Memories : Her First Halloween

It was October 31st, 1989.
She wasn’t even two years old.
But she could walk
All on her own.

It was a night
I can’t forget.
That Halloween.
For something happened
That was completely
Unexpected.

We were all outside.
In the tiny front yard
Of the townhouse
Where we lived.
And she was watching
Other children as they walked
From door to door.

Our neighbors
To either side of us
Said, “Bring her here!”
And so I took her
By the hand,
And walked to each of them.

And when we got
To each neighbor,
They gave candy to her.
And oh,
She thought that was so good!

So, my lady handed me
A little plastic pumpkin
That had a handle on it.
And I showed my girl
How to hold that pumpkin
So people could reach it.
And we were off.

We went to all the other
Townhouses
On our part of the street.
And I rang each doorbell.
When the people came
To their front doors
The say her standing there
With that pumpkin
Held before her.

Everybody smiled,
And crouched down
So that they could get
A better look at her.
And they all put candy
In that plastic pumpkin.

Now, my girl didn’t say much,
She was just 18 months old.
So all that she could really do
Was smile.

Have you ever seen the smile
Of an 18 month old girl?
It was like everyone
That gave her candy
On that night
Melted into puddles
At their own front doors.

We weren’t out for very long.
But we didn’t need to be.
After all,
How far can an18 month old
Walk?

It was one of those nights
When it was obvious
That our girl was smart.
‘Cause we never had to explain
Halloween to her.
She figured it all out
On her own
That night.

When I got to escort her
Around the neighborhood
For her very first
Halloween.

It was without doubt
The most memorable Halloween
That I’ve ever had.

New Words To The Concerned

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Hi!

I was going to write this note just for a single friend of mine. One individual. Someone that I care about. But, as I wrote this note, I came to understand that I can’t hid these words. That these words need to be shared. And so, I now share them with all those that I call my friends.

I’ve had yet another of my “holy crap” moments. My Doc calls them “epiphanies”. Steph likes my term for them better. (-: And, having had this “holy crap” moment, I can’t help but feel that this is something I was supposed to learn.

The world is asleep. The vast majority of it, anyway. Lemmesplain. And it’ll take some doing to ‘splain this one. Geeze…

I’ve noticed that I watch other people, and I end up so confused. “How can they not know? Are they blind? Why can’t they see what’s happening? Why can’t they see what they’re doing?” When I was barred from work, I was hurt. Badly. Wounded to the core. The actions of the workplace, and the people I worked with felt very much to me like I was being punished. For having been different from them. For having behaved in a different way. Then, over time, I started to talk about things. Like Get Well cards from the office. Like office lunches, and other celebrations. Like what happens when someone leaves the workplace. Or when someone gets cancer, or some other nasty disease. And it became apparent to me that things like the cards, and celebrations weren’t really that at all. They were just “appropriate behavior for the environment”. If someone you work with gets in a car wreck, and gets seriously injured, and can’t work, then the workplace is supposed to send a get well card. And maybe even flowers. And it’s supposed to say, “We wish you well. We miss you. If there’s anything we can do, let us know.” And everyone knows that no one will ever ask for assistance. And that if the individual never returns to work, “Oh, well. Such is life.”

The reality is that no one cares. The workplace doesn’t care about the individual that got injured in the car wreck. The people in the workplace may be curious. They may talk among themselves, “Too bad, what happened. Hope they’re OK.” But the truth is that so long as their own jobs are not at risk, it’s not their problem. And they’ll carry on, as if that person didn’t exist.

As a platelet donor, I have another story to share. The number of people I have encountered in the past year that refuse to donate either blood or platelets. “I don’t have time.” and “It’s not my problem” are the major excuses. Followed by, “I just can’t deal with being stabbed in the arm. And that finger stick! AIEEE! Blood! MY blood!” In short, “No way in hell am I gonna donate blood, or platelets, or any other component of my blood. For any reason. For anybody. Someone gets in a car wreck, and needs a blood transfusion to survive, well. Tough luck. Life’s like that.” And the same people expect the blood supply to be infinite, so that if they should ever need any, it’s available for them to use. It’s part of the mysterious math of life. Where rational thought, and logic, simply don’t work. One of those complete mystery things. Except that for me, it’s not a mystery anymore. I understand it. I know a big part of where it comes from.

