Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mommy and That Baby

Mommy and That Baby

The linoleum under the eating table is cool on my belly. I roll on my side and jiggle my hands way above my head. Snow is on the windowsill, but the sun comes way across the floor to me warm on my arm. Maybe I can touch the big silver leg of the table from here. I am getting bigger. Everybody says that I am getting bigger. It looks like I can touch it. Hard as I can, I stretch and stretch, but it’s too far. Maybe if I roll back, flat on my belly and close my eyes, I will be longer. I roll back and those floor squares are really big in my eyes. I run my fingers around the edges and I whisper: one, two, three, four. I like to count. I do it lots of times. I can count really far and I know this is a square. I know circles, too. I whisper the colors of the speckles: red, black, yellow, white. I want to tell my Mommy, but she’s on her bed. It is better for Mommy not to notice me. It is better to be invisible.

I wish I could tell my Mommy numbers and colors today and she would smile and hear me and tell me she is proud ‘cause I know things. I hope today if she notices me, she sees me good and not bad. I remember sometimes she hugs me all up in her warm soft body and I am afraid to move or breath or make a sound. I want it to last and last. Mommy’s smiley times make my heart big and make me feel warm all over. I think I could fly or sing or do anything! But I can’t. I have to be very careful. I have to watch Mommy. If I get too excited, or I move too much, or I spill my “inside happy” out my mouth too much, then I make her come away from that place where she smiles. Then it’s gone as quick as it came. I don’t want Mommy to notice me too much. I really, really try not to be wild and naughty. But I am a selfish little girl and I forget.

When my Mommy was gone at the hospital, I stayed with Mary up the stairs. Mary and Brack are some kind of family to my Daddy. Daddy gives them money for us to live here. Mommy yells about money lots of times and she wants to move away from here. I am selfish. I love Mary and I don’t want to move away. Mary smiles every day. I can sit on Mary’s lap most times when I ask. She even picks me up and hugs me when I don’t ask. Mary has a little boy who’s bigger than me. Bradley is four years old. I am two forever and ever and I want to be four. Mary doesn’t get mad or slap me when I pull on her clothes to ask her things. Mary says, “ You have to wait until spring, but that’s not far away at all.” I told Mary it’s forever and ever, long and long time ago, since Santa Claus and it be spring really, really soon, right? Mary laughed loud with her mouth open. “It’s only been a couple of weeks since Christmas”, she told me. She picked me up and showed me papers on her wall with squares and numbers and pictures of cars on every page. I like to ride in cars. She pointed to a square and said softly, “There’s your birthday.” Mary has my birthday on her wall. Only my birthday. She did not say she had that baby’s birthday on her wall. It must be our secret. She whispered my birthday on her wall. She didn’t tell me not to tell, but to be careful, I will not tell. I did not want her to put me down. Mary smells nice. I wish I could go up the stairs to Mary right now. Mommy is right. I am a selfish little girl.

I remember to close my eyes and try to reach the table leg. I even try to make my fingers longer, but it is out of reach by a hand. Bradley could reach it. Bradley is mean to me. But I can be brave to him ‘cause I like Mary. She’s the one who told me about that baby. Mommy had it in her arms when she came home a lot of days ago. Mary told me, “They’ll make a big fuss over it, but don’t you ever forget that they love you just the same.” That was a lie. Grownups tell lies. They tell lies lots of times. They think I am not big enough to know they lie, but I know lots of times. They lie to pretend sad things are happy. They lie to pretend things gone. They lie to fool me. Sometimes they sound like they believe lies when they say them and forget they’re not the truth. Mary lies too, and that makes me sad. It does not surprise me, but it makes me sad.

My Mommy and Daddy do not love me just the same. Mommy always pays attention too much or not at all. She sees me good or she sees me bad when she notices me. Smiley times she sees me good and tells me how smart I am. She reads to me for long and long times. If she is really in a good mood she will tell me what the big words mean and I can ask questions and she doesn’t ever get mad about that. She reads her books to me until she is tired or I get too wiggly and wild and make her come away from that place she goes when she reads to me. I watch her eyes when she comes back. Mommy may notice me and see me bad, or she may still be busy in her head and just shoo me away. I always hope she doesn’t notice me. I hate it when she sees me bad. When she sees me bad, she thinks of ways to make me be good. But I never learn. It does not work and I am bad again. I don’t mind being in my room all day, ‘cause I forget to “Think about what you did and how bad you are” and I just play and play really, really quiet so Mommy doesn’t hear.

