Remember The Magic

I wrote these words last night, after I got home. I wrote them for a friend. The math told me I needed to share these words with her. And being who I am, I did. She wrote back, a brief little note, and said I should share these words with everyone.

Well, this afternoon, I just got home. And the math told me second friend could use a note from me. So, I’m sharing what I wrote last night. I’ve modified it as little as possible to keep names out of it. Otherwise, this is what I shared with a wounded friend last night.

Just because that’s what’s friends do in the world that ought to be.

Mark.


IMG_2796Oh, dear.

My friend. You make me wish I could give you a big hug, and take you on a long outing at the Botanical Garden. I’d do it. In a heartbeat.

I am not “physically” disabled. I have a 100% functional body. I can walk most people into the ground. Even at my age. I can hold a camera still long enough to take pictures at 35X optical zoom without a tripod. I can mow my own lawn. I can stand on my feet all day at Geek Squad.

I am, however, “disabled.” There are parts of life I simply don’t understand. I’ve told my doc, it’s like I’m deaf. It’s like I can’t hear that part of life that is “social”. I’ve explained to people, “It’s not that I do anything special. It’s not that I’m caring. Or tender. Or any of that stuff. It’s that I don’t have the social constraints most people have. So, for me, it’s all “math”. It’s all observation, and appropriate response. If I’m hurting, don’t I want attention, and help? Or at least someone to say, “I know.” So if someone I see is hurting, what’s the appropriate thing for me to do?”

And somehow, this gets people to call me, “caring, kind, and tender-hearted.”

I’ve told my Doc, “Isn’t this how things are supposed to be?”

So, when I see you write about how you are still getting used to your disabilities, and the reality that you can’t do certain things, my heart tells me I should take time, and say, “Hi!” and make sure you’re OK.

I have never, in this life, been understood. I’m married to a wonderful lady. I’ll never change that. I love her too much. But there are many “features” of me she does not understand. In her words, “I’ve grown used to them.”

One thing I’ve learned in the past 3 years. One truth that’s been hammered into me over, and over, and over.

People are blind to life. They are. Every morning, driving to work, they don’t see the flowers growing by the side of the road. They don’t see the clouds in the sky, or the way the sun reflects off of them. They don’t see the rays of sunlight shining through the clouds. They don’t see the birds flying just above the trees. They don’t see that occasional deer in the field.

They are blind. They don’t see the gifts we are all given, every day. Every day.

They never stop, walking across the parking lot at work, to feel the breeze flowing through their fingers. To feel the sun on their faces. To hear the birds singing, or the leaves of the trees rustling as the breeze passes through them.

They are blind.

They never walk through the flowers of the Botanical Garden. Without time constraints. Taking however long it takes. They don’t stop, and watch the butterflies. They never watch the bees moving from one flower to the next, pollinating the trees. They never watch the ducks, or geese, as they lazily swim around on the lakes.

They are blind.

Did you know, if you really try, if you sit quietly, close your eyes, and just listen, and you keep listening long enough, you can hear yourself breathe. I do that all the time. Did you know, if you practice, and you learn to listen to the things your body tells you, you can feel your own pulse. Your own heartbeat.

I know these things. I see them every day. I know the magic that is life. The magic of watching a 5-year-old cat sleep on your lap. Of watching the clouds as they slowly move, and change, in the sky. Of watching the neighbors dog chase a butterfly, not wanting to catch it, or kill it. Just wanting to chase it, and play with it. Of watching a wild rabbit carefully pick the best weeds growing in the yard, and eat them. Of watching a baby bunny grow through summer, becoming a rabbit able to survive on its own. Of watching a momma duck lead her tiny little ducklings to a lake.

I know the magic of seeing Camellia trees in full bloom in January, in the snow. When people tell me, “It’s cold. And there’s nothing out there to see.”

I know the magic of stretching out on my sofa, with the window curtains pulled aside, and the sun shining through them, on to me. Of taking a nap in that sunshine.

The magic is there. Every day. All I have to do is stop. And look. I don’t have to look for it. All I have to do is look around. It’s there. Everywhere.

People are blind. They can’t see that. They don’t know the magic’s there. They think I’m crazy. Or strange. Or broken in some way.

I’m not.

If I were there, I’d give you a great big hug. Then, even if I had to sit you in a wheelchair, and carry a 2 liter bottle of water with me, I’d take you on a long walk through the roses, the butterflies, and the flower gardens at the botanical garden. I’d stop any time you wanted. I’d let you look all you wanted. I’d let you feel the sun. The breeze.

