Thread
death

friday 29 january 02010 4:14pm
thank you note for a kindess done in dreaming

hello jon.

last night in my dreaming, we were in a livingroom. there were rooms upstairs. i think you lived there, and maybe me. you remembered suddenly that you had something for me. you were a little sheepish about the fact that you'd had it for a long time -- one summer between semesters of college (which for me is twenty years ago) my then-best-friend had given you a letter for me.

you still had it, and you gave it to me last night. i held it in my hands. i saw india's handwriting on the outside and i could see her handwriting through the envelope. letters have always been precious between us; we met as young poets. new words from her, a physical manifestation of her/our love, five years after her death. i was sobbing and shaking, overcome with joy.

i woke before opening the envelope, but with no disappointment. my waking face was also wet with tears of joy. i don't understand what the universe is but i feel so surely that she tried to reach me, that she did reach me, and i am so happy for that.

i don't know why you were the messenger for this in my dream; while i hold you in the highest regard and think fondly of you, we certainly don't know one another well. but you did me a tremendous good last night on the dream plane

so here are my thanks

and my love.

kristie

saturday 8 august 02009 9:38pm
letter to/from my sister

From: Kristie
To: Karin
Sent: Saturday, August 8, 2009 12:19:56 PM
Subject: big/small

1. will you call dad, jason, and the grammas after jim calls you monday to say i woke up?

2. you are the alternate on my living will. james is first. i do not want to be kept alive in a coma for a substantial time. i do not want to be kept alive on feeding machines in a hospital for a substantial time. life for me includes earth and trees, being able to communicate with other people, and having thoughts. i think you understand. i don't want to be part of the person that i am. i do not want to die, but i am willing to die when the time is right. if i were a dog and you'd put them down if they were like that, let me go.

love,
k

From: Karin
Subject: Re: big/small
Date: August 8, 2009 10:40:15 AM PDT
To: Kristie

Hey Kristie,

1.Thought I'd answered you. Of course I will make the calls.

2. Ditto.

xoxox
K

tuesday 1 july 02008 2:12pm
walking up hartford

walking up the hill
to the place where i live
i write six lines in my head:
weeping, i wonder
how it is
that we are all so brave
as to get up
again
every day?

an hour ago, the doctor's hand
on my shoulder, the pursed smile of empathy
(my doctor has what i have)
and she says:
you're just riding the wave.
walking up the hill
belly convulses with weeping
presses against the lumps inside
and pain shines through.

near the top of the hill i see him again
on the next corner.
for weeks now i see him
in the bodies of people still living.
this time i wonder why?
why so often lately?
and another part of my mind gives the answer:
it was this week.
how many years ago now? three.
three years.
does his spirit come then
or does some clock inside me know?

top of the hill
inside the house
the peonies i have been watching
unfurl and shine
have begun to fall open
dying on my altar.

how do we get up? how? how does anyone ever
become so brave? and having done so, how is it
that we can ever close our eyes again?

thursday 5 june 02008 6:05am
on the ashram path

along the path between morning practice and the dining hall a bird lifts, leaving the moth she was beginning to breakfast on upon the path before me. the size of my palm, a dozen shades of brown, with beautiful eye-circles in the middle of his back, the moth flops and flaps, but cannot fly. i pause, witnessing a small pinch in my peace. reverberation of beauty and sadness. i consider ending his suffering but cannnot bring myself to place my foot upon his fat furryfeathery body and his dignity. he will find his own death. we keep company for a while and then i move along.

over a silent breakfast on the grass behind the dining hall i wonder what suffering feels like to a moth.

on the path again an hour later i find scattered mothwings. a plop of bird excrement. ants breakfasting on the nub-ends of the wings where a bit of moth-meat must remain. i consider, pick up a wing, gently shake off the ants, and sit down on the nearby bench where i like to write, a single mothwing at my side to write this, for all of us.

sunday 25 may 02008 4:42pm
the bedroom mantle

when i touched the dying
drying roses
to save them

they fell to petal
pieces
entirely

beautifully
reminding me
to love the moment

and let it go
let it go
let it go.

love everything
cling to nothing
let the beauty be

what is.

monday 19 may 02008 3:58pm
at home

offering a small prayer
that i might age and die
with something resembling the grace
of the roses you brought to breakfast.

