The missing years

My dad passed away peacefully on a beautiful Sunday morning 20 years ago today. These deathiversaries – as I am wont to call them – have become sacred days on my calendar and I try to celebrate my father in a special way. He loved being outdoors, so you’ll most often find me on a long walk or a stroll in some gardens. And I find myself almost always happy. That was one of my father’s most indelible traits – he was an eternal optimist. Damn him. It’s a tough act to follow for sure.

Twenty years is a big one to wrap my head around – so I did some math. That’s funny because I’m not good at math but I did figure out that I have now lived 31% of my life without my father. That’s almost a third of my life – you can check my work on that. I’m not sure why I did that because it certainly didn’t comfort me. I guess this is just my convoluted way of telling you that I have lived a long time without my father.

Same.

Lately, I’ve been imagining a conversation with him – probably over a Coors Light – his beer of choice. I would give him a recap of some of the highlights of the past two decades. (There are a lot of ways to measure 20 years.) Without a doubt, the very first thing that I would tell him is that his beloved University of Virginia Cavaliers won the NCAA National Championship in basketball in 2019. Nothing on this earth would have made him happier. Nothing. My father loved sports – as a participant and a fan. More importantly – to me at least – he was a good sport, too. He was a humble winner – although his teams didn’t do a lot of that – and he was the rarest of men – a gracious loser. No one was louder than him watching a game – well, maybe me and my sister. We inherited his sonic capacity for yelling. I don’t use that voice very often anymore – it terrifies my cat and makes my dear wife question her choices in life. Dad was always in it to win it, but was amiable in defeat and would optimistically lament, “We’ll get ‘em next time.”

Here’s an ironic sidebar. That magical night UVA captured the national championship, I watched the game alone in my condo silently while said dear wife was sleeping. You see, she cares less about sports than anyone I’ve ever known. It is one of her few flaws and I have learned to live with it. Let me remind you that that game went into overtime. Silent overtime. Granted, I was ferociously texting with my sister in California and my dear friend Chris in Charlottesville – but I didn’t make a peep. That said, I’m fairly certain that I damaged some internal organs by keeping all of that emotion inside. When the game was over and UVA had finally won THE BIG ONE, I wept with unbridled, albeit hushed joy. And I swear I could smell my father’s cologne. He was right there beside me. He still is in so many ways.

Rarer than a Bigfoot sighting – my dear wife enthusiastically cheering at a football game. (Probably because it was over.)

I would also tell my dad about the lore of the Bubba lucky charm. He had season tickets to UVA football games – no doubt where he honed his good loser skills. After he died, I kept the tickets for a few seasons. They were great seats, and it was nice to get together with Chris in Charlottesville on sun dappled fall afternoons. I don’t recall exactly how it began, but we invented a good luck ritual to use during games – the Lucky Bubba. My niece and nephew called my father Papa Bubba, and it became an endearing nickname that we all used. Chris and I decided that during each game we would be allowed three “Bubbas” to use when we needed something good to happen for UVA. We took this lark quite seriously and used our three lucky charms strategically. Sure, more often than not, UVA would still lose the game, but the Bubbas worked enough times to keep us engaged. And when a Bubba brought us to victory – well, that was the best. We still rely on Dad’s lucky charm – mostly by text. Laugh if you will, but we’ll always have that 2019 national championship.

Me (quietly) celebrating UVA’s Natty with my dad. And yes, those are of tears of joy.

I would most certainly tell my dad that I got married – real married. A lot can happen in 20 years. He would be pleased that I married a woman who shares his very best qualities. My wife is also an optimist and like my father, wakes up cheerful every morning. And like him, she is tall. My father regarded height as a virtue. He was 6’4’’ so I guess he did have a particular perspective on the subject. My wife also shares my father’s reverence for nature – particularly flowers. He had a green thumb and grew the most beautiful roses. He loved caring for them, and I can still picture his long frame bent over pruning his beauties on a hot day.

My dad was an everything’s coming up roses kind of guy, so it makes sense he had such a way with them.

I don’t know if I would tell Dad about the pandemic, but I have often thought that he would have done well with it. My dad was a resolute handwasher. He grew up dirt poor on a farm with no indoor plumbing, but I guess my grandmother instilled the importance of proper handwashing in him. He had big hands to match that tall frame and when he would come in from working in the yard, his first stop was always the kitchen sink to wash his hands. His hands were graceful, and he was never in a hurry as he scrubbed them. He was almost prayerful about it – as if he were giving thanks for the beauty of the earth and the soil between his fingers. I can just think of him washing his hands and feel peaceful.