I play really, really good by myself. If I forget to listen for her feet, she might fly the door open and catch me playing. Mommy doesn’t like me to play when I am trying to learn to be good. But sometimes she walks in like I was never bad and she never talks about it. Maybe she is fooling me, but I don’t care. I like it when she forgets I was bad. But I don’t like to be in my little, brown chair in the corner of the eating room. I am glad Mommy doesn’t have the time to watch me and watch me every second in the corner. I do not like Mommy watching me and I can’t see her eyes, so I turn around to watch her. Mommy gets so tired of turning me around in my chair and having to push me back down in place, so then she grabs my arm and drags me to my room and yells and yells about me and slams the door. I don’t mind. I like my room better than the chair. But I don’t like being in that dark closet forever and ever. There’s nothing to do in there ‘cause I can’t see. I just smell and touch the coats and boots full of winter and try to see under the door for Mommy’s feet. I fall asleep in there lots of times and Mommy doesn’t like that ‘cause I am not learning not to be bad. Since that baby came, I am bad and bad. Daddy did not used to notice me much, but now he notices me bad more times. Mommy tells him the wrong things I do. Sometimes she lies, but I never tell Daddy about the closet. I am quiet and quiet as I can be. It is better when they don’t see me, especially Mommy. They do not love me just the same. They see me badder now. Mommy has not read her books to me forever and ever.

Mary did not lie about the big fuss. That baby must be a really good one. Lots of grownups come over to hold it and talk to it. It can’t talk. It’s a boy baby, but it’s too little to move much. Mommy and Daddy are all soft and happy with it, especially when people are here. Mommy is always nicer when people are around. She is nicer when daddy is home. She is nicer to that baby.

Maybe Mary is just nicer to me ‘cause I am “company” at her house, even if I am little. My Mommy does not treat other kids like company at her house, unless grownups are here. Mary holds me and talks nice to me and there are no grownups there. Maybe it is ‘cause I am a little girl and Bradley is a boy and boys are meaner. Maybe Mary wishes she had a little girl. I do not want Mary to know I am bad, so I am extra careful. I don’t think Mary lies as much as my Mommy does. I am not sure, but I like Mary better than my Mommy, anyway. I am really a bad girl. I am a selfish girl. Mommy will really, really be mad if she knows I like Mary best. She will tell Mary how bad I am and make up more bad things to be sure. My eyes pop open. My skin gets jitters all over thinking how mad she’d be. I sit up quickly and look over at her bedroom door.

The door is open big enough for me to get through without touching it. I walk slowly towards the door running my fingers along the wallpaper. Even though I know I am better off invisible, it makes me nervous to be alone for so long. Mommy is usually busy doing things and I watch her. Even if she is having a sad day and sits in the big chair all day and never sees me, I can still watch her. I really like those days that she can’t see me for long and long. I can sing or twirl or bounce on my bed or talk loud to my dollies while we have tea with my real tea set with the pink roses on. Invisible time is nice and nice. Most times I forget to watch her, though, and it startles me when she sees me all of a sudden. I never know if she sees me bad or good until it’s too late. If I don’t watch her eyes, I don’t know what kind of a day it is. If I don’t watch her I can’t see if the day is changing.

By the time I arrive at her bedroom door, I am sure she’s going to startle me. She could fly through the door, zero her eyes on me and pronounce me bad. She could pop out all soft and happy with that baby. I do not know how Mommy is until I see her. I know she does not know what I think when I am invisible, but I am not sure what she knows when she pins me down with her eyes. Will she know what I thought new today? Will she know I talked in my head and said I like Mary better than her? I stand in the doorway and rock silently from foot to foot, swaying, thinking. I suck my thumb, even though that’s bad, but Mommy can’t see me from here. I listen.

The bed is over in the corner away from the door. I hear breathing. After a while, I pull my thumb out and grab on to the door frame. Leaning my head into the room very slowly, I see Mommy sleeping on the bed. My eyes take a while to see in the dark of the room. She is lying on her side with her arm curled under her head. On the softest feet I come up one step at a time. My eyes never leave her face. I am all the way up to the bed and she has not moved. I wait and listen to the breath of her, to hear if she is awake or fooling me. I watch her eyelids. The eyes are not moving. I know if they slide from side to side under there, then she’s almost awake. The breath is slow and faint and calm. My Mommy is sleeping. I suck my thumb again and rock from side to side.

