Phantom Pains

phantom heart

There has always been an emptiness
A place where a piece of me seems missing
a longing for understanding
or at least a connection
A chance to know someone missing from my life

Being part of a splintered family
raised by two loving parents
but never getting to know one of those
responsible for your birth
creates a cavern of un-felt feelings

This cave, a place of unconnected love
creates echoes, as emotions bounce
off the hardened parts of my heart
filling the emptiness with phantom feelings
knowing reality and perception are unaligned

And now, as this part of me, my blood
fights, then fails to draw life-giving breath
those sympathy pains of unfulfilled love
become aligned through actual loss
phantom feelings for the mother I barely knew

Young and Old


A baby born, requiring maximum care
learning to roll, learning to eat, laugh and play
softly molded as they grow; building knowledge.
So inspiring to watch the learning stages,
soon declaring their independence even though they still need.

The infant becomes a child who grows toward adolescence
hopefully gaining confidence, building character, becoming adult,
off to school, moving out, building a family of their own.
A new learning curve comes with becoming a parent,
realizing the perceived flaws of our parents were not so bad after all

We watch our children become adults and learn to allow them to grow.
Sometimes this is the hardest part, allowing them to fail and fall,
hoping we taught them, encouraged enough, to let them right themselves.
Instilled the fight in them, to right their wrongs, and be responsible.
Allow them to grow, encourage them to go, and then what?

We realize we are still growing too!
All of a sudden we realize we are old, not able to do all the things we could
feeling the changes every day of muscles, not so elastic,
aches and pains that don’t go away; just ease off a bit,
until one day, we fall and are not able to get up ourselves.

We realize that over time, all our friends are gone
either dead, convalescent in a home, or living with their children,
not able to do things for themselves, reliant on other’s help.
Suddenly our faculties are leaving, memory, vision, hearing…
our independence is gone, our ability to live alone, diminished.

And the big picture becomes clear one day,
being wheeled into the doctor by their child, on the elevator up,
a mom and her baby girl push in with their stroller.
Looking over from the wheelchair; looking over from her stroller
they see the complete picture of the circle of life

So, rejoice in the day you have.
Make the most of life while you can live.
There is no time for regrets, get up when you fall,
learn and grow, and then pass it on.
The circle moves on, even if the mind doesn’t see the motion.

Spiral of Decline

I used to enjoy watching the spiral wishing wells found in malls. You would place a coin in the slot and watch as it raced around, finally falling into the drain at the bottom as it began its trek, a slow, meandering trail, circling the rim. Each pass took it lower down the side as it picked up speed. When it got to the bottom it was almost a blur, it was moving so fast.

Anyone can explain the physics of the decent. As the circumference became smaller, the time it took to pass was reduced. The tighter the circle, the faster the quarter appeared go. The assumption of speed was only that. The speed of the pass had nothing to do with the velocity of the coin. The time  to circle got shorter instead of the coin getting faster.

I haven’t seen one of these in years but the picture recently came to mind. Isn’t this the perfect description of the progression of decline? At first it’s a slow collection of similar occurrences that build into a pattern. The pattern causes other noticeable declines leading to a limiting of risks. Limiting leads to a continuous closing off of options until the circle of our life is reduced, and the speed of our decline is noticed.

The elderly and the addict are perfect examples of this gradual decline. Much happens before the speed picks up and the drain appears. The fun and excitement that hides the addiction leads to a one dimensional life, a smaller group of interests and a smaller group of friends. The choices are on their way to being singular and the decent picks up speed. By the time they notice they are falling they are already caught in the vortex.

The same can be said of the elderly as they realize their decline. Limiting their activities, and the things they give up, make their world smaller. The sameness of every day makes doing anything new seem like a big change. Their smaller world makes the drain at the bottom appear larger and larger. The list of things they can no longer do grows, and their old life more distant, until the thought of getting up to make a meal seems mountainous

At least the elderly have a reason for their decline and hopefully they had a full life. The same can’t be said for the addict who’s vortex is much more associated with toilets. Their choices removed healthy options and they end up flushing their life, giving up everything for their drug of choice, never letting life interfere with their high – using, taking, lying, cheating, circling the drain faster, until they reach the bottom, flushing a life of promise down the drain, always wishing they could just catch a break.

Is it possible to learn ourselves out of this cycle?  Can we slow the descent?Continuing to learn and grow, keeping our life options open and our days full, making the path around the spiral as wide as possible, accepting that we can’t do something, but replacing it with things we can.

Wishing well instead of toilet; accepting our limitations, but living fully, enjoying the day’s journey on our slow path to the next stage of our life.