Friday, October 5, 2012

She Talks To Angels

My mother passed nine days after her last birthday celebration twenty years ago this month.  It was a simple gathering with family in from out of town, airplanes flying over the great lakes to eat cake and say goodbye. The smaller grand kids blew out the candles that Mom couldn't and her consciousness floated in the opiate-like state that comes when our spirit is ready to transition.

Twenty years is a long time for a girl to be without her mother.  The heart, like other muscles, mends itself with time and it has been years since I've been taken by those heaves of loss.  Instead, I've learned to talk to her, my greatest angel, and co-exist with the gaping split in my chest that rocked me the moment she stopped breathing.  That type of damage is a bonus gift hidden in the cloak of the grim reaper.  He throws it over his shoulder as he walks away.  Surprise.

There was one vacation in the 70's when we packed Pop's baby blue Chevy station wagon and drove away from smog and East LA to a seaside motel in San Simeon, California.  Mom and I walked on the beach that night and as we sat on the sand, her soft arms around me, she said, "Whenever you are at the beach, think of me".

My move with my youngest daughter to the ocean two years ago was a whim and whimsical.   We witness the sun rise and set on the Pacific most everyday. The sea  collects my prayers.  We see waves dance and seduce the sun rays.  In the dark, the water roars the voice of all creation and the sounds of grand wings fly over us.

- Audelia Vejar Hernandez, October 8, 1924 to October 17, 1992

Monday, September 24, 2012

Purify - For M

The day goes on with a nagging voice and imaginary finger shaking at me.  "Go for a run."  I hate running and there is nothing that makes me feel better afterward and changes my body faster than running.

The day continues and I get a disappointing text and the call I make to share my disappointment gives me the real upsetting information.  Soon my running shoes are on and I'm driving up PCH to the spot where my friend whose young son is having radical cancer treatments, and I used to walk every morning.

I don't have a lot of time, I've put this off until the last minute and my daughter will be carpooled home soon.  I run and switch to walking, my body remembering the smoke I had on Saturday.  I run pass the Bentleys and the Range Rovers, down the stairs and onto the sand.

I remember the prayers my friend and I used to say on the sand those mornings.  I face the ocean and remember the promises made to me after I cast every dark thought and heart pang into the waves months ago.  The ocean is bigger than cancer and can easily drown a betrayal.

The sun is setting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Other Side of Pretty Sunrise

I am of a certain age that I read about in my younger days when I lived with the illusion of immortality.  It's the age where the outside perception of beauty starts to fade just when life's experience makes me not care as much.  It takes effort on my part to be a size medium. With a professional photo shoot recently scheduled next month at the insisting of a new friend, I've had two other offers within the same day by other photographers.

What most don't realize is that I have always been very insecure about my face, body and thoughts.  While I refuse to be placated, I can accept an authentic compliment.  I've been told in various ways that I have some demons that I deal with and that my only struggles are internal.  I accept that about myself as part of my DNA, just like the mole under my lip and with no judgment.  I own it with the paunch of my belly that comes with chips and goes with crunches. I love Pacific Coast Highway and myself for all of our elements and curves.

There are things in my life that cry out for attention; mail from yesterday, the backs of my arms.  They shook me awake this morning, urging me to pray and I did.  I sip coffee on my balcony, watching the flashing pink neon lights of the carousel on the Santa Monica Pier fade under the overcast dawn sky.  In an hour the quiet will be disrupted by my youngest daughter rising to surf and my kitchen will smell like oatmeal that she never eats.

Life's opportunities arrive disguised as challenges as I check my email.  Prayer works.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Good Friday in Lent - Happy Birthday Eve Luna

I wrote this piece about giving birth to Luna as part of a project entitled "The Mother Monologues." I plan to make it into a short film.

A Good Friday In Lent

On the freeway, into the ER parking lot, onto the wheelchair, I can’t remember anything in between except pain cracking my belly and back open like a watermelon hitting the floor.

