THANKSGIVING QUEST

“Hey, Jeffy! What ya doin’?”

“Gonna get a turkey for Thanksgiving. Now shut up or go away!”

“You can’t get no turkey! You’re wacko!”

Jeffy, lying motionless, rolls his eyes and whispers, “I said shut up or go away, Nuff!”

Nuff, seven years old and full of energy and orneriness, plops down nosily beside twelve year old Jeffy who is trying to prove his true manhood by bringing in Thanksgiving dinner.

“How long ya been here?” Nuff questions.

Through gritted teeth, Jeffy whispers, “Shut up or I’ll kill you for dinner!”

Nuff shrugs, unimpressed but curious enough to be quiet and stay. The two boys didn’t move, even Nuff, trying to spy their prey. Yes, there was motion in front of them, but no turkey. Jeffy was determined and in for the long haul, while Nuff was simply passing time with him because there was nothing better to do. Then, “Hi, guys,” a soft voice says. Jeffy turns slowly to see who is there as Nuff breaks the quiet by saying loudly, “Hi, Tessie! We’re gonna get a turkey for dinner today!” Tessie smiles as Jeffy says, “Not we moron! ME!”

She puts her finger up to her lips, signaling Nuff to be quiet. He nods and turns back to watching as Tessie silently positions herself with the two boys and also starts watching. Jeffy looks over at her, almost smiles, and nods she is welcome. Tessie smiles back and the three of them wait. Pretty soon, another voice is heard. “Whaaaat yyyyou ddddoin’?”

All eyes turn to see four year old Tinker and everyone smiles. Tessie, at seven, “mothers” Tinker, and obviously he had missed her and gone searching. She whispers to him, “Jeffy is going to get us a turkey for today’s Thanksgiving dinner. Isn’t that great? Won’t that make Bonnie happy to have a turkey Jeffy got to cook for all of us?” Tinker nods enthusiastically. Tessie pats the ground beside her and he creeps in to lie quietly with all of them.

Time passes and Nuff sits up, declaring, “This is boring!” in a voice that shatters the silence and concentration of the others. This time, Jeffy turns and reaching up, claps his hand over Nuff’s mouth. “I told you to shut up or go away! Only you are making noise. You’re gonna ruin it! Now what ya gonna do? Stay here and shut your trap or go?” Jeffy demanded in a fierce whisper.

Nuff’s eyes glared at Jeffy over the hand covering his mouth. He started to get up, but Tessie stopped him, pulling him back down. “Just think! You could see Jeffy get a turkey. With your own eyes! Right here! And you could tell everybody all about it! Wouldn’t you be #1 for awhile! Are you willing to miss this?” Nuff thought it over, knowing Tessie was right. He would be the center of attention and he could tell the story over and over and…he quietly got down on his stomach to watch again, throwing Jeffy dirty looks.

Well, time passes and where they had been in sunlight when they started, now it was getting dark. Nuff and Tinker were dozing, Jeffy was looking desperate, and Tessie? She just stayed vigilant and kept watching, showing her belief in Jeffy’s quest and that he would most surely get a turkey. Suddenly a voice boomed behind them. It was Daniel, the patriarch. “What the hell are you guys doing?” he demanded.

Jeffy and Tessie started explaining, both filling in details for the other. Daniel laughed loudly and shook his head. Tinker looked scared and Nuff knew better than to be a pain around Daniel. Daniel walked around their prone bodies and stood in front of them. “Marlin Perkins is not going to deliver a turkey to you through the TV you little numbskulls. The wild animal show is over! You’ve been watching that TV for over 3 hours! What is wrong with you guys? Get up! Put your toy rifle away, Jeff! You guys go help Bonnie with dinner! NOW!”

