Let the Light In — Dog Sh*t Happens


Window Light

Window Light

Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.” – Williams Wordsworth

Wyoming hills near Cheyenne, Wyoming

Wyoming hills near Cheyenne, Wyoming

“If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.” – C. S. Lewis

Dog in boat, resting in the sun

Dog in boat, resting in the sun

“To love beauty is to see light.” – Victor Hugo

I am rather smitten with this photo.  I just adore it.

Leaf on Lake

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” – Aristotle Onassis

My mother and I on my wedding day.
My mother and I on my wedding day.  My mother passed away Christmas Eve 2012. My heart hurts.

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”- Edith Wharton

"Every moment of light and dark is a miracle." - Walt Whitman

“Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.” – Walt Whitman

I had a really good day today. I spent time doing meaningful work; I played with my son. I watched him build a mountain out of couch cushions, which he called his mountain. He climbed it, curled within it, and sat atop it proud. He stood on it, went underneath it, and cried behind it when I moved one of the pillows. Toddlers are curious creatures; their moods so intense. I thought to myself, “My son built a mountain out of pillows. Who says I can’t move mountains?”

I continued my day thinking only positive thoughts — I let the light in, after all it was shining. I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with my son. He stood on a chair, pouring in the ingredients. I let him crack the egg, allowing his own method of crushing it. Surprisingly, no eggshells fell into the batter. The light shone in through the kitchen windows. I pulled back the curtains I usually keep closed. I let the light in.

My day was filled with warmth and sunshine. After I dropped off my husband at work after lunch, I took my son with me to get shoes. I never shop for shoes. I needed a pair of sneakers. I found the perfect pair: purple Nikes. I had the check-out clerk call the manager (in fact I asked twice — I get that from my mom being a little pushy when necessary). I thanked the manager for a wonderful shopping experience. My son played with a penny we found on the ground walking into the store. He ran up and down the aisles as I walked away from the shoe helper in mid-sentence looking for my toddler son, whom I could hear laughing. The shoe helper, TJ was kind and patient. He knew a lot about shoes; he knew a lot about feet. I tried on a dozen pairs at least and asked two dozen questions about shoes. TJ kept an eye on my son and told me if he was within sight if I had lost sight of him. My purple shoes were perfect. I have bad knees, torn ACL and ACL replacement surgery. TJ helped me find my purple shoes. He was kind. He was knowledgeable. He also was born the year I was a sophomore in college.

I told the store manager how great this shoe shopping experience was after we checked out. Purple shoes, bubbles my son found near the check out line, and M & M’s in a bag. The manager smiled, revealing Invisalign braces and shiny freckles on his forehead. He was happy; his light was shining. He said, “This is great. Usually people call on me to complain.”

“This is not the case. I have had a wonderful shoe shopping experience today.” I followed with, “I really hate shoe shopping.”

He asked me, “Is this your first time in the store?”

“Yes, but it will not be my last.” I smiled.

My light shined.

“Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.” – Desiderius Erasmus

***

My next stop was to get my haircut.  Ben and I blew bubbles while we walked.  His light shined. I focused on this moment and held my breath. I felt lucky.

I gave my hairdresser three cookies: homemade. We chatted about motherhood and its hidden secrets. I told my hairdresser, Libia, “I give you creative freedom with my hair.” She cut my hair as we talked. My son ate M & Ms and played on the floor. I shared my creative passion with her: writing. I love my hairdresser. Her light shines. I always request her and I get my hair cut at Great Clips. I wouldn’t spend any extra money at a fancy salon. She is that good. She is that kind.

This time my hair shined.

I finished the day at the park with my son and mom friend.

My son at the park with his friend

My son at the park with his friend

It was a lovely day.

I went to pick up my husband at work. When we got home I noticed a strong scent of poop. I checked the area for a rogue dirty diaper. Nothing.

Then I check my new purple sneakers. Bingo!

I stepped in dog shit getting out of the car — in my brand new perfect purple sneakers. Dog shit happens.

You can always clean it up.

It was a good day. Light trumps dark. But the two exist together. Today I chose light. It chose me. We shined.

Mirrors of beauty

Mirrors of beauty

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My Christmas Eve Angel — My Mother


“When you see Santa in the sky tonight, know Betty’s got the reigns tonight. She died while I was on the phone with her 9:58 MST/11:58 EST (the nurse held the phone to her ear). 

Believe it or not, it gives me great joy and peace that she passed on Christmas Eve, exactly two minutes before midnight East Coast time. She has always been on EST as a New Yorker at heart. RIP Betty. No star ever shone brighter than you. I love you always.” — My facebook post on Christmas Eve

Betty's Christmas Eve Angel Wings. Santa gave her a ride to Heaven on Christmas Eve. Photo from: Mother Nature Network

Betty’s Christmas Eve Angel Wings. Santa gave her a ride to Heaven on Christmas Eve. Photo from: Mother Nature Network

Betty

My mother passed away on Christmas Eve two minutes shy of midnight EST while on the phone with me. She loved Christmas Eve so much.
She died peacefully after a long illness that didn’t stop her in her tracks. She was diagnosed in 2000 with benign brain tumors (one in her cerebellum and one on her brain stem). I have written many posts about her struggle and my struggle with these tumors.

I am peace. because she is at peace.

My beautiful mom. I am thankful for this moment, which is chiseled in my heart.

My beautiful mom. on my wedding day. I am thankful for this moment, which is chiseled in my heart.

