My son Ben drew this
My son Ben drew this
The thing itself seems too big and awful–she liked to shoot up in the bathroom, the list of people who enabled her suggested a big bathroom
Why do this thing? Where do the needles come from? Where do they go after? Do heroin addicts have sharps containers?
I make the elements of the equation as simple as possible–
Keith died of it
Mary died of it
It must have been a doorway
Why do you walk through that doorway the first time?
What is through the doorway that is so compelling that you must go back–no matter what
What were they running from?
She tells the story as though they were just cooking bacon
Who lets a 4 year old cook bacon? Who lets a 4 year old watch a fire burn or find their own way floor to floor to grandma’s apartment?
Who falls asleep on the bus back from the methadone clinic
With a baby
My baby. My baby now
I cannot turn away
If x equals the thing you must have and y equals the way it makes you feel
Then they were simply bound to x because of y
Like sky or free diving
there is a rush
But this time, this thing, chained her to it, brooked all reason
in the blood and the brain you cannot undo
Genesis 12:5 KJV
 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.
My daughter has to do a slide show about very small souls, cupped in the hand souls, lost at sea souls, their tiny lives made consciously insignificant by human design alone
There are quiet, tree-lined lanes in the arteries of the capitals of the world where pretty twins play while their siblings become the interstitial jigsaw pieces of a world built without reference to
The souls they had gotten in Haran
What is a man’s soul?
And what will he give in exchange for it?
For what does it profit a man
If he gains the whole world
And loses his own soul?
A couple nights ago I came home late from work and stopped to get pizza for dinner. It had been a rough day so I decided to get some dessert from the Walgreens next to the pizza place.
I had not shopped in this store for months because the pharmacists there had refused to fill prescriptions for ivermectin during a portion of the pandemic . They do, however, dispense mifepristone and misoprostol for the purposes of ending pregnancies.
(I should not have broken my embargo. My partner told me they had begun filling ivermectin again, but that was not enough to justify my lapse.)
I bought chocolate, soda, tea, coffee, bottled water, and at the checkout counter the cashier offered me a “new credit card.” I reflexively said no, but she said it was “a reusable gift card that could be given as wonderful Christmas present.”
I bought one,
As I was returning my cart to the store a man was lying in distress in the parking lot. A young woman stood beside him on a cell phone. I called to them and asked if they needed help. As I came close, she said that she had been passing the store when she saw him fall off a steep ledge next to the store. His head was gashed and bloody, as was his hand. He seemed to be in shock and kept insisting he did not want EMS or a hospital. Her mother had come to help and was calling 911.
I sat down with the man and talked to him until the ambulance came.
His Good Samaritan was in tears. I told her that she had done everything right. She had stayed with him and called for help.
When the police and EMS arrived, I left. Picked up the pizza and went home.
After dinner I looked at the “Scarlet” card the woman had sold me. It was not a credit or gift card, it was a card that required setting up an 8 dollar per month bank account. I emailed the company and told them I had been misinformed about the use and function of the card and wanted to return it.
The next day I went back to the Walgreens and asked them to refund my money for the card. I had the receipt and the unopened card.
They refused–not store policy. I would have to contact the card company to do that. I told the manager I wanted her to show me how to do that, as the contact instructions had a labyrinthine complexity to them.
She attempted to call “Scarlet” and her own Walgreens help line for over an hour and could not get through. Finally, I got through based on extra instructions from the return to my email (call the number and just keep pressing 1)
A man named Duke took my address and told me I would get a refund in 10 days.
I told the manager I had avoided the store for months only to have this happen. I told her about the ivermectin embargo and the abortifacient endorsement. Then I told her I had been at the store during the man’s distress in the parking lot.
Her answer was swift–he is a drunk. He came here last night and then was back this morning for alcohol.
I looked at the array of cigarettes behind her. People had bought them from her during my hour in the store. When she told me what she thought of the man I realized it was odd that the Walgreens employees watched from the store but offered no assistance. When asked they provided a partial roll of dispenser paper from their restroom. I suddenly wondered if the young woman’s distress had been heightened by attempting to get help from them?
I said, yes, you sell cigarettes and alcohol. I see that. Just don’t let a job rob you of your soul.
My granddaughters lived through some pretty rough times and for one reason or another they are unfamiliar with Bible stories, so we are starting from the beginning with Adam and Eve, Noah and those guys.
As I watch the stories unfold with them, I am struck by how fraught with tragedy these stories are–worlds fall fast and hard.
Human history is the story of carnage, destruction, and foolishness with a single bright thread of light running through it
To a cross?
To an agony I cannot imagine, an impossible math problem of justice and love.
Only One who can save us is Jesus
And when he does, nothing remains the same
Little One says
Is mommy sleeping in heaven?
No, I say
She is wide awake
Dancing and singing
I wish I were in heaven
Little One says
No, not yet dear
Let us sing and dance together as though this were the porch and the lights from the house were burning bright
Stay with me here on the porch for awhile
We will dance and sing out
grief and hope together until
These ancient gates open wide
A little over a year ago I wrote emails to Catholic official all over the state of Texas. Called some. Beseeched others. Got one response and one sympathetic conversation with a lady who said she would send along a message.
At the time I was deeply concerned because an international healthcare system with a Catholic identity was facilitating the expansion of a medical records system owned by a woman with very un-Catholic values.
I wrote the Vatican.
As Biden announces he has been blessed and authorized by the Pope to get communion and keep doing what he is doing, I can’t help but think that the list of bad popes is incomplete , and should include a few more, the guys who weren’t active felons or thieves, just cowardly or selfish or fooled by the allure of celebrity or power.
It raises two questions for me–when is a useless police department better than no police department? A bad police chief better than no police chief?
And more importantly–will Jesus find faith when he comes back? Will any of us have the courage to stand for peace for the vulnerable children targeted for destruction in their mothers’ wombs?
Luke 18:7-8 NIV
 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?  I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
We discuss names.
Her name was Shriver, then Lee, then Baker.
But that is not what her name is anymore, everyone in Heaven has a new last name,
I tell her oldest daughter
What is it? she asks
Beloved, I say
In Heaven everyone’s last name is the same–beloved
Over the years Mary would come and go. Often when she was gone for months I would worry she was dead. The time I worried about her the least was when she was in prison.
I counted how many numbers I had for her–eight, not counting the times she used her boyfriends’ or family’s phones, or the borrowed phones of the carceral state.
This time I decided to change my contact information for her from Mary the Beautiful or Mary the Precious to
The thinking was that this way I could keep track of how current the number was. This was a decision of pragmatism, acknowledging the ephemeral nature of my relationship to my daughter’s phones.
Now it just seems so darn hopeful. How could I have known it would be her last?
When Mary was little she would often whine and fuss, tantrum too, if I am honest. Sometimes in the midst of a good roaring fuss, she would ask for something extraneous, non-essential, and I would tell her hope springs eternal!
One day she quoted it back to me–hope springs a turtle!!
I changed the quote after that to her version.
Mary, today I took the girls to the river and a baby turtle, perfect and wonderful, swam to me.
Hope springs a turtle