Train ride home.
Feeling soft and vulnerable and exposed.
Not sure I like it.
On the bus again.
I’ve screamed. I’ve cried. I’ve left.
I’ve hurt. I’ve breathed. I’ve let go.
So many regrets
Live inside the place
Where Hope should have thrived.
I am human.
I’ve made mistakes.
This bus ride
Is not one of them.
For weeks I’ve listened and watched
The Canada geese fly south.
Wings spread in formation
Sure of their path
And their place
In the grand scheme of Life.
The first and the last
For the survival of all.
Bound by nature.
By familial bonds.
That has no word in English.
But as much apart of them
As their regal crowns.
As I boarded the bus
I found a feather.
Tucked it in my pocket
And wished to belong to something
That has no word in English.
Singular. Solitary. Silent.
It’s not a bad thing.
Moods are raging.
Clawing for attention.
But I am hovering above the fray.
Beneath this quiet calm.
Is a beating Heart.
I think a move.
Is on the horizon.
Sometimes decisions are made for you.
Right. Wrong. Not really a factor.
When the writing is clear
The wall irrefute
You’d be a fool
To ignore the message.
“There’s such unnecessary sorrow
In love unspoken.”
I woke up today thinking about mortality.
And the precious time we waste getting this love thing all wrong.
K’s cancer diagnosis and upcoming surgery has given rise to much emotional thinking. Prevalent now, are thoughts of wasted moments ticked by in silence. A silence that should have been filled with love. Love that could have created harmony. Peacefulness. And a beautiful knowing that reaches far beyond the breadth of a relationship. Even beyond the breath of life.
I thought about Khalid.
And how often we said “I love you” to eachother. And to be honest, I don’t remember us being super mushy and full of syrup. We laughed a lot. We loved a lot. We had one of those quiet, deep and passionate loves. The kind that fortifies no matter how stormy the weather. But we didn’t actually say “I love you” a lot. We didn’t have to. It was completely understood. I think… I hope. But we should have. I should have. Every. Single. Day. He meant the world to me. He made me happy. And he gave me his heart so selflessly. So effortlessly. He was Unconditional Love. Personified. I should have been tripping over the words. Shouting it from the roof tops. Daily. But I didn’t. I was too angry. And too scared. His illness terrified me. The tumor in his brain a constant reminder that I was going to lose him. That cancer was killing him. Slowly. Stealing his love from me. And that for every truly happy moment we shared, weeks were being taken away. And though I loved him so intensely, I didn’t tell him I loved him like I was gonna lose him. I left too much silence in the spaces between his seizures, his surgeries and his death. It was only in the darkness of my grieving that I wailed it to the heavens. Often. In desperate hope that he would finally, really hear me. And I am content, in the end, that he did.
And now. It is known. From an unbreachable distance.
Some days. Like today. I can’t help but wonder how different our time together would have been if I had just said the words. More.
And then I thought about P.
We rarely said “I love you” to each other. Not nearly enough for the passion we shared. The obsession. The constant craving. Not nearly enough for the great love I felt. For her. Fear of how easily and carelessly she would hurt me, stopped me. Afraid to expose my heart. I became…careful. Not always saying the words when they wanted so badly to be said. Perhaps, that was my mistake. Hers was not knowing how. Instead, we became ensnared in filling our precious moments with accusations, mistrust and one-up-manship. You hurt me. I hurt you back. So busy proving ourselves right not to trust in the vulnerability of love. We missed the sweetness in the knowing we were already so deep in it. And wasted 5 years engaged in a pointless war. One that would never have started if we’d just been less wounded. Less afraid. Braver. Kinder. And had just said the words we both so desperately needed to hear. Every. Single. Day. Showing and telling eachother just how deeply we loved. Because the sad truth is, we really, truly did. Stalemate offers no comfort.
And now. It is known. From an unbreachable distance.
Some days. Like today. I can’t help but wonder how different our time together would have been if we had just said the words. More.
And now there’s K.
