shells and orange peels on the counter, for leaving empty espresso cups and big cooking pans full of olive oil and the remnants of stir fry. I would grab you up, wrap myself around you and tell you how much I loved you and how beautiful and wonderful you are.
I mopped your room, it seems so empty now, you filled it up with flowers, music, your nerdy clothes, and piles of books. It is so bare now like a shell, like a silent forest. You know that it once held life and is sacred but you can not touch what once was just remember it.
I told you that missing you was the hardest thing that I have ever been forced to endure, even the toughest times we had when you were here could not touch this. I was so whole when you were here and when things were painful at least we had each other to hold onto, to talk to, to love. This is just a part of my life, the part that is left.
My life feels like the day after a disaster, I am standing here and everything I love most is gone, without warning, without reason. It is just destroyed. I have to search through the rubble collecting parts and pieces of what once was and build a new life with it. In the palm of my hand are melted things, broken things, unrecognizable things. I have no idea what to do with them but they are all I have.
Everything is kind of falling apart around me, but I close my hand tight around these precious relics of what I had. Let everything around me fall, let it all blow away on the wind. I will sit here alone in this house and rebuild something. I don't know what it will look like or feel like but it will have to do won't it.
Come to me sweet girl and tell me where you are. Tell how to build this thing, show me how to hope again. Wake me from sleep, sit on your bed and tell me what I need to know, save me.
Winter is coming. This is a year of first things without you. I built a fired, I put on big socks, I made a hot breakfast. The rain will come, the biting cold nights, the days that are over before they begin. We will not do Christmas, not without you. You were Christmas, you made it fun, you made me believe in Santa again when I broke it to you that he was me. You convince me I was wrong.
Thanksgiving, screw Thanksgiving. It was the day before your surgery, the day before you started dying. I don't want to think about it, I can't, You were so afraid, for the first time you thought we were in trouble. Damn you for being right.
Stand next to me sweet girl, put your soft arms around me like you used to, lean your head into my neck and sigh. Oh what I would give...
I am here lamb chop, everything has changed but I am still here, I am still your mama and I still love you. If you ever want to come home, I am here.
I love babyness...
Monday, October 22, 2007
It is Monday...again.
The moon is trying to get fat and the sky is full of bright stars tonight. I stand barefoot in the wet grass in my front yard look up,up,up...I ask the same questions and stand silently and still waiting and wondering if tonight is the night they will be answered.
Little lamb you are too far away or my ears won't work the way they need to in order to hear you whisper but I keep trying, I won't stop trying. I dreamed of you last night. I was at a house that floats, I wanted to buy it but it seemed like the water would eat it up before I got old and I would have to live in a soggy house full of mold and fishes. I walked around trying to look for reasons to live there anyway and I found them little by little. One of my favorite things was knowing that this house was on a shore where things were delivered from all around the world and I watched as two giant elephants carried a barge through the water.
It was so beautiful, the elephants were the biggest animals I had ever seen they were rough and wrinkled, a deep gray-brown, they had sad eyes with long eyelashes and they moved gracefully and it seemed so magical. They just rose up out of the water bringing in a load of orange pumpkins on barge that had rusty wire sides and carried two men dressed in white who sat on top of the barge as if they were driving a carriage. I said, "Oh my god Stevie you have to see these elephants" I looked around but you were gone. I found you down the beach with a bunch of other kids running through waves and laughing. You kept disappearing under the water then I would find you again. I wanted to rescue you, tell you to come in out of the water but I knew I couldn't. You were wearing a green bathing suit and your hair was cut in a blond bob, you were seven or eight. I just watched you and followed you down the beach until you were not there anymore.
I can't remember much more of the dream but I do remember waking up feeling both happy and sad. Happy to see you so little and happy, running and playing with other kids. I was sad because even in the dream I knew I could not reach you, protect you, touch you.
I am making art now, I do it all day long. I am playing with paper, drawing, gluing, folding, cutting. I do it for hours it is the only thing that gives me any comfort right now. I listen to books on tape or entire seasons of television shows on DVD. I get into this grove that can only be called escaping. I know I can't run and hide, I know there is no short cut through sorrow but even I need a little break once in a while. Being this sad all the time could kill me. I feel it.
