Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Life and Death

unmapped adventure

Restless uncertainties clamor
Living reminders of death
And the loneliness of aging
I stare out the window
Looking for a sign, a thought
That points the way ahead
Through shapeless days
Living within boundaries shifting
From one day to the next

Thou shalt not taunts me
Thou shalt snaps at my heels
Dares me to veer from this
Strange path to everything
And to nothing at all—
Dreams wander without clear
Themes or destinations
Days come and go
Like all the others

One day up
The next day down
The cup is full
The cup is empty
The magic recipe eludes me
Leaving nothing
But the raw gift of life—
Becoming myself
In this unmapped adventure

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 March 2019
Image found at pinterest.com

Nibbling at edges

Nibbling at edges
A dropped heartbeat
Here . . . . . now there
Random holes of silence
Never to be filled
Gone forever
Eluding my grasp
Silently stealing life
That once seemed
Steady and sure

Several days ago I decided to wear my heart monitor. I was curious. How often and how long are these episodes of atrial fibrillation? Lucy Pacemaker takes care of the slow beats. I don’t even know when she’s doing it because I’m usually asleep.

So what’s up with those fast-beating AFib episodes? Sometimes I can tell when my heart misses beats, but not usually. Often I feel weak, especially in my legs and when I reach to get something from a high shelf. My energy level plummets, and I feel off-balance.

For three days I wore my heart monitor from the time I got up until I went to bed. Nothing. Just wonderfully steady, strong beats. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I was thrilled and full of energy.

Yesterday morning things went haywire. I saw it on my heart monitor, and felt it in my body. Weak and discouraged doesn’t begin to describe the feeling.

After some tears of frustration, I decided my heart could use some comfort. I also pared down my schedule to three things: make (and enjoy!) a simple lentil soup, play the piano, and exercise indoors.

After half an hour on my semi-recumbent bike, plus walking around the house while listening to the radio, it happened. My heart suddenly settled down, more than 8 hours after the fibrillation began.

Yesterday evening I jotted down the poem at the top. An acknowledgment that I’m dying in more ways than one—and that there’s life in me, though it’s not what I expected.

As for you, dear Reader, here’s a Reader-friendly article about AFib, and how to tell, without a monitor, whether your heartbeats are steady: Stanford University Scope Blog.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 March 2019
Image found at Stanford University’s Scope Blog

heaviness of years past

It’s Monday morning
I’m still trying to
Find myself

Not lost
Perhaps misplaced
Somewhere back there?

Yesterday in church
I wept for the heaviness
Of years past

Wounds and scars
From a thousand misfired
Bullets

Invisible reminders
Deep within of tales not told
Or understood

The most difficult thing I’ve done as a follower of Jesus is to step out of my hiding places. Not primarily to face my friends or foes, but to face myself. In my family of origin, hiding was the best way I could cope and survive as a child and teenager.

As a young adult and later as a professional, I carried a weight of fear in my guts. Fear that some grand tribunal would subpoena me to testify against myself.

Sadly, I thought this process would be about my small and large transgressions, as determined by their eyes. In my worst fears, I would be shamed and punished before an audience of my peers plus strangers. They would make an example of me, much as my father tried to make an example of me as the eldest of four daughters.

Instead, as a 40-something, I found myself in Al-Anon groups of women and men struggling as I was. Listening to them helped me listen to my story. Maybe I didn’t need to fear some unknown grand tribunal.

These new friends didn’t absolve me, and they didn’t try to fix me. Instead, they listened, and showed me how they worked on their own wounds and scars. By honoring themselves, they honored me.

So there I was in church yesterday, weeping. Realizing that no matter what I do, I will be welcomed with open arms when I die.

Where will I go? I don’t know. Nonetheless, I believe I will be in the presence of The Only One who understands me fully and loves me from the inside out. I’ll also be free of wounds and scars. Free to be the beautiful woman I am.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 March 2019
Photo found at fromthegrapevine.com, Flowers on a tombstone, Czech Republic

Yesterday and today

The beginning and the end
One day follows another

A hand reaches out
Eyes meet yet again

One true note after another
moves through time after time

A small bud bursts open
on trees swaying in the wind

The sun set in the west
and rose in the east
yesterday and today

Yesterday I accompanied D to a doctor’s appointment, and watched a procedure on his back. It wasn’t pretty or pain-free. It was, however, successful. We came home relieved and weary.

It got me thinking about times D has accompanied me in the last four years to appointments with a variety of doctors, including emergency room and surgical procedures. Some planned, some not planned.

I’ve always prided myself on being healthy. Looking back, however, I’d say I was fighting to hold it together as best I could, given the circumstances of my childhood, and my workplace. I didn’t expect retirement would surface so many health challenges.

Nonetheless, D was there for me. It felt wonderful to be there for him yesterday. A small way I could do for him what he has willingly and mostly gladly done for me, especially in the last several years.

This little poem came to mind while I was sitting at my kitchen window this morning. The minute it was on paper I knew it was for D. And for you, my friends and visitors who have your own lives, dreams, sorrows and joys.

