Love and Loss and Walking Through

everythingiknowheart2
Everything I Know About The Human Heart Part 2

My heart loves immensely.

I love that my heart loves. It collects people, places, things, ideas. My heart is what makes me a writer and an artist.

Love ignites my curiosity and imagination. Love gives me ideas. Love lets me stretch myself, lets me be brave enough to walk into unknown places, consider wild ideas, and meet people who would otherwise scare me. Love shows me the way into creating things that didn’t exist before now.

Love includes. It includes generosity, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, joy, happiness, patience, wisdom.

Love includes loss.

These last three weeks I have been walking a pattern of love and loss. Back and forth, one then the other.

Loss hurts.

Among a layering of losses, the largest. The health of both my parents is failing deeply and rapidly. Knowing loss is coming prepares me some, but never enough. Knowing rises from my mind. Loss, for me, is all feeling. Not mind. Not word. Not logic. Not reason.

What surprises me is how my heart finds ways to accept loss, to grow large, and hold the pain in a cradle of love. It’s doing that now as I write.

I watch my parents experience what is happening to each other. They know what’s coming. Their pain and loss is terribly visible, but there is sixty years of love that cradles it.

It amazes me, heartens me to witness how bright is sixty years of love. It gives me the strength and courage to keep my heart fully open through all that is coming.

Loss hurts. My parents are in the deepest place of it right now. Yet it is not breaking them.

I think of our family’s home where I grew up, and the cedars, six of them, that grew by our front walk and at the side of the sundeck. I never knew the age of those trees. Dad figured maybe 150 years old. One hundred and fifty years cradled deep in the earth.

I watched the cedars shake and bend through every winter storm we had.  Watched them give up branches, sometimes, to the winds that howled around them.

I am imagining I, my parents, my sister and brother are our beloved cedars.  Standing in the storm. Shaking.  Bending.  Letting go.  Our roots cradled deep in a sixty year love. A love so visibly bright it heals me even as the storm blows through.

You who are reading my words, I have never asked for anything from you, but I am asking now. The storm is huge and the wind strong. Please lend me your love, so that I may stand as my beautiful cedar trees, shaking and bending and letting go and never breaking.

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Home and Safe

If I Could Bottle Love
If I Could Bottle Love

I am eight years old, sitting in the back seat of my parents’ Volkswagen Beetle.  It’s Friday night, November, and dark.  My sister is curled into the far corner opposite me.  I think she is sleeping.  I am near to sleep as well, that place where thoughts float and my body releases the day.

I can see my parents in the front seats.  Light from the dashboard lines the edges of their faces, Mom turned towards Dad as he drives.  Their voices wrap around me, quiet and warm.

We had dinner out tonight, and then did grocery shopping.  I can smell the bread, packed full in one of the brown paper grocery bags behind my seat.  Ten loaves for a dollar.

The car tires hum against the road, and the engine chugs.  Steady and sure.  I know Dad is watching for the deer who sometimes step from the trees onto the road and into the light, and then stand, blinded.  They and we are blessed.  We always pass each other with space to spare.

In this memory, time and place, this is how I feel.  Warm.  Safe.  Comforted and comfortable.  Cared for.  Loved.  Belonging.  Home.  There is nothing more I need or want.

Here, now, in times when my life does not feel warm or safe, not comfortable or comforted.  When I don’t feel I belong, not loved, not home.  When I only hear and see wants and needs demanding a piece of me, clamouring and noisy– I stop and let go.

I let go.  I close my eyes.  There, I see the night and my parents’ faces.  I hear their voices and the car, humming.  I smell fresh bread.  I know my sister is near me, asleep on the seat.  I breathe deep.  Let my thoughts float, my body release the day.  Feel just this.

Here, is love.  This place, home, is within me.  Warm, safe, comforted, comfortable.  Cared for, belonging.  All within me and created by me.  I choose this.  My home is within, my place of strength where I stand knowing who I am.  I am love.

I open my eyes, return to the day and my life, carrying this within me.

Carry this into whatever I am doing.  Make this part of my experience.  I choose love, and I am home and safe.

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This post is from May of this year.  May we all be home, wherever and whatever home is to each of us.  May we all be safe, whatever safe is to each of us.  Bless us all.  There is love enough when we open our hearts and let our light shine.

Beautiful Lady

Old Coyote Trick (standing out) - detail
Old Coyote Trick (standing out) – detail

We share a home with another couple. Upstairs downstairs. We’re the downstairs pair.

The upstairs pair headed out yesterday. Holidays. We’re caring for their place while they’re gone and, more important, caring for Lady.

