One Single, Holy Moment

She took her last breath at 6:30am on September 6, 2020. She was my little sister. Funny how we do that, no matter how close to seniors’ stage we are – little sisters will always be little sisters to the older.

Reva Anne

Reva was beautiful; exceptionally beautiful. She certainly had no problem turning heads and often invoking envy. She was smart, a doer and a dancer and she was funny too. She held our family sense of humor, honed in the history of pain and endurance, in doing whatever it took. She wouldn’t have recognized how that humor and ability to persist was ingrained through many generations reduced to survival.

She didn’t much talk about our Indigeneity; it was not something we consciously talked about. We just were and mostly, we tried to forget about it. Mostly we had associated every awful and humiliating moment of our childhood with it.

We went through the fostering system together, until the day I ran away from it and she aged out of it. Even then, we weren’t really free. We still had the weight of all we’d gone through before, during and even after. In our own ways, we decided the only path out was to pursue the model of success that was firmly impressed on us throughout those years. We only had to just work hard; very hard. We only had to have a nice home and maybe husbands and kids and maybe a car too. We only had to be respectable.

My journey with that empty misconception ended with several years of help to undo those generations of trauma. She sought help where she most felt at home. I don’t know how stable or even healing that was for her. I think it mostly hurt her, really. Yes, she was beautiful and smart and so, so complicated.

It wasn’t always easy to love her. I suppose they would say that about me too. I just like to think all that therapy gave me some measure of genuine peace she didn’t have. It’s in that, as a big sister that I find most painful. It’s not much different really, from all those earnest wishes for happiness and safety we have for our babies.

We achieved those goals to similar degrees. In the end, it was our children and homes that mattered most, but the ugly monster that was our childhood never really left her. She never quite found the combination that would allow her to be, to just be, in ease and in the ability to admit failure. That sometimes made her a pretty tough judge and not everyone was interested in hearing the verdicts. Sometimes other events hardened hearts indefinitely. It’s one of the most miserable of human experiences to simultaneously love someone so deeply while fighting the soulful wish to feel only indifference. Hopeless dreams.

Still, she held out her hands, arms and whatever resources available to help anyone she could. Generosity was hers too. Her heart would melt at the sight of impersonal suffering. She was a force and it was a good feeling if she was on your side.

As a sister, there was plenty of special too; the way we knew what the other was thinking by locking eyes. Breaking into gut-busting laughter over things only we could understand. It was an indescribable comfort to know she was there when I was scared. It was gut-wrenching when her pain became mine.

I hadn’t been talking to her for some time when her boy found her on the floor. She’d been rushed into surgery to remove the discovered brain tumor that they said was going to take her in a matter of months, and that’s when I got the call.

It doesn’t seem real. It didn’t then and it doesn’t now. One moment often replays in my mind. It was when I arrived at her home and saw her sitting in the corner of her couch, so small and quiet and beautiful, even with all those metal staples down one side of her head. She didn’t say anything, but I felt it all. I felt her fatigue and confusion; I felt her fear.

I could only go to her and take her in my arms and tell her that I loved her. In only a moment, all those years of trying to figure out life and our issues were done. One single, damned moment. One single, holy moment.

We had her for eight and a half more months; somewhat short of the 24 they told us was possible. I think we just knew, this time the possible was not an achievable goal. We were back to survival mode, where the practicality of what had to be dealt with in undoing an entire lifetime was paramount.

Her sons and I packed up boxes and tried to plan as best as possible for her youngest son’s eventual move to his father’s and her older son’s grappling with the baggage of the past and the infuriating circumstances of the present. Broken hearts can’t be boxed.

We spent the last few weeks just talking until she lost most of the ability. Then she would mostly just look at us as we’d try to regale her with any stories of normalcy.

Two days before she passed, I obsessed over the thought that I needed a sign when she was on the other side. I asked her to please show me something purple. “I don’t know why I picked purple, but will you”? I pleaded. She nodded, yes. She knew why I picked purple, but she wasn’t able to tell me. I didn’t even remember until she was gone, her birthstone is an amethyst. Anyway, when she nodded, I knew she would.

