Posts Tagged ‘loss’

My Daily Bread

October 11, 2012

10/11/12

by Kerry Ellen

 

I need to tear off a hunk of quiet

And feed my blistering soul.

Rip off some time to just be

Like breaking a baguette

Eating my pain – pan – just the “I” difference…

So much disappointment

Like waves of nausea

Only settled by meeting basic needs

Bread – my favorite comfort food…

I wish for some of that wonderful orange fennel sea salt bread from Hampton Bakery

Another want ungranted.

Still licking my wounds

And blinking back tears

Filling a hall with my sighs

Not yet really letting go

Just allowing the dreams to drift away

Like ghosts muttering of lies

Lost love, life unrequited.

A snap in the air and I hear the rustling as again

I sweep my hopes to the side

Like colored autumn leaves

Beautiful but fallen

Dry but not quite dead.

Dream Child

January 19, 2011

Your home was once just under my heart. We lived as one, nourished by the same blood and food and oxygen. In time I felt your life fluttering within me, a tiny butterfly anxiously awaiting your turn on the meadow.

I passed the long months of waiting by dreaming of you, wondering how I would divide my love again, guessing what your looks would show, thinking of special names for you, preparing for your arrival, feeling self-conscious about the way your growth affected my appearance.

My due date came and went. Each morning thereafter I woke with the same thought, “Maybe today. Maybe by evening, you’ll be here beside me, nursing contentedly.” After several days, labor was induced. Contractions began, increasing in frequency and intensity as the hours passed. Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth, don’t push yet, all the while the pains came faster and harder. At last you crowned and I pushed: again, again, again, then it was over. Exhaustion, relief.

You hadn’t cried or sputtered to announce your arrival before you were whisked out of my sight. In my peripheral vision I glimpsed a tiny gray something covered with the yellow curds of afterbirth. I was left to wonder while they ran their tests. The volcano within erupted; fear flowed and burnt like lava.

An eternity later they returned with feeble meaningless words of apology. Then I saw your frailness in the glaring light and knew my love and labor had been fruitless: I had delivered but my dream was stillborn. Friends and family were sympathetic, supported, but disconcerted. What words of comfort could they, or anyone, give?

I lay awake at night, unable to avoid the questions which ask themselves over and over again: Was it just not meant to be? Why? Was I being punished? Was I unworthy? I only wanted to love and devote myself to you, but my dream did not come true – Why?

I am glad for what little time we had, grateful for the hopes you inspired, but disappointed. I shared your life for only a few months – I wanted years. I must go on without you, trusting time to heal as it passes. Until then, I fight the rest I need, not daring to sleep, afraid of dreaming again.

By Kerry Vincent (1987), published in various magazines/newspapers

What We Have Lost…

June 9, 2010

Gone, but not forgotten. Nothing but memories now, but what good memories they are…
I am remembering idyllic hours spent in Paul’s Book Store, in University City, a few years ago, before the big chains and franchises ran most of the independent small bookstores out of business. Before, when books stores had books and cards and calendars – not Blue-Rays, DVDs, CDs, and it was enough, more than enough, if you loved books.
Paul stocked everything worth reading. No romance novels, few best-sellers or blockbusters, but if you wanted a calendar of sumi-e brush painting, Paul’s had it. If you wanted a local poet’s chapbook, Paul’s would probably have it. Or some hard-to-find historic tome – check Paul’s first. Obscure fairy tales – you knew where to look. They had literature for recovery, women’s studies, gay/lesbian-bi-sexual/transgender – when the big chains did not handle those items, for fear they would get picketed or not make a profit.
This was a store for book lovers. Artists. Philosophers. Poets. The avante-garde. Outsiders. College students. Parents who wanted more-than-Disney books for their children to grow up on. It was a safe haven and meeting place for intellectuals.
I bought my first copy of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones at Paul’s Books. For creative writer, Paul’s was an excellent resource, well-stocked with everything for the lover of words!
When the big chains starting putting the small independent bookstores out of business, it affected the small independent publishing houses as well. And the writers were further restricted – there were fewer vehicles to publish work that did not fit into mainstream categories. This was before the Internet was well-known to the general public.
I miss Paul, the store, the books, the cameradie. I don’t know what happened to Paul himself after the store closed. I hope it is a happy ending.

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

How to Fall in Love

February 18, 2008

Do not be expecting it – that is the best way.  Don’t even be looking for love – let it find you!  Just think it is a normal day.  Lalalala.  Say hello to your friends.  Laugh.  Eat lunch.   Tell jokes.   Make a coffee date with your Silly Side.  Be yourself.  Then, before you know it, if the right person comes along, they can’t help but fall in love with you.

Enjoy your lover’s company.  Talk often, kiss and hug a whole bunch.  Think about the other when you’re apart.  Sure, you miss each other, but imagine how happy you’ll be when you get together again!

When you fall out of love, it hurts worse than falling on your noggin and getting a big bump.  You may be very sad when you go to sleep that night, but tomorrow is a new day.  You might fall in love with someone new.  Or not.  It’s up to you.  But isn’t it exciting, wondering when love will come back into your life, tap you on your shoulder, and ask, “Are you busy?”

Just go about your everyday life and be open to whatever love comes your way.  When it’s your turn again, fall in love and be happy.  When it’s over, let it go until next time.

But always be ready for love! 

Kerry Vincent – copyright 1993