thursday 24 april 02008 8:30am
today is the day grampa did not wake up

i was coming home from the morning classes on muni, feeling both slightly altered and profoundly clear in my mourning and peace. a guy was gawking at me, hard, on the muni platform and then again on the train, where we were sitting across from one another. i drew inward.

after a couple stops we neared the neck of the woods where very nicely groomed men with fabulous shoes began to board. the guy, who was reading homer in 2 books and had his notebook on his lap, was reading, inward. the three men who had just boarded were all watching him. i realized what a fantasy he was, the student reading homer on the train.

one of the men tried to strike up a conversation. he wasn't very skillful, but the guy didn't seem to mind the interruption to his study. i thought about how i never respond to strangers; my response to attraction (my own or theirs) tends to be to draw inward. as i stood before the door at my stop, i thought that i could just walk over to that boy, lean down and ask him if he wanted to kiss me. and that he very well might.

i think if there had a little more time before the doors opened, i might have done it, just because i am alive.

friday 4 january 02008 7:24am
just now in dream

i was at a mall with my high school boyfriend, who knew you; he was also the man who is now my husband and does not know you. we passed a store and you were sitting on a chair just inside the door, working. was amazed to see you. i i loved the rumpled hair on the back of your head from afar. there was no consideration of walking over to say hello, somehow; i was walking and you were still and you had turned to see me too and both our mouths were open, amazed. we got on the escalator. there was a bunch of up and down the escalators for a while, then we got to the bottom of one and i did a somersault off. this was particularly fancy in the dream because i was wearing a corset, and in waking life because i have a wee bit of irrational discomfort with escalators.

friday 30 november 02007 10:16am
in memoriam

oh, rose
has let go of her petals.
may she be free.

sunday 11 november 02007 9:11am
death is not

we are, of course, all dying. and we cannot know when that may come. but one of my friends is probably closer than most. she has cancer and her body is winding down. yesterday a recording arrived which i had ordered in order to help me release into the knowledge of how to serve her well in this place.

this morning i wrote about bill and then began the sunday puttering. i poured raw milk into a bowl so that when the cream rises to the top i can skim it off to make butter. i emptied the dishwasher and put some things into the dishwasher. i watered the plant i potted yesterday for jenifer, which is grown from cuttings from my plants. some of mine began a decade ago as cuttings from mandy's plants. i found the sipping spout i've been looking for; it goes to the hummingbird feeder that steve gave me when he was alive, and is more precious now that he has left his body. i looked in the washing machine again and breathed a bit with bill. i'm letting him stay in the wash until james wakes.

as i puttered i put on the cd. it's from the zen hospice. as i listened i heard these words: "welcome everything. push away nothing."

and suddenly i realized the whole morning, everything, death is entwined with all of this. what dies, what lives, what becomes. everything is in an endless process of becoming. death is not the end, though it is. how many times can i remember this? i think that being absolutely alive is a process of reawakening to this again and again.

now, i think i'll fill the feeder and invite the birds.


in my washing machine

abby called me tinkerbell. i called her snow white. for my sweet sixteen she got me a three foot tall chocolate brown teddybear. he was named bill for the junior varsity football player abby was in love with. i spent the next 12 years sleeping wrapped around (or at least snuggled near) bill, much to the chagrin of many boyfriends.

when james and i fell in love ten years ago bill finally took a back seat, but he's never far away. lately i've taken propping him at the corner between bed and windowseat when i'm awake, and to sleeping with him in the gap between my bedtime and james'. bill has been a companion of my life, sleep, dreams, my friend and comfort for twenty-two years.

last night in sniffing around to see where the cat pee smell in the bedroom was coming from i discovered it was bill's belly. the wash is not an adventure that bill loves, but he's been through it before and there was no other way to save him. i doused him with enzyme cleaner and popped him in the washing machine.

this morning i opened the lid and found bill's familiar furry exterior flattened and mashed amidst drifts of orange foam.

something in him let go.

some inanimate objects serve our existence more deeply than most humans. bill was like this for me.

long live bill the bear! may he be happy, may he be free.

sunday 6 may 02007 7:54am
i don't remember this dream

this morning i saw an article about an artist who is working on emotional maps of cities. an experimental cartography. immediately the thought came that if steve were alive i would share this with him. he would love this. gently reminded myself that he is alive, that he is everywhere, that i can share it with him. this is what i choose to believe. this is the best i can do with what i know of what is, though i understand the small mechanism of me is capable of only a glimmer toward comprehension of the vastness of whatever "is" is.