Lady is a rescue dog. A beauty, both inside and outside. All black but for a medallion of white at her heart, and white at her chin and nose. Age marking her. Her head reaches above my hip when she leans against me, hoping for treats.

We are part of Lady’s pack. She loves nothing better than when all her pack is together, talking, laughing. She goes from one of us to the next, collecting maximum head and back and belly rubs. She, a lady of venerable age, becomes all puppy when this happens. Dancing on our toes, thumping against our legs. Tongue hanging out in sloppy dog laughter. Love and perfect joy.

Our upstairs friends are the alphas of Lady’s pack. Her true loves. Her rescuers. Lady pines for them when they are away.

She lets us distract her with our love, attention, treats, walks, and rubs. And then she goes back to the front deck, or the upstairs door, or the end of the grass by the road. Watching. Waiting.

I watch her from our front window. Lady at her vigil. My heart is heavy for her. I know that vigil and that aloneness. I would take away her pain, if I could.

I can’t.

They’ll be back soon, I tell her.

I rub her head, her soft chest, her back and belly. Give her two treats. Give her my heart. Watch her walk back to the end of the grass and sit down.

Beautiful Lady, they’ll be back soon. I promise.

What Tiggers do best

Tigger and Friends
Tigger and Friend

Tigger, from the Winnie-the-Pooh stories, is one of my heroes.  This is why.  He knows who he is and what he does best.

Tigger bounces.  Bouncing’s what tiggers do best.  Fun.  Play.  Creating happiness (and some chaos) with friends and family.  Life is to be enjoyed.  These are also what Tigger does best.

In one of the stories, Rabbit tries to unbounce Tigger.  Not a good idea.  When he stops bouncing, everyone else gets sad too.  Bouncy Tigger is a necessary part of the family in these stories.  He is the joy.

I want to be a tigger.  If I could be a character from A. A. Milne’s Pooh stories, I would be Tigger.  Not even a pause to think it over.

I want to be a joy tigger.  I want to light up the joy in myself and those around me.  When I am happiness and joy, I can hold in balance the life things that are not so easy.

A joy tigger.  Me.  I want to know who I am and what I do best.  And then do it the rest of my life.  I have a good start at it, here on this page and in this blog.

Continue reading “What Tiggers do best”

I am Here

I held the earth and touched the sky (Mike)
I held the earth and touched the sky (Mike)

My heart is a map.  Where I have been.  Where I am now.  Where I am going.

It’s not a paper map, identical each time I unfold it to find my way.  It is simple to know where I am on a paper map.  The roads and pattern are always the same.  I see my place clearly, and mark it with an X.  I am Here.

My heart is the map of my life.  Like all maps, I must know where I am right now in order to journey to where I want to be.  To find my way on this map, I open my heart, and feel.  Where am I now?  Is it love, excitement, anger, sadness, joy, wonder, jealousy?  So many emotional places, I cannot name them all.  Ah, here I am.  Mark it with my X.  Homesick.

Is this where I want to be, in this place of homesick?  No, not really.  It doesn’t feel good, and I prefer ‘feel good’.  Don’t we all.

I have learned that clearly feeling where I am gives me information.  This place on the map of my heart, homesick, tells me I am longing for something, a something not fulfilled by where I am in my life at this moment.

This is what I do to find my way from homesick.

Continue reading “I am Here”

Edgar and the Extreme Happiness

Edgar and Friends
Edgar and Friends

‘Edgar is extremely happy.’  This is what my son tells me in our phone conversation yesterday.

Edgar is our family cat.  He is living with our son Bryan right now.  Edgar thinks he belongs not only with our family, but with everyone.  We call him the Love Kitty.

This is why.

Edgar loves everyone he meets, and he is sure that everyone loves him.  He is so certain of this that it becomes true.  He walks up to people he does not know, stares at them, unblinking, and purrs.  It works.  They stop, bend down, pet him.  The Love Kitty in action.  This is his job in the world.  Spread Love and Extreme Happiness.

I have had seven cats in my life, beginning when I was a teenager.  We have shared love back and forth.  Each love has been unique, and each of my cats has taught me something about life.

This big, white-and-black fuzz muffin teaches Love and Extreme Happiness.  He radiates it, all the time.

I have never had a cat quite like Edgar.  Each time I pick him up, he goes boneless.  Limp.  A floppy feather pillow that purrs, loud.  He looks up at me.  Round, pale, jade green eyes.  He is telling me in this moment I am the love of his life, and there is nothing better than my arms holding him against my heart.

