Daily Prompt: “Rabbits,” She Said

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She was always there, my Mom’s best friend.

Myrtle, she hated, so Mike she was.

She came for tea; they went to concerts.

Slumber parties, college reunions, and charity balls,

My shy mother endured, all for the sake of friendship.

Mike brought me Lambykins the day I was born.



The night the doctors unplugged my father, Mike was there.

She told me to go to college orientation anyway –

He would have wanted it that way.

Her hair was always silver, always just so.

I never saw her without her blue eyeliner, even into her nineties.

She was a terrible flirt, “incorrigible” my mother would say.

Mike would wink, and they would laugh.

They always laughed.

And always, always, they said “rabbits” first thing on the first day of the month, for luck.

It’s how they knew they were soul mates when they met as freshmen in 1935 — they both said “rabbits.”

Mike always called the night before to remind my mother, for seventy-plus years.

After Mom died, Mike called me or my brother instead.

“Don’t forget to say rabbits!” she’d say.

Halloween night she called:

“What are we supposed to say tomorrow?”

“Rabbits,” I said, feeling very sad.

For the rest of my life, I will hear her voice on the first of the month.

“Rabbits,” she’ll say. And wink her blue-lidded eye.

Rest in Peace, Mike.

# # #

I wrote this in response to today’s Daily Prompt:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/source-of-anxiety/. You’re supposed to write about a noise, or a silence, that won’t go away. The WordPress Gods view this as a source of anxiety, but say we can interpret it different ways. When I heard this morning that Mike had passed away, I was going to write about her silence – but I find she will never be silent. And so, Mike’s monthly “rabbits” brings me comfort, not anxiety.


Not Yet. Not Right Now.


I don’t go to concerts anymore,

At least not yet.

Classical, I mean – real concerts.

It’s too hard.

Mom has passed on.


Mom has passed on,

But not before passing on her love

Of the concert hall to me.

My whole life, I watched her fill with that love,

Even if it was just a record on a turntable.


She would breathe deeply and close her eyes.

Her head would sway gently,

and then she would begin to conduct with just the slightest lilting motion of her wrist,

as if her hand was filled with helium and could not resist.


When she was young,

She sang soprano

With the Philadelphia Orchestra.

She gave up those dreams

To have us. Three of us.


Even when she was old and had lost most of the rest of herself,

She still swayed and conducted.

Sometimes I heard the music;

sometimes only she did.

She might get a little smile, like she had a secret with the universe.


So, no, if you ask me to describe how it feels

To hear a beautiful piece of music,

I won’t . . . OK?

Not yet; not right now.

Mom has passed on.


The WordPress Daily Prompt:

Describe what it feels like to hear a beautiful piece of music or see a stunning piece of art.


A Woman’s Peace


“Ultimately we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. The more peace there is in us, the more peace there will be in our troubled world.”

A Haunting Challenge

These words come from Etty Hillesum, who died in a Nazi concentration camp when she was 29 years old. She had “an old soul,” as they say — wisdom beyond her years. We will never know what peace she might have brought to the world had she not been murdered. Yet she offered a haunting challenge as she pondered the annihilation of her people:

“I wish I could live for a long time so that one day I may know how to explain it, and if I am not granted that wish, well, then somebody else will perhaps do it, carry on from where my life has been cut short…”

Photo: Etty Hillesum

Etty Hillesum

Wow – “then somebody else will perhaps do it.” W ell, I can’t explain the Holocaust for Etty, but I can try to do my “one moral duty” by reclaiming peace within my soul and hoping some of it will transfer to the world. I do believe this is our moral duty. I’ve heard it said that “hurt people will hurt people,” and I’ve certainly found that to be true. We must each take responsibility for healing our own hurting hearts.

Wounds we received in childhood may still be causing emotional reactions today, and unless we become aware of that and seek healing and peace, we’ll just be dumping our crap all over everyone else.

For the rest of our lives.

Women in Peace

I am a member of Bloggers for Peace, and as such, I have committed to post every month on the topic of peace. March being Women’s History Month, I thought I would take a brief look at women’s roles in the movement for world peace. As it turns out, it isn’t possible to do that briefly. I’d have to write a tome.

Instead of the tome (I can hear you all now, “tome, tome, tome!”), I’m sharing Etty’s story with you.

Etty’s efforts to nurture peace in her heart resulted in a profound attitude of love, hope, and gratitude, which it’s hard to imagine could survive in a concentration camp.

“Sometimes when I stand in some corner of the camp, my feet planted on earth, my eyes raised towards heaven, tears run down my face, tears of deep emotion and gratitude.”

“I know that a new and kinder day will come. I would so much like to live on, if only to express all the love I carry within me. And there is only one way of preparing the new age, by living it even now in our hearts.”

I hope you’ll read more about Etty at Gratefulness.org

Nurturing Change

How are we doing at realizing Etty Hillesum’s dream that “a new and kinder day” was coming?

According to the Eisenhower Research Project, between 152,280 – 192,550 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan as a result of the fighting since 9/11. More than seven million people have become refugees. The numbers speak for themselves.

Sometimes it’s hard to hope. War seems to be an inevitable part of the human experience, and peace is certainly not inevitable in this world. It’s something we must pray for, wait for, work for. We must intentionally nurture it from within, growing what the Bible calls the “fruits of the spirit”: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Women know a little about waiting and praying and growing things inside themselves.

I am a firm believer in the power of inner peace to transform the world. It has to start with the individual. Perhaps I’m naive, but what’s the point of living if we can’t be at peace with ourselves and make a positive difference in the world?

For me, inner peace also includes action. For instance, if I ate meat, I know my heart would not be at peace. I would see that as waging war on animals. (I’m not judging you, I’m talking about my own heart.)

I volunteer for projects that help heal our planet, I participate in peace marches, and I help feed homeless people. That’s activism, yes, it adds to the goodness in the world. But the action itself is also good for the peace of my soul.

I like how poet and human rights activist Staceyann Chin puts it: “Every day I get better at knowing that it is not a choice to be an activist; rather, it is the only way to hold on to the better parts of my human self. It is the only way I can live and laugh without guilt.”

You can check out the stories of nine women who made peace activism a way of life and won the Nobel Peace Prize as a result, including Baroness Bertha von Suttner, without whom there might not even be a Nobel Peace Prize.

A Reason to Hope

One last story of hope for peace. My friend Nate Haken is active with Partners for Peace, a  network of individuals and organizations dedicated to promoting peace in the Niger Delta. Part of what they do is identify and celebrate local peace-building initiatives, like the one called “Mothers for Peace” in Rivers State.This group of wives, sisters, mothers, and daughters takes direct action to intervene when conflicts break out in their communities. Carrying palm fronds, they march right into the conflict, waving their branches and singing songs of peace. Below is a short video about these women.

As they wave their palm fronds in the face of war, these women continue to spread Etty’s brave and peaceful spirit in the world.

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