Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Love

It’s all I have to bring today —

Here’s a poem from Emily Dickinson in celebration of our hearts, the fields, the meadows and the bees. Appropriate for Valentine’s Day and every other day of the year.

It’s all I have to bring today —
This, and my heart beside —
This, and my heart, and all the fields —
And all the meadows wide —
Be sure you count, should I forget —
Some one the sum could tell —
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.

Emily Dickinson, in Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickinson
© 1994 by Magnolia Editions Limited, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

The sum of love is beyond comprehension, beyond the capacity of a heart to understand. Wider and deeper than meadows or the sky. Elusive as bees hiding in clover and pollen drifting through the air.

Is there a way to capture it? I think Emily’s answer is No. Perhaps because we don’t own it, and thus can’t hoard it? The only option left, it seems, is to give it away. One heart at a time, expanding out beyond itself. As large and as small as nature’s unnumbered wonders ‘hiding’ right outside our doors.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 February 2019
Photo found at sureastheworld.com

Loving the last chapter


Loving the last chapter
Short or long it’s upon me
An uneasy wedding of
For better and for worse

Heavy world-weariness
Creeps in when not looking
Though my heart insists
There’s still love to live

Not yesterday’s love
But today’s and tomorrow’s
My mind leaps up and
Out of bed each morning

Though my body won’t
Go there my heart races
Ahead into undreamed dreams
As unwritten words pile up

A strange sensation this
Knowing but not knowing where
Or how the rest of my life
Will play in this shrinking world

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 February 2018
Image found at shitijbagga.net

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

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 October 2017

Considering Loss on the Eve of Our Wedding Anniversary

Wedding Day, 11 September 1965
11 September 1965

Fear of loneliness
Drifts in and out unbidden

Heavy eyelids droop
Head hangs low over keyboard

Tangled thoughts intrude
Try to distract me as though
I were the intruder

I am not.

Pulling myself together
I rouse myself to the occasion
Reaching for stars and light
I do not own.

What if he dies first?
What if I die first?

I don’t know.

So what do I know?
Only this –
That if he dies first, I will grieve.

And what will be the shape of that grief?
A hole that stretches from here to eternity
An unreachable planet long ago and faraway
A place I can no longer visit
An ocean of heaving sobs
Seaweeds of bitter regret and sweet longing
Washing up on the shore of each long day and night

On Monday David and I will celebrate our 52nd wedding anniversary. I thought I knew a thing or two about love the day we married. I did not. Nor will I know all about love the day one of us dies.

The older I get, the more precious each day becomes. I remember dreading retirement. Not simply because I would miss my colleagues and students, but because I would be spending much more time with D. More than I’d spent with him most of our married life.

Could we live with each other in the same house, including the same kitchen, every day? Would we get bored out of our gourds without deadlines and meetings and endless reports? Would one of us decide to find a part-time job just to get away from it all?

Happily, we’ve survived so far, including Kitchen Wars. But that would be another story.

I’ve had death on my mind in the last weeks, given events here and around the world. Death is about more than statistics, more than a moving memorial service, more than a huge display of candles and flowers. More than a gut-wrenching news story of the moment.

Somewhere, each moment of every day, someone is grieving. I want to honor the value of just one person’s life and the value of grief. The kind that can soften us, making us more human than we were before.

It looks like Monday, our anniversary day, will be a beautiful Longwood Garden day. Maybe another walk in the Meadow? We’ll see.

Thanks for reading!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 September 2017
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Overcome

My someday list

My someday list
Of dreams come true
Spreads heavy with its weight
Of years across my life
So many yet so few

What now I wonder wistfully,
Is this what yet remains —
The scattered remnants here and there
Of life and love and mountains scaled
Now fading from my view?

Someday is now my yesterday
Of dreams no longer bright –
The muddled brilliant afterglow
Of memories tucked away in scraps
Sweet pangs of love and life and death

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 January 2017
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Someday

What I never wrote to my father

Dear Dad, thenextfamily.com


When it came to disciplining his daughters, my father often referred to several verses in the King James Version of the Bible.

