Thrilled to announce a new poetry collection. Published today in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington.
The River sums it up for me. “I wish I had a river I could skate away on.” It happens every year. There are holiday parties I love to go to and others that are painful. I ha…
Source: Cherish The Light
“I wish I had a river I could skate away on.”
It happens every year.
There are holiday parties I love to go to and others that are painful. I have a friend who is brilliant with small talk so I go to parties with her so I don’t have to say much. I marvel at how she can ask thoughtful, personal questions based on what the other person has told her. It just never occurs to me. I can talk about how good the spread is or how much I like the music, but small talk, the kind where you actually learn something about people, that eludes me.
It’s probably why I disliked family holidays so much. I can only remember about three family holiday dinners in my life where I walked away thinking how lovely that was, how wonderful that was. The constant in these three wasn’t the food or the event but the person who invited me. She has a gift for putting the right people in a room with the right food and the right mood and I measure other parties against hers.
Wishing someone a “merry” Christmas is just a greeting, of course, but I like to think it means, “have the kind of Christmas you need this year.” If you are having a terrible time at your job, I wish that you could be able to put the job on a shelf just long enough to have some peace. If you have trouble with your children or your parents, I wish you the ability to appreciate that they are just trying to get through their day too. And if you find yourself alone, and everyone asks you how you will be spending the holidays, I wish you the courage to say, “I will be spending it alone and I look forward to the solitude because it will feed my soul.”
When you spend the day alone, Christmas never really seems like just another day. There’s something in the air, there are fewer people out and about because they are all inside with presents and trees, and the day is suspended somehow and everything waits.
Holidays can be stressful because it’s easy to let others tell you how to spend them. It’s not always the most wonderful time of the year, there’s never peace on earth, and stores don’t care if you can’t handle the debt. People are still homeless and poor, they are hurting and sad. Families can’t get together and when they do, even when there is tremendous love present, personalities collide, hidden agendas reveal themselves.
But then, there’s this light. This particular holiday holds hope and promise in its open hand and the symbol is light. Christmas is a celebration of a better tomorrow. You can acknowledge that regardless of the hopelessness and grief that you feel today, the sun will come out tomorrow, just like Annie wails. There is tremendous vulnerability in evidence here in all the Christmas card pictures of a baby boy whose poor parents were left to fend for themselves in an unforgiving landscape. But it’s still all about hope. Be honest and craft the holiday you need.
I’ve selected my river this year and I will skate away. But I always hold the promise of growth and change, and even peace for tomorrow.
So, have yourself your very own personal kind of Christmas and cherish the light.
The Late Orphan Project is reopening for submissions starting November 2, 2016. Essays, journal entries, poetry, theater – all will be considered as long as the theme supports the Project.
The Project – to encourage writers to discuss the death of your parents. The easy story is to write about what happened. My mother’s long history with depression, my father’s heart ailments – easy to write because they tell a story that happened. This happened, that happened, and then they died. What the Project tries to do is not to discuss the details of the death or what led up to the death but rather what happened next?
How did this loss impact you?
When your mother or father dies, the impact is considerably stronger than other deaths in the family and the impact is frequently unpredictable.
How are you changed? What did you learn? When you picked up your life again, how was it different, or better, or worse? How did you chart your life without your parents?
What the Late Orphan Project was able to do in the first volume of stories was to show that the most personal story displays the most universal truths. The reader understands and feels empathy with the writer and the writers can sometimes find closure or healing or a deeper understanding of the events that followed the deaths.
This is not a sad project even though the stories will likely make you cry. Rather it is a celebration of real life through the telling of these very difficult stories.
Submission deadlines – November 2 to December 2, 2016.
Guidelines – All entries should be approximately 1000-1500 words.Shorter pieces will be considered but longer ones may not. One entry per person please. Stories should be accompanied by the following:
1) A 6-line author bio, written in 3rd person.
2) The name of the mother or father in the story, including birth and death dates and geographic location.
3) The word SUBMISSION in the subject line of the email.
4) All submissions to email@example.com
5) Identify please if your story has been published previously with a note that you have secured permission for The Backpack Press to republish if you story is selected.
If you have questions about submissions or the Project in general, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to everyone who has expressed interest in this project! Our book is available here.
We are now 25 writers, expressing our thoughts, feelings, confusion, realizations, even humor after the death of our mother or father. In many cases, grief was delayed by activity. In some, the role of parent was pushed off on the child. In others, something was learned after cleaning out the family home.
But in each case, the writing exhibits a portrait of a family, a loss, a complicated or troubling relationship, or the lack of one. The stories are human, personal, and ultimately universal by nature.
It is an honest assessment of how the death of a parent impacts the child.
The fact that the child is also an adult is what makes these stories so rich. They are filled with regret, with questions left unanswered, with late admission of the depth of the parent’s love, or the ever-present understanding that this relationship, between parent and child, is one of the most complicated of our lives: sometimes satisfying, often incomplete. The stories cover a broad and varied view of the days – and even years – after a parent’s death.
Prompted by a need to express the impact of the death of the editor’s own father in the fall of 2015, The Late Orphan Project started to take shape as the submissions came in. Poetry, essays, journal entries – each writer facing the days after the services, the burials. Some days are better than others, some events are easier than others, and some anniversaries are impossibly hard. But the idea that the impact of this close loss is felt somehow less by an adult losing an older person is easily refuted.
Welcome to These Winter Months: The Late Orphan Project Anthology, edited by Anne Born, The Backpack Press, (September, 2016).
The writers are:
Amy McVay Abbott
Lourdes A. Gautier
Anne Shrock Ott
Barb Hamp Weicksel
Joan Becht Willette
For more information: email@example.com
You might expect me to be in the Madrid Cathedral on a major feast day like Corpus Christi, but I’m not. I have a particular fondness for this smaller church: Nuestra Señora del Carmen near the Puerta del Sol. It’s a local church. Gets a few tourists, but for the most part, it is a local Madrid parish.
I always start by buying a candle. Tall red candles are dispensed for 2€ from a red machine located in the corridor that runs alongside the left side of the chancel. It looks more like a Coke vending machine than anything else. There are boxes of matches near the display of candles.
The side chapels have little blinking electric lights that stand in for real candles. You drop in a coin and all the lights blink, then settle down with one more lit. I’ve done it, but it’s not satisfying.
Slowly, the parishioners file in, make the rounds of their favorite chapels and take a seat. One man in a leather jacket left a bouquet on one side altar. An older woman reached to stroke the feet of a state in another. And a couple volunteered to do the readings. Each personal gesture, each individual, reverent protocol adds to the experience.
Mass begins and that lone man – the one with the tan topcoat, the pink shirt, the shined shoes, and the pink tie – stands and walks out the door. It’s as if that few moments in this sacred space were all that he needed.
On my way out, I stopped for a few of my own prayers at the chapel of Our Lady of Soledad. She is my favorite image of Mary. Typically she is dressed by the community in a long fabric gown or dark cloak. And she is so very sad. In processions, she will follow the body of Christ.
Today’s entertainment? A full circus troupe of tumbling gymnasts worked in and around the Segway tours, the African street vendors, the gypsies on the side streets with their sprigs of Rosemary, and some political protest with two women handing out fliers.
Everything has a protocol.
I must say, “I’m back in Madrid” is one very happy sentence for me. But this getting back tonight was late, empty, curious.
Allow me to elaborate.
Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid are two big soccer teams – and they played each other tonight. My flight got in late and the airport was empty. Everyone watching the game, I think.
So I hopped the Metro, which was cheaper certainly, and empty, for the most part.
Real Madrid won.