I would say it’s from a self centered point of view, but that’s simplifying things too greatly. Far too greatly. No, it’s not just a self centered point of view. There’s something much deeper than that. Much more primal and primitive than that.

It’s fear.

Pure and simple, it’s fear. I have been learning how very much afraid of life that people are. How very much afraid of being hurt that people are. How very much afraid of pain. How very much afraid of being uncomfortable. How very much afraid of change. Of the unknown. Of risk. Of anything that includes the possibility of being hurt.

To care about the person you work with means that when that person gets in a car wreck, and can’t work, you care. It bothers you. If they can’t work, you want to help. In any way you can. Because that person is your friend. And it HURTS you to know that your friend is in pain. That your friend has been wounded. And can’t work. And you can’t see your friend every day. And you MISS your friend. You become uncomfortable. Your heart aches. Your soul cries tears of pain. Hell, you even cry sometimes because of what’s happened. All because you CARE. But… If this is just someone you work with, and you don’t care. You don’t get hurt. There’s no pain. No risk. You’re OK if that person never returns. You miss their presence in the workplace. But only for a little while. And then, it’s like they never worked there anyway. And it’s OK to forget about them. Like you forgot about all those people you went to high school with. Or all those people you know from church.

You’re insulated. You’re protected. You’re safe. And so is your job. Your source of income. And so is your life. The things you have collected. The house, the car, the TV, the electronic toys, the riding lawnmower. All that crap. It’s safe. And you’re not lonely. You spend the weekend with your family. And you take vacations every year. And you have people you see at work every day. So, how can you be lonely?

And after a while, the ache in your chest, and the empty feeling you have inside become normal. You’re supposed to feel that way. Everyone feels that way. Go watch another show on TV. Go read another book. Go look up pictures of naked women on the ‘Net. Watch another streaming XXX movie on the ‘Net. Listen to your music on your iPod. Play “Call of Duty” or “Battelfield” on your Xbox, or PS3. Have text conversations with people on the cell phone. Call up your buddies, and talk with them.

Kill time. In any way you can. Go fishing. Go hunting. Go shopping. Go eat dinner out somewhere. Mow the damn lawn again. Keep the house perfect. Wash the cars. Weed the gardens. Anything to kill time. Anything at all.

And after a while, you stop noticing that something isn’t right. That something’s terribly wrong. After a while, it’s all OK. And you’re OK, ‘cause you know that everyone else is like you.

And here I am. Wide awake. In a world filled with people that will do anything to keep from waking up. To keep from having to deal with life. To remain blind, and heartless, and cold. So that they don’t have to risk being hurt. Ever. So that life is always good for them.

I’ve known this for decades. “If I had never cried, would I know the value of a smile? If there was never any rain, would I really, truly appreciate a beautiful spring day?” I’ve asked this type of question for decades. I knew all along what was happening.

And now, having been through the past 15 months. I’m beginning to understand things that I’ve always known. Pema Chodron, in her books, always writes about how as we become the compassionate, tender-hearted, caring warrior, we come to know great sorrow, and great sadness. Because we learn the truth of life. And I find there are times when I know great sorrow. When my heart aches so very much that I don’t know if I can take anymore. When my soul cries so hard that it is as if my soul cries tears of blood. Because I grow closer and closer to seeing the truths of life. To seeking the wounded, injured, hurt people all around me. To seeing the loneliness, and the awful fear that people live with, believing that this is how things are supposed to be.

All because they are afraid.

This is a big part of why I was removed from work. I was afraid. Yes. But, I truly cared for the Lenten Rose. I did. And for the Princess of Laughter. And seeing them hurting the way they were hurting. I had to do something. Anything I could. I couldn’t just carry on. I couldn’t stand by and pretend that everything was normal. Fuck the job. Fuck the appropriate behavior thing. I HAD to help my friends. And I didn’t care at all what that cost me.

It cost me my job. Because I woke up. I acted on what I was seeing. I named the workplace the land of gray. I told the people that I worked with that they were all just alike. They were all the same. They all reacted the same way. They all behaved the same way. And that the way they behaved was, to me, heartless. As if their hearts had frozen, colder than any ice, and harder than any stone.