I love the King James Version (KJV). All my scripture memory work was in its now unfamiliar language. To my ears it’s still beautiful, though somewhat dated, and evokes awe in its choice of pronouns and verbs (thee, thou, goest, comest). Once memorized, it flows easily by heart.

Yet it has limitations. In addition, the language chosen by the 54+ men who translated it between 1604 and 1611 is often stark.

When it came to dealing with me, one of my father’s key verses was Proverbs 16:18 (KJV):

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

My father believed he was responsible for beating pride out of me. From his perspective, my anger proved I was a prideful little girl intent on getting my superior way. According to him I thought I knew better than he when it came to punishment, rules or decisions.

If I didn’t comply with his will, another proverb told him what to do. I’ve changed the personal pronouns. Proverbs 23:13-14 (KJV) says,

Withhold not correction from the child:
for if thou beatest her with the rod, she shall not die.
Thou shalt beat her with the rod, and shalt deliver her soul from hell.

Before you get angry with my father, think about this: Like many other parents, he passed on what his father did to him. I can’t exonerate him. He  did what he did. He was responsible for what he did; I was not. I do, however, have compassion for him. I know from experience how difficult it is to raise children.

Last week I was reading the Good News Version (TEV) of the same verses in Proverbs 23:13-14:

Don’t hesitate to discipline children.
A good spanking won’t kill them.
As a matter of fact, it may save their lives.

I would still suggest that even a “good spanking” can kill a child’s spirit. Do you or I know a child’s inner spirit? Do you know the spirit this child may be too terrified to show because right now because the main agenda is to grit her teeth and get through whatever you or I decide to do to her vulnerable body?

What is a “good spanking” anyway? Sometimes I needed discipline. Yet I never needed the kind of corporal punishment I received. Corporal humiliation is never a “good spanking.” It’s humiliation of the weak by the powerful. An abuse of power.

Whatever this “good spanking” is about, it isn’t about humiliating a child’s body or spirit. If the point of the proverb is to say parents mustn’t hold back when it comes to disciplining their children, that can be done in other ways.

Here’s how I see it. As an adult, I’m responsible for welcoming children and young teenagers into my life. They’re strangers I’m privileged to get to know and learn to discipline appropriately. It isn’t always easy. Yet hospitality offers me another way to relate to them and to myself.

  • Hospitality welcomes children and young people God sends into my life.
  • Hospitality isn’t overbearing and doesn’t make quick assumptions.
  • Hospitality asks questions and listens.
  • Hospitality gets interested in what children and young people think and feel.
  • Hospitality doesn’t pry or spy on others.
  • Hospitality listens, affirms, and collaborates to solve problems.
  • Hospitality isn’t rude, bossy, impatient or quick to take offense.
  • Hospitality creates and maintains reasonable, healthy boundaries.

I think hospitality is a form of love. I love my father.

Here’s what I never wrote to my father:

Dear Dad,
Please treat me as a human being created in the image of God. That’s all I want. I don’t want to fight with you or disappoint you. I want to be myself and count on you to help me without humiliating me. I want to be proud of myself and proud of you.
Your first-born daughter,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 November 2015
Image from thenextfamily.com

Dear Readers | A Family Death

Easter Lilies

Dear Readers,
We’ve had a death in my family–Sister #2’s husband. The sister with whom we had a double wedding nearly 50 years ago. I’ll be checking in from time to time, but don’t know when I’ll resume regular postings. Probably not for several days.

If you haven’t already, Read the rest of this entry »

lost in the woods

P1050184
lost in the woods
pursued by fear
captured by love
reigning supreme
Prince Oliver Smudge the Second

* * *

We just caught Smudge out a few days ago, Read the rest of this entry »

She remembers me

She remembers me
From long ago
A stranger, yet a friend
She says she was there
The day the war ended.
I don’t remember her. Read the rest of this entry »

My Mother, My Teacher | Part 1 of 2

I’m still thinking about my confused and confusing relationships with men.  This story is about my Mother and me. It’s also about at least some of my troubling relationships with men. Read the rest of this entry »

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