All got up, Jeffy looking dejected. Nuff commenting about how stupid Jeffy was. Tessie taking Jeffy’s hand to comfort him, Tinker trying to disappear under Daniel’s penetrating gaze. Into the kitchen they traipsed and Bonnie, seeing the sad kiddos coming in, gave each a bear hug and assigned each something to do. She did pull Jeffy and Tessie aside, though, to say quietly, “Maybe next year, okay? And Jeffy? You can always go to the store with me to buy a turkey if we have to. Believe me, it is as hard to fight off the people to get one as it is to shoot one in the wilderness!”

Jeffy and Tessie smiled, Jeffy hugged Bonnie through his tears of shame and disappointment and said, “Next year. Promise.”

Pain and Love

How do we handle the pain of others? We absorb it. We hurt. We get ill. We try not to. We know our hurting for them will not cure them, heal them. But maybe it will take some of their pain and ease them just a little? We hope so. We pray so.

We do not pray for a cure. We know we have no control in that way. We do not pray for them to be released from this life of their deep searing pain, be it physical or mental or emotional. We are aware, KNOW, that their life is to be lived–or not–according to their choices, their purpose now. But we feel it. It becomes a part of us, reaching into our deepest essence. No matter what we do, they are the navigator, the captain, of their life, their end, their destiny. Yes, some things happen out of everyone’s control, but we do not grieve for those happenings. They occur sometimes because of others’ choices, simple happenstances.

Realizing another’s pain, feeling it, is not always our choice. We would like to be sympathetic, without having to be empathetic. But that is not how we are wired when someone we see hurting, someone we love, looks at us, connects spirit to spirit. Something in us suddenly is there, with them, a part of them, knowing on a level we do not understand that this is more–so much more than they can carry alone. And so, we let it come to us, come in us, to say, without words, we are here–we are with you–you are not alone. When that happens, between them and us, no words need to be spoken. Hearts, eyes, say all that is needed. Then, then is when we hope they feel the pain less, and the love we want to impart.

One on one, we can touch gently, without holding, a simple connection. In the greater world, the world “out there,” we can try to do something like make sandwiches for the homeless and distribute them, donate blankets to the abandoned or lost animals in the shelter, write letters to change policies that harm people to the people who have the power to change the policies. We can conquer hateful rhetoric by expressing loving words, acting in kind ways, making someone we will never see again smile. It is small, but maybe they will pass on a moment of kindness, a smile, share hope for goodness. That is called doing what you can and where you can, knowing the world cannot be swayed by you alone, but holding onto the hope that combined kindnesses and caring will have that ripple effect until it becomes the change the world needs to fight hate and greed that hurt so many.

We saw our friend, traveled because our spirit felt the need to connect, let him know we cared. He yelled out he wanted to die. The cancer in his bones, his back, is excruciating. He’s considered old, in his 80s. He is a veteran, a father, a grandfather, a good friend–OUR FRIEND. The pain clouds his mind, his age adds to it, the fall he took yet again affects his mind. But when we said, “I love you,” his eyes became clear, looked into ours. He reached for our hand, we quickly took his. He pulled us close, with more strength than was normal. We told him our mutual friend sent her love also. His hand clutched ours tightly as those eyes suddenly knew us, understood. We sent as much strength as our souls had into that hand holding onto ours, as much love as we had without reservation, and opened our eyes to welcome his gaze, his understanding. In that brief, suspended moment in time, long, long, and yet so very short to others, to the world of time, we were one in spirit. Then he left us. He pushed us away with as much force as he’d pulled us close. His hand waved us away. He talked then, almost yelled, to another force, spirit, in the room. Still connected to him, we could feel with an intenseness so strong as to not be denied, the one spirit he spoke to. He begged her to take him, release him from his pain, from this world. The sudden darkness we FELT, the hovering, listening presence was hearing him. We were not afraid even though we knew she was Death, come to listen to him. We waited, listening to him and knowing it was between them. He cried out in pain, we felt the pain, and a nurse walked in. The time of connection with all was gone. We were asked to leave due to his agitation. We went back into his field of vision, kissed his forehead, as his tears wet our cheek from the pain. Again, we told him we loved him, waited. He waved us away once more. We said goodbye, knowing this was now between him and the spirit.