If you want to follow my grief chronicles I am being very open about my feelings on my facebook page, and most posts are public if you would like to follow them and subscribe to them. I am also pretty active on Twitter too. Betty is the most amazing woman I have ever known. I was lucky to call her Mom, friend, and confidant. She loved us kids with all her heart.

Rest in peace my sweet Betty Anne. You had “It.” You were magical.

"A woman whose smile is open and whose expression is glad has a kind of beauty no matter what she wears." - Anne Roiphe Betty when she worked as the Activities Director at The King Home -- a retirement community for men in Evanston, Illinois.

“A woman whose smile is open and whose expression is glad has a kind of beauty no matter what she wears.” – Anne Roiphe
Betty when she worked as the Activities Director at The King Home — a retirement community for men in Evanston, Illinois.

Here are some posts about her if you would like to read more about her.

The links below take you chronologically in time when I went to Colorado when my mother was very ill and almost died.

I end this post with my mother’s favorite poem by one of her favorite poets, Kahlil Gibran

I have also included the poem in written form below:

On Joy and Sorrow
 Kahlil Gibran

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater thar sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Kamilah, Kahlil's mother
Kamilah, Kahlil’s mother. Painting by Kahlil Gibran

A Tribute To My Father


A Tribute to my Father

*** Note to readers: this started as a Facebook status update and I decided to post it here.
Missing this Irish man today.
Dad's article
He died 9 years ago in the middle of the night, technically December 11 at 4 am holding my mother’s hand. But I always feel like this is the day he died since December 10, 2003 was the last time I saw him and had to say goodbye to the father I loved for 29 years. Death sucks, but it is a part of life. Trying not to get all existential, but perhaps I should take this status update to my blog or journal. But you see I miss him. I miss him, and as grief has numbed the loss – a hole that death leaves, gaping in concave fragments of the heart, a sense of longing has replaced this. This sense of missing him, knowing he is gone. I miss him.

I miss seeing the veins on his hands, crossed in a holding pattern on his lap, a cigarette always tucked puffing solo in his lips. I miss his morning silence and two cups of coffee minimum rule: “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.”

I miss him.

I miss watching his gait, heavy to the left, limping, shifting the weight in stride to his other leg — the leg I now know had significant damage from frostbite from Korea. I miss his odd sense of humor and his incredible intelligence. I miss how he could talk to anyone. I miss his pride. I miss his pats on the back and how awkward he became when I insisted on hugging him.

I miss him.

I miss the way he could pack a car, no matter how large with flea market finds. I miss his Cuban wedding shirts. I miss his scarves which he always called mufflers and reminded me to bundle up on cold Wyoming winter nights before I left the house. I miss his anger, sometimes dark and black. I miss his garden and the flower pots he filled them with — stacked in neat rows around the brick wall around our house on Maxwell. I miss seeing him peaceful with dirt in his hands.

I miss him.

I miss the way he wrapped his shoelaces around his ankles, tying them pragmatically in double knots as an old man. I miss his grey hair comb over. I miss his kindness and Irish pride. I miss smelling Corn Beef and Cabbage every St. Patrick’s Day. I miss the strong scent of coffee in the kitchen of our home. I miss having a hell of a hard time trying to buy him the perfect Christmas gift.

I miss him.

I miss his voice and his ability to speak only when necessary in a conversation. I miss his knowledge and the statistics he could whip out on any baseball team in this century or the last. I miss that he could give the biggest compliment to me through a third person like when he told my best friend Heidi that she had to make sure I write because it is in my blood — “Make sure Megan writes; she is a writer — a journalist a poet. She is related to Percy Bysshe Shelley, you know? Make sure she writes — it is in her blood.” I miss his smile, sometimes rare and sometimes wild.

I miss him.

I miss watching him read thick books and biographies. I miss startling him if I walked up on him unexpectedly, giving me a sense he knew fear in the strongest sense of the word and I miss the sense of relief he had when he knew it was me. I miss his car — a long maroon Lincoln Continental plastered with proud Semper Fi bumper stickers.

I miss him: John Shelley Miller, my dad — the first man I ever loved.

My father and I on my wedding day (November 23, 2003)

My father and I on my wedding day (November 23, 2003)

My dad in Korea. He was a member of the Frozen Chosen who fought in Inchon in the Korean War,

My dad in Korea. He was a member of the Frozen Chosen who fought in Inchon in the Korean War, He is bured at Arlington Cemetery.

My dad and his friend from Korea.  This man called me shortly after my father died.

My dad and his friend from Korea. This man called me shortly after my father died.

My dad around Christmas time 2002 -- his last Christmas

My dad around Christmas time 2002 — his last Christmas

My father had a poet's eye.  I believe he took these photos on leave during the Korean War.

My father had a poet’s eye. I believe he took these photos on leave during the Korean War.

 

My dad stopping to smell the roses. This photo gives me such joy.

My dad stopping to smell the roses. This photo gives me such joy.



Fence

Fence

I send messages to my father through the birds. Cardinals deliver same day mail.  My father loved cardinals and I can’t help but think he sends me messages back when they whistle by me. My yard in North Carolina is filled with cardinals.  I see one weekly — at least.
My father and I on my wedding day, November 23, 2003

My father and I on my wedding day, November 23, 2003

Photos from my wedding

Photos from my wedding

Betty and John were special people.  Anyone that ever met them knew this.  They were storytellers and magicians.  They made people feel good.  Sure, like everyone they had their problems, but deep at their core, they were the pot of gold.  My magic - my love.

Betty and John were special people. Anyone that ever met them knew this. They were storytellers and magicians. They made people feel good. Sure, like everyone they had their problems, but deep at their core, they were the pot of gold. My magic – my love.