3 to 1 in 5


One of three left in the black of night,
As the white coats tried to play God.
Stripping her heart of its peaceful rest,
Claiming lawful words don’t matter.

Third sister stood alone in the fight,
In the blackness of that night.

Second of three lay in a cloud of haze,
Family tightly wound ’round her.
Tears told stories of memories past,
As time flew by in dwindling light.

Third sister stood alone in the quiet of  that night,
Wrapped in the beauty of the passing.

Last sister stands alone in her grief,
With a heart full of rage and contempt.
Asking why with streaming tears in her eyes,
Her soul rent with loss and regret.

To a place of soundless screams she went,
Beneath her family tree.

Last sister grieved for the first and second,
With their memory clenched to her breast.
Awoke from a dream with a twitch of a smile,
Two lost sisters with hands on her chest.

In the blink of a tear she pulled them into her heart,

Three Sisters Walking in Her Soul as One.

Debbie


Three Sisters Are We – Wickie, Wandy, and Webbie
In memory of my sisters, Vicky & Sandy
They passed away 5 months apart
I am their memory keeper.

Deb

My Chosen Ending


When I come to the end of the road and the sun has set for me, I do not want dark rites full of gloom to fill the air. Cry only with tears of joy for my soul is about to be set free. Miss me a little – but not too long – and never with your head bent low.  Look up into the sky – and then let me go.

Wish me goodbye by turning your face to the wind for me and let it blow through your hair and soul as you watch it mingle with the memories of the times we’ve shared in this life – but then let me go.

Don’t chain my memory down with excessive tears of grief. Life has been like a bottle of bubbly champagne all fizzed up with the laughter of silly times as well as the pinpricks of disappointment. And then let me go.

For this is a journey we all must take with our loved ones as well as alone. It’s all part of the master plan – we much each step on that road toward home. Remember, do not drown your sorrows with anger and grief.  More importantly, do good deeds for others in my name – with the memory of my love and compassion.

Miss me a little but not to long – and then let me go.

Debbie

Dedicated to Vera Engelmann – I will forever honor the amazing woman you are.

Keeping Memories – Forgiving Grief


memory-771967_1920Longing, loss, feeling lost and drowning in grief are some of the hardest feelings to work with.  The following powerful quote by John Green, from his novel, “The Fault of Our Stars”, is a throat-strangling statement of absolute truth.

“The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer, which meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were now less real and important than they had been just hours before.”

Like many others, I lost my entire birth family before the age of 45. Occasionally I still feel a gripping twinge of grief for my family – they were such amazing co-creators of my memories.  But eventually it became very important to forgive them for leaving me alone as their “Keeper of Memories”.

Longing, Loss, Grief

Forgiving a loss or experiencing grief is not simply about the death of an individual, it is about the end of anything important to a person. It is feeling the loss of a lost recipe from your grandmother or a job opportunity that fell through.  Grief cannot simply be “cured” or “gotten over”.  Every moment of grief must be felt, lived, and grappled with as you smack it down and watch it suddenly bounce back up and tear your heart to pieces anew.

In society, we subliminally learn to deny grief because we are taught to simply “get over it”.  As if it were a simple, unimportant hindrance.  Brene Brown says loss creates a type of “yearning for wholeness, understanding, meaning, and opportunity to regain or simply touch what we’ve lost”.  When we freeze ourselves within a certain time-frame to avoid grief, nothing is normal.

The experience of grief, or more directly the actually effect of grief, mandates us to reorient ourselves to a new physical and emotional level. Grief is equally felt with both the loss of people or things that are very important to us. Grief causes the temporary illusion of a “loss of sanity” similar to the shock of being told you are terminally ill. You forget how to behave, where to park your car, and begin to simply stare at words without knowing their meaning. Feeling, forgiving and releasing the feelings are extremely uncomfortable, but they are the only cure.

The New “F” Word

Forgiveness is currently a prominent “f” word in society. Humans tend to fear being ridiculed about how much they hurt, grieve and feel lost. They remain silent, grit their teeth and stuff their emotional pain. Forgiveness, in truth is quite simple.  It is the release and physical/emotional death of grief and loss. Forgiveness is not about condoning any action. It is about choosing to finally “let go” of what is damaging us. We will then automatically pull ourselves out of grief strangle-hold of grief.

