reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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in half and in half again. [merely-a-thought monday]

anna quindlen writes about it in “a short guide to a happy life“. the dividing line between before and after. we all have them. though mathematically incorrect for this lyric, as “sawed in half” only leaves the other half, many of us have more than one dividing line, more than one qualifier of our lives, more than one change agent.

i remember my first apartment. it was on long island in a basement partially paneled and partially wallpapered with red brick wallpaper. my dog missi and i moved in with my old piano, a convertible couch, beanbag chairs, a bookshelf and a bistro set. i had free bank-account-giveaway plates and cheap silverware my grandmother gave me, forks, spoons, knives still in my drawer to this day. i had a tiny kitchen in this studio and, though i cooked often, missi and i both ate plenty of cornflakes for plenty of meals. it was not fancy but it was mine.

after i was sawed in half i had to move and, ultimately, found myself in florida, seeking safety from a man whose aggressive pedophilia was predatory, for whom vengeance was foremost. everything was different. from those moments on. there was no going back, no return to innocence. the dividing line was stark and, in 1979, there was no real resource for processing it.

since then i’ve had a few more dividing lines. but, i have found in many purposeful meanderings through my lifeline in recollections and in much intentional parsing out of cause and effect relationships, that many of them relate back to the first sawing-in-half.

having children did not ‘saw’ me in half, but it indeed sawed time into before and after, for nothing would ever be the same and all my after has been waking and going to sleep thinking about them and wishing for their good health, good relationships, good work, love. there can scarcely be a parent who has not been profoundly changed by having children. before. after.

the loss of my big brother came as a mortality-blow. i had lost grandparents at that point, but their lives had been full and eight and nine decades long. my brother had merely reached his fourth decade – forty – an age twenty years ago now for me – and it was premature and devastating. he had been a stalwart rock for me in my years-post-first-sawing and to lose his wisdom and strength had me questioning how the world could go on without him feeling it. it divided time – from a more casual look at life to a more intensely emotional connection to those around me than i already had. if i am needy, emotionally, it is grasping on to beloveds. though i know i must not hold too tightly, i have likely not always succeeded at that, but i try to be at least close enough to always at least feel the wind from their wings. it’s not always possible and it’s sometimes impossible, and i yearn to have my family right close to me as many friends have, but i try – that word again – to trust life and its gifts.

the day i realized that there was no one left to ask questions of my birth, my childhood, my teenage years, the intrepid and enduring memories moms and dads have, i stared at lake michigan. i won’t forget that moment. i was wondering about my first time on the lake on a sailboat and i suddenly was aware that, without my sweet momma and poppo still here, there would be no answers that i could not remember myself. it came with intensity and orphan-hood surprised me – even then, at 56.

there are other lines in the sand, other befores and afters. relationships, jobs, places, mistakes and learnings, successes and failures. they all count, like every slice of blueberry pie making up the whole, even every rich ingredient making up the slice. the passage of time is a vast bakery of experiences, some more contingent on others, some more independent.

so when the song “life is long” came on at the end of the grace and frankie episode while i was on the treadmill and david was on the bike i was struck by the lyric “sawed in half by the passage of time”. i spoke into my phone recording the words i had just heard, words that made time pause like the button on the netflix video.

and i stared into the timeline in my mind, thinking about life sliced up like pie – a little less vigorously than a saw – but with just as much impact.

*****

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


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momma birds. [k.s. friday]

the cicadas are loud outside already. the windows are open and, though it will be ridiculously hot today, tomorrow will be their field day. it’s the end of august and, no matter who i speak to, the common marvel is how quickly summer has passed. a dear friend wrote to me, “it is the clove of seasons.”

i was behind him at office max. waiting in line six feet back, he was checking out. the checkout gal was pleasant but uninterested as the enthusiastic dad chortled about how his wife had forgotten to buy sharpened pencils for their children going back to school. he asked for separate bags so that he might bring them home to his kids in individual packages to add to their school supplies. he was excited, so excited, telling anyone within earshot of his errand to finish up prepping for the beginning of the school year. i couldn’t help but smile back as he walked past me with an elated look on his face.

