Sunday Morning

Yesterday, my late Brother’s Memorial in Canada with family and friends, which followed his Phoenix “Celebration of Life” in January.

I couldn’t go.

I couldn’t get myself to watch the service on Zoom.

I couldn’t pull myself together to read the few words I had written about my younger brother, sending an email to a Cousin, letting her carry the weight.

Memorials rip open still raw grief. Suffering is best done in silence, alone. For Some.

As I was preparing my thoughts on my Brother, I found him fading.

I can’t make out his face, but can see the dark, sunken hollows of his eyes.

I can’t recall his last words, but can recall his raspy voice, his vocal cords damaged from tubes winding down his throat.

I can’t make out his body, a silhouette now, fading, withered from being bedridden for months – but can feel his hands, soft, his grip, firm, from that last handshake.

I rub my index finger and thumb together, and I’m drawn back…

He steps up to the tee box. He’s standing calmly over the ball. Click. He re-grips the club once, and then again, softly. Click. His body now still, his hands quiet.  Click. He takes the club back, in a slow, smooth arc. Click. He pauses at the top.  Click. He pivots his legs and then his hips in a full, graceful follow through. Click. The ball explodes off the tee.  Click. The Titleist, a white speck, streaks the ever so blue, sky.  Click. The ball lands softly in the center of the fairway 275 yards from the T-box. Click. Art, Bro. Fine Art.

But all of this is fading, I’m losing him, as Wallace Stevens loses those that he has loved:

The figures of the past go cloaked.
They walk in mist and rain and snow
And go, go slowly, but they go.

 


Prior background posts on Lorne. Photo: Mist by Risto Ranta

Bro, if you’re reading this post from above, hit “Like” please.

Running on Christmas Day. No signal.

At 8 pm last night, I agreed with myself I wouldn’t post, wouldn’t share, wouldn’t clutter up Christmas Day with stuff on this blog.

But no, that wasn’t possible Now.  So we’ll keep it short.

I hadn’t run in weeks, but the pull to get outside, was out-of-body.  You need to get out. Today. Now.

30° F feeling like 26° F.  Sun bright and beaming.  It was high tide at the cove, a flock of Canadian geese, 25 or so, were floating at the base of the break wall, offering me their moment of silence.

He used to follow this blog, comment on certain posts.  I could feel His finger reaching for the “Like” button towards the End when he was no longer up to offering comments.

Forgiveness is not a strong suit.  Actually no suit I wear at all.  I had to stop at mid-point on the run. Toxicity from the anger made another step impossible.

Anger burns for the Health Insurer, who silently collected his premium payments, and then provided notice that coverage wasn’t provided as promised because of an exclusion.  And then to stick the knife deeper, terminated coverage retroactively for a month, causing a scramble by the Care providers demanding payment from Him, shuffling Him to a hospital, and that hospital shuffling him to another for lack of confirmation of Insurance Coverage, and this second one pressing for transfer to permanent skilled care.  “We needed to provide him with a sedative.  He’s really anxious, struggling to breathe.” And you wonder why he’s anxious?  The cauldron boils over.  Anger also burns, for those who took a vow with my Brother, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, only to let him fight alone in sickness. [Read more…]

Sunday Morning

My son was almost 4 months old when he stopped breathing at daycare. It was his first day there, the first time I had left his side. Neither the doctors nor investigators could tell us why it happened…The question of my son’s death — the mystery of it, why he vanished — remains without answer. And so I ask the questions of life: What force grew this little child? How did those limbs form themselves from nothing inside of me? Why did I have the power to make him, but not to bring him back? Why are the things he saw on this planet so beautiful? Why did his eyes look at me the way they did? Where did love like this come from? I will never know who my child would have been, but I know his love. If there is a God, this is what he gave me.

~ Amber Scorah, Surviving the Death of My Son After the Death of My Faith (NY Times, May 31, 2019)

 


Notes: Photo by Ayla Maagdenberg titled “Grief“. Inspired by Sawsan: “Love is not a fin or a tail or an extra unnecessary tooth. It’ll be the last thing to pass through the evolutionary blades.”

 

Remember


On Memorial Day, we remember. (USA Today)

Flying North AA4650. With RTP.

It’s one of those moments in life when you remember exactly where you were, what you were doing, and how you felt.

In the old pre-smartphone days, it was the 3 am phone call, with the ring shattering the silence.  You fumble in darkness trying to find the handset praying…please, please, please, let it be a wrong number, and not something worse.

Today, it’s all about texting. And it was a text.

Yesterday morning.  11:00 a.m. Nashville, TN.  The first day of a 4-day conference in a large ballroom at the J.W. Marriott. The lights in the room were dimmed, the spots beamed down on the speaker on stage.

My iPhone screen lights up, flashing an iMessage notification.

“Please call me. Now. Important.” [Read more…]

Lightly Child, Lightly.

“Still, a great deal of light falls on everything.”

~ Vincent van Gogh, in his “Letter to Theo van Gogh, The Hague, c. 10 October 1882

 


Notes:

  • Painting: Sunflowers, 1888 by Vincent Van Gogh.  Quote via bradplumer
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Miracle. All of it.

Hello, welcome.

My name is Julie Yip-Williams. I am grateful and deeply honored that you are here. This story begins at the ending. Which means that if you are here, then I am not. But it’s okay.

