Burrow Tales


undiluted: not reduced in strength or concentration or quality or purity

Days before a man I loved passed from this life he blessed me with a label that spoke straight to my soul.  Weighing his words with his graveled accent he said definitively,  “You’re undiluted.”  It was a curious statement.  For a moment I considered the possible translations the word had undergone from his native Italian to the Queen’s English.  The word itself stubbornly refused to be transmuted into any other adjective.

And so I sat there allowing it to set up camp inside my head.  I pondered which element he must believe I represented in such rarefied concentration.  I reveled in his unqualified flattery.  For his part he spoke no more on it, allowing me my moment as he often did.  Moments such as this one would prove precious, for they would be all we would ever have between us.  We would have a life time from October through to November and no more.  This man, my anachronistic Knight Templar, would slip from me silently the following Thursday.  He would die alone in a crowd of strangers.  The flesh would indeed fail and the frenetic beatings of his heart would undo us both in dramatic fashion.  I was not there, though I can imagine.

I would like to tell you that I felt him go, that some intangible part of him was able to form our goodbyes.  I did not.  What I felt was his struggle, his fight to stay.  I closed my eyes and felt his arms around me Thursday evening and they have never let go.  I am left with the burden of unpacking our experience, examining the contents left behind and finding their proper place in my life.  I sit here and breathe the life that never quite was so I can exhale and live again.

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When you spend the weekend with the mountain as your temple, “plugged in” solely to the stars, the gods, and the handful or so of vibrant souls sharing your surroundings your re-entry into the day to day can be abrasive.  Monday morning arrived as a clean slate for me, devoid of any familiar patterns.   My eyes opened to the warm sun on the back of my neck through my bedroom window, already too high in the sky for it to be my normal waking hour.  The house was empty and quiet. No children to dress or send to school.  No clocks professing loudly the omnipresence of time.  In fact, as I stumbled into the kitchen to brew a cup of coffee I noticed that not a single appliance would turn on.  The power was off.  The Burrow had in fact unplugged itself.

Robbed of even that vestige of routine I ventured out to procure a more indulgent than usual cup of joe (read Starbucks), and take a long drive to no where in particular.  After all, sometimes the best thing to do is to embrace the discord.  I let the CD play through the deeper cuts on the album, the ones I had until that moment skipped past.  I got lost.  Lost high above the city on a very quiet one lane road.  Lost back atop a mountain.  The voice within repeating two words over and over.  Be still.  And finally I was.

Silence.  The palpable energy that can not convey false hoods, excuses, analysis or interpretation.  The space between words that holds only will and meaning.

A vow of silence was my next step along the Path, from that moment until I know it no longer serves me.  To live connected without audible language, so that only kisses leave my lips.  An adventure!

So, friends and loved ones, forgive me if I do not pick up the phone.  Indulge me if our interactions require more face time than usual.  I will return your texts as needed, and your emails if required.  I’m still here, listening. 

As Matriarch of The Burrow I am received with certain deference(s).  For example, when the daughters converge in our dressing room the Boomer gets first chair at the vanity table, then Gen X and Gen Next daughters.  Like position “chairs” of an orchestra, under conduction of legacy, we move in order despite protests of “But I’m almost finished!” or “I have an order to what I need to do and you  just ruined it!”  Their concert of rolling chairs yields to my entry.

I get the green chair closest to the hairdryer, the curling iron, the flat iron, and the clock named Moshi.  Flashing colors and replying “Good Morning” to my greeting, Moshi reminds us that we are all once again, late.  We step up the tempo, exchanging shoes and jeans and last minute approvals of what is presentable to the outside world.

One last peer into the mirrors we stand, three generations staring back at us before we move in and out of various exits.  Like meercats we bob in and out of the burrow: retrieving the forgotten phone, bluetooth or homework page, before the dust settles and the dogs can no longer hear our cars down the road.

Today I did not eat.  I afforded myself my ritual morning coffee because it is doctrine and because I had only slept a few sparse hours.  Tender Warrior spent the wee morning hours battling dream time rock golems, and I spent them soothing his battle scars.  I brewed the fresh Starbucks grounds into my favorite large blue mug, mixed in the heavy whipping cream, sugar free DaVinci syrup and topped it with more whipped cream.  It’s less beverage and more indulgent art.  I tumbled into the couch and tilted the contents of the mug to my lips.  As the sleepless haze lifted I remembered. Today I had committed myself to a fast.

I had been moved to such lengths in church Sunday morning as I heard our minister describing the moral implications of the congressional budget.  He touched briefly on the cuts that would leave women and children without food stamps.  He pledged his own fast in solidarity with those families and the religious leaders who shared his, our, vision of fair and responsible governance.  He called from the pulpit and my conscience answered.  But let’s leave the politics here.  The insight I gained from this small act of protest was far more personal.

By mid-day the gnawing in my belly had begun to garner my attention.  It was more antagonizing than agony, but my inability to ease it shifted my thoughts inward.  It occurred to me then as it does now.  The challenges in my life are the challenges of abundance.

I am loved and thus committed to those around me.

I am talented and thus needed.

I am intelligent and thus indulge my interests.

My home is warm and spacious and thus requires upkeep.

I am healthy and thus capable of lending my strength.

My stomach groaned reminding me that but for grace it could be otherwise.  Today I did not eat, yet I was nourished all the same.

It’s late morning and I lay there, sprawled upon my bed, irritated by the constricting heavy mucous that has taken residence in my chest.  I can hear Herding Stars and The SunGod on the back patio. It’s the barking hour.  A particularly joyous time of day, if you happen to be a dog.

So much for coveting an extra hour or so of sleep.  No matter.  Today I woke up tallying my shortcomings not my successes anyhow.  It’s not a particularly productive past time, but it suits my mood.  This monstrous cold is sweeping me under like a rip current and the whole week feels like a lateral swim against the tide.

My inner critic rails against me.  Is it even possible to fill all the roles I have pronounced upon myself?  Devoted Mother. Dutiful Daughter. Responsive Partner. Competitive Student. Dependable Therapist.  Compassionate Volunteer.  Socially Responsible Woman of Faith. … Dog Mistress….

I close my eyes and argue with this vicious inner cynic for a while. It’s exhausting and I once again seek sleep as a refuge.  Just before I finally drift off I hear Tender Warrior playing outside and I smile.  Perhaps it is possible to be the shoreline, not the swimmer, and let each role shape me instead.