As the cool winter sun warms my cheek and the soft breeze caresses my skin, I no longer feel alone
After months of isolation, the radiant angel in the sky lifts my chin with his rays and reminds me of the peace in stillness
Reminds me that it is not over
There is still more to discover more to explore
But right now, winter holds my hand in her bony embrace, sits me on her worn bare lap, and tells me to rest and to close my eyes so I may see.
I wish I could have said goodbye
I wish I knew how
I sat here for weeks, trying to hold everything together
By strings that slowly ripped further and further
But how do you say goodbye to someone you barely knew?
You are saying goodbye to the chance of ever knowing them
Of them ever knowing you
But as I sit here in tears
Allowing the rolling hills of emotion to take their own shape within me
All I want to do is say “I loved you”
To the being and the spirit now dissolved back into the energy
I know he can hear me and I know he is at peace
But I wish that in my last video I had the words to say more
I wish I had the words to release
I had made plans
Plans to spend time with this person who has shaped my life from afar
Without you, I would not have the most amazing father
A father with the kindest heart
Without you I would not be alive
But in the process of being without you
I realize I never had you
I never had the grandfather that is there with sage wisdom at the very moment that you need it
The grandfather that shares his life story from a time long ago
Every time I saw you, I knew I loved you
Every time we left, I knew I wanted to know you
But I am not angry nor do I hold ire
Because I know you did your best
And I know you loved me from your retire
I just wish that gap, that gapingly large ocean, had closed
Had closed before your time on this earth ended
And I wish I had told you that amidst the whole in my throat where no words sprang
I am so happy you are now at peace
I can feel it deep in my body, in that space where our energy was always shared and held dear
I could feel it when Mother rang
A rush of stillness and calm so foreign from that I hear
I knew in that moment that it was you
Saying everything is ok
If it is not too much to ask, please come back once and a while
Maybe we can still get to know each other as you go about your new day
Maybe we can rekindle what we never knew
Maybe I can whisper to your soul one last time
That I will always love you
-I Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye
Short Stories / Short Narratives
It happens like a spiral, a blink of the eye. I can feel it coming, sometimes. Other times it all happens too fast. There is a swirling, an energy, a chaos, and a tension. All the muscles in my body tense to a degree that I cannot comprehend, as a rush of adrenaline washes over my limbs. The swirling gets more violent, and I can feel it- the fear, the apprehension, the knowing that “it” is coming.
He can see it too, when he looks into my eyes. My eyes become like a deer’s, afraid of the headlights into which she is about to run. But by the time that feeling hits, the whole endeavor is fragile. I can either snap myself out of it with extreme will or I give in. Give in to the chaos that is about to unfold. Saying no is the hardest part. At this point I can, but do I want to? Do I want to shove down the swirling feelings that are pushing at the gate to be let out? Do I want to quiet the storm when I know there is a safety on the other side? This is what goes through my mind and in a split second I give in. I drown into the water that is ready to break the dam and I spiral. Spiral into a fit of anxious breathing, of pacing heart beats, and of darkness.
I hold my breath. I don’t want to breathe. I am already ashamed of what is happening, and I don't deserve to take that breath. Till I hear his voice. He sits there calmly and when I look into his eyes it is all there, the love and patience that comes from his soul. A look that says "everything is ok" and I let go. I take a breath.
It may end here but more likely it will continue into uncontrolled hyperventilating. Any energy I had left in my body must be used and my short shallow breaths quicken until I am on the ground, humbled, stripped down, and dead. At least that is how it feels. And at that point it is over. There is nothing left, but my shell, a body stripped of emotion and energy, just left with shame and sadness.
I can’t move. That would take energy. I can’t speak. I would need my voice and all thoughts are gone. The panic attack is over. I made it to the other side of the storm. The quiet peaceful side where nothing matters except the moment and being wrapped in the arms of the man I love. The man that sat by the storm and calmly waited it out with me, loving and holding me through it. There are no words to describe the love, appreciation, and embarrassment I feel when I look up and see those warm chocolate eyes truly seeing me. The man that has seen the storm and still looks at me with love.
The Man that Has Seen the Storm
Vines Within My Veins
The scent of sweet honey wafts to my nose as my feet sink into the warm muddy ground. Only the sounds of the cool breeze on my cheek, rippling water, and the tall grass brushing against my legs swim to my ears as I continue to walk towards the glistening stream ahead. As I glance up, the blazing sun reminds me that there are never any clouds dotting the baby blue sky above my meadow, only the trees ghosting the edge of the clearing provide a gentle shadow along the soft grass. I squint but the trees always stand just out of my clear vision, a blurry line encircling the tranquil peace. That is when I feel the darkness begin to seep into the meadow and the clam bubble shatters. Screams far away tear me away from my walk and the cloudless sky begins to darken in preparation for a storm.
