Goodbyes

I’m watching you,

Here in my arms

Your breath, faint,

On my skin.

Your skin,

Thin and tender,

Cooler still,

Despite attempts

To keep you warm.

You look at me,

Between this world and the next,

Your soul

Lingering in the air

Above the home

That is now your body,

It fights to stay

But knows

It must leave.

My gentle friend,

I’ll keep you close

Warm you still

Until the breath

That becomes your last.

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Moments

We used to drink

Out of little red cups,

Eating warm cookies,

Our feet not quite

Touching the floor.

Your spontaneous laugh,

Infectious,

Echoed through the house

Warm from Grandma’s oven.

You found me once,

Sitting in a grassy corner

Of the yard where we’d play

And you reminded me

We’re family.

We’d summer in Oregon,

Lie on our backs

After days on the lake,

Looking at the stars.

Telling stories,

Sharing secrets,

Acknowledging the demons

Trapped inside us both.

Getting stronger as we aged,

We hoped for more.

After I nearly

Let the darkness consume me,

When no one else

Stood by my side,

You’d pick me up,

Linking my arm with yours,

Force me to laugh, to scream

To dance, to bowl

And you reminded me,

We’re friends.

We spent winter nights

Spinning records,

Watching movies

You taught me to drive,

To dirt bike in the desert,

To laugh, to live with abandon.

In the moment,

For the moments.

At my sister’s funeral,

I fell apart

You never left my side,

Holding my hand,

Whispering memories

Of better times,

Sneaking me coffee,

Imagining

Times to come,

And you reminded me,

You’re always there.

We laughed,

We played,

We cried,

We danced.

Every childhood memory,

Every Christmas party,

Every family photo,

Every Oregon summer

Brought us closer.

When the darkness came,

When the war waged,

When the family fell away,

You reached out your hand.

Why didn’t you ask for mine

When night came for you?

Now all we have

Are memories,

Moments,

Imprinted in pixels

Reflections of the past.

And in your children,

Your blood,

A hope for the future

You once helped me see.

Always family,

Always friends,

You live on in me

If only,

In the moments.

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.

Chips

I remember that night

You gave me your chip

Slid it across the table,

With a flip.

You laughed, despite the pain

I know you felt,

A sudden strain

To self-reflect,

To recognize,

That somewhere,

In that mirror,

Was the one you despise.

I was drinking,

Nothing good

You came to join me

And I understood.

This was the choice

That changed it all

Took you from me

That took away your voice

Your laugh

Your strum

Your smile

Our moments…

If only I’d known.

You handed me your chip

That contained your soul

I carry it with me

That’s always the goal.

Xoxo KRock