Archive for May, 2008

9 lives

May 28, 2008

by Kerry Vincent (c) 2003

 

If I had another 9 lives to live….

 

I’d eat more kitty treats and roll in more catnip;

 

I’d hide under more beds and shred more lace curtains.

 

I’d take more naps and bask in more sunbeams;

 

I’d chase more dust bunnies and eat breakfast twice.

 

I’d wake my human earlier each day

 

And look betrayed when we arrive at the vet’s.

 

I’d glare at more toddlers and swat at more dogs

 

So everyone would know I rule my home.

 

 

 

If I had another 9 lives to live

 

I would demand more petting,

 

Enjoy more ear and chin scratches,

 

Even roll on my back for more belly rubs.

 

I would shed more hair on the clean laundry

 

To freshly mark my territory.

 

I would grace more laps, pillows, and beds.

 

 

 

I would never let another day go by

 

Without a good, long, loud, deep

 

Puuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

 

ATCs

May 22, 2008

(The painting is a print by Susan Seddon Boulet – yellow card quote says: What women have got to learn is no one gives you power – you just take it.” Roseanne Barr)

more ATCs

May 22, 2008

paintings by Susan Seddon Boulet, ATCs by Kerry.

Quotes, top to bottom, say:

Dream without limitation – claim your freedom (greeting card)

There is no old age. There is, as there always was, just you. (Carol Matthew)

Don’t compromise yourself – you’re all you’ve got. (Janis Joplin)

ATCs

May 22, 2008

 

2 ATCs from Kerry

TOP:  No one can figure out your worth but you. Pearl Bailey

 

BOTTOM:  You are here. Now what?

Ta-Da!

May 21, 2008

Laurel Crowns are awarded to Soul Food Community members who make art and writing a daily practice and regularly publish and support the creative endeavours of others at the Pythian Games.

—————–

— Last week I was awarded a Laurel Crown – I was so thrilled – because the honor came from peers I cherish and respect — click the link to learn more:

http://pythiangames.wordpress.com/laurel-crown-recipients/

(deep curtsey)

 

Little Things

May 21, 2008

It’s those little things people remember about you, you know.

 

It’s not all the work you did, your big accomplishments, awards you achieved, contests or contracts you won.  It’s the little off-the-record comments that make people miss you.  After you’re gone, I mean.

 

One of my co-workers died a couple years ago.  A very nice guy named Denny.  He did good work, knew his IT, served his country, but I remember the little things.  I found some salt water taffy in the community candy dish…it reminded me that Denny used to bring the freshest, softest taffy back every time he returned from visiting his mother out East.  He also would bake bread a couple times a week and bring it in to the office to share…

 

It wasn’t just the food – it was Denny’s thoughtfulness.  He brought an ice scoop and a cup to rest it in so we didn’t have to use our hands to get ice…and a plastic pitcher with a line marked so we’d make never-fail coffee… he brought his spare drill into the office, just in case…it’s come in handy a number of times… 

 

Denny was genuinely cheerful – not in a fake perky sort of way – when he said, “Happy Tuesday!” – he meant it.  His joy de vivre was contagious – I felt better when he was around. 

 

So even though I didn’t know Denny well, I remember him, and I miss him.  For his practicality, his thoughtfulness, his smile, the way he always said, “Thank you, thank you!” – all the little things that made him Denny.

 

…Makes me wonder what people will remember about me…

 

© Kerry Vincent

Make a Wish!

May 21, 2008

Make a Wish!

 

We have a cake, candles, and gathered guests. We sing “Happy Birthday to

 

Bryan!”, but the birthday boy is nowhere in sight. It is St. Patrick’s Day. While others

 

are drinking green beer, we are having a birthday party for her little boy.

 

I look at Gloria, Bryan’s mother, my best friend. Her hands and her dreadlocks

 

are shaking, her eyes wet, but she is smiling. 1 am thankful that she is holding up.

 

Gloria and I met twenty years ago, when we worked for a power-hungry

 

television evangelist who fleeced his flock and mistreated his staff. We quit, but we kept

 

in touch with occasional calls and Christmas cards. A few years ago, we discover we are

 

both in therapy to deal with our childhood sexual abuse. We decide to start getting

 

together once a week as an informal support group. Who knew she will help me through

 

coming out as a late-blooming lesbian, leaving my unhappy eighteen-year marriage, or

 

that I will soon be helping her?

 

When Gloria becomes pregnant, I worry. She will be a single mom, barely able to make it financially, even though she works two jobs. How will she raise a child? But she is determined to find a way.

 

I offer to be her labor coach. When I get the call to meet Gloria at the hospital, I leave a

 

meeting with a vice-president that it has taken me two weeks to arrange. But when I arrive, Gloria

 

tells me that her sonogram says something is wrong with the baby. The doctor comes in and asks if they can induce labor and if she will agree to an emergency cesarean section if needed. “Anything to

 

help my son,” she says.

 

But all the procedures in the world cannot help. Bryan has Chromosome 18 damage,

 

A condition insurance adjusters call “Trainwreck.” Nearly every one of his vital systems has

 

something seriously wrong with it. I call a nurse friend. She informs me the baby does not have a

 

chance. How can I tell Gloria?

 

I stay with her through labor, scrub, enter the delivery room, but am asked to

 

leave while they do the C-section. I pray the baby will at least have a face. God is

 

merciful: Bryan is a pretty little boy with soft, curly hair and all his fingers and toes. His

 

big dark eyes, so full of pain, are the only clue that his insides are hopelessly scrambled.

 

I have never seen a newborn who looks so exhausted. They rush him to the neo-natal

 

nursery.