I find ways to affirm this life. I have new friends, I go and do the things that feel good. I don't deny myself like before. You taught me that there might not be a later so I am trying to fill it up the best that I can it isn't always easy but I push myself.
I was in Berkeley on Sunday, I was wandering around one of your favorite little shopping ghetto's on fourth street. I ate a tamale at that little Mexican place in the corner by Peets, remember? It is the restaurant with the fuscia walls and the home made corn tortillas. I think you had coffee there once, a Mexican coffee served in a bowl, it was spicy and had cinnamon and brown sugar in it.
I sat on one of the little wooden benches eating one of the best tamales I have ever had. I don't know why but the banana leaf it was laying on made me want to cry. I just wanted you there eating with me, remarking how much better food tastes when it is steamed in a banana leaf. I wanted to give you a bad time because you wouldn't let them put any of that yummy cojito cheese on your food, "vegan even when no one is looking" I would say. I loved to tease you but I was always so proud of you and how moral you were. You are the only person I have ever trusted 100% and you made it easy to do, you were good because you chose to be, even when it was not convenient or easy.
I can't believe that you and I will never do the things we did before ever again. How can that be? I have to do them alone or with new people now and it isn't the same. I loved hanging out with you, I loved your profound little bits of insight. You made me think, wonder, understand and want more.
I loved to lay next to you in your big bed and talk to you when you couldn't sleep. The things you pondered...I teased you, told you that I thought you were from outer-space, it wasn't possible to have a daughter that was so...you.
I wake up every morning thinking about you, remembering all over again. I ache.
This life hurts, but I am learning how to do this anyway. You taught me all the things I needed to know to get through it with dignity and strength. You never gave up, you never stopped being who you were. No matter how much was taken away, no matter how much it hurt, or how unfair it became you were always you. You believed in something off in the distance, something without a name or face.
What I am holding onto is something off in the distance with a name I know well and a face I miss, I believe in you.
Friday, October 19, 2007
It has been six months...
Will I always count?
I drove up to Oakmont today, brought new flowers for October and November. I bought giant gerber daisies in cream, blood red dalias, orange and yellow sunflowers and a couple yellow tulips.
the same music
a cloudy sky
half a moon
wind blowing through the oaks
me sitting above
her buried below
and God someplace just not here
I meditated there for about an hour after I played a few of her favorite songs. If she was here she would have new favorites, I can't even guess what they would be. I took deep breaths, I closed my eyes and I just sad quietly believing for one moment that God was listening to me.
I looked up at the sky and said, "Hey Stevie if you are OK make it rain" The sky was full of clouds but not rain clouds and I didn't think that trick would work again. It sprinkled and I smiled, then I thought "Gee Wiz if you can make it rain can't you simply tell me your are still you? Wouldn't it be easier?"
This has been a week of making art that I have not made before, missing Stevie, hiking up big hills with Aly and trying to feel happy for Mary who just became a grandmother. I am happy for her I just have this sadness that makes happiness a different color. Sierra, a big baby with a soft bald head and sweet little lips. I remember when Briana was a little munchkin running around my house eating ice-cream and dancing to lollipop with Carrie and Davey. Davey is gone, Carrie is in college and Briana is a mommy. How did that happen?
I know I shouldn't but I think of the daughters Stevie could have had. I think about my turn to hold her hand in a hospital while we wait for something wonderful to happen, tears of joy, new beginnings...I think about her graduating from college and me standing up and clapping until the palms of my hands burn and tingle...I think about her calling me late at night to talk about a fight she had with her husband or teenage daughter. I think about...
It won't happen.
Instead I am here and I have to pretend to feel pink happiness when it is really dark blue.
Mary lost her son, he was only 21, now she has this new baby to hold, to fill her empty arms and her broken heart. Does it work that way?
I have Aly and Noah who need me and love me.
I have this broken family.
I have memories.
I have friends.
I have a life that needs living.
I have so much yet I feel so alone and empty.
Too much is missing.
I am going to pray tonight that I find a way back, connected to source, connected to my kids, connected to myself.
