Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Forgiveness

A Poem and Reflection on Death

Death haunts the pages
Of our minds and hearts
A shadow reality bearing down
On irreplaceable relationships

Who am I without you?
Where am I to go without you?
How much agony can one soul bear?

Each beginning moves
Ineluctably toward its end
Knowing and not knowing
How the plot will play

Your death becomes my death
Bankrupt dreams and hopes
Why didn’t we see it coming?
As though we were omniscient

I’m left asking myself what must I/we do to be ‘ready’? The question is urgent, and yet…

It’s always too soon, until it’s too late.

Dr. Ira Byock, M.D., quotes this saying in his book The Four Things That Matter Most. The book isn’t just for people facing imminent death of a loved one. It’s for anyone, anytime, anywhere.

The four things are simple and life-changing. They won’t take away the pain of death. They will, however, help the people we leave behind deal with the reality of our absence.

Here they are, four things to say to those you love before it’s too late:

Please forgive me.
I forgive you.
Thank you.
I love you.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Especially now, in light of multiple tragedies here and around the world. Death piled on death. Expected and unexpected. Close to home and in our news feeds daily.

Of course there are things that ‘need to be done’ to decrease the kinds of death we’ve witnessed already this year. Yet none of that will prepare me for my death or the deaths of those I love. That’s what’s on my heart this afternoon.

Blessings of peace,

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 October 2017

Living in a haze

Living in a haze
of trance-like ghosts
we move through life
reenacting scenes
from childhood
played by ear
with great skill
and small vision

I’ve been thinking about my father, and the strangle-hold of symbolic behaviors I adopted in order to survive with my will intact.

My father lived in a haze of his own trance-like ghosts and scripts. A small world in which he was determined to survive my grandfather’s brutality.

Almost invisible and automatic, his ghosts and scripts drove him to replay the roll he learned by heart as a child. He hoped to keep himself safe, and demonstrate his superiority without disrespecting his father.

When he was in his 80s, Dad shared with me a recurrent dream. It troubled him greatly. So much that he sometimes began crying as he talked about it. The dream returned from time to time right up to his death at age 96.

In the dream, he’s in a physical fight with his father. Fighting for his life. No one else is in the room. It seems they’re in a barn. Both my grandfather and my father were tall, strong men shaped by years of hard physical labor on family farms.

Eventually, Dad wrestles his father to the floor, wins the match, and wakes up, caught in a nightmare of guilt and self-judgment. He disrespected his father. A cardinal sin, according to Dad. According to him, just having the dream proved his guilt.

Taking the measure of my father’s struggle against his guilt and self-judgment, along with his early, harsh judgment of me, helps me understand him. It doesn’t take away any blame for what he did.

It does, however, invite me to pray to our Creator, “Forgive him, for he knew not what he did.” Dad lived in the haze of his own trance-like ghosts and scripts. Unable to see beyond his own survival.

This also invites me to face my trance-like ghosts. Scenes from childhood played by ear with great skill and small vision of myself and others.

It’s Good Friday. A good day for self-examination and forgiveness.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 April 2017
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Measure

Queen for a Day Bans


I hate the word ‘banned’
My father was the King of Bans
My life as a child was ruled by Bans
My father’s list of Thou shalt Nots
conveniently fenced me in
and robbed evil of its hate-filled power

A thousand times wrong!
The wrong on the tip of my tongue
The wrong in the imaginations of my heart
The wrong in my never-delivered tirades
The wrong my father, and then I did to my body and soul
Haunts me seven decades later

I’m a Queen
though not by succession
I sometimes proclaim myself Queen
Crown myself and decide for myself
What I will and will not do or say
In the secret places of my mind and heart
from which I banned my father

I hereby proclaim myself Queen for a Day
And designate my personal bans for this day–
The 103rd anniversary of my deceased father’s birth

I hereby ban
self-neglect of my female body and soul
that minimizes its need to be respected and cared for
as a gift entrusted to me by God

I hereby ban
All assumptions about my father
Including whether he would or would not
accept my forgiveness

Finally, I hereby ban
Any shred of fear or self-righteousness
That keeps me from opening my heart
to God’s overwhelming love and acceptance of me.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 October 2016
Photo of my father, maternal grandfather, mother and me, 1943/44

WordPress Daily Prompt: Banned

Blaming Daddy? | Part 2 of 2

‘Have you forgiven your father?’  A fair question, never easy to answer.  With regard to forgiveness, I aim to become one of the tough-minded Lewis Smedes talks about in his book, The Art of Forgiving. Read the rest of this entry »

The Other 9/11

 Wedding Day, 11 September 196511 September 1965

 forty-nine years of

adventure and catastrophe Read the rest of this entry »

Blaming Daddy? | Part 1 of 2

Not once have I blamed Daddy for his beatings and troubling behavior toward me.  In Part 3 of The Air I Breathed, I talked about my habit of constantly blaming myself.  I didn’t like seeing this then, and I still don’t like it.  Blaming myself may have been OK as a survival skill when I was a young child and teenager; it’s not OK now, decades later.

So where am I today? Read the rest of this entry »

The Air I Breathed | Part 3 of 3

Of all the things I listed in my initial observations about Part 1, one troubles me most–my inability to blame Daddy.  I’m used to blaming myself, or at least wondering whether I’m to blame for things that happen to or around me.  This seems to be one of my favorite default modes.  However, given the nature of the air I breathed back then, I’m surprised at my internal response: Read the rest of this entry »

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