Perhaps Your Memory Will Be Forever Within Me

I’m sitting in a coffee shop this morning, watching the clouds keep their persistent haze over the ocean. There are people all around me: talking, shuffling on their stools, sipping coffees, stirring spoons in their cups. And here I am, sitting, wondering about all the things I have yet to experience, or never got the chance to.

Isn’t it funny how you can be in one place, and yet, be thinking of something completely different?

I struggle with that — with being in the present moment and not longing to be anywhere else. Sometimes I’m enjoying something and suddenly wish I could share that sliver of time with someone who isn’t here. Or I’m writing and wanting nothing more than to read my words to a person who’s no longer on this earth.

This morning, I’m thinking of a person I’ve lost, a person who I can no longer reach across the table and touch, whose eyes I can no longer look into. I’m thinking of the words I would tell him, her. The stories, the jokes, the laughter we would share in this little coffee shop, our lives completely different and perhaps tighter intertwined.

It’s bittersweet to realize that we continue, that love continues, even if one member is absent. And I’m holding onto the beauty of that thought this morning, as I watch the clouds mix with the grey ocean — one solemn, hazy blur.

Sometimes I wonder if the people we lose will forever live in us. And I wonder if we can honor their memory in the way we choose to move forward, to live and love, even after they’re gone.

Remembering Those Endless Summer Days

When I was little, our family would go boating on Lake Michigan. Summers blend together in my mind—fishing on the edge of the dock out front, catching frogs with my bare hands, waking up before the crack of dawn to bike down to the little pond at the end of the street, listening to the cricket lullabies mixed with the neighbor’s drunken laughter, puffing out my chest to look older when we boated past a crew of older men, countless mosquito bites and cheek sunburns, playing mermaids in the sandbar on Fox Lake and, most vividly, being lulled to half-sleep by the boat’s steady rocking and UB40 on the stereo.

Remembering my childhood is like looking through an old filmstrip, like discovering the negatives from a camera in the back of a closet, tinted by sunlight and dust. Each memory is slightly shadowed, blurred by a mix of reality and my wild imagination.

I remember, so vividly, finding a tiny animal skull in the reeds behind our camper. I remember the texture, the brittleness of the bones, the way I felt like an explorer, but also like an intruder all at the same time. I remember how slimy the frogs were between my fingers, and how they could be the only possible explanation for the warts that suddenly popped up all over my hands that August.

I remember the lake waves, the way the sun glinted off each of them like thousands of little diamonds. And the woman who lost her engagement ring that year—I swear I could see it, all silver-white and shiny at the bottom of the lake every time I opened a corner of my eyes. Continue reading

Strong Women Don’t Intimidate Men, Strong Women Empower Them

I just wrote a piece about strong women, and how strong men aren’t, and shouldn’t be, intimidated by strong women because a woman’s strength does not equate to a man’s weakness. Because a woman’s strength has no bearing on who a man is, or what his role is, or what he is capable of.

Because a strong woman does not emasculate a man. Continue reading

‘everything happens for a reason’ – or does it?

Pain, anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, heartbreak, death, separation, loss — those aren’t a part of God’s plan.

Those are the trials of this imperfect, sinful, human life that keeps us from God. And it is in those moments that we must try our best, our hardest to fall back to God. To lean on Him. To trust that He will bring us from this painful season and back to the light again.

I wish I knew why these things had to happen. None of us knows the answer. But what we do know, is that Christ gave His life for us, to save us from this evil world and bring us hope.

I don’t know what pain you’re experiencing, and I by no means want to diminish it. But I do want you to know that you are seen, you are heard, you are loved. God hasn’t abandoned you. Please trust that He is with you, always.

And that you won’t hurt like this forever. Perhaps there is a lesson, perhaps He is bringing you to better, more beautiful blessings down the road, perhaps this will strengthen you, perhaps there is no rhyme or reason, but a painful bump in your road. But you will overcome. He will be by your side. And you will make it through.

— thoughts, 7:06am
 

Featured Image Credit: Andi Rizal

Our Stories, And Their Larger Book

Sometimes I get so caught up in my own story. I’m writing my own path every day and it’s so easy to get invested in my pages, wrapped up in my problems. I’m the narrator, the main character, the lead writer, so it’s natural to be focused on my own plot more than others.

Sometimes I get so lost in my own drama, my own twists and turns that I forget what’s all around me. I forget that my story is only a fragment of the whole. I forget that my little segment is only a chapter in this gigantic book we’re living and reading and writing every single day.

And even though my story feels like the most important one, there are thousands and millions of others that shape mine, build mine, and break mine in important ways.

I am not the center. I am not the most important piece. Continue reading

Finding Myself (And Fireflies)

The sky is cloudy and dark. All around me is a flurry of activity and motion and I can’t help but feel like I’m falling behind. Maybe it’s the world we live in, always in transition. Maybe I’ll blame my mind, always five steps ahead of my feet. But as I look around at the students walking the campus lawn, at the workers setting up for a jazz festival scheduled to happen this afternoon, at kids and adults and random strangers who seem to have it all together, I can’t help but feel like something is missing. Like there’s something I should be doing. Like I have to run, just to catch up.

When I was a little girl I used to catch fireflies in jars. I’d snag them in-between my palms, always a mix of excited and terrified to feel their tiny wings flapping against my fingers. I’d take them and place them in a jar—one with holes at the top so they could breathe, one where I would admire them for a few moments, then set them free again. I loved watching these fireflies, the way they’d light up the interior of the jar, their golden yellow reflecting off the cool, clear glass.

Watching the world from behind a window screen, I feel like a firefly—not necessarily trapped in a permanent sense, but separated, somehow from the rest of the world.

