The Last Dandelion Bouquet

Memoirs of a Mama Bear

Brilliance. Staring into flashes of memory. My kids when they were little. My son as a baby, how warm his round head would get when he was sleeping. My daughter not even five, and obsessed with black and white scary movies. The excitement of picking Halloween costumes, and their small faces seeing Christmas presents under the tree. Them peering over my shoulder as I did homework, asking when I would finish and come play. Knock-knock jokes, peanut-butter-and-jelly, velcro light-up shoes. Summer nights with roasted marshmallows and lightning bugs, movies, and popcorn. So many bags of popcorn.

The snowsuits and skinned knees, the spilled milk, and tickles. Wishing upon stars. How their little faces would cringe and their chins dimple as they tried not to cry. The first time they learned how to tear the wrapping paper off of presents. Them sneaking around in the morning trying not to wake me up “Shh, don’t wake up Mom!” Their intent expression while reading the back of cereal boxes as sunlight streams in the kitchen. The birthdays and bedtime stories and pancake breakfasts. Missing mittens and forgotten lunch boxes. Watching them smile as they climbed onto the school bus for the first time, and how tiny they looked reaching up towards the rail. How the bus sounded as it roared away, and how I cried when they were gone.

My son, born strong, silent, and stoic. Dark brown eyes blinking at me as he was placed on my chest. My daughter came with a full head of raven-black hair, loud and cantankerous, eyes of the deepest navy blue. My son’s first smile. And his reaction to me celebrating that smile. My daughter’s first words aside from mama: “tickle, tickle”… whispered from her high chair with a mushy Cheerio stuck to her round cheek. 

The thousands of beautiful dandelion flower bouquets that I was gifted. Training wheels and then learning how to ride without them. Roller skates and scooters. The neighbor kids’ bikes laying all over the front yard and driveway. Letting them go for the first few (hundred) times: “… don’t forget — just to the stop sign and back — remember?”, and “… stay where you can see the house, ok?” Red or blue or purple-stained popsicle lips and eating the strawberries right out of my Aunt’s garden. Bullies and trouble with friends. Couch cuddles and snack time and cut up hot dogs. The sprinkler and playing with the hose. The first sleepovers and the hugs during pick up on the mornings after. The back door slamming from the constant in-and-out during ‘outside’ play. Laughing at Saturday morning cartoons and staying in pajamas all day. Falling into a pile of leaves on a warm autumn afternoon. Jumping higher because of new shoes. Hot chocolate, snowmen, and cold noses.

The ever-worn and ripped knees of my son’s pants from playing on the floor. The never-to-be-eradicated glitter fallen from my daughter’s headbands. Cold school day mornings, packing lunches, grapes, juice boxes, and Little Debbie snacks. Waking them up late to tell them it’s a snow day. Hot wheels, stuffed animals, dress-up clothes. Legos and crayons. Colored pages covering the refrigerator. Watching them pick gifts for their friends, the thought and effort for someone else energizing them. High school dances, prom, graduation, driver’s licenses. The moon following us on a night car ride. Checking under the bed for monsters and closing bedroom closet doors. Lost special blankets and late-night drinks of water. Their goofiness and grumpiness, the funny faces, and practical jokes. How excited they were when I came home from work. The hugs and enthusiasm, the sense that all was whole.

My daughter on stage at the choir concert, eyes bright under the stage lights. Looking back while driving and seeing their little heads resting against car windows, asleep on a long ride home. Making beds with clean sheets and tucking them in after a bath. The Friday night lights at my son’s high school football games “Go Warriors!” Stay-home sick days, their cheeks red as they napped in front of the TV on a blanket-covered couch. Playgrounds and swinging on the swingset, “Please Mom, just one more push…” Their inclination towards serious and difficult topics. How I wanted to shelter them but knew that I couldn’t. How carefully they listened as I spoke hard truths. How they sometimes spoke wisdom beyond their years. The moon reflecting in their eyes as they looked at the night sky and told me how much they loved the mystery of outer space. Their little voices telling me “I love you” as they glowed- meaning it with every atom of their being.

Childhood is gone so quickly that it takes a moment to even realize that it is gone. It seems never-ending from the middle of the story, from inside the day-to-day. Only in hindsight, can I see that I had chances to do better… perhaps because we always think we have time. We don’t realize when the last of something is happening. I don’t remember when I was given my last dandelion bouquet. When my daughter gets home from work, I will ask her to surprise me with one someday. She will roll her eyes and smile. And that will make me smile. Looking back, it’s a blur, a whirlwind. A fraction of time. A fraction of their lives — and just a fraction of mine, really. For only one split second, they were mine. 


Read me on Medium, here.

