TRIUMPH OF SPIRIT IN LOVE, NATURE & ART

Posts tagged “Death

R.I.P. “Rabbit” with Love, Mouse

My friend
My friend with cancer
My friend
My friend who had chemo
Three runs of chemo
Radiation
Two surgeries
My friend who was cured
Whose cancer had gone
My friend who was cured
Who wanted to write a book
Who wrote to me often
Who listened to me with Heart
My friend
Where did he go?
Why did he die?
Why when he was starting anew
With his wife who stood by him
Helped him when he was sick
Why did he die?
I want to know
Where did he go?
I want to know if the chemo
Killed him
Chemo
It did not help my father,
My mother, my brother
My best friend
I thought I was wrong
I thought this time it helped my friend
Yes, it helped him alright
It killed him!
Why did he have to die?
Why?
My friend, “Rabbit,” Rest in Peace
Love forever, Mouse

 

 


Death of Fear and the Beauty of Death

Tears
over fears
of what’s to come
Husband such a
precious soul…
Stay in the present
Enjoy every moment
of together
It is fleeting…

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Bipolar mind
medications
fight living
in the present

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So unZen
Why can’t I
just be
like before
breakdown and
before medications

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Why can’t I
be jolly with he
whom I worship

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Why the constant
chatter of
loud thoughts
Would that I could
go with him
when it comes time

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And if not
hope that I can
help with his
last breath
Secretly
I want to
be the first
to go
quite selfishly
He who cared
for so many
deserves that I
care from me
for him
and more

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Would that
each moment
were not filled
with looking
at Illness
Old age
and Death
and the fragility
Of having a body.


Life Eternal

On this sad day

13 years ago

unspeakable things happened

to uncountable thousands

we have gone on

aching for those lost

Let us affirm life today

and always

By going to the One within


Good Friday Prayer

In death, decay

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blurred tears

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yet the promise of new life

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Overloaded Circuits: a Poem for World Bipolar Day, March 30, 2014

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I’m in somnia

with jackhammer brain

a buzzing mind

a humming with emotions

thoughts and pictures

memories of joys

lost to death

spirits close to my heart

seemingly worlds away

guilt, loss and happiness

sickness and death

as well as

breathtaking beauty

a bedfellow with

gnawing worries

and gnashing nerves

fleeting images from films and

music playing at high speed

in the library of my mind

voices of today, yesterday and

fears of tomorrow

vying for an ear

asking me to listen

to them all

all at once

a cacophony of sounds

in the humming silence

of the specter-filled

haunting darkness

with fearsome death dangling

its loathsome threats

before my darting eyes

afraid not for myself

but of losing him

as he lies beside me

breathing noises

breeding worry, sorry

dashing thoughts of love, passion, doubts

a scarily-still lump beside

insomniac-hyper-racing-mind

manic me

finally arising out of

maudlin months

of dismal darkness

and deep, dark despair

when death smelled sweet to me

*

I get out of bed

to lay my face

upon the windowsill

to gaze at the mystery sky

full of twinkling stars

glittering to the rhythms

of the pulsing universe

my only hope for some

semblance of somnolence

my only chance for peace.

For info on my Bipolar memoir, please see: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/ellen-stockdale-wolfe.html


Cowboys and the “Dallas Buyer’s Club”