I’d just appreciate the gift you are, my friend.

We are all different. We are all unique.

Smile, you. That’s the greatest gift of all. The gift of a smile.

Like The Roses Do

The roses were beautiful.
In so many colors.
White, pink, yellow, red.
And so many more.
Peach, bronze, and silver-pink.
Each rose a work of art
To me.

I wondered as I walked
Through that garden
Filled with roses,
Why humans are so stupid.
Why they can’t even see
What’s right before
Their noses.

The truth was obvious to me.
Just with the roses.
For the roses were so many kinds.
Some grew like vines,
Others like bushes.
Some blooms were tiny,
Maybe quarter sized.
Such works of art they were.
Other roses were whopping big.
With blooms twice the size of my fist.
Blooms I couldn’t even hold
In a single hand.

Roses that had just a few petals,
And were open.
You could see the pistol,
And the pollen
In the heart of them.

Roses that had petals by the dozens.
Tightly packed together.
Layer upon layer.
Like spiral flowers.

Some roses were in full bloom.
Some were not.
Some hadn’t bloomed at all.

Each bush had different leaves.
Some small and tiny,
Packed densely around the stems.
Others had a big leaf,
With saw-toothed edges,
Every now and then.

Some roses bloomed in clumps.
Four, five, or more blossoms
In a single group.
Blooming all at once.

Some bloomed by themselves.
A bloom here.
Another there.
Scattered everywhere.

Some looked like rose bloom families.
A big bloom in the midst
Of an ocean of baby roses
That hadn’t spread their petals
Yet.

The roses came
In more sizes,
Colors
And types
Than I could count.

And I didn’t care at all.
Each rose
Was beautiful.

And I wondered
As I walked
Looking at the roses,
Thanking life
For every bloom.

Why humans are
So very silly,
And so mean,
That they can’t see the beauty
In another human being.
That they have to use
Cruel names,
And unkind words,
To hurt someone
That’s not like them.

Why can’t humans watch the roses
And learn to see the beauty
In diversity.
Like the roses do.

 

Have You Forgotten?

Why do you say
There is no hope?
Why do you act
So doomed?
As if the world had ended.
Or will end soon.

Don’t you understand?
Don’t you see the truth?

Each day of life we get
Is a gift.
Each heartbeat.
Each breath.

Why do you give up
On the future?
On the unknown?
On what hasn’t happened yet?
Do you really know
What is to come?
Do you know
What each day will bring?
Can you see
Ahead in time?

How do you know
The Earth will not quake today?
A gigantic wave
Won’t wash the oceanfront away?
Someone else
Won’t plow their car
Into the side of yours today.

How do you know
This won’t be
Your last day?

Yet you sit there.
Doing nothing.
Not living at all.
Not smiling.
Not laughing.
Not feeling the breeze
Flow past the fingers
Of your hands.
Not feeling the warmth
Of the heat
Within your house.

Not thanking God above
That your heat beats.
That you aren’t
Hooked to a machine
Just to stay alive.

You don’t see the flowers.
You don’t see the clouds
Floating in the sky.
You don’t see the trees
Along the ground.

It’s as if your blind
To everything around.
Everything life gives to you.
Each day.

Even when you know
It doesn’t have to give you
Another day at all.

Why do you stay inside.
Wishing.
Dreaming.
For the days of glory
Long past now?
When you were happy.
When you didn’t have a worry
In the world.

Why do you sit there
And wish
Those days would return?
When you know they can’t.
You know there’s no way
To turn back the clock.
And yet you wish
Things could just be the same
As they were in the days
When you were happy.
When you smiled.
When you laughed.

When the world was a place
You wanted to live in?

Why don’t you want
To be alive right now?

Have you forgotten
The simple joy
Of each breath you take?
Have you forgotten
That you have food to eat
Every day?
More than you need.
More even than you want.
So that you throw food away?

When you know
You could be that person
You saw just yesterday.
The one on the corner.
Dressed in rags.
Outside in the cold.
Without a coat.
Holding up that cardboard sign.
“Will work for food.”

And you sit there
And complain
About your horrible life?
You call that person
With that sign
A failure.
“His kind are what’s wrong
With the world today!”

And your Jesus said,
“The poor will always be here.”

And yet you say,
“Hide them from me!
I don’t want to know
Such people exist!
It spoils my view
Of the world that I live in!”