Eight and a half months to live what matters and even if she couldn’t say it often, I know she loved us hard and no one as much as her sons and grandson. I know this is mainly what she thought about in that time and if she could have made everyone’s wishes come true then, she would have. She had so many dreams…

In the end, she lived up to that final promise to me and I know she will for others. I can promise that. Another thing you could always count on her for was, keeping her word.

A couple weeks after she passed, I went for a walk. It was late September and the leaves were turning color. The wind that rustled fallen leaves was distinctly cooler. I plodded on, lost in thought until I was stopped in my <insert whatever cliché>.

Even if they had noticed, it might not have made much of an impression on anyone else. It was unusual to me though, and it happened to be one of my favorite flowers; a Lupin, a flower that blooms in spring. Of course, it was purple.

I didn’t have a thought. Not that I recall. I do remember the way it felt. It was like my entire being was suddenly filled with warmth that I find hard to describe. I instantly and absolutely knew my little sister was home and she was safe. That was all I really needed to know since I first got that call, and of course, she knew that…

Sisters know.

RL

First Thought

This could be a Spring of retreat; a step or two toward the past. Maybe time on our hands and loads of room for reflection. My own longings lean toward the masses questioning all the holes in all the systems that Covid-19 surged right up to our every sensibility.

My next prayer is that all this new-found realization of what matters, this renewed knowledge of what essential is, will not get tossed and lost for good by most.

Reflection choices can be simple too; in fact, the majority of mine certainly are. I can’t believe how much it means to walk in the woods right now. All the smells of Spring are especially entrancing, and I am so in beyond land when I look at the tender shoots that replaced the tiny seeds I planted weeks ago. I’m so excited to be a back deck farmer this year. Small things. The every things.

It was within these lines of thought on this lazy Thursday, I was reminded of a sweet and lovely moment of 3 years ago, when we were allowed more fearless touch.

Wishing all a gentle and inspiring weekend.

morning bliss I am the first thought
On his mind as daybreak blinks
Sunday morning bliss…

 Gently smudging pain’s traces
Sweetly replacing facades

RL

Haiku / Tanka

Inspired by the artwork of: aaronpaquette.net and prompted by: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/heal/

Three To Five Lines Of Love

I’m just a little ahead of the curve on the upcoming odes to Eros, Cupid, and Saint Val, but one might say my small poetic offerings aren’t much of an ode to hearts, arrows, & small flying angels anyway. What can I say, it was a mood – I ran with it…

Morbidity Loves

Swore indifference
then he covered his body
in my poetry

RL

Haiku
Street art photo, Toronto, ON by Randall Willis

Locks Of  Love

Coddled
your dark ego
before she ran away
said what she needed for a clean
escape

RL

Cinquain
Street art photo, Toronto, ON by Randall Willis

Imperilled Rescues

Broken promises to hate me
Spent his national holiday
Looking for me, sipping on dreams
to coax me home, to coax me home

RL

Tetra
Street art photo, Toronto, ON by Randall Willis

Another One Bites The Dust

Mad Hatter

Poor girl didn’t heed
Cries of the already drowned
Smothered; false kisses

Warnings lost in hard pursuits
T’was never hard to know you

………………………………

Mad-hatters shape shift
He becomes every dream
Magical threading

Weaving so under your skin
Never releasing his prey

………………………………

Permanently etched
Tied more closely than chained links
Oh, the tricks, those ploys

The spell forever changing
The whirls of madness now reign

RL

Haiku / Tanka
Street Art by @shalakattack
Photo provided by createdbyrcw.com

The Queen of Hearts said to the wee thing:

“How hard it can be for lost hearts to get it. The moment is passed and yet, some refuse to buzz-off even after their true colors have been brought to light and rejected. Such strange senses of ownership, but then new/old conquests refuse to believe hypnotic methods could fool them, no matter how much is offered in foresight. The trance in full effect – ‘he knows me like no other’…. They all do, dear. That’s their job. They stare and stare and stare at you until you give it all”.

“I wonder if we’re so different after all…perhaps that’s why they simply cannot say goodbye after, like a varicella-zoster, content to hide in the shadows forevermore”…

Tempered

19145868_10158854303085367_2963596329683661272_n

Narcissus banished
Comforting reality
New sweet nothings real

Overwhelmingly cherished
All storms tempered by love’s grace

languid

And, I win.

