reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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“went to visit mom.” [k.s. friday]

it’s an octave. though it is not obvious to most and though it is difficult to see, it is an octave. well, slightly more than an octave, actually. d to d and then e and f. f# too. there are still 88 keys, even aged. still 88 keys, even devoid of their black and whiteness. still 88 keys, even in their new patina. still 88 keys, even though some may now be missing. it is still a piano. its soul is intact.

my sweet momma has been gone seven years today. seven.

the other day, in a group text with some dear friends, i read one friend’s response to a question from another about whether she was home. “not home yet,” she wrote. “went to visit mom.” it stopped me in my tracks and i stood still for a moment. those words – “went to visit mom” – were powerful moment-freezers. time suspended just for a few seconds as i pondered what it would be like to be able to write those words – “went to visit mom”.

i know that i was fortunate. my sweet momma was almost-94 when she died. and i was 56, so almost six decades of me sharing the same plane of existence. her life was inspiring and i was lucky to have her cheering for me in every success, in every travail. she was steady and a rock who was always there, whether or not, in different phases of my life, i recognized it. it was true for me that there was no one who was a bigger cheerleader for me – she had pompoms out the moment i was born and never hesitated to use them. and, as is true for most of us, i’m quite certain there were times i took that for granted, took her for granted.

“went to visit mom.” wow. what i would give to have minutes, hours, days with her. to seek her wisdom, watch her enthusiasm, see the glint in her eyes and hear her laugh, coffeesit with her, have a giant bowl of pasta fagioli or a big slab of crumbcake or some silly adventure. to feel enormous unconditional love. to hug her. to be hugged by her.

“neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.” (desiderata)

barney will reside in our backyard for a long time to come. this gorgeous instrument will continue to be worn by weather and the elements. its keys will fall off, the wood laminate will peel. it will still be a piano and each octave will still be an octave.

my sweet momma, i know, is the same. she is still there, as perennial as the grass. i know her love supersedes my loss of her.

maybe sometime today i’ll go out by barney. i’ll take a candle and light it. and i’ll text d, upstairs in the office working, “went to visit mom”.

*****

LEGACY

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

LEGACY from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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edges and kaleidoscopes. [two artists tuesday]

the edges come fast. a blink and they’ve arrived.

i did a photo shoot with my cello. it’s a gorgeous instrument, elegant and full of tear-your-heart-out melodic possibility.

i am sitting at the edge.

i clutch onto it tightly, yearning to yo-yo-ma, yet knowing this edge is somewhat irrefutable. in my heart, my wrist, the tendons of my fingers ache to bow, to press string to fingerboard. the edge pushes back. i know that it is time and that no dream in the night – onstage with soaring, weep-worthy lines – will change that.

my edges – like conglomerate rock, a mixture of wishes and knowings and new – reorganize in the kaleidoscope of life. and, because life is like that, surprises will show up, lit by spotlights and sunlight.

and, once this stunning instrument has moved, as it should, from my studio to the embrace of someone else, i understand that, though my hands will not touch its graceful lines and resonant soul, there will be other learnings, other touches. and always, other edges.

“though i play at the edges of knowing, truly i know our part is not knowing, but looking and touching and loving.” (mary oliver)

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY



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on the front porch. [two artists tuesday]

an older gent, bearded and white-haired, he has lugged a lighweight rocking chair out his front door to sit in the sun and watch the traffic go by. we are across, on the front porch of this sweet house in this hallmark mountain town, doing much the same, chatting with people as they pass by.

each day now we’ve waved at the man-wearing-the-buffalo-plaid-shirt across the street, called over greetings. he holds up his hand in “love ya” sign language; we return the same. sipping coffee in the morning in bag chairs and tipping a glass of wine in the evening at our pop-up-dinner table. the luminaria are lit and i know my mom and dad – in a place where luminaria must always be lit – are close by, watching also.