For a moment I think “This is good. Husband parking, teenage daughter at my side, candy striper pushing me to maternity.” Then, another contraction and sound is coming out of my mouth without thought.

“This wheelchair has no feet! Get me another!” Candy striper runs, leaving me face to face with the ER waiting room. They look at me as I spit orders through contractions like a circus dagger show, landing with expert precision. I don’t know if I am thinking or yelling, “Your place here has no significance. All of you taking up space with your little flues, body aches; your little cuts and need for stitches. Do you know where I’ll have stitches by end of tonight?!”

All at once, I’m in the delivery room with a team of nurses, husband and daughter. I breath the #1 top 40 childbirth hit of all time “Hee, Hee, Hee/Hee, Hee, Hee/Hee, Hee Ho, HAAA!” I look over my shoulder to my husband for coaching. This is the moment I cash in on 4 weeks of birthing classes and he’s disappeared! “MARC!” I scream and he pops up from the floor, “I’m right here!” as if there is no need for hysterics. “I was plugging in the video camera, the battery needs charging.”

I look at the head nurse with her calm authority. I say to her “You’re my focal point now.” She is the only one who hears me, she looks me in the eye, ME, not my arms for IVs or vitals, not my vagina for dilation. She says, “Just look at me Mamma,” and I’m peaceful inside while crying tears, screaming and breathing.

“Give me some Demoral” I say to my focal point, my sliver of grace. Husband says, “What about the natural child birth?” We ignore him. I save my energy for getting the drugs instead of choking him, and soon the razors running through me have turn to dull knives.

The doctor is here and I am pushing. The surgical cheerleaders chant in unison cheerleader tandum (as in the football chant) “PushPushPushPush!PushPushPushPush!PUSH PUSH” It is Good Friday in lent. No meat today for this pregnant Catholic school veteran, and as I push to bring what I know will be my last child into this world, blood, water and my filet-o-fish dinner gush out.

“PushPushPushPush!PushPushPushPush!” and I do. Everyone comes in close and I don’t recognize the silence. The baby’s head is out and suspended with her eyes closed. For this moment, I am sure the earth has stopped rotating on its axis. My teenager is filming with tears welled up behind the lens. Each face in the room reflects the AWE of God’s best work. My last and strongest exhale pushes the universe into movement again.

No one is listening to me as I say “Thank you God. Thank you personal trainer. It’s over. The carpal tunnel on my hands will go away soon, my toes won’t look like sausages.

Baby is crying and rushed to a corner to get cleaned up. All of the attention in the room is shifted from me to her with the exception of my own doctor and nurse M*A*S*H unit.

I am incoming wounded with organs displaced and months of internal shrapnel wounds no one will ever know of. Life has detonated inside of me. I see only their eyes behind surgical masks, serious and intentional. Bloody gloved hands sew me back together, repair me, careful to not leave behind the battle scars.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Created Life

Most days I wake up worried. There are loud thoughts in the night disrupting my sleep as if I'm going to arrive late to think about them.

Like a child whose sibling is in the wrong, I pray, looking to God as if the worries are misspeaking. I look to God and point at the thought, questioning it's existence.

I worry about the first of every month, utilities and car insurance, even when they're paid. I teeter in my mind between an ocean view apartment and being back in urban life. I put strikes against myself for being a woman in a male dominated business, being assertive and clear, for having emotions. I haven't groomed the dog.

I sit here with more blessings than my own mother ever had in her entire life. The apartment is warm, oatmeal is cooking, my baby girl is in the shower. My eyes well up as I think of my older daughter who seems happy and calm. I look at the ocean, respectful of it's power and beauty. The sunlight rises and slowly reveals my life intact.

As I kneel at the side of my unmade bed, I give thanks for my younger daughter who woke beside me and told me about her dream, "Mom, did you know the debris from Japan making it's way here?" I am grateful for certain things that have gone away, people and projects. I am reminded that whatever is missing in my life will not exist unless I create it. It starts with a thought, a desire. I have what I need. I am more than good enough.