This is Edgar’s Extreme Happiness:  know my arms always support him; know I always love him; know that home and care and kindness are always my gifts to him.

His trust is complete.  Edgar knows the Universe is a friendly place.  His open heart calls to mine.  Come and play with me and the Universe.  Play.  Trust in Extreme Happiness.  Relax into Love.

Relax into Love.  Edgar is a master at this.  He gifts his Extreme Happiness to all who hold him.  It is true that emotions are contagious.  Edgar’s Extreme Happiness always rubs off on me.  My body relaxes.  My heart opens.  I am happy, extremely.  I know the Universe always supports and loves me.  I know home and care and kindness are always mine.

Thank you Edgar, for teaching me Extreme Happiness.  You are a treasure.

Postcard #7 – Inheritance

Christmas Eve

I am looking at a photograph.  It is Christmas Eve.  I am three years old.  Dressed in a red velvet dress with three white buttons, white tights wrinkled at the knees, and scuffed moccasins.  There is a brand new tricycle in front of me.  Chrome and fat black tires and sky blue painted metal.  Wide blue seat and black pedals, waiting for me to climb on and GO!

Behind me, sitting on my Nana’s sectional couch, looking at the camera and smiling, are my Mom, Nana, Dad, two of my uncles and one of my aunts.  My Papa is taking the picture.  Family.

I don’t remember this specific Christmas Eve, but I do remember my tricycle.  I can hear the crunch of the gravel under its wheels as I ride it down our driveway, feel the push of the pedals against the sneakers on my feet.  Feel the pull on the handlebars as I manoeuver over the grassy middle hump in the driveway.  If I go too slow, I’ll get stuck halfway and have to put my feet on the ground to push me and my tricycle over to the other side.

I know the people, my family, around me in this old photo.  Know and feel and recall them the way I recall my tricycle.  I know the sound of their steps on the floor, the feel of their arms around me, the push and pull of our time spent together.

December 61I hear people talk of inheritance—money, objects, house and land.

My inheritance is right here in my hands, in this photograph of a Christmas Eve.  These people, my memories, this is my inheritance.  The remembered feel of hands in hands.  The remembered sound of voices, talk, and laughter.  What I have experienced and learned in the embrace of my days with them.

This is my inheritance.  Love.  Connection.  A place to stand.  Memories that carry me into happiness, peace, acceptance of my life just as it is.

Thank you for these gifts.

__________________________

Thanks to my brother Paul and my Uncle Allan for collecting the family slides and photos, and digitizing them so they can be shared.

Sunshine

If I Could Bottle Love
If I Could Bottle Love

We’ve had a full week of sunny days, and counting. How delicious!

I am a sunshine girl.  Warmth and light. Green growing things reaching their way out of the ground.  Songbirds and crows and squirrels noising up the backyard.  Bees and hummingbirds burying themselves in the rosemary blooms.  My studio window open to catch the clatter and hum and sweet air.  I am made for this.  This is glory.  This is me.

I breathe deeper on sunny days.  My body relaxes, releases the armour it wore against the cold weather.

I am a sunshine girl, but how do I stay sunshine?  A big question for me because these last few weeks all kinds of things are crashing around me.  Not onto me, but onto people around me who I know and love and wish only the best for.  My heart wants to stay open and loving for them and me.  How do I do this when another’s pain and sorrow comes bumping against me? How do I stay sunshine?

A grandmother’s death.  A family member with a virulent cancer, another injured and struggling, another with an untreatable aneurysm, yet another with a tumor ‘mostly’ removed.  Two long-time friends with cancer.  And household disasters, a broken water pipe, a flash flood, and more.

Life is life.  I signed up for all of it.  I know I can and do create my life.  I know that love is always my answer.  Yet my heart’s instinct is to protect itself and close against the sorrow and pain now standing beside it.

A closed heart can’t love, can’t feel love, can’t share love, can’t be love.  Closing my heart is an old pattern and not the answer.  I know this, too.

I remember.

I remember holding my son when he cried.  I can feel his small warm body curled against me, my arms wrapped round him.  Rocking him, and rocking and rocking, slowly, gently.  Humming to both him and myself whatever song comes into my head.  Always it is a love song, and never the same one twice.  I feel his distress as though it is mine, and yet my heart remains open wide as the horizon.  My love holding his pain.

This is my answer.

Hold my family, my friends, and my life as though each is my beloved child.  Because they are.  My love for them is no different than my love for my son.  This love, my love, shines like the sun, warming all it touches, them and me.

Yes, I am a sunshine girl.