we walked later at night on christmas, after arriving and unpacking littlebabyscion, after setting up our tiny tree with seed lights and draping a strand of happy lights over a cabinet and lighting the cypress-pine and balsam candles, after snack-time-happy-hour and before making dinner.

the middle of town is close by. in front yards on our walking-way there are posses of snowmen and herds of deer and the trees along the sidewalks of this tiny bustling place are wrapped in lights. we slow and look in every store window. christmas trees and stars and wreaths and snowflakes, santa stuck in a chimney and candy canes and a big town tree in the center at the top of the hill where, if you pause in the middle of the street while crossing, you can see a big range of mountains as you look north.

it was enchanting. no need to walk fast, we strolled the sidewalks and absorbed the spirit. different than any other christmas, it was just us. but this little town and these mountains embraced us and we immersed in it to help holiday wistfulness.

we went back into town in the daytime and wandered the shops. we found texturally-delicious cloth napkins to add to our collection and i imagine next week – or maybe this weekend – we’ll use those and they’ll bring us back here, to this place and to the peace we have felt here.

and the man with big metal sasquatch figures and lots of white christmas lights will likely sit outside in his rocking chair just off his front stoop again today. it will be unseasonable, another beautiful day, the sun over the mountain warm on his face.

we wonder if he’ll miss us.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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like it was. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

i honestly don’t think i can – or need to – add much to this. this is not uncommon.

wistful. melancholy. reminiscent. lonely. overwhelmed by a lack of the busy and social holiday celebrations portrayed nearly everywhere. drowning in comparisons.

life changes and, it appears (yes, yes) we need to change with it. the holidays are a tough reminder.

in the middle of the trail we hiked on thanksgiving we talked about this. we had decided a big pot of pasta sauce would be our thanksgiving meal. comfort food. i, especially, needed that. the day was overcast with snow flurries and a mist gently coming down around a few bends on the path. damp and cold but familiar and reassuring. three deer were startled by our arrival. we watched them as they gracefully bounded away.

we came home and lit all the happy lights in the house. poured a glass of wine and got to the sauce. lit candles, took out thanksgiving napkins, set the table simply. our pumpkin pie was vegan, plant-based, amazing.

yesterday someone ordered 40 “be kind” buttons. it prompted me to suggest that we take a hundred – or a couple hundred – of our buttons and go somewhere and just give them out. sometime in the holiday season. plant a new tradition. start a new ritual. we’ll see.

demographics have spread families out across the globe, work responsibilities make time off a challenge and the pandemic makes travel questionable. we age and lose grandparents and then parents and loved ones. the holidays take on more blue than iridescent tinsel-silver. so many reasons why people find themselves awake in the middle of the night, staring at the ceiling, wishing it was like it used to be. visions of large meals and preparation and trees and grand shopping and piles of presents and family-all-around and parties and fancy dress-up clothes all dance like sugar plums in our heads. things that used-to-be.

finding things to assuage the used-to-be’s might help, might fill in the gaps. gathering with others in like circumstances, empathizing, might be reassuring. having a little visit with dear next-door neighbors later in the night is a bit of fondant on a layer-cake day. planning an adventure or two for coming days brings sweet anticipation.

holding space for the wistful is truth.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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at the lake. [d.r. thursday]

we brought the jelly jar and the tealight with us, anticipating a chance to privately and quietly celebrate his life.

the lake was the place. there were clear fishing bobbers on the shoreline, waiting for us to discover them, to wonder if somehow they were his. there were glowing golden aspens and burning orange underbrush bushes, crows crowing and fishermen cussing the ones that got away. and it was perfect.

we lit the candle and found the right flat rock to place it on. we toasted columbus and sat back and watched the candle dance and burn and flicker.

we were there way longer than we thought we’d be. it was serene; it was a direct line to him. and it was exactly where we needed to be.