When we allow ourselves to heal within our personal time-frame and forgive ourselves and others, we allow our “memory-keeping” to morph into a powerful form of “self-healing”.  Forgive those who have passed, the boss that didn’t give you a well-deserved promotion, your husband for watching football every Sunday, and your hairdresser for the stupid “doo” she gave you just before a wedding.  This allows you to learn and practice being vulnerable.

Here is a poignant, exceptionally “in your face” quote by C.S. Lewis.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

To love is to be vulnerable.

A Little Girl


She spent her life dancing to her favorite songs,

She was a little girl who was all alone.

Eyes wide open, always hoping for the sun,

She was a little girl who was all alone.

Fragile as leaf in autumn just falling to the ground,

Without a sound.

She had a crooked little smile on her blue-eyed face,

as she tells her silent tale of grace.

She was a little girl who still stood all alone.

I Am The Memory Keeper


Longing, loss, lost and grief. Some of the hardest things to work with and I’m not talking about just the death of “a person” – it can be the death of a routine, a recipe you lost from your great-great-grandmother, a job opportunity you thought you had in the bag, or you just found out they discontinued your favorite brand of toilet paper. Grief is not something to be “cured” or “get over” – hell no. You have to live through it, grapple with it, smack it down and watch it bounce back up and feel it tear your heart to pieces. The bummer is in our society, we are taught to deny our grief.  We can have it for a little bit, but not too long because we need to “get over it”.

John Green said the following in his novel, “The Fault in Our Stars”.

“The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer which meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were less real and important than they had been hours before.”

POWERFUL!  Boy, I personally understand this quote to its tightest throat-strangling point. I lost my entire birth family before I was 50. Parents and siblings.  All the birth-family participants that co-created my childhood memories have passed on. That is how I became the “Keeper of Memories”.

Brene Brown says when we experience loss we will then have longing, which is a type of “yearning for wholeness, for understanding, for meaning, for the opportunity to regain or even simply touch what we’ve lost”.  It seems most of us try to keep those longings to ourselves so we don’t appear weak  (what the “f” is that all about?  Who taught us that!?!”)

LOST LOST LOST – Frozen in time.  Nothing is normal and we fear telling people we feel lost. Why is this happening? The experience of grief – the effect of grief actually, is that we must reorient ourselves to our physical, emotional and social world.  Again. With “I’m Grieving” stamped on your forehead.  Remember, this happens from “grieving” anything, not just a person.  The loss of your sanity, the shock of being told you are terminally ill. We forget how to behave, where to park the car, or stare at a word and not comprehend its meaning even if life depended on it.

How do we pull ourselves out of this quagmired quicksand box of grief?  Carefully. Gently and within our own time-frame.  And, dammit, by forgiving.  The new “f” word in society. For forgiveness to occur, something has to die.  Here we go again, the longing, loss, lost and grief. To forgive, we must feel the pain of each of those. Forgiveness involves death and grief.

Forgiving those that died, forgiving the boss that didn’t give you that well-deserved promotion, forgiving your husband for watching football every damn Sunday, forgiving your hairdresser for the stupid “doo” she gave you just before a wedding. It’s all connected – forgiveness is paramount.  That word has made me cringe my entire life.  I hate it.

So, let’s replace that “f” word with “Letting Go” – is not just to be altruistic, letting go really is the best form of “self-interest”.  It doesn’t exclude feeling hatred and anger – that’s all part of being human. To that point, I read this from somewhere . . .

“You should never hate yourself for hating others who do terrible things:  The depth of your love is shown by the extent of your anger.”

I’ve been rambling on for quite some time so I’m going to complete this long-winged musing with a poignant and exceptionally “in your face” quote by C.S. Lewis.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

To love is to be vulnerable.

3 to 1 in 5


One of three left in the black of night,
As the white coats tried to play God.
Stripping her heart of its peaceful rest,
Claiming lawful words didn’t matter.

Third sister stood alone in the fight,
In the blackness of that night.