i checked out and intended for the exit. it was the backpacks that got me first. the big four-sided display drew me over. there was this great floral backpack. . .

i started to wander a bit more, the calendars and notebooks and mechanical pencils making me wistful. stickynotes and highlighters and packs of gel-tip pens and fine-line sharpies beckoning.

these people knew how to place things in the store. i was not quite leaving.

i was catapulted back in time and meandered a little lost in thought about days – years – gone by, an empty nester’s trap of remembering with both joy and sorrow. all those years of school lists and target runs and picking out backpacks and first day of school walgreen’s or back-to-target fill-ins, things we hadn’t anticipated needing or somehow forgot. the piles on the dining room table as my beloved girl and boy selected their supplies and maybe their pencil case. they put looseleaf paper in their trapper-keepers and loaded up spiral notebooks and the required box of tissues, a few dry erase markers, a ruler and maybe a calculator. absolutely heavenly to be surrounded by school materials, stationery supplies, new reusable lunchbags and two mostly-excited children.

this time of year does it every time. even though it is extraordinarily hot i can feel it knocking. and i can feel the sadness of letting go of summer freedoms, of children, late-morning, still in pjs, of no alarm clocks and no dread of early morning crabbies. i can feel the elation of the bus arriving at the end of the day or sitting outside the school watching for a glimpse of my own beautiful children in a throng of beautiful children.

every year i feel it. that feeling watching them walk out the door to go to school, to go to college, to go into the world. even now i am immersed in it. i miss them.

i’m sure the momma bird was elated too when the eggshell cracked open and her tiny baby bird was born. she probably chortled to her bird-friends about her little miracle and its entrance into life. and then, after a time, bird-school over, she realized she was suddenly an empty-nester, her sweetest with wings that would carry it into the world to adventure and explore and conquer abounding opportunities. though the nest would remain, and would always be there, rooting and rooting, both, it was merely a launching pad to everything else.

and one day, as she was waiting in line at office max, as tears threatened to roll down her face, she would be grateful for all those times before and she would wrap herself in the memorized feel of freshly-sharpened pencils, late-summer cicadas and small hands in hers.

*****

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

GIVE ME ROOTS, GIVE THEM WINGS from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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babies. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

the text came yesterday afternoon. it was a girl! born at 4:02pm with the sweetest little pink face. the up-north gang celebrated together virtually as new grandparents were born. and everything changed in the world as a tiny being – full of all the potential of the universe – entered this earth.

it’s happening all around us now – this grandparent thing. babies are being born, tiny boys and girls lighting up lives just as my own beloved children have always lit up mine. the focus changes, from one generation to the next, as it should be.

when you marry in the middle of middle age there are things you wonder. one of them is how you would have parented tiny beings together, had you had the chance to experience that. our girl and our boy were already adults when d showed up. and so, as empty-nesters, we ponder and wonder and guess and make up stories and scenarios and laugh aloud – a lot. we wonder what traits a little boy or girl would have of his, what characteristics of mine. these are questions that will never be answered, so it’s great fodder for us.

in the meanwhile, we adore the pictures of lilah, the videos we see of jaxon, tiny eliza on facebook, watching secondhand as landon and will and gigi and hayes grow and mini grown-up lily recites the pledge of allegiance.

and we wait, with great anticipation as new little people are expected, are pined for, are welcomed into this world. we know that with each new pot roast, each new bun-bun, each new diaper dinosaur the world gains so much more potential, so much more to love.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts for this SATURDAY MORNING SMACK-DAB

SMACK-DAB ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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existing in a whisper. [two artists tuesday]

“perhaps we are here in order to say: house, bridge, fountain, gate, pitcher, fruit-tree, window . . . to say them more intensely than the Things themselves ever dreamed of existing.” (ninth duino elegy: rainer maria rilke)

every day i take a photograph. at least one. the photo-of-the-day was started by my all-grown-up children at the height of the pandemic and, for it, i am forever grateful. as a group text we’re not as singularly dedicated as when it started, but it still exists and i seriously cherish each and every picture and text on it.

