Magic Genies

Andrea lost her mother to cancer nearly two years to the date after I lost mine. From a thousand miles away, I coached her through each step, how to prepare, what to do after, how to not go completely crazy, and ways to act stoic in front of her 3 year old niece.

(The greatest mask is lying to a child about everything being alright, when it’s not, and likely won’t be in the same way again.)

When it finally happened, so did the motions like tics in a clockwork. Disbelief, anger, peace, more anger, anger mixed with peace, sadness mixed with relief, alcohol, more disbelief, rise, fall, rally, succumb, new uncomfortable normalcy.

Death, like always having a rock in your shoe.

Greif, like some parasite nibbling at your heart, always.

I watched from afar a good friend live a life  I knew all too well, that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. I held her hand in the best way I could given the miles.

A year after, we still talk about it in regular conversation. She’s the only one I can speak casually about death with I feel some odd gratitude because of that, like I can bring it up immediately following a fart joke without being a downer.  Today, she brought up something her now four year old niece said and it struck me.

Em asked where nana was, and her brother held up the urn at his dad’s house, and told her that Nana was in there, to which Em promptly asked,

“So Nana is a magic genie?”

I don’t do the whole god thing. I don’t believe in heaven or hell, or some guy in the sky watching over us. I’d like to think there’s celestial omnipresence, and in my lowest moment I find myself praying for it’s mercy, as hypocritical as that may seem. Because of this, I’m not sure of what to say to anyone who’s not an adult when asked what happened to my mother.

So when Andrea told me what her niece said, I was struck for a moment. I never thought of my mother that way.

Rub the lamp, and you will get three wishes, as long as all those wishes are to see that person again.

And you will, though maybe not in the literal sense.

I see my mother in all places, from my facial expressions to the style of people I walking down the street. I hear her in songs on the radio and smell her in the thick musk of cigarettes. She is olive green, and esoteric scrips. She’s taking lotion, and coarse hair that curls just behind the ears.

And every time I wish for her to be there, in a weird round about way, she always is.

So your nana is there Em, just close your eyes and wish really hard three times. You will see her. You’ll be the first place she’ll go.



Jane is sitting across from me at my local watering hole fiddling with the bands of white gold on her third finger. She was alone in her breath before continuing,

“I mean he made a promise going into our marriage-that we would have kids. He went into this saying he wanted kids. Had I known there was a chance he could have felt differently, I wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t be here.”

“I promise to love and honor you, in sickness and in health, death do we part.”

“I promise to pay this medial bill should insurance decline my claim. ”

“I promise I will be there whenever you need me. ”


“I apologize. I promise I will never do that again.”

“I promise,” like two words are something sturdy enough to build a city on, when in reality they are life jackets in an open ocean. We say,  “I promise” half hoping we will still feel the same way when the promise is needed but we secretly hope it never is. Even when we are convinced completely we will hold up our end of the bargain, there is still a chance we won’t. We are transient, fickle, flawed creatures. We are opportunists even at our best. Even when we’re honest, we are likely at least 5% bluffing.

I’m not saying people shouldn’t get married, or sign contracts, or promise their kids ice cream for dessert etc. I’m not saying people shouldn’t tell the truth. I’m saying everything is flawed, and nothing is ever completely owed to us, no matter how firm the word may seem. As scary as that is, maybe it can also be a relief?

If nothing is really promised, than even the bad ones can me broken. If all promises can be broken, and things come back around, luck will inevitably be back on your side-no matter how transient.

And then you will loose, and then you will win, and then you will begin again.

Sea Glass

Jerry and I stood near the edge of one of the cliffs on Peddock’s Island and emptied the backwash in our beer bottles onto the earth below our feet. The sun lay low creating ribbons of lavender and coral in the otherwise darkening sky. He looked at me, thoughts fixed on our mission.

“Ready to make sea glass?” He asked.

I nodded, and threw my bottle, watching it fall to the rocks below and shatter on impact. Jerry’s bottle shortly followed, and we stood there for a second watching the ocean take the debris away.

We knew it was basically littering, and that our poetic nonsense had some type of fall out, but we liked the idea of it. We liked how some day, maybe when we’re dead and gone, some kid will find a piece of our glass washed ashore, it’s once perforated edges now soft the touch. While they might not wonder where or who it came from, they might want to make something of it, just like how Jerry and I did as kids and well into our early adulthood. We wanted to share the wonder of found objects someone who we would never meet, and in a way, be tied to some sweet obscure anonymous history.

It was a tradition for Jerry and I to make sea glass. I’m willing to bet that in the 4 years we were together, we made enough of it to fill an entire town with Mother’s Day presents.

I can only speak for myself now. He’s long gone and I live a thousand miles away. But what consistently draws me to sea glass apart from its odd beauty is how time gently creates it, without permission the way it wants to. I can’t help but see this as a euphemism for something else, something greater, as loose of a connection as that may be. If you apply the concept to a bigger picture, it becomes something all in its own.

For example, life throws you over a cliff. It shatters you and scatters you, making you feel disattached from yourself. But it has a rhythm and a purpose. In the same way the ocean brings the sand in and pushes it back onto itself, you get brought in and pushed back onto your self. You are to the world, as glass is to the ocean. If you let the universe do it’s thing with you, it returns you to the cosmos soft and beautiful.