I am lonely for my daughter, my faith, and my hope.
Each day I heal, it is physiological. I am genetically programmed to survive. I just wish I could stop time and walk backwards through it until I find her. I would just breathe her in, love her. Then I would walk forward until I found her again, then I would know. After that everyone could go back to buzzing and whirling.
Time it just moves and moves and it drags me along with it.
God hold me close, don't let me fall in and disappear.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I am going to be working again...updating a gallery for a friend and putting some shows together. It won't be 9-5 and I don't imagine I will be paying off any bills with the terms I agreed to but it is a start. I am afraid but I understand life goes on...
Fuck life goes on.
Life does not go on, time just goes on, life changes, life changes, life changes.
I have been making an effort to put my bare feet on the earth once a day. It seems a silly thing to do but think about it, when was the last time you were barefoot in the grass or had muddy toes? We stand on cement, wood, carpet and most of our houses are built up off of the ground. I feel like I need to connect with something bigger than all this matter, I need to put my feet on something alive.
The sunsets have been beautiful and rain clouds have been coming and going. I don't think I have ever spent so much time looking up. I watch the stars, the moon, keep a look out for crows, red balloons and my girl.
Tonight instead of writing about the things I did, I think I will write a prayer.
It 's me...you know, the overweight, middle-aged housewife who swears at you and makes demands. The woman who cries and tries to make deals with you, the child of yours who is lost without her child.
I am trying not to be mad anymore. I am trying to pretend and maybe even believe that she is there somewhere just a little closer to where you live. I am trying to hear you tell me, "It's OK mama she is safe I have her under my wing and close to my heart, she will be here waiting for you in a blink of an eye, that is all it really is"
I am grateful, I am blessed. I have my family and friends. I am loved, loved, loved.
I am terrified of what is next.
I am heartbroken and you know why.
I need my mind to be lighter and quiet so I can find her.
God, if it isn't all a cruel joke, if you are real and I am a creation of your divine spark, a tiny piece of you, then wrap yourself around me, hold me close and don't let me fall into this big dark hole that exists in the middle of my life, my being.
Nine children killed in Iraq today. Nine mothers feeling this thing I feel, nine mothers who can not understand, nine mothers alone with their feet on the ground and their teary eyes staring into a sky full of stars looking for their babies.
I am not alone with this pain, I do not know the worst of it. My daughter is not the first or last child to die of cancer. I am not the first or last mother to bury her daughter. Still this is so personal. This is about you and me and a little girl who didn't want to die.
This moment is about my broken heart and my lost baby.
Do you have time to listen to all of us? What do you hear? What does a broken heart sound like?
Is it silent?
If you are there tell my sweet Stevie that I made a pasta sauce from fresh tomato's I roasted, Tell her that I still have her green chucks, tell her there is a new television show called The Big Bang about physics geeks and the girl they have a crush on. She would love it. Tell her I am OK that I miss her everyday, that nothing is the same, that she can't be replaced. Tell her I thank her for loving me so much. Tell her I sing to her, talk to her and try to honor her everyday. Tell her I am still a vegetarian and I am reading her books. Tell her I am learning to find happiness, it is hard but I will.
God tell my girl that there was never a girl so loved as she. She was a blessing every moment of everyday.
Tell her to build me a house next to hers, close to water, lots of trees. I big hammock, a big porch and a garden full of Peonies. I will need a big bed that is soft and has a fat squishy pillows, a lamp to read by and a window that is always open to a full moon.
In a blink of an eye I will be there, I will be wearing white instead of black and I will kiss the tip of her nose and the little dimple on her cheek. She will need to take some time off of what ever work she is doing because I want to sit with her for a million years. I want to walk with her through forests and swim with her in a warm ocean. I want to ride bikes with her down a long soft dirt path without any hills. I want to watch the sunset over and over and know that I get to do it again and again...no last times.
Let her to come to me in my dreams, you know how I dream...
God take care of my sweet girl, she is amazing, but you know that don't you?
God bless my sweet children, God bless all children, and God bless mothers, all of us who love and care for these children, but especially the ones with empty arms and quiet rooms, pictures and soft blankets in place of smiles and soft skin.