but i know it must come as no surprise to you that i take a lot of pictures anyway. both my phone and what we call the island-phone have gigantic photo streams, backed up by the cloud’s extra coverage. it’s obvious that i stop often while hiking, but what might not be as obvious is that i stop often, period. there is always something interesting, something fleeting, something to record and there are times that i must steer myself away from the very thing begging my capture just to keep on keeping on.

today i write the 1013th post on my blog. we looked back at the mélange weekly screenshots, five days a week each week. i wanted to spend a few moments looking at the things i stopped at, the things i wanted to hold, the notes or quotes i jotted down, the things designed, our thoughts through the years.

i would like to think that each of these photographs have brought a bit more intensity to the ‘thing’ photographed, that which is featured. it makes me wonder. does the ladybug on this coneflower marvel about its photo being taken, does it hear me draw in my breath when i expand the photo on my iphone, not knowing it was there when i composed the picture. does it realize, when i quietly gasp, “look! there’s a ladybug!” that i am honoring its existence, tiny-in-a-vast-world?

and that makes me wonder. is the universe – whatever the divine you believe in – doing the same? are our names whispered intensely into the galaxy, weaving around stars and lit by the sun and the moon, honoring our existence, tiny-in-a-vast-world? i think it must be so.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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the ice cream truck. [merely-a-thought monday]

“stop!!!!” we’d yell at the top of our lungs.

it didn’t happen often, but every now and then, we got to stop the ice cream man as he jingled his way around the neighborhood. then began The Choice. toasted almond bars or chocolate eclairs or or creamsicles or nutty buddy cones or italian ices (although we most often got those on the way out of modells sporting goods store, which, for some reason, had a stand by the doors). my momma would buy fudgsicles and ice cream sandwiches for in the freezer, so those weren’t viable options. and we would never-ever just buy a cup of ice cream with those wooden spoon things you got in elementary school or with your modells italian ice. that would be lame. it seemed important to get something more novel than what was inside your own house. particularly if it was ice cream on a stick. we knew, at the time, that it was a splurge and we loved every single second of it. we’d sit on the curb or on the grass or on the stoop and relish whatever treat we picked. summer in east northport. summer on long island.

you can hear it coming – “pop goes the weasel” playing incessantly around the ‘hood. it used to drive both my girl and my boy crazy as it approached and passed by – the pitch of the ‘song’ changing keys as it approached, drove by eventually and was in the distance. we laugh now as it passes us these days, for the same reason and because it would likely take a small mortgage to feed ice cream treats to a family from the ice cream man these days. we have marveled at watching families with small children gather together in the park eating dairy queen. a medium blizzard is $4 so a family of five would be $20 just for an afternoon carry-out treat. i don’t know but, to us, that seems like a lot.

harry burt, the founder of good humor, apparently stumbled into ice cream kingdom rule when he froze chocolate topping to use with ice cream. it turned out to be a messy affair so his son suggested using the sticks from his previous invention (jolly boy suckers) and – voila! – the ice cream bar was a hit. his decision to start the ice cream truck/wagon/push-cart was on the heels of his treat-success and, believing that good “humor” had everything to do with the humor of the palate, he had his company name picked out. good humor is synonymous with yummy ice cream and childhood. what a legacy!

a few days ago, 20 went to his freezer after we finished a scrumptious dinner with him. he gestured to 14 to be quiet and reached his hand in, pulling out a container but shielding it from my view. it turned out to be a half gallon of coffee ice cream, which is my favorite tied with mint chocolate chip. it was not cashew or almond; this was straight-up ice cream, which he guiltily knew i couldn’t have. he and 14 enjoyed bowls of this dessert. i had two tiny bites, which were amazing. coffee ice cream always makes me think of my big brother who, night after night, would load his bowl up and eat to his heart’s content. after my minuscule taste-test, i googled cashew/almond coffee ice cream and have a photo of a couple options saved on my phone so that i might seek them out.

someday when i pass a freezer with talenti dairy-free-sorbetto cold-brew-coffee displayed, i will literally yell, “stop!”

it won’t be the ice cream truck ringing bells or playing “it’s a small world” or “pop goes the weasel”. it won’t be standing at the side of the road in the hot sun with a dollar held tightly in my hand in line behind other sweaty, excited kids. it won’t be staring at the poster on the side of the truck with too many choices, the scent of coppertone wafting through the air. but, like all the children gathered around the proverbial ice cream truck in full glorious summer, i will be filled with good humor.