Fabulicious street art, thanks to the wonderful walking & eye spying work of Randall Willis of CreatedByRCW and So, What’s Your Story  Randall’s photo posts are amazing views of art, wildlife and human wildlife… He has gifted me another batch of creativity challenge and for that, I’m thrilled to have the privilege of immersing in poetic thought for most of the summer. Hopefully.

RL

Haiku/Tanka

 

I Would Die For My Words, But I’ll Stand With My Superpower

i-am-my-words

“Why are you speaking out so much? You’re going to get hurt”.

Going to get hurt? I’ve been hurt my whole life, what don’t I already know about hurt?  I’ve been hurt deeply enough to have died.  Literally.  (Life skillz pro tip: I highly recommend dying near a handy defibrillator; CPR hurts like a bitch – for days).

As a matter of record, this year has been one of the most painfully tumultuous for me and yet, I’m still here and I’m still talkin’ – unflinchingly.

I wish to continue asking people to step out of what they’ve learned is ‘success’ and question if it truly makes their heart sing, keeps them at peace and benefits anyone/anything else outside of constant, immediate personal gratification.

Well known, feminist activist, Gloria Steinem said, women become more activist conscious and engaged as they grow older because they lose power. I agree with her, re: our current paradigm.  We are prized for our beauty, our ‘niceness’; especially our willingness to ‘pleasantly get along’ regardless of any inequity levels in front of us.

She also said, men gain power as they age; that many tend to become more conservative – because they become more fearful about losing that advantageous power and so will use whatever manner to constrict others to protect that cushion.

I believe her words. I’ve lived them, but I refuse to accept them for me and my son.

This year especially highlighted my weaknesses, particularly from a genetic disease that doesn’t allow me to march or dance in all the ways I love, and from profound losses that reshaped my life, but I found ways to help change old paradigms anyway.

I’ve been gifted words and words are a superpower.

My words burst or seep in all kinds of form. I’ll write statement after statement about injustices that ignite my passion or calls to fierceness.  I often confess my words can be a stream of the most colorful profanity, that I could be speaking 6 other languages I don’t even know. Sometimes my words just want to be heard in the softest tones of poetry.  Sometimes my words are filled with laughter, and sometimes my words can embarrass the hell out of me.

What my words mostly are though, are a life source; a critical part of my purpose.  It’s been said so since I first spoke (a string of 3 expletives). My family gleefully and variously confirmed it with all sort of eye-roll inducing teases.

So, in answer to my concerned friend that I may get hurt by my expanding work to speak up against injustice – yes, I may, but since when is stretching not painful? On a personal level,  I’ve turned that around. I now refuse to spend any unnecessary time with anyone over 30 who refuses to relate in a straightforward grown-ass manner. I can confirm, time is precious. As Betty White said, “Vagina up, man”. She explained, why say,  ‘grow a pair’, when testicles are really quite fragile? We’re talking about actual birth canals; talk about taking a beating”! Man, I love that woman! Anyway, maybe this’ll net me fewer conversations, but saving time and connecting with people in a more real way for purposes greater than myself seems in fact, to be the point of my life.

I know that’s not entirely the pain my friend is concerned with, but – I can speak with some fair firsthand authority now, to assure that the most painful hurt, is not harsh words or bruises, broken bones, CPR or even dying. Outside of losing loved ones, what hurts most, is indifference.

So, I’ll continue to ask, which of our success representations are truly so valuable that we couldn’t live without them?  We don’t have to die to learn most of what we fear losing is really, not so much after all, but many do die because we refuse to look at the question.

We do everything we can for the safety and comfort of our loved ones, but will we extend that to include those who have suffered on any level for that comfort? If you don’t know who that is, please, please seek to learn; we need to look beyond our own small space in this great big world. Indifference is the poison that is instantly diluted by even the simplest act of compassion.  Just do it. I know you want to.

