Category: Angels

Cake & Balloons

I was never
grown up enough
to ask you what

your favorite
birthday was.

I didn’t know to
ask questions
like that

while you were
still here to
ask.

March 10th. The
perfect beginning
of spring with some
frost still.

Your Mom would
make you the
same cake every

year until my
Mom did.

Warm chocolate
cake white
buttercream icing.

In a bowl
of milk at
midnight.

You told me once
when you were five,
your Grandpa Dutch

showed up with a
brand new shining
red tricycle

for you. You
told me how
you remember him

taking it out
of the car, and
how in the memory

the red was still
so bright and the
sun reflected off

of the new shine
perfectly. I miss
those memories but
now they’re only

mine and I am
grateful for all
that you shared and I
was able to remember.

When I was 7 I
remember waking you
up at 6 a.m on your

birthday. I had
covered a pan of
vanilla wafers in
Reddi Whip, stuck in
and lit

35 candles.
You woke up
yelling at me

that I was going
to burn the house
down, but felt bad

and sat in bed
eating the cookies.
You let me go to

school late that
day. When you were
50, we pulled off a

surprise 50th birthday
party for you. I
snapped this photo

of your soul, holding
balloons. It’s one of
my top 3 favorite

of you.

Birthdays
are a
big deal, now
and especially

after.

I sang “Happy Birthday”
in all of my
painful and disheveled

yoga postures that
day. I’ve been

taking class every
day and it gets to

the point that my
body feels like a
potato bag of crystal

splinters. I
didn’t make a
cake yet but I

will. When the
mood is better,

and I feel lucky
that I even had you

long enough
to know

what I’m
missing.

Christmas Pond

When my Husband
was living
on the other side

of the world and
our relationship
was a series of

written messages
we used to always
say that when we

could be together
all of the time
every day would feel

like Christmas morning.

Recently we got another
Kitten. We named him
Christmas because

that was when he arrived
to us. He sleeps all
day long in my

Grandfathers crushed
gold shell chairs in
the sun or stretched

out on the table with
his head wedged in between
the wooden blinds.

He can’t be bothered
for the whole day but

if you wake up in the
middle of the night he
acts like a baby ball
python. He is the most

affectionate animal
I have ever known,

but only for about a
two hour window, between
5 and 7 a.m.

Christmas sleeps
between our pillows
and if you move, he
assumes you are up,
licking your ears and

wrapping his tail
around your neck.

This morning was no
different. He purrs
louder than the
washing machine,

stretches out and
demands he be pet and
held.

“Christmas morning.”

I mumble to my husband
through all of his
alarms.

It’s a trip sometimes
the ways that the things
that we ask for

show up and
stay.

Sarah

15 years
have passed

but yesterday
I asked her

if she could
give me a call

and
within
minutes

she did.

Her voice is
like a different

time from a
separate version
of a far away
life.

The comfort
is
concise.

We had the same
jobs as teenagers

at K mart and
Portillos. We

always watched
movies in a finished
basement with a
fish tank

in it, Dr. Pepper and
chopped salads.

We shopped at
old navy. She

taught me how to
write my first
poem.

I remember
titling my first
notebook at 21

“The complete
works of
myself.”

I want to
ask about her Mom,
her siblings, her

cousins.
I remember all
of their names and

what they liked
in school.

In a way we
will always be

going on sixteen.

Listening to
Godsmack with
college boys and

Marlboro Reds.

That desperate
kid inside just
trying to shut up

to seem like
I want them to
think that I seem.

Grounded and
ungrounded.

Dumped and back
together.

Hot summers &
giant grocery
lists from her Mom.

A golden retriever puppy.
I would cry on the
floor in the kitchen

over my boyfriend
with her Mom while she
was up all night
trying to potty train

that dog. She used
to say to me late
at night

“Someday I promise –
this isn’t
going to matter.”

Her Mom was right –
and that took what it
took but

there are elements
of connection that
as I get older

from before
cannot be
replicated.

She called me within
two minutes to give me
advice.

To tell me
I wasn’t alone

and in that few
minutes where she
listened to me I

realized
that I come from
many places,

and situations and
relationships –

and as I get older
the ones
that built

the best aspects
of my character

resurface and
re present
themselves.

Her voice is
strength. It
is my voice

when I’m having
a good day and
feeling aware

but
if I’m not I
can ask her
to call me

just to hear
where I

come from.

Skatie

“I found you
skates. Only
Seven dollars.

But I
left them
on the

thrift store
shelf.”

Two days
later he returns.

A pair of blue
and gray roller
blades. They
say

“Chicago” on
the fabric,

look brand new.

My Husband tells
me all of the
stories about

being mad enough
to free skate
through London

for miles at rush
hour for decades
of his old wild

life. I tell him how
my Dads favorite

memory of me is
of when I would
rollerblade, age

9, on the 4th of
July with a bunch of
colored sparklers

in each hand. Tonight
we skated together
for the first time.

