Sunday, January 24, 2010

January 25th, 1954

Tomorrow, my mother would have been 56. When she was alive, her birthday was spent as a brief pause in January and I always struggled with what to give her. I always found her difficult to shop for, and it was, honestly, usually a last-minute affair. Tonight, I prayed that, if it was possible, I could have all her birthdays to do over, to do right, to give her even a little of the love and care that she gave us. So I can be sure that she knew how much we loved her.

Since I can't do that, I figured for her birthday this year, I would give her two poems I wrote while she was alive but dying. I never read them to her and wouldn't have ever been brave enough to do so. But it seems like the thing to do. Happy early birthday, mama...

the final depot

In the end, it's just an ending,
it's just the end of a really beautiful tunnel
and the pulling up of all the inevitable train tracks.
there will be no detours, no stops between here and that great light.

There will be only one passenger left, and in her luggage she will have only love,
and pictures of children who have grown up wild. And it will be alternately too much and not enough
for where this train ride ends.

And we will stand, waving, on the platform until she can no longer be seen.
And we will continue to wave,
even after that, in case she can feel our hands from where she is.

And we will go home with the knowledge of a train, and a passenger, and the intractable pain that a one-way ticket causes. And we will carry engine whistles with us wherever we go.


a prayer for one heavenly and one earthly parent

to have been made, not a mistake and not a miracle, but some perfectly balanced in-between state - it's a constantly broken marvel, like some sort of carnival in a town that's sick of magic.

how could it have happened and so fast, this feeling that living is just the cracks of one broken heart and that love is just similar scarring between us?

i just want to focus on you before your gone. i want to love you like you're meant to be loved. i want to love you like you've loved us all along.

but loving those that are leaving feels both perpetual and inconstant. i will always be loving you, and from this point forward, you will always be leaving. even after your gone, i will remember the leaving more than anytime you were here.

i asked you one day, before any of this, what's it like to be one parent short? what's it like to live with a little less love than before? and your answer shows me now what i have to look forward to. it hurt like hell at first, you said. every day was raw and some were just unbelievable marathons of pain - christmas, his birthday, their anniversary. and then, some day long afterwards, it hurt just a little bit less. and then it became easier to remember his face, the way he danced with my mother, the way that he kept things together, and not just focus on the day it all came apart, the day we ceased to be a constellation and became just a set of stars apart. well, you didn't say that exactly. stars are really my father's thing, not yours. but it sounded something like that.

and i am trying to prepare for that day that our constellation will come apart, mother. i am trying to be a very good star. but the process of shining with grief is difficult and painful. and i focus more on my brokenness than anything else these days. it's not your fault - sickness (yours or mine) seems to exacerbate my inborn weaknesses and break me into big shards and little pieces, and it makes a mess that cannot be put together. i want to ask you to forgive it all - forgive my absence and my frustration, and most of all, my brokenness. that's the part that's so difficult to solve and so painful to live through.

forgive me, mother, my brokenness in sight of your brokenness. and Father, help me remember that this brokenness is not the sum of all my parts.


  1. Cat, I'm sure your mother knew full well how much you love her! Take comfort in the fact that you will always wonder if you expressed your love enough because that's the mark of a child who deeply loves their parent: a strong desire to show them all the love they have shown you. You are such a gift and I am sure your mother was very proud of you! You're an amazing person with lots of love to give!
    I pray that tomorrow will be more about reflecting on the joy of your relationship than the loss. I hope that you get the opportunity to go through the recesses of your mind and meditate on those favorite moments with your mom.

  2. Ah, my dear, how beautifully you say it. thank you for sharing these, and for sharing this part of yourself. love & peace.