Your Form It Lingers

It’s a big fat cheat to use another creative’s words. But when they are better than your own, when they say all the things you are too afraid to say at the moment, you let them carry you. Thank you, Joan Shelley and Carter Sickels — Carter, without you I would never have found this song.


A spring remembered, the taste of gin

An island light upon our skin

Your form it lingers, I trace just where you’ve been

The songs we sang I’ll sing again

When it breaks down

Oh, babe, let’s try

To see the beauty in all the fading

I saw the river thick with mud

Break through the banks and run

And I confess I liked it, I cheered the flood

When the waters hit the walls and won

When it breaks down

Oh, babe, let’s try

To see the beauty in all the fading

The roads are endless, they seem to grow

Vines that wind around the world

And though I hate it to leave my home

I love that car when I need to go

When it breaks down

Oh, babe, let’s try

To see the beauty in all the fading

And old Kentucky stays in my mind

It’s sweet to be five years behind

That’s where I’ll be when the seas rise

Holding my dear friends and drinking wine

When it breaks down

Oh, babe, let’s try

To see the beauty in all the fading

When it breaks down

When the stakes get high

To see the beauty in all the fading

Joan Shelley, The Fading

I’ll Write Again

Dear Mom and Dad —

I miss you, and I don’t. But mostly I do.

Some days I miss you both at the same, and some days I only miss one of you and not so much the other.

I suppose in those ways it’s not so different from when you were alive. There are days of deep connection and need, and days of pleasant distance. As has always been true.

I realized today that for the first time one of your grandchildren is going to college, it’s official. And you won’t know it. But I have to believe you know it. You were both such champions of education, public and private and all the in-between, I have to believe you left this life in confidence that those of us left behind would keep moving that needle in a wide variety of ways.

Mom, I’m spraying this gorgeous new perfume by St. Clair in Vermont. I use it in front of your bridal portrait, which is on my dresser. You would love it.

Dad, I’ve been thinking a lot about the things you left behind that you held onto for decades. Things like your honorary pins from junior high school and high school and college.

Things like that notepad I found when we cleaned out Grandmother’s house. “Things to do today — get out of town before it’s too late.”

It’s getting easier to write again.

I can talk to you now without a reaction, or a game plan, or a response. I can say things to you — I realize it’s not quite fair, I’m not talking to you — things that I need to express, things that were never things I could just tell you. I’m thinking a lot about how as a parent I’m sure it’s a forever challenge to not respond, to just listen and receive and sit with things, because we are supposed to give advice. We are supposed to help and guide and be part of who they are. Or so we are told.

But as my own child grows up, I don’t know. I just don’t know.

I think it’s okay to be quiet.

I think it’s important to be quiet.

I think it’s good to stand in the shadows, and occasionally clear my throat. But to stay right in the shadow of who she is becoming.

I’m sorry it was so hard at the end. I suppose like every other person who has ever lived, I wanted a way to make the bad things go away. I couldn’t do that. But I wanted to.

Anyway, I love you both. And now, yeah…..I’m missing you both. Insert tearful cursing.

I’ll write again.

For all of us.