Saturday, July 14, 2012

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

West Neck Beach yesterday, where I submerged & felt carefree

So far, I've lived a fairly tragedy-free life.

Sometimes, I'm terrified this means


any day now, 
Maira Kalman shoe drawing. Oh, how I love Maira!

the other shoe

will drop.

Why would I get to go unscathed?

That's not to say my life is easy.

We each have our trials and tribulations.

I constantly face the small battles we all face:

tight finances,
marital woes,
injustices done to our children.
Our parents' aging,

my own slow demise.

But here's this boy, Lane, and his scans keep coming back "hot."

His whole life is one big, nearly- insurmountable battle.**

I have friends who have lost parents young,

or lost spouses at their peak of life.

I have friends who have battled cancer.

Friends who lost jobs, lost their homes.

Why would I get to go unscathed?

Or maybe that's the cruel trick of things. That even when we're unscathed, we wait for that other shoe... we know it's only a matter of time.

So, we make bargains with invisible powers,

and remind gods we don't believe in

that we know how truly blessed we are.

**I am swimming in Lane's honor on August 11th.

If you are able to donate . . . any amount NO MATTER HOW SMALL is appreciated.

Here's the link:

Meanwhile, sharing this magnificent poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, from my friend Stephanie's moving blog, Live-Blogging Love and Loss,

and truly am counting my blessings.

- gae

Before You Know What Kindness Really Is

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness. . . .
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.


  1. Very nice. I'll come back to this. Naomi. . .ahhh. ...Naomi. I have this lovely picture of Naomi and me together. Of course, I tower over her, but her words tend to cover me.

  2. I love you, Paul. Naomi doesn't know what she's missing.

  3. Don't let waiting for the "shoe to drop " rob you of the joy and peace you're experiencing right now. ^_^

  4. Thanks, Angelina. I do my best. Most days successfully. We all have our angst............. ;)



  5. While I am mindful that I have navigated some of life's trials, when I consider Lane's story I am all too aware that nothing really bad has ever happened to me. Contemplating Lane's lot and that of his parents, I literally feel a quiet terror settle upon for I know a visit from such tragedy would find me utterly unprepared to cope. Beautiful poem...moved me beyond measure. Holding a good thought for Lane...

  6. beautiful Gae. Don't wait for the other shoe, just wear the crap out of the ones you're wearing. I think you're doing a good job of that though. :)

  7. I think acknowledging it, being grateful for it, is so important. My own life has been sort of a middle. I've lost a LOT of people, but many of them old, when it was time--see I am the oldest of an oldest and knew five great grandparents and all my grandparents... Harder to lose are parents and aunts--death in youth is painful. But even when I lost my dad at 10, I'd had a little practice. Now when so many are gone I feel I'm able to be philosophical about death--to help others cope with it. I've also faced the crazy-train--not me, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding--and have some skills now to help and cope. They may not be lessons I wanted, but they may very well be lessons I need some day when it is REALLY critical. Or that's how I see it.

    That poem is gorgeous.

  8. I loved the post, the poem, and the picture. A little reflection is always a wonderful thing. Being grateful for what we have is also a wonderful thing. You've got such a way with words!

    I know that I usually don't end up on this part of the blog, but after reading what you wrote, I couldn't resist. I confess that it made me a little teary-eyed (sometimes I get way too emotional).

    Enjoy the rest of the weekend! I will now go back to the other side!;)

  9. Thanks all for reading, getting, sharing...

    Andy, nice to see you here, on this side. You are welcome on both.

    Had a nice swim, but there was so much seaweed, tangling my feet and arms. Felt symbolic. I am just angsty today. :)

  10. This is a beautiful piece about a difficult and challenging truth of life. Love you!!