Grief Mothers Poetry Spirituality Women Writing

Entering the Cave

The warehouse bedazzled
A cave full of riches
Smells from Mother’s world
Wafted through
Filling her with almost dread
Boxes piled high
Reflecting a life well garnished
Spying the highest box
The Daughter reached
As best she could
Tip toeing
Extending her arms
To where her fingers
Barely brushed
The cardboard
Arms stretched
Ascending, Scaling
Moving boxes
Becoming a metaphor
For final moments
With one push
One last empty extension
Her fingers somehow
Scooched the bottom
Flying through the air
A trunk full of treasures
Landed in her arms
She held fast
As a Mother
Cradling her newborn
The final bits of stuff
Fill the void
Of lost conversations
Each keepsake a delight
Post It notes
Strategically placed
Offer comfort
Her voice still alive
Mother becoming
A private tour guide
Post It notes leading the way
“George would die
  If he knew how much money
Cleo and I spent
decorating the house...”
 “We found that jade frog
  when we went to China…
  Don’t you remember?”
 ”And that silver pattern
is simply scrumptious..."
A second box?
Of course!
There is silver
Lots of it
Tons of it
No need for cleaning
Delegating the task
Each peace spit and polished
Just before packing
With blue Post It notes
Wanting to insure their purpose
Becoming Mother’s voice
Hearing her clear as day
Another box?
Life with Mom
The Zoo
The park
High School graduation
Mom in her clowning days
Moving boxes and paper
Liter the landscape
While orchestrating a clean up
Of stuffed boxes filled with  paper
A photograph
Flies from nowhere
Kissing Daughter's forehead
She runs the show
As well it should be
Another box?
The third box
Less confronting
Crisp white linens
Way out of date
Mother loved to entertain
All cloth
No paper aloud at her table
Excepting, perhaps
A used cocktail napkin
Keeping linens unsoiled
Treasure chest number five
This one particularly coiled
The ripping
The tearing
Each piece of tape
Reminding her of old wounds
Childhood promises unmasked
Undone, incomplete
Choosing the husband
Over the daughter
The child left alone
Promising an adventure
Then forgetting
The child left behind
Friends not knowing
Mom had a daughter
The child invisible
Pain unleashed
Tears stream
Each object
Each gift
Now a burden
Cradling her grief
Ah an explosion of warmth
A calming salve
Mother’s unbridled tenderness
Stopping cold
The flood of emptiness
Filling her heart space
With nothing but love
Lifting a pain soaked childhood
Now understanding
Mother’s deepest regrets
Were her own fears
Yet in her heart of hearts
The daughter always came first
Tears flowed
Not from grief
But from
Abiding love
The boxes becoming
Once more
An adventure
A discovery
A delight
Another box?
The Daughter
Reaches into the next
Treasure trunk
Full of silver
Mothers Poetry Spirituality Women Writing

