vendredi, décembre 26, 2008


Maybe if I write this post quickly, in a matter of fact tone, it won't hurt so badly.

Maybe if I find Amy's Grant's "Breath of Heaven," with its tinkling piano accompanient, it won't be so hard.

I'm only posting because it is, in this case, a species of exorcism, of purification, of mourning. For there are moments when the past and present fuse, if for a moment, in a way that lets the pain flow into rooms that seemed swept empty for years.

Almost 20 years ago, I came home from Philadelphia to my parents house in New York City. The tree was up, the decorations swinging from the branches of an evergreen big enough to stand up against the piano and the ten foot ceilings.

As I came in, my mother came down the stairs and told me my brother Jonathan had not come home.

In the nightmare week that followed, the police found his body in a forest in California, where he had attended school, had fallen in love, had gotten the news the woman he loved had died, with one of her children in a car crash.

After dad died last year, I brought home a box full of ornaments. I forgot where I had put it -- until Christmas.

A newspaper covered the globes and metal decorations and wooden balls, the Orrefors crystal and all the baubles my mother had lovingly collected over the years....the date on the newspaper was December 25, 1989.

The decorations went into a closet --no joy, no laughter, only grief, and after that acceptance.

My brave mom died a little more than two years after that terrible December.

I believe, though I cannot know, that my parents and my brother have long ago found one another in a place where none of this matters. And tonight their sister, their daughter lets the tears fall, witnessing not only to the devastation of tragedy but the power of love, stronger than evil, stronger even than memory.

I will never stop loving you.

" Still I notice You when branches crack, and in my breath in frosted glass...Even now in death you open doors for life to enter..You are winter"...Nichole Nordeman

mercredi, décembre 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

It's quiet now...quiet enough to listen to Mr. C's chair in the living room, the heat venting through the ceiling ducts, the cat strolling up and down the hall.

Are Christmas Eve's supposed to feel so incongrous, pieced together from shards of errands and cooking and decorating and as little cleaning as one can do and not feel like a house slut instead of a domestic goddess?

It's nice to catch my breath, and think about the service ahead. The four of us will cram into a church jammed with families, and lit by red candles that dot the aisle. We will sing "Silent Night", Pastor Chad will preach, and there will be a wonderful predictability to the service. In a fall that has seen so much distress and volatility, predictability is to be savored.

But so are some changes. The DQ is doing a solo tonight. Mr. C is playing his trumpet. Although they come from separate homes, their mother, and their father will sit together in church, united in trepidation and in gratitude. He may roll his eyes if Mr. C flats on a carol. She may bite her nails or refuse to look if the DQ gets scared up there.

But that's when all the different pieces of the day will probably come together -- in a silent hymn of thanks and wonder.

And may your holiday's be joyful, dear readers!

dimanche, décembre 21, 2008

The Undead Zone

Unknowningly, I had stumbled into the zombie defense training camp. Or perhaps it was a camp for training zombies. I'm not entirely sure.

Blankets had been ripped off beds. Stuffed animals had moved in to chairs in the living room. One of our neighbor's sons walked by with Mr C's Halloween mask on (the Scream), making what I assume were supposed to be frightening zombie noises.

Three boys, a twelve year old and two eleven year olds, took over my house for a few hours and made a mess which had nothing to do with computer games or television or anything but their imaginations.

When they ran out the door on their way to another neighbor's home (she aparently kept them outside), I said to Mr C: "I thought you were going to put everything back!"

Later, Mom, he said, putting his coat on as he walked into the chilly afternoon air.

I looked at the chaos they had left behind and thought, darn, I am one lucky woman.

The chill inside

Cruising for religion news in the English papers, I came across a frightening article by a writer who uses the pseudonym Jemma Rayner.

She's an English journalist who had a dating profile online. Read about what happened to her when she ran into a "creative" type who wouldn't leave her alone when she decided it was over.

Rayner's tale of barrages of emails, stalking and fear seemed a bit out of the ordinary to me until I remembered one experience I had with a man who lived about 20 miles from here who found me online.

He had a high-powered job that he had left to pursue a passion for music. When not traveling with his band, he hung out with his kids, and talked theology with a local priest.

Creative? Spiritual? A decent parent? What wasn't to like?

The tone of his emails became intimate, caressing. He called me from the road where he was playing with his rock group.

He joked about getting married, told me how much we had in common, how much he thought we were made for each other.

At this point, I was getting very queasy. His level of interest seemed wildly out of step with how well we knew one another. My antenna were vibrating madly, but I couldn't put my finger on what was going on.

So I told him that I didn't think we should pursue a meeting. It was then that he told me he was a sex addict -- chasing me only for the thrill of conquest.

I wonder what he expected I would do at that point? Empathize? Absolve him? My cautious response annoyed him. The tone of his emails became hurt and accusing.

Fortunately, he DID respect my desire to cease contact. I wish him well. I hope he's happier. But I know that feeling of fear now, and it compels me to cut guys with a genius for sweettalk off at the pass.

Or should I say...before the pass.