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Friday, January 27, 2012


On the last day of the summer past one of my sons was diagnosed with bone cancer. Since then we as a family with him at our core have lived in a surreal place of pain and fog and forgetfulness.

I say forgetfulness not only because I misplace things more often or miss an appointment in my hazy waltz through this maze of fear but because when the nightmare of disease possesses a loved one you learn to forget as quickly as possible.

To dwell on what is or meander down the nostalgic path of easier days is nothing less than pure folly. It only leads to depression, anger and more fear.

When we forget we open ourselves to new reality. We wash away the “if onlys” and shake the hand of determination that is the best friend of our loved ones courage. Laughter is the salve that protects us from horror. Yet I wonder if that is what I have done when this demon did not possess my son.

Children have suffered for time memorial from horrible illness while I played, worked and generally concerned myself with the trappings of middle class existence. While they lay dying I harbored vanity while devoting most of my free time to self.

Yes I believe in service to my fellow man and have done what I could but I always go home to the warmth and comfort of knowing my loved ones are sound and protected.

For the remainder of my days I cannot imagine taking for granted the peace and serenity that comes with having a safe and healthy family.

It has been said that gratitude is an action. My son is fighting for his life but he is alive. He gets angry and complains. He jokes and he cries. He calls me “old man” and grins waiting for me to “cut” him back. I kiss the top of his smooth white head careful not to let a tear fall there where he might know my sadness.

When this is done there will be less forgetting. One thing I will not forget is the gift of each breath. I will not forget that children all over the world lay suffering in agonizing pain. They suffer more than physical pain. They suffer the doubt that fatal disease delivers to their door each morning and there is no end.

Can we all remember? Can we all beat a drum, run a race, sit with a child, cook a meal, take the children to see the friend that is still their friend though temporarily living apart?

This pain will never let me forget. Does it take this for us to remember?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Can You Remember?

Can you remember the clover at late afternoon on a hot summer day? You wore your favorite cutoff blue jeans, fluffy frayed at the ends. Your bare feet were engulfed in deep green dewy coolness.

Do you remember lying down on your back to feel the tickle of that wafting, sweet earth along your sun-warmed limbs while sweet smelling sweat dried at your temples?

Can you see now the marshmallow white cumulus scudding across the blue sky like some ethereal lagoon that you had yet to see but yearned for?

Can you recall the woods at the dead end of hot asphalt where day bright turned to shadow as you entered the leafy cave?

Picking your way along the well worn but narrow path you tried to tread silently on the crunchy detritus like an Indian.

Did you draw an arrow from your quiver when the brush rustled?

Did you aim and release the power that reached into the forest to capture life that would sustain your tribe?

Do you still remember the young warrior who only knew truth and dignity?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Reflection on "Tin Soldiers"

 My heart is breaking in this moment. Crosby, Still, Nash and Young wail, “Find the cost of freedom buried in the ground.” I see my son bald and hobbling on his crutches by the Viet Nam veteran’s memorial. The black wall reflects his pale struggle. His face stern, determined yet washed in misery. The orphanage rests on the hill across the lawn and hedges.

  Rise up America and protest the injustice of war. Cease to live the lie that imprisons our love. Save the children you can. Plenty are suffering without our lashing out at those who would breathe different air; might believe other than we believe.

  Let us embrace all men in the blanket of peace and tolerance. We can be strong without war. We can use the power that is a gift of the Higher Power who I chose to call God to heal all mankind. We can move into this century with a new perspective. War against injustice. War against intolerance. Make peace with your fellow man.

  How easily we forget ...