My life was good and my life was complete. It came to so much more than I ever thought possible, or than my very humble beginnings would have given me the right to expect. I was a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an immigrant, a cancer patient, a lawyer, and now a writer. I tried to live always with good intentions and a good heart, although I am sure I have hurt people along the way. I tried my best to live a full, rewarding life, to deal with the inevitable trials with grace, and to emerge with my sense of humor and love for life intact. That’s all. Even though I am dying in my early forties, and leaving my precious children behind, I am happy.

My life was not easy. That I survived infancy was something of a miracle, that I made it to America, also a miracle. Being born poor and blind in Vietnam on the losing side of a bloody civil war should have defined my life and sealed my fate. Those things marked me, but they did not stop me. Dying has taught me a great deal about living—about facing hard truths consciously, about embracing the suffering as well as the joy. Wrapping my arms around the hard parts was perhaps the great liberating experience of my life.

Directly or indirectly, we all experience the hard parts. The events that we hear about on the news or from friends, those tragedies ending in death that happen to other people in other places, which make us sad but also relieved and grateful as we think, There but for the grace of God…—destructive hurricanes and earthquakes, violent shootings and explosions, car accidents, and of course, insidious illnesses. These things shake us to the core because they remind us of our mortality, of how impotent we truly are in the face of unseen forces that would cause the earth to tremble or cells to mutate and send a body into full rebellion against itself.

I set out here to write about my experience of that, both the life lived and the trials endured—neither comprehensively, you understand, but enough to fully show you the distance I traveled and the world in which I made my life. And what began as a chronicle of an early and imminent death became—if I may be very presumptuous—something far more meaningful: an exhortation to you, the living.

Live while you’re living, friends.

From the beginning of the miracle, to the unwinding of the miracle.

Julie Yip-Williams, February 2018

~ Julie Yip-Williams, “Prologue” from The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything that Comes After (Random House, February 5, 2019)


Notes:

Flying Over I-40 South. With Bird Calls.


It’s been 9 months, and we receive a piercing reminder of the only certainties in life: Death and Taxes. Tucked way at the back of the mailbox, sits a single, slight envelope – a bill for the license fee for Zeke’s tags. He’s gone damn it. He’s gone.

Dog tags. Metal to metal, nothing rubbing, nothing jingling. Just nothing.  Inert, they lay in an extra coin jar in the mud room, on top of dirty pennies, dimes, nickels and a few silver quarters. His weathered, leather leash, without him on the end of it, has been stored, way away.  Loose Change. Bone to Bone. Dust to dust. Nothing.

Melancholia saddles up and storms in.

I pull up the covers, and shiver.

It’s Spring. Low humidity. Soft intermittent rains. And nights sleeping with open windows.

With no bird dog leaning in…with no bird dog head nestling, warming my feet, there’s no longer a need to keep windows closed. No need for closed windows to block bird calls, those bird calls which triggered his wiring, which set off that nose, those whiskers, that twitching against the thigh as he adjusts his head to get a better look and better sniff; those same bird calls which would launch this Man’s Best Friend on high alert, jacking up his pulse rate and his innate need to run, to find and to flush. You ain’t running here no more. This Man’s leaning in on himself and falling over.

The window is wide open. A bird call interrupts the dark and the silence. 3:43 am.

Does she sleep? Or like a dolphin, does half her brain shut down, so the other half can monitor predators? How does she wake each morning with a Solo and always between 3:40 am to 3:55 am? Is she singing? Talking? To whom? To Me? About what? Does she sleep in trees? In her nest? Warming her eggs? Singing to her babies as any Mother would? Rock-a-bye baby, On the tree top, When the wind blows, The cradle will rock. When the bough breaks

By 4:10 am, she has wound up the entire neighborhood, and we’ve moved from solo to choir.  Bird song lifts the gates, the silvery light of dawn shimmering – the tide sweeps away the heaviness: Lightly Child, Lightly.  And here it comes: playing in the head on a loop…“Ain’t no passing craze.  It means no worries. For the rest of your days. It’s our problem-free philosophy. Hakuna Matata!”

The bird song reaches a crescendo, percussion, drums, guitars, horns, nature’s perfect harmony dragging my soul – Up, Up, Up.

Circle of Life Brother.

Circle of Life.



Inspired by:

The grief of the failed nest echoes in an entirely different register, but it is still a grief. In Tennessee it’s common for cardinals to nest twice in a season, hatching between two and five eggs each time, but few of their young will survive. The world is not large enough to contain so many cardinals, and predators must eat, too, and feed their young. It should not trouble me to know the sharp-eyed crow will feed its babies with hatchlings it steals from the cardinals, but I have watched day after day as the careful redbird constructed a sturdy nest in the laurel, and I have calculated how many days and nights she has sat upon those eggs, how many trips she has made to the nest to feed the babies, how many times she has sheltered them through a downpour. Day after day after day.

~ Margaret Renkl, from “Springtime’s Not-So-Peaceable Kingdom”, The New York Times · June 3, 2017

14 Years Old

manchester, Barra,scotland,terrorist,hearse,

The hearse carrying the coffin of Eilidh MacLeod is driven across Traigh Mhor beach at Barra, Scotland, airport after it arrived by chartered plane. Ms. MacLeod, 14 years old, was among the 22 people who died in the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester on May 22, which also left more than 100 injured. (Andrew Milligan / Photos of the Day, June 3-4, 2017, wsj.com)

%d bloggers like this: