November 5, 2009

Dona Nobis Pacem

The Bargain

Once in a blue moon I am speechless.
And this day, of all days, I need to find words.
One week ago today I buried my father.
Had you been in my home fifteen minutes ago you would have seen a very different Mimi than the one you might have imagined. You know...the one who writes glowing sonnets tripping over a moonbeam of golden light in the middle of La-La land while dangling in a skirt and perfectly manicured nails - and let's not forget the feathered pen on golden threaded linen. Thoreau-ish? Not today.
Well, the nails are right. The rest? Not so much.

How, I asked the Universal Powers That Be, can I be expected to spout forth inspirational puff and fluff when all I want to do is rail against the indignity of the past five weeks. And loudly, I might add.

I am angry.
I am tired.
I am tired of being angry.
I am tired of being sick.
I am sick of goodbyes.

You see, when he was a living breathing roller coaster of complicated medical terminology, I could eek out a measure of hope. At least he was still breathing. Sometimes. I could imagine another day, another month, even another year at times...on the good days. Reality didn't pan out the way I wanted. Comas don't lie. No faith healer showed up. The best medicine in the world couldn't save him. I couldn't take away his pain nor could I erase what my eyes saw in that god-forsaken bed of hell he lay upon for thirty-two days and thirty-two nights after years of spiraling in and out of survivable mode. And now what do we have?


I hate it.

The truth is, sometimes life is beyond difficult - it is overwhelming. It is energy-depleting. It is raw. Watching someone die agonizing slow is not pretty. The memories are not pretty. And no matter how hard I try to fashion a tale of peaceful prose this full-moon night in the South, I can't.

So I stood in my house and let fly out of my mouth what I really wanted to write in this post complete with words a Queen shouldn't say and an entire upside down string section of sorrow...that I am exhausted and resentful. That I don't want to write a War and Peace novella on this blog for peace day. That I am human. That I am overwhelmed. That I miss my daddy. That I can't stand the thought of him lying in a box of dirt. That I wish I could have done more to ease his suffering. How inadequate I felt at times. How mortal.

And then I remembered what the preacher said.

It was a graveside service. The violin had just played "Amazing Grace" I followed the trail of a spider along the vault mechanism and marvelled as a butterfly landed right in front of me on top of Daddy's casket flowers- all personal signs to me of graces and gratitude I needed to remember.

He told a story I'd never heard before about my father. One day while visiting Daddy for one of those are-you-right-with-God-discussions, the preacher asked a favor of him. You see, the pastor had lost his son in an accident just a year ago. With a shake in his voice standing under the green tent in the middle of a stone field full of my kin, he retold this conversation with my Dad. "Could I ask a favor of you, Walter? When you get to Heaven, I want you to promise me that you will look up my son. And then I want you to ask him to take you on a tour of Heaven. But when you do, be prepared, because he will take you on a tour like you've never experienced before. He's quite a character. I think the two of you would get along and it would mean a lot to me.
Let him show you around. Will you do that for me?"

Daddy smiled and agreed.
They struck a bargain.

He said he'd never before or since felt inspired to ask anybody else to do that for him. After the service I reassured him he'd made the right choice. "That's a safe bet," I told him. "Daddy will keep his word."

Then he picked up a handful of dirt from the ground at his feet and laid it squarely at the head of my father's pine box coffin. It wasn't a pretty moment for me.

My emotions raged. Inside the core of that damn box lay someone I loved and I couldn't touch him or smell him or get to him again...oh but I could see the dirt fly up under his cleats and the spit in his eye darting cross the shortstop line one more time. Rounding third base and digging in home base dirt with a powerful unassuming charge as if to say "My work is done. Your turn." A flock of birds flew over and I knew he was making his flight towards home, seeing new sights, wondering at the design of the Universe..and yes, I knew the pastor's young son would be waiting to escort the aged ballplayer laughing through the park on a firefly night full of stars.

And even as I remembered the nights he would scoop me up in his arms and carry my sleepy dusty self off the bleachers and to the car, the preacher kept talking about dirt. He said he wondered when my dad was playing baseball all those years, if he ever thought of the symbolism in the dust he kicked up and played in.....If he ever realized the evolution of Earth and sod and life and death returning to Earth. The cycle of resurrection and renewal.

When I saw him lay the handful of Earth on the box - it was right.
It was so right.

There is a place between two worlds I've heard of. Some say it is Holy.

I stood in that sacred space last week. I saw redemption and grace in a split second of time when one breath ended and another began. I am here as a witness to tell you it is full of Spirit.
Full of energy.
Full of peace.

In this life on the planet we share and walk around on, there is the world of peace and the world of war. The world of grace and the world of strife. The world of forgiveness and the world of unrest. Some live their entire lives with one foot in each space.

But I don't believe that is how it should be.

Daddy taught me to keep one foot on the base if I wanted to stay safe on a steal and to run like the wind in a split second of decision at the sound of his voice. When I told him on the day he died that is was OK for him to go....he took that safe-stealing foot and flew home. Just like that. At the sound of my voice. And just like his base-stealing eye always had my best interests in sight, so did my pigtailed pencil skirt heart feel him go.
I wanted to love him all the way home. I wanted to stand and cheer. I wanted to make his journey safe with both feet off the base so that he could fly into joy.

Sometimes peace comes kicking and it did for me tonight... as it did for my dad in his final days. I am still struggling with the memory of those days. Sometimes the way to peace is not easy. But that doesn't diminish the promise. Nor should it delay the reality if we can help it. Even when peace comes knocking at the door all ugly and ragged and worn out - it's still full of hope.

Today on this blog and many many other places on the Internet, out of the living breathing earth rose a cry that somewhere....somehow....someday...there will be peace.

So today let us speak Dona Nobis Pacem in large loud numbers.
It is documented.
It is promised.
It is recorded.
When even one voice stands up to be counted among the peacemakers of the world, there is hope.
We all live on the same ball of dirt.

I'd forgotten about it, this photograph, from a few weeks ago at my father's bedside.
One thing is perfectly clear:
It wasn't I who covered you, Daddy.
It was you who covered me.

There is a profound difference in
standing for peace

and standing in peace.

**NOTE** Hundreds of Bloggers are signing HERE too. Please do the same so that you don't miss any posts. Amazing day.


Unknown said...

Mimi I really don't know what to say to make you feel fact I don't think anything I said would...but here a hug((((mimi)))))

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I saw this on your other blog. Beautifully done.

Mimi Lenox said...

Thank you both. I appreciate that so very much.

mommanator said...

WOW what a wonderful tribute to your dad! I am sure he would be proud of you! It is real hard loosing someone, but I always tell folk my hubby isnt lost I know exactly where he is waiting for me!

Red Shoes said...

I don't think that regardless of how prepared we are... how ready we are... for the loss of a parent, that we are really ever really prepared... I hurt for you as I read your post... I can only imagine how much you loved him... and he loved you... Always honor your Dad... keep him in your heart... and he will always be there with you... Trust me, I know...

Mimi Lenox said...

Lyn - Thank you. I appreciate that so much.

Jean-Luc - Smooch.

mom - Yes, I know he is not lost.

Red Shoes - I visited you and left a comment. You are kind.

Red Shoes said...

Hi there, Mimi... I couldn't find your message... I'm rather new at this so I'm sure its somewhere I haven't discovered yet... me, kind?? Don't let that get around... ;o) It's just that 13 years after the death of my Dad, there is so much I haven't figured out yet...