Our stomach roiled, we had to find a bathroom and quickly. Once there, the pain we had absorbed from him was wretched from us as we vomited and vomited. It hurt to get rid of it, but at least some of it we had taken from him was now hurtling down the toilet bowl. It was a relief for us, and we hope, for him. But what we had seen, experienced, will never be able to be expelled.

This happens to us. It is part of us. We have tried to reason it away, rationalize it, steel ourselves against the pain of others so we do not become ill, so we do not think and traverse planes of space and time to be with them over and over. We continue to feel them after we are no longer in their physical presence. We cannot block this. We have no boundaries we can establish to protect ourselves. Sometimes, the more we connect, the more we allow others to enter our sphere, we want to say, “We do not want to be your damned conduit! Your life is your own. Ours is ours. DON’T COME TO US! DON’T ENTER US!” But we cannot. We cannot block, set boundaries, back away, walk away. Our hearts open, let them in, and we cry and feel pain with them and for them. Yes, it is a detriment to our body physically as we get ill. Yes, we can’t help others if we do not take care of ourselves. Yes, yes, yes! WE KNOW! And without thinking, as an immediate reaction, not response, we empathize immediately. We feel, absorb, ache immediately. Without thinking, without taking time to observe or logically evaluate, we open us, our souls, wide open and share, connect.

Are we wrong? Probably on the spectrum, continuum, overall–we are. And maybe in the next life, we will not be so sensitive, so open. But today–today we will hang onto the look in our friend’s eyes when we connected and he knew us, without words, and felt free to reach to the spirit that could help him. If we helped, in any way, any way at all, it was good.

Wallace Stegner, author, wrote, “…it is a reduction of our humanity to hide from pain–our own or others.” We think he was right, but that is us.

Once upon a time…

Once upon a time,

a long long time ago,

there was a little girl.

Her age isn’t important, you know?

She climbed trees,

she busted walls,

waiting for the day

she would get big and tall.

She bided her time,

planning and plotting, you see,

for the day SHE would set the rules

and have adults bend the knee.

Days, months, and years passed

and she stayed the same age.

The body had grown,

but not her–only her rage.

She tried and she tried to get bigger,

but she just couldn’t grow.

Then one day her mama told her,

“I love you just like you are, don’t you know?”

So the little girl smiled,

she’d rather be loved.

But told her mama that some day,

she’d be a fire-breathing dragon, flying above.

They laughed together,

and inside the little girl smiled.

She had a dragon inside her–

she could wait awhile.

Different

“You’re different, aren’t you?” curiosity in a voice.

If you only knew we answer inwardly.

“Why do you have to be so different from other kids?”

Why do you have to be like everybody else we wonder.

“Can’t you be like your sister? Why are you so different?”

Maybe because we are not her?

Then, “You’re a different type of teacher! Cool!”

And we think you are one cool kid!

“You have different ideas about how you see things.”

You’re smiling so we hope that’s good.

Different doesn’t have to be bad.

Different puts a twist on things.

Different means you are you and unique.

Different means great things are in store!

Different means we open our minds and embrace all–

not hate and fear the differences.

WE are glad we are different

and that those we love are too.

What Do You See? Hear?

Do you see the crow, alone, flying overhead?

In the stillness, do you hear the wings slowly beating the air?

Do you see the sun rising, slowly spreading light?

Do you hear the world slowly stretching and wakening in the sun’s rays?

Do you see the coffee dripping into the pot, hot and rich?

Do you hear it plop, plop, teasing you to snatch it before it is through?

Do you see your dog stretch on the bed as you stretch to wake up?

Do you hear the yawns that come with the stretching?

The world wakens with you, offering a new day.

The crow, the sun, the coffee, the yawns,

all beckoning, asking you to join them.

