April 30th


In less than an hour, it’ll be your birthday, Mom.

I’m remembering a homily that Rene gave, where he talked about grieving and how the sting of loss, not just death, softens over time. Finally, I’ve softened. And it occurs to me that, for years, I’ve been denying the whole fabric of our relationship because there were so many holes, so many rough patches. Forgive me for that.

Sometimes when I look at Ian I see your face and Pook has that fine McGraw hair, plain old brown, until the sun shocks it into a copper shimmer.

I often say to Ian and Pook, “If someone asks something of you and it doesn’t hurt you or anyone else, do it.” I think of you when I say this. Because I know you gave everything away, even your own power. I don’t think you ever recognized what was hurting you. Silence can do that. Inaction can do that. Living towards an image rather than a self can do that. You were always concerned about what other people thought, as if they were somehow better equipped to judge a life they weren’t living.

I expect that where you are now, you flit around being a little devilish, bringing big news, and telling secrets. But since everyone already knows all the secrets, they just smile at you. You must be so happy.

Tomorrow night, so you know you have not been forgotten, we’ll sing to you. I’ll give those boys chocolate. I’ll have some too. And coffee, in your honor.


Signs and Wonders

Spring bud


Recently, an eagle sailed over my head. Not too long ago, a hawk swooped in front of my eyes. A few weeks ago, I found the roses that were left for me in the snowbank, red and pink silk on green plastic stems. Just tonight, a fortune flew to the floor in front of me. It read, “Doors open magically now, giving you the go ahead. Surprise results!”

But I must remind myself to stop looking for signs in the wonders of the world, signs about what the future holds. I mean, the man I’m now divorcing, I pursued because of a sign.

Back in 1984,when I was still living in Caracas, a woman came to our house to read my mother’s palm, hoping to tell her, I think, that her health would be restored and she’d live happily for many years. I stuck my palm in front of her and insisted she tell me my future. She said the man I would end up with would have curly hair and be a tennis player.

Six years later, still not meeting any tennis players, still not having the slightest interest in  the game, I thought, It’s possible that while that woman was examining the lines on my palm, that that shadowy indentation on the heart line wasn’t a tennis racquet. Maybe it was a guitar.  I was, after all, living in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 musicians.

This is why, as I try to map out the next road, I’m trying to avoid assigning deep, significant meaning to the wonders that happen all around me. Besides, trying to predict the future is living in the past.

Isn’t that what our brains do– take everything we’ve ever known and cleverly toss it back in front of us, with a magician’s hand, so it seems new.

What I’ve been aiming for is keeping memory and thought at bay. God mind, I say to myself, to chase away imagined conversations I have with some people, encounters where I’m usually defending myself. God mind, I tell myself, when I remember the things I know that I’m not supposed to know. God mind, I breathe, when I’m so angry I could break down walls.

Sometimes this works and sometimes I just need a sign.