Take care of someone you love today–or your pet. And don’t forget to take care of yourself.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 February 2019
Photo found at clicknmoms.com

One inch short of war

Howling winds
Rattle doors and windows

Random bursts
Of unseemly fury
Hurled through air
Turn lashing trees
To toppled dreams
Caught off guard
By one lone ranger
Unleashing havoc
One inch short of war

Pointing out the faults of others, especially those of POTUS, is dangerous business. Some say we should cut him a break. After all, doesn’t our own uncontrolled behavior make us as guilty as the next party?

Perhaps it does. Nonetheless, national leaders are held to higher standards because of the number of people who depend daily on their decisions and actions. Especially, but not only in situations of national emergency. A wall on our southern border is not cause to declare a national emergency. Hurricane Maria was. A test of our readiness to do the right thing. Together.

So yes, POTUS is rightly held to higher standards. And yes, my ability to see fault-lines in POTUS likely means I’m all too familiar with this set of behaviors. In myself and in others.

It brings to mind my history with self-confident men and women who believed themselves ordained by God to keep me in line. In my place. Voiceless and without power. One inch short of being used and abused in a subterranean war fueled by abuse of power.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 February 2019
Photo of Hurricane Maria damage in San Juan, Puerto Rico; found at nbcnews.com

The coming storm

Silent as snow
Trees stand motionless
At attention
Scarcely breathing
Gray chill air
Of the coming storm

These days it’s difficult to read or listen to the news without descending one step deeper into the eye of a coming storm.

Nature’s weather events regularly point to the chaos and destruction of large, uncontrollable storms. Especially those that enter lashing out in one direction, and exit lashing out in another direction.

As it happens, today we’re in the leading edge of a large weather event coming at us from the south and west. The signs are all there, just outside my kitchen window and on countless weather updates .

So what’s it all about?

I can’t help thinking about  our nation. Especially the rapid deterioration of discipline, trust and good will we witness daily, beginning at the top and flowing out and down. As a young nation among older nations, we don’t seem ready to weather future storms that grow larger and more inevitable each day.

When I looked out my kitchen window this morning, I saw the trees. They were standing at attention, calm, silent, waiting to see what this storm will bring. For some it may spell disaster. For others, it will blow over and life will go on as usual.

Right now snow plows are going up and down the road outside our house. The snow is beautiful and heavy with moisture. Sleet and freezing rain will come later.

In the end, what I saw outside my kitchen window challenged me to be what I’ve often longed to be — a poem lovely as a tree. Vulnerable, strong, graceful, able to weather storms, and willing to die. No matter what happens next for me or our nation, and no matter who happens to be in the White House.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 20 February 2019
Photo found at elizabethatkinson.com

All I need for today

All I need for today
Is framed by my kitchen window

This is truth:
The importance of small things.
Have you counted earth’s surviving insects?

Planetary disaster goes unnoticed
The border wall calls, cries, screams
For attention
The small child in each of us
Demanding and relentless

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 February 2019
Photo of endangered North American Karner Blue Butterfly found at allaboutwildlife.com

For women of a certain age

Restless mind and body
search for direction –
Ways to speak into the void
of life counting down –
One day and night at a time
Relentless

Heaviness hangs on my eyelids
I want to sleep – or do I ?
Maybe I don’t want to be
Awake

It’s easier that way –
And who would know the difference
between sweet sleep and
fear-driven avoidance?

For what was this body/soul created?

Maybe I missed something
In the directions for women
of a certain age and temperament

I’m more than a statistic.
Writing when Awake is dangerous.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 February 2019
Photo of sunset in the Black Forest found at pixabay.com

A broken heart

Days pass swiftly.
Time seems to be speeding by.

Yesterday I read another chapter from Mary Oliver’s Upstream,
and felt small and late in coming to this place.
Not by informed choice, but from neglect,
and ignorance about this world.

Held back. Stunted. Fenced in.

Living at best a half-life of external demands, distractions,
and danger looming around every corner.

Unsafe. Captive to other’s ideas, attitudes and power.

Now near the end, it seems
I lived a half-life that wasn’t entirely mine.

On quiet days I long for another opportunity to live
and taste life on my terms, from the inside out,
not as a timid onlooker into the lives of others.

Am I ungrateful?
Or just sad….even brokenhearted.

Perhaps a broken heart is a beginning, not the end.
That, and playing the piano as though
for the very first time.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 February 2019
Photo of path in Ireland found on pinterest.com

My mother’s spirit

My mother’s spirit
Came calling last night
I saw her footprints
In this morning’s snow
Precise and measured
She passed quietly
Beneath my window
Step by small-hooved step
Down the driveway
Before crossing over
Into the woods beyond
Our house asleep
And dreaming

I think they were the prints of a red fox–which reminded me of my mother’s bright red coat. She would have loved the brilliant rainbow umbrella, and the fashionable leggings and boots.

The tracks down our driveway this morning told me I’m not alone. Neither are my three sisters, each of us with our own mother-daughter relationship to ponder. Mother Eileen died in mid-February 1999, twenty years ago, seven years before our sister Diane died of ALS in mid-February 2006.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 February 2019
Photo found at fiftiness.com

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