About three minutes into “Dallas Buyers Club” I just knew I was going to love it.  Well, I more than loved it. I absolutely adored it and watched it twice. Why? Apart from being a highly meaningful piece of art with political overtones with which I concur, here was a film about the cowboy in my life. My brother.
*
No, my brother didn’t die of AIDS or HIV. He was not a drug addict and he was as straight as they come. I was the one with the homosexual experiences in my family.  My brother didn’t even die of cirrhosis of the liver, though God knows he drank enough. No, my brother died of lung cancer at age 57.
*
Let me back up and give a synopsis of the film from Wikipedia for those of you who are not familiar with it: ‘”Dallas Buyers Club” is a 2013 American biographical drama film, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack. Matthew McConaughey stars as the real-life AIDS patient Ron Woodroof, who smuggled unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into Texas when he found them effective at improving his symptoms, distributing them to fellow sufferers by establishing the “Dallas Buyers Club” while facing opposition from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”
*
Like Woodroof, Tony was a hard drinking, hard-living, tough-as-nails cowboy who worked on thoroughbred horse farms for awhile as a groom. He got into trouble from time to time but he was blessed with a good, big heart. And, unlike Ron he lived long enough to turn his life around and live an exemplary life I cannot begin to touch.  He married, settled down, became a wheelchair artisan and adopted three kids. He wound up doing volunteer work, too, therapeutic riding with handicapped kids. Things Ron might have done had he had the chance. Ron has a line in the film where he talks about wanting a family. But he died too young.
*
So did Tony. His cowboy life in Michigan was cut short when he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer at age 54.  He was given 4 months to live. Dead set on fighting and aiming to win, he had chemo and radiation.  I sent him doo-rags when his hair fell out. I did Reiki on him.  And he did his God-damnedest to stay alive. All for his kids. He dropped down to 90 pounds, walked and looked like a dark-skinned, Latino Ron Woodroof at his most emaciated. It was heartbreaking to see this once rugged, handsome cowboy wearing long sleeves in the middle of a blistering summer so as not to scare people with his stick-insect arms.
*
Damn, the movie had guts! Power, too, in spades. Just like Ron Woodroof and his beautiful transvestite partner in business, Rayon. Just like my brother, and just like so many fighting for their lives.  Ron outlived the 30 day sentence the doctors gave him when he was first diagnosed HIV, and he lived some seven more years.  Tony lived three years after the initial prediction of four months. Chemo was hell for one week out of the month followed by three relatively good weeks. Relative is the word here. Tony told me time and again he was doing all this for the kids.
*
The Rons, the Rayons and the Tonys of the world– they are the unknown, unsung heroes of daily life. Ron Woodroof became famous  thanks to the producers, writers, actors and all who made this movie jump from the page to the screen to brilliant, vibrant life.  I thank them for telling the stories of Ron and Rayon. Stories that needed desperately to be told. Ron Woodroof made good in his own hustling way. So did my brother.
*
It was great seeing Tony again, even if only in metaphor. I cried plenty from the get-go and again the second time around, but even aside from my brother, would have anyhow. The characters, the movie was THAT poignant, counterpointed by humor, too. What a fantastic whirlwind of a life was portrayed in this outstanding, almost phantasmagorical film.

An Apparition

Apparition

Here one second,

the next, gone,

with traces only in our hearts.

The ephemeral nature

of all life.

Our loved ones,

people and creatures,

here with us

for a pause in eternity

and gone for seeming eons.

            *

It is as the Hindus say

all “Maya,”

a dream of life,

an apparition,

some form of us

awakens one day

somewhere

we know not

when or where or how

right now.


An Insecure Security

Gemutlichkeit* of

a rainy October morning

dry chilly warmth

in our little barn

*

downstairs

you perusing the paper

 upstairs

me pumping poetry

*

rain tip-toeing

on the metal roof

a tymphanic symphony

outside the window

a masterpiece of color

yellow walnut leaves

and red sugar maple

the steady drip-drop of water

*

what bliss is this

precious moments of Now

a heavenly haven

from a frightening, tipsy-turvy world

*

I wish to always be

in your aura of calm

and the beauteous bounty of Nature

but

for sure

death will come

*

 please take us together

and

find us in each other’s arms

*

blessed bliss

pure peace

and

true security

the everlasting Now

only exist

in the presence of God.

*German word meaning “coziness”.


Stages of Being

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Beauty in Life

September 1

In denial

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Death in Life

October 1

Forboding

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Beauty in Death

November 1

Acceptance

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Afterlife

December 1

SILENCE


Just Renters

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The house that we think of as “our” house does not belong to us.  Not because we are still paying the mortgage on it. Not because it, like so many others, is in foreclosure.  No, though it is still “our” house, we are just renters.

