Dear Mom (Mommy),

It’s been ten years. Ten years ago, this week, you turned 42. I don’t remember what we did for your birthday. DId you like it? Was it special? In fact, I probably was not even there. I was at the university going to school, hardly aware that it would be the last birthday we would celebrate. Did you know then that you’d remain 42 forever?

A decade is a monumental amount of time to be absent. I lived through my twenties. Jacob and Maddi spent their teen years without you.

Ten years. In ten years I’ve lived in another country, traveled to more. I biked around an active volcano, bungee jumped, and went on many road trips. In the last ten years, I became a teacher. Like you. I bet you never thought I’d want to follow your footsteps. I even got a Master’s degree. Ten years is so much time. Maddi went to nursing school. Jake is almost out of college.

In another decade, ten more years without you, I’ll reach your eternal age. What will I have to show? A handful of accomplishments and a room full of milestones. But you’ll miss those too. Because, you will remain forever 42.

The world keeps moving, minutes tick, hours ache, and we live. A blink, and the time has passed. But there is something missing, and each year it is becoming more difficult to remember. Your voice. Your Yell. Your laugh.

Ten years. Although your life ceased a decade ago. You’ve never really gone. You are the ink in my pen, the shadow in my step, and the beat in my heart. So, for the tenth year continuing, happy 42nd birthday. You are in my soul. Everything that I achieve is because of you.

I love you always,

Your Daughter (Me)

A Brief Whisper

In other news: I’m officially moving to Portland, OR on June 1! Because of this, I am going through everything, and I happen to stumble upon some writing I did for my college writing class. So, I am putting it up. Hope you enjoy.

A Brief Whisper

                           The kiss I thought I had been waiting my whole life for broke apart.

                           “I don’t feel the same,” she whispered.

                           Her spearmint breath permeated the room and assaulted my senses. I looked up; she stared back at me, her blue eyes deep and foreboding, met mine penetrating right through me. She saw me from the beginning. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t want more. I quickly glanced away staring back behind her; the desk litter with various items. I spotted the lifeless orbit wrapper lying there, used, like a piece of roadkill left for dead. It was always there; that I could count on.

               We had gone to a friend’s party reluctantly together. She lived next door to one of my classmates who had become a good friend. However, that girl had been out of town for the weekend and arranged for us to go together. Three or four beers later and some terrible dancing we seemed to be on better terms. I followed her into one of the bedrooms where hookah was being smoked. Her long blond hair was falling on either side of her face, and in my drunken stupor I was enamored by her beauty. The hookah became an interesting affair when we began blowing the smoke in each other’s mouth. our lips briefly meeting in a whisper of a touch. It was enough for me to know that I wanted more. We walked home that night arm in arm to keep one another from falling. I grudgingly went into the house next door leaving her at her doorstep. I knew that I had to get to know her after that night.

              There were late night volley ball games with our friends, dinners and target trips. I thought I would bust with collected information. We sang eighties music and blasted country with our friends. We watch the Suns and UofA basketball religiously, calling each other on the phone to congratulate the other if the Suns  won or console the other if they lost. The way she would look at me with such intensity when I had something important to say, I knew she was truly listening. It was these small things that pushed me more. She lingered in my mind.

                    Then, the insane camping trip came about when everything came undone and altogether at once. We were jamming to The Joker, a favorite song, roasting marshmallows, and playing Frisbee. But, I tumbled over the edge with everyone else. A pandemonium broke out of dramatic irony. Everyone had feelings for the ones they weren’t with. However, I was left on the edge of this cliff. Even when she knew my real feelings, and I made my statement, it wasn’t enough. I still lost. We weren’t meant to be; even two orbit loving, Steve Nash fans, can only ever hold hands on the surface.

Kannel-2008

The Bench

Eight years ago today, I lost one of the most important people in my life. So, this post is to honor her memory. I wrote the following poem a year later. The same year that my mother passed away, my aunt passed away the month before. This poem is for both of them, but today it honors the eighth year of my mother’s passing. I know she is with me in spirit.

mom


 

The Bench

Come sit and rest with me awhile,
forget about your tomorrows
that have yet to come.

Come sit and rest with me,
we’ll talk together;
beneath the willowy branches
that stretch from bench to bench.
Remembering the laughter that
we shared, once upon a song.

Come sit and rest with me,
amongst the grove
of pink spotted cherry trees,
and, for awhile you’ll forget
that I was ever really gone.

Come sit and rest with me,

Until our hearts melt together.

Our tears will join hand in hand

Running gleefully into the river.

We’ll whisper secrets until the day grows long.

Come sit and rest with me,
as the day goes out,
like the fiery  colors
of the blazing sun.

Come sit and rest with me,
as the colors fade, the memories leave you,
once again I become dust on the wind
and a light in your heart.
So please, just come sit and rest with me awhile.

Into Writing

I desperately wanted to be one of those writers that could impress with their humorous anecdotes. I wanted to have intricate, witty banter woven into my prose and poetry. But then,

my pencil broke,

my paper ripped,

I turned fourteen and my grandfather died.

