Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: the last chapter of my life

when women refuse to be silenced

#MeToo backlash
a tsunami of contempt
contorted faces
taunting voice of POTUS
how dare they call us out?
crocodile tears for victims
rage at their own undoing
fear writ large
caught in headlights
frozen with disbelief
resorting to the game of boys
bullying their way to the top

All this and more
when women refuse to be silenced

The most powerful force that silences me is NOT what others say out loud or even to me about ‘these women.’ It’s my own deeply ingrained people-pleasing habit.

Though it isn’t as strong as it was several years ago, it’s still a powerful force. A forked tongue that keeps whispering I’m a hair’s breadth from being ruled out of order, or losing all my friends.

Some women and men in my life don’t struggle with this. I admire them. Watching them makes me keenly aware I wasn’t born or raised to this level of direct personal honesty. In particular, I didn’t learn to stand up for myself, and I’m still paying for it.

So here I am today dealing with demons of the past, though in a new key.

Thanks to recent events and our national history, I still have opportunities to speak up and act differently than in the past. Not as a child, and not as an outsider. I’ve more than paid my dues. I’m in the last chapter of my life, faced with opportunities to make a difference. Not just for others, but for myself. First, however, I have to negotiate just one piece of business:

“The dying woman has to decide how tactful she wants to be.”
With thanks to Anatole Broyard, Intoxicated by My Illness, p. 62

It isn’t over until it’s over. I’m staying tuned.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 October 2018
Image found at luckyottershaven.com

Chilly nights

Chilly nights
Warmish days
Clock ticking
Daylight fading
Mind numbs
Heart beats
Seconds down
End game
Winning score
Closed door
No exit
Straight ahead
Bells chime
Midnight falls

I’m just back from another round of blood-letting. Mine, that is. Seventeen vials again. Peanuts next to what the Red Cross takes (from others, not from me)—100 vials give or take a few.

Nonetheless, after every blood draw I feel like a survivor when I stand up on my own two feet, put my jacket on and walk out the door fully conscious of who I am and where I am. Last time it was a beautiful picture in a well-lit room across the hall that kept me focused.

This time the lights were off across the hall, so I closed my eyes and reverted to my old standby—Psalm 23. I silently repeated this Psalm to myself as a child when I felt anxious or afraid.

I’m not sure what to make of the words at the top. They came dropping into my mind when I sat down to write. Nonetheless, they likely reflect my current focus on the last chapter of my life, now ticking away one minute, one short line, one day at a time.

I also hear an acknowledgement that death is inevitable. I’d rather talk about it than keep it in one of my closets. They’re already full of other stuff I can’t take with me.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 October 2018
Image found at metmuseum.org; European clock about 1735-40

Emily Brontë – Start not….

Death is on my mind. Especially since I’m in the last chapter of my life—however long or short it may be. The photo above shows the Haworth churchyard as it may have looked in Emily B’s time. Note the flat-stone grave markers, like beds. My comments follow Emily’s poem and a second photo.

Start not upon the minster wall
Sunshine is shed in holy calm
And lonely though my footsteps fall
The saints shall shelter thee from harm

Shrink not if it be summer noon
This shadow should right welcome be
These stairs are steep but landed soon
We’ll rest us long and quietly

What though our path be o’er the dead
They slumber soundly in the tomb
And why should mortals fear to tread
The pathway to their future home?

Emily Brontë, from Brontë Poems, p. 33
Published by Alfred A. Knopf 1996
© 1996 by David Campbell Publishers Ltd.

Emily Brontë was born on 30 July 1818, and died on 19 December 1848, one month after her younger brother Bramwell’s death. She lived most of her adult life in Haworth, Yorkshire, where her father was the parson. The photo above shows the main street in the 1800s. The parsonage and churchyard were near the top of the steep climb uphill. The major things missing from the photo are horses, garbage of all kinds flowing downhill, and the stench.

When I read this poem, I imagine Emily B walking up the steep hill beside me, coaching and encouraging me.