The Temporary Staging Area

A home for the recently departed
Where spirits mingle
And souls are wrangled
Walls of red-flocked paper
And black leather furniture
A coffer suggesting mourning
Framed comic book mortician humor
Hangs conspicuously about
Designed to stave off tears
But tear showers still down pour
So Kleenex lives close by
Just in case
The mortician's skin ashen grey
With almost pure white hair
Tussled with intent
Conducting an orchestra of grief
His baton raised in perfect timing
Costumed impeccably, all in black
Preening a three piece designer suit
Mother loved a man in uniform
Monetizing loss for sale
A remembrance card
With a thirty plus year old picture
Her beauty in full bloom
The backside
A four-line poem
From her daughter’s cache
Mother’s favorite
A plain black guest book
Simple yet classy
A pictorial review of her life
Framed for easy display
The flowers her favorites
White Orchids and Mums
Pink Roses sprinkled throughout
Displayed in abundance
The perfect backdrop
For her final cocoon
She loved center stage
The luncheon post service
From her favorite take out
Croissant sandwiches cut in half
And multiple side salads
With the requisite lemon bars
Soothed by a string quartet
The coffin
Her final home
Polished oak with clean lines
Bright red silk encrusted
Her favorite color
A theatrical addition
That the grief stricken might write
Messages of love
On the coffin
A 1960’s love van reinvented
Much to the mortician’s distain
He reluctantly agrees to the ritual
Bright colored ink pens
Become part of the celebration
As friends line up out the door
Waiting for the chance to say farewell
With a permanent magic marker
Her private world
Always dressing for the day
Donning make-up
Freshly styled hair
Wearing the latest fashion
Declaring when one feels lousy
One must look their best
To transcend the dark
Her hair softly curled
Sprinkled with grey
No need for heavy make-up
Not a wrinkle on her face
Leaving little to be done
The mortician’s fashion decree
Earrings must not dangle
But lay close to her ears
Did she have a red red lipstick?
Yes a favorite
She applied
Sans mirror
A practice to show her independence
Clothes are well chosen
An Asian style black silk
Two piece pantsuit
With appliquéd oriental red flowers
Compliment the bright red silk interior
Beauty always her cause
Jewelry in bounty
Covers her chest
With fingers wearing multiple rings
A turquoise laden watch
Adorns her wrist
The drum rolling coup de gras
Her red patent leather
Four-inch heeled shoes
Not worn for many years
Making their reappearance
The perfect fantasy adornment
The final act
The obituary
Filled with fine accomplishments
The eulogy
Filled with fond memories
As tears flow once more
Knowing there are no more days
To shop the latest trends
To enjoy a leisurely drive
To share a late late lunch
In a favorite restaurant
Where secret yearnings are confessed
And war-torn fears float on by....
More Stuff Mothers Poetry Spirituality Women Writing

Carpe Diem


Sleeping like…

Stopping herself mid sentence

The phrase too perfect to exclaim

She peered into the room

Where her Mother’s last days

Lived in a kind of innocent joy

Peppered with excruciating pain


Every day a journey

This one quiet and gentle

Her soft snore revealing nothing

Her open mouth seemed

Her soul’s easy exit


Lavender perfume

Purposefully administered

Abated the dull roar of transition

While friends whispered incantations

Of what still needed to be done


Once again she stepped over the threshold

Into an unworldly experience of love

A love almost unbearable

As passage seemed eminent

And all seemed in agreement


Perhaps one more rally

One more chance to share stories

But having not spoken in three days

It seemed impossible to imagine


She sunk into the bedside witness chair

And laying back to perhaps join her Mother’s dreams

She fell fast asleep

Awakening from a peaceful, dreamless sleep

She knew it to be her time to say good-bye


Placing her lips on her Mother’s cheek

Knowing it might be the final life kiss

She once again breathed in her scent

As flashes of childhood roared by



Whispering their secret mantra

“I love you so…always have and always will”

She took her leave without looking back

“I love you so…always have and always will”

She knew it was her time

Their mutual love might delay her passing


As if still in that dreamless sleep

She exited her Mother’s apartment

Walking down the hall

She moved through the front door

And as she breathed in the fresh air

She looked up into the sky

To see a new moon


Just three hours later

Her angelic caretaker

A buffed, soft spoken giant of a man

Witnessed her Mother’s last breath

He shared with the Daughter

It was gentle and sweet


And as Mother and Daughter

Celebrated a new beginning

A kind of metaphoric birth ensued

Both stepping soundly into a new life

More Stuff Poetry Spirituality Women Writing

The Eulogy

It’s challenging to hone down who my Mother was. She was so many, many things. She was kind, strong, innocent, charming, impossible, artistic, conservative, wild, enthusiastic, non judging, loving, indomitable….once she set her mind on something she wanted to accomplish you could never talk her out of it. Which is part of what made her such an incredible fund raiser…there was virtually no way to say no to her. She would charm the money right out of you.

When I was young she developed an addiction to alcohol. Mind you she never, ever neglected my well being but she would drink way too much at night and when she retired after marrying George the drinking was exacerbated. But once she realized that she was hurting not only herself but her family she was determined to quit. She stopped drinking close to 40 years ago. I call that true indomitability.

