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.

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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

My body, the battlefield

In 2005, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. While the treatment was difficult and the time was trying for both me and my then-husband (and our families & friends), the scars and the side effects were all internal. To the naked eye, one would have thought I was fine–that I never had cancer. That I had it all together. To the naked eye, most would have thought my marriage was fine and that we had just weathered a storm. Perhaps a hurricane. While I had lost my ability to bear children and I suffered from an immense amount of scar tissue buildup inside my most precious female organs, I simply looked like a woman who had gained a bit of weight. While I suffered from crippling depression and anxiety, most people thought it was just a side effect from my troubling past, from previously existing traumas.

I carried around the semblance of normalcy until 2015, when I was again diagnosed with cervical cancer. This time, though, I was not as lucky as before. I needed more treatment, invasive and exhausting treatment, that caused visible symptoms. I lost 40 pounds. I lost my hair, everywhere. I gained a skin condition that permanently discolored my body. I lost a labia, and then a surgeon crafted a new one. Medication provided after treatment ended bloated me, giving me a “muffin top”. Vaginal reconstruction weakened my core. My teeth eroded from chemotherapy. My groin dotted with tattoos I needed for radiation.

My body, and my relationship with it, has changed in so many ways. Some days, I look in the mirror and remember that woman I once was, seeing her in my eyes or in my crooked smile. Others, I try to think that this moment, where my body feels and looks weathered, is when I am bursting from my cocoon. Messy but necessary to get to my final destination–a butterfly. But most of the time, I sit with angst, in despair about what others think when they see me. About what I think when I see me. To what expectations people compare the reality in front of them. Many days, I just see the cancer, even after it’s moved on to ravage someone else. My body, the battlefield.

I have a sordid history with my vagina. Much of my past trauma comes from unwanted sexual advances, assaults, and the aftermath those experiences caused. I have been trying to determine what a healthy relationship would look like with that part of my body for as long as I can remember–I never did have a healthy sexual experience before having unhealthy ones. I have sought the assistance of counselors, trauma therapists, sex therapists, and body workers to help connect me with The Sacred Feminine. I work to connect to Her on a regular basis.

But things just aren’t that easy.

In some ways, I find my post-cancer approach to my body to be more respectful than it once was. In college and after my divorce, I often gave my body freely to anyone willing to give theirs to me, without giving a second thought to who should have rite to entry. I did so soberly and consensually. Even after sexual assaults in adulthood, I attempted to “stay normal” by continuing this practice, like nothing had happened. Like it didn’t matter that I had been violated. If I just kept up appearances, then maybe, just maybe, those violations would matter less. Now, after undergoing vaginal and labial reconstruction, I am more careful about to whom I grant entry. It’s not that I don’t condone these practices–they’re great!–but I was never doing them for the right reasons. I was never a free spirit. I wanted control over the past–and I never gained it. Now, I am discerning. I respect this body that weathered the storms life threw its way. I expect that people touching or enjoying it also respect it. Because it IS The Sacred Feminine. And it is mine. I have a lot less sex (with others), but the quality is much higher. And, most of the time, I don’t shrink with shame afterwards.

Some days, especially when the body shame and self-doubt creeps in, when I’m meeting someone new from whom I’d like physical adoration, I gaze longingly over my shoulder. I compare myself to the “cool girls” and free spirits, and I wonder why I have become the prude. But it only takes a moment for me to run my fingers along the scars lining my edges to remember that, in place of someone trendy, stands a warrior for truth. Stands a woman reclaiming her leg hair and body hair. Learning to receive pleasure from herself, to give clear boundaries to others. Stands the captain of her destiny and a dreamer of dreams.

A survivor stands where a girl once did.

Graveside

19 years ago today, I watched dirt pile over my best friend’s casket. I watched as what was left of her was lowered into the ground, inch by inch, the physical space between us mounting. I loved her, I did. 

Since that time, I’ve visited her grave often. I talk to her. I smile at her. I cry with her. I’ve moved away and still I sit with her when I’m home. Sometimes, people ask me if I still have friends or family in my hometown, and I want to say that’s she’s there. I want to raise her from the dead, keep her going. 

Last year, for the first time, I heard her whispering to me. I felt her presence. I experienced the games she still played on me. Now, you may not believe any of these experiences, you may think that dead is dead, but I know it in my core. I know she’s always around, wreaking havoc. Kokopelli girl. 

Today, as I was sitting in the sun at her grave, and I saw 2 blue dragonflies fly around us, finally landing on her headstone. Dragonflies are the sign of my spirit animal, my patronus. They mean I’m on the right track, where I need to be. That I’m doing the right thing. I had my angel sitting on the headstone at the same time, and I felt watched, guarded, protected, loved. I looked at her headstone and said, “i release you.” And she was no longer lingering, but the love and protection were still there. Peaceful girl. 

And always, I carry her heart. I carry it in my heart.

Heart Games

I dreamt of you last night

Your eyes so piercing.

The way they softened 

As you bumped into me

Unexpectedly.

It was like your whole body sighed,

A deep, soulful exhale,

Like you’d been carrying a weight

That’s miraculously free.

We were at a game convention

You were startled by why I’d be there

 I wanted to play munchkin

And try RPGs, with new dice.

That I had so much fun 

when I’d gone before.

With you.

We’d been fighting.

An awful memory for you, I suppose.

I saw your mind wander to that time.
Your friend, he used to be mine too,

Standing next to you, greeted me.

We were comforted by familiarity.

As you stood and stared, 

He asked me to lunch, and I agreed.

We updated one another, reminisced.

Laughed, reflected, congratulated.

Familiarity and repose.
You were messaging him.

Interrupting the conversation.

Disrupting the flow, with your interest.

Then you came by.

(Y)our friend told you to kiss me.

And you did, reluctantly at first,

Then diving in.

Swirling with my energy, consumed.

You asked where I was staying.

I told you, you followed me.

We connected again, 

passionate embraces,

Longing kisses.

Then I had to go, to play.

And I left you,

With a room key,

Alone.
Only to return to devour,

Mind, body, soul.

My best friend returning to me.

My penguin.

You are the game master,

But I won the game.

Path of Totality

I looked up at the sky today, in the path of totality, and I thought of you. I saw the way the moon fit perfectly inside the sun and I thought of you. I felt the shivering cold on my bare arms, and I thought of you. 

You called me star and we used to call our future children moons, those moons fitting perfectly inside of me. We were a supernova. 

I remember you once told me that if you got a tattoo, it’d be a nebula. I remember loving listening to you talk sci-fi to me. I remember your love for Starcraft and Star Trek and Star Wars. Being another star in your galaxy made me feel at home. Now, we’re interstellar, that nebula between us.

I remember watching the moonrise with you at night as we walked around the neighborhood, when we were connecting over difficult things, when we argued. I remember watching the sunset with you looking out at the valley from your parents’ place. Watching the sunrise when we’d stayed up all night giggling and kissing and talking. 
Standing there, looking up, feeling the goosebumps and the time stop and the wind calm, I thought of you. I lingered on the warmth coming from your skin when your arms hovered around me, enveloping me with your abundance. I squinted, dreaming of the radiance of your smile and eyes when you shined your love down on me. Mesmerized by the brilliance of our union. 

I looked up at the sky today, as the embrace between Star and Moon began to unravel, and I thought of you. I thought of the growth, the beautiful flora and fauna around my feet and thought of your selfless manner. For a moment, you gave me perfect totality. You allowed the world to see the dream of a moon inside a star, to drink in the possibility of a miracle, if only for a moment. 

I long for our paths to cross again. I’d travel anywhere to see it happen. The fit—perfection.