Sweet, loving and loveable K. Who wears her heart emblazoned like the S in the Superman logo. Who knows no fear in love. Who walks into the raging inferno of that uncertainty, vulnerable and with open arms. Never knowing if she’ll be loved back. Or if kryptonite will take her down. Standing strong in the conviction of her belief in Love’s power. I am in awe. And I am blessed. She is that elusive Unconditional Love. Personified. And she tells me she loves me. Every. Single. Day.
I was uncomfortable with all her sweet talk. Her random blurts of love half a dozen times a day. Her “Where did you come from, Cotton-Eyed Joe”-ness. Her genuine kindness and giving. The things she did and still does…just to see me happy? Hmm. I haven’t had that kind of love in almost 23 years. Almost half a lifetime. It feels alien now. Unfamiliar. Untrustworthy. What’s the catch? I have reasons not to trust expressions of love. They’ve proven false countless times. Love lies hurt. A lot. And I have never trusted love spoken too soon either. I mean who says “I love you” – and means it – just weeks into a relationship?! Liars and manipulators, that’s who.
And maybe lesbians 😉
But how can those quick, hurried proclamations be trusted? Love is HUGE! Real love, that is. The kind of love that lasts. That’s deep and knowing. That remains steady when the flames have cooled and the love story is not always perfect. It’s not something to be bandied about. Traded back and forth like hockey cards. Or toaster ovens. Or declared in the heat of passion. Or used against someone to move them against their nature…
Love is powerful. Love is gentle. Love is beautiful. And Love is kind. And even though K still says “I Love You” far more then I am completely comfortable with, I get it. There is power in repetition.
This repetition has gained my trust. Encouraged bravery.
This repetition has instilled security. Given haven.
This repetition has proven reliability. Allowed hope.
This repetition has introduced a quiet consistency. A strength. A bond. For moments like this. When the love story isn’t perfect…
Lightbulb moment? Ya…kinda.
I really didn’t know all this was happening while I was dodging K’s love bullets. But I see it now. And I understand the truth in just how important saying the words really is. I have spent a lifetime mistrusting love because the promise of it, and eventual withholding of it, has been far too painful to endure. But I have wanted love. Wanted to be loved. Perhaps more then most. Done “things” in the hope of it. Have compromised myself more then I care to admit because of it. And eventually I learned that it is far easier to scorn it. Belittle it. Challenge it at every turn. Then to give in to the hope and dream of it. And the acceptance that maybe, just maybe, this time might be IT. It’s a difficult, lonely and unnecessarily sad path to follow. And I don’t recommend it.
My daughter once told me that LOVE doesn’t hurt; people hurt. She is right. Love doesn’t hurt. It’s a wonderfully warm and glowing hug that fills you up with the most incredible and fulfilling light. And if you are lucky enough to feel its amazing power, always ALWAYS try and give it back. No matter what. Love deserves that. Don’t compare it. Don’t analyze it. Don’t abuse it. Embrace it. It truly is what life is all about.
And if you feel it. And it scares you. And you want to run as far away from it as you possibly can. DON’T.
Even if you feel like it’s too late to say it. That it doesn’t matter. That it has no power. No value. That nothing will change. DO IT ANYHOW.
Say the words.
I LOVE YOU
I LOVE YOU
I LOVE YOU
Every. Single. Day.
And repeat them. Over and over and over.
So much more then you realize.
Don’t wait to make it known. From an unbreachable distance.
And have days. Like today. Where you can’t help but wonder how different your time together would have been if you had just said the words. More.
“Parents have such formidable power. They can protect you from all the pain in the world. Or inflict the hardest pain of all. And as children we accept what we get. Perhaps we believe that anything is better than that which we all fear the most: loneliness and abandonment. “
Author: Linda Olsson
I wasn’t born abandoned. I had a family once. A dark haired, flashing eyed Ojibwa vixen and an African American casanova gave birth to me and a younger brother. Two dreamy, idealistic teenagers, who fell in love, got married and thought they knew the world. Thought they would be the difference. They were wrong. We never had a hope of surviving as a family. All of us had been lost at conception.
Her scream pierced the air. Sharp in disbelief. I watched as the steaming iron fell to the floor. She stumbled, one hand clutching her belly, the other reaching out. Dazed, she sank into the chair and stared in growing horror at the flashing images on the TV screen. Three shots. One to the head. JFK was dead. It was November 22, 1963. I was two and a half years old.