a snippet comes. mostly i see his knee and his elbow. he is wearing jeans. smiling. for a moment his face, laughing. he's part of a circle. my dead friends.

in the moment i can see i have just finished saying something to him about my perception that he has grown more peaceful with his death. in the moment i can see he has just finished laughing at this and i can see his knee, in jeans, his elbow. i feel others but cannot see them in this sense-moment, though i know we were all speaking together a moment before. this one moment is the only one i can find.

in the now-sense-moment the sky is periwinkle. the redwood is dancing softly in the quiet breeze. the birds are singing up a glorious ruckus. not yet 9am and all the windows are open. i am at my desk in gingham panties and sleep-rumpled hair, holding a moment of dream, smiling softly and telling this to you.

i tried to find the article that began this train of thought so i could share it with you, but it is not where i was and searching did not turn it up. that moment is that moment and this moment is now.

thursday 26 april 02007 10:10am
shining with tears and light

lately i've stopped finding the thought of my dead friends quite so painful. usually now it's joyful. the grief has been absorbed and the love it arose from remains. in love they are right here, alive, within me.

there is still pain. oh, there is still pain. over a year or so i lost the bedrock of my world to death, addiction, madness, and the simple flow of time. the dearest ones, gone.

i am the bedrock now. sometimes so content with my plants and my practice. sometimes lonely, aching to be seen, heard. friends stepped into the hole around me but for a long time i would dodge unconsciously: if i don't love you, it won't hurt when you go away. i saw this and held the weeping girl inside me, whispered to her softly that we love everyone, anyway, and everything goes. we sang sufjan for weeks "all thing go, all things grow, all things know...." it is better to know .

her heart began to thaw.

i watch myself speaking with joy of the dead and at times i feel judgment. part of my mind thinks that a good person would feel sad.

yesterday i let go of some classes that i have been teaching for a long time. so joyful! change! new opportunities to share! a flow of new energy! a couple of students expressed sadness. i responded with warmth, compassion. i saw them notice that i did not share their sadness. again, a bit of judgment toward myself that i did not share their sadness. then laughter, realizing that this was the nonattachment i have been striving for. i thought that the nonattachment grew faster now than the ability not to judge and shared this with the next class, laughing.

after the last class, one person stayed. none of my classes would fit her schedule now. three years, she said, she had been coming, and only to my classes. through many hardships she had come and always, she said, left feeling filled with light. her eyes grew damp, and mine. we laughed, and i encouraged her to explore. we said goodbye and she stood with me as i locked the gate. we smiled and walked away in opposite directions, poignantly but gracefully.

and then i let go and cried all the way home, sobbing in the street with my bicycle and my bags.

i cannot see myself. i can, and i cannot. how can i see my own eyes? how can i know my own mind? i cannot, do not, and can and do.

over time, i feel my mind move more slowly. i feel my peace grow deeper. i act more harmoniously with my ideals. kindness expands, judgements lessen. and yet it is easier to see the rocks in clear water. as i clarify, the weaknesses, the flaws, the unskillful places are all the more evident.

i walk, i breathe, i weep, i breathe, i keep walking.

the peony on the desk is drying now. while i was away she turned from pink to orange; came home to find her a flame of herself.

victor frankl said "what is to give light must endure burning."

everything is light; there is only light.

the flame feels no pain. the burning away of that which does not serve the light is what hurts, but this feeds the fire, which warms what is around it. there is only light anyway.

shine, shine.

thursday 19 april 02007 7:07pm
oops

she was opening. i was waiting for a moment to sit down and say to you that the up-open (not yet out-open) petals of her -- she was like a thousand hands lifting, all reaching in the same direction: a thousand thousand hands reaching for the light. so bring so pink.

i woke in the morning, i came in, she was limp. every petal, every leaf. i lifted the tall thin dark green bottle she was resting in and held it to the light; found, sure enough, that her stem was above the water. in her days with me she drank 8 inches of water from the tall thin dark green glass bottle.

i was sad. and then i decided not to be, and to let her be beautiful this way.