we had no place to stay that night and i wished we had our tent, sleeping bags and camping stove. the lake asked us to stay. we asked it for a rain check. another day, we promised.

we will come prepared to stay, to watch the sun set and a new day rise. and he’ll be there, cheering us on.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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in avant. in après. [merely-a-thought monday]

avant: before.

there is before and there is after. it is with anticipation, maybe thrilled butterflies, maybe jitters, maybe weak knees, maybe even dread we live in before. it is sometimes with relief, sometimes with regret, sometimes with suffering, sometimes with satisfaction, sometimes with contentment we live in after. there is a journey between them – before and after.

there was nothing i could really say to prepare david for the loss of his father. and having lost both my sweet momma and poppo, i had a lot of words to describe it. but there is really nothing you can do when someone is living in before, except be there.

and now that it is after, there is still nothing i can really say to prepare david for the unexpected moments of sadness, grief raining down in a misty fog or pummeling hailstorm, or the unexpected moments of recognition, a glimpse of someone from the other side. even after these years of being-without and all the words in my heart, i can only just simply be there.

après: after.

the neon sign was hanging in the airbnb we took back along the way. we needed the space, not a hotel, to cook our own meals and simply be quiet. and i cannot think of a more timely message.

we are living in après. we are living in avant. both are true. both are real.

they are there too.

we are reminded, once again, for the millionth time – but not the last, to be present in right-now.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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past the curve in the tracks. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

somewhere along the way someone impressed upon me not to ever walk on railroad tracks. and so i never have. until the day i stood in the middle of these tracks and took a few pictures.

railroad tracks intrigue me, whether teetering on the edge of a mountainous precipice or crossing the great plains. i was astounded the day i drove along the arkansas river in red rock canyons, tracks by my side. i could not imagine the arduous, back-breaking, dangerous work it took to install those tracks. at home, the sound of the train whistle at night is reassuring. the whiz of the train passing by the trail is a blur of amtrack cars, headed for mysterious destinations; i reluctantly hold back waving to the engineer as the train passes the crossing.

we’ve missed taking the train to chicago to see our son or for adventures in this last year-plus-of-covid. for that matter, we’ve missed airplanes as well. we’ve driven anywhere we have gone. and today is no exception.

today we are driving. yesterday as well. long days in big red across acres of corn-states, browned, tinges of color in the trees. the sun rises out the hotel window as we prepare to leave and we ponder what we will see today, what markers of this new season will be side-of-road. in the wide open spaces trains will appear, seemingly unending freight trains, the stuff of yesteryear ‘boxcar children‘ and reading books with my kids. time and years and planting and harvest and fallow and regrowth. corn and soybeans, bending sunflowers, leaves beginning to acknowledge golds and reds – all remind us.

we’ll arrive in colorado, attend a come-and-go dinner (i believe this is the same as an open house, though i haven’t heard that terminology before). tomorrow’s schedule is all set; all the while we will be processing the reason we are there – the loss of david’s dad. somewhere in the middle of the scheduled events and the eating, we will walk in quiet under the colorful-colorado sky and grasp that which seems surreal right now. we’ll talk a little about time passing and stories of days gone by. we’ll gaze out at the mountains and see the past, the future. we’ll say goodbye to columbus, all the while knowing, in the way of the death of a parent, he’ll stay right here with us.

and we’ll wonder what’s around the curve in the tracks.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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34 = 20 + 14. [d.r. thursday]

34 – the combination of 14 & 20 – love to cook together. they chop and laugh and saute and bake and grill, punting their way through recipes. with glasses of wine in hand (and lately, maybe old-fashioned wisconsin old-fashioneds) these two brothers-of-different-mothers gleefully prepare dinner.

twice a week we three (61 when you add us all up) used to dine together. and then covid. for well over a year, dinners stopped and phone calls commenced. but even zoom doesn’t come close to the ritual of preparing good food and sitting down all together around a table. finally, fully-vaccinated and still wearing masks out in public spaces, we are back. and so there is a piece of our world that has righted; the axis is just a little less tilted. we are grateful.