I knew the truth. Even then. I just didn’t know the words. And this past year, I’ve been finding the words.

I have said, a thousand times, and I will say this until my last breath on this world. “God. Never give up on them. You never gave up on me. Never give up on them. Find a way, God. Please find a way to touch their hearts. And wake them up. Like you did for me.”

As time goes by, I will become a compassionate, tender-hearted, caring warrior. I know this. It is what my heart and soul want me to be. What I am meant to be. And in becoming the warrior I am meant to be, I will know more sorrow, and more pain, than I have ever known. For with each day that passes, I see more and more people that are wounded by life. That have closed their eyes to life. That, as the Bible says, “have hardened their hearts, and covered their ears”. So that they don’t have to see, and don’t have to feel. So that they can avoid the truths of this life we all live.

That’s a very sad thing. It is why my heart aches within me. And why my soul cries tears of pain.

Your friend.
And I mean that truthfully.
For I am not afraid to be your friend.

Mark.

Money, Money, Money!

There’s that old saying.
“Money is the root of all evil.”
It’s time I quit laughing,
And corrected this one.

First off,
That’s not really what the words
To this saying are.
The saying itself is a quote.
From the Bible.
First Timothy, Chapter 6, Verse 10.
And for those that get picky,
I’ll even use the words
From the King James Version.

For the love of money
Is the root of all evil:
Which while some coveted after,
They have erred from the faith,
And pierced themselves through
With many sorrows.

If you read those words
Carefully.
You can’t help but see
That it is the love of money
That’s the problem.
Not the money itself.

Or,
Phrased another way,
The relentless pursuit of money
Leads to all kinds of evil.

In my own experience
Living in this life,
I’ve learned.
I’ve seen too many times
When the objective of
Getting more and more
Money than you have
Becomes a very
Destructive thing.

There are other words
That better explain
What I’m trying to say.
So I’ll let them speak
For me.

From the book of Exodus,
Chapter 20, verse 3.

You shall have no other gods before me.

If you look
At these two verses
Together.
The make a lot more sense.

It strikes me
That this is a warning.
That God should be God.
And money should not.

I find it disturbing
To see so many people
In this life I’ve had
Whose lives are centered
On just one thing.

Money.

As if money
As become their god.
The thing they worship.
The thing that they believe in.
The thing that matters
To them.

I find it disturbing
To see so many people
That have lost their way.
To the point
Where they don’t seem to care
At all
For the people in their lives.

Instead.
They care about their jobs.
The source of money
In their lives.
And when they feel
That caring for a human being
Could put their income
At risk.
They do what they believe
That they have to do.
To protect their jobs.
And the money
That their job
Bring to them.

I’ve seen too many
Of those very people
That were trapped
In a living hell.
Working ever day
In jobs that they hate.

In jobs where the stresses
That they deal with every day
Causes them headaches.
And frustration.
And the longer that they stay
The greater damage
That they bring
Upon themselves.

They smoke.
They drink.
And so many other things.
To cope with the stress
They live with every day.

Their families
Fall apart.
They get divorced.
And their children
Wonder why they live
In pain and anger
Every day.

All because they’ve made the mistake
Of putting money
At the center of their lives.
So that money
Has become
Their god.

The part that I find saddest
Of all the things I’ve seen
Is how many of those people
Don’t even know
What they’re doing.
To the people around them.
To their children.
And the spouses.

Because the only thing
That matters to them
Is the money that they earn
In the job they have
That’s destroying them.

Fairies : The Night That Sunshine Cried

Sunshine saw him get up
In the middle of the night.
She saw him walk out of the room.
And she followed him.

He went downstairs.
And he stood
In the middle of the floor
Of the Family Room
Of the house.

Sunshine wondered
What was wrong.
What had caused him
To wake up
In the middle
Of the night.

As she watched him,
He looked up
At the ceiling
Of the room.
And then he screamed
A silent scream.

Sunshine knew that scream
All to well.
She’d screamed it
Many times herself.
That silent scream of pain.
It meant that something
Dear to him
Was now gone.
Was forever lost.