I know that baby is there, even if I have not looked at it. I can hear it breathing. This time I look at it all by myself. Everyone shoos me away or they hold it up for me to look, don’t touch. They are afraid I will hurt it. They tell me I could hurt it even if I did not mean to. Mommy has a part of her top off and one of the big, soft, cushy parts of her has that baby on it. That baby has its mouth hanging on to her. It smells funny. The hands are curled into little fists. I hold my hand near, but don’t touch. My hand is way bigger. Its eyes are closed, but it is not sleeping. It is making sucking noises and jerks every so often. When it sucks I can see the side of its tongue. Red. The tongue is red. The lips are red. It has little eyelashes and the eyes roll around under the lids. Its head is tipped and I can see up its nose on my tip toes by the side of the roll-away. Inside its nose is red, too. I could look at it long and long. I wonder if they are lying that it will grow up to be a boy as big as Bradley. I wonder if it will be mean to me, like Bradley. It doesn’t look mean. It could change. Mommy changes all the time. I wish it would open its eyes. I would feel better if I could see its eyes. It reminds me of doggies. I want to pet it.

I love doggies. I never hurt doggies. Will I hurt that baby? Why do they say I will hurt that baby? I must be really, really bad. I won’t hurt it now. I know I do not want to hurt it now. Maybe I will hurt it later when it is bigger and mean like Bradley? I am glad it is not a girl. Sometimes Mommy calls me her best girl and she dresses me up in pretty dresses and shiny shoes with straps. She puts my hair up in pin curls. I like my hair curly, but I do not like when she combs it out. Mommy pulls and it hurts and she tells me not to be a baby. I like when she tells grownups how good and smart I am and how, “She talked before she could walk”. It looks so nice up there with Mommy. I want to climb up on the bed and be in that soft, warm place with them. I want Mommy to worry somebody is going to hurt me. That baby gets Mommy nice and smiley lots of times. Maybe I can climb up on the corner of the bed and not wake Mommy. I move slowly and carefully. If I can just get over on the corner of the bed, I will be still and still. I will not move. I will not go by the baby, so I can’t hurt it not on purpose. I will listen to them breathe. I will feel the warmth of them. As I crawl up slowly, I jiggle the bed and Mommy cracks her eye open. Her hand comes out and swiftly pushes me off the side of the bed. Arms and legs flying, I crash on to the hardwood floor and scramble to my feet. I stand up straight with my arms down at my sides and look upon her eye.

“You can’t be up here. You’ll wake the baby,” Mommy whisper yelled through her teeth. “Now, go away.”

I was frozen to the spot. I was waiting for her to drag me someplace by my arm.

“I am so tired. Just leave me alone”, she hissed.

I felt my eyes water, but I know better than to cry. I back up a couple of steps, watching her. I wait. I listen.

“That’s right. You’re such a good girl. You color so nice. Why don’t you go color? Or take a nap or something, okay?” Mommy talked smiley time words. It sounded like a lie, but I didn’t care. I never cared why Mommy sounded nicer. She did not come after me off the bed.

“Something quiet, okay? That’s my good girl. Go on, now.”

I back up slowly, keeping my eyes on her. She settles back into the bed, keeping her eye on me until I scoot out the door.

I spread out a color book on the linoleum under the eating table and dig my fingers in Grandpa’s old cigar box. It smells like Grandpa and crayons. Crayons never get old; they always smell like new ones. Nothing smells like crayons. Blue streaks across the page. I feel wild and happy. No yank on the arm. No chair facing the corner. Yellow streaks across the page. No closet. No mad eyes. Green streaks across the page. First I was bad, then I am good, just like that. Orange streaks across the page. Mommy was too tired to come after me. That never stopped her before. Red streaks across the page. Mommy is very busy with that baby. I stop, up on my elbows. Red. I roll the crayon in my fingers. That baby’s name is Blaine. He has red lips and a red tongue and red inside his nose. If I could, I would sing and twirl around in circles and laugh with my mouth open. That baby must be a really, really good one.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

God On The Bus

I didn’t learn to drive until I was thirty. Buses, my feet, and the kindness of friends and family were my modes of transportation. Everyone asked me, “How can you stand it not being able to drive?” I would calmly reply, “How can I miss something I’ve never had?”

One sunny fall day I finally decided to earn my own personal piece of state plastic. Owning that plastic card did not change my perspective on buses; it was possessing that set of keys dropped into my hand by a paunchy, slick-haired salesman with a practiced smile. “It’s just an aquarium on wheels” my father would snort, but I learned confidence, independence, and freedom behind the wheel of my burgundy Pacer. I could go where I wanted to go, when I wanted to go, and I could get more than one bag of groceries at a time. I finally knew what everyone had been talking about all those years. Walking and buses became a memory that compared poorly to four wheels.