*****

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

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aging-ageing. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

rejuvenate. anti-aging formula. anti-aging rejuvenating serum. skin repair and firming cream. anti-aging rice phytoceramides plant-derived capsules. advanced natural anti-ageing cream complex. crepey skin repair and firming cream. anti-aging supplement and multi-vitamin for energy, skin, bone and joint support. anti-aging organic flax seed oil and phytonutrient formula. multi-collagen capsules with hyaluronic acid and vitamin c. awakening hydraskin system. ageless cell life extension. anti-aging beauty spray vacuum. age-defying face lifting concentrate. night total facial rejuvenation system.

“achieve visibly younger skin.” “who wants to look their age?” “visible results in minutes of use.” “recommended for discerning patients.” “join me in the battle against ageing.”

i am wayyy wayyy behind the curve. the pink oil of olay hydrating lotion in my small cosmetic drawer in the bathroom has been around for sixty years. hmm, i should have written that sentence in a structurally different way. the little plastic bottle has not physically been in my drawer for sixty years; the product has been produced for sixty years. sheesh. other than a few pass-me-down gifted clinique products from my sister, this has been my moisturizer of choice. simple. done. i have not researched this nor have i had long conversations with girlfriends about moisturizer. joann has absolutely lovely skin. her face glows. one day i asked her what she used and, delightedly, she told me oil of olay. yippee! samesies. so, that means if i keep using oil of olay my face will glow? hardly.

the jowls i woke up with one day that my sweet dad and gravity so generously passed on, the wrinkles around my eyes, the sweet-momma crease in my forehead – these are genetics. webmd.com says that the intrinsic aging of skin cannot be avoided. and the time: time spent outside as a child, spud and kickball in the neighborhood, swimming in our round above-ground pool, teenage time spent on bike hikes and on crab meadow beach laying on a bazooka gum beach towel playing my radio, trips to florida beaches with woven bags holding tanning oil and iced tea and potato chips, motherhood time on backyard swings, at lakefront beaches, on soccer fields, at baseball diamonds, earlier-middle-age un-thinking time on adirondack chairs basking in the sun – though perhaps innocently skin-irresponsible, cannot be erased.

aging. ageing.

my dad received national geographic magazine for as long as i can remember. paging through were articles and photographs through which i was introduced to cultures i was likely to never actually visit but from which i could gain small bits of wisdom.

though i mostly understand the medical importance of taking good care of our skin and using spf products and staying out of torrid sun and hydrating and eating proper nutrients, i could see that the women and men of these other cultures – outside of our society – did not concern themselves with aging-ageing. indeed, they were not in a battle or a race against it. instead, they upheld it, celebrated it, honored it. and while i would probably prefer less jowls and less wrinkles and less crepe and less of the other stuff with horrendous names that advertisers have come up with for natural aging processes -god-forbid- i will choose to stand in it and feel fortunate to be here.

fortunate to be aging-ageing. winning the race either way.