First Stanza
Don’t flinch or turn aside! Don’t be startled when you ‘come upon’ the path leading to the churchyard wall, looming at the end. Don’t swerve with dread, like horses in the heat of battle. Stay calm. Trust you’re in the best of hands. It will warm and brighten your way.

Yes, it’s uncanny and even frightening to hear your own footsteps on the stony path up this particular hill. Just remember all the saints who went this way before you. You can’t see them, but they’re cheering you on, encouraging you to stay the course instead of breaking away as though you could escape harm, pain or death.

Second Stanza
Yes, the noonday sun is blazing hot right now. Don’t try to hide from it. Look up ahead! There’s a shadow that will welcome you sooner, not later. It probably feels steeper now than it did at the beginning. It’s normal to be weary of the uphill grind. Still, your goal is just ahead. It won’t be long now. Then we can rest for a long time in utter quiet.

Third Stanza
It doesn’t matter that this path might have us walking on resting places of the dead. They’re already sleeping soundly beneath the ground in the churchyard. Besides….

…why should mortals fear to tread
The pathway to their future home?

Something like that, I think.

Thanks for visiting and reading, even though the topic isn’t everyone’s favorite.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 September 2018
Photos found at kleurrijkbrontesisters.blogspot.com

Am I ready?

Hesitating
My fingers languish
On the keys

Life
Flashes before me
Inviting my company

My heart
Skips a beat
Am I ready?

Dear Friends,

This past week was wonderful. Going through old files and notebooks told me more about my past than I’d remembered. And I didn’t get through everything yet.

Thankfully, my home office is about half transformed! I focused on files and piles, not books and drawers. Breaking my jaw nearly two years ago brought ‘normal’ life to a sudden halt. And the piles began getting larger and larger….

Hidden in all the files and piles, I found several gems. Things I hadn’t read for years. I even read one piece out loud to myself. It was the Sunday morning ‘sermon’ I gave at our last Renich family reunion in 2012. I wrote it so young children in the room would know exactly what I was talking about.

That was the first time I’d ever talked to my extended family about my troubled relationship with my parents. The room was full of family members from at least four generations. I was a trembling wreck after I finished and sat down. I hadn’t yet begun blogging. I just knew I it was time to do this.

Now I’m at another milestone—still blogging, and with the end of my life approaching more visibly than before. ‘The last chapter’ sounds ominous. However, I see an opportunity to write about things I’ve not written about before. Some new, some old. None of it easy.

During the past week I wrote a haiku on most days. I don’t plan to stop that discipline, or writing poetry. I want to let my heart speak to other hearts. I believe that’s what drove Jesus of Nazareth, though some of his words were difficult to hear.

What I practiced giving up for Lent last year is still relevant. This year I’m thinking about it in terms of my writing voice and my desire to let my heart speak to other hearts. I’m using the same litany as my guide:

I let go my desire for security and survival.
I let go my desire for esteem and affection.
I let go my desire for power and control.
I let go my desire to change the situation.

Quoted by Cynthia Bourgeault in Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, p. 147 (Cowley Publications 2004)

As always, thanks for listening.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 February 2018
Image found at twing.com – Living Words

Taking a break to dream

Dear Friends,

I need a break. Not from you, but to listen to my heart and body. I’m serious about being in the last chapter of my life, and want my writing to reflect this without being morose, and without chasing after things that don’t matter that much on any given day.

For several years I’ve wanted to reorganize my home office to make it user-friendly for me as a writer. Today it still reflects my past as an academic and volunteer against human trafficking. Too much stuff hanging around!

So this week, with D’s good help, I’ll get going on that. Most of all, I want to dream about where I’m headed with my writing in the next months and years.

Here’s the bottom line:
I’m not closing down my blog
However, I won’t post anything for at least this coming week

In the meantime I pray that Lent, which begins on Valentine’s Day, will draw us closer to ourselves, to each other and to our amazing Creator who still chooses to walk with and among us daily. Incognito.

Thanks for being here, and for your encouragement.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 February 2018
Image found at barbarabenedettelli.it

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