Dad

My dad got into my bones
I didn't know he was there 
until he started to fade away 

The other night at Red Lobster he talked about bunnies eating lettuce—
the kind on his plate
He didn't just talk, he mimicked their bunny eating ways

I thought: what is he talking about....
and what does this have to do with anything....

You see, for me, the conversation has changed 
as my dad's brain gets chipped away by diabetes or 
alzheimer's— we don't know. He says it’s spiritual, he's going "higher" so maybe it's that

But gone is the comfort of bringing him anything 
and him always knowing the right thing to say
or when not to
Now I speak and he munches on his salad like a bunny and laughs

Later we sit on his driveway at dusk
There are the bunnies!
They munch on his grass and 
driveway crack microgreens
I see what he means

There are two chairs on his lawn—
two choices on where to sit and watch the bunnies munch
As we watch together the crows caw and he says
the crows crow, the squirrels squirrel and, yes dad, the bunnies bunny
This is his lesson now

He was once an athlete, 
top of his football and baseball game
Then handball
It's hard to see the cuts and bruises on his body from losing balance 
Once a strong, intimidating man—and still so damn stubborn—
he now laughs, smiles and attunes to my emotions, 
even the angry ones about what is happening to him

Lou, my dad's name, is Lou-ing, 
becoming more real
As he fades and goes higher the strength and wisdom of him 
is in my bones. 

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Everything

It’s everything that I love 
Right here in the middle of these trees on a path full of mulch 

The sound of crows above me
A light mist falling upon me
The sound of day crickets in august at ear level 
A cool breeze through warm moist air 
A slate gray sky 

I stand still in it and ask for guidance as I sometimes due lately: what is here for me to know? 

I open my eyes and everything that I love is right here. 

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Evolution

Evolution moves slow and steady. 

I once believed I could clear wounds enough to transcend my upbringing—
To not be my mother. 

What cleared are protections that made me function and survive. 

My daughter said to me: I like seeing you struggle—
A once controlled and efficient mother now stumbles a bit. 

Bring on the staggering
And the unease of failing
And seeing the apple does not fall far from the tree. 

It is true some improvements were made
Maybe I'll see more as I age
But for now I acknowledge evolution is slow
And at least it is steady. 

For we are not efficient machines
We are human with hearts and needs
We store treasures from ancestors and thieves. 

Keep going. 


~Nikki, The Soul Reporter 

Devotion

What’s underneath this madness? Devotion?

I cant see a future without him now that I’m standing at our death door. It was fun to play with the idea of leaving when I was still in a familiar hallway.

Now I am numb again. Familiar only to my pain, and not ours.

But it will return.

Rumi says, keep digging your well, water is there somewhere.

Is it devotion?

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Coveted

I feel coveted and
sometimes admired, but nothing else, 
never held. 

I also don't hold, just space and frequencies, 
probably, also responsibilities
but not hands or faces or 
give hugs and kisses. 

I've a lot to learn 
A lot to give
A lot to receive. 


~Nikki, The Soul Reporter
Photo by Raphael Brasileiro on Pexels.com

Indestructible

I wake up wrapped in a hidden grief. A grief so big I’m grateful it’s hidden. The personal losses and changes, along with the national and global might take lifetimes to process and who even knows what is left over from other lives. It truly does seem to be too much and yet, here we are, here I am, here is Life- an undeniable and indestructible force.

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Closing the Doors

Might as well find the joy while the world burns, right?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I am shutting the doors, I have decided, to where the trauma lives.

I am not shutting the door because I want to avoid what is there.

I am shutting the door because for 30+ years all I have done is open these doors.

Within the rooms I have explored, processed, dug deep and long.

There has been healing and transformation. Incredible insights and connections made.

There has also been torment.

So today I messaged the therapists and the energy workers and said, thank you and goodbye.

I want to enjoy my life for a change, I said. I want to hear my inner voice again.

I have seen hell, so may as well turn around and see what else there is.

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Tiny Spurts

I feel like I move through quicksand to return to you
Grasping, climbing again and again...

