Shades (An Original Poem)
The day is dim
Though the sun should be soaking us in a warm spring
is sullen, stormy, chilly,
In memory of you.
the world struggles to recall your light,
your tall sunflowers
cloaked in a shroud of
The loss of you.
Those fires that destroyed you,
their causes unknown
caught up with yours
behind those doors we try
to keep closed
The loss of you.
I try and fail
not to replay that morning
on a loop in my head,
not to board that grief train.
I find myself
grabbing a passing rail,
cut to ribbons under tons
of heartless steel
weighted down by
The loss of you.
ripples in the darkness,
in my line of vision,
as I try to see the world
The loss of you.
Sleep when it comes
Getting accustomed to some hard truths
A successful truckload for the move
My great-nephew’s birthday tomorrow
Quote of the day: “Some people are just not meant to be in this world. It’s just too much for them.” — Phoebe Stone
A Glimpse of a Day
Sorry to have been AWOL. Wandering with the cows and the clouds.
Quote of the day: “Cow-watching turned out to be a mildly pleasant duty.” — Christian M. Frank
Flatland (A Friday Original Poem)
He said his grandmother
Could cook bacon
So that it would come out completely
Without using a press
and he didn’t know how she did it/
His Great Aunt Mary
Was an old-time switchboard operator
Who wore bright red lipstick
and smoked unfiltered cigarettes
Until she died in her 90s.
I always think they were Lucky Strikes,
but I always get it wrong.
His maiden aunts
Lived in a time capsule of an early century
Hoarding and seldom
leaving the house
full of the past.
Sometimes the present
Is just too much.
A fine whiskey
Quote of the Day: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” — Mahatma Ghandi
Status Check: One Week Later
The massacre at the Table Mesa King Soopers in Boulder happened one week ago today. Who has forgotten? It’s certainly not a news item anymore, surpassed by the trial of George Floyd’s murderer, the boat that blocked the Suez Canal, and the endless discussions about COVID-19. We’ve held vigils, put candles in our windows, and been to the memorial fence. We’ve gotten over our initial reluctance to visit the grocery store — any grocery store. Our first responders have held space for the body of our slain police officer as hetravelled from the scene, and for his mother as she drove here from New Mexico, standing silent and vigilant at overpasses all along those routes. Officer Eric Talley’s funeral will be held tomorrow.
While our flags fly at half-mast and rock cairns stand in Boulder Creek as a tribute to the victims, our lives go on. Their lives do not. For those of us who did not know any of them personally, things seem the same. For their loved ones, and for those who were in the store and survived, things will never be the same. Once the initial outpouring of shock and attention fades, those who are emerge from this tragedy may find themselves rather at sea, left alone for the first time in a week, the first time in what likely stretches long before them. It is a struggle to find whatever peace looks like on an individual level after something like this, after such a trauma, such a loss.
I was about to say that talk on social media has turned more political — more about gun control reform — but I realized that there is no more talk on social media about this event. It has been swept downstream by other topics and our short attention spans, fed by 24 hour news cycles and networks greedy for the next sensational thing. There are those in our community, such as the Moms Demand chapter who hosted one of the candlelight vigils last week, who maintain their laser focus on the issue of gun control, and I very much appreciate their dedication.
In the community, we can’t help but notice the approach of spring. It’s warmer. Robins congregate in gangs in grassy spaces. Trees are just starting to bud. We know we’ll have one or two more snow storms, but there is hope. Hope that we will be able to luxuriate in this season the way we couldn’t last year. That doesn’t change my awareness that for a number of people, those whose lives were altered forever last Monday, there is no joy yet. But like spring, it will one day return.
Feeling post-vaccine better
My newly replaced kitchen light
Quote of the day: “You can’t unwrite the tragedies life engraves into your bones; you can just give them a voice.” — Nitya Prakash
The Memorial in Pictures
The first robin
The sense of Spring
Body aches that mean the vaccine is working
The replacement microwave
Quote of the day: “All of us lost something. Some of us lost everything.” — Cassandra Clare
And the Next Day in Boulder
The past hasn’t changed. We all wake up and in those strange waking moments when we bring ourselves back to reality, we remember. We remember what happened in our community. We remember the grief that we might have shielded ourselves from in dreams. We awaken to the pain, to that sinking feeling of what we’ve lost. People. Security. Peace. Illusions.
We get up and make coffee. We get on with our day, with our jobs, with our lives. At the back of our minds, we are tragically aware that there are 10 people who are not doing those things today, and who will never do those things again. That their families are waking up to their new worlds and feeling the devastation that comes from having someone you love ripped out of your life. And in the midst of their pain, they have to do practical things and procedural things. They do those things on autopilot – this I know, from my stepson’s suicide.
Our Boulder world looks the same on the surface. We still go to the grocery store, but now there are police officers in the parking lot. We still buy flowers, but now they are for the memorial and not the bookshelf in our living room. We still pet dogs, but now they are therapy dogs trained to comfort us. We still sit on grassy hillsides, but now we’re restricted by yellow police tape. When we see a police car speed past us with its sirens blaring and its lights flashing, our first thought is “Is it happening again?” When we hear glass breaking, we think “Is that a shooter breaking windows?”