My first memory.
Profound in both my mind and in history.
Not the most auspicious beginning for my recall, but there it is.
~Early Spring.1964 ~
We lived in a small, two bedroom upper flat and slept on bare gingham mattresses. I remember tracing the blue and white stripes. Pulling at the hard tufted buttons that dug into my skin. All to no avail. They had become an uncomfortable, unavoidable part of my sleep. My brother and I shared a bed. More than once I woke up soaked in urine. I didn’t mind that much. I loved my little man and protected him fiercely. Sometimes we’d wake in the night. Alone. Forgotten. The air quiet and sour. The dream of being the difference must have died after he and I were born.
It was on such a night that I woke to a strange silence. And a dampness under my hip. Jimmy had peed the bed again. He lay close and tucked into the curve of my back. I pushed him gently to the dry side and slid my feet to the cold wooden floor. Our room was located at the end of a long hallway, the bathroom directly to the left. I walked in sleepily, blindly, the routine instilled, and pulled the long chain hanging from the bare light-bulb in the ceiling. Green walls. Light, but unattractive. Tub and sink white, clean and unadorned. The harsh light was not friendly. I closed my eyes as I sat, aware again of the strange silence. I’m not sure why it felt strange. I don’t recall my home being filled with sounds. Happy or otherwise. But that night, something was different. Off. I just knew. I must have. The proof is in the clarity of memory.
I flushed, washed my hands and pulled the chain. Darkness loomed but got brighter as I moved slowly, almost cautiously, down the hallway. The living room was lit. Appeared lived in. Half empty glasses and dirty ashtrays littered the coffee table. Cushions askew on the couch. A pale blanket on the chair. Toys stuffed in the corner. A children’s book on the floor. But the room was empty of life. I was left with the impression of ghosts having recently passed through. Confused, but not alarmed, I continued to peer around corners and walls, but no-one else was in the apartment. My brother and I were alone. I remember seeing what looked like a large basket on the dining room table behind the couch. Decorated with ribbons. A celebration of some sort, it seemed. And yet, there were no guests in attendance. My parents were nowhere to be found.
I walked to the front door. It was unlocked. I opened it and made my way down the dimly lit stairwell to another door, and then the street. I remember sitting on the wet curb in a pajama top and underwear. It must have just rained. My toes played in the muddy, leaf filled water as it rushed curbside down the slope of the darkened street. Most of the houses around me were lit up. Families. Laughing. Loving. Together. Even then I understood that things were different in my home. I watched the shimmering sparkle of street lamps reflected on the slick black pavement. Then looked up at the night sky. Twinkling with magic. I think that’s when first fell in love with starlight.
My parents never returned that night. Or the day after. Or the day after that. We were left in the care of my mother’s cousin, Grace. At 19 she had come to live with us temporarily. Swollen in belly. Unhappy. Trapped in a marriage of convenience. Seems the ribboned bassinette had been gifted to her by my parents after the birth her baby. But the celebration had ended abruptly in a jealous teenage rage. A misunderstood affection. My father’s for Grace. My hot tempered mother had stormed out of the apartment. My father had chased after her. Grace had followed but was unable to reason with either. She came back. My parents didn’t. She found me on the curb. Brought me back inside. And stayed with us. A full week passed in silence. Stretched beyond the competency of children raising children, and with deepest regret I am told, Grace had no recourse but to call in the Children’s Aid Society.
So, as was characteristic of the 60’s mandate of those patron “saints” of abandoned children, the CAS swooped in with their eagle like talons. Carried us away to a darker and even more terrifying version of Never-Never-Land. Mr Hook was a Mrs. And brutally sadistic. Peter Pan and his band of Lost Boys were horrible bullies. And Tinker Bell was a social worker dressed in a long, white trench coat. But, instead of fairy dust, she carried a magical black briefcase filled with potential people and places we might call home again.
Eventually the briefcase emptied.
So did our hope.
Jimmy was a year and a half. I was almost 3.
And to this day, I don’t think either of us has really ever truly returned.
Patricia Anne (16) and James Charles Wilkinson (17)
~ RIP ~
(Me in the belly.)