eighty

He would have been eighty years old today, had he lived.

If he had lived… Did he ever?

Can life be measured in a heartbeat, in a breath? Life wasted, the daring maneuvers that we think distinguish us, that seem so full, so full of life themselves. We shock, we defend, we state our cause, we climb the mountain. We drink, drum, make noise, fill our time to the brim with stuff. Are our adventures and our busy lives just ways to turn away from the vulnerabilities that make us beautiful?

Once, when my dad was dying, he told me that he was afraid. He cried, maybe the first time that I had ever seen him so small, and so big.

When I was a little girl, I loved my dad, believed in him, the reality he presented to me. But in that moment, as I had grown into a woman and seen more of life, I realized that this may well have been the first time I had ever felt that he really knew love. And in that moment, he told me that he finally saw the richness that he was about to leave behind, the long moments, quiet, the laughter, the sweetness of being that he never could reveal until the end. So sad what could have been. Knowing.. but yes, too late to know so well, to find that sort of quiet joy that only comes with time, and trust. How often do we protect ourselves into a sort of silent seclusion until it is too late?

And why? What makes a person turn away from his own heart? What makes a person stop when he begins to feel vulnerable? needy?

Opening enough to absorb love takes courage, I know. Men shun weakness, taunt one another for softness. And perhaps because of this, it is easier to be hard, easier still to hide.

A hand bitten–or worse, ignored–may stay near, but stops reaching. A heart stops hoping, its hunger denied until we starve, even with relief so close. We stay broken but still hoping–and denying that hope, ashamed to hope. Is this a lesson that a child was meant to learn? How do we sit with our heart?

I hope.

Trust is sublime, connection, transport to some splendorous realm, sensation bringing me back to my own heart–but so perilous a place to awaken alone.

Life was meant for more than distraction. Love, slow days, a hand reaching for mine, a secret, a favor, a kiss, a surprise, a word, a heartbeat, a breath, a habit, a safe place to admit that I care.

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