****

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


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the lateral list. [merely-a-thought monday]

it’s on the list. i explained to d yesterday that i have a lateral list of things that need my attention, in addition to a vertical list. cleaning the attic, sorting through the basement, going through the closets, these are all on the lateral list somewhere vertically among a number of other things that need to be done. every so often, this lateral push-pull bobs to the top. but procrastination is a fierce reactor and readily slaps the bobbing tedium down.

lately, though, it has risen – triumphantly – and called my name. since the attic is hotter than heck right now, the basement will be first up. it may take me weeks just to decide what to wear down there – how to dress for the plethora of memories mixed with spider carcasses and a whole bunch of sunflower seeds i noticed a while back in the storage room. at the time i wondered why the boy had eaten sunflower seeds and disposed the shells in the storage room and how i hadn’t noticed these and cleaned them out years earlier. the realist raised her hand, shooing off the ridiculous and suggested that cute little mice had made the mess. the boy is now off the hook and there will be a broom ready. so, yes, the outfit might be important…something i might leave down there to specifically don for the lateral look-through. as chores go, this one will be to leave no stone unturned, to peer into every box, unearth each bin, gingerly throw away every spider and centipede carcass. there is no telling what treasures we might find. if it wasn’t so much work, i would be totally looking forward to it. ok, admittedly, part of me is happily anticipating it. because – it is rich in memories. and therein lies the root problem.

i explained to d that this will take some time. that he should not be thinking that – poof! – it will be done quickly. oh no…every single everything down there has a story. and, to jump on ann landers’ bandwagon, some things have words. lots of them. like old greeting cards, stories my children wrote when they were little, scrapbooks of adventures, brochures saved from, well, everywhere. not to mention old report cards, newspaper clippings, letters penned by my sweet momma, tiny notes on pa pad paper written by my poppo. so, draw up a chair, d, this could take a while. but, hey, don’t go away, because i’d love to share it all with you.

we recently brought home a bin from colorado in which david’s mom and dad had saved miscellaneous clippings and photos and playbills about him. we combed slowly through it; for me, it was my first viewing of many of these pieces. articles and wedding invitations, school letters and the note that the man in the neighborhood wrote to the editor of the paper bragging about what “a little gentleman” david was as his paperboy. sitting at the table going through all these was like having a viewmaster toy full of different slides, snippets of his life during which i wasn’t there.

though i may have a few more slides, bins full, shall we say, it will be a chance for him to peek into the viewmaster and see me as a little girl, a teenager, a young woman, someone who wore a bikini and went water-skiing and sought out all the lighthouses on long island. to see the tangible evidence of me as a young mother: art projects and cheerios containers, favorite rattles and the tassels of high school graduations. so many artifacts, so many stories to tell.

this might be the right week for that. the temperatures will be in the high 80s, the humidity will be drippy and this-old-house-with-no-central-air will be cooler in the basement.

i need to plan my basement work clothes. cue-up the lateral list. full-speed ahead.

*****

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


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marriage and/or a parakeet. [saturday morning smack-dab]

suddenly it’s all different. suddenly, walking past other people’s tiny children makes you wistful. suddenly, in what seems like a very few split-seconds, your own formerly-tiny children are all grown-up. and the nest is empty. what’s next, you wonder. possibly a parakeet?

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SMACK-DAB SATURDAY

SMACK-DAB ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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smack-dab-in-the-middle. [merely-a-thought monday]

the family photo changes through the years. i read the other day that it was a friend’s 39th wedding anniversary and noted that it would have also been mine. but things change and times change and the family photo changes. i am grateful for the years before and i am grateful for the years now. both. either way, both family photos have similarities. one would show a middle-aged couple, empty-nesters, looking to get to know each other again. the other shows a middle-aged couple, empty-nesters, getting to know each other in the first place. a common thread – that getting-to-know-each-other – it is all fodder for much laughter, many foibles, much self-deprecation, many questions, few answers, and a lot of punting on the journey through aging smack-dab in the middle of life.

it became obvious to us that our roadtrip together, the-second-time-around-roadtrip, was a source of humor and a reason for lightheartedness. there is simply no other way to look at it. this is not the stuff of princess and prince, nor the stuff of harlequin romance novels, where the boy-who-inherited-the-kingdom finds the bereft-girl-quietly-sitting-in-the-shadows. it is not the stuff of ease nor the stuff of perfectly-smooth-trails. but it is the stuff of happily-every-after, just like so many other stories smack-dab in the middle of middle age as couples navigate through change and challenge, glee and sadness. we are just like everyone else. and our story is your story, with a few different details.