~

These tiny spurts of running
These tiny words of poetry
They may all amount to something 
A marathon or a book
Or just may be tiny spurts
So I don't sink into the sand
To say at the end I never stopped grasping.

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter
Photo by Diego Madrigal on Pexels.com

Tell Me Everything

A poem.

Tell me how much you love him

Tell me how much you want to leave him

Tell me how he hurts you

Tell me how he loves you

Tell me why you’re afraid to stay

Tell me why you’re afraid to leave

Tell me why you fear you’ve been replaced

Tell me what you still want with him

Tell me how hard this has been

Tell me how this love affair began

Tell me how he holds you back

Tell me how he lets you drown

Tell me how you hold yourself back

Tell me how you let yourself drown

Tell me how you suffer

Tell me everything until there’s nothing left to tell

Tell me everything so we both understand and can move on.

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Today is the Special Occassion

What do you do when the world, at least as you knew it, is ending? How do you grieve that?

For me, a white cisgender woman, it started to end globally on November 9, 2016. I went on a bike ride the day after election night to my usual spot— an “island” on the Mississippi River. Before this day, I’d go there to reflect on my personal trials or to escape them. However, there was a new kind of angst— not only the weight of my personal life on my shoulders, but the collective life. It is not that I did not care before, this just felt different.

I wish I could find the words to express where I find myself now, 6 1/2 years later. I’d like a story or fable that would help me frame it, or to write my own if I could focus long enough and stay motivated. What I do know, what I am beginning to feel is there has been, and is, a lot of loss personally and collectively, a collective reckoning and grief process.

Our primitive brain likes to make it one thing because then that one thing can be fixed, managed or contemplated easily. But we are not in primitive times. These are complex times. We are complex and to think in this way is difficult, but necessary. These days, the loss isn’t just A, B or C, it is the whole damn alphabet and then some.

Just in my own life, I am started to comprehend the losses and how each one intermingles and connects to the others, and as they do their capability of fully sinking me is real.

The sinking has been happening. As I reflect I see I’ve sunk many times. As a teenager I wondered how could one person, still so young, cry so much. As a 50-year-old it is starting to make sense as I am sinking like that again and again.

Yesterday I could not find one think to pull me out. Then my husband asked if I wanted ice cream. In the ice cream line I found myself smiling, then I asked him if he tried the frozen peanut butter cups. Later a stranger approached us, happy and friendly as can be, and asked how we made our “love it” treat. Before this, I watched a small child look up at her older brother, saying “again” over and over to pick her up as she squealed. Once we got our dark chocolate with extra peanut butter ice cream, we sat on a bench outside and I saw the sliver of moon. I didn’t really eat my ice cream because the point was not the ice cream.

On the way home, Neil Diamond’s Hello Again came on shuffle. I cried again, a deep, hurting cry as if I was in physical pain. I said to myself: it’s my mom. She was and always will be my first experience here on Earth as me, Nikki DiVirgilio. Nothing will ever change this. And she, my first experience, has dementia and I miss her. There is a hole in me. There are several now, but she is at the center of them all.

It is weird for me to state this and experience it to be true. My relationship with her has always felt like a loss, but what it is now feels like that sliver moon, it is all that is left and what I had with her was more than I realized. She was a best friend, someone I called to vent to, someone I hung out with. Someone who created a million and one beautiful experiences and distractions for me, for us— vacations, cabin getaways, shopping, lunches, going to the “new” place and buying the “new” thing. Over time all of this became hollow for me, but now, sinking into nothingness, they were the things that kept me afloat. These were the days. That was my mom.

When I woke up the next morning, after several days of sinking, I didn’t care much about anything (balance, right?). I wondered what was the point, especially after reading a Twitter thread stating a very real possibility for the 2024 election. It’s not good. It’s bleak, and it seems the world, including my own, is over in the way I knew it. I don’t really know 1) how to navigate these times or 2) how to grieve or if I even can fully. But the sweater I bought was on my front step. I opened it, tried in on to make sure I loved it, and instead of folding it, tags on, saving it for a special occasion, I took it off, cut the tags, put it back on and decided today is the special occasion.*** 🌙🍦

Be well during this time,

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

***snippets from a memoir I’m writing…well, several actually.