This becomes evident one morning while sitting in a moment of calm before the day has begun, watching the bird feeder which my husband is lovingly filling.  He has dumped out the seeds too big to fit through the wire mesh of the feeder.  About 10 little birds, sparrows and juncos and sometimes a dashing male cardinal, are feeding on the seeds on the leaf-covered ground.  They are not scared off by the lone squirrel who comes to eat the peanuts from the mix.  Larger birds flock to the now-full feeder. The largest birds, too big to land on the feeder, sometime take over the small bird territory, eating seeds on the ground.

Rain is falling as we prepare to go to work, cleaning up the kitchen and locking up the house.  The birds fly around in my mind.  So vulnerable they seem yet so brave, so tiny yet enormous in their freedom to take to the air.  I want to hold them in my hand and stroke their soft, downy feathers, give them love.  But truth is, this is purely a selfish wish on my part for they don’t need my love.  They don’t really even need the bird seed my husband religiously puts in the feeder.  There are bushes out back with berries which they love.  It is we who need them, to make us feel happy, to make us feel loving, to make us feel alive and connected to something larger than ourselves.

As we pull out of the driveway I take another lingering look at the birds in the brightening light.   And then it hits me.  They get to stay there all day as we drive off through the rain to our respective jobs in the cement jungle of a nearby city.  We drive past horses, grazing in a neighboring meadow.  They get to stay home, too.  Often I make an effort to remember the birds and the squirrels and the horses to bring calm to a fraught work day.  Yet I usually get so caught up in my frenetic, little life that I forget to think of them.  Or if I manage to conjure them up, the image of them in my mind is thin, pale and lacking in substance.

I imagine the animals laughing at us as we have to drive off to go to work.  Our house belongs to THEM.  Sometimes they even invade our living quarters.  When we first bought the house, it had 50 or so little brown bats in the attic who would occasionally fly around the bedroom at night.  One year we had a pair of squirrels.  We even had the company of a milk snake one afternoon.  And every fall as the weather turns frigid, the field mice run in.

A little more thought on the subject reveals to me that in actuality we own nothing.  Not our house, our spouse, our children, our pets, nor even the body we inhabit.  All of these things are on loan to us, rented to us if you will, by the Maker of the sun and the moon and the stars.  Such a wealth of beauteous bounty is there for us, ours to enjoy for the mere act of attention.  The trees, the summer breeze, the blanket of snow in winter, the flowers of summer, the butterflies, the deer who eat our lilies, the possums and ground-hogs, the ever-changing species of birds, the occasional coyote and the thousands, if not millions, of insects underfoot in a terrestrial universe.  And the universe above our heads with the planets, the sun, the moon and its trillions, gazillions of stars and whispers of other universes beyond what we can see.  And yet we are so caught up in the dramas of our mundane lives that we fail to duly honor the ever-present gifts except in periodic snatches, when we turn our attention outside ourselves and our little lives.  We may pay a sum to rent a piece of the earth but that piece contains a seemingly infinite multitude of gifts given just for the taking.  Or rather, I should say, for the renting.


September Mind


September sunlight dances on drying leaves, sparkling like diamonds against a flowing stream, an azure sky.  The plants of summer are dying.  Flowers that have given such joy all summer long are now spurned by us as they shrivel into the paradoxical beauty of old age.  The sun burns lightly on summer-drenched skin as clouds intrude intermittently into the almost- Autumn interlude–  a gentle foretaste of the cold to come.  The last butterflies of summer flit among the blossoming Goldenrod and browning Joe Pie Weed.

The beauty of Fall is the beauty of a dying season.  It is the season of death– an alternative to the dew-like bloom of youth in Spring.

When I was very young, I felt death in nature.  I could feel what it must feel like to be a tree or a flower—to just “be”—the Buddhist dictum which I cannot now master.  In my late twenties, my mind broke into smithereens like shattered glass, and I had a choice to make between going on psych meds or going to hospital.  I chose the former and have lived some 40 years more with that choice.  I will not say it was a happy choice, at the risk of sounding ungrateful, because I have become driven into a fury of manic activity and self-seeking in stark contrast to the just “being” of my early youth.  The psych meds have dispelled my “egolessness” which, in turn, makes me more able to “function”–  at a price.  For I no longer feel the waves of peace lapping at the shores of my mind and my religious feelings have, comparatively speaking, shriveled up like the summer flowers in the Fall.  “It’s always a trade-off” I am told over and over again.  My doc told me once that I am one of the lucky ones because for some people the meds don’t work at all.  That shut me up and those words periodically pump gratitude into my system.  I have remained med-compliant mainly because  the meds have kept me out of hospital, DO allow me to function, and, most importantly, I have discovered that being able to function means allowing me to love.