A year ago I was hearing those lamentations once again. “How will you survive without a car? I would go crazy! I could never do what you’re doing. No way!” All this deja vu conversation was eerily foreboding. I had no reply this time. I truly knew what I would be missing. I was forty-eight, packing up and moving from the Twin Cities to go to Concordia College in Moorhead. “This is my chance for a new start,” I told my friends and family as I waved good-bye.

My new start returned me to extreme poverty, no car, an apartment with uneven floors, startlingly noisy pipes, parties vibrating the walls, broken blinds, and a dirty laundry room. The Coppertone stove and harvest gold refrigerator seemed to complete the time warp back to the late sixties. I scrubbed, arranged, pounded, organized, displayed, and made it home. I started classes but managed to avoid the bus my first year.

The bus. It represented the final loss of independence and freedom. As I trudged the nine or ten blocks to school, I realized how much I missed squirrels. What I did not miss was being beaten in the face by leaves, lashed by sleet, whipped by wind, coated by snow, and worrying that I had frostbitten some exposed portion of my anatomy on my pilgrimage to knowledge. I survived the mild Minnesota winter. Over the summer, the bus was starting to look good to me, in a lesser-of-two-evils sort of way. Another school year was approaching rapidly. Another winter.

I purchased a semester bus pass. It was the full and final admission of my carlessness.

My first morning at the bus stop behind the public library I arrived early. I am always early. As I came around the corner, I was reminded that the bus stop was across the street from the homeless shelter. Three rumpled gentlemen were settled in on the low brick wall that surrounds the library. They were each sitting or leaning on their duffel bags. None of them gave me eye contact. I didn’t want them to feel uncomfortable, so I asked if the bus had come by yet. The man in the greasy ponytail glanced at my smile from under his cap and said no. His shoulders relaxed as I sat down on the bricks a few feet away from him. Mine slowly relaxed, too. The trees along the boulevard made it a wondrous place to sit on a sunny morning. The grass was lush and damp. The leaves shimmered and whispered. The squirrel entertainment committee performing “Autumn Acorn Madness” took small notice of sedentary humans. Settling into bus-stop-patience came back to me slowly.

I felt guilty for deliberately avoiding the homeless shelter in my walks since I had moved to town. I felt guilty for feeling that prickle of fear when I rounded the corner. How hypocritical. I had been a vagrant and lived on the streets of Anoka the entire summer of 1970. Then I had been afraid of no one. I slept in the park and occasionally on a gracious host’s floor. Hollow hunger. The decadent luxury of sleeping indoors and hot sudsy, showers. I had allowed myself to forget.

I had allowed myself to forget how kind the assorted young rednecks and dopers had been to me. I had been afraid to sleep in the dark. It was safer to sleep in the park by the river during the day and the cops left me alone on bright afternoons. The nights were long. The people of the night were usually high in some form or another, but they watched over me ‘till dawn. Sometimes they even fed me or bought me my own pack of cigarettes. They protected me.All my worldly possessions I carried in my black and white crocheted shoulder bag.  I didn’t have a razor, but I had a toothbrush, bar of soap, underpants, an extra T-shirt, pens, and notebooks. Priorities. If I was starting to feel sad, I used to talk to God on paper until I felt like myself again. Then I would tear up our conversation into little pieces and throw it in the trash. No attachments. I had the soul of a flower-child, despite being a Midwestern Swede from the suburbs. The street people called me “the mad-hugger” or “sunshine”. I took care of people on bummers. I cheered sad drunks. I honestly thought I could see that place that shines inside of everyone. Love breathed through my pores. I was fearless.

The straining roar of a bus drew me back from my reverie and to the corner. The small bus squealed to a stop, the door slid open to the left, I flashed my bus card, and I was in. I sat behind a small hunching man with hair slicked straight back and graying at the temples. Just like my dad’s. As the bus bounced and screeched on its way, I noticed that the tag on his shirt was sticking up on the back of his neck. In black magic marker it spelled “Elvin”. Naked evidence of living in a home. Overwhelmed with a tenderness for him, I wanted to tuck in the tag. The flower-child reached over the bus seat bar and tucked in the tag. Elvin turned around and stated defiantly, “I’m God.”

