Carpe Diem Y’all by Michele Bernard

Writer, Texan, Semi-interested Sports Fan

The Really Big Fat Stinky Elephant in the Middle of the Room

donanobispacem01.jpg“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”  Mother Teresa

The really big fat stinky elephant in the middle of the room 

Is blocking my view. 

What did I chant when I was a child?

“Can’t go under it. 

Can’t go over it. 

Can’t go through it.”

What did I learn as an adult? 

Guess I need to eat it. 

“How do you eat an elephant?”

“One bite at a time.” 

My elephant has a name:  SonInIraq.

No matter what I do,

Where I go,

How fast I peddle,

SonInIraq is still there. 

And will be there for the next year.

In the meantime:

I work, I pray, I go about my day. 

I write letters

And email

And shop for items

To brighten his day.

My military family grows.

I write and email and shop for items for

Two young men I do not know.

They serve with SonInIraq.

Their mothers do the same.

I don’t watch the news (good advise received from a mom who’s been here, done this). 

I join with families in our Family Readiness Group and “Walk to Iraq and Back”

With phone in hand.  Always. 

Sometimes I dance to Iraq and back. 

It counts.

Moving is good.

I note the time, then add nine hours. 

That’s what time it is for SonInIraq.

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February 26, 2008 Posted by | Army Mom, Blogroll, Family, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Parenting, Peace, Winter | 6 Comments

Happy 2008 Y’all

donanobispacem0.jpgGratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. – John Milton

Happy New Year.  The tree is down.  Decoration filled boxes line the fitness room like ghosts of Christmas past standing sentinel around the treadmill where the spirit of New Year’s Resolution #1 invites me to join her.  I look past my sprained, taped ankle and wave.  See you in a few days

Tree-Related Injury aside, it’s good to be back at work after observing the twelve day Christmas holiday.  I experience the same epiphany each year:  Twelve days isn’t such a long time, yet it seems so when I observe Christmas as a season rather than a day. 

Maybe it seemed like a long time because I crammed so much rest, play, concerts, events, music, church, travel, dinners,  parties, food, wine and company into twelve days.  

Or maybe it’s because stores are decorated for Valentine’s Day by the 2nd day of Christmas.  By the 4th day of Christmas I saw a St. Patrick’s Day display, by the 7th day of Christmas, bathing suit clad mannequins. 

Or maybe it seemed like a long time because when I looked past the red decorations on the tree inside I saw the yellow ribbon tied around the tree outside.

Twelve days isn’t such a long time, but sometimes, it seems so.

Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele

January 7, 2008 Posted by | Army Mom, Christmas, Epiphany, Episcopalians, Family, Michele's Musings, Peace, Winter | Leave a comment

Best Lines: The Holiday Edition

donanobispacem0.jpg “A noted poet was once asked in an interview if he could explain one of his poems ‘in ordinary terms.’ He replied with some feeling, ‘If I could say what I meant in ordinary terms I would not have had to write the poem.’ – Dr. Brian Linard, A Way to the Heart of Christmas

The Advent Season- A time to wait.  And while we wait, we’re asked to remember and anticipate.  At the same time.  Which pretty much sums up my own season of waiting, remembering and anticipating that I’m sure all military families with loved ones deployed far from home experience. 

I find myself drawn to poetry these days.  And songs.  And art.  They comfort me.  The words and the music and the objects of art give me something tangible to hang my thoughts and feelings on as I wait, remember and anticipate.  I’m grateful for the poets, the lyricists and the artists who sum up with their work what I’m thinking and feeling.  They do so way better than I can.  

(And even though I make it a point to keep this blog as positive and as uplifting as possible, I have to say, if I hear the song, I’ll Be Home for Christmas one more freaking time, I might shove the radio into the radiator while punching out.)

Today, I read Longfellow’s poem, Christmas Bells.  It’s a classic, I’ve read many times before.  I’ve even sung the words.  The tune hums in my head as I write.  But today, the poem touched my heart.  Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
 

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep.
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The wrong shall fail,
The right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men!”