The lucky truth is that I have a conversation with my father almost every day. These chats can run the gamut from fuchsias to flounder to Tony Soprano. My dad is in so many of the things that I love, too, and I’m sure that’s no coincidence. I don’t have to search for a connection to him – it runs deep inside me. No, I’m not the eternal optimist he was, but I am more often hopeful than not, and I think he had something to do with that. And Lord knows, I’m a good loser and I have found this to be an invaluable gift in this life.

My father had a mantra long before mantras were fashionable. He would tell us, “Only cry in victory, never in defeat.” As I kid, I thought he was talking about sports. Turns out it can be applied to all sorts of situations and his words have been a compass for me these past 20 years. And that is why should any of my tears fall today, they will gently land on the corners of a smile.

Thanks, Bubba.

I keep this photo on the bookshelf in my office. It is the essence of my father – outdoors, shirt off, cold beer in his hand and a smile on this face. Cheers, Dad! And keep those Bubbas coming – we need them in all sorts of ways.

Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome

The familiar symptoms – the internal undertow, a heaviness in my step, a general malaise. I can feel it like a cold coming on. It’s coming on Christmas. Again.

Math was never my forte, but I’m oddly gifted at factoring holidays based on how long my parents have been gone. This will be my 20th Christmas without my parents. Twenty fucking years. I counted it out on my fingers like a six-year-old to make sure I had it right. Twice.

I know a lot of folks my age don’t have their parents anymore and mine would be old now – Dad, 98, and Mom would be 89. She died at 70. When I was 45, I had no idea how young that was. Lord, I was stupid. Now I am keenly aware of my own mortality, and I think of treasured friends over 70 and cannot imagine a world without them. That’s the thing about grief. It is unimaginable and interminable. And, yes, a lot of people lost their parents at much younger ages and I ache at their social media posts on special occasions every year. It sucks.

I take a fair amount of solace in the knowledge that I was rarely careless about spending time with my parents. When I look back on it now, it is as if I knew they would be gone sooner than later. I never missed a Christmas with them, and I was fortunate that the furthest away I ever lived from them was a four-hour drive. I share this not to make myself look like a good daughter because I was a good daughter. I honestly enjoyed spending time, especially holidays, with my parents. And I still hold many of their traditions sacred – like making a very boozy eggnog on Christmas Eve. That’s what my mom and I did together. So, maybe it wasn’t the Waltons, but even the Baldwin Sisters had their recipe.

Behold the nog! Keep away from open flames.

My symptoms presented sooner this year. 2020 was such an aberration because of COVID-19 and a lot of people were in a holiday funk. Well, at least the ones who listened to Dr. Fauci and didn’t travel or gather with family and friends outside their bubble. It was a global case of misery not loving no company and I didn’t feel as solitary in my sadness. It seemed as if the entire world was hunkered down watching every Christmas movie ever made. Disclaimer: I do not watch the Hallmark Christmas movies. I love a white Christmas as much as anyone, but there is white and there is bleached. I’m not claiming a higher moral ground here. At least a couple of times during the holiday season I indulge in what I call Dead Mother Theatre and watch some dark holiday classics where the mother dies around Christmas. Stepmom and The Family Stone are a must and last year I threw One True Thing into the rotation. It might sound sadistic, but watching these films allows me a good cry – sweeter and more sentimental than sad. It’s cathartic for me. My dear wife just shakes her head and contemplates hiding the ROKU remote.

Stepmom. I’m not crying. Oh hell, who am I kidding.

That’s the wife who got her first COVID vaccination on Christmas Eve last year. It was a fantastic present, but she was feeling a little puny on Christmas Day, so, we cuddled up and watched Christmas in Connecticut, the 1945 black and white classic starring Barbara Stanwyck. As pandemic holidays go, it was a fine one. And for the record, no mom dies in that movie.

This Christmas we had planned to visit my sister in California. That was until we discovered that air fare would cost more than a trip to Europe or a small car. We will now visit her in January and have fun with all the money we didn’t spend on holiday travel. My brother lives in South Carolina, but we are no longer close and COVID revealed that gated communities can exist in our own families. I love my brother and it is an abiding sadness to me that what we share now is mostly memories. I’m grateful that a lot of them are good ones.