I didn’t quite believe my ears. “Pardon?” I asked as I leaned forward to catch his words over the bus whine.

“I’m God,” Elvin dared. The gnarled face held flashing eyes and his lips were crushed into a thin line of defiance.

A warmth spread over me. A warmth that lifts your soul like greeting a long-lost friend...where joy stings your eyes and love chokes your throat. And my heart’s eye opened wide and beheld that place that shines.

“I am honored to meet you,” I told him...softly...from the bottom of my flower-child soul.

Monday, August 3, 2009

GA--Hypnosis--Past Life

I am not afraid of death. Have had a few close calls since I was a kid--drowning, tornado, etc. My life never flashed before my eyes and I had no regrets. Just calmly thought--Oh, so this is how I am going to die.
When I think about it--I am more afraid of not dying and being left alive in tremendous pain, to be honest. Like being burned or in a terrible car crash or something like that. But death--nope.
I had my one out-of-body experience when Dagan was an infant (with GA)--awesome! Long story, but I was taken to a place where there were no physical bodies and nothing could be hidden. Everything about a soul was right there to be known--good and bad--and there was such love and understanding. I was taken there so I could forgive and gain perspective--right before Dagan ended up in the hospital. Looking back, I think GA knew he had to get through to me--get my soul in the right place--before Dagan ended up in the hospital dying and we found out about all the heart defects and they told us he wouldn't live, etc, etc. Therefore, I was spiritually focused--and GA and I were never more connected than back then for Dagan. :):)
And years later (maybe 1995?) under hypnosis I spontaneously went back to a lifetime where I had the backs of my knees sliced open so I couldn't run away and was being held down & raped while I bled to death--and I was pregnant big as a house--charming, right? But all I knew was I had been running, then terrible pain in my knees, and then I had pain in my stomach and my wrists. Then I kept skipping to being dead--hehe! (Do you blame me?!) The hypnotist kept trying to get me to go back and gather more information about what in the world was happening and who was doing this to me--but I just kept leaving and jumping to being dead--hehe! Very frustrating for the hypnotist, but hey--being dead was beautiful and peaceful. It filled my soul and lifted me up into such joy I can't even describe it. I didn't care who was doing whatever or why--just wanted to get to the dead part--ROFL!!
They say hypnosis can't make you do anything you don't want to. That was really true in my case--hehe! I think I died at least five times in his office chair that day--ROFL!!
Okay--as long as I told you that much--three of us had gone together to the hypnotist--a girl I worked with and her friend. We wanted to see if we had known each other in France in the 1500s. I had been having dreams about a lifetime back then and apparently many people I know in this lifetime--well, we were all in France together.
Anyways, we were all in the room. The other two girls were sitting quietly in chairs against the far wall while I had my session. It felt like they were supposed to be in there with me. Everything happens for a reason, right? Turned out there was a huge reason why I went to that particular lifetime. While I was being raped and killed over and over in the chair--(chuckle)--the two girls were the ones who were each separately actually remembering what was happening to me. They were both silently crying and staring at me--so each didn't know the other one was experiencing anything. The hypnotist had his back to them, so he never knew that was happening--and me--I just kept running--having stabbing pain in my knees--stomach and wrists--crying and panting in pain--and then became suddenly silent, breathing peacefully, and looking beatific, I guess. I thought it had been quite a failure of a session. I had no idea what they had been experiencing.
After we left the hypnotist--we all chatted about the experience. It was then that they told me and each other what they experienced. (Needless to say--it freaked us all out! We told the hypnotist later.) The girl I worked with--she remembered being a man in that lifetime and that she was raping me. Her friend had been his mother in that lifetime--and had held me down for him.
The backstory they remembered--I had been married off to an older man specifically to have an heir. (None of us had any clue as to what time period this was or where.) The mother had been his commoner mistress for decades and the son was the only male heir--illegitimate, but a male heir. Now that I came into the picture--and got pregnant right away--all the mother's years of working on this man to make her son his legal heir--gone! The son was more my age and had fallen in love with me--and yet hated me at the same time. They had even lived in his house with him and had all the privileges--until I came and they got booted out before he married me. They planned to make it look like I had been robbed and killed. The rape was just an added angry bonus for the son because I had scorned his advances. They remembered that they had been publicly hung later.
They both had their memories separately--and between the two of them that was the story. I only had the physical memory of the pain in my body--couldn't see any of what was happening. But because we all went together in this lifetime--and they remembered and were ashamed and in tears--I could forgive them. It was all about forgiveness.
And a week or so later, as I was waking up one morning, I got more of the story from GA. I think I have mentioned that GA isn't really an angel--but a guiding spirit and I have known him before. Well, in that lifetime GA was my handmaiden or whatever they call them. She and I had practically grown up together--she took care of my clothes, hair and such and we were fast companions and loved each other dearly. When I was given away in marriage to this older man, I insisted she come with me to my new home. She was my only friend.
I used to go on these walks alone by a river and GA worried about me because I was fearless in some respects--or naive, selfish, stubborn, and ignorant, some would say--hehe! On that day GA was secretly tailing me to keep an eye on me as she said she always did. But when they chased me, caught me, and sliced my legs at the knee--the whole time--she stayed hidden in the bushes--watching the whole thing. She was afraid to show herself because she knew they would have to kill her, too. She couldn't move from the position she was in--even to go get help--or she would be seen.
When they left me for dead--GA rushed to my side, crying. I went to that place--like when I jumped to being dead--but I remembered the baby--my innocent baby. I willed myself back into my body. Now I don't know what happened--if I asked GA to cut the baby out or I had gone into labor because of the trauma and birthed the baby--don't remember that part--but the baby lived and then I died. The baby was Dagan--and GA basically raised him in that lifetime. GA exposed the woman and her son and they were hung. Dagan was proclaimed this miracle child in that life, too! ROFL!! But he was very spoiled and revered because of it and grew into a selfish, arrogant man.
Kind of explains why Dagan and GA and I were sooo connected while I was raising him in this lifetime. And why I was so overly conscious of Dagan not being spoiled or selfish--hehe!
GA wanted to be forgiven for not trying to help me when I was attacked. Absolutely! GA is totally forgiven. Made me cry right now to even think GA would need my forgiveness for anything.
My goodness--didn't think I was going to tell that whole story. Oh well. I have always had dreams or visions of pieces of past lives--many years apart, but I have had a few of them. If they are just my imagination--well, if they lead to good things, that's okay with me, too. But with the two girls having visions/memories of the same thing at the same time--and such a bizarre story...and then getting additional information from GA later....???? I'm usually quite the doubting Thomas, but that made a 95% believer out of me. :):)
I asked a long, long time ago that I only have memories if they will help me with something in this life. No point otherwise. People can get lost in trying to remember everything and every lifetime--what a waste of time--IMHO, anyways. It would be like trying to go back and re-live every single day in this lifetime--duh! Unless I can gain some insight to help me on my current path.... :):)

