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Monday, March 14, 2011

Lisa B

Dearest Lisa,

I love you so much, Wheesy. You have faced such a life….and I am proud of the way you are coming through the harder times.

Not everything is hard. You and I-- we know that. Some days are so wonderful. You wake up and go to the car to go to work and a man is sitting on the curb. Undaunted by his presence, you ask, “Are you okay? Do you need any help?”

He looks up at you and smiles, “No, I just came early for the show.”

“What show?” you ask. “Listen,” he says.

You listen. Birdsong fills your ears and heart and you know you are in the presence of many angels.

“Amen”….and you leave for work with a smile on your face.

But life isn’t easy, is it?

Marrying Phil at 19 years old---just a month before turning 20---you knew it wouldn’t be easy. He was the single father of two daughters. Jenny was 3 years old. Kelly was 18 months old.
Still, you married that broad-shouldered, gruff, tender, talented, difficult, wonderful man. For 33 tight-budgeted, difficult, marvelous, creative, growing years we lived together. Phil! You will never know how much I miss you!

Your cancer was so insidious. I never listen to a cancer diagnosis now and say anything like, “Oh, you will be okay. Cancer is beatable.” The truth is—it is not. It kills. Cancer provides slow and cruel death. It steals you. It steals love…..or tries to.

Your death started off as a hand—the hand I loved, the hand I knew, the hand that held me and loved me and was my companion.

The best thing was the wedding ring—the last thing I removed from his purple-mottled flesh.
Just when I thought I couldn’t bear another moment, when I was stuck between you and the wall on that tiny hospice bed. Just when I could barely move, or think, or sing another note—just then…you sat straight up, glared at my face with fury and fear and self-defense—you did not know me. I was your mother, the mother you loved, the one who had already crossed over.

What did I look like to you? Was I a skeleton? Was I angry or dangerous?

I know I lay there smiling a goofy smile—trying to soothe you, trying to placate you, trying to find the answer to your fear, and then you spoke, high-pitched, loud, fearful words, “WHO ARE YOU?” before your hands, those hands I have loved from the first time I saw them until I pulled the wedding ring off of your purple finger—those hands descended on my neck and squeezed.
No Phil, No, No Daddy, no,no, no.

I escaped to cry in the heat of the parking lot, where motorcycle Dawn, so attracted to you, soothed me. Where I rebuffed Dan’s placating embrace with my own turmoil, where I sat, so bewildered by this, by you.

It wasn’t you.

Then I went in and saw you, yellow-diapered and sitting on the side of the bed, hands holding your head as you shook it back and forth weeping, “I thought my wife was my mother. She looked like my mother.”

Well, it took time for the recliner where I slept to creep closer to you, but finally it did and I held your hand again. And I stroked your arms again, and I kissed you again. And then, one moment of clarity, one moment of clear and transparent sweetness arrived and you reached for my face with gentle hands and pulled me down to you once, twice, three times.

“I am going to miss you so much,” you said, and I squeezed out “I love you.”

Oh Phil, I do love you.

So often I have wondered why I can’t lean on you. Why I can’t call you and lean on your common sense…ask for your reassurance. Know that you are championing me; my life. Championing the lives of our four children and five grandchildren.

Oh I miss you.

And now I am marrying again. Dean. The man who came into my life a year ago and both enriched and complicated things.

Dean knows I am a find. I know I am too.

Dean knows he is a find. I know he is too.

In our mid-fifties, not afraid to be alone, not afraid to raise our children alone….we find solace in each other’s arms. We know that laughter, and walks, and dinners and silly TV shows are good. We know about balance and talk and listening and good embraces. We know we are each enough….and yet not enough.


Lisa, you are beautiful. Please keep loving your children well. Please keep loving Phil well. Please keep loving Dean and grow that love well. Please keep loving your grandchildren and siblings and your late fabulous parents and aunts and uncles and colleagues and friends well.
Be a good steward of your good life.

I love you so much,



Anonymous said...

This was beautiful and made me teary-eyed. Thank you for writing this.

Iman Woods Creative said...

Lisa, this is stunning. A gorgeous testimony to love. Thank you.

Paul Jessie and the Boys said...

thank you for sharing. i know it must take a lot to be so open, knowing full well that strangers would be reading... thank you.

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