Two-Percenters/Finn (again)

“…and I know sometimes you cannot even breathe deeply, and the night sky is no home, and you have cried yourself to sleep enough times that you are down to your last two percent…”

Finn Butler

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This week, my sister Nancy sent me an email, a response to the Finn Butler poem that I posted before Thanksgiving.  I asked Nancy if I might share her message with you, and I’m grateful that she said yes. Her words are inspired and so important, especially during the holidays, when so many of us find ourselves stuck, hovering between that two percent and “and why am I still here?”

From Nancy:

So I’ve been thinking about that last 2 % this morning. When I read that, it made me recall this revelation that I had a couple of months ago about the mustard seed.

Matthew 17:20: He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

As a kid I thought about this a lot because I could not figure out how it worked. I do remember Grandpa referring to this piece of scripture a lot when we talked about “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Also during that time (not sure if this is when you were a baby or you were older) it was a trendy thing to have a mustard seed necklace.

See, I always thought that where it says “because you have too little faith” was a judgement kind of like “hey, if you only believed a little, you could do this.” This is also how it was/is presented in churches, as an admonishment.

Well a few months back, I was kind of marveling over the fact that after all that I have been through, I just kept getting up and believing in goodness and light. Like, what was this eternal hope, this sense of enduring faith? Many times it felt like such a burden because I did want to just wallow in everything ….

Then it occurred to me that maybe this is what the mustard seed parable could mean. When we are down to our last 2%, it is the strongest, most hopeful, most enduring parts of ourselves (perhaps it is our “true self”). In my mind, it is a piece and parcel of the Divine. It has been to hell and back and just keeps on having faith in the next moment, the next hour, the next day.

And even though many times I was/am walking in complete darkness and uncertainty and more often than not scared, I was walking. (I WAS WALKING!) And it seems that if I can concentrate on the small moment in time that it takes to put one foot in front of the other and move, then this too is powered by an infinitely tiny bit of faith that my feet will land on solid ground.

Even though I did not and do not understand why or how I was still walking, and I most certainly HAVE NOT enjoyed any of it (Do you hear that universe?), I am amazed by it … by this mustard seed-size of faith that I hold onto. And when I look back on all that it has gotten me through there is a part of me that truly believes that it could also move mountains.

And when I see you in your life, I also see that mustard seed that could move mountains. It’s like that quote by Bob Marley, “you never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”

So we gots the mustard seed, we gots it inside us and we can move mountains.
[By the way, Finn Butler’s book “From The Wreckage” can be purchased here .]

 

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Exploding St. Paul

StPaul

 

I just found out that St. Paul Hospital is coming down. The implosion is set for 8 a.m. tomorrow.  My son wants to drive into Dallas and watch it fall. I’m on the fence.

Mark died at St. Paul. In the “demo cam” images of the remaining structure, I can actually see the room on the third floor where he died.

That building is the last place that I saw him, held him, spoke to him, laughed with him, sat with him, watched tv with him, hugged him and kissed him goodnight.

On the other hand, it was his prison, the place where we rode out one miserable, horrific, infuriating, terrifying crisis after another. For the entire first year after Mark died, I avoided the hospital district, especially St. Paul, especially that section of Inwood Road between Harry Hines Boulevard and I-35.

The last time I drove by, a few weeks ago, I was shocked to see that the hospital was in the process of being dismantled, demolished. I felt this rush of righteous anger, and I believe something akin to “Screw you, asshole St. Paul! Burn it down!” may have been uttered.

Then I felt like…kind of empty. Ripped open. At the time, I was having my own implosion. I was feeling kind of like that building looked: used up, torn up, exposed, devastated.

So, I really don’t know that I can watch it fall without falling a little myself. That building hosted some very, very bad times, without a doubt.  It held some precious memories, too.

There was a little courtyard garden, not very pretty, but a garden just the same. One day, I got to surprise Mark with an outing there. He was eager to get outside, but wasn’t at all happy about needing a wheelchair. So he worked hard on building up his strength and stamina, and the next time we got to go to the garden, he was by-God pushing that chair instead of sitting in it. I can see him there, face tilted up, eyes closed, basking in the little patch of nature after weeks of being stuck indoors. The air and sunshine felt luxurious, like something we’d loved and forgotten.

Since moving into the widowhood, I have, at various times, considered sneaking into the garden and sprinkling some of Mark’s ashes there, but I couldn’t make myself go back to that building.  Glad of that now. Although Mark Allen Daves would be all the way jazzed about being part of something that was going to be blown up.

Anyhow, so long, St. Paul.  Only one of us is going to survive this, and I’m gratified to say that it’s me. I may or may not be witness to your noisy, dusty end in a few hours. Regardless, you’ll live on in our memories and who knows, maybe some part of you will end up coming back as a parking garage.

It’s just too damn bad about the garden.

 

 

For Robert Wilonsky’s blog in The Dallas Morning News about the live streaming of the demolition, go here .

For street closures and other information regarding the implosion of St. Paul Hospital, go here .

 

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Choosing to believe Finn Butler

I rarely give up my space to other writers but once I read this, I knew I had to share it. Finn Butler, wherever you are, whoever you are, you are plugged into something mighty powerful. Thank you.