*Photo by Herbert Goetsch on Unsplash

Dappled Golden Light

Knock softly to find me in the spare room, 
set to the side for tired eyes to visit.
Where I am nested in silky cream linens, 
undercover. 
Drawn shades with dappled golden light; always.

From across the room, you watch me,
pleased at my stillness.
And pinned under your stare, I wait.
As you slowly drink me in,
up and then down.
And maybe back up again.

Slow steps towards me, 
then shadowed by shoulders, broad and wide.
Strong hands filled with paused intention,
suspenseful as they take their time.
And wander 
over my soft form.
Pressed against me,
I ache to take you in.
Interlaced fingers, parted lips.

Sighs.


Come read me on Medium here.

Photo by Mink Mingle on Unsplash

The Day Floods the Night

A Just-Get-to-the-Point Metaphor

The night feels darker when lost deep in the forest. Cradled under treetops and cloaked from the light of the sky, everything looks different. Once-familiar paths shift unexpectedly and snake-like, veering off at odd angles. The dark is dramatic, altering every little bit of light and making shadows reach towards us from around corners. 

With our flashlights, we illuminate narrow hallways between the trees ahead. Regardless of how bright, nothing is ever clear. North looks the same as south, and east the same as west. But we continue on, the light in our hands bouncing with our steps —  a beacon to whatever hides nearby.

We tend to think of the night in hushed whispers and muffled voices, tiptoes, and quiet sighs. But in the forest, the night noises are loud. Echoes multiply, moving towards and away from us simultaneously. Twigs snap behind us even if no one is there. Our footsteps sound like that of many — no matter how lightly we step. Leaves scamper despite the stillness of windless air.

We feel vulnerable, unsure, and unprepared. A minute seems to take much longer than a minute and self-doubt seeps in like a spill soaked up by paper. No one saunters through the dark wood. We move fast, pushed ahead by the dark behind us. 


We all have dark times. When we try to describe it to another or even understand it in hindsight, it seems like something is lost in translation. Dark times cannot be shared like the good times are. 

When we find ourselves in a dark place, it can feel like being lost deep in the night forest. If you are in those dark woods now, you aren’t alone. Some of us are there with you, with wide eyes that search for dawn.

But, the passing of time is certain. The day will flood the night, making what was once shadowed become enlightened.

Things will get better. Or maybe we just get better at things. Either way, we come out on top so there is no sense in running, in panic. The point is that we will rise stronger and with a greater understanding of ourselves, our purpose.

Take these difficult moments in. Live them, breathe them. Focus on how the night air feels wrapped around you. Take your control back and light a match. Sit in that dark forest and rest beside the campfire. 

We have to fully experience the dark in order to truly appreciate the light. 

Purpose becomes renewed with a fresh set of eyes….

I’ll see you in the morning.


“Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.” 

Earl Grollman

Also published on Medium. Read me here.

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

Follow Your Future

And then one morning you wake up.

Consciousness overcomes dreams, breaking through that sleepy haze.

Like the barometric pressure subtly shifting, we sense a change in our forecast. The weather vane swivels, our course suddenly pulling us into a different direction.

And in that direction, we will take one step, followed by another, and another after that. And it will feel all wrong. Unfamiliar and foggy, unclear as to what lies ahead. And you hate to admit it, but you are terribly sure that the known lands behind you are not meant for you any longer. Not everyone can accept that knowledge.

Some fight it for lifetimes.

The first step is admitting you have a problem, of course. Admitting that your old life no longer serves you, has you stuck, limited, in a rut, doesn’t cultivate personal growth. You will hesitate. You will look back over your shoulder and see the world of your past while knowing deep down that ‘just head back where it’s safe’ is not really an option.

Because now you know there is something else out there looking for you.

Some kind of inner honing device triggered, a call to arms, a neodymium magnet pulling you towards *it* as *it* demands you to become You.

It’s right. Go. Go, and leave the rest behind.

Going in the right direction may not feel right. But keep in mind that going in the wrong direction does not feel right, either.

Follow your future.


The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.

— Rainer Maria Rilke

Cross posted on Medium

Our Ghosts Running

The summer treetops shaded us and the hot air
kept us flushed
through the pursuit of the moment.

And when those leaves began to fall around us,
we listened as they
were crunched by our footsteps.

In the fall air, we were warm and hazy,
with creases from laughter
upon our pink faces.

And then through the swirling snowflakes
we found
how nice cold noses felt
when pressed against warm cheeks.

And we ran towards something
but
towards nothing.

And in the icy valley, we left it there.
Ghosts running
through the trees in time-past.
Gone,
but never really fading.

7.29.19 Cuyahoga River, Ohio: photo by author

Also published on Medium. Read me here.

*Top Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

Ballroom Behind My Eyes

I want you to know me by the voice that you hear in your head when you read my words. I want you to know what I am thinking. To be the holder of my decoder ring, able to decipher me.