Christmas past. My brother looks like he got into the eggnog. And the cocker, too!

I was reminded of one of those memories when I was at the beach last month. The power of place can be like steroids for memory – the sights and sounds generating a slideshow of old photographs in the Viewmaster of your mind. One day my wife and I set up our umbrella near a big family group. There were at least ten adults and a couple of toddlers all huddled under several umbrellas creating a festive circle. I could hear them talking and laughing and playing with the littles. It was a breezy day, and I noticed a small ball rolling out from under their camp. One of the adults chased it down and returned it to a tiny happy face. Suddenly it was 1986 and I was on a family vacation in Sandbridge, Virginia. My niece’s beach ball, the classic old school blow up kind, was billowing across the sand at a mad pace. My brother bolted from his chair and chased it for what seemed like a couple of miles. The rest of our clan stayed glued to our seats and laughed ourselves silly as he would see the ball in his grasp and a gust of wind would send it scurrying away. My brother is 6’3” and the image of a tall man chasing a child’s ball was funny. He finally caught up with it and returned it to my toddling niece who seemed confused by the giggly grownups. My brother made a sarcastic comment or two thanking us for our support, but it was all in good fun. And I’m certain he would have chased that ball down into the next county. It is a sweet memory that shines as brightly as the sun did that afternoon so long ago.

You might be wishing you had some of my eggnog if you’re still slogging through this cheery post. The truth is that I have a bipolar relationship with Christmas. I almost always have a manic phase of decorating and making cookies and declaring that we must have more lights! I have several glass Christmas trees that belonged to my mother and when I carefully unwrap them each year, it is one of the most joyously peaceful moments of the season for me. My wife genuinely loves them, too, so that makes their presence even more special. After our first Christmas living together, we decided to leave them up through January – the month of a hundred days. It was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made, and I know my mother would be most pleased – and no doubt a bit amused.

My favorite tree lot.

Those manic days are merry, and I savor them because I know there will be other days that are not so bright. The days when it feels like the entire world is smushed into an overdecorated snow globe singing Christmas carols between sips of their gingerbread lattes and I’m on the other side with my face pressed against the glass. Those days are the worst. I feel so exposed and vulnerable like my heart is only covered by tissue paper – every emotion seeping out.

Addy phone home. Me every December.

On those tender days, I try to retreat into the shelter of my own head. I spend quiet time with my memories, and they comfort me. I’m lucky that my memory is like the iCloud with unlimited storage. Bonus – I never have to change my password. My carousel of holiday memories is easily accessible and the images are sharp with those nice bright colors Paul Simon sang about way back when I was in high school. For all you kids born post 8-tracks, have a listen here.

Glee under the tree. The merry three.

Before my parents died, I was that obnoxious ninny who couldn’t understand why everyone didn’t love Christmas as much as me. Pro tip this Christmas – don’t be that ninny. For some of us, finding a balance between joy and sadness during the holidays is like trying to catch up with that bright ball careening down the beach. We might get there, but it will take a few stumbling grabs.

What Ted said.

Gate change

“Doubt requires more courage than conviction does, and more energy, because conviction is a resting place and doubt is infinite – it is a passionate exercise.”

~ John Patrick Shanley

Maybe that is why we are all so tired these days. Blame it on doubt. I usually blame it on the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. – and you can certainly connect the dots on that one, but I’m doubling down on doubt today. We are living in a constant state of uncertainty and it is absolutely exhausting.

Some days I feel like I’m on a moving walkway at an airport. You remember airports, don’t you? Anyway, I have my suitcase and I am making my way to my gate – only I don’t know where my gate is. In fact, I have no idea where I am going. I don’t even have a ticket, but it doesn’t really matter because the walkway never ends. It just keeps moving forward into the unknown.

This is life in a global pandemic. A one-way ticket to uncertainty. Who the hell knows what to pack? Besides lots of snacks, of course. No kidding, this is hard and the reality of it sent me into the dark hole of despair this week.

I have written before about my superpowers of denial, but they dissolved this week. I’m sure it was the cumulative effect of everything most of us are dealing with – fears about our health and our loved ones, fears about security, fears about what the future will look like when the gates open again.

