As I write this, the sun is still well above the horizon, even though it’s nearly seven pm. This is my favorite part of the year-- when the sun keeps our company 18 hours a day. As the day enters night, even with the sun stubbornly refusing to go to bed, the darkness is creeping up on me quickly. One year ago, tonight, right now, I was sitting with my Dad as he prepared to leave the temporary housing of skin and muscle and tissue. I arrived at their house in Texas in the late afternoon after traveling most of a day. He was waiting for me. 

Now I am the one waiting. I sit beside the water, the place that grounds me while simultaneously elevating me, and I wait for Dad. Last year I made a secret deal with him. I promised him, looking in to his one good eye with his broken brain, that I would show up for him every year. I asked him to meet me. I asked for him to let me know what it was like. Being me, I joked, “Not sure how expensive postage is, but if you can’t make it, maybe send a letter.” He half smiled with the one side of his face that still followed muscle requests. I fidgeted at the time, using humor as a way of deflecting emotions has always been a coping mechanism. It’s what Dad and I have in common.  I know he understood what I was actually saying. Continue...


Letting Dad Go


I wrote this a few days after Dad died. Died? It still seems strange to say he's "dead", in part because I don't feel like he is. It might be some sort of denial, or that I'm still processing his death, or that after watching him transition to his pure self, I will never think of death in the same way. 

Or maybe all the above.  Continue...


Stroke Survivor Part 3: The Day He Quit (& I didn't)


On Thursday, time suspended. The four hours Dad begged to die, to go to heaven, will be known as the worst day of my life. I can't think of anything that tops this. It will also be known as the day I learn about my strength, my purpose, and how much I appreciate the past three years of mindfulness and awareness practice.

Turns out? All those monks, self-help books, and scientific studies are right. Being present, and aware, can literally prevent suffering. Continue...


Stroke Survivor Part 2: I'm stupid and maybe a potato


Right now any call of urgency from my mother can wake me from a dead sleep to ready to run a marathon. This is explains how at 4am she called to me from the other room, "Leslie, I need help," and I went from whatever dream I was having to standing in front of my dad without knowing how I got there.

Dad, who has now several strokes that we know of to date*, was sitting on the bed confused. He didn't want to go to the bathroom like he said originally. Something else was wrong. Mom and I guessed and looked at each other with concern. These days we're on high alert for any changes or loss of awareness. We both thought this could be bad. Continue...


Stroke Survivor Part 1: Time


I grew up listening to the bedtime story of The Three Southern Bears. Have you heard the story? Something about Goldilocks being naughty and runnin' out on her mamma and daddy and endin' up in some bears' house. She ate the grits and it was too hot. She ate the grits and they were too cold. She ate those grits and they were just right.

Mamma bear always said "Whah Ah Spah Someone In Mah Beyed. Yayus." (Yes has two syllables, y'all. Yayus.) Continue...


On Growing Up A Little Bit Catholic


We usually sit in the pew in the back of the church. God doesn’t mind if you sit in the back as long as you show up for the part before communion. If you’re late, sit in the back on the right so as to not upset Father Tom. After communion you can take your wafer, genuflect to the God Box, and walk straight out the door because you got your weekly allocated God Nutrition Wafer.  That’s the bit God cares about the most because God is a strict foodie. No, seriously if you read the bible, a large portion of it is what you should or should not eat. (You have to thumb through the parts about the names of people who are related to other people. That was a wedding guest list. Your name isn’t on there. Mine isn’t either, I checked.)

We always leave just after communion. “It’s just the announcements,” Mom explains. Nothing important, nothing that is going to change what God said or how we’re supposed to live our lives. Plus it means we can beat the crowd out of the parking lot. Continue...


Becoming Unstuck


There’s a great quote about getting unstuck by Pema Chodron. “We don’t hear hear much about how painful it is to go from being completely stuck to becoming unstuck. The process of becoming unstuck requires tremendous bravery, because basically we are completely changing our way of perceiving reality, like changing your DNA."

Or, as Tracy Jordan once said on 30Rock, "Stop eating people's old French fries, pigeon. Have some self respect! Don't you know you can fly?” Continue...