It’s like my body, my existence has been bound by some external force, restricted by perhaps a desire to be contained and a fear to be freed into the wild unknown. As I watch people mill about, some with a calmness, some with a passion in every step, I wonder whether I’ll be the firefly that stops lighting and falls passively to the bottom of the jar, or if I’ll rise, break through the lid, and illuminate the sky.

 

 

Photo Credit: John Flannery

On Writing, And Losing Control

This week is backwards. I set out to write, and so I read, losing myself in the words of other people, transported to their little houses, to the bird cages where they admire eagles, to their bedrooms, where they fall asleep in silence next to someone they used to love. Writing is like this sometimes. Falling in love with your own voice because you begin to recognize it in others’ pages. Discovering the story you want to say somewhere between the second stanza and the third. Recognizing a word, a phrase that feels like cotton in your mouth, or maybe honey, and the sticky-sweet coating, both beautiful and suffocating in the back of your throat. And suddenly the story is there. It was there all along. Suddenly you aren’t writing; you’re understanding. You’re knowing the story you want to write. You’re knowing the words. You’re knowing the language that’s been stuck to the roof of your mouth, just waiting for a cool glass of water. Just waiting to be released.

I wish I could make sense of language sometimes. Why words are spelled so strangely, why sometimes we say one thing and mean another, why sometimes what we need to speak aloud tumbles out of us, and sometimes it slows, getting tangled on our tongue.

I set out to write, and yet I find myself thinking in circles, remembering faces of people or places I used to be. Wanting to write something—something grand, something that makes sense—and instead remembering the dream I had last night. The dream of a plane, spinning in the sky like a top. And there I was, in the middle of a grassy field, surrounded by stars and yet alone, watching this plane, thinking it was going all too fast and planes weren’t supposed to move like that. And then it turned, vertical, nose pointed downwards to the earth and fell. And somewhere off in the distance I could see it explode, see the flames, see the glass shoot up around the metal body like fireworks and I closed my eyes, waiting to feel the crash reverberate beneath my feet. But nothing. And I took off running in that direction, like we do in dreams. It made no sense but I felt this urgency. I felt those tears running down my face. I felt like this was real, this was happening, and if I could just get to that spot between the houses where the plane had landed and all those people—could I help them?

Writing is like that. It starts, not by writing, but by thinking. By forgetting. By re-remembering. By losing all sense of time and place and rules and putting your fingers to the keys or pen to the paper because you know there’s something there and you’re suddenly unafraid to find it.

Writing is reading. Writing is imagining. Writing is falling asleep to the rest of the world as the air conditioner hums in the background and bunnies nibble grass outside the patio window. And there you are, hearing the fan spin lightly in the family room, and yet not hearing it at all. Only hearing the words cycle through your head, making sense of the essay you read yesterday about a woman in a birdcage watching an eagle’s wings, the dishes in the sink, the boy who won’t answer your phone calls, the boy who always will, the dream of a plane crashing through the Midwest sky—and does this all mean something? Is it all spinning around you, reminding you that as much as you try you will never have control? As much as you try to write, the words will always write you?

 

 

Featured Image Credit: Alvaro Serrano

I Dreamt About Dying

I had a dream last night I was driving home on a slicked-over, wet-from-rain backroad with no hardly any streetlights. I was going 45mph, slower than the highway traffic, blinking my brights at cars in the opposite lanes because they were silhouettes in the darkness without their lights. It seemed strange to me that they were driving without any light, but dreams are funny like that—things not making sense but somehow you agree with them in your mind.

There was a man on a motorcycle in the left lane far ahead of me. He pulled his bike to the shoulder then jumped off and sprinted across the highway. I flashed my brights at him, barely seeing his wet leather jacket and helmet in my windshield before he raced off to the opposite shoulder.

I squinted ahead to see a line of cars in the distance, stopped still, rainwater fierce against their hoods. There were no brake lights on, only darkness, and I tried slamming my brakes, but nothing happened. Continue reading

I’m Trying To Find The Words To Speak In A Broken World

I feel…sad. Defeated. Frustrated. Empty.

I’m really not sure how I feel.

I walked out of church this morning, imagining that I’d push through those double doors and feel renewed. That all the indecision, the anxiety bubbling in my stomach would suddenly disappear. That I would have all the answers and the right words and the confidence to face the day. But I know church doesn’t work like that. God doesn’t provide on my terms. He isn’t just this magical being that makes everything perfect exactly how and when we want Him to.

I left church, and I felt a mix of emotions. There’s been so much I’ve wanted to write for so long, but I haven’t yet found the words.

I’m struggling.

I’m struggling to write about love and laughter and happiness and forgiveness when it seems those things are so trivial. I’m struggling to write about people I love and people I miss, when some people are crying, feeling so unheard.

I want to write about politics. I want to write about the Muslim ban. I want to write about feminism and Donald Trump and new policies and all the positive and negative thoughts I have swirling around my brain. But honestly, I’m not sure how. Continue reading

Maybe If We Quiet Our Minds, Our Hearts Will Finally Listen

skvtv1medak-allef-vinicius

Image Credit: Alef Vinicius

Sometimes I wonder if we have the answers inside us, all along. Like we know, somewhere in the deepest parts of ourselves, where we should be headed, or who we should be with. Something like intuition or conscience, or maybe even God speaking through our cells.

Have you ever had a moment where you suddenly knew, beyond a doubt, what to do? Like some strange force pulled you, pushed you, gave you clarity?

It’s like seeing a random person on a walk through the park and realizing this has happened to you before—you crossing paths with this specific stranger—in a dream. Like deja-vu. Like something scary and wonderful and will make you seem like a crazy person if you try to explain it.

Sometimes I wonder where that little voice in our head comes from. Continue reading