“Everyone who terrifies you is sixty-five percent water. And everyone you love is made of stardust, and I know sometimes you cannot even breathe deeply, and the night sky is no home, and you have cried yourself to sleep enough times that you are down to your last two percent, but nothing is infinite, not even loss. You are made of the sea and the stars, and one day you are going to find yourself again.”

Finn Butler

Finn’s book “From The Wreckage” can be purchased here .

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November 7, 2015

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Here’s to Love, friendship, mischief, and a thousand thousand kisses. Here’s to my groom, my dearest love.

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The Cancer Survivors Garden. A wishful place.

Anniversaries alone suck.

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That’s why you bring along shiny soul friends, to share the path, and lighten the burden.

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All hallows, all saints

In my memory banks, there are two November 7ths that I spent with Mark. Our November 7, 1992 wedding, and the last anniversary we had together, in 2011, the day that Mark almost died. (Landmark anniversaries and new theologies)

Trauma recovery therapy has been doing a lot towards helping retrieve memories, and filling in the blanks. There’s more to come, and I will fit myself for the task. Recovery is not for sissies.

The first anniversary without Mark, I went solo to the lake where we were married and watched the last of a sunset. I didn’t cry much. Last year, I felt pressed to celebrate the day. I treated the boys and my BFF to an evening of batting cages and go-cart racing. Mark’s absence was palpable, insistent, but sorrow wasn’t allowed and no tears were shed.

This year there are buckets of tears. There is also screaming, punching, kicking, scratching, howling, walking, laughing, writing pages and pages, and dancing wild and singing my heart out, and any other form of release that comes to mind.

I feel the wave pressing on me, a scary, wounded, mournful rage. It feels awful, but I lean into it, working through it, writing it or speaking it, and releasing it from my body. Then, relief appears. Sometimes a drop, a pinhole of light, but relief. Hope. Light. Sometimes more tears come, a river, gentle.

This is the work at hand. The rule of trauma recovery work is that I can’t hurt myself, or anyone else. Otherwise, I get to go for it.  I may have to buy a new mattress and pillows soon, though.

This is progress, this is healing after being stuck in a destructive pattern of held stress, overwork, and poor self-care.

I accomplished a lot in the last five years. Reinvented myself as a caretaker, ran a household, moved into the widowhood, worked two jobs, launched two boys into the world. Had some productions, including two full-length plays at theaters of note. I also stifled thoughts, gained weight, increased alcohol consumption, wrote very little, and felt almost nothing except depressed.

I turned loose of what makes me me.  Mark died, but I abandoned myself.

A friend told me, “At first, the empty nest will mess with your head.” And how. Truth rings loud in an empty house. August to October was horrible. So the Dread Month November, by default, becomes the bearer of hope. Go figure.

My life is quiet and small. I have abandoned social media for solitude. For the first time in a long while, it seems that my feet are on a right path.

As it turns out, I’m still the mom. Or, as my sons like to say, “The Money Lady.” They come home, and we soon slip into our new/old routines. They are doing great so far, learning to make their way. I love that.

This November 7th, there’s a plane ticket with my name on it, to a place that I’ve never been, and a beloved friend to meet me there.

Here’s truth of my time as a married lady, as I know it today: some thirty years of my life is woven with true-found love, an enduring, passionate partnership, and friendship. Mark and Vicki went mostly hand-in-glove, with wiggly flames in our eyes, and bouts of falling to the floor laughing. We were a lucky, lucky, lucky pair of good eggs. I miss him terribly.

dare with me
stare into the face of Death
and say
“Love is stronger”

(H.D.)

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Power lines

[When it feels like Atlas left you holding the world and hasn’t come back from his smoke break, when you realize that you got yourself into this mess and you are stuck beyond stuck, try backtracking through your journals, or exploring the “drafts” folder in your blog.  I found this tonight, a post that I’d started writing in July, when I was immersed in work, and getting the boys ready for departure for college. I’m amazed that I could have forgotten such a visionary dream, but maybe it reappeared just when I most needed it.]

From July 2015:

Sleep has been a precious commodity lately. Last night, I had a nightmare that ended with a burst of light. That’s a first for me. Just as the dream ended, a flash of yellowish-gold light appeared at the foot of my bed. It woke me up, and then just disappeared.

Okay, maybe I was still dreaming. Or, maybe I wasn’t.  I think maybe it’s a suggestion from my brain that should I remember and refer back to this dream. A cerebral bookmark.

The dream was one I’d had many times before. I was flying, not in a plane, just me, flying through a crowded sky, and heading towards a low bridge, and a mass of big metal towers strung with electric lines.

Flying into power lines is a recurring bad-dream scenario for me. I’m not a graceful flyer, but I do okay at first. Then, I see the power lines ahead. Lots of them. No matter how much I adjust my approach, I hit them. I feel the shock, the sudden thrum of the electricity on my back, like a fist to the spine. Some nights, the sensation of impact was strong enough to wake me, gasping.

This time though, as I approached the hazard, I began talking to myself.  The gentle voice in my head was my own, saying,  “It’s all right. Just keep it low and slow, low and slow.”  I made it through, untouched.

The quiet house looms just ahead. The empty nest, another “new normal,” nearly here.  I see it ahead. There’s no avoiding it, I am headed right towards … whatever is ahead.

I’ll bookmark this dream and keep it in my pocket, as a sign that I have been changed for good by the experiences of the past five years, that I am capable and strong, that I will take care of me, and keep flying.

Low, and slow.

reddy and me

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