Quote for … life?

Leaves bear the seasons as we bear life. Yet they remain true to themselves, even sharing beauty as they pass into forever, imprinting their colors into our hearts and souls.

Let not foul words or deeds, especially words not meant to harm, alter your colors.

For when we blame something or someone for our lot in life, we make excuses. It’s how we react to outside forces that define us, not outside forces.

 

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Clarity

I visited you today.

Wind moaned through the oaks while leaves blew through the markers. Clouds scuttled in the sky like oversized gray-toned crabs. The grass the men planted didn’t cover the red earth and I knelt to pick up a quartz stone at the foot of your plot.

No stone for you. Soon, I’m sure.

We grew up in the 60’s. Hide and seek and homemade ice cream. What a combination as families gathered to sit on the cinder-block wall that brought together my house and your grandparents’ house. We licked spoons. Vanilla. Banana. Strawberry. Chocolate. Laughed. Listened to stories with nostalgia’s comforting ring. Then we’d run away. Find somewhere to wait while the next kid searched.

Your life was like that. You couldn’t find yourself through the black curtain of addiction.

Sorry. I left out what came before that, which is more of what made us friends.

Hide and seek gave way to placing pennies on the railroad track to be picked up and admired after being squashed flat and shiny. The hikes through the woods led to fishing at the lake that led to bicycles downtown that led to dirt bikes on narrow paths.

Didn’t you break your collarbone that one time?

I do recall my bicycle spill at your house. Who’d have thought two boards placed on a red wagon on its side would spread when the front wheel hit them at speed? Or that a bike and a boy could flip so many times before landing? Or, for the most part, that dirt tastes like dirt? How nothing—except the bike—got broken I’ll never know. You took me in so your mom could check me out. If I didn’t thank you then …

We talked about all that. We tried to stay strong. Did you see?

As we neared our late teenage years I regret how we grew apart, though I doubt it would have made a difference. You were searching. I wish you had found it somewhere else.

I stopped by your parents’ house the day before. Thought if I were going to cry I’d do it then and get it out. I couldn’t because your dear sister held onto me for maybe five minutes. Said they had been talking about our boyhood escapades. She loved you. Loves you. We all do/did. Wanted so much more for you.

I think it likely she left the miniature cross at your site.

The next day they asked me to walk in with them. Said I was family. To simply say I was touched beyond compare does not compare.

I sat with them on the front row. Listened to the minister. The sadness hung over it all.

Regret.

Again, wishes for more than fifty-four years of life for you.

Once more I’m getting ahead of myself.

In line I waited. For my turn to say words that couldn’t convey the weight of grief upon hearts. That weight fell fully when I hugged your dad.

Later, outside, we stood around your casket. It was cold. The coats were many. The smiles of remembrance.

———————

The quartz rock sits on a book where I can see it. It’s stained red. So many wanted your life clean and perfect. Life’s not like that, is it? You came and you lived and you did the best you could. You got to see your grandson. I think I got enough of a look at him to see that your red hair crowns him. Your daughter looks like you. I’d never met her.

When I see your family we hug. When that happens I’m hurt and comforted. The grief clings, the want for more, the want for your happiness.

I like to think that’s the case now. How do Heavenly drums sound? Are the sticks pure gold or ethereal wonders of rhythm? Do you get to play with your rock idols who went before you? It’s a cool consideration, anyway.

The quartz is ice warm in my hand. Within its many imperfections is fleeting clarity. Glassy and glowing when held to lamplight.

Possibly, that’s how we all are. We wished clarity for you but addiction clouded it over. Clouds. Wind. Sun and rain. We fare the best we can. We love, create, tear asunder. Do it all over again and hope.

See you soon.

I Certainly Hope So.

We must live within them from time to time. Clouded mist and gray skies. But then emerges blue-sky dreams filled with hope. Hope tugs our hearts and souls on ghost threads tangible as steel and delicate as ether. Strong as any weapon while fragile as love’s fading kiss. How strong are your hopes? And how weak? And do you hope at all? I certainly hope so.

And so should you.

Warm, Wet, Sand. A short story.

The sea oats brushed against her bare shoulder, tanned, lithe, and she stepped out onto the beach, the sand hot against the soles of her feet. She dropped her sandals and slid them on and looked at him.

“You’re going to need your shoes soon.”

He walked faster. “I’ll be okay.”

“I warned you.”

The sun was a singular point of magnified warmth in the sky. Waves of heat rose from the long stretches of sand on either side of them as they hurried to the water.

He stopped and sat on the cooler, holding his feet above the sand.

“I told you you’d need your shoes.”

He stared up at her. Her sunglasses reflected his expression and her floppy hat shaded her face. “What can I say,” he said. “You were right.”

“Aren’t I always?”

“No one is always right.”

“But I’ve got a good record, you’d agree.”

He got up from the cooler, ready to make a run for it. “Yes. I’ll admit that. Let’s go.”

He took about five more steps, stopped again and got on the cooler and fanned his feet, their soles almost as red as the steamed crab they ate last night.

“Geez,” he said. “I should have worn my shoes.”

She smiled down at him from under the hat. “Where have I heard that before?”

He glanced up, a half-smile at the corners of his mouth. “You know how much I love you, don’t you?”

She shook her head. “Yes, but I’m not giving up my sandals.”

“You won’t even consider it? Not for just a few steps until I can get my feet in the water?”

“You like my feet,” she said. “Do you want to see them looking like yours?”

He thought for a moment. “You’re right. When we go to dinner later, I’d like to see you wearing those sexy high heels you bought this morning without your feet looking like they had been microwaved.”

“I thought you’d see it my way.”

He got up and started off again, faster this time, his multicolored swim shorts swishing about his legs, but he soon stopped and jumped back onto the cooler. He considered putting his feet inside but didn’t care to dirty their ice.

“You could wrap your feet in the towels,” she said.

“I don’t want to get them dirty. We’re going to lie on them in a few minutes.”

“Okay. It was just a suggestion, Mr. lobster feet.”

He glanced up at her and smiled.

She felt sorry for him, but she wasn’t about to give up her shoes.

A few moments later, they were off again, running toward the waves, each with a hand on a cooler handle and each hopping on one sandal a piece.

Isn’t love grand, whether standing, sitting, or running together toward the warm, wet sand?