Second of three lay in a cloud of haze,
Family tightly wound around her.
Tears told stories of memories past,
As time fled by in dwindling light.

Third sister stood alone in the quiet of night,
Wrapped in the beauty of the passing.

Last sister stands alone in her grief,
With a heart full of rage and contempt.
Asking why with tears in her eyes,
Her soul ripped with the weight of regret.

To a place of soundless screams she went,
Beneath her silent family tree.

Last sister grieved for the first and second,
With their memory clenched to her breast.
Awoke from a dream with a twitch of a smile,
Two lost sisters with hands on her chest.

In the blink of a cry pulled them into her heart,

Now Three sisters walk in her soul as one.

8383225_mTo:
Wickie, Wandy, and Webbie
(Vicky & Sandy passed away 5 months apart – Debs is the memory keeper)
Three Sisters Are We

Debs

One Lonely Chick


July 27, 2005 – Journal Entry

So here I am San, sitting in the grass by your memorial.  This is the day you were admitted to hospice a year ago – the day before you died.  Today, I have brought you a white rose with a note for you to read from wherever you are. I hope you know I’m here – I sense you all around me either way.  The mallards are swimming around the pond and one female appears to have only one baby.  Their reflection in the water is so serene.  Do they sense pain with the loss of a chick I wonder?  My tears keep falling . . . I wish we had more time . . . I couldn’t stop those grains of sand in the hourglass of your life.

Am so glad you are now with our sister Vic, but damn, I want you both here with me, now.  I want justice and compassion from the Universal Planner. How could Vic die in February, you die in July?  How can that be fair in any way, shape or form. There are still moments when I feel so very alone – like a lighthouse would feel if it lost its light.

That one mallard waddled up with its chick and they are standing in the grass about 5 feet away – so very cute!  You and I loved to fish and watch the waterfowl and we always got more fish then the guys did.  The little chick suddenly just went out into the water away from her mom and is slowly swimming around “peeping”.

27913967_s

Just like me – swimming around all alone.

The chick is trying to find its mom and I’m still trying to find my sisters.

The Gift of Awe – A Letter to Self


Dedicated to My Sisters – Vicki & Sandy
(Originally Written January 2015)

“A Letter to Myself”

My thoughts are wandering back in time today – it’s been almost 10 years since both our sisters left their earthly physical form.  As I write to you Dearest Debbie, I notice with a sense of absolute wonder and awe how different “remembering” within the actual moments of the past is compared to “re-remembering ” those moments. Every experience in the “now” contains the beauty and heartbreak of a time when we could still physically touch and tightly hug our two sisters.

Dedicated To My Sisters
Dedicated To My Sisters

Oh lovely self, our spirituality and faith were certainly tested – our sanity probably more than those two put together ten-fold.  In spite of our losses, we stand stronger than ever because we now know we never truly lost them at all.

Stepping back in time, I’m remembering our sister Vicki’s last days.  You and I watched her pain and admired the unlimited amount of love and compassion she expressed to those she knew would be left behind.  Her daughters, her grandchildren, her sisters and friends. You remember how we felt as we watched her slowly slip away – the devastation of loss was blended together with the joy of having her finally released from pain.  It was like a cyclone of the good, the bad, and the ugly. But looking back, I also see the beauty of her illness; the true gifts we were given.  We were with her when she slipped way.  A gift we couldn’t see at the time, but none the less that gift of being with her now lives in our heart and soul.  A sacred lesson she shared with us was to never become a victim of her death or life’s experiences.  She taught us that letting her go would set her spirit free and that we would always have her within our memories and dreams.

It was tough working through the grief wasn’t it?  Little did we know another horror was lurking in the dark.  About one month after Vicki’s passing, our second sister Sandy was diagnosed with terminal cancer. During those next few months, we watched as she also fought so hard to live and win a battle that could not be won.  Sister Sandy, again, was a shining example of keeping a smile on her face to strengthen her husband, daughters, son, sister and grandchild for what they would soon face.  I so clearly remember her being silly, goofy, funny and sassy until those very last moments when she quietly passed away.  Our last sister slipped 12250775_saway in a cradle of immense love – she left her love behind for each of us.

