Mourning Haiku

So on Monday, a friend let me know she was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in the lungs and is foregoing treatment. She is older, and I can understand her decision.

My husband’s grandmother made the same decision when she was diagnosed over a decade ago with breast cancer at 82. She lived for a few more good years, without going through the sometimes painful and stressful treatment.

My mother, who died a couple of years ago, was only 62 when she received her diagnosis and nearly died–and her decision to undergo treatment was made by my brother (for the record, I would have made the same decision in that instant). We had six more years to spend with her, but the treatment was almost a year long and brutal for her. Her last three years was very hard as the initial treatment to save her life was radiation on the brain, and eventually caused early dementia.

I am eternally grateful for those extra years, though.

This news from my writing friend threw me. It is hard losing folx you love. I’ve lost more people to cancers, friends and family alike, than I ever thought I would when I was younger. I’ve lost a younger friend who battled breast cancer three times (I found out from the newspaper); three women from my church (two more who survived–so far).

My grandfather said once that it was hard to read the obituary columns when you recognize the names you see more than you don’t. I now know what he meant, the feeling he felt.

I don’t read obituaries. Not anymore.

And as I’ve discussed before, I write when I mourn.

This is a little different, as I’m mourning before she’s gone. Which may be easier–I know I have things I should say, and though she does not want visitors (talking causes coughing which causes pain), I have written some emails to her, expressing my joy at meeting her, reading her writing, and eating her wonderful Japanese cooking.

I’ve also let her know that I will deeply miss her and that my heart is already aching for her.

So, here is her poem:

For Midori

My aching heart hears
one last gasped breath of friendship
and you will be gone.

Sayonara

Blasts from the Past

Or maybe I should say, a poem (or three) from the past.

I was going through some boxes long packed away in the attic, trying to figure out what could go and what I wanted to stay, when I found some old journals from when I was a just-graduated high-school teen. I wrote (or tried to write) poetry back in those days, and even got a bit of recognition for them.

It was…emotional…reading some of these. They made me remember the awkward, angsty teen that I was. She was nice enough, but sometimes very depressed.

I even found a journal from when I was in my early twenties, newly married, then I lost my grandmother and had a baby. [Whew!] I’ll share some of these poems on a different day–the feel of these is very different.

Here you go!

Teardrops (December, 1987)

Drops on the windowpane
teardrops from heaven
falling silent and gentle
or violent with great wracking sobs.

~I added to this poem in February of the following year. I must have been feeling better by then about whatever inspired that first stanza.

Flowers growing in the meadow
–children of the Earth–
sprouting defiant and sure
or hesitant and wary like a child.

~I’d like to say this was an anomaly, these angsty bits of thoughts that might mean something, but this is a lot of what I wrote back then. I know it sounds like a cliche, but I think I wrote a lot of these poems to express the roiling emotions I didn’t know how to deal with. Not sure it worked…but I’m still around, so it must have done something for me.

Untitled (September, 1988)

all alone;
a solitary figure;
dwarfed by life’s problems;
overwhelmed

defeated;
a solitary figure;
bows under the pressure
enveloped by the passing tide

no one sees,
a solitary figure
disappear from the path
gone forever

never remembered;
that solitary figure;
hermited away
in solitude

of a kind–not happy

~Heavy stuff. Reflecting back, I don’t remember anything weighing on me that bad, but life is different as a teen. Everything is big and bold and in your face, especially the bad stuff. It can feel like things will never get better.

And then, there is this cute ditty that follows. I know the inspiration for this: an argument with my English teacher about what a poem meant. I stated that a poem means different things to different people, because the symbolism held in an image is not exactly the same for everyone. I damn-near failed his class, I think. And honestly, think about this: an image of a circle will not mean “eternal love” to the child of a single parent whose best friend’s mother is going through a nasty divorce. The image of a circle does not necessarily bring to mind a wedding ring! And if so, it might be tarnished!

Anyway…enjoy!

Ode to my Poem (September, 1988)

I wrote myself a poem, just the other day.
Funny thing about it, I didn’t know what to say.

So I searched my heart to its very core,
wrote down these words and nothing more.

It is such a sweet little thing; only I understand,
its deep and soulful meaning, written by my hand.

[My journal has this little note to myself in it after: I wrote this and it made me feel so good because it is good!]