and so we thought it might be fun to celebrate being smack-dab in the middle, to raise up the questions of being there and the elation of being there, to poke fun at the confusion of revisiting the beginning of romance – so many years ago – or the actual beginning of romance – just a few years ago or, maybe, right now. to look at each other through fresh eyes, a fresh horizon. to notice, to hear, to see, to intuit each other. to dance in the too-empty and too-neat kitchen. to make noise in the too-quiet house. to make plans and dream dreams, even ones that are different than we imagined.

ours is a story of second chances. but so is the story of my friend and her husband of 39 years. and the story of the dear young man who used to be in my choir class in the 80s, now married to his husband for years. all of us have second chances each day. to sit across the table and gaze back at eyes we have known for ages, eyes we are in the middle of knowing, eyes we are just beginning to know. to laugh together and lift each other from wistful moments. to understand and hold each other with compassion our guide. to listen and discern what we each are saying, what we each need. to step into futures of unknown voyages. we live smack-dab in the middle of the middle, holding hands, loving each other in old and new ways. and cherishing every photograph along the way.

smack-dab. in the middle. a new cartoon.

*****

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

SMACK-DAB ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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the beauty of $2.99. [k.s. friday]

my sweet dad would buy my mom grocery store flowers often. she kept a vase on the table in the high ceiling-ed foyer near the front door in their last home together and flowers would welcome you as you entered. momma wasn’t really a red-rose-florist-delivery kind of gal. she was more a bundle-of-flowers, a miscellaneous-bunch, a day-old-flowers-sale woman, always so pleased with the simplicity of her own arrangements. now, don’t get me wrong, she was delighted to receive flowers that arrived on her doorstep, but those were not required of my poppo. instead, she reveled in the extraordinarily ordinary blooms they found at publix.

we went to the citymarket when we got to carbondale. needing to find lunch and some dinner items to bring to our airbnb we walked into a new store, inviting and with lots of light. it was in the produce section that i passed the display, advertising a clearance – merely $2.99 for cellophane-wrapped bundles beyond their recommended dates. the hypericum beckoned to me whispering a suggestion, “table centerpiece”. we travel with a small jelly jar and tea lights and i knew we could find something we could use as a vase in our place. as it turned out, it was a ball jar and, together, ball jar with berries and jelly jar with candlight paired on our table. it was time to embrace a precious stay in the high mountains.

scrolling through my photos, the pictures of the hypericum berries on our table easily bring back the moments we had with my daughter and her boyfriend. so much anticipation when a child lives far away and yet the time uncontrollably flies by and, today, i am reeling with wistful thoughts that just over one short week ago we had already been to and left those giant red rock mountains, the snow-capped mount sopris, a trail along the rio grande, horses down the road, dinners at the gathering table, laughter at the high counter in our sweet unit, a pedicure and a few errands with my girl. it would seem the stuff of songs and somewhere, deep inside, they are writing themselves.

we left the hypericum berries in our airbnb. still beautiful, it was a way to say thank you to our hosts. besides, they belonged there on a little slate plate in the middle of the table in a room filled with sunlight. promise for the next occupants, perhaps. a little gratitude left behind.

we aren’t frivolous. especially not these days. anyone who knows me knows that i am a slow decision-maker when it comes to purchases for myself. most places we go we try to find a couple cloth napkins to bring home with us. as we sit at our own table it is a way to remember other places we have sat, meals we have shared. we didn’t find any on this last trip but at the hardware store we discovered after our river-trail hike, we picked up two tin camp mugs for our coffee. they have mountains on them and will remind us of our time this trip.

i already miss my girl and wish i had run outside for one more hug – an extra – the morning she drove off. but she was in a hurry, i knew, and i know a mom-hug can get in the way. so i held back and just waved, trying to be nonchalant about the tears running down my face.

i returned back into the space we had lived in for those fewest of days and looked around at the now packed-up airbnb. my eye caught the sun-rays through the window lighting up the hypericum berries. and i whispered back to them, “thank you.”

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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