20 goes way back for me. shortly after my beloved big brother died, i believe he looked down from heaven and hand-picked out 20 to stand in for him. he didn’t expect 20 to be exactly who he was, he just expected him to be there for me. and vice-versa.

my little girl and 20’s little girl took ballet lessons together as tiny ballerinas and 20 and i sat on the wood floor with other parents just off the studio, morning light spilling in through the windows. my little boy drove his matchbox cars up and down the hall, including on and off 20’s legs, clearly seeing in him a man who adored the magic of small children and their imaginations. it was like group therapy, this cadre of parents on the wooden floor, and we still think of those times fondly. we followed ballet class with an ice-cream-sundae trip across the street to andrea’s and sitting on high stools at jack’s cafe in front of the soda fountain. cups of hot coffee and watching our tiny girls make straw dolls with paper napkins and my little toddler boy having soup-that-race-cars-eat with a side of saltines and pickles were glittery times…priceless. in the way that life and mystery goes, 20 happened to be a graphic designer at a time in my life when i needed a graphic designer. we celebrated my first album together and he designed many of the next ones. there for meetings or reviews, i watched him and justine and duke at work. i had the good fortune of secondhand learning; i still credit 20 with the way i design things now. it was inevitable that we would still be almost-brother-sister 27 years later. i imagine this will go on forever and ever, in the way that my own big brother devised it. only now, we are a trio of compadres. we’d have it no other way.

in this time of so much loss for so many, we have not gone unscathed. jobs and security, finances and healthcare, communities-within-communities, relationships – all have an iota of decimation. the rituals of our life together are the things we hold onto, the firm footing that delivers us from one day to the next. for us, resuming the twice-a-week dinners with 20, friday night potlucks with our dear-dear friends which have temporarily become happy-hours in their backyard, our familiar-trail hikes watching the seasons change in the woods…these are real, three-dimensional and steady and are evidence of life beyond these times. they are evidence of a return to some semblance of normal, though we suspect things may never actually be normal again.

we are still careful out in public. we still wear masks and use sanitizer. at OT appointments they still take my temperature, have a pile of masks at the door and ask a slew of covid questions. we are wary of too much exposure – our innermost circle demands it, for this pandemic is still alive and well and we do not wish to place our dearest close ones at any potentially devastating risk.

yesterday we passed a teen girl walking down the sidewalk, mask at her chin, with a sad, sad face. it made me think about all the people who have lost loved ones during this year-plus of covid. i wonder how they feel as they watch others, in seeming cavalier fashion, gather in crowds, throw out their masks and throw any remaining caution to the wind. i’m guessing maybe they are heartbroken. because there is no going back. it can’t be undone. and the loss of their beloveds has not changed others who do not walk in their shoes.

i guess it’s the lack of empathy, the lack of looking-out-for-each-other, the lack of small efforts of willingness to aid the big community that i find most disturbing. because, really, in the ritual-festooned-relationship-rich-shimmering-end we are our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper.

just ask 34.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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arrive alive. [flawed wednesday]

once upon a time a little boy sat in the backseat of his family’s car on his way to kindergarten. as we can all imagine, he was excited and maybe chattering about the upcoming day. he was likely looking out the window at all the other cars and trucks and maybe having a little snack as he was driven to school by his mom. he was alive. and then he was not.

i don’t know all the details of this story, but the root cause of the catastrophic death of this little boy on his way to fingerpaint and hear stories and maybe jump rope or play 4square and practice letters with thick pencils on widely-spaced lined paper was road rage. no matter who was at fault, no matter what happened on that highway, no matter really anything, this little person lost his life on a freeway because of anger that had nothing to do with him.