She watched him,
And she couldn’t help but see
The hurt there
In his eyes.
As he looked up at the ceiling,
And he asked just one word,
“Why?”
And then she watched him cry.

Sunshine felt how very much
His heart ached that night.
She couldn’t help but see
The tears that his soul cried.
She was so afraid
That he’d lost someone
That had been close to him.

She watched him
As he walked up to
The pictures that he kept.
Each one stored in a frame,
Kept upon a bookshelf.

He picked up a picture,
And sadly smiled at it.
“Why did this have to happen
To you?”
He took that picture with him,
And went to the sofa.
Where he sat down
In the dark.
And held that picture up,
So he could stare at it
For a time.

“Life’s not fair.
I know that,”
He said.
“I know it rains
On everyone.
Both good and bad.”
And then he shook his head.
“I know that means
That bad things happen
To good people.
For no reason
At all.”

He looked up at the ceiling
Once again.
“Why her, God?
Why her?
Why does she have to die?”

Sunshine watched him
Through the night.
She was there watching him
When he pressed that picture
To his lips.
When he stretched out
On that sofa,
Resting his head
Upon a cushion.

He placed that picture
Next to his head.
And then he closed his eyes.
And though he tossed
And turned,
Through the rest
Of that night.
He did sleep.

Sunshine watched.
And when he was asleep.
She flew up to the sofa.
And hovered there.
Right in front
Of the picture
That he’d picked up.
And she used her fairy magic
To bring a single ray
Of sunshine
Into the darkness
Of the night.
And shine it right upon
That picture
By his head.

It was a picture
Of one of his best friends.
He called her
“Jean.”

Sunshine knew
By the words he’d spoken
In the middle of that night.
That Jean was not alright.
That he thought
That Jean was going to die.

Sunshine looked upon the face
Of her human friend.
And she understood
Why it was he’d cried.
Why he’d awakened
In the middle of the night.
She knew why his heart ached
Within his chest.
And why his soul
Cried tears of pain.

And on that night
As she watched over him.
Sunshine cried.
Tears feel freely
From Sunshine’s eyes.

And as the tears fell from her eyes,
Drops of rain fell from the sky.
And the more she cried that night,
The more it rained.

It was as if the sky itself
Shared with her
The pain she knew
That he was in.
And the sky joined in
And cried with her
That night.

It was then that Mystica
Flew into the room.
She flew right up to Sunshine.
And gently placed a hand
Upon her shoulder.

Sunshine tried to smile
Right then.
And found that she could not.
How could she smile
When her human friend
Was in the pain
That he was in?

Mystica hugged Sunshine.
The first fairy
That she’d cared for.
The first fairy she’d adopted
Into the family
They’d become.

And she let Sunshine cry
Upon her shoulder.
For a time.
Then Mystica whispered
Oh, so quietly,
“Sunshine,
My dear child,
What has happened
On this night?”

Sunshine took Mystica
To the picture
That rested on the sofa
Right next to the head
Of their human friend.
“He’s said that Jean
Is going to die.”

Then Sunshine broke right down.
She cried like she hadn’t cried
Since she was a little child.
So very long ago.
When the fairies
In the castle
Named her Rain.

And as she cried,
The rain came down
In torrents.
As if the sky itself
Could feel the way
Her heart ached
On that night.

Mystica held her
As a mother holds her child.
She’d raised her
Like a daughter
Of her own.

And when Sunshine tears
At last dried
On that rain filled night.
Mystica had spoken
One more time.

“Sunshine,
My child.
Part of my heart
And soul.
You know
That we will help him.
And if there is any way at all
That we can help his friend.
Then we’ll do that too.”

Sunshine almost smiled.
“I know,
Momma.
I know.
I’m sorry that I’ve cried.
But I had to.
For I felt the aching
Of his heart.
And I saw the tears
That his soul cried
Upon this night.”

Mystica looked outside.
“The dawn will be here
Very soon.
It’s time for us
To return to his room.”

Hand-in-hand
They flew.
Up the stairs
Into his room.
The other fairies
Had awakened.
And were there upon his desk
Waiting for the two of them
To return.

Mystica saw the questions
And concerns,
In the eyes of all the daughters
She’d adopted.

