The Note

He lay in a hospital bed, unable to speak. A preacher came to see him everyday, holding his hand, offering words of encouragement and turning inward to ask God for help. Bless this soul, the preacher repeated, and return him to health.

My father’s eyes were open, but he was too weak to speak or move his body.

The preacher read scriptures aloud, always smiling, praying and talking with my father about salvation, heaven and hell.

At the end of two weeks my father gestured for pen and paper. The preacher slid them within his grasp, smiling and encouraged.

Father found the strength to write three words, then pushed the paper in his direction. The preacher stood up and read the note. It said, in shaky exhausted script, Hit the road.

written April 30, 2007

Stitches

I was playing on a steel framed hide-a-bed as Sunday morning stretched into a lazy afternoon, just tipping back and forth, back and forth. I was young, bored and testing. To my surprise the bed gave way and came crashing over, its metal frame embedded in my nose. The blood gushed, poured over my cheeks and landed in big red blotches on cotton pajamas.

My father was in the next room deep inside his easy chair. He looked up from his National Geographic as I stood stunned in the entrance.

Jesus Christ, what did you do now?

Nobody went to the doctor in our family. There was only one to serve the whole county. You could wait all day long in his office without any guarantee of treatment, so families dealt with emergencies by themselves.

My dad laid me out on the table, put ice on my seven-year-old nose and gave me a shot of scotch from the cabinet. When my skin and emotions were numb, he grabbed a needle from the sewing basket, sterilized the point in a flame, and added black upholstery thread.

This will just take a minute, he said. Longer if you can’t hold still.

I watched the point of the needle move back and forth, back and forth toward my eyes in my father’s careful hands. I made it though three stitches and could do no more.

That will hold, he said. Better lay there until you’re strong again.

I studied the ceiling tiles, the molding that joined the cabinet to the wall and finally the blood that smudged my hands.

I don’t ever want to do that again, I decided. I need to be more careful.

written April 30, 2008

Refuge

Have you found your refuge yet?

Are you wondering, father, from the realm of spirit, if I am safe, happy and fulfilled? Are you caring to inquire from the realm of light about things you carefully avoided when your feet were planted on the earth?

This question goes to my soul with resounding force.

The truth is that I am lost in this place. Oh, my needs are met, I have a man who loves me, picture perfect scenery outside my window and children to honor and embrace.

But no. No, I can’t believe that I will ever know happiness in this time, in this place.

My spirit is not comfortable here.

If I were to speak my deepest truth, I ache to be gone. I feel mis-fit, out of time and place. This reality is strange and foreign to me, beyond all imagining. I say things like, Isn’t it odd that we have to eat yet again today? And, I can’t believe I have to go to bed and get up over and over again. It is so tedious. My husband smiles, understanding and not understanding at all.

There is no flow to my river. I hover above like a bird, jealous of those who walk in this place like a bear. What good is a bird on the earth? I offer perspective, and a  broader vision, but would leave in a heart-beat to go back home, if only I knew where home was.

And you, father? Have you come to peace?

No need to ask. I know that you have.

It’s all good once we take our feet out of this too-tight shoe.

written April 30, 2008