And although more self-seeking, paradoxically this med-induced functionality allows me to give back to the world.  My gift is to describe the “just- being” in nature that was imprinted indelibly on my mind when I was young.   Death seemed beautiful to me then, a state of simply being at one with the soul of nature.  Now I confess to a fear of dying, rather than a fear of death, but most of all, a fear of loss of the love of my life.  For we are in the September of our lives and all is intensified now that we are more aware of our finiteness.  Truth be told this was always potentially the case, but we lived, like most youth, in the inevitable delusion of immortality.

So I function now at the cost of loss of my revered altered states of consciousness.  Perhaps I am in September mind, channeling words and images of the beauty of nature that flooded me long ago are a mere trickle now, as my time to “just be,” once more for this time round, approaches.


Abandonata

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Abandoned by life

choked by overgrowth of unkempt green

once upon a time

breathing, seething with energy

steaming with the hot breath of cattle

teaming with the tenuous tenure of life

*

Your body long gone

your loving heart now ashes

your caring now a memory

which nothing can erase

and time cannot erode.

*

How I long for thee

though a mere thin veil

separates your spirit from me

small comfort

when I miss thee mightily.


“Life Goes On”

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“Life Goes On”

*

That’s what Dad always said,

Remember, Tony?

My dear swarthy brother,

dark of skin,

warm of heart,

we shared the same hazel eyes,

a mix of Mom’s Sicilian brown

and Dad’s brilliant blue.

We lived separate lives,

you in Michigan,

me in New York,

you with three adopted children,

me, childless with Ko-ko and Tom.

You weren’t supposed to DIE!

You and I were to be

fellow way-farers

on the road through life.

We were to live parallel lives

and you were supposed to die

when you were old and feeble,

not middle-aged,

in a tortured death!

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

*

“Life goes on.”

*

Today I light a candle

on my altar to you and Mom and Dad

and send you Reiki

like I did while you fought for your life

for two years

after a prognosis of two months.

My heart aches

on this second anniversary

of your death.

*

“Life goes on.”

*

Your wife, your children, and I

cry out for you

but you have moved on to some higher form.

You paid your karmic dues,

with your diagnosis, cancer.

Long before,

you always told me

not to worry,

that you’d live long because

only the good die young.

But you were too good

and you died far too young

and I live on in my little, reclusive life,

Ko-ko no longer here,

just me and Tom.

I should have been the one to go

but the good die young.

*

“And life goes on.”


Dropping Dead

Jack Kornfield reads a poem on the finiteness of life while talking about meditation practice (3:26 min.)


Oh Dying Lily

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Oh, Lily

in the valley

of despair,

the devil’s lair,

thou seemeth to be shy

with your glossy, glassy tears.

One day we all must die

and we all have fulsome fears

of dying.

It is not

for lack of trying

 your life to live;

it is not from sins of lying

or reluctance to give.

You lived your life purely,

always kneeling demurely,

and though your petals turn to crepe

your form still has a humble drape,

still praising He who made you

in your last living days

and inspiring us to follow suit

in your reverent ways.


Blossoms of Heartbreak

Teardrops/raindrops

upon the nascent leaves

of spring weeds in the marsh

a chance april shower

the brimming overflow

falling from red, watery eyes

007

 Dreadful is death

most of all in spring

our Dearest dying amid booming, blooming life

and Spring sprinkling

blossoms of heartbreak

on our final goodbye.


The Line is Dead

She’s finally gone

after fighting for life for

6 months of painful half-life

and multiple causes of death.

               *

Gone is my last link

with Grandma and Grandpa

and happy days in Larchmont,

Grandpa playing the mandolin,

me dancing,

and Grandma cooking

unimaginable treats.