“His dear friend Jean
Is very ill.
And very likely going to die.”

The other fairies
Gasped.

“But I promised Sunshine
We will help him
Through this awful time.
And we’ll help
His friend Jean
Too.”

Merlin the dragon
Spoke right then.
“You’re not a child
Anymore
My dear friend Mystica.
Now,
You are full grown.
A master of the skills
Of the White Magic
In your heart and soul.”

Mystica smiled.
“I know.”

Merlin looked around,
At all the fairies in the group.
“Mystica’s right.
We’ll take care of them both.”

It was then
That Sunshine smiled.
And the light of dawn
Shined in.
And filled the room.

“We’ll take care of them,”
She thought.
“We’ll take care of them both.”

And then she settled
In the place upon his desk
Where he kept her.
And fell asleep.
She knew she needed rest.
And as she fell asleep that day
Her smile returned once more.
For Sunshine knew
Mystica would teach them all
What it was
That they could do
To help their human friends.

She’d Turned Off The Touchpad

My friend Kathy
Showed me her laptop computer
One day..
“Timmy!
My computer’s mouse cursor
Has stopped moving!
It just won’t move!
Do you know what’s wrong?”

I smiled at her.
And then I said,
“I’ll take a look.”
And sure enough.
When you tried to move the cursor
Using your fingers
On the touchpad.
Nothing happened.
Nothing worked.

My first thought
As to what was wrong
Was that the touchpad
Could be broken.
So the first thing
That I did
Was plug a mouse into
The USB port
On the side of her laptop.

And sure enough,
That mouse worked fine.
That meant the problem
With Kathy’s computer
Had to be the touchpad.
Which was not working
For some odd reason.

And that’s when it occurred to me
That she’d somehow
Turned the touchpad off.
And that’s why
It was playing dead.

So I looked at the touchpad.
And there
At the top left corner
Of that little rectangle
Was a bright orange light.
So, I put an index finger
Just below that light,
And tapped that sucker
Twice.

And the orange light
Went right out.
And after that
The touchpad worked.
And everything was OK
Once again.

Kathy looked at me.
Then at her laptop.
Then at me once again.
“You have got
To be kidding me,”
She sighed.
And she shook her head,
Slowly,
From side to side.

“What did you do
To fix it?”

So, I showed her,
That you can turn the touch pad off
If you double tap
The top left corner
Of the touchpad
On a new HP laptop,
That light comes on
To indicate
That you’ve turned
The touchpad off.

And if you double tap
That same corner again,
That light turns off.
And when that light turns off,
You know the touchpad’s on.

When I was done
Showing this to Kathy,
She looked so embarrassed.
“Is that what was wrong?”
I nodded my head yes.

“Hey, Kathy.
It’s OK.
I’ve lost count
Of the number of times
That I’ve done that
To myself.
And killed off piles of time
Trying to figure out
Why the touchpad
Flat stopped working.”

Still looking embarrassed,
She looked at me
And then she asked,
“You’re just saying that
To make me feel better
Aren’t you?”

“No, Kathy.
I’m not.
I’ve really done that.
At least a dozen times.”
I could tell
She didn’t believe me
In the least.
“It happens almost every time
I unplug my USB mouse.
When I use my laptop
At my desk
At home,
I put in a USB mouse.
And then turn the trackpad off.
So that I don’t move
The cursor around
When I bump the touchpad
While I’m typing.
And almost ever time
When I take the laptop
Out of the house,
And leave the mouse
At home.
I have to figure out
Why that touchpad
Wasn’t working at all.”

I thought she
Was going to laugh.
Which was a good thing.

I hoped that she would remember
That I’d always tried to tell her
That when dealing with computers
There was no such thing
As a stupid question
Of any kind.

After we’d both had
A pretty good laugh.
And she was smiling.
She took her laptop
And she returned
To her desk.

But at least I knew
She’d be feeling better
Now that the touchpad
On her laptop worked.

And so it was
That I was happy
For the rest of that whole day.

An Anniversary

Today I recognize
That it’s been one solid year
Since I went out on leave.
Since I began this journey
Of rebuilding,
And rediscovering
Me.

I could choose to remember
The hurt and the pain
That I went through.
The way that everyone I knew
Told me to go away.

But that isn’t me.
That’s not who I am.
Not how I wish to be.

Instead of remembering
The things that hurt.
The things that caused
Such awful pain.

I may not forget those things.
And I won’t deny
That I have great fear
Of being hurt like that
Again.

But in this past year
I’ve learned
That fear is a normal thing.
And after all,
Fear is just a feeling.
And it’s OK
To be afraid.
So long as I don’t let my fear
Make my decisions for me.

I can remember all the things
That happened.
All the things that hurt.

I can remember
All the times
When I hurt so very much
That I didn’t know at all
What to do.
That the only thought
I had at all
Was that I had to escape.
And that the only escape
I had.
Was to take another walk.

And I walked so very much.

I can remember
Night after night,
When I couldn’t sleep.
When I had to lie there
In the bed.
And listen to my music,
Sometimes for hours,
As I tried to close my eyes
And dream.

I can remember
So very many things
That happened in those days
That started
One whole year ago.

And I could let those things
Destroy the memories I have
Of the place that I once worked.
And the people
I worked with
When I was there.

I could.

But I won’t.

Instead,
I have decided
That I will remember
All the good things that I can
About the people
That I used to know.

I will remember
Working side-by-side
With all of them.
Making magic happen
Every day,
As we fought the chaos
Of the job.
As we somehow found a way
To meet the deadlines
That someone else has set.

I will remember
The birthday celebrations.
The anniversaries.
The the holiday celebrations.
And so many things
That were so good.
And so very fun.

It is memories such as these
That I will celebrate.
That I will use to define
That part of my life.

And most of all,
I will remember
The one I call
The Lenten Rose.
I will remember
Her beautiful smile.
And the magic
That was always there
In her pretty eyes.

It was because of her
That I woke up.
And because of her
That I learned
I can use this gift I have
Of using words
To create dreams
And wishes
From nothing at all.
And because of her
That I learned
To share those dreams
And wishes.
With the simple hope
That I can help a friend
That’s hurt.
A friend whose heart aches.
Whose soul cries tears of pain.
To perhaps find a way
To close their eyes
And dream.
And maybe even smile.

If only for a little while.

These are the things
That I will celebrate
About the place
That I once worked.
On this the anniversary
Of the day
When everything that was
Came to its end.

What To Write…

As I have been healing
In these past few months,
With the aching of my heart
Virtually gone.
And the tears of pain
That my soul cried
Having dried.
I find I ask myself
Every night,
“What the heck do I write
Now?”

It’s an interesting dilemma.
Trying to figure out
What to write.
Because the truth is
I can write a lot of words,
Any time I wish.
But…

If I just wrote
Whatever came to mind,
I’d get a lot of people
Upset.
All because my personal views
Are not like theirs.

And I so do not want
To start any fights.

So, I sit here at night,
And I try to figure out
What the heck I should write.

Perhaps I should write
One more short piece
About the fairies,
With Dream,
Miss Hooters,
Rose,
And Musica.

But I don’t really want
To write something about them
Every night.
And what I do write
About the fairies
Is growing.

As everyone will learn
On November 1st.
When I start writing
The story I am planning.
I can tell you
What it’s called.
But for now,
That’s all I’ll share.

“The Story of Mystica And Merlin”

And I’m looking forward
Very much
To writing that one down.
It will be my first attempt
At an entire novel.
A real story.
Of full length.

So I’m not so sure tonight
That I want to write
Something new about the fairies.

I could write
A new piece of fiction.
But the question then
Is what to write?
Given that I know
What I don’t want to write about
At all.

I don’t want to write
Violent things tonight.
There’s enough of that
On Amazon.com.
And at the local bookstore,
And even at Walmart.

It seems to me
That most of the books
That you can find
Are all about
So many violent events.

Why should I add
Any more to that?

I could write about
Something involving sex.
But why?
When there’s as much,
If not more
Sexual fiction in the world
That there is violence.

Why would I want to do
Something that’s been done
A billion times before?

And that leaves me
Exactly where I was
At the start of all of this.
Sitting here.
On my sofa.
Wondering.
What to write…