Putting the COVID-19 smorgasbord of anxiety aside, there were two things that happened this week that made me feel the brutal reality of this pandemic in my gut. The first, innocently enough, was a virtual vestry meeting after a Zoom worship service on Sunday. In the Episcopal church, my church, the vestry is like a board of directors – conducting parochial business. We normally meet once a month, but since the quarantine in early March, we have been connecting weekly.

We divided up the church directory and each vestry member has been responsible for checking in on parishioners. Each week we spend the top of our meeting with updates and last Sunday, our rector told us that she had heard from some older members of our parish that they won’t be returning to the physical church until there is a vaccine. Lysol and grow lights aside, the most optimistic projections for a vaccine are a year or more away. Believe me, I want these dear wise owls at my church to stay home and safe, but I just can’t imagine not seeing them in person for that long. Damn you, reality.

The other event that leveled me was more of a Six Degrees of COVID-19. My sister, who manages some oncology clinics in East Bay, CA, had to inform her staff of a 20% pay cut. The freeze on elective surgeries during this pandemic has left medical providers reeling from a revenue perspective. She also had to lay off some temporary staff, including a cheerful young man who has been living in his car. Cue gut punch.

My sister had told me about this man weeks ago – how earnest and kind he was and how much he appreciated his job. He worked at the front desk and greeted everyone enthusiastically. He had shared his housing situation with my sister and she and her assistant were able to discreetly help him with some new clothing and toiletries. She dreaded giving him the news earlier this week and when I talked to her that evening, I asked her how it went. She said the young man said, “Thank you for this opportunity. I’ve learned so much.” True story.

I got off the phone with my sister and sat down in the chair in my office in the dark and I wept for a young man I will never meet. To be honest, I also wept for my denial. It was shattered, crumbling like a piece of fine crystal being tapped with a hammer. It was my pandemic tipping point.

There is no denying the uncertainty in which we are all living. 50,000 dead and counting as I write this. A friend shared the tweet below with me and it made me feel better – to know that someone else was feeling this way.

I imagine a lot of people are feeling this way and you know what? It is okay to feel that way – any way you are feeling about all of this. Anxiety, fear, grief, anger – we need to feel it. One of the truest things I ever read was Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking – her stunningly raw account of her husband’s sudden death and how she navigated that first horrible year without him. She writes that “grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.” That, my friends, is as real as it gets.

I have been grieving the things I miss in this beautifully broken world and I am grieving the loss of certainty. The late Jane Kenyon is one of my favorite poets and I have found myself returning to her words again over the past several weeks. Her poem Otherwise is an achingly lyrical appreciation for the here and now and a haunting lamentation on uncertainty. I’ve been reading it a lot on the walkway. Hang on to your boarding pass and your humanity, folks. This could be a long one.

Otherwise

I got out of bed

on two strong legs.

It might have been

otherwise. I ate

cereal, sweet

milk, ripe, flawless

peach. It might

have been otherwise.

I took the dog uphill

to the birch wood.

All morning I did

the work I love.

At noon I lay down

with my mate. It might

have been otherwise.

We ate dinner together

at a table with silver

candlesticks. It might

have been otherwise.

I slept in a bed

in a room with paintings

on the walls, and

planned another day

just like this day

But one day, I know

it will be otherwise.

Next year in Jerusalem

COVID-19 Spring.

I’ve been dreaming a lot about my parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve been gone almost 20 years so I’m grateful that these are sweet dreams and not nightmares, but I’ve had plenty of those, too. We all have.

Last night I dreamt that I was walking in a big city with my father. My dad was a giant of a man – 6’4’’ – and you could always find him in a crowd. He had the long legs of a basketball player and it was hard to keep up with him – which always greatly annoyed my 5’4’’ mother. She spent a lot of their 52 years together looking at his backside – and bitching about how fast he walked.

When I look up “safe” in my dictionary, this picture pops up. My dad.

In my dream, we were suddenly separated, and I was surrounded by hundreds of strangers, all walking rapidly as if to catch a train. My heart was pounding, and I wanted to cry when I looked up far in the distance and saw my handsome father’s head towering above everyone else. I called out as loud as I could, “Dad,” over and over again until, finally, he turned and saw me.  He smiled and waited as I ran towards him and into that magical feeling of being safe.

