I accidentally felt happy. For days and weeks after the visceral, physical breaking out of the cocoon I was bound up in, a feeling kept flitting in my side view. Brief and effervescent, blue and bright and entertaining. What was this? It was familiar and fleeting and then swooped back up and out and I laughed, a lot. Smiling in my kitchen alone, at the sun in the window I realized this was happy.

It was so long since I felt something similar to this—so many shedding skins ago, that I kept quiet. I didn’t want to shoot back into a caterpillar skin or reincarnate into trying and testing again if I spoke it out loud.

A few weeks ago I went to D.C. on a work trip, flying into air I used to be afraid of, settled in with a movie and few hours of silent shuttling sky, sitting in tandem quiet with a kind-souled fellow traveler. I wish I could explain what happened then, maybe someday there will be words for what it is when two people who have both found themselves as butterflies find the same draft of air. For now it is enough to know that while the cocoon may feel lonely, newly winged flight is not.

I spent the next five days waiting on couches in hotel libraries, trying on hats and wandering new streets, running to keep warm and crying from the cold. I came home and talked on the phone, met people in stores and smiled, sipped soup and felt full, bought bread and coffee creamer and wore warm socks on frigid nights.

I lived. And until then I thought what I was doing before was living, but it wasn’t. It was leaning toward what I thought would feel more, look better, seem easier somehow. I was waiting to live until living felt nicer. If I could go back and try it again, faster, better, would I? No. I had moments of great through every minute of my life as a caterpillar and cocoon. I had family and love and friends and a life that held me while I found my way to this. I hold it in my hands like a cup of warm tea, look across the steam and see sugared sunlight fall through leaves, see the shadow cast of light in an afternoon room, and I know that this life is magnificent.

It is magnificent.


You went somewhere I could not find you. That last year, on the phone, I would say your name as many times as I could. Hi dad. Thank you dad. I love you dad. Bye dad. Every time I said it another tie to who you had been to me, who you had always been, the name I called you the same as all the years I had been yours, your daughter.

As I got older, I saw you less for what role you played for me, and more the man you were, the one you wanted to be—honest, charming, solid and sure. Your height kept me small, protected—the memory of the night when I watched ‘Carrie’ on tv in the cold side room of our old farm house. Too young and so scared I yelled from my bed, dad, dad, dad! Down the hall you walked, and slept in the other twin bed. How did you know to do that without making me feel weak, childish?

Your name held me to you, all those years, and especially the last few months, knowing you were leaving, the losing of you honest, solid, sure. I don’t know how to do this I said to my sisters. You don’t have to know, not yet, they said.

And then I knew.

I say your name still, into that place where I cannot find you. I miss you dad. I remember you dad. I won’t ever forget you.



The things we want to stay, wish to stay, hope to stay the same, are the very things impossible to keep. Someone else’s attention, fleeting and fierce, wanes in the natural course of their next thing. Pointing in a new direction for them feels like a loss of direction for us. Unknown and unkept, the movement into their next thing opens up our attention to something else, the familiar turn of life ever receding and bringing in newness from the tide of change. The sea glass worn by time and sand, it’s novelty beautiful and clear.

‘Let it go’ can be a trite saying, a prescription to feel better, said over and over to someone suffering from something lost. How can we let go of what we never had? The releasing isn’t of the thing we wished for, it’s letting go of the wish itself. The longing for better days, riding in on what we believe someone else holds for us. Letting go of what we think they hold, that’s the open handed prayer, the supplication and forgiveness rolled into one tumbled stone of tide sanded clarity.

Taking back your power from someone else isn’t exactly what it is, it is more taking back your part of the agreement you made to wait for them. No one else really takes your power, but at times your waiting does feel powerless. Removing them as the author of that feeling is the first kind truth.

Your power never left, it is the thing that stayed and stays. The power to begin again and again, thats the story waiting to be written.


On the day I was born, fireworks sketched the sky as my mother came back to her room, the bands of sleep that held her from the pain of this last delivery releasing her to see the shooting lights celebrating her new life as a mother of five.

I would have been somewhere close, bundled and bewildered, newly near this overwhelming world of bright lights in big skies. I like to believe something in me knew, even then, my place in the turning earth, that every day blending forward would bring me into new blossoming, fantastical shows of light, sound, and the silent littering of fire falling from a sky.

Each year, on the day I was born, I celebrate; the year behind me swaddled and secure in its ending, watching the blooming of new life from the inside of a glass window, releasing every pain of what has been born, just like my mother did, all those years ago.


This is hallowed ground, the space I live now. It has seen, absorbed, reflected, cried, and held the living of a life myriad and vast, endlessly new and achingly circling back on itself. One more chance to say the thing I haven’t said the other go rounds. One more pass by, not quite yet, the pull of the unknown tenuous, the sameness gradually better, cleaner, sturdier.

I live by different rules now, more mine, less justified, stirred together with some old unsaid rules that keep me in a small state of confusion, a tension between the two the thing I notice, the thing that leans me a little to the left of gratitude.

A few things bring me back, swift and straight~ my children, gathered in a room, laughing, piled on and entwined, these people who before me didn’t live, didn’t know how much they loved each other. I introduced them, and that act is a saving, wavering grace, that will last long after me, a gift to them of each other, my lingering love ever dusted up when they are together.

I follow their togethered love in pure wonder, I will listen to them laughing long after I am gone, isn’t that what all parents do? Conjured up in the delighted spaces where siblings become soul stunning friends.

It is easy to heal the tension I carry when I am in the middle of this comfortable pile of beloved humans, who didn’t know each other before me~who made their way here, all because they wanted to, and oh, how I needed them to find me too.

This is hallowed space we share now, grounded in the kind of love I didn’t know before I met them.


My life has been lived in third person, so much of it a retelling of what has happened, a foreshadowing of what might happen, and all the winnowing ways I have gotten here, to avoid there.

This kind of living leans forward and back, unsure of whether something happened that way, or did I retell the story this way? Every projection of what’s coming slightly different, each ‘what if’ casting me in the circle of the things I might stumble over.

When I can see myself in the the mind of my life, I know I’m not living. It can’t happen at the same time; either I’m five-sensed experiencing it, or I’m wondering about it, my minds eye seeing me, two dimensional and barely focused. But it’s clearer now; that’s not living. That’s rehearsing.

I’m beginning to understand that the retelling of my story is more a chorus than a soliloquy, the gathering of other peoples’ recollection of me knit into an ill fitting vest of reminders of when I let someone down.

The story of my life has been told back to me, in small whispers, shouldered and filtered and carried to this place.

And this is where it rests.

The life I’m living forward won’t hold the stitches of the way other people wished I would have been. All the times I wasn’t true to someone’s version of me need to be laid down, the exhaled understanding that the seams won’t hold because I didn’t tailor them.

It is a gift to sense what someone else wants, the filaments of need snaking in the air, ready to be charmed back in the basket by music played from memory. I just didn’t realize how many times what someone needed was for me to be different. It wasn’t that I charmed the snake, it’s that I was cast as it; and then it was mine to coax back into submission.

If my life is to be lived in first person, the first person I cannot betray is me. If I look back it is to remember what it felt like to be unwatched and unnoticed. When life was fully lived in one day, wandering in bee buzzing fields free and wild, charmed by the music of day croaking into night.

That is where it begins.