As the reality sinks in, we still don’t care why. Only that. Not why. But we are starting candlelit vigils. We have a memorial that spans two blocks, with flowers and candles and signs and crosses in front of the chain link fence that keeps us away from where the shooting happened. I went there today, and left flowers. Hugged sobbing strangers. Video chatted with K, showing her what I saw, so she didn’t have to feel so alone, distant, and removed in her grief for her town, for her younger self, for her memories.
It will be same tomorrow. I know grief and loss so intimately that I understand how it will play out for me. While it’s different for everyone, there are some constants for all of us. Time is kind enough to help our sorrow nestle into a place in our souls. But it never allows us to forget.
Quote of the Day: “She was a genius of sadness, immersing herself in it, separating its numerous strands, appreciating its subtle nuances. She was a prism through which sadness could be divided into its infinite spectrum.” — Jonathan Safran Foer
The Day After
I spent a long, long time in the shower this morning. Wishing I could find beautiful, lyrical words to express my sorrow. Wishing that those words would unfold from me, like the unfurling of a fiddlehead fern in spring, and spill from my fingers onto a page. I felt like I was not really a writer, because I don’t have that gift of spinning words that mean something, that touch others, from a silken tangled web of thoughts and feelings. Maybe that’s true. Maybe it doesn’t matter.
The media released the names of those killed in yesterday’s shooting. Was I a friend of any of them? No. Were some names familiar? Yes. Even though I’ve written about how this town has changed over nearly 40 years, today it feels like a small town. Between K and myself, we have some second or thirdhand connection to someone who has been deeply wounded by this tragedy. (After speaking with K, she does indeed know some of the victims as friends of friends.) Speaking to us, the Mayor of Boulder, the Chief of Police, the Governor, all hold back tears – you can hear it in their voices.
Our community feels just numb. There are so many feelings and thoughts that it’s hard to even separate them. Thankful it wasn’t one of our friends or family. Guilt because we’re thankful. Struck by the names of those who were killed, as we run them through our minds…did we know them? Have any mutual friends? Do I deserve to be struggling with any feelings at all, since I didn’t know any of the victims, just the place? Why did the police treat the shooter with such tenderness? What if he had been black? What about gun control? One of the dead is a policeman who was known for rescuing baby ducks. He was the good guy with the gun. Why is he dead? Am I overreacting? So much. Too much.
Focus is a challenge today. Empath-me needs to immerse myself in media coverage, but I don’t have time for that. I want to sleep, a reflection of internalized grief. I have no appetite. My stomach is upset. My Mother used to say I always put my stress in my stomach. I guess that’s true. I continue to leak, just a glaze of small tears creeping into my eyelashes.
As the day progressed, I realized that this is personal. It’s happened to a community that I’ve been a part of for almost 40 years. Not in the community, but to the community. Today, we don’t care about why he did it, what his nationality is, what religion he follows, whether gun control is stronger…we don’t care about any of it today. We care about the people we’ve lost. The only thing we want is for this not to have happened. And that’s the only thing we can’t have.
The hawk that accompanied me right by my driver’s window today – I could have reached out and touched him
Getting my vaccine (ouch)
Getting all of my old (and I mean old) journals back from my ex-house
Talks with K
Quote of the Day: “We cannot change fate and the tragedies that enter our lives but we can choose how we want them to change us.” — Nikki Rowe
Love on a Day of Tragedy
Today has been a horrible day. Just up the road, a gunman walked into the grocery store I’ve been in hundreds of times and opened fire. Just walked in and without a word, opened fire. The police won’t disclose how many people died. A YouTube video of the first few minutes of the massacre showed two bodies laying in the parking lot and one just inside the store, by the shopping carts. Those souls lay there on the cold ground for hours as SWAT teams broke windows and rescued people through the roof, as news crews swarmed. The thought of them there breaks my heart. This store is the one all the high school kids hung out at — K was one of those high school kids, not so long ago. Today, her high school parking lot was used as a staging point for MedEvac helicopters, but there were no injured. Only bodies. If there is a single severe mercy, it is that this is Spring Break, so even though the kids are back at in-person school, they weren’t all congregating at the store’s Starbucks after classes, just when the shooting started. A Law Enforcement Officer lost his life. Police vehicles from multiple counties are sitting silently with their lights on in a long line, waiting to escort him out.
I remember Columbine vividly. Then, too, I was stricken by the thought of bodies left on the floor for hours. As a new parent, I could just imagine what those mothers were feeling. I remember Aurora all too well. K was at a midnight showing of that film, just at a different theater. The Walmart shooting? About 10 miles away. I have checked in with all my peeps who might have been in the vicinity today and all are accounted for. But my heart grieves for those families who cannot say the same, for those people who were just trying to buy some groceries. You really never think it can happen in your community. But it can.
Daily gratitudes: (tough today)
Chicken noodle soup
The comforting reporting of Kyle Clark
The woman I made friends with at the store yesteray
The beauty of silver hair
Quote of the day: “Everyone has a thousand wishes before a tragedy, but just one afterward.” — Fredrik Backman