Do you remember that feeling? That moment when your breath stills to a whisper and you feel your feet firmly grounded. That moment when you can almost hear your heart humming. God, I miss those moments.

Most of us have been reeling in a maze of confusion and fear and a fair amount of anger the past month or so. My March certainly came in like a lion when a drugged-out guy in a van slammed into my car while I was sitting at a stoplight near RDU. It’s a cliché, but I never saw it coming. I suppose that’s often a blessing – in so many situations. Once the screeching and sound of crushing metal ceased, I heard a calm, sweet voice saying, “Are you okay?” The voice belonged to Dee – a lovely truck driver who was stopped next to me and saw the whole thing happen. She helped me out of my car on the passenger side and stayed with me until the EMTs and state trooper arrived.

It is not well with my Soul.

My car was totaled and I’m lucky I wasn’t seriously maimed – or worse. I did have some mega bruises on my left hip for a few weeks that looked like a map of the world. Oh, and the guy who hit me abandoned his vehicle – and one of his shoes – and ran away. So, I saw the best and worst of humanity that day – my dear highway guardian Dee who stopped her big rig to check on me and that guy that left me for dead. Moral to this story: Be like Dee.

I’m not exactly an optimist, but I did think that my car being totaled would be the worst thing that would happen in my life in the month of March. Again, such a blessing that we don’t see these things coming. Little did I know that the accident was just the opening act for the cancellation of a long-planned trip to the Holy Land and oh yeah, a global pandemic. Perspective can be a powerful thing.

Even though March was 137 days long, it feels so far away today. Gone are the days where we might have thought this was going to be okay in a few weeks. A week before my trip to Israel was cancelled, the United States reported 70 COVID-19 cases and the nation’s first death in Washington state. That was less than six weeks ago. Today, there are almost half a million cases and over 13,000 deaths. That hoax theory is not aging well, and neither am I. These days are long and the nights often longer.

I spend a lot of time grieving. It’s a horrible new version of a celebrity parlor game – Six Degrees of COVID-19. Most of us know someone who has or had COVID-19 and each passing day, more of us will know someone who has died from the virus. And certainly, everyone knows someone who is on the front lines of caregiving in one way or another. For me, that is my dear sister who is the director of Stanford Healthcare’s oncology clinics in the East Bay California area. Weeks before COVID-19 was on the front burner here in North Carolina, my sister was warning me of how bad it was going to get. She has adapted exceptionally well to her strange new normal. She works long days – always gloved and masked – comes home and takes off her shoes on the front porch. She heads straight to her laundry room, undresses and throws her clothes in the washer before heading to the shower. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Just another day at the office. My sister.

She has a vulnerable respiratory system and I worry (understatement) about her, but her spirit is indomitable and when I speak with her on the phone every day, she makes me feel hopeful that we will get to the other side of this.

I spent a good chunk of my career working in public health to support people living with HIV/AIDS and I learned early on that people were more likely to care about a pandemic when it became personal to them. Every one of us will have a very personal COVID-19 story to share before this is over and we need to tell them in the ways that feel right to us. The dead deserve that. The helpers deserve that. The grieving deserve that, too.

Shelter in place is a phrase we keep hearing repeatedly and I find a disconnect in it. I understand the literal definition of the term, but there are days that I wrestle with it. Those are the days I feel angry and frustrated that I can’t seek shelter in the places that make me feel safe. Places like my church. This week is Holy Week – a sacred and somber week in Christianity as we recount the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion and Resurrection.

I am an Episcopalian and like many denominations we have special services on each day this week. About a decade ago, I was going through a dark crisis in my life and suffering deeply. The young intern at my church encouraged me to attend every service of Holy Week. I thought that sounded a little severe, but she suggested that the liturgy of Holy Week might speak to me in a deeper way if I was present at every service. I think she knew I was broken open enough to hear those words in a new way. She could not have been more right. (Disclaimer: Non-believers can bail on this post if this is too much Jesus for you. No hard feelings.) For the first time in my life, I saw my suffering in the suffering of Christ. I felt his wounds as my wounds and perhaps, most importantly, I experienced my resurrection in his. I felt whole again in a way I never had before.

Palm (weeds from our yard) Sunday, 2020. Let us Zoom.

