17 Days

The sanctuary of grief is a holy place that is not for the weak of spirit. The walls are painted with every moment spent, no matter the color; a wild tapestry.

The hymns are long conversations into the night, short hand stories, inside jokes, and deep understanding that acceptance walked with ever present love.

The baptismal waters are of “Late-night-songwriting-in-the-bathtub” and “He broke up with me” tears filling the cistern.  It is a place where the words can become taunts or they can be such deep comfort.

They begin with the hallowed halls of disbelief and denial which is carpeted with woe fully outfitted with despair. It is not a place of blame but a place of detachment. A place where the eyes see, the ears do not hear, and hands begin the work of attempted redemption.

The sheered walls rise up like oceans of waves, but they do not crash down. They don’t encompass these halls, they merely rise up out of desperation to guard against the white-hot destruction that will soon birth a new reality.

It is a place where the spark of Divinity explodes into a supernova of absence; a star collapsing in on itself. A sun that no longer warms the darkness after the implosion. And yet, there is, where there is not, a silence so reverent that the living avoid looking directly where that sun used to shine. They all know where the lover must tread, no one wishes to accompany them.

As the shroud slowly unravels, allowing realization to usher the lover into the sanctuary, the air becomes acrid with understanding. Knowledge pours in, at first, as if a light rain begins on a warm summers afternoon. But that doesn’t last long before the heavens open the floodgates of comprehension.

And there, in that holy moment of mortality, there is resolution to fight the inevitable. The wails of anguish stripping layers of supplication. Promises made with any bargaining chip the lover can grasp feebly at in an attempt to resurrect the beloved. The crossroad between anger and mourning is littered with massive piles of these hastily created pleas, empty with rare exception.

But there sits the lover in the darkness, thick-thighed, back straight in meditation. Balancing in anticipation on the edge of the eternal womb of rebirth. This is not intentional, but necessary. This is the place that is reached once the silence of the sanctuary has been blessed, the baptism of lusty life has been committed to in honor of truth; to honor the truth of spirit.

The spiral walked is ever motivating. Once the feet have begun the path of acceptance, the narrative becomes deafening. But this, this is the distillation of everything the lover and beloved were together. This is the creation anew. There is no end, it is but adaptation. It is a chameleon of blended characteristics that creates a hybrid of their Divinity and your own.

Nobody will recognize you any more because you will look like you, but your words and actions will reflect stark and sometimes confusing messages to those who only knew you to be broken and lost. They will poke, prod, coax, bait, and attempt to see the pieces, but you’ve already swept them up to the last grain of shatter, carefully gluing them together into a stronger version of your destiny.

The most difficult of the learning spiral is that of silence. What once was filled with them is now quiet. But to allow things to just be, the constant distraction allows them to be as they always were. It allows them to exist in a different way of being, just as you are.

Every breath taken is a chance to fulfill your covenant with your new personal spark of Divinity. An opportunity to connect with your own authenticity which can happen with the simple act of breathing. The gift of grieving, not on a schedule, but as it occurs.

Consider this: When a grain of sand starts rolling around, it doesn’t understand that it’s from the mountain tops. It doesn’t realize it’s about to become a pearl. It just keeps doing what pieces of sand do. It is.

When a massive boulder wears down with age and becomes a pebble in a river bed, it doesn’t think, “Man, am I old and worn out.” It doesn’t know that it’s going to fit into a child’s pocket as a happy memory. It just keeps doing what rocks do. It is.

When a tornado rips through a house with high winds howling, scattering debris, it doesn’t pause to ruminate on the lessons it’s teaching from the destruction of its path. It doesn’t understand that it came to be out of a kismet of circumstances. It just keeps blowing chaos as tornadoes are want to do. It is.

When you open your heart to hear the language of the Universe/God/dess, you don’t always know what will happen, how the resources will appear, or how you’ll perceive the outcome. You don’t get to know the grand scheme of things because of our limited view of the rippling waves.

But like the grain of sand, you will become more polished until you rival a pearl with luminescence. Like a boulder, you will show up as a pocket of pebbles of happiness for any child at heart. Like a tornado, you will blow away the old and outdated to bring change and renewal in my wake. You are.

Historic Healing

The sugar cookie pink dogwood sprinkles bridal paths;

creating instant asphalt chapels.

The scent of innocence found in clover and black walnuts

admire the buttercups, grape hyacinths, and forget-me-nots

I inhale the pastel afternoon of 72 degrees, skirt weather

rising sun peeking the treetops looking for reflections

The yellow skin blanket warms the earth,

nurturing the robins, crows, and a fashionable pair of bluebirds.