What you see, what you hear

opens the new day for you.

Will you see?

Will you hear?

Nelson

You tried to run over us with your chair

that first meeting we had.

You said you didn’t like laughing people,

especially those with dogs.

We laughed, you cursed,

and for some reason, we liked you.

Time went on, you fell in love with our dog.

We visited, we talked–

we became fast friends.

We discussed many things and

you had so many wonderful stories.

You consulted us as we did you,

listening to each other, growing with knowledge we shared.

You moved into a home,

but still we talked on the phone.

We heard sadness in your voice as

others, doctors, reminded you you were getting old.

Yes, you are 86 but aware, fighting

to stay with the world and hold your place.

But again, they didn’t listen to you

and your complaints were valid.

Now you are in hospice.

We know your frustration and pain

but still we love you, dear Nelson,

and we respect and revere your 86 years.

You will never be “just an old man”

to we who love you and hear you.

We love you.

Your soul is linked with ours.

Dying

“How are you doing?” we ask.

“I’m here,” she responds, not meeting our eyes.

“Yes. So HOW ARE YOU DOING?” we insist.

“I’m tired. I have headaches every day. I have to have another scan…”

We look into her eyes and see pain and despair as she now looks at us.

She speaks and we listen, with our hearts.

Oh, how we want to ease her pain from the cancer,

from a family that won’t deal with it, discounting her.

We rage with her at doctors that will not answer her questions,

lying and evading and prescribing without caring.

She’s dying–the cancer spreads–the professionals have given up.

Will she leave this world soon?

We remember another friend gone from cancer.

Deep conversations about death and the question,

“What are you most afraid of? The pain? The unknown?”

Her eyes looked into ours then, too.

“I’m afraid of being forgotten,” our friend says softly.

Her words strike our hearts.

We want to shout, “YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN!”

but we know they will ring hollowly right now, right here.

We nod, tears overflowing, words choked silent in our throat.

“We who love you will never forget you. Never. Promise,” we say just as softly.

She reaches for our hand, squeezes it, smiles through her tears.

“Thank you,” she says simply, but with a powerful gratefulness and belief in our truth.

Remembering her, the one we love talking with us today,

we realize they both wanted simply to be acknowledged–

and remembered, not forgotten.

We commune with the one already gone,

as we will commune with the one slowly moving towards her demise.

Our hearts cry but in joy we know, KNOW,

they will neither ever be forgotten.

The one already gone left a legacy of love in our hearts,

the other likewise and still can and does.

How can anyone forget what is anchored in the heart?

Never forgotten–never really dying.

You’re Holding My Hand

You hugged me, okay.

Hugs are a cultural friendship thing.

Hard to get used to–but okay.

But then, not looking,

You held my hand.

No, you can’t do that.

First, you take away my defenses.

Second, my hand will taint you.

No, you can’t do that.

John Denver, in a song,

“Take my hand and say you’ll follow me…”

No, you can’t do that.

No one takes my hand, no one follows me.

You say with eyes and words,

“I love you. I care.”

I pull away, afraid for me, for you.

And yet, you reach out.

I wonder. I tremble.

Do you know what this means?

Maybe…maybe… because…

You’re holding my hand.


Heart Cries

So many things touch hearts–

a smile, a shared tear, one hand placed on another’s.

Music that was once shared with another,

pulls the heart back to a peaceful place.

Smiles from those who have naught but a smile to offer,

a wink of an eye, settles in the heart.

And then the pictures of children crying,

behind a fence, eyes holding more sadness than bearable.

Friends and families hugging each other as bodies are pulled

from the scene of yet another mass murder.

Eyes that watch, scared, fearful for self and others

haunt the one whose eyes they look into, questioning why?

Action can be taken, “boots on the ground”

to do what can be done to ease fear, pain, heartache for others.

But what was seen cannot be unseen

and the heart never can shut out the pain.

Remembered forever

the Heart Cries.