Ever since then, I have attended Holy Week services, well, religiously. So, who knew we would have to give up church for Lent? The rector at my current church is young and cyber savvy and has done a remarkable job of creating online worship opportunities. Zoom is our sanctuary and it has been lovely to see the sweet faces of my community of faith. That said, I’m a cradle Episcopalian and I still feel uneasy wearing flip flops and a T-shirt to church. And I really miss the passing of the peace. At my church, this part of the service goes on for what must feel like an eternity for all the introverts in the parish. But what I miss most is communion – the sharing of the consecrated bread and wine. Without a doubt, this passage from The Book of Common Prayer is why I am an Episcopalian:

“We who are many are one body, because we all share on bread, one cup.”

Even as a child, I think my little bleeding liberal heart loved the idea that a pauper and a prince would drink from the same cup. I worry that COVID-19 might change this sacrament and that makes my heart ache.

The truth is that a lot of things are never going to be quite the same again – and it’s okay to grieve that. Yes, we’re all in this together and the tsunami of gorgeous stories of people helping each other sustains us each day, but before this began, the fear of the other was a real one in our country. A global pandemic won’t help reduce that fear. Neither will government leadership that promotes xenophobia. Yes, the struggle is real and so is the anxiety.

Sidewalk inspiration.

As I stumble through the surreal wilderness of this Holy Week, I am most comforted by thoughts of a beautiful Seder my wife and I attended last year. We were in Washington, DC for the celebration of my most beloved mentor/friend/touchstone Phyllis’ 70th birthday. Her birthday was on Good Friday, which coincided with Passover. Phyllis’ cousin traditionally hosts a huge family Seder – tables and tables pushed together with attendees ranging from about 5 to 95. She graciously invited us as the fortunate chosen Gentiles.

Phyllis Freedman. My favorite Jew.

It had been a long time since I had been to a Seder, and I had never been to one so big or elaborate. As the evening began, we took turns reading the stories of the terrible plagues sent by God and inflicted upon Egypt in order to allow the Israelites to depart from slavery and their journey to freedom in Israel. I loved the symbolism and connection of the meal to the story – dipping hard-cooked eggs in salt water to remember the tears of the ancient Israelites and the sharp herbs representing the bitterness of slavery. It was deeply moving and well, I’m not going to lie – I am a big fan of Cousin Davida’s kugel.

The president keeps making the rather ridiculous observation that “America is just not built for this.” I suppose he means the shutdown that most of us are navigating, but I would guess he also means all the suffering this pandemic entails. I think that’s why I’ve been reminiscing about last year’s Seder and hearing – and perhaps understanding in a new way – the tremendous struggles that Jews have endured. I’m not saying that the Jews were built for this, but they surely can teach us a lot about resilience and dealing with despair.

The traditional Passover Seder ends with the Hebrew, “L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim.” Next year in Jerusalem. This prayer finishes the Seder’s journey from a reminder of the suffering of the past to hopes for the wholeness and peace of the future.

Next year in Jerusalem. Whatever that might look like to you.

Wholeness. Peace. May it be so for each of us.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping to see that tall handsome man in my dreams again soon.

This post is dedicated to the late great John Prine who died from complications of COVID-19 on April 7, 2020. We’ll miss you like crazy, John.

Make me an angel that flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing that I can hold on to
To believe in this living is just a hard way to go

 

Perhaps

Perhaps
By Carla Kucinski

On the last day of the year, a dense fog rolled in,
thick and hazy like a Whistler painting.
This day feels heavy,
the year’s final, long sigh—an exhale of the sorrow, the joy, the pain, the beauty.
Ahhhhh.
Tonight, I will go to sleep and lay to rest this heavy heart,
let go of the weight,
all that it has carried and endured.
Perhaps my head will be buzzing from the Moscow Mules I will sip with dear friend M,
counting down the New Year.
10, 9, 8, 7 …
Perhaps my heart will feel light like December’s first snowflakes—joyful, swirling.
Perhaps I will close my eyes and recognize that the lightness I feel is gratitude,
gratitude for it all—the darkness, the cracks of light—there is always light.
Perhaps everything has a purpose.
Perhaps next year will be easier—a break will come—
some peace will settle from the cloud of dust of 2018.
Perhaps I’m stronger than I think.
Perhaps this new year will feel like a warm blanket.
Perhaps that’s the beauty, the not knowing.
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps …

***

IMG_4892 reduced

Photo by Carla Kucinski