And you hear the words
Of that song you heard
On the radio
From years ago,
“Get a job,
You fucking slob.”

And you drive away.

Have you really forgotten
The gift you have been given
By life
Every day?

Finding My Wings : For Timony

Sometimes, I feel so helpless.
Tonight is one of those times.
When I feel helpless.
Useless.
Frustrated.
Angry with God.

I read the words
Written by a friend.
Someone I have never met
In person.
And likely never will.

I’ve read her words
Many times before
In the past few months.
And my heart has ached,
And my soul shed tears,
For I know,
And I understand,
Oh so very well,
The pain within her words.

So, tonight.
I’m taking the time
To respond to her.
To the last words
She wrote.

“3:28 am
I’m awake”

In my darkest days,
I was awake at 3:00 am
More times than I can remember.
I lost count of the times
I took a 5 or 6 mile walk
In the dark.
Before the dawn.
Even in the ice
And snow.

It’s all I had.
All I knew to do.
To cope
With the aching of my heart.

“Sleeping tablets suck”

Then don’t take them.
Some things can’t be treated
With another pill.
Another medication.
I’ve learned that.
Some things
Just take time to heal.
I also learned that as I healed,
Sleep returned.
All on it’s own.

It was in those days
That I finally learned
Naps are OK
When you need them.
Maybe naps can help you to?

“I really should keep my mouth shut”

Oh, my.
I’ve lost count of the years
I’ve thought that very thing.
Used those very words.
I still use them.
Even now.
I have a name
For that part of my soul.
That darkness.
That silences me.
I call it “Silenced”.
And I fight it daily.
For I know the truth.
Each time the silence wins.
Part of me dies.
And my heart aches.
And my soul cries.

“Saying things out loud won’t change anything”

Then write.
Dream.
Tell stories.
Imagine.
But never let the silence win.
And if talking doesn’t change a thing.
The perhaps action will.
Maybe there’s something
You can do.
Like become the tail
That wags the dog.
Or taking walks
Like I did.
And a camera
In a flower garden
Is a way I’ve always found
My smile
Again.

“I want to hate something but it appears this whole being an emotional wreck and constantly crying is about all I can manage”

Hate is just a feeling,
Don’t you know.
And it’s OK to feel.
I’ve learned.
Evolving.
Growing.
Changing.
Can be painful.
But it’s no body’s fault.
Not yours.
Not theirs.

Have patience.
I know it’s hard.
God, how I know.
But that’s the only way
To see what grows
From the hurt
And pain
I know you’re in.

I cannot forget the words
My doctor spoke with me
Many months ago.
“Mark,
You’re like a butterfly
That’s just broke out
Of it’s cocoon.
And everything
Is new.”

Perhaps that’s becoming true
For you?

“I need a hug”

If I were there.
I’d give you all the hugs
You wanted.
For I know
Sometimes a person.
With a heart.
With a soul.
Just needs to know.
They are not alone.

“And I’m crying again”

If I were there,
I’d hand to you
My very own box
Of tissues.
You know that.
But I’m not.
I’m far away.
So I can only say
What I’d do.

“This is the important one: I’m going away. I’m not sure where, or for how long. But I won’t be posting here, Facebook, Google etc – I’ll still be working on the book, and I’ll probably let you know when it’s ready for purchase. But apart from that I shan’t be around.”

I understand.
I really do.
You take all the time you need.
To find you.
To learn the priceless gift
That your life is.
That you can feel
So many things.
To see that magic
In your eyes.
When you look into the mirror.
To hear the music
In your own laughter.
To see the beauty
Of your priceless smile.
A smile no one else
Can ever make.
Because it’s yours.

And know this too.

If you should some day wish
To share words once again.

Your friends,
And I
Will be here.
And we will always welcome you.

More Beautiful Than Any Rose

Tonight.
My heart aches.
For a family I have never met.
A devoted husband
Who’s lady love
Is gone.
The children.
And the grandchildren.
That will never see her smile.
Never know her hug.
Never hear her laughter.
Any more.

Except within their hearts.
Their souls.
Their memories.

Tonight.
My heart aches.
For I have one less friend
Than I had yesterday.
One less voice for me to speak with.
One less soul here on Earth
That understood me.
And accepted me.
The way I am.

She was one of my best friends
Of all time.
We met in high school.
A lifetime ago.
I remember her smile.
The magic light I always saw
In her eyes.