In the dark margarine yellow window boxes,

purple pansies assort themselves presentably.

There are four square pillars looking like an estate;

updated but settled into a routine of security.

A squeal of young girls holding a picnic at the curbside

interacting by taking turns instead of having a leader.

They worked in tandem, familiar with their abilities.

A nap in a hammock sounds incredibly plausible, but

I return to the silence of a squeaky cat and gentle spirit

Filet O’Flesh

What words could flay the thin skin from the soul

Exposing the veins in sinew, while squishing anguish

Thick with fleshy catastrophes?

Spilling grief haphazardly?

Wailing from the stained soles of her feet,

her knees met a false purpose to dishonest prophets,

Swindling in the dwindling twilight of a horribly dark Friday

Immobile she rejected whole-i-ness

She desecrated the vacant hallows, roughly refusing relief

Vehemently offering insincere micro-aggressions

She no longer held skin over her bones, she faded absent

Late September

leavesdried

The late September thunderstorm drizzles gray on dark pavement.

The wind physically throws a tantrum of plants, chimes screaming alarm.

The trees relieve themselves of dead branches onto accumulated decayed leaves.

Darkness portends a bitter battle but refuses to acknowledge the calm.

The cars slide by with deeper tone, like a man’s voice taking over a woman’s.

The blinds clap merrily against the windows as I rush to keep dry beds.

The thunder is unexpected, rumbling like bowels filled with beans and broccoli.

A flash, a roll, a grumbling of disturbed pressure pockets, then wet, dripping, silence.

 

Ronnie Bill

I was told that I’m not allowed to offer family advice.

Twenty years gone but I made it out alive.

Let me tell you why you’re wrong, because you are.

I KNOW

what it’s like to hold bitterness

what it feels like to reject those who love me

what holidays, loneliness, and anger tastes like

what Christmas morning looks like without oranges

what Thanksgiving is like without mincemeat pie

what birthdays feel like without shared history seeping

what anguish unsupported loss endures

I KNOW

what it took to wake me up (although I’m sure you think it was you)

what I had to realize before I could bolster my courage

what it is to ask forgiveness for being a fool

to walk into the unknown with hat in hand

to step cautiously to the edge of the cliff and

JUMP

I KNOW

how much damage I’ve done but not to the extent

what rebuilding a bridge with still smoldering lumber is like

that sometimes bitterness takes the form of pride

that abuses of history, privilege, and birthright exist

that time goes faster than a blink

that it’s far later than you’d think

I KNOW

right now, (not that you’ll read this) you’re lost

you blame me for not having money, not loving him, but

most of all for loving you and not choking on your pride.

You are so far in the darkness that the light feels like an insult

I love you despite yourself.

I’ll still be here when you’re ready.

I made my six year old vow to always be there for you,

I KNOW

you didn’t and couldn’t understand why I couldn’t and didn’t for him

you won’t believe me.

I’m okay with that.

you need to return home before you’re too afraid to come back

you’re a better man than you’ve become

I believe in you even if I don’t understand why you chose this way.

I KNOW. I see. I LOVE you anyway.

Dave Looney Sr., My dad

My dad, Dave Looney Sr, and his dog Apollo.

My dad, Dave Looney Sr, and his dog Apollo.

Today I’m in a deep state of admiration for my dad. I’ve been dangling carrots in front of you for a while, but truly, if you understood, you’d be madly in love with him too.

My dad is a man of courage, strength and integrity. He not only served America in the United States Navy as a Sea Bee (from which he retired), but he also struck out to begin a life away from everything he’d ever known. Not only was he incredibly good at solving problems, creating opportunities, waiting until he was ready to accept responsibilities, but he could also move large electrical wires as part of his career in a Union shop for Consumer’s Energy (from which he retired). And he did this all with a strong sense of morals and ethics he learned by choosing to be more than he was told he was worth.

When I think of how much he had to overcome from his upbringing, from the Vietnam War, from the struggles against poverty while raising a family of four children and maintaining a relationship with his new wife during a 1970’s economy, all while working any hours he could get his hands on to provide, I’m in complete awe.

While it is true I’ve been accused (accurately so) of putting men I’ve married or dated on a pedestal, if they only knew half of why I expect so much out of a man is because of my dad, and first from my Grandfather Louis A Coleman, Jr, then perhaps they’d have realized I wanted to hold them in the same esteem. Ben Stotler is trying hard to meet that lofty place because he sees the same thing I do.

My only regret is that I didn’t know how very great he is until I got to hang out with him as much as I have and look at him through the eyes of love. Dave Looney, you’re top hats all the way with true class, honesty, and an incredibly beautiful soul that I aspire to be like.