kissing chili

today i scooped some chili into her bowl. it was steaming hot. without thinking, i tucked my hair behind my ears and bent down to blow on it.

i stopped, suddenly feeling ashamed for blowing on my mother’s food as if she were a child. felt my ears burn. looked up at her flushed face, sheepishly.

“i’m sorry mum,” i said. “i’m only trying to make it cooler for you.”

she put a gentle hand on mine and said with a soft smile, “it’s okay. my chili is honoured to have you kiss it.”

loving her

part of me wants to smother her with kisses, tuck her under blankets, feed her chocolate all day long and make life a cozy pity party for the already-diseased.

yet is that true love?

another part of me wants to help her learn to cook, do laundry, clean and type emails again… for perhaps this is what she needs? the determination to remember everything she’s lost?

and then a small part of me wants to run far, far away so as not to get attached to this woman called my mother. a woman with brain cancer who will, one day, fly away on wings of gold. leaving me wishing i’d spent more time loving her.

mom-and-dad

soft as feathers on my face

tonight i trudged home in snow tracks left by some unsuspecting truck

the snow fell soft as feathers on my face

white fluff, the stuff of angels

i stopped, breathed in deep the cool fresh air

saw icicles shining like raindrops, frozen in motion

and cried with the unspoken dreams of wintertime

‘i’m so glad that i’m alive!’

Dressed to the nines with nowhere to go

adbusters_81_takingtheblame

One would have thought that after four years of rallying behind the revolutionary speeches of Barack Obama, Generation O might have waited at least a few months before resorting to its superficial song. But no—it tuned in to apathy the very night Obama stood on stage with his formerly revered family; while he embraced the country which had elected him ‘hero,’ it in turn, tore his wife’s dress to shreds.

Was it made by Maria Pinto, a Chicago-based designer? No—the red and black sheath, fresh off the 2009 runway, was created by Narciso Rodriguez. There was no question, the integrity of the design had been compromised by first-lady alterations and … a black cardigan sweater. Gen O found itself gaping at the man they’d elected leader, realizing they’d failed to consider whether he’d uphold the very thing which mattered most—appearance. This obvious faux-pas shattered their Cover Girl exteriors and sent them reeling into vodka martinis.

Polls screeched across the Internet that very night regarding the dress, to which pollsters replied, “I’ll admit, I didn’t anticipate President-Elect Obama’s speeches over the campaign trail half as much as I anticipated seeing what Michelle Obama was going to wear, her makeup, and her hair.”

Opinions on the dress littered the media, making for one of the top stories on Yahoo. Everyone had an opinion. “I voted for Obama, but I didn’t vote for that dress,” one homemaker told The New York Times.

The article went on to promise the dress would ensure four years of lively fashion-watching at the White House.

Well, that’s a relief, since the war on terrorism and the sliding economy really are minute details compared to what the leader of the United States and his family are wearing.

So long as America is dressed to the nines, it doesn’t matter where it goes—even if it can’t afford to stand up for social justice, or to keep jobs on the market; if it’s upholding the integrity of the fashion world, that’s what truly matters—according to Generation O.

(written for Adbusters magazine)

24 hands

autumn-splendor

i can still feel them, holding me up like rope on a young sapling tree.

gnarled, worn with wear and tear, 24 hands braced me in prayer for the days ahead. i looked into the ladies’ faces as they reached out and touched me, saw drops of sadness on wrinkled cheeks; felt one lady put her soft palm against my face, peered into her eyes and knew she too had faced cancer–and won.

24 beautiful souls, their fingers having wiped away many-a-tear; arms having embraced the numerous hurting, and hands having held onto faith while everything else slipped away. these are women who know what it means to live and love, and to lose in spite of love. women who’ve also felt like young sapling trees, needing the support of others to keep them standing.

and so, this morning i stood, surrounded by ladies whose hands were outstretched, believing in God to make me whole. and i surrendered.

(written about my CoffeeBreak group, which prayed over me today regarding the laser surgery on Friday, which will remove pre-cancerous cells from my cervix)

raindrop realizations

as the water pitter-patters against my window pane, it hits me: a rock-hard thought splashing into the puddle of my mind, rippling with concentric feelings:

if i hadn’t lost my baby, i wouldn’t have been able to have the operation on my cervix. the pre-cancerous cells would have then developed… becoming something much bigger, much more terrifying. cancer.

is it possible, i ask the suds in my dishwater–as the rain continues to dribble down the glass, much like the tears on my face–that God hadn’t turned a blind eye? that he intentionally gave me the hope of knowing i could conceive, but then withdrew the hope in order to heal me, so that when the time does arrive for me to have a family, i can live to see them grow up? is this why he allows pain to happen? because, ultimately, he cares more than we’ll ever imagine?

i hadn’t learned of the pre-cancerous cells until after the miscarriage. yet, he’d known all along.

the realization is too much and i lie in a pool of tears, leaking gratitude across my bed. outside, a rainbow begins to streak across the sky, bleeding hope to this weak little girl.

mourning hours

I am learning what it means to be a woman,

To be a mother,

A womb-an

A token of fertility

A life-giving vessel

With this responsibility comes

Death and disease

Miscarriage and cancer

Darkness and despair

Tears which taper, then cease

With the morning, bearing

Glad tidings of great joy

A baby, born this day

A child, to carry on my

Name

I ache for such a day, yet

Will cherish

The blackening hours

Which make the colours of the dawn

So very beautiful

(written today, after finding out I have pre-cancerous cells on my cervix; exactly one month after miscarrying our first child)

a-mothers-offering

mustard seed faith

karen-and-jeff-mountains

i lie

nose to dust

shaken

by the movement of

mountains

motionless i become

for fear this

moment of

mustard seed

faith will

pass me by

show me more.

(written Feb. 15, 2003, while in Tripoli, Lebanon)

genuinely distracted by the sunshine

it had been a long day. i felt fatigue’s fingers sketching circles around my eyes. poured myself a glass of water, then sat down beside my mum as she slowly finished her hamburger and fries.

she looked at me with concern etched in her forehead; laid a well-worn hand on my arm.

“i love you, emily,” she said, thoughtfully.

then she looked down at her plate. “i forgot to tell you about my day.”

mum proceeded to share with me her morning, how she’d read before breakfast, then sat and finished her pills at the table so she could have her 10:30 mug of mocha.

“how’d that work out for you?” i asked.

“not so well,” she said with a sigh. “i became genuinely distracted by the sunshine.”

then, all of a sudden, she became genuinely distracted by her hamburger, while i sat there smiling, loving her way of speaking.

i owe my passion for the english language to my mother, who taught me the value of a well-placed word.

thank you, mum.

(a picture of mum and dad, taken after supper tonight)

mum-and-dad

seeking light

have you ever heard the sky crackle?

someone i know used to live in yellowknife. she would lie awake at night and listen to the northern lights crackle across the sky… electric beauty.

in yellowknife, winters are filled with utter darkness; from morning till night, it’s black as coffee… but i think if i were to hear the northern lights–even if i couldn’t see them–i would be soothed, knowing at least that somewhere, light existed.

that’s how i feel right now. i just need a reminder that even though life seems pretty dark at moments, light does exist, and one day, i’ll feel it warm against my skin again. for now, i’ll just listen.

(this painting is called ‘seeking light.’)