itching.

I itch.

it’s a twitch
I dare not scratch-
for that way lies
loneliness.

there was a time
my soul would
e  c  h  o
like an empty suitcase,
the open road.
Behold:

Connection, Affection
are far too tempting

and suddenly
I see
Life
unfolding the way all those
Coming-of-Age novels
warned us about
[with disdain,]
the refrain

repeating
 
over and over
again and again
before my eyes.

to my surprise,
I understand.

and yet, the grand
vastness of infinity
calls to me still

How to stand it?
remember:

Life is for Living
and when I arrive at my death,
out of breath
and late as usual,
and my soul finally
s.c.r.a.t.c.h.e.s. its way free
of this confining body,

I will           race
to that glimmer
at the edge of forever
and              embrace
the impossible echoes
of eternity

light prevails.

IMG_0729

“It’s amazing how a little tomorrow can make up for a whole lot of yesterday.”
― John Guare

I’m sitting in a diner, the light brown wood of the tabletop familiar under the standard placemat of bright squares advertising local businesses. No overwhelming feeling of hunger has gripped me, no feeling of anticipation of my order’s arrival has slipped into the corners of my mind. I sit, contentedly, taking in the slight hustle and bustle around me.

I glance to my right, and tilt my head, confused. A familiar face I was not expecting to see meets my gaze steadily, with a smile. I smile back uncertainly.

“Hey,” he says.
“Hey,” I respond hesitantly. “Is it, ah, is it okay for you to be here? Can you be here right now?”
“Yeah don’t worry, I can be here. How are you?”
I relax a little. “I’m great,” I say happily. “How are you?”
“Really good, I’m doing great,” he says, a tone of sincerity backing his words.

This response fills me with joy. We fall into the happy, comfortable conversation of two people with no walls between them. I couldn’t say if it lasted for minutes or for hours. If you ask me what we talked about, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.

Something gently warns me our conversation is coming to an end. I look into his eyes, mine suddenly welling with tears. I’m not sure why I’ve just been so overtaken with emotion.

To my surprise, I say, “I’m so scared I won’t remember this. I’m so scared I won’t remember that I talked to you.”

“Don’t worry,” he assures me. “I’ll make sure. I’ll make sure you remember.”
His words comfort me. Everything seems a little fuzzy.

Blackness. I realize my eyes are closed, slowly become aware that I’m laying in my bed, the darkness of night still covering my side of the Earth. I roll over, confused. I realize I’m crying.

It’s been almost five years since I’ve spoken to Chris, five years since any of us have. And yet, I feel it hasn’t even been five minutes. Maybe it hasn’t.

I think about the dream and am overwhelmed with a sense of calm, of comfort. I’ve spent the last five years like my entire family has- keeping my cousin alive in my heart, in my memories. Carrying around the medal of St. Christopher as a token of love, of luck, of protection, of whatever I needed it to be.

Who can say for sure what dreams are? Imaginations run wild? Doors to another reality? Neither of those? Both of them?

I am not sure what I believe about most dreams, but I believe that Chris is doing great. I don’t know why he chose me to share that with, and I don’t know what I think happens to our souls after we leave this world. I don’t think we spend eternity in diners where we never eat, but I’ve come to believe we can meet our friends and family there and tell them how we’re doing.

And although I’m unsure where or when or how or who I’ll be after I die, I very much believe Chris will be there to greet me.

That alone makes me unafraid. That alone makes me hopeful. That alone is enough.

saying goodbye: seeing through the rearview mirror

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“It’s the emptiest and yet the fullest of all human messages: ‘Good-bye.” – Kurt Vonnegut

The last month and a half has been one of the busiest, most unpredictable times in my life. In the past few weeks I’ve seen many endings, and beginnings.

I graduated from college. I went to senior formal with my best friends and I said goodbye to the place I’ve called home for four years. I spent one last week in our apartment giving tearful hugs to friends I don’t know when I’ll see again, finding closure, having a few last family meals and getting completely pulverized in slapcup. I ended my career as a student and looked towards what would follow.

I moved home to welcome post-grad life, I reconnected with my friends and family and I started the job search. I teared up with pride as I watched my little sister graduate from high school at the top of her class, knowing that she has an amazing four years ahead of her.

And then- a few days ago, I lost my grandmother.

It wasn’t unexpected; my family had been preparing for the news for a couple of weeks. My grandma turned 90 two days before she passed, with a group of us singing “Happy Birthday” around her bed on the hospice floor. The news came late one night, and we weren’t surprised; my family had reached another ending together, said another goodbye.

And then the stories were told, details of my grandmother’s life I wish I had thought to delve into sooner. I can’t help but think I should have asked her more about her time in the Navy and her work in D.C.. I should have talked to her about how she met my grandfather, the one I never got to meet (but that my dad assures me would have “liked my spunk”). I should have asked her what college was like when she went, and for more stories about what dad was like when he was little.

Realizations came in waves that grandma’s story is, of course, an important part of mine. That her story is something I should take pride in, and I can only do that if I know what it is.

It’s so easy to see the older people in our lives as stable constants. We’re so focused on our own stories, on the ones we carefully edit via filters and captions on Facebook and Instagram, that we forget to ask about the stories that came before us. We neglect the photos that look old because they ARE old for the ones that look old because we carefully layered ‘Walden’ over ‘1977’ and upped the contrast.

We only learn about grandma’s service in the FBI after she’s gone, and then it’s harder to picture her in her 20’s: serving her country in the war, going to college and falling in love. Meeting grandpa and moving to what became home. My home.

All the endings I’ve witnessed recently have made me pause to reflect on where I’ve been, and where I’m going.

I’m keeping the camera around to take pictures of the stories I’m still writing, and still living- because someday, maybe someone will want to hear them. But I’m putting the camera down long enough to pick up the photo albums that will show me the sides of my family, and myself, that I never knew. I want to ask about the stories that those pictures bring back before there’s no one left who can tell them.

Sometimes when we’re saying goodbye to what’s familiar and don’t know where the road is headed, it helps to glance in the rearview mirror and remember where we’ve come from.