Translate my abstractness into a concreteness and teach it back to me.

Then tell me more.

I want you to feel as though you have found your way home in my sincerity, my realness. That you can feel my faults, for they are as big as San Andreas. That you forgive me, as I do you.

Tell me that you can see me. I want you to read my soul, to see my soul. To touch me there because that means that I am touching your soul, too. I want you to take me in so deeply that I cannot question my trust for you.

I want to move your heart with the thoughts that I have stretched out and left here for you to read… to find. These little pieces of me once crumpled and strewn about the ballroom behind my eyes. I am compelled to collect them for you, sift through them, iron them out… deciding which are appropriate for human consumption.

Tell me how you can feel me bleed through to you — for you — regardless of the genre or the subject that my words are weaving for you at the moment.

I want you to feel refreshed by my sincerity… like that delicious intake of crisp cool air that you can’t help but take into you so very deeply.


I want to feel your potential radiate from within you, your inspiration bleeding into the air around you. Your Phoenix Rising. I want you overcome with the need to find those words locked inside of you… to let them out and for you to tell me their story. I will be mesmerized as you share them with me.

Move me. Make me feel you. And when you are done, I’ll ask you to tell me more.

I want to relish in your memories with you, view them with our collective hindsight. And yes, even the times that you felt most terrified, vulnerable, and saddened. Tell me about how you were lost inside of yourself and couldn’t find your way out, for I know that place, too.

I want my words to walk with you in that darkness, reach the shadows within you and show you how they love you there, as well.

I will come find you so that we can spin in circles while hand-in-hand and laugh

as we change the sadness into beautiful, icy snowflakes that fall around us and crunch at our feet.


I want to know your first waking thoughts. And the ones that put you to bed at night, too… those sleepy notions that dissipate before you can articulate them.

Tell me how you run after them, catching only their particles with your fishing net… using careful, soft, and gliding motions.

And tell me how frustrating it is when those motions create passive ripples that push the other thoughts away, unable to be captured…perhaps now lost.

And tell me how, later, you yearn to piece them together again through pen and paper.


I want to paint pictures in your eyes, moving ones — if I can. Pictures that bring you back to your own moments. Like your first bite of apple pie, a puppy asleep on your lap, or like that time you were kissed so deeply that it became more than just a kiss.

Or when — the *exact* moment when — you realized that you recognized someone’s soul and how you suddenly ‘just knew’….. tell me how time stood still for you. I want my words to bring you back there so I can feel it with you, too.

Tell me how it feels to have my words envelop you.

Because I hope they make you feel like you are landing inside a pile of fallen leaves on a warm autumn day.


Tell me that when I am long gone you will still feel the waves of my energy, weighted and heavy- as if particles of true matter and subject to gravity.

Tell me that when I cease to exist you will still be able to hear me in your mind. And how my words will still manage to make you feel safe as you lie your head down to sleep each night.

And when you feel the smile that I snuck on your lovely face from so far away, I’ll know and smile from somewhere far away, too.


“I want you to tell me about every person you’ve ever been in love with.
Tell me why you loved them,
then tell me why they loved you.
Tell me about a day in your life you didn’t think you’d live through.

Tell me what the word home means to you
and tell me in a way that I’ll know your mother’s name
just by the way you describe your bedroom
when you were eight.”

 Andrea Gibson


Come read me on Medium here.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Tiger’s Eye Glowing

Photo by Andrea Tummons on Unsplash

Tiger’s eye glowing, into mine of hazel.

Dive right in,

without hesitation;

a free-fall.

Past the noise and the clutter and into the darkness of it all.

Into the center…

where the mess is.

A moment of refuge found;

the drifters’ solitude eclipsed.

;

Tiger’s eye glowing, into mine of hazel.

Find asylum within the intensity;

within the thirst and the longing and the hurt of it all.

Within the rose garden;

where every dance is always the last,

and greetings are made with a goodbye kiss.


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cross posted on Medium

That Sudden Lone Light

Photo by Immortal shots on Pexels.com

Can I tell you?

Can I tell you how I crave that flash of white- that sudden lone light?

The one that finds me— in surprise —  in the deep, deep, dark tunnel where I hide.

Can I tell you how time stopped; standing just perfectly still?

A split second somehow stretched into a space filled with forever.

Breath removed from the air; underwater sounds whispered in my ear.

My frozen stare; blinding and surreal.

My North Star. So brilliant and white.

;

Will you be gone in a flash — like the flash in which you came?

Gone — and only the craving of light left to remain?

Blow through me then — would you mind just blowing me away?

Please can I tell you?

Can I tell you what happened?

Can I tell you how I need you to tell me, too?


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