grown ups are like that....

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Three years old or thirteen, it doesn’t matter--you always want your mama when you’re sick in the night.

I hold her tight as she trembles.  I spoon against her slight body and realize that, actually, she’s not so slight after all.  She’s curvy and womanly and almost as tall as I am.  But right now this girl-woman is shaking with illness and fatigue. She snuggles closer and I wrap my arm around her waist.  My neck aches; her bed is too small for the two of us. I consider moving to the floor and realize that she doesn't just need me in the same room; she needs me right next to her like when she was a baby.

 Earlier in the night I heard her desperate call of, “MAMA!” from my room. Every imaginable boogie man swam in my head.  I stumbled down the hall only to find her bed empty. Instead I found her in the bathroom, sobbing over the toilet bowl. She finally let it all come up and out, and I got her back to bed where we are now.

I feel guilty as I silently pray that no one else gets sick before Christmas Eve.  I stare at the bottom of the top bunk while I whisper a mother’s incantation. . .

Let her be ok. Let her feel better.  Spare my boy this.  Spare ME this. 

I look around the room and see all that makes her my daughter: Chap Stick on the night stand, candles on the dresser, bookshelves two deep, messy journals, tie-dye socks, posters of foreign lands, sea shells, crystals.

 She sprints from the room and I race behind her. She dry heaves again over the commode.  I notice she is gripping tight to her glasses, the cute turquoise and black pair.  She is afraid they’ll fall in the bowl.  I slide them off of her face, and she empties her stomach again.  I sweep back her hair and hold back my own tears.  It makes my heart clench to see her so weak.  I cover her in towels and watch as she lays her cheek on the tile.  I remember moments when viruses or beer or heartache put me in a similar spot.  I remember that all I wanted was a clean towel and a cold tile floor and my mama. 

She decides on a shower, and I let her have her privacy though every cell in my body wants to sit on the toilet lid and make sure she is ok and that she doesn't slip in her shaky state.  But I don’t stay. I go back to her bed and nod off to sleep.  I have fitful dreams of lost babies and an absent friend.  I dream my daughter is driving a car.  I dream of an empty museum and yellow flowers with wooden stems.

At some point she comes back and I help her dress in fleece PJs and warm socks. I tuck her in and slip away, back to my own bed. At eight-o’clock my mom calls and I snuggle under the covers with the phone and pretend she is with me, keeping me warm in my big empty bed. 



Sunday, December 14, 2014


Several months ago I handed my husband a stack of  Poets & Writers magazines and told him to get rid of them.

"Recycle them, take them to the library, leave them in the English Department.  I don't care, just get rid of them"

I had declared--rather childishly, I admit--that I was done with writing. I was no good at it, I felt, and the local writing community did not support my writing efforts or the literary reading series I host. I felt lost and ridiculous and tired of trying. I was done.

Several weeks ago I woke with a start and tears filled my eyes.  I needed to write again.  I couldn't contain the words roiling in my brain and belly and heart.

With the help of a professional writing coach and editor I began again. I've written almost every day for four weeks. I've submitted one creative non-fiction piece and have several others earmarked for either editing for future submission or inclusion in a book.

Today I found that stack of magazines hidden under a shelf.  I showed them to my husband.

"I couldn't do it.  I would just have been wrong."

This gesture was more loving than any bouquet of flowers or fancy piece of jewelry. I think I'll keep those magazines indefinitely now.  I'll look at them and remember that someone special loves me.  I will look at them and remember that I am a writer.