God,
She was so very much
Alive.

After high school
We went down separate paths.
And lost each other.
For a while.

Until January.
Of 2011.
When my doctor told me
“Explore. Mark. Explore.”
And I tried out Twitter.
Then Classmates.com.
And Facebook.

And one day.
There she was.

I tried to call her
Once a week.
I failed.
But when I did call her.
We would talk.
As long as she wished to.

I loved to hear her voice.
To listen to her laugh.
I remembered her smile
From so very long ago.

I learned she was hurting.
Disable.
She hadn’t worked
In a long time.
It was hard for her to walk
At all.

I did what I knew to do.
I did what I am.
I wrote some dreams for her.

I know.
That’s part of how I got hurt
Two years ago.

But I’m not afraid to care.
I’ve learned so much since then.
I’ve learned
Pain is part of life.
Without it,
I’m not whole.
No one is.

I’ve learned how much fear
Plays a role
In everything that I see happening
Around me.

I’ve learned the meaning
Of the words,
“Damaged people are dangerous.
They know what they can survive.”

And I made the deliberate choice.
To be her friend.
To call her.
And talk with her.
And send her dreams
I’d captured,
And placed on the written page.
Just for her.

She was my friend.
And I was not afraid at all
That one day she’d be gone.
And I’d have to deal
With all the pain
Of missing her again.

I was not afraid.
Because I knew.
I knew the value
Of the gift she was
To me.
A gift given freely.
From life itself.

I knew that long after the pain
Of the words,
“She’s gone.”
My memories of her
Would live on.
In my heart.
And soul.

Those memories
Are priceless gifts to me.
And if I hadn’t made the choice
To face down the pain
Of the words I heard this morning.

I wouldn’t have
Those priceless memories
Of her.

And memories
Are all I have.
They define
Who I am.
What I believe.
What I feel.
The world
I understand.

I would rather have the memories
I have of her today.
Than have tried my best
To avoid all the pain
Of the words,
“She’s gone.”

As I close my eyes tonight.
I know I’ll dream sweet dreams.
Filled with memories
Of laughter.
And of smiles.
And of stories shared.

With someone
Who will always
Be my friend.

Thank you life.
Thank you God.
For her.

Depression’s Just A Feeling

I’ve noticed something today.
An old friend in my life.
A feeling that I’ve had.
Many times before.
A feeling
With a name.

Depression.

And I find myself surprised
To find it today.
To know it’s there.
At this time of year.
Well into the spring.

I’ve always thought
It was a winter thing.
That as the days grew shorter,
And darker.
My depression
Gained strength.

But I’ve come to realize
That my depression also grows
In Spring.
Something I’ve never known
Before.

It was this time of year
In 2010,
When my depression
Exploded.
It became more
Than I could control.
More than I could handle.

And I came apart.

It was this time of year
In 2011,
When my depression
Surfaced
Once again.

It was visible.
In the things I did.
In the things I wrote.
In the way I behaved.

Everyone could see it.
It was plain as day.
To everyone.
But me.

And today.
When I was on my way
To work.
I saw it myself.
Felt it.
And the darkness
That it brings.
Right there.
In my car.

But this time,
I’m different.
I’ve changed.
For I no longer am afraid
Of the depression
That I feel.

It’s a part of me.
A feeling that I have.
Like laughter.
And like fear.
Like smiles.
And like tears.

Like holding one whose heart aches.
And whose soul cries tears of pain.
And like those days
When all you know
Is rage.

Like everything I feel.

I’ve learned.
I understand.
And I accept.
Everything I feel.

And that’s what my depression is.
A feeling.
Nothing more.

My feelings are a part
Of who I am.
And I no longer
Deny that they exist.

I am good and evil.
Darkness and light.
Both.

Just like each day
Here on Earth.
Where the sun rises,
And it sets.
Every day.

What if the sun
Should never set?
Would life be the same?

So I’m not afraid
Of my depression
Anymore.
It’s just something
That I feel.
And nothing more.

And like everything I feel,
I know
That in a little while.
With a little bit of time.
What I feel
Will change.

And my depression
That I’m feeling now,
Will fade with time.

That’s what feelings do,
I’ve learned.
They change.

And in the meantime
I’ll acknowledge
What I feel.
And I’ll accept it.
And keep enjoying life.

For every feeling
That I have
Is another part
Of the life
I’ve been blessed with.

And I find I wish
That everyone I know
Understood that
Like I do.