Some of you might remember when “Gone With the Wind” would play a yearly limited engagement at the local Cinerama movie theatre. Mom and I would go every year. By the intermission she would be crying like a baby…her favorite expression in life came from that movie…”I won’t think about that today…I’ll think about tomorrow”. That saying got us through a lot…anytime life looked bleak or difficult…”I won’t think about that today…I’ll think about that tomorrow”.

She never ever discriminated. This applied not only to race and creed but also to station. She was fascinated by people. Whether you were a bus boy at the local diner or the CEO of a fortune five hundred company, she saw you as equal. And she was sincerely interested in knowing what your life was like…”Do you like being a bus boy?…Are the tips good? Do you have a family? How many children do you have?”…

And she loved babies. If there was a baby within site she would immediately go over to it and tell the mother and/or father that their baby was the cutest baby she had ever seen. “Hello there little one…how are you?” The baby would giggle and the parents would smile…and everybody would be so happy…

My husband and I were unable to have children. But we have dogs…many dogs through the years. And they became her grand children. She would send us cookies for the dogs and toys and doggie collars. She never forgot Christmas presents for them. When we would be on the phone with one another she would always ask “So how are the doggies? Tell me what they’re doing…”. “Well Kobi’s napping right now and Oscar just got up from his nap and is walking outside…” “Really…why do you think they sleep so much?” Tough questions…her innocence was an intoxicating aspect of who she was.

But mostly I would say she loved. Deeply. She never got off the phone without saying…”I love you Kristina…always have and always will”. There were times she drove me crazy. But all those little things that made me crazy were also the things that brought me the greatest admiration for her. She loved. So much so that I thought at times our hearts would break in two. She fought such a good fight. And it was the love that brought her through many difficult times in recent years. Love was at the very root of who she was. It has become my legacy. I am going to miss her deeply. She gave me so many gifts through her experience of life. I am forever proud and grateful….I love you Mom…always have and always will. Thank you.

Illness More Stuff Mothers Poetry Spirituality Women Writing

Sitting Shiva

Yesterday good

Today tough

Friends stop by

Burns her out

Telling them

Keep it short

Best friend here



Having fun

I’m beat

Can’t sleep

Emotional wreck

Home Monday

Cross fingers

Till then

We reminice

Telling stories

Time together

Time apart

Letting go

Loving so

What a lot of work





Eating like crap

Major cleanse time



Illness Mothers Poetry Spirituality Women Writing

Whispering in the Moonlight

Whispering in the Moonlight

Frozen in time

She stands in the doorway

Waiting, wondering

Unable to contain her need

Calling out “Hi Mom…”

Her Mother’s eyes slit open


Even knowing the truth

Of time’s unending march

A breath of relief passes through her

Dropping winter’s gear at the door

She slips past the bedroom’s threshold

A metaphor too perfect, too strange


Feeling the inevitable parting

Tears well

She kisses her Mother’s cheek

The taste of crusted salt on her skin

Becomes the alchemy

The air thickens with heaven’s call

As memories of childhood play


Sobbing into Mother’s bosom

A rocking chair’s consoling rhythm

Becomes the medicine for a broken heart

Stomping through puddles

In brand new rain boots

That play with a thunderstorm’s magic

Imparting instruction in dinnertime etiquette

As the whitest linens and shiniest silver

Insure Great Grandma’s visit a success


Memories explode

Washing clean all attachment

And she wonders

Are they sharing the same?

Looking into her Mother’s eyes

An emerging smile widens


Filled with joy

Filled with the heart’s sweetness

She touches her cheek


Witnessing a face wiped clean of remorse

The heart opens even more deeply


Crawling ever so gently

Onto the very edge of her bed

A precipice opens

She snuggles

Ever so cautiously


By her Mother’s side


And the two spoon

Raptured in the gleam

While the room darkens into night

As Mother and Daughter

Whisper in the moonlight


Illness Mothers Poetry Spirituality Women Writing

Fond Memories

Touching midnight
They wheel her through the door
Sleeping deep
Skin ashen
Breath shallow
The veil so thin as to touch
The other side

Dizzy with fresh rememberings
Once, twice, ten times daily calls
Filled with fitful non-sense
Then overflowing
“I love you forever
Always have and always will”

