Gratitude, sadness, and mom



The Grotto in Portland. Good place for meditation.

Good morning Mom! How’s it going? Have you had a meditation time already? I’m going to do one at 11:00 if you want to do yours at the same time. I’m going to aim for 10 minutes, but 5 would be okay too.



It is the first day. This Tuesday. A Tuesday. The only one that exists, while we wait for it to vanish. But it’s the Tuesday after last Friday, that day of operation and inauguration, when every lung seemed to be holding what breath it could, waiting to see if the unthinkable would continue to happen.


It did. President Trump. Jesus Christ, I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to that. I fear I will. Trauma grown normal. And yes, the inauguration happened, followed by even more assault rifle spray of things to be upset about, from alternative facts to the ongoing competition for most unqualified cabinet pick (I have my “winner”).


But brutal circumstance gave me a different main memory for January 20, 2017, the day my mother had her heart surgery. She went in as scheduled, conscious sedation as discussed, and the surgeon did his thing as practiced thousands of times. It all went according to plan. Until it didn’t.




Bronze copy of Michelangelo’s Pieta in the Grotto, looking out over the Willamette River Valley. So beautiful.

The procedure failed. The problem was beyond their reach. I can’t imagine how it felt for my mother, when she came back to awareness and turned to ask the nurse “Did it work?”



How did it feel, when the nurse answered? “No. I’m sorry.”


I don’t want my mom to live forever. That would be a torture beyond reckoning. I just don’t want her to ever die. But here we are, confronted with the benevolent brutality that life ends. All of it. It’s a good thing in theory, but damn it sucks in practice.


But this is too dire. This personal talk of death. This national talk of dissolution. The future has its problems. Its ominous possibility. But today? Today the human spirit is strong. Love is strong. Stronger than doom. I love my mother. I still love my country. And on Saturday my mom brought smiles to everyone she met. And all across the nation the goodness in this country took to the streets to reject intolerance, to embrace support, to deny the divisiveness of a small-souled man who wants us to forget how much we love.


Unity in concern and compassion for each other. So beautiful! (NBC’s photo)

My mom is wonderfully alive. Recovered from her surgery, she has many positive memories still to make. Some small changes can enhance that, and I’m not going to expect her to do them alone. Change doesn’t happen in isolation. Neither does democracy. So I’m going to join every day with a spirit of “What can I do today to foster the health and healing I want to see?”


It won’t solve every problem. No magician here, to polish the future to a paradise shine. But sure beats dwelling in gloom. Health, national or personal, doesn’t happen in an instant or in isolation. And in that interdependency, we are stronger.