The Fountain

Ten years of age and all I can fathom are toys. Boxes upon boxes upon boxes, and no toys can be found. The heat is almost too much for my little bathing suit clad body to take. Every new box holds incredible promise; navigating each sticky piece of tape without my stuffed animals, without My Pretty Pony crushes my juvenile spirit. Leaving the box-swallowed room, I enter my parched paradise.

Surveying my exotic surroundings, it begins to sink in that I am really in Nicaragua. With an increasingly familiar Latin taste, it feels more like my last home, Guatemala, than my first home, Pennsylvania. Here, my grandmother is not making fruit salad in the kitchen anymore; she is in an air-conditioned bedroom with Alzheimer’s disease, exploring the world of Spanish Wheel of Fortune re-runs. My father is making everyone happy in a clothing factory, because he is the sweet, perfect father.

Wiping sweat from my forehead, I smell food. This food it is not pleasing to my palate. The woman cooking it only knows how to cook with outside fires—not ovens. My mother gently reminds her that black beans do not have to be served with every meal. My sister, fourteen, is following me discreetly to ensure my safety in this new world.

While exploring my new abode, I discover a circular fountain at the core of a beautiful garden. The fountain is pleading with me to partake in its jubilant dance. The fountain, sadly, is empty, but I remedy its dry and hot stone interior with the promise of water from a nearby hose. The water filling the fountain becomes a whirling cure for the sultriness of the day. I check on the height of the newly created pool approximately every 20 seconds. The first time I check my knuckles are covered with cooling water. By the 15th time, it has reached my elbow and my excitement overflows.

The water that runs from the end of the green hose fills the placid stone pool. I play a game of pretend—the hose becomes a snake, its nozzle hissing and its green scales growing wet and slimy. Venom spitting, the snake is unstoppable to any common man! Secrets of the jungle are known only to me, and as I turn the nozzle, the fluid ceases.

One toe at a time, my foot sweeps the top of the water, and I sit on the edge bracing myself for the moment that is inevitable. Overwhelmed by anticipation, I fully submerge myself in the fountain. The water eases the sweltering heat, and carries with it an almost baptismal like peace.

That afternoon of fountain dipping in Nicaragua is one of my fondest and most cherished memories of childhood. For a number of reasons, life changed after that dance in the fountain. My father died without warning only three days later and we left one foreign country filled with family to relocate to the United States. Life changed completely. When I recall the sleek, slippery, formfitting water, I feel alive, comforted, and innocent.

August 2005

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Hope

As we rise here together, we hold our breath.
A new Father, a new hope;
The power to change the stagnant waters and raise a new love,
A pure love,
An honest love of others.
One world, one love, one nation under God.
A hope of teaching respect of all;
Acceptance despite religion, life choices, or nature.
A hope of banishing prosecution of others, because someone simply deemed it so,
And promoting love and kindness, because that is truly is in Your image.
I have such high hopes.
I pray that the truth will ring through the heavens
Unto our ears
And into our hearts.
Please, let this be what we’ve been waiting for.
Please let this be.
3.22.13

Hurricane

familyThis storm still has such a hold on me;

My head is clouded and I’m echoing,

echoing in my own head.

Repeating my own phrases again and again and again.

This full circle life we lead—

We live, we love, we leave. Never past tense. Always now. Always continued.

The movies, a party, a museum.

I promise I’ll say yes.

How many times can I wish I said yes?

A matter of distance, a matter of energy—

It just doesn’t matter anymore.

The memories we made will have to be enough.

You’re out of audible range, though I sometimes feel you near.

Now you’re everybody’s forever best friend.

Forever young.

The kind of love that belongs to a full-grown heart;

Eternal fondness.

This storm will continue to hold me.

Always now. Always happening.

Always love.

Because you are and always will be.

October 30, 2012

Enough

familyIt’s been a year since you left me and I’m struggling to say

Exactly how much I miss you.

My heart feels weak and my stomach won’t stop turning;

I miss you this much:

Enough to keep myself together, so I can help everyone else stay together too.

Enough to try harder, to work harder;

Enough to do everything I can.

Enough to be the person you treated me like,

The person you were proud to love.
October 31, 2011

Where Family Begins

When two people understand that kindness begets kindness, a family begins. You choose whom you love and how you love them; you create your own family. We all have a family of choice that becomes our blood.

I have been gifted the blessing of welcoming a new sister-in-law into my life just a few weeks from today; my brother is getting married. We have led different lives and we have seen different things, but I believe from the bottom of my heart to the top that she is my family. We are already sisters by choice.
February 2013

Siblings

My entire family affectionately called my grandmother “Mom”. Though she suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease for many years before her passing, we had many loving moments together that I still think about today. She had several phrases her swiss-cheese style brain would repeat without prompting: “1, 2, 3, 4”, “It’s nice to be nice,” and “Only a stone should be left alone” to name a few.

But sometimes she was sharp as a whip and would say things that deeply struck a chord with me. For instance, she always told me to be nice to my sister when she witnessed my young, bratty tendencies. “She’s the closest thing to you in the world. You’re made of the same thing. You are the same.”

I was raised with my brother and sister; raised in the same home, shared the same love. To this day, I believe we care about the same things at the core of it all, no matter the discrepancies. We are the same at the center of it all, the same at the center of ourselves.
February 2013

Loss

book2I’m afraid that things have changed lately. It was the morning after Halloween when I got the news that my cousin had died in a car accident. 4 AM? 5? I don’t remember but it was terrible news and a terrible day. But I don’t just remember hearing the news, I remember the entire morning before that too.

I woke up with a slight hangover and Ryan and I started to recap the night.

“It was such a blast! Our Santa outfits were a hit,” I mumbled while he inhaled to ease his headache.

“It’s true, but the night definitely gets hazy after a while.”

I sighed and naturally looked for my phone to find something to spark my memory of how exactly the night had ended. The phone wasn’t there—panic! Did it get left in a drunken stupor? Oh great.

Against my better judgment of continuing to sleep a few more hours, I got up to search the apartment. The phone turned up on the living room table. It was off so I naturally thought the battery died but it turned on easily.

My phone was turned off the night prior; apparently the phone had been ringing nonstop at 6 AM and someone turned the phone off so it wouldn’t wake anybody.

My phone immediately began to buzz and I had a couple of text messages. I had a “Call back” text with a phone number—but I didn’t recognize it. I then got a text from Ryan’s mother asking me to call my mom, she said it was really important. Then everything got really heavy around me. I knew then to call the number back, I wasn’t surprised when it was my cousin Michael at Colleen’s house. He told me my mother wasn’t there and to call her cell phone or my cousin Patricia. He said that they would know what to tell me.

I accepted everything that happened around me as if it were truth, though I did not understand any aspect of it. I called my mother and she answered the phone on the third ring.

“Hi. I’m driving, I’ll call you back as soon as I stop,” she muttered.

I lose my stomach and respond, “Is something wrong?”

“Yes. I’ll call you back.”

“Tell me.”

“Matthew Dalling was in a fatal car accident last night.”

“Okay. Call me when you stop.”

“Okay.” I was paralyzed.

Winter 2011