Happy days in Larchmont,

the Larchmont one weekend

Aunt Nina and I revisited

with our respective spouses

and cried tears of nostalgia.

                     *

Aunt Nina died Saturday,

the last of the LaMannas,

the aunt who knit the best-ever

Christmas stockings for

my brother and sister and me

which I still drag out every year.

The aunt who let me

play with her jewelry

in her blue bedroom

in Larchmont

with light that slid in

through the venetian blinds

and danced a jitterbug

atop Renoir prints,

with twin beds

covered in puff-ball bed spreads,

kept so clean by Grandma and

Aunt Nina wanting to sleep

and me pestering her to play.

                    *

Aunt Nina took me home once by taxi,

back to the city I hated

when I was sick.

She nursed me on the ride

And said “hang in there”

and held my hand

as I said to her a month ago

as she lay shriveled into a ghost

of her former self.

          *

Gone are the days

of spaghetti and meatballs,

Arancini and sugar cookies,

wine and mandolin,

chewing gum in the desk,

watching at the windows

with Grandpa, as evening

fell all around.

Days of Big Grandma Castiglione

in her light-filled, white-tiled,

lace-curtained, one-room apartment,

with holy water font

and the smell of steam

in the yellow kitchen.

             *

Gone are the days of

visiting Nina as she raised

her two “adopted angels”

as they were called,

and, who, with my uncle, she crafted

into two magnificent children

and later had four grandchildren

who adored them both.

Larchmont repeated.

            *

Gone are the days of

visiting Aunt Nina in Kent, CT

and later in Danbury,

now much older and

with my husband whom

Aunt Nina and Uncle Ray

welcomed with open arms

and grew to love,

my husband of almost 24 years

who never knew this love as a child

and so does not know its loss.

            *

Gone are the days

of a phone call

every few weeks,

Aunt Nina always seeming

happy to hear my voice as

she exclaimed “Ellen!”

as we talked about problems:

difficulties in the best of marriages

the downhill spiral of my Mom

after Dad died,

Nina giving support while

my husband and I cared for Mom

during her difficult path to death,

Aunt Nina listening to me recount

the downhill spiral of my brother

as he spent 3 years

dying of lung cancer.

And we talked of our

problems with anxiety

and later of her sorrow and fears

as her friends were dying

and she was fighting Parkinson’s,

bravely shouldering through every day.

           *

Gone are the days

of pasta salads and olives

and prosciutto and provolone

as Aunt Nina and Uncle Ray

visited our little barn upstate,

where we laughed and laughed

in the Memorial Days sunshine.

          *

Gone gone gone

my Italian heritage,

the last of my blood elders.

Aunt Nina was there

For 63 years,

All of my life

and all I can do

is cry

and try

to imitate

her admirable character.

For the Lord giveth and

the Lord taketh away

but why such pain

when he taketh away?

          *

Because love grew

year by year

visit by visit

phone call by phone call.

I did thank her,

before the end began,

in a foresightful note,

telling how great an aunt she was.

God put the thought in my head,

and for that I am grateful,

for now it is too late

for now the line is dead.


That Extra Squeeze

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Hold your dear ones a little closer today

Give them an extra squeeze as you say goodbye

*

Rejoice in making their breakfasts

and doing their dishes

and mending their socks

or working in a job you hate

to keep them

housed, clothed and fed

For the work you do means

they are still alive

*

The horror of terror

has struck again

on our soil

What is de rigeur

in other countries

has happened here

and shaken us

out of our complacency

Terror “there”

is now terror “here”

*

Hold your dear ones a little closer today

Give them an extra squeeze as you say goodbye

For after yesterday

many cannot

*

And pray for the first responders

and their families

the unhailed heroes of our land

who face bad odds everyday

*

Hold your dear ones a little closer today

Give them your blessing as you say goodbye

For each goodbye could be the last

has always been true

but terrorism has taken that truth

and shoved it in your face

*

Hold your dear ones a little closer today


Sunset under Ice

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From fire to ice

From life to death

From death to Being