Years ago I was traveling through Italy, making my way to Palermo, where my newly discovered cousin, Ciro, and his family awaited. I was thirty at the time and within days my life would change.
I arrived in Sicily, by ferry, on October 31st, All Hallows’ Eve, and was greeted with openness and joy by a family I barely knew. Nearing midnight, of that very same day, I was leaving Sicily. By the end of the next day, All Saints Day, my Mother was dead. Six months later, my Father was dead. Orphaned at thirty.
That was twenty-six years ago. Nearly half my life. I’ve lived a whole other lifetime without them. Three unsuccessful marriages, a daughter, heartache and joy, all spent without their knowledge and love.
It’s autumn and nature vividly reminds us of the cycle of life. The thing is, it’s not about death this time of year. Sure, the flowers die and the trees let go, but there is still life. It’s muted and quieter. We go on knowing that a renewal will come. It’s temporary. This knowledge gives us courage, and, if we are aware, an appreciation of the beauty. The world goes off to slumber with a spectacular display. A deep exhalation allowing us to slow our breathing. To find our center.
I always grieve a little this time of year. For my parents. For the paths not taken. But then I breathe. I revel in the color and light. Stella was born in autumn. She is that spectacular display. That promise that life doesn’t end.
So. Mom. Dad. I carry you in my heart. I miss you both.
“Sometimes I get up early and even my soul is wet.” Pablo Neruda
My muse calls on me at this appointed hour each morning. . Caught between sleep and awake. She holds me here suspended in time, waiting.
“What will it be today”
Thoughts turn to a friendship that has grown over many years. One in which I have revealed pieces of my soul to him, and he has gently carried them with grace and honor. We spoke last night with ease and trust. It was like breathing.
“What else do you have for me?”
My family. Bonds, not only of blood, but of love, forged in the crucible of life. There is no rivalry or judgement. In joy or despair, food is on the table, laughter is present, and hearts are open. It is like breathing.
“I know there is more.”
The women. In this I have sometimes walked with purpose and have sometimes stumbled. After all these travels, I find myself on the shores of something new. I am a man in a mans world, and will never know the fears, the frustrations, the anger, the shear weight that women carry living in a world that holds them down. I have been complicit on some level, of this I am sure, by the mere fact of being a male. This I cannot change. But I can open my eyes, my ears, my heart. Listen to them breathe.
Sexuality. Honoring it. Facing the shame and guilt I have felt. Being with it. Celebrating passion. It is breathing!
Stella. Her presence. Her love. My love. In every inhalation. In every exhalation. She is in every breath.
Myself. In the solitude of my room, awake now, I am breathing.