Success or Failure?

This is a tough one for me to admit.

I’m not sure which scares me more:

The thought of rejection, or of acceptance.

Perhaps, it’s because acceptance

Means vulnerability,

And, perhaps, because what that means

Is susceptibility to just more pain.

I fell in love, once.

It took me three committed years,

Where I felt truly loved,

Day in, day out,

For me to exhale.

For me to stop waiting

For the other shoe to drop.

Ironically, in the exact moment

I did let my guard down

He uttered the words,

“This isn’t working for me.”

Had something changed?

Had I cracked something so fragile?

And yet, risk is the only way.

Perhaps there’s another way,

But not for me.

The only way

To get your dream job

To have your dream life

To fall in love.

But,

What if you get it?

What happens then?

Things fall together and apart

All the time.

We have no control and yet

We want to hold on,

So tightly,

To what we want

Only to realize that everything changes.

How do we hold this paradox,

This fragile, nearly broken box,

The space between

Pain and freedom

Desire and rejection

Birth and death?

How can we

Just be,

Just breathe?

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Revisions

I used to think

that I wanted lust

Chemical connection

Until I saw

The sweet purity

Of a smile,

Of love through understanding.

Of the space between the moments

Of touch,

Of play,

Of lips, tongues, foreheads

Quietly connecting.

I used to confuse

Lust for love.

Then I loved you.

The tenderness

Of a hug,

Of your smile, admiring a gift

I’d remembered to give,

Of a video

I’d remembered to record.

Then I loved the exhale

You’d breathe

When you’d pull me tighter.

The melting into my hand,

Your head giving way

under my fingertips.

The stories you tell

When I need distraction from tears.

The moments of happiness we share.

I could watch that smile

Creep across your face,

Those eyes soften,

Those shoulders relax,

Every day for the rest of my life

And just be happy.

I thought I wanted you

When you lusted after me.

Now I need you

To hold my hand,

Simply

Loving you,

In the quiet moments,

Of tenderness.

The God of Now (Continued)

I’ve been in other armies before.

Very few prepared me for the choice my captain,

my commander,

was going to make.

At times, my leader was stolen like a thief in the night,

while others still,

the harakiri was too much to share.

And yet,

loyal to the end,

I join another army.

I swear my allegiance to the next one,

hoping, this time,

I can have a place at my commander’s hearth.

At least for a time.

The trouble in that life,

the life of a warrior,

is that it’s lonely.

At times, it’s quiet–

wandering through a world

with no one by whom to kneel.

Alone with thoughts, hopes, dreams, desires.

And then someone worthy comes along.

A cause.

A friend.

A family.

A lover.

On my knees I fall,

preparing my oath.

This is where I feel most fulfilled.

When will I take my last oath?

We prepare, in life, to be productive:

physically, emotionally, mentally.

To get the promotion.

To run the race.

To make the spectacle.

Then, while we’re trudging along,

something stops us.

I remember that day.

I had just had a birthday.

I had just started a new project.

I had just hired new staff.

I had just started an affair.

We slept in hotel rooms around town

Had dates at the best restaurants,

Had plans to holiday.

He was leaving his wife.

I was promoted at work.

I had just placed in a century,

and was planning a tour.

Then, something felt “off”.

At first, it was an itch.

A dryness that didn’t improve,

with lotion,

hydro-cortisone,

or even steroids.

Then, I was incontinent.

I felt a warm stream run down

my beautiful nylons

while presenting to executives.

I attempted to ignore it, at first,

but it recurred.

I stopped drinking coffee,

then alcohol,

and still,

recurrence.

It’s as though my body just forgot.

I scheduled a lunch break appointment

to take a look at my chronic “eczema”

(self-diagnosed, of course!)

or, at worst,

to test for infection.

That must be it!

I have too much to do!

I’m feeling fine.

I’m too healthy.

I’m too young.

I thought I had time.

But it was a tumor.

A flat, chapped, solid tumor,

full of cancer.

What was visible was the tip of the iceberg.

3 weeks later,

I received a phone call

while pretending

that the tumor

had potential

to be nothing.