December 13, 2007 Posted by | Advent, Army Mom, Best Lines, Blogroll, Christmas, Family, Heart, I Read, Inspiration, Just Wow, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Parenting, Peace, Winter, Writerly Stuff, Writers | 4 Comments

Thoughts on Pre-Deployment Leave

donanobispacem0.jpgLord, bid war’s trumpet cease; Fold the whole earth in peace.~Oliver Wendell Holmes

My son leaves for Iraq.  But before that, he leaves me.  I take him to the airport tomorrow.  It will be the last time I touch my son, umblemished by war.  He will return forever changed.  I know this.  Regardless of his physical state of being on the day he returns, he will be forever changed.  As will I be.  I am not a Spartan mom.  I say lay down your shield and stay here with me.  Safe.  Whole.  I keep this to myself.  But he knows.    

I think of poetry I wrote back in the day.  A whole series likening tears to rain.  What did I know back then? Actually alot.  But my boy was too young to go to war.  I still had control and he was not allowed to play with guns.  What did I know of tears back then?   

November 18, 2007 Posted by | Another F-ing Thought for the Day, Army Mom, Blogroll, Family, Heart, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Parenting | 7 Comments

How to Hug a Porcupine and Other Thoughts on Being Family

3909368537.jpgWhen our relatives are at home, we have to think of all their good points or it would be impossible to endure them.  ~George Bernard Shaw

Leading up to the holiday season, we observe the following family tradition:  we sugar coat everything, even and especially each other.  There are bigger turkeys to roast.  No time to blow out another’s candle trying to make ours shine brighter.  (I’d so like to take credit for that last sentence, but truth be told, credit goes to a little neighborhood church that specializes in posting catchy-make-you-go-hmmm-sayings on their marquee.) 

We have pies to bake, menus to plan, tables to decorate.  Children to hug, mothers to consult, cousins to gossip with, sisters to help. We engage in preparation and we engage with each other.  We side-step, we over-look, we take deep breaths and we think sugar.  

Sugar helps.  Alot.  When we get cross with the kids we find a little sugar on the cheek or the top of the head does the trick.  Same goes for siblings and parents.  For that one and only special someone though, we go straight for the lips.  This is how to we porcupines hug in our family.  Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele 

© Michele Bernard 2007

November 6, 2007 Posted by | Army Mom, Best Lines, Blogroll, Family, Food and Wine, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Parenting | 2 Comments

Baby’s Breath

babysbreath.jpg At the break of day, I tip-toe past the bedrooms and the den.  They overflow with slumbering family members and friends.  The musty rose smell of our grandmother’s quilts, pressed into service for just such occasions, mingle with the aroma of brewing coffee to tint the morning air.  As I write, all three sons sleep under the same roof.  With one son stationed in Hawaii, soon to be deployed to Iraq, and another living on his own for the past year, this is a rare and special occasion indeed.   

When they were children, they shared a room, two on the full-sized bottom bunk, one on the top.  At bedtime I stood by this bed, hands on hips, “I said, go to sleep!”  In the morning, I stood by this bed, savoring the quiet, smiling at the sweet picture they painted, arms and legs sprawled this way and that, innocent, dreaming, silent except for the soft inhales and exhales times three.  Baby’s breath.

I sip my coffee.  If I choose to stop writing this sentence, and walk into the next room, I will literally hear them breathing.  I can think of no greater gift this day. 

Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele

The family.  We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.  ~Erma Bombeck

July 9, 2007 Posted by | Army Mom, Best Lines, Family, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Parenting | 1 Comment

Happy Birthday

13474hsq6rxjc4r.jpgTo my oldest son.  I’m not nearly old enough to have a twenty-four year old.  When did THAT happen?  So son, this is for you:

“Watch over thy child, O Lord, as his days increase; bless and guide him wherever he may be.  Strengthen him when he stands; comfort him when discouraged or sorrowful; raise him up if he fall; and in his heart may thy peace which passeth understanding abide all the days of his life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” BCP pg 830

 Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele

There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.  ~George Santayana, “War Shrines,” Soliloquies in England and Later Soliloquies, 1922

May 1, 2007 Posted by | Army Mom, Best Lines, Carpe Diem Quotes, Episcopalians, Family, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Parenting | Leave a comment