This time the best lesson was “It’s good to be numb”.  We were protected for a bit. The pain was so intense, and feeling numb helped us feel cozy and safe in our fuzzy blanket of intentionally blocked feelings. Gifts can sometimes be dualistic. Without dualism, we would never know the difference between darkness and light. Between horror and happy.  “Numb” was great compared to feel anything at that time.  We needed safe – we needed time to build energy to even begin the grief process.  We put ourselves away and hid in solitude to heal. That was perfectly fine – it was our way.

I’m thankful for all life’s teachings but damn, another crisis struck when we consciously became aware that we were now orphans.  Both parents gone. Both siblings gone.  “We” had become an “I”.   To heal we had to walk through hell, feel the intense fiery heat of rage, and move beyond it all to come out the other side as a whole human being that no longer needed to be numb.  
The gift: we learned we are not alone – we never actually are.

Engelmann_Poster_Horiz_webWe rock Dearest Debbie.  We learned to stop living as a victim, we stood up and faced adversity, we dug deep and found the beauty and began to become our authentic self.  We took the intense loneliness and re-purposed that power to help us bravely begin walking down the healing path – on wobbly feet.  We began to grow and slowly push through the numbness so we could feel; maybe for the first time?  Our sisters spirits became the wind, the water, the air, the wood and fire that helped us bloom into the amazing person we now are.

We stand tall and proud today.  We help teach others how to break away from the vicious life-strangling bonds of “being” a victim, how to find balance in health and well-being.  We teach hope. We are blessed every single day. Why?  Because we know each person we encounter are in reality both our students and teachers – which means Dear Debbie, we are always a student and a teacher as well.

I love you “self”.  Maybe knowing that is the biggest lesson learned through these past years.  Authentic love and acceptance of self does in fact free the soul.  Thankfully, the beautiful spirits of our sisters Vicki and Sandy continue to soar with us and help guide us as we continue along our own path to reach beyond the stars – the gateway to all wonders.   My love continues to be with you Vicki and Sandy – and with you as well Dearest Debbie.20212568_l

 

Preface “Sneak Peek”


 

A taste of my new book about silencing the echoes from the past.  I welcome all comments. Debbie

“The above story is a preamble to the words contained within the chapters that follow.  A storytelling of sorts, that shows that even a helpless nine-month old child has intense feelings and memories of things adults assume they could never remember. Some memories may not be conscious at such a young age, but each memory nonetheless remains buried in the subconscious mind.  I spent a good part of my life running away from my childhood memories and for the last 12 years I’ve taken those memories out, re-lived most of them, learned from them, and ultimately released each one of them as hundreds of colorful balloons that slowly meandered and undulated higher and higher into the sky to slowly disappear.  My personal story is honest, yet raw in parts, and sadly it is shared by millions of people on this planet.

I share my story in an effort to educate all who read this book that healing is possible for those who honestly look for it.  It takes courage, patience, perseverance and numerous boxes of tissues to move through the maze of memories and claim the prize of releasing our personal stories to become whole and balanced.

Thankfully, nothing is insurmountable – not even ourselves.”

Rebus


Rebus*

You work with what you are given,
the red clay of grief,
the black clay of stubbornness going on after.
Clay that tastes of care or carelessness,
clay that smells of the bottoms of rivers or dust.

Each thought is a life you have lived or failed to live,
each word is a dish you have eaten or left on the table.
There are honeys so bitter
no one would willingly choose to take them.
The clay takes them: honey of weariness, honey of vanity,
honey of cruelty, fear.

This rebus-slip and stubbornness,
bottom of river, my own consumed life –
when will I learn to read it
plainly, slowly, uncolored by hope or desire?
Not to understand it, only to see.

As water given sugar sweetens, given salt grows salty,
we become our choices.
Each yes, each no continues,
this one a ladder, that one an anvil or cup.

The ladder leans into its darkness.
The anvil leans into its silence.
The cup sits empty.

How can I enter this question the clay has asked?

JANE HIRSHFIELD

(*Rebus — “A representation of words in the form of pictures or symbols, often presented as a puzzle.”)