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I CRIED TODAY!

 

Today is “National Widows Day”

And

I cried today

But

I did not cry because I am a widow

Even though I am a widow

But

I did not cry today

Because he is no longer present

I cried today

Because some people took the time to say,

“You are not forgotten”

I did not know that tender place existed

Until

“You are not forgotten”

It is so easy for widows to be lost in the fog of grief

I do not mean a widow loses her way because of her grief

Though this is possible

The journey on the path of the new normal can be quite circuitous

Fraught with fear of the unknown

Strengths to be discovered

Obstacles to overcome

Courage to be cultivated

But this is not what I mean

When I say a widow is often shrouded in the fog of grief

I mean too often others lose sight of her because of her grief

Unable to relate to the loss

Or her struggle in the loss

They lose sight of her because of her grief

Familiar voices no longer call out to her

Familiar faces fade away

Memories are sometimes her only recourse

But they too are painful reminders

Of forced isolation

That which is too often a part of mourning

Others try to construct a timeline

For her grief

As though they know what that timeline should be

For her grief

Married friends

Challenged by her singleness

Begin to exclude rather than include

They do not realize

That “single” only means to the widow

A double bed that now only makes room for one

The spouse’s name is no longer spoken

Unless she speaks it

The stories she so treasures

No longer told

Unless she tells them to herself

It’s the widow’s walk without the wail

Or a mournful claque

To encourage the grief over loss

The supportive recognition of her sorrow

Dissipates

After “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”

She is alone

Shrouded in her grief

As though she was buried

With her husband

“Donna, you are not forgotten”

Yeah, I cried today

For additional information about “Widow Wednesday:” http://widowwednesday.com/national-widows-day/

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STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Once upon a time there was an internal refugee ban in America. Well, I guess you can’t really call them refugees since they were brought to the New World unwillingly. Let’s just say there was an internal ban in place in America, a quota filled by immigrants. Well, I guess you really can’t call them immigrants because they were chained and dragged to the New World. When they were brought over, before the Mayflower, they were labeled chattel and were viewed as such because their humanity was blithely denied. Eventually, 200+ years later, after much destroying of families and taking of lives enforced by the internal American ban, the war between countrymen broke out and then victory and then freedom (so they hoped and prayed) for the once stolen, a period of reconstruction, a renewal and rebuilding (so they hoped and prayed), a discovery of self and voice (always in place) but then the Feds left and the old attitudes, the old guard, seized power again and though they could no longer shackle the bodies, they built a wall of hate between them and those people. The wall, the internal wall of hate, the created in America internal ban, was even more rigorously enforced and the Feds left the local yokels to their own devices. Black codes morphed into Jim Crow and Jim Crow policed the ban with self-righteous polity.

“You can wash our dishes but you can’t sit at our lunch counters. You can raise our children but you can’t marry our daughters. You can sing those good old spirituals for us but you can’t sit in the pew next to us. You can cook our food but you can’t dine in our restaurants. You can wash our clothes but you can’t share the same water fountain. You can clean our houses but you can’t sit down and eat your lunch in our family dining rooms. You can be a teacher but not in our schools. You can be a preacher but not in our pulpits. You can be a student but not with current textbooks. You can buy our gas for your car at our stations but you can’t leave your gas in our restrooms at our stations. You can buy clothes in our stores but you can’t try on clothes in our stores. We demand your respect but don’t you dare try to look us in the eye. Bow and scrape and stay in your place until we need you to do what we deem beneath us to do.”

Yeah, there’s always been an internal American ban in place, a wall of red, white and blue hate embellished with a white cross. It went underground for a while, or so we thought. It was silent but it was still rooted in the hearts of those who never got over 1964, 20 years before Orwell’s 1984, but Big Brother (in his mind) was watching, waiting for the moment to seize power again.

2017 and everything is still everything.

They learned from their history.

Have we?

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A CHANGE IS GONNA COME!

I watch them run into the cafeteria, all wide eyed and just a little wild.

For five weeks each summer they become that diverse group on a campus that is not nearly as diverse during the school year.

They do not understand the privilege afforded to them of learning on a campus that costs a pretty penny to attend during the school year, a campus largely comprised of the homogeneous and the privileged.

The teachers who work with this diverse summer group may not be used to working with such diversity, either.

My wish for both groups is that they would come to understand one another in such a way that the experience will remain with them long after the memory of the summer sessions fades.

The line of difference drawn hard in society’s sand will only be erased when the diverse dare to embrace inclusion and dare to sit down to talk through skewed perceptions and unwarranted stereotypes.

While it is too true that I often view the world through a lens forged in the fires of Jim Crow, I believe that change is possible  It will take time. It will require patience. It will have to be fueled by determination.

I choose to believe!

We can learn to see each other and see ourselves in each other and recognize that human beings are more alike than we are unalike. ~Maya Angelou

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WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES: On The Other Side Of Yesterday

The Story Behind a Door

It has been almost fourteen years since an oh-so-familiar door was slammed shut in my face!

I had in and out privileges for almost 27 years through that door marked “Relationship,” two years companion, twenty-five years, wife.

Twenty-seven years, learning and knowing and growing, laughter and anger, abundance and need.