Teddy Bear On The Bible

This is what I remember about my first religious crisis or spiritual epiphany.

I was five years old and in first grade at Northeast Christian School in Columbia Heights, Minnesota. (I went to parochial school for the first two years and then went to public school in Fridley starting in third grade.)

Anyways, when it was really horrible weather we had recess inside. I remember the playroom had a wall that had a long counter with shelves underneath with lots of cubbies for toys and books. The bell went off and we were supposed to put the toys away and return to class. I was taking too long and had to hurry, so I quickly tossed this teddy bear up on top of the counter and rushed to get to class. The teacher grabbed my arm and dragged me back for a good close look at my sin. I had tossed that teddy bear on top of the big open bible on the counter. I thought I was in trouble for not putting it down in a cubby--but it was considerably worse than I ever could have imagined.

The teacher lectured me about how I had defaced God's property, insulted God with my careless attitude, the bible was God's word, I had no respect,....etc....etc....etc. She informed me I was going straight to hell and I had better change my ways. She had me move the teddy bear to a cubby, apologize to God, and sent me off to class.

I was absolutely destroyed! I couldn't stop thinking about it! I had quite accidentally condemned my soul to hell. I had been in such a happy mood, loved school, and hadn't meant to do anything to upset God at all. I knew I'd make more mistakes--I always did. God was mad at me and would probably never forgive me. My life was over--done!

When I got home from school I nervously told my mom about how I was going to hell and why. She just laughed. Poo-pooed the entire incident. Since she didn't go to church except for Easter and Christmas I didn't figure she was exactly an authority on all things biblical--so I went off to my room, crawled under the covers, and mourned my loss of God until I had no more tears and just those hiccupy breaths. I laid there--limp and lifeless. And then I "heard" inside my head--"That's not your God."

Now, those of you that know me have heard about GA (my guardian angel) for most of my adult life. I had no idea where this information that just popped into my head came from--but never questioned it. Looking back--that was probably the first time I consciously remember having one of those inner conversations with GA (not that I was even aware that was what it was at the time--at all). You know how they say something has the ring of truth? My chats with GA have always been like bells of truth ringing--(whether I like what he has to say or not--hehe!).

