Thursday, April 19, 2018


Grief is an earthquake inside my belly, pummeling breath out my lungs, past my tongue and out my wide open mouth. When will I be empty of this weeping? 

Again and again, I am thrown back into the office where we left her lifeless. I look around this memory as if I will find solace there, evidence that this was the kindest solution we had, but all I find is my punishment, which is confinement to this moment. I become stuck, while my mind plays the scene in circles, spinning me into a tight ball of coarse and knotted sorrow. I feel her. She is so soft. I speak gently to her and kiss her between the ears. She licks my hand. I stroke her back and belly. I hold her ribs while they move and then when they are still. And again and again, my body loses itself to sobbing.

I write the story here - a long rambling paragraph of choppy details. I write it all. Then I crumple it closed. I will not edit it into anything. It is rubble. A broken house I want to flee.

Tonight, I sit writing in a house that feels empty.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Our Appointed Goodbye

You bit her again. You hardly broke skin, but your top teeth hit her eyebrow and your bottom teeth pressed and nearly pierced her cheek. For less than a second, my child's face was in your mouth. I could list all the dogs you have bitten, all the adults too and the other child. I could list all the positions of shame I have taken and all the places I have hidden with your body beneath my hands, my mind and mouth weeping frustration, excuses and worry. 

You've been with us for nearly nine years. I found you in a shelter. Do you remember? You were in a glass room, skinny and scared. You weren't supposed to live with children, but I had no children then and you were so sweet, quietly looking at me and then sadly pressing your body against my knee. How bad, I thought, could you be? You are in your tenth year now. Anxiety fuels you much of the time, but not now, not at night. Here in this house, while I sit writing, you lie near me sleeping. Your body rests on its side, belly nodding to the peace of sleep, to dreams of running without leash through woods and fields and hills, running...running...running. I want to watch your dreams, dear girl. I want to see your black and white stories of four-legged flight. And tonight, while you lie at my feet dreaming, I want your life to end now, on its own. While you sleep at my feet on this floor you know while the stove hums out heat, I want your heart to slow and cease. For I don't want to do it. I don't want tomorrow morning's appointment, but we don't know what else to do. You can't stay here anymore. We can't be sure you aren't going to bite her or any of us again. You've given us so many warnings, and yet, we have kept you. We tried to find a home for you with no children last year, but we couldn't. There is no one else but us. We love you. And I believe you love us as much as a dog can love us, but your mind is littered with fear, fear that will hurt us all again. So yes, my love, it's time, time for goodbye. Time for a quiet fade from life to death. 

My mind is working to quiet my heart, but I can't keep from crying and clutching and wishing that you would just be better and that these past nine years would have just been easier and happier for us and you, but you, you bark at everything now and you've bitten dogs and nearly everyone dearest to you. You are frightened of cats and dogs and squirrels, people, bicycles, and cars. You are scared of big trucks and small cars, doors that open suddenly, joggers, slow old ladies and wild turkeys, foxes, and thunder. We want you, but we can't have you because we can't have all of you. I want you hiking with me in the empty woods. I want you sleeping at my feet. I want your fur in my hands and your muddy body on my passenger seat, but I can no longer justify your teeth on the skin of anyone. So, my darling girl, it's time. Time we said our appointed goodbye. I don't believe I will regret this decision, but I will mourn for it and I will mourn for you for a very long time. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018


I call my daughter of two years and eight months an outcast. My doughy, curly-headed, fiery, funny child...wait, no, she's not really mine, but hers, her own I, her own body swelling with soul. Yes, my body made her body. My blood became her blood. My organs built her organs and the water in me became the water in her. My food, her food. My pulse, her drum. My inhale, her oxygen. Still, she is she, and I am me.

Soon as the word bounces from my belly to my mouth I want to hold her and hide her, cry into her hair and never let her go until she forgives me, her mean mother. Though I can't tell her why I need her forgiveness in the first place for then I'd have to define the label I mark her with.

It feels like a betrayal, broken and sharp with regret. Now I want to label myself with nothing but ugly scratchy tags.

She can be tricky. She's two years old. Just two. little two. The number that follows one. So young, so two. She's a hose on full, spouting sparkles and sparklers, smiles, squeaks, and screams. She's emotional, smart and perfectly boisterous.

We go out for Mexican because that's what we do on Tuesdays and before the chips and the guacamole, before she's peeling apart her quesadilla, she is down on the floor, dancing, waving her arms and smiling at strangers, skipping through the place like a balloon attached by a string to a wave. A little later, at home, she turns a toy cheese grater into a telephone and calls someone named Bobby. We don't know any Bobbies so it must be from a book. Most everything we don't recognize that spills from her mouth is a phrase or name or word from a book. I like that. I like her.

I feel sadness and stress and so I turn on music and we dance. In the middle of the living room rug, she twirls in her own little world, while I dance with my eyes closed, moving every part of me. And then she asks that I pick her up and spin and spin and so we spin and spin and the winter room becomes a blur of yellow ribbons.

We wash up and brush teeth. She sits on the potty and tells a stuffed bear that he too will learn how to use the potty when he gets bigger.

We read picture book stories despite the late hour because I need more happy and I don't like to rush or miss this time. Once the lamp is off and the room is dim, we hold on to one another. I sing and kiss her face until I can't sing anymore because tears are growing and blowing inside my throat and into my mouth like a hard bubble.

I leave before she is sleeping, pressing my lips into her soft cheeks.

My sweet, we are flowers growing from the cracks in the wall, hiding our weirdness or wearing it. Sometimes I say things to be funny. I'm sorry. I'll be better. Labels lack depth and truth. Yes, you are wacky and sweet and sincere. Yes, you're also a little physical around toddlers looking for my affection. But you're intelligent and curious too, hilarious and full of incredible wonder.

You are so many words.Words that roll and crash into other words. Words that combine with other words like the wet ingredients in a recipe. Words that pile like colorful cotton laundry.

This hurts because love hurts and I have so much love for you.

Life isn't always easy for me either. But I'm on your team. I swear I'm always on your team.