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Red Letter Day

“I’m crying in the doctor’s office.”  There is emotion inflating her voice.  “ I saw your email just as they were calling my name to go in and I thought, I’ll wait and read it after, but then, I thought ‘fuck it’ and I read it right away, and I started crying and then I had to go straight in for my checkup, there’s nothing wrong with me, except my grey hair, but my doctor thinks I’m nuts.”  She has a beautiful way with the run-on sentences. 

“I’m crying too.”  It’s more of a blurt because a sob-laugh combo is chiselling at my words.  Through the window in front of my big black desk I can see the rock garden I made for Holden last summer with the delicate white ceramic Buddha perched on granite stones.  It’s where I leave him little presents of rocks and flowers and prayers.

“I am so happy for you.  This is your turning point!  Oh, Dolly, this is just what you need.”  She calls me Dolly when she’s bubbling over.

“But I’m so scared, I feel nauseous.  It’s just… it’s just…  I don’t know, it’s going to be so hard.”  Scanning around to find the words as though I had dropped them on the floor and they scattered like marbles.  “All the emotional mining I’ll have to do, you know?  It’s just so much.”  Of course she knows, she’s been there.  “The other day when I had to edit a piece for an anthology it threw me down the well for hours.  I don’t want to be like that for a whole year.”   

“Oh but, this is very different from writing by yourself.  You will never be alone or unsupported and you won’t have time to be sad, you’ll be too busy getting the sentences just right.  Remember, everyone in the non-fiction cohort has a tricky story too. It’s all going to be just great. Believe me.”  I do.

“Okay, you’re right.” I say softly into the phone.  “Ughhhh, It’s time.”

“It’s a Red Letter Day!  As my Dad used to say.  You should celebrate.  Do you have any idea how many people apply for that program?”

“Nope.”

“Lots.  Many many many people.  Talented people.  And you have been accepted solely on the merits of your writing.  So just for today, please don’t say that phrase ‘it’s just…” any more.  This is really good.  It’s so great and I am so proud of you.  It’s the change you need and what an endorsement.  Holy Cow!”  Enthusiasm may possibly be one of her strongest characteristics.  After precise grammar and the effective use of swear words. 

“It’s a red letter day.” I whisper with the up inflection that makes it sound like a question.

“Yes, it is!”  She is very likely happier than I am.  “Oh Dolly, I’ve gotta run.  Love youuuuu!”

*****

red-let·ter day
noun:  a day that is pleasantly noteworthy or memorable.
Origin:  early 18th century: from the practice of highlighting a festival in red on a calendar.

*****

November 17/2016

Dear Ms. McGuire,

I am very pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into the Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University Continuing Studies for 2017. Welcome!

There was a large and talented pool of applicants this year, and our four mentors each selected their respective group of students from this long list.  Each mentor read all the applications and chose who they would most like to work with for the year. You were accepted in the first round.

Congratulations on submitting a successful application.

My very best,

 Wayde Compton | Associate Director, Creative Writing

The Writer’s Studio, Simon Fraser University

*****

Holy.  Fuck. 

** note – I have never felt unsupported in my writing.  Quite the opposite in fact.  **

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Tribute to a Friend

For about a year now I have been spending time each week with a family friend, Andrew.  He suffered from Frontal Temporal Dementia  which is a fancy scientific  way of saying his brain quit working properly and began to slowly shut him down.   I wrote about Andrew’s grace regarding his illness last Fall.

I don’t even really know why I started walking with and visiting  Andrew.  Maybe I just needed something to do that didn’t involve staring out the window and crying.  Or maybe it was that I suddenly had a different understanding of loss and I felt like we had something in common.   Something big.   We ‘got’ each other now.  Whether it’s fast or slow, gentle or cruel, loss is loss and it surrounds us.  It takes us apart and puts us back together in a different way.  We may look the same on the outside but deep in the guts of us, we are forever altered. Continue Reading →

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Sorrow and Joy – Together

Where do ideas come from?  How does this genesis occur?  I’m serious.   Who is in charge of these bastard thought children running amok?   Do memory and desire hook up quick and dirty one night and boom…the  “let’s go camping to mourn the anniversary of the loss of our son” idea is their  love child?’ 

All this to say the three of us ended up on top of a snowy mountain in Garibaldi Park on the afternoon of July 2.  I knew I didn’t want to be at home that day, or the next, but… snow camping?   After a huffy puffy, sweaty, slippery, slushy hike up, over and across we arrived at Elfin Lakes back country campground.  The journey up was tough but spectacular.  We started in the green, traversed a fair amount of brown and ended up in the white and blue.  Continue Reading →

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on Sunday

flowers

on Sunday

i will wake.   disappointed.

again, as so many times before.   to find it’s true.    

from the other side now.   inside out.   hoodmother.

the back of motherhood.  her corners dusty.   circle closed.

baby H

on Sunday I will miss and cherish you, beautiful h,  because it was you who made me a mother, first. 

i will close my eyes to kiss fat toes,  scoop round belly,  run silken hair through fingers

and oh, the smell.  the smell.  of my own child, so sweet.

well before you were born you were mine and so,

well after you are gone you are still.    and always.

.

on Sunday I will spread my blanket for all mothers

who’s mom-ness didn’t go as planned.

for her, for you,  i will breathe deep.  and exhale.  gaze to blue and pray.

she who longed and wished and waited, pleading

please, please.  these unanswered prayers.

she who suffered.  the miscarried, the stillborn, the aborted, the never quite made it. 

hopeful embers who refused to ignite.

she, who raised those borne of others, and loved them close

i remember you, i know you.  yes, we have met.

.

on Sunday, you are a mother, all and truly.

you birthed  — the glow of love

you delivered  — a promise un-keepable

you nurtured — a craving unmet, never forgotten

.

on Sunday,  for the ones who

eat no pancakes, place no flowers in a  jar, answer no echoing long distance phone calls.

i honour you, with reverence.

.

on Sunday, empty your pockets full of stones.   i will hold your tired heart so you may rest awhile. 

i see you now, and

i am sorry.  to not have noticed you standing there before.   enduring Sundays past

i was blessed.  once.  twice. 

still am.  a beautiful girl.

such riches.

h & l

for all the sparks that rose from the fire too soon.

blinking off into the night, ahead of schedule

.

on Sunday please recall the bedrock truth

you were part of a miracle once, and

a miracle that doesn’t last

is still a miracle.

.

on Sunday.