Anyways, a long silent "thought conversation" took place as I laid there in bed. I was "told" that God doesn't judge only by the outside, but by the inside. Not just by what I did--but why I did it. Only God knows all the whys--knows everything--and that's why I shouldn't judge people only by what I see and hear. I had no evil intent toward God when I tossed the teddy bear on the bible. God knew that. My God is a loving God. My God has miraculous love that is bigger and stronger than all the hate or anger or fear in the whole world. But I was also "told" the teacher was not lying. That is how she sees God and that is who God really is to her--inside. Everybody's whys or insides are different. And only God knows your insides--your secret, safe place. I can't adequately describe how the concepts flowed through me or the intense relief and the love I felt all through my body and soul. The information was conveyed very simply and a lot of it was almost as visuals. But I have never forgotten it.

Seems like I have spent my lifetime trying to regain the innocent absolute faith of that five-year-old who believed she was forgiven. :):)

Soft Breaths

Dagan is napping. Being able to faintly hear his breathing even from the living room, I am once again grateful for this tiny apartment...our new home. Once I have cleaned and arranged and organized, I can make anywhere home. I’ve had practice, so I know this to be true.

Soft breaths. I look out the living room window and squint from the sun. The grass is worn away to gray dirt littered with cigarette confetti on either side of the front steps. Unless I look down, I am level with the tree branches. I love looking into tree branches. The leaves are turning and the wind is winning the battle today. Soon there will be frost on these windows and snow on the ground. But today...the beauty of it lifts my heart. I want to show Dagan the dried leaves and talk of what the earth does when it rests. But the doctors say to keep him in.

They warn me to keep him out of the cold, keep him out of the heat, keep him away from other kids so he doesn’t catch anything, watch him so he doesn’t fall on his chest against the furniture when he learns to walk, watch his fluid intake, watch his salt intake...protect him, protect him...the unspoken battle to keep him alive as long as possible. “The babies don’t usually die from the actual heart defects,” the doctors, the nurses, and the other “heart parents” have told me. “They usually die from complications: pneumonia, strep throat, bronchitis, or even catching the flu. It’s hard for them to fight things off.” I have heard about the “heart kids” with their various defects...dying in their sleep, cardiac failure on the school bus, pacemaker leads breaking inside their chests, dying during surgery, dying after surgery in the hospital...dying, dying.

Soft breaths. I watch the leaves whipping off the branches and dancing across the brown grass. Dying. Too much focus on dying.

Dagan was three months old when they told me he was dying and there was nothing they could do for him. I forced myself not to dwell on it because that was something private between Dagan and God. I concentrated on his life while he was here. I would not let family, myself included, into the neo-natal unit if they were upset...sad, crying, or shaking. I did not want him to absorb our fear. I felt blessed by every day he stayed. I smiled and laughed and sang to him because being sad was an insult to Dagan. It would have been like mourning him before he left. The nurses explained every procedure, medication, and piece of equipment. They even let me watch him alone sometimes. I knew how to read all the monitors, how to check his leads, and even how to slap the soles of little Janie’s feet in the next bed to start her heart when she flat-lined. I’ve always been good in crisis situations. I’ve had practice, so I know this to be true.

But there were times when sadness would well up and grab me by the throat...suddenly without warning. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t talk. I would just wave, turn my face from them, and they knew I was leaving to find one of my solitary cry. I am a private crier. I’ve had practice, so I know this to be true. This was just selfish crying, anyway, and it made me ashamed. I couldn’t eliminate the primal mother, born with Dagan, who lamented “please, don’t take my baby!”...even though I whispered to him in the night underneath the beeping of machines, “don’t stay for anybody else, Dagan...don’t stay for me...stay only if you want’s okay if you want to leave.”

One afternoon Dagan’s cardiologist wanted to see me in his office across the street. He looked me in the eyes, something he hadn’t done much of since he told us there was nothing they could do for Dagan. “He’s dying. You know that?”

“Yes, I know.” It was so obvious I wondered why he thought I didn’t know. I had been there watching Dagan die for an entire week. He had gone into a cycle the past twenty-four hours of rallying and fading to near lifelessness. His skin had a blue-grey color that chilled me.