Then, abruptly and without grace, Death slammed the door shut in my face and I was denied access for the rest of my life

Unsure and and a little afraid, I stood alone in front of a new door, a door slightly ajar, a door marked “New Normal.”

Surrounded by questions for whom the answers would come painfully slow, I tentatively pushed open the door a little more, just to peer past it to see what I could see.

I saw nothing.

I quickly discovered I had to step inside before I would see anything  at all.

It has been an unexpected journey, often watered with tears and plowed with frustration.

Mostly an uphill journey on a path marked “Single,” I’ve learned to endure the detours as well the unexpected pot holes and speed bumps.

Sometimes the days are sweltering, other days cool and refreshing.

These days the door marked “Relationship” is no longer in view, but the memories stayed with me and they often swathe me in the warmth of their comfort, especially when yesterday really is so far away.

“…could tell you my adventures–beginning from this morning,’ said Alice a little timidly: ‘but it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO…

Sometimes posts of people I knew back in the day pop up on my Facebook page

Sometimes I scroll through Facebook pages of people I knew back in the day

Recognize faces in captured photographic moments

People I no longer see, have not spoken to in ages

This is not intentional

It is just the nature of the beast

Out of sight, out of mind

It occurs to me that I have become one of those people

You know

Like those former celebrities who no longer occupy the limelight

And people wonder

“Whatever happened to?”

Yeah, I have become one of the misplaced

People who I saw on a regular basis

People with whom I laughed and cried

People with whom I dined and traveled

I no longer see or talk to

It is the nature of the beast

To be forgotten as memory fades

And connections dissolve

It’s just as well

Especially since I am no longer that Donna

They probably wouldn’t recognize me anyway

Which is just as well

Because if they had really known me back then

They would not have let me get away

So easily

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I’m Still Here!

 

 

 

BLUE, BLUE, IS MY WORLD BLUE?

I have been in the blue room the last few days

Nothing like the green room into which celebrities are ushered

Lavishly furnished room filled with expensive goodies and drink

For their pleasure and comfort

In which they relax

Before they stride into the limelight

Of some venue

My blue room is nothing like that

Sparsely lit and furnished

A table in the corner in the back in the dark

Yeah, that’s my spot

Head in hand

I sit and muse over the vicissitudes of life

The vagaries of life

Ala King Solomon

Vanity, vanity, all is vanity

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Senior sighs swathed in melancholy

Time to regroup

Refocus

Move out

Shake off the ennui

Think on goodness

The grace of yesterday

Forge through today

Tomorrow is always brighter

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When it’s not wrapped in blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MONDAY MUSINGS: Afterwords

She walked into the church on Easter Sunday morning dressed in a light blue “church” suit and a silver ornate hat on her head. I watched her from across the room and as she walked to her seat, I noted how she stood out against a backdrop of Sunday casual.

I grew up in the era when clothes had a category. There were work clothes, school clothes, play clothes, church clothes. On special occasions there were party clothes, Easter clothes, Christmas clothes.

Church clothes were aka Sunday Best and everyone, kids to adults, wore their Sunday Best every Sunday. Often, Sunday Best was the same outfit every Sunday, but it was always pristine, freshly cleaned and ironed.

I think about those days in light of the casual ambience of today. “Come as you are,” almost looks like “ready-roll.” For those of you not familiar with this term, it means an individual rolls out of bed and rolls out into the world just as they are, “ready-roll.”

Church wear is pretty much casual wear these days and I get it. Following Christ has nothing to do with the clothes one wears into the sanctuary. Fellowship with the saints is more about the blood of Christ than the red sole of a shoe.

But, my Sunday observation got me to thinking. Here are my thoughts, my “Afterwords:”

Back in those days when there were church clothes and work clothes, my grandparents and parents needed that distinction. The work week for them was tedious and back bending. More often than not, they had no authority, no power. They were subject to the whims of the system that defined how they could be, where they could be and who they should be. Those work clothes reminded them of just how powerless they were in a world that demanded so much of them as it did its best to drain them of value and self respect.

But, Oh, those church clothes! Those church clothes, that Sunday Best ensemble, welcomed them with open arms. Those clothes reminded them of sanctuary, that place where they could celebrate one another and rejoice in the presence of a God who loved them beyond their reality. Those church clothes strode proudly into a place that was 100% their own.

Those church clothes, plain and simple, were worn with a regal posture as the saints greeted one another before walking into a house whose doors were always open to them. Hats were crowns worn on heads held high in the presence of the King of Kings.

I never saw my grandfather in anything other than a blue suit jacket, a khaki shirt and khaki pants on Sundays. But, dressed in his Sunday best, he was the superintendent of the church, and in that place he was that intelligent, self-taught, learned man he always was.

His work clothes were farm laborer clothes, but his Sunday clothes spoke to who he really was from the inside out. His Sunday clothes kept him sane and insulated from the wretched demands of those work clothes. His Sunday Best was his best and in them he was always at his best!

No, clothes don’t seem to have categories anymore. But, for some of us, those yesterday clothes categories remind us of just how far we have come by faith!

I must remember this the next time I see someone dressed in their Sunday Best!

 

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Photograph from the book CROWNS.