 

Next I pray that Bryan will at least live through the night, till Gloria’s anesthetic

 

wears off, so she can hold him and name him. That wish also granted, I pray that somehow the

 

doctors can cure Bryan’s life-threatening conditions.

 

But I run out of miracles. God is not a genie who grants three wishes. Even

 

though Gloria will be a loving, deserving mother, even though she has given her heart

 

and body, Bryan will not survive. Her only baby’s breath never rises above God’s softest

 

whisper.

 


I know Bryan will not live much longer, so I overcome my shyness, lie my way

 

into the neo-natal nursery, bringing my partner, who is a photographer, to take pictures

 

for Gloria.

 

The next morning, when Gloria awakens, the nurses bring Bryan to her. He is

 

hooked up to life support devices, barely alive. She cradles him in her arms long enough

 

to name him, read one story, sing one song, give one good-night kiss.

 

Sometimes, even a mother’s love is not enough.

 

The medical staff call me and Gloria’s therapists she has no family to be with

 

her when they withdraw life support. Gloria hugs Bryan and sings, in a splintering voice,

 

a last lullaby, “Jesus loves me, this I know…” She kisses him and whispers good-bye.

 

Bryan dies quietly, in his mother’s arms, in a roomful of love and prayers.

 

Gloria cannot let go of Bryan, despite the nurse’s coaxing. She clings to him for

 

half hour, then tearfully passes him to me so I can say good-bye, too. I hold my friend’s child and tell

 

him, “Your mama loves you and wants you so much. We’re going to miss taking you to the zoo and

 

out on walks.” Bryan does not mind the tears that fall on his face. I touch his tiny starfish hand, feel

 

his nubby baby toes through the cotton gown, kiss his fine hair. It is too late for my usual incantation

 

for newborns, “Don’t let anyone abuse this baby!”

 

When the nurse takes her son to the morgue, Gloria rocks, wailing, keening: “My

 

baby! My poor little baby is gone!” I have never heard such raw grief or felt so

 

inadequate. Gloria shakes and weeps and finally has to be sedated.

 

 

Bryan’s casket is no bigger than a shoebox, set adrift in the backseat of a big blue

 

Oldsmobile. I witness his burial because Gloria is still in the hospital. Someone has to

 

see where the grave is dug. The plain wooden box is lowered down. I say a prayer, drop

 

a white rose tied with a blue ribbon and a letter telling him how much he is loved and

 

missed.

 

Gloria grieves Bryan’s death for weeks. I want to help, but I cannot bring her

 

baby back. I call every day to make sure she is all right. I loan her some money when

 

she quits her job she cannot face working in a daycare again. I want to fix things for my

 

friend, but it is impossible. Gloria tells me that just being there for her, and listening, is

 

enough.

 

Bryan lived just twenty-two hours. He changed our lives forever. He taught us

 

that you don’t have to be perfect to be loved. You don’t have to live a long life to make a

 

difference. You don’t have to do great feats just be yourself. You can be angry at God

 

and not be struck down.

 

Years have passed. We have tried to let go and move on. Gloria took a

 

break from childcare but is working in her field again. Nowadays when Gloria sees a

 

child Bryan’s age, she can smile without trembling or tearing up. We still get together to talk about

 

our jobs, significant others, storytelling, and the play about child abuse we performed in last spring.

 

Holidays are painful – we guess what presents we would have bought Bryan this Christmas, what he

 

might have wanted this birthday.

 

 

           Of course, we still wonder why. Gloria wants to know why God took her little  

boy. I want to know why God gives healthy children to careless mothers and takes them  

from loving ones. We are learning to live without the answers. We are slowly healing,

 

but we are learning that healing is a lifelong process.

 

God does not outline lessons on some celestial chalkboard.

 

Bryan taught us that love hurts, but is worth the pain. That friendship is being

 

there, giving each other support, like a loom woven with joys and the sorrows. Like his

 

mother, Bryan was a soft-spoken teacher, who taught us that life, even just twenty-two

 

hours, is too precious to take for granted.

 

For most children, birthday parties are a ritual of growing up. For us, Bryan’s

 

birthday party is a celebration to remember a baby boy who touches our hearts still. We

 

blow out the candles and make a wish.

 

(based on a real life experience in 1995) (c) Kerry Vincent

The One that Got Away

May 20, 2008

(Inspired by Pablo Neruda’s sentence, “I write the first faint line…” prompt)

 

I write the first faint line…

In sand, in water, in dust,

But more often,

In the clouds,

Along the mile markers,

While I am driving along.

It’s then I have my best thoughts –

When I can’t stop and write them down.

 

The ideas sneak up behind me,

Attack metaphors,

That pounce upon me

While I am in the shower,

Again, no pen near by,

No paper on which to write.

 

I used to mourn each lost gem.

Nowadays I tell myself

I am just a good sportswoman

Practicing “catch and release” –

The ideas will come back to me someday,

When I have my waders on,

My line is taut,

My hook is sharp,

My net is ready,

And the thoughts are

Much bigger and better…

 

© Kerry Vincent

letting go

May 19, 2008

 

Shall I continue to top off

My tall water glass of sadness?

Or wave the waiter on,

Saying, “No, thanks, I’m fine.”

 

Shall I hold my bitterness tight,

Clenched like a handful of sand?

Or open my palm and let it go,

Let it become one with the wind?

 

Shall I clutch my memories to me,

Like a sad corsage turning brown?

Or send my thoughts off like scouts,

Looking for new adventures?

 

Shall I take my chances like Icarus,

Flying too close to the sun?

Or maybe I’ll burn like a phoenix on fire,

And rise again from my ashes?

floral chiascuro

May 18, 2008

floral chiascuro

photo taken this morning by Kerry (c) 2008