“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


reverb 11: sunday lunch. or as we say here in texas, dinner.

empty chair.
empty wall except for where my painting once hung.
empty house full heart
empty christmas empty tables new paint 
same shadows same birds same sky same trees
last winter, spring, drought of summer.
this winter's leaves tell the time.

if you could have lunch with anybody, who would it be?
and what would you like to discuss?


her, of course.
did i do things right?, i would ask, knowing how much i did wrong,
am i forgiven for running when i walked in to find that first surprise of life support?
the hospital told us nothing, nothing,
and i'm sorry, i would tell her,
but my heart fell to my knees
and i shook and they told us nothing,
and i'm sorry, i'm sorry, so sorry.
your eyes were full of fear and drugs
and my heart was tired and broken
and they told us nothing.
i would want to say that to her,
hold her hands in mine and make her understand.
they told us nothing though on the official paperwork they said they called.
they didn't, they didn't, they lied, they lied,
and i'm sorry.

we would have sweet tea and roast beef with carrots and potatoes and she would cook and i would eat too much bread and she would say i am just like my grandfather, and she would laugh, and there would be dessert, there was always dessert, never a cake or pie not in the house.  we would sit in her kitchen like we always did, and skye cat would wander about and jump on the counter and my mother would shoosh her off, and give her tidbits of roast on the floor.

is it okay about skye? i would ask,
i am sorry, so sorry,
but your house holds memories and i couldn't move in.
i broke my promise, but i tried, i tried,
and skye was there every day waiting for me after work,
and it was every day, every day for 2 months,
i was in 3 places, my home, work, your home,
a cat at work and your cat there
and there were lawyers and brothers
and endless phone calls and bills and tears
and exhaustion,
and so i just took her home,
i just took her home.
against my promise, against your wishes,
and is it okay?
she's fine, she's happy, she has no fences to keep her in
and a smile on her face,
and i am so sorry.


one more afternoon in her kitchen.
how precious that would be.
one long last hug.
a goodbye with questions answered.
and dessert.  



  1. oh my, this just totally made me cry.

    she would forgive you. she would hold your hand and say "it's okay, it's fine. really."

    and knows how much you loved her.
    she just does.


  2. tears. this is unbelievably beautiful. <3

  3. So beautiful, heart-rending. Of course she would be fine about Skye. The heart opens when the form dissipates. She understands now fully about home. And she will want Skye where ever the love is, because that is where the home is.

    You know, it would be the same with me, if I could have dinner with anyone, it would be my Dad. And I would ask the same question - can you forgive me? One afternoon in his kitchen, which I never got to visit, while he made curried chicken, which I can no longer eat but I would for him, for the sake of memory.

    Thanks for such a lovely post.

  4. beautiful, sad, true, open, raw, honest. Just like the beautiful Deb that you are. I adore you and this. and now. and hugs and dessert. xoxoxo

  5. The craft in your writing keeps this from being "precious" or "morbid". There's a life to the words, that brings the loss to the fore, in other words, I felt this. Your pain, loss, confusion...it was all there.

    And yes, she would understand.

  6. i am so happy to finally read this stunning, marrow-deep memoir.

    'one more afternoon in her kitchen.' i believe when you meet her again, it will be there.


  7. so precious, this. so tender, aching in a good, honest, healthy way. yes, she would squeeze your hand and say "it's all right." yes, yes she would.

  8. I have to agree with Mark completely...
    What beautiful, honest, emotion...yes...she would/does forgive you.

  9. She's there, inside your heart, reassuring you that it's alright.

  10. this is so beautiful. such honest words. she would hug you tight and say, "i know, i know, it's alright love."

  11. my word i feel the sorrow the doubt the nagging questions you are asking yourself. I had the same feelings when my dad left, selling the house he built with his own hands for my mum. The house he lived in all his adult life, the house I was born in. I sold it, the furniture, his boat, everything but his car. I kept his car, i sat where he sat, i had my hands on the steering wheel he held. I drove where he drove over and over. I know it's okay all these years later, he would have been okay with my decisions, he taught me how to make them. He trusted my judgement, he loved me. So does your mum. hugs for you.

  12. she's your mom...she always understands! No sorrys needed. love lasts longer then a lifetime.

  13. Yes. She knows, understands, forgives & rejoices that Skye is with you and free.
    From what I feel from those who are Doing The Next Thing, and are still always just next to and behind me, the things we hurt about here don't hurt there at all. They see. They know. They love with such a huge, embracing love. That's how she is, too.
    And the dinner would be so very fine.

  14. beautiful, powerful, tear filled. sorry.

  15. Oh yes one more time in the kitchen. You did good girl, yes you are still doing good she would say. She just wants you and skye to be happy.

  16. me too .. me too..how i miss mine .. still. xo

  17. Wow. Your heart just spilled out and I want to give you a big hug. I'm sure your mom would be okay with everything, Debi. She loved you. I hope this doesn't rest heavy on your heart every day. How you grieved, the decisions that you made concerning her estate, all of it is entirely understandable, entirely okay. I'm sure she'd be pleased as could be knowing that her cat is curled up on your sofa every day.

    Like you, though, I would want to have lunch with my dad again. I'd tell him what he meant to me.

    And if I couldn't have him or anyone else who has passed on, and had to choose a stranger, it would be Michael Ondaatje because he's my most favourite writer.

  18. I think she trusts that you know what's best...for you, for Skye...everything is and will be okay.
    She knows your heart, Debi.


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