I got some unsettling news while I was away for Thanksgiving. It became a big brick in my gut. It postponed my words.
This morning I was painting and writing and reading and perusing old books to use to create art upon and I came to this line of poetry by William Cowper, "Oh, that those lips had language." Oh, that my words may move people like those words move me.
The brick in my gut kept rumbling within me, begging for attention. I ruminated for a bit longer it occurred to me I don't think it is the brick which is responsible for the postponing, actually, I think it is the reality of this event. The fact I have lost another friend to cancer.
The world and I lost Tom, then Kevan, then Bernie. Now add Kathie to the mix. I have lost Tom, then Kathie, then Kevan and finally, Berni.
Kathie and I had lost touch as so often happens in adulthood. Lives intersect and separate and reconnect and fizzle and reignite on a regular basis.
The love stays even while the regular contact goes.
It was almost nineteen years ago I named my daughter, Katherine, after her. My Kathie is Kath"ie" because my friend was "Kathie" and I found the spelling to be adorably perfect and just slightly unique enough to set my Katherine apart from the Katies and Kathys and Kathis that I knew. My friend, Kathie, had embraced motherhood with a zealousness rarely seen. She took that passion, went to Yale and became a Certified Nurse Midwife. In those days when my daughter was born, she was a friend who came with me to appointments because I lived in constant
fear of second stillbirth.
When I went on bedrest, she talked me through it. I remember watching her face as she listened to my Kathie's heart tones via the doppler on my belly.
I found this quote from Sheryl Feldman yesterday. I knew both Kathies would love it:
"There is power that comes to women when they give birth. They don't ask for it, it simply invades them."
My Katherine is now in her first year at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Like the woman she is named after, she is studying Biology.
I have been trying to find old photos without any luck. There is one specific photo I remember, taken when we were at a sales meeting when we both worked for a publishing company. It is somewhere, probably propped up in an album in my garage.
In the Pre-Digital Camera days I was much less fastidious in my photo taking.
She died on April 30, 2004. I revisited my ezine from that day to see what was happening for me the day she died.
I realize I was brand new in my theater adventure. I was rehearsing for "Songs for a New World" and my coaching career was in a great place. I was very happy. I wrote a string of haiku. It was a Friday.
The day Katherine died, my day looked like this:
= = = =
Before you follow any "I don't get poetry" thoughts,
stay here and look at these words as simply a snapshot
or glimpse into a moment of one woman's life.
Remember to have a GLORIOUS weekend, one as
remarkable as I know you to be.
Stepping over boundaries
Hooray! Now I live!
Bright voices faces
Collaborate rhyme whispers
Go Go Cycle Roars
Trash Truck Rumbling Vibration
Samuel yells applause
This, This, This is it!
The Creator wrapped it and
Handed it to me
Emma wails loudly
Snuggle nose to smooth belly
Shared love opens hearts
Simple white package
Crinkled, cracker, ripple blot
Its perfect, Mom!
Bird salutes us
Parched dust beside rich green grass
Leave behind excess
So much more across the hill
Smiles flood the faces
The last lines are exceptionally poignant.
"So much more across the hill
Smiles flood the faces."
My mind floats back to William Cowper's words, "Oh, that those lips had language," from a poem bearing the title, "On the Receipt of My Mother's Picture."
I will not hear my friend Kathie's language again, not in my ears anyway. I don't
have any old letters and photos, maybe they will resurface.
I pray when I come to die my lips will have spoken all the words that needed to be spoken.
I pray when I come to die my fingers will have written all the words that need to be written through me and by me. May I continue offering guidance and inspiration. Laughter, poignance, grace, hope.
It is now, six years later, I can feel my friends words coming through me along with a charge, directly from her spunky greenish-hazel eyes, her wide so often smiling-even-through-tears, always earnest, mouth:
Stepping over boundaries
Hooray! Now I live!"
My job: to live well. To write well. To continue to speak until it is all said, until all of mine is written.
To step across boundaries with gratitude and boldness, with shouting and cheers.
"Hooray! Now we live!"
Live. Well. Now.
= = = = =
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