God forgive me for not understanding and for being so mad.
God let it be real, let it be beautiful.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I can see Robin Williams running with his dog through a field of flowers, I can see him sitting alone in a house creating a window by running his finger through paint as thick as frosting. He plays Chris, a man who will go to the depths of hell and risk losing his own soul to find his wife. This is a movie about heaven and love and what love can make happen. The art in this movie speaks to my creative self, the story to my spiritual self.
Over the last two years I have discovered that my brand of spirituality was not something that I alone conceived of. I was not the only one stirring this concoction. Little by little through reading, watching, and listening carefully I discovered a community of people who believe like me, who know a God that broke himself into billions of tiny pieces to see if they could all find their way back to each other; a game, and experiment.
These bits and pieces are the energy source that is life.
How the rest of it works I have no idea. I am not sure anyone knows for sure. Maybe God is just waiting to see how it all plays out. If God put a tiny bit of himself in you would you find a way to put him back together not knowing what you were really doing just being guided by the love inside you?
Remember the Iron Giant? Each time he is destroyed he finds a way to put himself back together again just to be destroyed out of fear one more time, he keeps trying. Is that what happened to Jesus? Did we find a way to put a big piece of God back together and we were just to afraid to look at what we belong to, so we took him apart? Will God just keep trying?
I loved the movie and I always wanted to read the book. For a long time I didn't even know there was an actual book and not just a screenplay. For some reason I never found the book, it had to find me, and it did.
Three days ago I took Noah shopping. He needed pants and shoes, he keeps growing and growing. We passed by the Barnes and Nobles window on our way back to the parking lot and I peeked inside silently praying that I would see Stevie. She would be sitting in an overstuffed chair sipping a pumpkin latte, soy of course, and reading a big fat novel, her nerdy glasses with the black rectangle frames sitting on her tiny nose, auburn hair pulled back in a pony tail. She would be wearing her gold sweater, denim skirt, leggings and green chucks. There would be a stack of books next to her chair that she would bring home and read in the sun room.
I promised God I would just stand there at the window and watch her, I would just love her, I didn't have to touch her or talk to her, just know she was there.
The chair I had in mind was overflowing with a very large man reading a magazine. He had a scruffy beard and a belly that rested on his knees. I wondered where he found a shirt that buttoned around him so easily. He was not Stevie, he was kind enough and worthy of love but he was not who I was looking for.
I took a deep breath and planned to keep moving in the direction of my car until I felt a pull, it is the only way to describe it. I felt something pulling me in. I didn't want to go in. I didn't want to smell the books and the coffee, I didn't want to see the covers and know instantly which books she would have picked up. I didn't want remember waiting for her to find the book she wanted angry because she always took so long, touching books, walking slowly down isles, picking up three putting down two, putting down two picking up one. It was like the books fed and nurtured her, the words comforted her, the stories embraced her. I didn't want to remember.
I opened the door and went in. I don't know why. Tears started, the kind that just fill up your eyes and roll down your cheeks warm and heavy. Then I had a thought, "Find What Dreams May come" Don't ask me how I remembered the author I just moved forward pulled.. There was one copy left and I needed help finding it, the computer said it was on the shelf but it had been shelved incorrectly. I held it in my hands after the tiny lady in the green t-shirt located and I felt what Stevie must have felt when she found the perfect book, a vibration that was kind of a satellite signal that showed you the way home.
I cried all the way back quietly so Noah wouldn't know. It was dark and he was in the backseat absorbed in lacing up his new red chucks. He looks so much like Stevie. I sometimes want to pretend he is her but I know it would be wrong, he deserves to be his self and she deserves her own memory. He laced and laced I dripped and leaked, and soon we were home. He played with Dad I took my new book into a hot bath with me.
I read the first chapter and had to stop. My heart was pounding and tears came again. This time I turned the tap on for noise and sobbed. I was so sad and missing her so much. I had been asking and asking, praying and praying and here in my hands was a book that was telling me a story I already knew.