i was stunned the first time i saw the signs on highway 82 in the roaring fork valley of colorado. “road rage – call *277.” but we have all been privy to at least one incident of raging road behavior so that there is a mechanism in place to report it is actually a progressive step forward. i was simultaneously disturbed to think that road rage was so prevalent in this gorgeous place and yet glad to see that the authorities had a mechanism in place to try and help dissuade it.

we recently left the park in illinois where we often hike. it’s a left turn out of the park with no traffic light onto a two-lane road. checking both ways carefully, as there is a bit of an uphill to our right as we exit, i pulled little baby scion out into the eastbound lane to drive home. suddenly, just as a semi approached from the east in the westbound lane, an at-least-80mph audi screamed past on the small shoulder on our right. i was startled, but luckily did not wrench the wheel either direction, for both would likely have had devastating consequences for more than just us. what kind of person passes on the shoulder on a 45mph road for absolutely no reason except that they are raging? what kind of all-consuming lack of regard for others does it take to drive a machine capable of great injury in such a monstrously irresponsible way?

we evaded tragedy that day, but how many examples do we each encounter every day? sometimes it is only with luck and defensive driving we safely arrive at our destinations. safely at our destinations. it doesn’t sound like too much to ask for. we need check our anger as we click open our car doors to get behind the wheel. the tag line of illinois tollway’s speed awareness day has been, “slow down. arrive alive.” yes. we shouldn’t need an awareness day or signs emblazoned with lighted letters to remind us. we shouldn’t need * numbers to call in times of raging road peril.

we pulled up to the red traffic light a couple miles down the road. the audi was stopped right in front of us, a mere one car-length gain. a tiny gain when so much could have been lost. like the life of a little boy on his way to kindergarten.

****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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the wisdom of the white trout lily. [merely-a-thought monday]

when my big brother died, i was lost in a maelstrom of emotion. it was hard for me to wrap my head around how the world would go on at a point he could no longer feel it. it wasn’t like i hadn’t experienced loss before. at that point in my life, i no longer had any of my grandparents present on this earth with me. that just felt like a more natural thing – to lose those we love who are elderly, who have lived long and full lives. my beloved brother, on the other hand, was merely 41 and there were so many hopes and dreams he still had for himself and his family. i am still struck by the fact that the world does, indeed, go on. the sun rises and sets; the moon lingers in the night sky. and my question, both existential and somewhat obvious, remains unanswered: how it can go on if he can’t feel it anymore. how it will go on – someday – if i can’t feel it anymore.

at some point a few years ago, i played for a memorial service at a synagogue. one of the meditations before kaddish made me weep. penned by merrit malloy, it reads: “when i die give what’s left of me away to children and old men that wait to die. and if you need to cry, cry for your brother walking the street beside you. and when you need me, put your arms around anyone and give them what you need to give me. i want to leave you something, something better than words or sounds. look for me in the people i’ve known or loved, and if you cannot give me away, at least let me live in your eyes and not in your mind. you can love me best by letting hands touch hands and by letting go of children that need to be free. love doesn’t die, people do. so when all that’s left of me is love, give me away.”

the white trout lily humbly bows on the forest floor. much like people, though on a different scale, their presence is ephemeral, fleeting. on sunny days, their petals will curl back, up, towards the sun; on shady days these small flowers may not even open. their simple beauty a mystery to the passerby, their faces shyly downward, they fill the underbrush on the side of the trail, dotting the landscape with fragile white blooms. i trust they are not concerned with the impact they make on the world nor do they wonder about their footprints once they are gone. they are simply there – love – dressed in white floral.

as we have moved through the pandemic and the devastating myriad of even just this past year, it is inevitable to think of all the loss, the loved ones who have died, the families and concentric circles left behind in grief, questioning. it is also – yes – a reminder that we are still here.

my dear friend sent me a link to a new york times op ed by charles blow. she drew my attention to the last line, words of perfection: “when i am gone, and people remember my name, i want some of them to smile.”

yes.

that.

smile. and give me away.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY