Day 30 (Giving thanks)

My brother, John, wrote this shopping list for my mom.

At first I tried to figure out why olives are at the very top because who needs olives for Thanksgiving? People kept talking about it all day, and I couldn’t figure out why, and they told me it was just because people like…olives. People that are not me. But I’m glad they’ll make somebody happy.

And I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what MS meant. MS? The disease. What?

“Maple Syrup,” John said matter-of-factly.

Maple Syrup will forever in my heart be called MS. Forever.

And as I admired the interesting doodles that accompanied ‘the list,’ and I listened to the Christmas music my dad holds off from playing until November (Oh, Nate King Cole. I will be yours truly, always), and made pie, and found myself in the middle of a mini LaBrasseur Family Reunion, losing to my 8 year old brother at chess, winning against my 18 year old brother at Peggle, laughing hard with my sister (who’s one of the only people that gets me), and welcoming said sister’s fiance into the huddle as I challenged him to eat three mandarins simultaneously, which he accomplished with aplomb (not), and at fudge and ice cream, and played backgammon with my old man, prayed with my mom…

What is there to be said when words cannot suffice? How do I articulate such intangible things as receiving a hug from your big brother, or pressing out pie crusts with your dad, and being happy? Life hasn’t been easy this past year. I could fill tomes with my words, but they need not be said. No one needs to read those; they need to know that God is good, and that he loves us– that I’m waiting to go home. To enter the gates of Glory where God will catch all my tears in palms that could contain all the oceans, call me by name with a voice that birthed the stars in the heavens, and come home.

But, for today, I can wait.

We will shop for olives and Maple Syrup, play endless games of Apples to Apples, and we will wait. And today I will find joy in the gift of a thankful heart.

Day 29 (An incomplete list of small pleasures)

Ahem.

  1. Being the first in line at the stop light
  2. That time I used the bathroom at a restaurant, and they had 20 different kinds of soap at the sink
  3. The moment you wake up to a bed that’s the perfect temperature
  4. Finding recognizing a star constellation
  5. The action of my fingers sinking into the keys of a grand piano.
  6. Letting balloons go
  7. Old school licking a stamp and sticking it to your letter
  8. Little baby rabbits with ears that drag, and fly up into the air when they hop.
  9. Laughing about the sound straws make in their lids with your little brothers in McDonalds. We totally lost it.
  10. Meeting little girls named Lucy.
  11. Grilled cheese sandwiches
  12. Taking a nap. A long one.
  13. Surprise company.
  14. 12 oz. Chai tea latte with 2 pumps hazelnut
  15. Buttoning buttons
  16. Dealing the perfect amount of cards during a game
  17. Cherry hardwood floors
  18. A man in a good suit
  19. Finishing a book
  20. Reading words in another language
  21. Reading music
  22. Shooting a rifle.
  23. Picking berries in the hottest weather
  24. Hiking for miles and being greeted by the ocean at the end
  25. When a strange dog is happy to see you
  26. Facebook notifications
  27. When your driving is complimented
  28. Keeping a plant alive
  29. Tiny spiders
  30. Winning at Monopoly

 

 

Day 28 (Flash Fiction)

What secrets they whisper behind closed doors, drawing the curtains to check the pathways of light;  they think darkness inspires health, but I feel my spirit repining in these shadows. My breaths come at a dearer price every time. The clock strikes 11 in the mourning. I notice the rooster has finally stopped crowing, and I wait. And he comes.

He stands at the foot of my bed. His cloak is black, and inside is blacker. I cannot discern his face. I sigh as he sits by my bedside, kneeling over me as I feel smooth, gloved fingers grasp my own, the weight of the fabric from his sleeve resting on my waist. All other noises die away, all the hushed worries and pitying eyes. Only him.

“She will die.”

I shiver. His voice is older than the stones that fill the hills. A strangled sound escapes my throat. I compose myself, murmuring, “No.”

“Yes,” He says, unflinchingly. “What can you think to argue? You cannot deny me, so I will take her.”

My heart runs cold, for I know He never leaves empty handed. I clutch my little on in my arms, press her closer to me.

“Me. Take me.”

He grows very still. His thumb runs absently inside my palm, following the lines, as his hooded face gazes at the child I have barely known.

“You?”

“Yes,” I breath. “Yes.”

Very carefully he bends over, pulls back the hood and kisses me. For a moment, half a moment, I am captivated by death.

And then I am gone, and there is nothing.

Day 27 (Tribute to Shell Silverstein)

I wonder what happened

To the boy in the hat

After he sprouted those wings

And flew up in the sky

And flashed a bright smile

As he waved a goodbye

And his mother shrieked loudly

It sure hurt my ears

And she ran down the street

In those heels

Drenched in tears

As her dear baby boy

Decided to fly

And just left

Because

Frankly

What is there to say

When she pinches your cheeks

And corrects your bad grammar

Dresses you up

And forbids you to play?

So Mikey took off

Never did see him again

And us other kids wondered

and pondered

And dreamed

Of growing some wings of our own

And fly, freed.

Day 26

Before the sun rises

My dear one

My darling

Before the sun welcomes the blue back to the sky

Before the the dove coos

From it’s nest in the rafters

Before you open your eyes

Limned with laughter

My prize

Before the dew gathers

While the wind travels north

Before the sea wakes the gulls with it’s churning

And tendrils of seedlings are dazzled by morning

Let me whisper a secret

Let me invoke the last rite

My dear one

My darling

My ends of the earth

Love without scruple

Let me bid you goodnight.

Day 25

The world keeps turning.

3There’s a fire going in the living room (in the fireplace), and we don’t have any working alarms in this house. There’s a magnetic strip above the stove that holds all our butcher knives, and I can’t help but think it gives the impression of being too…convenient.

Details, details. They’ll get you. Like the scent of your grandmother’s living room when Sam, the labrador, was still alive, and when your grandpa still bowled. She used to keep the dog biscuits in a canister, letting you take two out every day to help encourage a sit or  handshake.

The view from the upstairs window of the house where you lived for two years.

Talking to the neighbor girl through wire fencing in the back yard.

Onion paper Bible pages. Fanning through them, creating a current of wind across your face.

Life.

I’ve got a piece of advice for you. Stop whatever your doing to get through life. Please. Stop waiting to go to college. Stop getting up to go to work everyday. Don’t count the days till retirement. Don’t forge ahead toward a career or position. Stop trying to get there. Stop it. For a while sit down, and think about what you’re doing. We’re dying. No matter your religious affiliation, you will be dead someday. You’ll keel over, or you’ll get pierced through the heart with a spear, or cancer will start eating you, or you’ll just get old and your body will give  up.

We’re going to die. Are you helping people? Is that how you feel good about your life? Well they’re going to die too, sooner or later, no matter what. Forever compared with 70 years, and that’s if you’re lucky. Forever. 

This is no fire and brimstone sermon, this is the irreducible fact. Death has no scruples. You graduated summa cum laude from Harvard Law, established a non profit firm and bettered the lives of countless minorities? You’ll die, and so will they.

I never thought about it that way. Ever since I was a child I knew my body wasn’t the only journey I was designed to take. But my Christian faith aside, this fact hit me: I’m going to die. Just because I’m washed in the blood and forgiven doesn’t mean I’m incapable of missing the point. So many times I do things for here, not for later. 70 years. And I marvel at the hoards of people who populate successful jobs and prestigious universities, the people who try so hard.

The bum playing video games is the one being honest; if you don’t have a reason to thrive, why should you?

What makes you do what you’re doing?

I have a friend who’s a prophet. Sincere, talks to God prophet. I remember a time when the peak of our excitement involved silly putty and my little ponies. She made a comment recently – “It’s funny. I’m walking down the street and people don’t even know who I am- a prophet.” My immediate mental response to that was, What’s even funnier is when I walk down the street and realize people don’t even know who they are. They don’t know what they have been made for.

Who are you? Why do you try so hard at life? What is life to you? Everything is dying, and you’re trying to so hard to live before time runs out. Most of that comes from lack of reference- it’s harder to remember life is fleeting when you’re young. 69 is a bit different.

This is stuff that pokes at my brain at night, or while ordering dessert, riding in the backseat of the car after a movie. I’ll look up to the stars and remember how small I am, because no one can see me from a gazillion miles away. Go read Ecclesiastes, preferably in the King James; Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

I remember when my cat caught a pheasant, and I grasped the skin at the back of his neck and watched as vibrant plumage of golds and browns and reds burst forth from his sharp teeth. Memories of life. Why do we hold on to it? Why did that bird flee to safety?

Man, I’m so tired…

Day 24 (…Yep.)

Day 24. 6 more days and then I’m free. I think I’m running out of material…or perhaps I’m too tired to think of anything inspiring or original. How do people do it? Be amazing. Sometimes I feel so–you know what? I’m going to stop talking like this and write; there’s already enough sniveling on the internet.

*Deep breath*

There was once a blind girl by the sea

Who lived completely alone and blithely

In a bucket collected

Beautiful things she selected

And handed them all out for free

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