That Square

I grew up on a beautiful little creek in the Rocky Mountains.  One of my earliest and many of my fondest childhood memories involve the magic of this dearly familiar yet ever-changing body of water.  Many hours were spent sitting next to the water in the shade, listening to the music of it moving over the stones.

Sometimes, I’d see a tiny fish, sometimes other squiggly, swimming things that I couldn’t identify.  I loved the way the sunshine would come through the trees and reflect the movement of the leaves on the water.  I loved the sound it made when I’d toss small rocks into the moving water and I noticed how the stones would sink right to the bottom and lie very still even as the water moved quickly by.  I loved the way they sparkled when the sun hit them.

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The ground around the trees was covered in emerald greenery with thousands of purple flowers.  I would pick the flowers one at a time and suck the sweet nectar from the back of them.  Because it was sweet and because I sucked the nectar from them, I called them honeysuckle but I now realize they were Vinca.  Then I would release the flowers into the water, one at a time, and watch them go until I couldn’t see them any more.  I’d try to imagine what they were experiencing moments later, hours later, days later.  I imagined they would take a very long time to make it to the open sea.  This I couldn’t even imagine then.  A body of water so huge, so violent, so unpredictable, yet so incredibly beautiful.

When I was fifteen, the floods came.  The water started to rise and continued to rise, day after day, all through the month of May.  I remember looking over the fence from my back yard and down the hill as the muddy water filled the little gully, inch by inch, rising to hide my honeysuckle hideouts.

At the end of the street, the water normally flowed smoothly through a culvert and under the road but now the water had risen above the top of the culvert leaving a deceptively calm looking pond.  The water would then begin to turn, slowly at first, building up speed until a deep and menacing whirlpool would open up in the center and the whole thing would make a very loud, rumbling, flushing sound as huge amounts of water were released under the road at once.  Then the water would begin to rise again, resulting in the calm pond slowly building to the violent “flush.”  I could hear it from my bed at night, nearly a block away, the flush, flush, flushing of my favorite magical place….being sucked out to the sea.

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When the water finally receded, all that was left was mud.  So many of the trees were gone.  All the emerald greenery; gone.  Purple flowers; gone.  Most of the big, old, familiar rocks between which I’d deposited my smaller stones; gone.  Even the gradually sloping hill that led down to the creek was gone, replaced by more of a cliff drop with scraggly roots grasping out blindly for the majestic beings they’d once supported… my friends; gone.

My father passed away on July 14, 2004.  I remember looking at that calendar page and noticing that July is in the middle of the year, the 14th is in the middle of the month and it was a Wednesday, the middle of the week.  Flush.

My sweet Dannica passed away on November 14th, 2012.  Not the middle of the year, but once again the middle of the month and a Wednesday, the middle of the week.  Flush.

There have been three more fourteenths since then.  Tomorrow will mark the fourth.  Flush.

I’ve noticed a pattern forming in my life.  It overlays the calendar like a slowly rising pond that begins to spin, slowly at first, building speed as the days pass.  I feel it pulling me in and no matter how frantically I kick my feet, it’s stronger than I am.  The tears begin to fall again and the horrible memories of that day come again, unbidden.  The thing is, I don’t even realize what’s happening until the whirlpool opens up over the center of that square and then….. flush.

After tomorrow, there will be seven more fourteenths before the next one; the Big Flush. Then I imagine the ponds widening a bit, maybe spinning a little more gently, maybe for longer before opening up and flushing.  I also imagine a few that widen to the point of being visible on radar and given a name in the style of hurricanes.

The Vinca never returned  to my honeysuckle hideouts and now they are lost to me forever but I do hold tight to the memory of each beautiful flower drifting off down the stream.  So after tomorrow, I will survey the damage and the destruction once more and I will do my best to remember the flowers and I will do my best to keep planting more.

Where are you, my sweet flower?  All these moments later; these hours, days, now months later?  Have you made it to the sea?  I’ll be there soon and I’ll look for you everywhere and I’ll do my best to see you there… my Sweetness, my little honeysuckle.

A Walk in Her Shoes

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This morning I could see the sun shining through my window, casting the shadow from a tree in the yard onto my bedroom wall.  I needed to be out there.  Where I live in Oregon it is a rare treat to have a sunny day in winter.  It’s rare to feel crisp, clear air this cold.  For the first time in a long time I didn’t have to drag myself out of bed, it felt good to get up.  Dannica and I were going to go for a walk….together.  I stood in my closet looking down at the heap of options when I saw one of Dannica’s shoes poking out from under the boots I wore yesterday.  She was going to donate those shoes months ago and I salvaged them from the pile because I hate shopping and they seemed like they still had some good treadmill miles left in them.  Of course, I haven’t put them on until today, the best of intentions being what they are, but I’m glad that I saved them for today.  Today they are precious to me.

