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14 February 2013

Missed Opportunity (Happy Valentines)

It was six years ago on Valentines Day. 

She was my pretty and soulful "spiritual friend" and co-worker.  She stopped by my office at quitting time, and suggested we take our two shredded hearts out for a drink.

Walking along the busy sidewalk, we stopped before a shop window and looked at a t-shirt design mocking Valentines Day.  Wordlessly, she took my hand, and we walked along knowing the other understood. 

I look back on this day with such regret of missed opportunities; and I, with a bitter-sweet hope, like to think she does, too.

What could have been... What I should have done... How things might be different if only...

Yes. I know, now.

I should have bought that shirt.

09 February 2013


I woke this morning to loud noises outside my bedroom window. I then watched two men with a tow-truck repossessing a neighbor's car. I worried that there would be a confrontation. There was not. I imagined my neighbor sitting up in his or her own bed watching, quietly resolved that there was nothing left to do.

Earlier this week, I came home from work and stopped in the parking lot thinking I heard a cry. After a few moments, hearing nothing, I continue toward the steps of my apartment and heard it again, louder, and could identify the neighbor's unit. "Oh God, NO! Oh, please! You can't do this! Why are you doing this?!" Heart wrenching words.

Had he caught the love of his life with another? Had his computer just crashed as he was leveling-up on a video game? I don't know my neighbors, yet, so I could not judge-- but hoped for the latter as I went up to my place.

Monday, I have to dig up my own loss. The loss of my two children which coincided with the loss of my work, my home, everything I had ever owned, my hopes, my dreams, and my marriage. It might have been a house-fire which only I survived, so complete was the destruction and I sometimes describe it that way as a metaphor.

About fifteen years ago, on a rainy Fourth of July, I helped fight a house fire with garden hoses because the only firetruck was stuck in a parade ten miles away. When the mother emerged from the house, I asked, "Where are the children?" She said she thought they were in the back bedroom. Two of us tried to get to the back bedroom from inside, but were driven back by flames, and the lack of air did not allow for second tries.

I went around back, outside, and after several attempts to break out the window to that room which was just above my head, I watched in horror as the curtains roiled against the glass in black smoke and red flame. The children, I soon learned, were safe at the house next door. The horror, however, was real... and foreshadowing.

I only FEEL the loss of my children now. Periodically, I go to court to protest, but now I go as a stranger to my children with nothing to regain -- except my own voice. My children do not remember me. I go only for me.

I have these boxes -- haunted boxes. In some are records of all the efforts I made trying to locate my children, regain, and maintain contact with them only to find them disappearing again. I have to go through these this weekend and the memories threaten when I open them.

In other boxes, there are toys and keepsakes my children asked me to keep safe for them when we were still in each other's lives. I am afraid of those boxes-- they hurt. I cannot tell the difference between which boxes only threaten and which boxes stab upon opening, until I remove the lid and look inside.

When I was a child, the scariest and worst words from the Bible were these:
And he said unto them, "Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or wife, or brethren, or parents, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this time, and in the world to come eternal life."

I cannot imagine an UGLIER expression for the need of hope than those words-- except, perhaps, describing a house fire in which everyone and everything is lost.

As a child, I feared that those words could foreshadow my own life, and I cannot understand why I feared those words-- even now.  Yet, I was right to fear them.