Mary Joanna Lee

Mary was born on January 1, 1993. She was born to ________ and _______and is survived by _____________________________________. She had kids with__________, who preceded her in death by a handful of months, days, minutes, hours.

Her children are bright little lights, and I want to gather all of them to me, sing with them, raise them onto strong shoulders, proceed with them in a march more wedding than funeral, acknowledge that no life is actually just a handful of years, months, days, hours, minutes, things smaller than that, things that can only be measured by Hands torn for

For her, for me

He precedes us in life, in death, in life again

Walk out of that grave, girl, walk into life

All because of Him

Mary Jo

If I am honest, you were often a pain in the ass. Your attachment disorder meant that I was the primary target of your anger when you were growing up, which was not fun, but good for me.

I remember you when you were little, I remember the stress, chaos and exhaustion. We would look at you and Charles when you were asleep and say, they are cute when they are asleep.

find myself trying to construct an old play fort out of this gray day, the sky folded into the quilted tent

This is heaven, I tell myself, this is Mary, she was college-aged, after all. She could be here, Heaven could be this, the thin line between the realms could be as gossamer as time itself–

Yesterday you were among the living

And now I return to the prayers I prayed when I held you as a child, fierce ball of anger

Oh, God,

Make us real

Make us vivid

Wipe away the tears, the past, the unbearable

All things made new

When the heartbeat in question means the whole world

I don’t have time to write this blog. My house is chaos, I am behind in my “day job,” and my adopted granddaughters live with us now.

Both girls have been through fires, literally and figuratively.

As I see headlines about the Texas heartbeat law, I cannot stop thinking about what an appalling loss to me and the world entire it would be if they were not here.

They, like all my kids, light up my world. If one were missing, the loss would be unbearable.

That is what the rhetoric hides–each child saved from abortion is a

Little girl twirling in a princess dress

A little boy looking for spiny lizards

A child who knows grownup words long before they should

An irreplaceable light in the darkness.

(Part 2)

Matthew 25:35-39 KJV

[35] For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: [36] Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. [37] Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee ? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? [38] When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee ? [39] Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

When Charles went to juvenile detention for a plea bargained mitigation of a monstrous charge, he received support, letters, cards, an outpouring of support.

I attributed this odd behavior from “good people” (rewarding a child abuser) thus–

  • They did not trust our report?
  • They did not full understand the devastation of his felonies
  • Or Matthew 25 oh, somebody in prison? I better get in on that reward!

Could have been something else, but whatever the motivations, his victims often did not get the same level of support he did. The people who comforted Charles did not comfort his victims.

Only two people outside our family confronted him on his sins.

To this day he does not acknowledge

What he did was wrong

There are lots of hard parts within the gaps between what the

Lord and the Righteous see

Machine Translation

The old woman and the older woman sit down across a flimsy folding table. Between them there is a plexiglass barrier, the kind you might encounter now at a doctor’s office or the checkout line at the grocery store.

This time we all know we are contagious, right?

They type into complementary machines–one English to Korean and the other Korean to English

Do not forgive these Korean letters, forgive something else if you will.

The devastating depths men may plunge to

If the womenfolk fail to speak.

Ah-buh-nim

The little boy in the picture wore the most adorable overalls

And brand-spanking-new shoes

He approached the chicken in the unfamiliar garden

With the utmost deference,

The pears still hung on the trees, each carefully wrapped in old newspapers to shield them from pestilence

An unseasonably warm day to worship one’s ancestors and

The food at the restaurant was good

Something about historically accurate food

In the last few moments before

The two little red-headed children

Reported

All they saw–aggressor-accomplice-victim

The little boy in the picture wore the most adorable overalls

The Multiverse You

It is 4:53 in the morning and the-multiverse-you is sleeping somewhere

(Perhaps held in the arms of her beloved)

…she does not know about the foster children, or the loss, the things you use to distract you

From the sound of being cracked open

a meal, a primitive marine creature–a crab, a lobster, a clam

The oral surgeon calls the missing piece of you by the kind of nickname you might use for a lovable but naughty child—that little stinker or cuss or rascal

Only, the-multiverse-you tells it as though it were a puzzling but mildly discomfiting dream

No mention, no hint even

Of global dishevelment and chaos on the planet where she sleeps,

untouched

As you fiddle with various words for comfort to mask the pain

In all the broken places.

Ah, the tattoo!

When I was dealing with the trauma of finding out that a little boy I had taken in as a toddler had grown up to become a terrible person I

Had three things

I decided to use as grief-points:

Get a nose ring

Shave my head

Get a tattoo.

This week I have had to face that sometimes “a tattoo” is a luxury item

In a pandemic

In the way grief

Can worm its way into the fabric of who a person is

I am losing something else

Like a tattoo, a marker of the grief

And I found what I would put on that tattoo–

Love is

Unmistakable

This Little Girl

I want to say so many things to

This man who does not really see

“This little girl”

But I know You

See her, see me, see them

All the little ones who

Need a God like You

Take my sins away, heal my wounds, stay until I am well, bring justice in your wings, never blame the victim, never stop searching for treasure

You

who were, who are, who always will be

Just You,

and “this little girl”