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the humanity in you

“it would probably
sound weird saying this
to just about anyone else,
but … i think we were
profoundly lucky
to have the mom
and childhood
we did”

i told my sister
this last month,
and she agreed

but how,
with all that trauma,
could we be lucky?

i understood it,
but not in a way
words could touch

on saturday,
i read a passage
in a book that made me
go, “oh. oh.”

i got closer
to finding words

on sunday,
i joined two friends
(and others) for their
birthday brunch; as
brunch ended,
bill friday brought
tears to my eyes
with what he
said in farewell,
and how he
said it

and then
my brother-in-law
emailed me his draft
residency application
essay, and it was full of
both recognition of
the traumas of
poverty he
witnessed
with my–
no, OUR–
family,
and of
love

with his
just-the-right-words,
i was closer still
to unearthing
my own

and then,
back home,
my husband
and i talked
about our long beach
family, and i was
THIS close to
getting it where
words can reach

on monday,
a friend presented
on a book she’d read
and i finally, deeply
got the ways my siblings
and i are rich in ways
others probably wish
they were, or
would if they
understood
such riches
are even
possible

so now, i
get it. i have
the words for this born-from-pain
kind of blessedness …
and i may someday
share them here,
when i have a
bunch of hours
to spare

but for now,
i just want to say
sorry
for being so focused
on one kind of suffering
i know intimately,
and which i know so many people
endure today,
that i stopped
seeing other sufferings
and all the things
all this suffering has
in common

i see the
humanity in you,
including the love
and the suffering,
and i wish you
so very
much
peace

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Categories: Family, Friends, Love Tags: , , , ,

seeds

sometimes
people give me
seeds of wisdom
that make no sense
to me
(yet).

i (try to)
tend them
while seeking
the right place
to plant them
so they
grow
well.

usually i hold
each seed
for months,
even years,
before i know
where (and
how) to
plant
it.

last wednesday,
someone handed me
a seed, and i thought,
“huh. i think i know
what to do
with this.”

(spoiler:
nope!)

then, on friday,
only two days
later,

i found
exactly
where to
plant
that
seed,
and i was
grateful.

without that seed,
i might have
breathed fire
instead of planting
what may
someday
become
a flower

sometimes,
maybe, i ought
consider not
breathing fire,
instead
setting aside
space in my garden
until i’ve found
just the right
seed for
planting
there

the love

Monday was a special day for Ra, a family friend. She had lunch with my husband and our sons (among others). She and I met for dinner.

Later, she sent me pictures from the day. I giggled at one particular picture; my 7yo, Li’l D, was tickled how one letter made the difference between “your earwax” and “our earwax.”

But the other picture? It choked me right up. 

A few months ago, I wrote about an exchange with Li’l D’s first grade teacher. I explained how I wanted him to grow in two areas: critical thinking and compassion.

When I saw Ra’s second picture, I saw–blazing!–the one of those two qualities harder to measure on a report card.

Look in those eyes and tell me you don’t see it, too–the love, and the believing that whatever someone is doing, it’s all the very best they can do now.

Categories: Friends, Love Tags: , , ,

grace

Someone
I’d trust
with my life
told me about
a time he’d been
unexpectedly
granted
grace

Years later,
his memory of that
grace-granting
inspires him
to show
grace
often

After we talked,
I thought hard about
what he’d said

Until then,
somewhere far
deeper than words,
I’d thought about grace
in terms of deserving:
“Has she earned this grace?”
Or,
“Is he worthy?”

Thanks to my friend,
I saw I’d been asking
the wrong questions

Who the hell
am I
to decide
whether anyone
(self included)
deserves
grace?

Maybe
what makes
it “grace”
is that
it’s not
too concerned
with what is
or is not
deserved

Categories: Friends, Reflections Tags:

life-full

I went to brunch on Sunday. I always enjoy brunch, and appreciate–so much–that I have people to brunch with.

There was something special about this brunch: talking with Bill Friday. Specifically, we talked about happiness.

Anthony’s always asking if I’m happy!” I said. “And I’m like, no! And who cares? What if happiness isn’t a useful measure for my life? What if there’s something more and deeper that’s lost by looking so hard at happiness?!”

(This was not a gripe about my husband, by the way; it was about the limitations of language and cultural perceptions!)

Today I talked to my sister Rache. As we spoke, I saw she would have so enjoyed chatting with Bill and me:

Though the histories we discussed were grim and heartbreaking, our conversation was so damn hopeful. “Happiness,” we agreed, was not the yardstick by which we want to measure our lives. We want comprehension, connection, fullness, and fulfillment, not entertainment (alone).

Rache will be visiting soon enough. Maybe we’ll get a chance to sit and talk (things more important-to-us than) happiness with Bill.

But if not? I will hold the joy of those separate, related conversations within me,

for, unlike happiness,

joy is the complex totality that recognizes how all the feelings of life are part of a full one.

Photo courtesy Ra

(NO)tifications

When I set up
each of my very few
phone apps, I set
notifications
to “off.”

I did this
intentionally;
I want to see the
sky, the leaves, the
wrinkles at the corners
of peoples’ eyes,

and hear
the birds chirping
with the rustling of leaves
behind them, and
chatter off in the
the distance.

I don’t need
notifications
of a virtual world
to interrupt
my experience
of the physical one.

And yet,
the companies
who release these apps
reject my rejecting their
notifications.

“Are you sure you
don’t want notifications?
You’re missing out on
so much good stuff!”

Every.
single.
day,
the
same
notices
I should
reconsider
notifications
and so keep up!!!.

Today, I
looked at those
reminders and thought,
“You know, I know
what I want to keep up with,
and it’s
not
this.

“The fact my
saying ‘no’ once isn’t enough
means maybe I shouldn’t
be checking these apps
at all. Okay, then,
once a day
from home
suits me
just
fine.”

Since
curtailing
online time,
my offline time
is so much more
vibrant;
merry;
full.

If I don’t see
any update
from any friend,
that’s fine;

I hold our
histories
in
my heart,

and I know
we will pick up
right where
we left off
the last
time.

Histories
in my heart
can be eroded
by too many notifications
about too many little things,
so:

even if I don’t
heart your picture
or thumbs-up your status,
please know it’s because
I want to remember
the you I know,
not
what
you
posted
yesterday.

shaved ice

… and fortitude

Last night, I went to bed crying. I felt like every bit of hope I’ve had these last few months was delusional.

I still feel that, but I did find a little spark in something that happened yesterday.

Midway through the afternoon yesterday, an old work friend texted me. “Are you at LAX right now?”

He was there with his wife. When we met up, he said they’d invited all their friends. None had shown up. They’d been there for hours when he went, “Wait! There’s no way Deb’s not here!”

Thinking of that today made me smile. I might not have hope right now, but you know what? 

Agree, disagree, hope, don’t hope, like me, don’t like me, I’ll show up for you.

I might not have hope right now, but I have love … and fortitude.

LAX 7 p.m. Saturday v. LAX 3 p.m. Sunday

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