the color is changing. now she is shades of palepale pink mixed with still-bright bits of pink, and in places her golden stamens show. her petals lie crinkled; layers and layers and layers of silk skirts; a princess, a dancing girl, a beautiful beautiful thing

saturday 10 february 02007 8:00am
late winter in san francisco

wet
cherry blossoms

wednesday 1 november 02006 11:24am
dia de los muertos

she left her body
just before the day of the dead
two years ago

she dies again this day
each year

her death becomes everyone's death
this loss becomes all of the losses

the fabric of the world is rent open again
but it hurts a little less each time

i am no longer blind in my grief when it comes
just small
aching
wet
something newborn, afraid to be out in the cold world
alone

she lives, always, throughout this. the paradox
is beautiful, even through tears, feeling her here
always here
everyone here
all of the love
always

in grief, we cannot be comforted
but sometimes
we go so far into our loneliness
that we go right past ourselves
and forget ourselves
in everything else

which is all there is.

please.

friday 14 july 02006 11:10am
hamza el din lives forever

when she told me
he had died, i felt him
in his glory
expand
and disperse into everything and

oh, how wonderful for him

i thought

and stunned myself.

tuesday 11 july 02006 7:51am
in my bed

and some days, still, it’s like this:

lying in bed
so small pressed against his back
oh his warm back

his black hair is tied in a knot
i stroke it, and know
though i cannot see

that forever is written
on the back of his neck
beneath my lips

for me, where i will see it
at moments exactly like this.
i stroke his hair

and softly, softly so as not to wake him
i weep
and weep for death, for the beautiful ones

who have gone.

monday 16 january 02006 8:55am
haight and divisadero, yesterday evening

yesterday after sri louise's workshop i was walking down the hallway to leave. the workshop was at the home studio of betty roi, which she calls the maison du healing. there was tea after practice. i had said my goodbyes to to the yogis circled on the floor for tea in the tangerine livingroom, and i walked down the woodfloored hallway toward the door.

as i walked toward the door, it swung open. i startled, and then grinned, turning to look behind me for the person pulling the crank, thinking there must be an edwardian door crank like at my house. but there was no one there, and no crank on the walls. before me, the door simply stood open. there was no particular wind. i walked through the doorway and stood on the sidewalk, shaking with wonder and delight.

it was the birthday of my friend steve who chose to leave his body this summer. and i was standing on the sidewalk, shaking with wonder and delight. it was twilight: the sun had set but there was still light in the sky. i darted across the street mid-block, quickly and carefully, and from the farthest corner heard someone singing, raucously, happy birthday.

and i got in my bike, and i rode toward home in the twilight, shaking with wonder, shaking with delight, shaking with grief and joy.

sunday 15 january 02006 12:35pm
steven david hoblit lives forever

today is the birthday
of one i love
who chose to leave his body.

my cheeks are crusty
with salt, my eyes
are shining. he is here.

he is gone.

beyond the clouds
the sun
is always shining.

thursday 12 january 02006 5:28pm
white petals, pink veins

before the blossoms die
the petals
become transparent

friday 14 october 02005 2:04pm
for india

and now you are the wind
above the mountains

and the mountains

and the light of the sunset
behind the mountains

and the gull flying past

and you
you live in all of this, now

everything.

thursday 13 october 02005 6:45pm
at my desk

as the first anniversary approaches
it feels like time is running backward
to carry me to the day where she dies
again

sunday 2 january 02005 8:02am
as wild horses the wind (for india)

in the first days
it was as if, having been freed from her body
there was now a little more of her
in everything else
and everything
tasted like her.

the air, especially. the wind.

my home is ringed by mountains, this place
i call my home is ringed
by mountains
and sea.

in the first days
i would look out at the mountains and see her
in the wind in the long low clouds
above the mountains
along the sea

light, like brushwork, the energy of her
rushing along the horizon
her mane

the wind

and everything

tasted like her. as the days go by now it's more that she
tastes like everything, rather
than that vivid flash when she first got out, now
i feel her, so lightly

lighter now, but
everywhere
everywhere
everywhere

always.