The truth is,

I avoided my next appointment,

and promptly paid the $20 no-show fee.

If I didn’t show up,

I couldn’t have cancer!

Not again.

Never again.

But the call came,

and I answered.

Recurrence.

My body betraying me

once again.

And, the worst of it was,

I was going to have to swear an oath of loyalty-

To Myself.

It was against my very nature.

I remember my first thought

written down after that call.

“Yesterday, I was healthy.

Yesterday, I was a cancer survivor.”

For over a year,

those were the only words

written on that page.

There was nothing else to say.

I had thought that you’d know,

Know when you had cancer.

I thought I would feel it.

“Wait. But yesterday,

I WAS FINE.”

In fact,

I was better than fine.

And things like this are,

unfortunately,

not just another speed bump.

I saw her for her birthday.

We went to her favorite cafe

and we celebrated both our birthdays.

Her 65th, my 32nd.

I’m less than half who she is.

I was 5 minutes late, as always.

We couldn’t extend our date,

Work called.

I was distracted,

not fully present for her.

She was terrified of her upcoming scan.

I didn’t listen.

I thought she’d be fine.

I thought we were fine.

My blather was useless,

and my ears had shut off.

She was trying to tell me.

She was trying to ask me for help.

She wanted to connect.

And I rejected her.

And now,

with her news of “unplugging,”

I am scrambling to make up lost time.

To suck up all her essence

before it’s gone.

Falling at her feet.

Pledging my oath.

Loving her deeply,

Drinking her in.

My emotions vacillate.

I am angry.

At this,

with myself,

with Death.

I am terrified to lose

what I know it can be.

Not just because I’ve lost so many,

but because it’s her,

Specifically.

She has been a joy.

A light in my life,

a soul sister.

She has given me the room to grow,

to play like a child,

To love with abandon,

regardless of time.

Of outcome.

To love her.

I’m guilty for not being there

for someone so giving.

Bandwidth issues.

Capacity issues.

For not understanding.

For not being understanding.

Enough.

At all.

In small moments,

I’m terrified

about our camaraderie.

The connection we share.

I can relate to her,

to this.

This is the time when I can give back-

body, mind, and spirit.

Connect, give, love,

accept acceptance,

shine light.

Taking the time we have.

Committing to the process

and not quite the outcome.

The end takes us all.

All we can say is

“Not Today.”

The God of Now

“I’ve decided to unplug,”

she said.

“Unplug? Where are you going?”

“Oh, I’m not going anywhere; I’ve decided.

I’m just not going to do anything.”

“You mean…but you’ll die that way.”

“I know. I’ve decided to unplug.”

We’d just heard the news a few weeks ago. Wait. Weeks?

It has felt like weeks. I mean days.

For months, she had complained of feeling “off”, “unwell”, “out of sorts”.

She couldn’t pinpoint it,

so to me it sounded like nothing.

She’s dying of cancer.

Her belly full of writhing, replicating balls of free radicals.

Her ovaries deteriorating.

Betraying her.

We anticipated,

and she prepared us for,

liquid metal to be dripped into her veins.

For her to plug into the magic,

the alchemy,

of science.

Of medicine.

Hail to the chief.

The God of Now.

But she retreated, after while.

They’d caught it earlier,

but it wouldn’t change the outcome.

She knew it, and we did, too.

But to hear her desire to “unplug”

was a painful exercise in anticipatory grief.

What’s best for you not being best for me.

A rejection, a “break up” of sorts.

I knew I respected her, immensely!

But the grief,

and all its components of ugliness,

remained.

I wanted to be present for her

to give her the love she deserved,

but being present meant bringing the anger, too.

The fear.

I grew quiet with my thoughts.

I never had to make that choice.

The beast was no match for

The God of Science

when it ravaged me.

I know there would be a battle, but

the troops were on my side.

I’d purchased dragons.

I had the wildfire.

Alone, I stood on that battlefield,

and The Lord of Light defeated

Death.

Not today.

But she knew, with her troops surrounding her,

that she must be sacrificed.

And so, strong and sure,

she prepares us all,

to trudge along without her.