Just one more week
Just one more day of fond memories

Her eyes open
Smiling gently
I kiss her forehead
The scent of childhood fills the room
I breath in the sweetness, the joy, the pleasure

Fatigue of drug induced freedom
She closes her eyes
Machines drone their rhythmic mantra
Her war torn heart filled with determination
To stay alive

Just one more week
Just one more day of fond memories

Holding back tears
As pure love streams forth
No longer burdened with the past
Sorrow spills
As these tender moments
Slip through a lifetime
Filled with remorse
Now filled with nothing but love

“This is the best day of my entire life”
She holds her hands tight
So as not to reveal the pain
” The best day of my life”

Just one more week
Just one more day of fond memories

Running my fingers through her soft curls
Sprinkled with grey
Wondering will mine be the same
The veil thickens

Rebuilding her strength
Days pass quickly
She rallies once again
Her devotion firm
Her love unrequited
She fills my heart with safety
My world with joy

Yesterdays slip into understanding
Understanding into respite
Respite into peace
Peace into pleasure
Pleasure into love…

Just one more week
Just one more day of fond memories


Illness Mothers Poetry Spirituality Women Writing



Each time the phone rings

Each “612” area code

Sends panic down my spine

White knuckles my constant way

Burning me cold as ice


Tending to life

My world

In my prime

Ripe with possibilities

The phone rings through

My hands slippery as Minnesota black ice


Wrestling to pick up before voicemail

Hands shaking

Fumbling, rumbling, thick with anticipation

The call I’ve been dreading

Not yet, not now


Relief coursing through to the bone

We connect

Unable to articulate her feelings

She sticks to yes’ and no’s

As twenty questions ensue


My voice calm as a patient Mother

One she never was

Or could ever be

Her voice wracked with frustration

Unable to express her need


My right arm tremoring with fear

Holding the voice steady yet the body

Expressing the truth I am unable to allow

Me struggling to understand her need

She attempting to understand herself


Twenty questions adding a half hour plus

Pauses ripe with meaning

We shared more through the silence

Then when misunderstood words filled our lives

A Mother and Daughter at odds

Now simply filled with love


Our hearts creating clarity of understanding

No past allowed interference

Simply the mind searching for the words

And as the heart opened to receive

We found our way to mutual need


Union without bounds

Words without definitions

Sharing without requirements

Joy without expectations

Hearts without walls





Illness Mothers Poetry Spirituality Writing

Ambrosia for Her Soul

She breathes in the fantasies

Living through adventures born

From her daughter’s world


Holding tight desperately seeking

A life she would never know

She waits by the phone

Silence filling the air

Having waited too long

She turns away

Then all at once

The ring


Tentatively answering

Her heart races hearing

That oh so familiar voice

The salve for her soul

“Hello Mom…how are you?”

Barely able to contain herself



Chattering on

A good five minutes or so

The daughter’s mundane tasks

Feed her full of newly born memories

Inserting herself as daughter

She returns to the fantasies

Reviewing, remembering

Her world still intact

Her only child feeding her life


Caught in a circle of questions

Once, twice, three times answered

A merry-go-round of words

Fills the void

The silent unknowns


“And how are those doggies?”

The always answer of “They are great”

Followed by a laundry list of wagging tails

And guard dog barking

Seems to serve her thirst for conversation

She laughs then

“Oh how I wish I could be there”



A wellspring of sorrow harkens

The daily moment when heartbreak beckons


“Oh how I wish I could be there”

But knowing the truth

This cannot be

The subject changes to weather

And the circle of questions

Begins again


Filling her days

Ambrosia for her soul


Illness Mothers Poetry Spirituality Women Writing


Sitting silently waiting

Disinfectant fills the air
A cave incrusted
With antiseptic walls
Waits for the moment
When fear subsides
Between heartbeats
The constant sound
Of hopeless wonder
Sends a paul of light
Infusing this artificial womb
The veil thins
The breath remains steady

A gentle snore
Not Now
Not Yet
Closing a door
Opening a window
While in the same moment clinging
Just one more day
Nothing seems important anymore
Nothing but this moment
And the embrace
As the breath remains steady
Yet shallow