* the title is this piece is from Joy Harjo's "The Dawn Appears With Butterflies"

thursday 25 november 02004 10:03am
the 99 beautiful names of god

he who is lost, and seeks to cause pain to match his own
he who is lost, and drowning
he who is lost and screaming
he who is lost.

the baby who was wanted, and did not stay
the baby who was asked to go
the baby who came, and stayed.

he who loves me
mother
he who loves mother
sister
brother
daddy

he who is lost.
we who are lost.

we who are lost, and seeking
we who are lost and found
we who are found
we who are home, home, home: forever home.

she who struggled, and could not stay.
her mother, who wears her white hands.
her father, who weeps.
the young mother lion who found her.
all of us who lost her, and have her.
the man who she pushed away.
and who she pulled close.

me.

you.

my mother.
my grandmother.
my great grandmother, who called me by another name, and did not know me
my great grandmother who i remember only in her bed

the grandfather who let me ride in the prow of his boat and enjoy the sun.
the grandfather who i cannot recall having looked at me.

the men who move about, quietly, making things ok.

the redwood, oh the redwood, the redwood in the yard behind the house
datura
fern
flowering maple
grewia
fuschia
baby’s tears
hydrangea
hellebore
ivy
vinca
bamboo
olive

mount sutro
sutro tower
the sunset, the sunrise, the bleak hazy sky of thanksgiving morning

you, asleep, forever nestled between your shoulderblades.
you, awake, my twin star.
you, awake and near
you, awake and far
beloved
james.

in my grief, those who held me
who fed me
who sent the car to fetch me
who called to tell me she was gone
who found her
who sorted her things
who told the stories of her life
who told the stories of her death

she who told me exactly what i needed to hear
she who listened
she who told me what i did not want to hear,
my fury,
and the grace that follows
she who took me to the beach, and walked with me there.

he who said nothing, only laid his hands on me.
he who said nothing, and did not ask to touch me.

the sky, who took me to her.

her cold dead hand. her cold dead hand. her cold dead hand.
india.
the wind.
india.
the wind.

she who is gone, and who lives forever.

the rose i lifted from her grave
the song i sent with her into it
the day i met her
the day she died

the screaming
the water
the wind

time; the illusion
love, the illusion
the truth of forever
the truth of union
the truth of now
now
now
now

and always, darling, you
and me.

wednesday 17 november 02004 8:04am
at the corner of oak and gough

the sound of wings
so many birds
lifting
that it turns my head.
17 days since her death.

saturday 21 february 02004 7:47am
the santa cruz mountains, in light rain

a banana slug.

knee-high hot pink blossoms
on brown branches.

not a leaf, not a blossom, not fruit
not even a bud
on the persimmon tree, only
her mossy underclothes.

hot pink blossoms on brown branches. this time
they soar past my head.

a riot of mushrooms
their fat flat pale heads
bigger than my palm.

the redwood
could wear three humans
spread fingertip to fingerip
as a belt.
to stand at the base is like standing in an updraft of peace.

fern, ivoy, moss,
and a mush of rotting,
the forest becoming itself.

very small birds. brown.

nothing here is dead.
it's all alive
differently.
where is the turning
between what was
and what is becoming?

tiny
white
bell-shaped blossoms.

waterfall!

a mossy stump.

purple star-blossoms.

outside the door
to inside again,
hot pink blossoms
the banana slug sprawled
open.

saturday 12 october 02002 8:52am
mandy and aidan

her son is three. one day, she said, they found a dead bird in the yard. under a tree. she thought that perhaps it had flown into the tree, or taken ill and fallen out of the tree. not long after, her son was outside playing with a big jug, an old three-gallon jug. he put a lot of sand in it, then water. in the morning a chipmunk was in the jug, too, drowned. then their friend’s dog ran out to the highway. no one’s dog had ever gone all the way to the highway before, but this one did. the dog was hit by a car and died. her son, she said, woke one morning and suggested brightly “let’s go outside and see what’s dead!”

saturday 24 august 02002 8:17am
helen

as she tended her father in his final days, she spoke of his beauty and everyone else’s, of the bringing-together that the proximity of his passing created. and she said “death is a blessing.”

wednesday 21 august 02002 3:35pm
craigslist.org

to the waiter at boogaloos wednesday morning
whose hair hangs in his eyes:

tired. so tired. too much dying and nearly dying has been near.

the music was gentle, and good. the morning fog was still close, a stranger quietly brought me food and filled my glass.

it all seemed somehow so tender that i found my eyes damp at the table, and i couldn’t say thank you, because i would have cried.

sometimes you just bring someone breakfast, and it saves them, and you don’t even know.

thank you.