“I know.. my Dad..
sent those.. skates..”

I say, out of
breath, more stepping
in the skates than
skating at

this point.

Under a street
light, we kiss.

He doesn’t
let me

fall.

Yellow Z

It is still weird to
sit down in a kitchen
that I live in, with

food that I made
for dinner on the
weekend

without him.

He should be there.
Asking if I like the
spinach. Saying that
the beans didn’t burn

this time. Asking if
everything was ok. His
way of fishing for

validation, for love,
for appreciation.

He found so much comfort
in grocery stores. Places
where he could buy

things that represented
what he knew about me.
Where he could come to
me and say

“I got you frosted flakes,
your favorite.” I would

always roll my eyes and
say thank you. What I
wouldn’t give for another

one of those moments. To
know what it would be
someday when they were
no longer.

“Every fucking weekend
my Dad would cook these
huge dinners. Every time

I sat down, he would say
to me, on que – “Smurf –
can you please go cut
the bread?” And I’d huff,
and sigh,

and go cut the bread. My
Sister, as soon as she
sat down he’d say

“Fred – go get the napkins.”

We were Fred and Smurf.
I’m not sure why.” I

brought up my Dad so
many times this weekend.

So much of early adult
life is about highlighting
what your parents

didn’t do for you
until one day they
vanish and

all thats left is the
good parts of them
that stayed with

what you are. The
understanding that
they did

everything
good
that they could
have

for me.

Lifetimes spent
around food
in familiar

kitchens
just sitting
together for

dinner.

I miss you
so much.

Ninety Seven One

In 2013 my
Dad passed
suddenly.

They said
it was a
heart attack.

He ate Nancys
pizza for dinner,
after another

15 hour work day
and sat down to
watch TV in his
chair.

He never got up.
It is a scenario
I don’t revisit
often but

I still talk to
him all of the time,
mostly when I’m

driving and listening
to classic rock on
the radio.

Today I told him that
I could see snow covered
mountains, in the sun
with palm trees at the

same time. I told him
how much I love fruit
parfaits from Coffee Bean
lately and I

know he would still try
to buy me generic ones
and pretend it was the same

if he could. I told him
how much he would love
my Husband, mostly

because of the incredible
care of me that he takes,
and mostly how I am a

spectacularlry functional
person within this
relationship
most of the time.

I’d tell him about my art
commissions

and I wouldn’t even feel
sorry for myself if he
wasn’t interested or didn’t
understand

if I could. Because it goes
that way. Mid sentence

it all flips to the wrong
tense and I have to read
it back to find out

how and when that happened.

My Dad would really love
that his little girl grew
up to be like me.

Strong and smart.
Capable.
Aware and

missing him so
much that nothing
could un teach her

how lucky
she is to still
tell him how

she lives in the
desert, with the sun
and the snow, the

mountains and the
palm trees. Turning
up the Foreigner track

as loud as it goes
just because it’s
who he

taught her
to be.

Casey Wilson

(This is the first piece of writing that has left me pacing around the house, dropping coffee and stepping on the dogs in years. I am proud of this piece.)

 

She was way too happy to meet me, so, I was suspicious. At the time, six years ago, she had very short bright blonde hair. A smile from a toothpaste commercial and a long lean figure that she always wore preppy polos and soft cardigans over. Her shoes were always nice and her jeans never dragged on the ground.

 

Surely we had nothing in common.  

 

The excitement she had for me to call her every time I ran into her was unnerving. Why a girl like that wanted to be friends with a person like me was perplexing and terrifying. Some time passed. We became friends, mostly because we both found ourselves having puppies at the same time, which neither of us had a clue how to care for. I think the fear that the animals we were responsible for would somehow turn into cheeseburgers (or worse) was our first bond.

 

We started going to dog parks together. Together we befriended the resident crazies with 12 animals, the beautiful artist whose miniature dachshund did the best tricks, and the happy couple with the fat twin corgis. Mostly we laughed at how much we could learn about human social structure just by watching all of the dogs.

 

Candice is from Eugene, Oregon. Oregon is a place I am often told “I belong in” and “I would love.” Where all of the strippers have good tattoos and dreads and people walk around to do stuff or even just because they like walking, even if it’s raining.

 

On a trip she took there she came back with a box of little things for me. Tiny blown glass animals. An Oregon ducks t-shirt, little handmade candle holders that said “just wait until you shine your light on the whole world.” I remember spreading all of the little trinkets and magnets out on the table and just marveling at them. “She is sharing herself with you. That is what friends do.” Someone told me.

