Our wa is disturbed

Today, my wa is disturbed. Our wa is disturbed.

Wa? Wa is a Japanese term the meaning of which is morphing here lately, but originally it meant harmony or peaceful unity.  It applies to personal relationships, living environments, and even corporate boardrooms. It also meant peaceful community over individuality. It’s a strange concept for westerners to grasp especially those of us in the cult of individuality. 

Which I am.

I am all about the individual.

But I am also all about harmony between individuals. 

I made the mistake of turning on the news last Friday evening. Memphis Police released the Tyree Nichols video. I only caught the tail end of it, but it was enough to bring tears.

I am in a foul mood. 

The world, this country, seems to get uglier and uglier. I posted on Facebook a meme I made.  A few people liked it. One person commented. Nobody shared it.

Nobody.

I am so tired of hearing:

“I don’t understand why he didn’t just… I don’t understand why she was wearing… I don’t understand why they won’t just fix their own country…”

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My Grief Lives in My Lungs

Grief lives in my lungs.  My lungs temper my grief – keep me upright, keep me alive, keep breathing…putting one foot in front of the other.  Grief lives in my lungs.

I had quit smoking in the months before my dad died.  I had tried so many times to quit smoking and this time seemed to be working.  Oh sure, I had cravings, but I was managing them. 

My mother called, “Come quick. It’s an emergency.”  Part of me knew.  I stopped breathing.

And then, I went tearing down the hill after putting shoes on.  Normally I would have gone barefoot. I don’t know why the shoes. In case we had to go to the hospital? Part of me knew.

I was breathing hard by the time I got to the house. Shallow, unsatisfying breaths.  My father dead on the floor.  I quickly knelt and started chest compressions, went to blow air in his mouth.  Cold.  He was cold.

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Mourning Doves

What stage of grief is it when mourning doves are cooing and the soft morning air carries the sound to me in my bed. That sound. What stage of grief is that sound?

Photo by Stefan Gogov on Unsplash

When I was twelve, my mom sent me to the store for lettuce. I can’t remember why, but I didn’t ride my bike. It was six blocks. And very hot. The heat surprised me. It was crystal clear and not humid, but the heat was oppressive. It lay on my body like a boulder. I pretended I was trekking through the desert in search of the Holy Grail. In my mind, so very fertile in those days, I saw myself on my knees croaking, “Water, water.” It was so hot.

I bought the head of lettuce and the bag boy put it in a full-size, brown paper bag. The sweat of my hands left large blotches on the paper. It seemed much too large. He embarrassed me when he said, “Can I carry that to your car, ma’am?” He did it just to be mean. I flushed, and he and the cashier laughed. I knew them both from the school bus – they were two of the high school kids that picked on the rest of us.

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If my grief. . .

If my grief were a book, it would be Dickens. Large, expansive, serialized.  My grief provokes tears, provokes laughter.  Marvels at the absurdity of life.  Goes on and on.  Driven by words.  And memories.  Little action and lots of description. 

If my grief were a touch, it would be the grip of an infant on his mother’s thumb.  Hanging on, but oblivious to the need to do so. A reflex of sorts. Never wondering why.

If my grief were a bowl, it would be a large ceramic bowl used to make bread.  Something that can hold the small bit of yeast and water and hold the enormous amounts of flour.  Accommodate the dough and air while holding the temperature steady for the rising.

If my grief were a garden, it would be a cottage garden.  English.  Somewhat of a mess, but breathtaking at its peak.

If my grief were a dog, it would be a dachshund.  Stubborn, hard to train, following me everywhere.  Sweet in its devotion. Sincere in its love.

If my grief were a pair of glasses, it would be bifocals with lines, heavy black frames, held together with super glue, and a Band-Aid.

If my grief were a sunset, it would be the opposite of a Hawaiian one.  The sun would not blaze the sky with color and magnificence to slip into a silver ocean turning the sky a vivid dark blue.  Oh no.  It would be the sunset of a blizzard in Maine.  Unnoticed for the misery.

If my grief were a door, it would be a revolving one like at the bank.  With muddy footprints and the fingerprints of mourners on the glass.

If my grief were an elevator, it would be out of order.  The door opening and closing, opening and closing, opening and closing, going nowhere.

If my grief were a sports car, it would be a Camaro – mostly ordinary but with a certain touch of pizzazz –like a custom paint job.

If my grief were a person, it would be Cheri and Donnie, Doug and Daddy, Susan and Debbie and Jes.

If my grief were to leave, I think there would remain a hole where it used to be.