The darkness began to creep in at first; just a shadow in my heart. A few years later my aunt had a routine surgery and forgot how to draw her own breath. She left too. The blackening shadows began wrapping their tendrils through my ventricles and choking my words.

A month later, my mother had a migraine, closed her eyes in the hospital and didn’t remember to open them. Little by little as death clenched its arms around me, the shadow in my heart extended into my extremities.

Now my words breathe life into paper through a haunted soul, escaping death’s reaches.

Still, humor evades me.

Sunset

I held out the flower, petals glowing like warm, melted butterscotch in the sunset-a brown chocolate center. She took it in her hand looking back at me the rose and violet from the clouds, swimming in her pale sky eyes. “Sunflowers are for girls.” She dropped it on the ground, crushed the flower with her shoe and ran off toward the darkening street. I was in love at eight years old.

 

It had come slowly to begin with. Crept in the crevices and hid where no one could see. Marie never knew what was waiting to attack her own body so deviously.  Disease is like that, it is calculating, cold, it shows no mercy, until the day it makes its presence known. Marie clutched her side, doubling over; having been in perfect health she had no thought as to what could be wrong. She lay in the hospital bed awaiting her test results, her husband at her side. Next to him stood her daughter and grandson (named for his grandfather).  By the time the doctor had returned with the results, Marie was disappearing. Cancer.

                By high school she had come into her own, although, there was still a bit of that wild girl I had met in the second grade. I still loved her. Unruly copper curls hung down past her shoulders, she stood in the hall, whispering with a girlfriend; I stared, not too discretely.

“Just ask her, man.” My long-time pal Charlie, he was encouraging me to ask her to the winter formal. I was trying to muster the courage. I searched for my eight-year-old self once again. Where had he gone? Probably playing cops and robbers somewhere, laughing at the fact that my seventeen-year-old self had become so self-conscious.  I dragged my feet forward; they suddenly felt like two ten pound weights at the bottom of my body holding me down. Her friend looked up and saw me; she whispered something, they both giggled. My stomach flipped.

“Marie?” I said barely above a whisper. I looked up at her, catching her eyes still the color of the sky, they hooked me in like a fish on a pole, and I was stuck.

“Elliot?” She looked at me.

“Will you go to the formal with me?” It came out like river rapids, way too fast and all over the place. I was sure I would be misunderstood.

A small smile crept across her face, “Alright.”

 

Marie disappeared. Way to quick some would say. But then, cancer is a monster. A beautiful, silent, killer. The perfect disease. They buried her. The cemetery was small, quiet, a private place where they could have their moment as a family. Little Eli ran around the grass in his bare feet letting the earth hold his heavy heart. He knelt down and put his head to the ground listening, “Grandma? Are you in there? Can you hear me?” His mother scooped him up. His grandfather took them both in his arms tears welling in eyes.

 

“Marry me?” It was sunset again. I liked that time of day; it felt like mine, mine and Marie’s. We had been out of high school for four years now, and I had just been accepted to law school. Waves plunged onto the shore and then said farewell. It was a sad affair, but part of the cycle of things. We sat half buried in the sand on an empty beach. It had been a nice holiday weekend, though I was keen to return and start the necessary arrangements for my law work. I looked over to her; she was still quiet.

Finally, she looked at me and said, “Why?”

I thought to myself for a moment, before speaking, “Because, with you, I am the best version of me. I don’t want to be anyone but you and me, forever. I love you.” I watched her watch the waves and the vibrant violet, goldenrod sunset.

She looked over, kissed me on the nose and said, “Yes,” a smile spreading across her face. I smiled too.

 

Kidney stones. Heart Attack. Pneumonia. (The doctors tried to label it.) There was really only label to give. Love sick. Elliot may not recover. How do you recover from losing the love of your life? He looked so small lying there in bed, shriveled. She would have been able to go on. She had been the strong one; the flower crusher. But, from the beginning, he had been the love sick puppy. Elliot knew he had been here to do one thing, take care of Marie. His job was done. His will was failing. Eli looked at him, eyes wide, as he sat next to his grandfather. Elliot took Eli’s hand, “Love someone Eli, love them with your whole being, and don’t be afraid to make yourself the fool.”

 

Jaqueline Marie. Marie gave me the second love of my life. That day in the hospital, I was a nervous wreck, bumbling around, practically stumbling over anyone and everything. When the nurse came out holding Jackie, my breath stopped, the world ceased for a moment. It was just us, and I held her. A little pink bundle of uncertainty, of possibilities. I wanted everything for her, but most of all I wanted her to have a sunset with us. When Marie was well enough we took Jackie out into the evening air and watch the earth paint the sky on fire.

“See the red, orange and pink,” I whispered to Jackie, though she couldn’t understand just yet. I held Marie close, and I knew that our daughter would come to love the beauty of the world as much as we did.

 

Elliot Cooper

Husband, Father, Grandfather

Sunset Lover – Marie’s other half