The doctor presented a desperate thirteenth hour plan. “If you decide to go ahead with this surgery your son will most likely die on the table. If you don’t have the surgery, you won’t put him through any of this and he may be with you for maybe a day to maybe a week on the outside. He’s not in any pain and he could go peacefully.”

“If there is a chance, I have to give it to him.”

The doctor sighed deeply...and the race was on. Emergency evening surgery. Dagan was pulled off all the machines except his IV. I was finally allowed to hold him for the first time since I carried him into the hospital. As they laid him in my arms I was smiling and joy could not be contained. I had my baby in my arms. The glistening eyes of nurses said good-bye. I would not say good-bye. I kissed his damp forehead and told him I would see him later.

And I did.

Soft breaths. I pace the living room.

Dagan looked so pink after the surgery! Before he went home a week later his cardiologist warned me that Dagan would probably be back in the hospital within a week or maybe a month. He reminded me that all but one of the children born with Dagan’s particular series of defects were dead and had died before the age of two. Most never made it to their first birthday. I threw up in the bathroom while Dagan was getting his stitches out and then took him home.

Soft breaths. He will be a year old in November, God willing.

God willing. Where had my faith gone? How had each day turned into rising panic instead of a celebration of gratitude? I played with him, read him stories, and laughed with him, but there was a constant underlying fear...the long list of potential harms. I had recently joined an organization at Children’s Hospital called “Parents For Heart.” I met fearful parents and the heart kids who were either throwing quickly appeased temper tantrums or clinging with huge frightened eyes to their mother’s legs. Dagan was a happy child...inquisitive, trusting, intelligent...and sick every few weeks. But he was, also, growing up in the typical unnatural bubble and I was becoming more afraid with each illness. Dagan was beginning to back away from new things and people. He was cranky more often. I was quieter and more nervous. I could see our future.

Soft breaths. I pick up Mr. Sock-Man from under the coffee table and his legs and arms flop against my knee as I pace.

Back when Dagan lay dying in the hospital, I was concerned with how he lived his days, not how many days he lived. I didn’t listen to them... I didn’t listen to them. I had been at peace with the situation. His life is a personal thing...between him and God. We all live on borrowed time. I want him to live well while he is here. Better a shorter life that is as normal and happy as possible, than a longer life filled with fear and isolation. God willing.

Rustling of the sheets. Small creak of the crib as he shifted to his knees. Dagan is awake. He is listening. In a minute he will give a small cry if I don’t greet him from his nap. I smile to myself...just to know him. I greet his smiling face and change his wet bottom. God forgive me if I’m wrong...I bundle him up and put him in the stroller. Dagan bubbles with those chortly baby laughs in anticipation as we set off in the cold, sunny, wind to catch leaves and talk to kids at the park and discuss how the earth rests under the snow.

The Corner Cubby

She was curled in his lap like a kitten
He stroked her blonde curls with one hand
As she nestled upon his thin chest
With the other he searched inside her blouse
Their eyes were closed
More from fear than passion
She lifted her rosy face
Slowly licked her lips
And cracked her eyes to kiss him

That is when she saw me
Ambushed by new love
Attempting to retreat quietly
After striding around the library stack
And being suddenly transformed
Into an intimate transgressor
An unexpected voyeur

She bolted upright with hair askew
Snatched her blouse together
Smacking him alongside the head
With her indignant elbow
Snapping his head back
He nearly tumbled the chair
But fumbled his way upright
And gallantly stood to block my view
From her buttoning fingers

I cast my eyes upon the floor
And scuttled off
Relieved to find an empty table
Three racks down
Unloading my backpack
Echoes of haste traveled
Along the wall
Panicked whispers
They vanished
Before I had even caught my breath

I became accustomed
To the sounds
Of tender budding
Afternoon rendezvous
Three days a week
After my Spanish class
And before English 101
I sat three racks down
My table spread with books
Papers and class notes
Straining to concentrate
I learned to filter out
The sweet murmurings
Encouraging giggles
Whispered conversation
Soft low moaning
And the sharp snapping creak
Of the wooden chair
As she shifted in his lap
Followed by the flurry of departure
I’d smile to glimpse them
Cross my sight
Framed in bookracks
Hand in hand

Now spring is hinting its arrival
Final papers and exams
Have become an undertow
I trudge to my table
Three racks down
Spread out my books
Papers and class notes
And pause to listen

So quiet
They’ve been missing
For over a week now
Poised over my studies
Fists bracing my chin
I wonder what happened
To the hope and promises
To the blinding faith
Of new love

As I pick up my pen
And open my book
I feel them like an
Empty pocket