 

Candice’s family has always seemed luxurious to me. Like a kind of old quality that isn’t made any more. Her parents resembled famous old Hollywood. I’ve told her often that she has the best looking Mom and Dad I’ve ever seen. Her sister is equally as glamorous, she knows a lot of people and likely always has the perfect dress for whatever the occasion. She is a detailed and thoughtful entertainer, she works extremely hard, and no matter what, she has her sister’s back.

 

And Casey.

 

Candice’s 2 year older than her big brother. Her other sibling that always, no matter what, was on her side.

 

I met him for the first time late last year while celebrating Candice’s birthday. We went to dinner and a movie. She had always told me about him and he was as expected – charming, doting over his sister for her birthday, well dressed and ageless. Casey could have been 59, 7, 98 or 21. He was profoundly charming in an instantly loveable way. Like his jacket was extremely nice and all of his hair was in place but he was absolutely ecstatic that Game of Thrones 2 was sold out and the only movie available was Star Wars, which he had already seen, twice, but who cared. To top it off he got a collectors ticket with the ticket. He marveled with us before the show that he loved Star Wars so much. He was so attached to all of the characters because he was the perfect age where he grew up with them. He didn’t bat an eye as we walked out and I replied that life after death on Earth is probably exactly like Star Wars and that’s why humans love it so much. He just bit his lip and nodded enthusiastically, no simple task, as we’d had our heads cranked back for the duration in the very front row of the most big screen sensory overload I had ever experienced. I had worn a tiny unicorn finger puppet Candice had given me on my finger. He got a kick out of that.

 

Casey was the sort to be wildly alive. His eyes were sparkly, dancing as he had his hands in a prayer position just under his chin, a huge smile as he watched Candice open her birthday presents at dinner. Him and his sister got her a spa day and night in a hotel and uggs. He loved everything. He loved the food at the restaurant, marveling at every course, debating forever exactly what to get and how. He had a great time describing with wonder the massive wedge of carrot cake and insisting everyone at the table try some and as a long time former fine dining server myself, he had the best, most considerate and kind manners to anyone that came within feet of his space.

 

There were many laughs that night at the recent debut of his “Christmas Tuxedo” at that years Christmas. A perfectly fitted suit in the pattern of tacky red, green and white Christmas paper. “Perfect attire for eating cookies and drinking egg nog under a multi-colored glow.” He had said.

 

Casey could hold space in a room that way, a multi-colored glow himself. Slight humor, ageless grace, and a shy but unapologetic vulnerability. He was a beautiful man with the kind of magic you can only describe as ecstatic over an ironically terrible Christmas paper print suit. Debonair to the point of posh and unapproachable until you witness him finding out that he received collector edition star wars tickets. A divine child after all. Asking you if you want any snacks, any ice cream, any soda, if there is anything at all that you need. Yes yes come to Oregon. Bring your rain boots. Come and see us. We’ll show you everything. A few hours after we said goodbye he sent me a facebook friend request. Unlike most people he always liked AND replied to most things that were put up or said. Casey loved people, often at a distance. Their little life victories excited him and he was sporadic in his expression of that.

 

Most people get really addicted to trying to find a sense of belonging or a feeling that they are cared for, seen and understood anyway. In the short time that we met, I can say Casey is one of those very special people that, effortlessly does that for others. He has a gigantic spirit that has touched the hearts of many. My ability to feel so connected to him as I write this is proof of the amount of lives he touched. Casey is glamorous and wise but relatable in a way that drew people in. But, thoughtful with a wild fun streak that makes others feel important and wanted. He was one of those people that could provide others with those gifts so subtly and effortlessly. At the time I had left thinking “What a beautiful and fun man”. Later, when it was really considered, I uncovered the depths of the magic and wonder that being able to meet him, though briefly, left as an imprint on my memory.

 

I hope his spirit comes back to visit me and give me some reports on if Yoda is really out there or if it was all just a hoax, If the movie screens are bigger in heaven, if the carrot cake is better, what kind of shoe collection he gets to pick from, where the people that tip under 20% really go, and if life beyond here is like the forest moon of Endor. Casey’s spirit is vivid and bright but delicate in its power, like a subtle watercolor painting that just magnetises you and makes the world seem a great deal better.

 

To the Wilson family and everyone else that loved Casey and that Casey loved so much, a deep bow of grace and gratitude for having allowed me to meet your son and brother, partner and best friend. The fun that Casey got to have within the relationships with the people he loved so much are likely one of his greatest accomplishments in his short life. So please never be so sad that you forget to get all dressed up to go sit for a fabulous dinner. Order dessert twice. Love everything. Marvel. Make others feel like they belong. Be super nice to the waiter. Over tip. Care for each other the way that he cared for everyone around him. Allow yourself to be dazzled by tiny life victories. Wear something ridiculous for a holiday. Never allow his magic to fade in order for him to always stay close to you and in turn honor him by remaining close to each other.