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I bundled up and stepped out into the world.  Having been hollowed out, my every sense has changed.  There have been times when my senses have felt weakened, deadened, muffled as if every bit of energy in me is going toward simply keeping my heart from exploding from the pain the way the blood rushes to the core to save us when we’re dangerously cold.  This morning, however, I felt as if every sense had been fully restored; not only restored, but restored with super powers.

I slowly filled my lungs with air so crisp and cold and clean I could feel the oxygen moving from my lungs into my blood, into the deepest, darkest, furthest reaches of my physical being.  I held that breath, allowing it to transform me, setting those dark places alight with a zillion frosty sparkles that I breathed out to coat the world all around me in brilliance.

I reached the park to find vast expanses of frost covered blades of grass, glittering pine needles, and the pond covered in a sheet of ice thick enough to support a seagull but thin enough to deceive one coming in for a landing. (That was kinda funny, poor thing 🙂

I walked quietly around the park and talked to the birds and the ducks and the trees and my Danni Jade.  I told her that we’re planning to buy her a gift; her very own park bench with her name on it, next to the water, under a beautiful tree.  Her gift to me will be the time I get to spend there with her.

Finally, I stood in the middle of the park, in the middle of that glimmering sea of grass, the very center of my universe, and I closed my eyes, raised my face to the sun and just listened.  My super power hearing sang of the rush of water in the distance, a million birds, so close I was sure if I reached my hand up, I’d touch one.  I felt the heat in the super powered sensory nerves of my skin; felt it melting the frosty sparkles I’d been filled with and nourished by.

Some of my favorite photos are the ones Dannica took of her sweet feet standing in the places she visited.  Looking at this morning’s photo of my own feet in her shoes, the first photo of its kind for me, I am comforted by the reminder that wherever I go, she is with me now, if that is what I want.  And it is.  Her eternal gift to me, super powers in her presence.

Why didn’t I use these super powers before I was hollowed out?  Why didn’t I see angel’s wings before in the clouds full of colors that exist nowhere else on earth?  Why didn’t I see that earth sparkles?  Why didn’t I see the heaven in my own heart?

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In heaven, everything sparkles.  Today, I am in heaven.

Sending Flowers To Heaven

Among the first thoughts I had as the flowers began to arrive at the door was, “I’m going to have to watch them die.”  It saddened me.  As the days and weeks have passed, I’ve watched as each bouquet and arrangement has slowly wilted, shriveled, the life seeping from them as it did from my little Angel’s body.  I held her hand, willing the heat from my body to warm her again, to stop the process, to reverse it.

I looked around the room wondering if she was looking down from one of the corners the way I’ve read about in stories of near death experiences.  I wondered if she understood what happened.  I wondered if she was confused the way I’ve seen “earthbound spirits” become on television when they don’t know their bodies have died.  I wondered if she was crying with us because we couldn’t hear her or see her right there next to us.  I wondered if she knew and understood everything because she had loving guides of light explaining it to her and comforting her where I couldn’t any more.  Or, did she simply remember everything as it was before she came to be my little girl on earth?

Over the course of the first week, I felt a gradual shift in the way of things.  I felt a movement in the nature of our relationship as mother and daughter.  I felt I was being discharged from my duties as her mother.  It was an honorable discharge… of the highest possible honor, but I could feel that our roles were no longer what they had been.  The love has intensified and now it’s no longer my responsibility to make sure she’s okay.  There is a sense that she is watching over me, us… all who love and miss her.  Not a reversal of roles, more of a balancing of them or an equalizing.  Neither of those words encompass the concept, but I felt this…sense… quite profoundly at her memorial celebration; a comforting, sense of some minute and fleeting understanding of a bigger picture in a grander scheme of things.

When my grandmother passed away, I was nine years old.  It was the worst possible thing I could have imagined at that time and it was the first time the light went out of my world.  The sun shone differently.  It had dimmed.  I remember my grandfather telling me that he had seen her in a dream and that she was very happy.  She was excited to tell him about the flowers.  He said she’d told him that she could *hear* the flowers!  Ever since then, I have tried to listen to them.  I’ve gotten so close to them that I can see they actually sparkle, even in this realm.  My human ears can’t hear them but as beautiful as they are and as much as humans love them, I believe it’s true.  I also like to believe that as they die their essence also returns to the purity of their source.

Yesterday, I gently placed the last bouquet of passing flowers with the others in my garden.  I imagine them slowly moving from this realm into the realm where my Dannica is.  I see her surrounded by all the beautiful flowers popping up around her, gifts from her loved ones on earth; gifts that will live forever and sparkle brightly, and sing to her.  My heart looks forward to spring when I can continue this communication with her in my garden.  Maybe she’ll send me messages there, as I plant flowers to send to her in heaven when the weather again turns cold and the days again turn dark here on earth.

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