Monday, December 21, 2009


- 40 -
That Christmas morning, my mother dressed me in a sharp Chanel-style suit, white tights and black patent-leather mary-janes…my ponytails perfectly curled.

34 - 
My sister was born five days after Christmas, on my mother’s birthday.

25 - 
In my senior year, I started working at Record Bar at the Chapel Hills Mall. This was when they still made vinyl, and CDs were cutting edge. I loved that exposure to such a diversity of music. One album I came to know there and will always cherish is the hauntingly beautiful December, by the barefooted pianist George Winston.

24 - 
To this day, I don’t know which was worse – what I could remember, or what I couldn’t. The morning after would find me too hung over to even move; or with a twisted ankle; or with broken windows; or in jail. One Christmas Eve – which is when we usually open our presents – I was thoroughly blitzed, though I still remember the frowns of familial disapproval as I accidentally opened everyone else’s gifts and excitedly exclaimed things like “How did you know I wanted an Epilady?!” I laughed like hell at each blunder…but it was hardly funny.

22 - 
For a moment in time, I was flat-lined. They had to jump-start my heart, resuscitate me, pump my stomach…I’ll never forget the many mouthfuls of black carbon I spat out for several days afterward. It was a miracle when again my eyes opened and I rejoined the living. The first face I saw was my mother’s…my high school sweetheart/future husband standing behind her – both of them crying tears of sorrowful gladness and telling me how much they loved me.

19 - 
It was December when we brought our first born to the little house that was our home, the only year we had a “real” Christmas tree. When I close my eyes and think back, I can still smell the pine, and see the lights reflected in his eyes as I held him near, murmuring lullabies into the shell of his ear.

14 -
We set out for New York late that clear, cold December day. What started as flurries near Falcon was a whiteout blizzard just past Yoder; it was about then when the U-Haul’s governor gave out, and the truck would go no faster than 15 MPH. We crawled slowly through the middle of nowhere for hours that snowy night; and when FINALLY we reached the closest civilization of Goodland, Kansas…well yea, friend, and verily – that was good land, indeed.

11 -
Back in our old house and old jobs: my husband quickly secured employment with Compaq at the old Digital building, and I also returned to the giant building of my former employer, MCI. At one point, we were pulling in more than $100,000 annually; I had weekly manicures, bi-weekly pedicures, and my hair done every month.

8 -
Around this time, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of the same week, I dreamed three amazing dreams; one day, I’ll tell you about them. For now, suffice it to say that thirty-plus years of staunch agnosticism came to a swift and certain end, and I found God.

7 -
Christmas that December was sparse. We applied and were approved for food stamps and TANF, but continued to struggle, falling behind on our bills and mortgage. I did everything I could to hold on to or sell the house, but to no avail; it was foreclosed. So, we put everything we owned into storage…and a week after the birth of our son, said goodbye to the house that had been our home for a decade.

6 -
I grew more desperate with each passing night – worried of quietly freezing to death; I’ve never felt quite so alone. The wood-burning stove was my only means of heat – to cook, to clean, to live. And so, I’d dress in black and wait until dusk; then, with bag in hand and knife in pocket, quickly skirt the streets of the Valley in search of fuel. I’d pick up twigs, sticks, boards – anything wood. There were times when I’d furtively slip a log from a neighbor’s stack, or walk up, knock and ask plaintively; if all else failed, I’d go outside and select a piece of our furniture to break: all, to feed that rapacious potbelly. Though I tried always to keep at least some embers burning, there were times when the fire simply died out; and when that happened in that darkest night, and I couldn’t find a lighter or a match, I’d cry and cry! in anguish and fear. I fell asleep that way once, in my shivering lament; and in the morning when I awoke, the tear drops were frozen on my cheeks.

4 -
I was staggered to discover I was pregnant at the age of 37; adoption and abortion were both out of the question, so we prayed it was some kind of blessing in disguise…which, of course, it was.

now -
After so long, renaissance and renewal…and the miracle is that every moment before this led me to this moment now. This is a solstice wish for the time of the cold moon, and a prayer for those who find themselves suffering the dark night of the soul: endure, have hope, and believe that you are never truly alone.

in memoriam
and to all of those overtaken
your Creator now comforts you
and us

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