RL

October Surprises

He knows he’s always been loved
Held by an eternal ribbon of energy, binding lifetimes after lifetime
Until madness strikes, darkening, once again, all revelation

Hope became obscured by landmines of poisoned frivolities
Silly id dreams; a dance mix of Oedipus, Tantalus, Aristippus…
Every step an intriguing claim of elevation, all baseless; mocking Divinity’s design

The guileless taken unawares that soon their sky would become green
and the clouds will rain red and azure seas would boil brown
The world turned inside out within the haze of fear’s divisive fires

october-butterfliesHe knelt before her
held out his hand to her heart
whispered, forgive me

She sighed, can’t do dark
Only light truly sees light
You’ve always known that

You still felt my heart
in every distraction
Holy exceeds all

She takes his hand and holds it in her lap
She said, you were always my sun
and she joined all the spots on his hand with her lips

Her tracings on his hand reminded them of the beginning
when she first saw him and she connected all the dots
of a future begging to be mapped

Hope was their only highway
and desires assured everything was real
before meaninglessness ruined yet another lifetime…

…and then, Divinity promised another…

RL
Photo Credit: Randall Willis, who was treated to the lovely surprise of Monarchs October 2nd at Beaches Boardwalk, Toronto
Daily prompt, writing challenge: Promises
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/breakthrough/

Emotional Liquid Bugs, Floating Upon Haiku Tension

water-nymph-jpgWater nymph skimming
Measuring the surfaces
Of her jealousy

wasp-drinkingOld wasp sits & sips
Watching for validation
Of her loyalty

hydrometridaeHydrometridae
Sought win by claiming waste
Loses face for it

RL

Just a little light-hearted fun in the middle of intense yet gratifying circumstances. Definitely back to loving life.

Inspired by the writing challenges issued by the Daily Prompt: Passionate https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/passionate/

Photo Project: … Reluctant Releases …

Portrait 1Relentless year called
I became a waterfall
I was swirled away

Portrait 2Released old dreams; moved
They commanded me, let go
Heart crushed from goodbyes

Portrait 3New is on its way
Release dross for destiny
All reward is nigh

Portrait 4Trust what angels say
Tears are healing; scars get cleansed
Real love fills all wounds

Life is pushy when it wants the best for you. Sometimes you have to give in & give up, a lot…

When this photo shoot was set up in the spring, I knew I wanted to wear the dress I’d hung in public the previous October 4th as requested by Metis artist, Jaime Black. Her ‘REDress Project’ is an art-based awareness campaign in tribute to missing and murdered Indigenous women. Red dresses represent these women. (See tree photo and background notes here)

I’d chosen to hang my dress under my beloved weeping willow tree. That seemed like a poignant statement in itself.  At the time of that participation, I was soul surfing through a course of life-altering loss, trauma, and life and death events.

In a way, even that gorgeous tree experienced the same before it let loose its majestic beauty. I’d saved it years before from being brutally hacked at when my ex would attempt to eradicate the ‘strange weed’ growing in the middle of our yard.  …  I guess my point is, there was a whole lot of understanding under and within that tree.

So, when I met up with Nadya Kwandibens, a very skilled and renowned photographer who honored me with her talent, she suggested we head to a local park and search for more of a nature-based/natural background.  When we arrived, she scanned the landscape and then she pointed and said, “There – head over there, I think we should get you under those trees” –  the weeping willows.

Nope, she had no idea of my story, it was just how this particular circle would finish.  It seemed like a good omen and I suppose it was.  I have come through what I think is the greater part of those trials and I have gained new strengths and continue to build them.

From a time I was certain I couldn’t even breathe for another 5 minutes to standing up tall enough to see – that no matter how hard the testing, no matter how hard life knocks at me, I will keep getting up. I know that now, because even when there shouldn’t have been a way I could have, I somehow did.

Like my tree, I am still standing.

RL

 

Photos by Nadya Kwandibens, Red Works Photography
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/discover-challenges/portraits/
You and I, there’s air in between

That! Is My Answer

Someone once reached an uncharted part of me…
Only one time …
Ever…
Finally!

lovebirds

Someone dived deeply into my needs and said I will fight for them. I will be the salve that fills them.

I can do that.  I will do that – because you are so fucking worth it.

That!

It was that –  that ignited a visceral, cellular level response revealing a deeply buried gratitude effervescing in complete joy to the surface of my being.  For him.

It would take that to have me soaring after eagles again.
It’s what separates punks from the men,
The heroes from the ... weak.
It takes that for me to feel loved,
And safe,
And secure.

It’s that…
that I want
and need…
Still.
It was always,

That.

Why would I settle for anything else, ever again?
Settle for what?

Nothing, less than – that.

RL

The end of tributes… I lay down tobacco today to finish the healing.