I wrote a story about after. It was about Stevie's journey to heaven. I wrote it because I wanted to believe it and writing it helped me find a place that was almost real. I wrote it all night. I read it when my mind overflows with all the saddest parts of her life. The story helps me concentrate on what could really be happening.
Richard Matheson had already written the story of after and of a love that is so strong that it could not be lost or stolen even by hell.
I read his book a couple pages at a time, I wanted it to last, to never end. I knew it would, I even knew how but I needed to read the words that created a picture that healed me. Richards book was written with the help of others who have written about these things, where those ideas came from is a mystery but while I was reading I felt a few pieces of God finding themselves and fitting together like perfect puzzle pieces.
I don't think Stevie lives in a house with paint as thick as frosting. Her walls are solid, her windows open to the shade of trees and the sounds of the ocean. I was always looking for a better a better house for us all to live and grow in, a house that fit us. I use to drag her around model homes, we would make plans, pick cities, make lists. I was always looking for the perfect place for her to wake up in. I guess this was the house she was suppose to live this part of her life in. I want to believe that she is now making the perfect place for me to come home to, she knows what to do, she has vision and she knows how to build something good and strong out of love.
I see her running through a field of yellow tulips, sitting under a giant redwood barefoot, reading and humming. She is OK, she is happy and her life is what ever she wants it to be, there is nothing to hold her back she is home.
Monday, October 8, 2007
I went to a funeral yesterday...a cousin I grew up with but did not know as an adult. I visited with him briefly last year at a family event he sat alone and seemed quiet and sad. I wish I would have said more, taken the time to sit with him and learn about him as a grown-up.
Richard, where ever you are I am sorry that I did not take the time to know you better. I am sorry that I had to get to know you through a eulogy and wake stories. I understand now that you were worth getting to know, a gentle and loving man who took good care of his family and friends. You worked hard and loved to cook and eat just like my girl. I did to you what people did to Stevie I avoided you in your quiet solitude and I missed what could have been a really wonderful relationship, an opportunity to speak with someone incredible.
The wake was held at My Aunts house. My brother and I drove together and it felt really good to be with him, talking and hanging out. I was proud to stand next to him and call him my brother, my family, a good and wonderful man.
We stayed late and ate and ate. My aunt cooked all my cousins favorite dishes, there was pulled pork, corn bread stuffing, mashed potato's, greens, pies, salads, rolls deserts and really good beer. I don't eat meat but I didn't miss out there was plenty of delicious things for me to enjoy.
I was afraid to go the service, thought it was too early, it would be too sad, and I would fall apart. Instead I was held and loved, I was brought back into a family that I had known as a young girl. I felt like no time had passed. In a moment of great pain and sadness my aunt embraced me and whispered such loving words to me. We shared my childhood and now we both know the loss of a child.
There were so many new babies, new wrinkles, and old stories. I drank too much, ate two pieces of pie and went home feeling very loved.
I am not sure any of them will ever get a chance to read this or if we will all keep our promise to be more present in each others lives. I am going to write this in hopes that the love I feel some how finds them.
Thank you for being my family, for loving me and making me feel like I belong.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
ZNE's "Hope Sees A Star" has just started an auction to raise money for a memorial for Stevie and Briana. The art is bright beautiful and happy. I am touched by all the art that was donated and that people are bidding. It doesn't seem real.
The memorial will be at the Oakland Zoo...Stevie was a card carrying member of PETA, she loved animals, she was a vegan...wouldn't even eat butter, how can you not eat butter!
The place the memorial will be is near a butterfly garden, under the flowering plants some of the zoo animals are buried. She would have loved how loved by the trainers these animals were. This is a place they plant flowers and visit...
I stayed locked up in my studio all day making a little tunnel book, it is about a persimmon tree and three lady birds with crows wings. They are the three crows that visit me each morning outside my door. I send them away with messages to deliver to Stevie.
It feel good to be there making art...the rest of the world sorta falls away for a little while.
I have a little alter with her pictures, little toys, a candle and tiny wooden hands. They all sit on a shelf shaped like a golden wing.
I want her to know that I am always thinking about her.
I am tired, paper cuts, sore neck and belly full of peanut butter cups.
There is a little trivet I have to bid on before I go to bed...