Like a slap, the scream jerks me awake from my slumber. Now snapped out of my foggy dream daze, I jump out of bed and sprint down the hall. The serene dream feels miles away as my feet pick up speed to get to Hope. It is another one of those nights. We had hoped that they would slowly dwindle on their own, but for the past few weeks they were showing up more frequently, blanketing Hope in fear. “Mommy’s coming. It’s just a vision.”
Grinding to a halt at Hope’s door, I gently twist the handle and clench my teeth at the loud squeak of the hinges. As I walk in, the warm golden glow from the hall light floods the small pink room, extinguishing the eerie darkness that crept in with Hope’s nightmare. I gingerly sit down beside Hope’s curled up body and my heart drops when I feel her quiet sobs shaking the mattress. Her trembling body is set in a rigid ball, and I know she is trying to curl away from the lingering images of her vision. Softly stroking her silky hair, I fold down next to her, hold her body in the crook of my abdomen, and gently unclasp her hands as I wrap mine around her and pull her close. “Hope, honey, open your eyes — You’re ok. You’re safe — I’m here. Shh…Take a deep breath.”
Breathing slow and deep myself, I feel her begin to relax against my chest as she takes a deep breath. This is not our first rodeo and I know that holding her for a few minutes while she comes out of her nightmare is what she needs most from me right now. My fingers glide through her hair like moving through water as I gently rub soothing circles into her scalp. I can still feel her racing heart as we both focus on slow deep breathing.
Hope is only nine years old, but I already know she is incredibly special. She has an intuitive gift just like me. But every night, I pray that her gift will grant her beautiful dreams rather than the terror that has been plaguing her mind these last few weeks. I wish I could shield her and take the burden of the night off her shoulders, but even with my protective streak, I know she is strong enough to hold this gift. Until my last breath, I will be here to help her find her way as she grows into her beautiful expression.
I can feel Hope’s heart begin to steady as she unfurls her legs and stretches out her coiled limbs. Turning over, her piercing blue eyes meet mine and I get lost for a moment in their vacant stare. Her puffy face and ghostly eyes are an open canvas, sketched in the strain of waking up in pain. I brush a loose lock of her caramel brown hair behind her ear as she nestles deeper into my chest. “You are safe. Everything is ok.” I pause to give the comforting words a moment to sink in. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Hope lifts her eyes back to mine and a soft sob slips out of her lips as she nods her head. I patiently wait and pull her in a bit tighter as she rests her head on my sternum. With a big exhale she begins to speak while nervously rubbing the soft skin at her wrists. “It was the same as always. The images were blurry, but I could feel the knives entering my skin.”
A shudder runs through her body before she musters the courage to continue. I reach down to caress her wrist and wrap my fingers around the tender skin. I know the warmth of my hand will help replace the lingering sensations of the dream. “There were so many – in my wrists, my eyes, my feet. Each stab….” Her voice trails off as more choking sobs escape her lips. “And then the pain… I could barely breath and the next thing I knew I was hearing a scream. It wasn’t until I heard your voice that I woke up and realized the scream was coming from my mouth.”
We both take a deep breath together like we have practiced many times before. Leaning forward I kiss Hope’s forehead and we remain in this quiet stillness, letting the peace of being together wash over us for as long as we can. I barely catch the soft whisper of Hope’s voice when she begins speaking again. “How do you do it?”
“Do what, baby?” I try to smooth my voice into a gentle calming cadence.
“How do you survive the darkness?”
It is now my turn to steady my heart rate as I contemplate her question. While our gifts are different, I know the pain that comes with feeling deeply. I can feel the emotions that Hope feels every time she has a vision. It wakes me before her screams and haunts my body after she falls back asleep. As an empath, feeling the heightened darkness from others- pain, fear, panic, hatred, shame- are the most excruciating experiences and sensations of my life. But feeling their heightened happiness, joy, love, and peace within my body makes every pain worth it.
Hope’s big blue eyes look back up to catch mine, her eyebrows drawn together in an inquisitive expression. She is one of the most observant people I know, and she is only a child. A child still learning how to navigate life, let alone understand her nightly visions. With a deep breath, I hug her back into my chest and continue.
“With great difficulty.” I sigh out the breath caught in my lungs. “There are two sides to all of our gifts and the balance is what makes each moment special. I would not know love without understanding the pain of hate. I would not know peace, without feeling the raging currents of fear. Our job is to show up in both the moments that feel terrible and the moments that feel lovely.”
I pause because how do you explain this balance to a child who just experienced more pain in a vision than most adults do in their real life. Trusting my intuition, I continue. “It is not easy, but the Divine would not have given you your gift of sight if you weren’t strong enough to experience it. And I will always, always, be here to keep you safe and help you come back from a vision.”
A soft smile graces my lips, and I can see the bright shimmer seep back into Hope’s eyes. “I love you so much, Hope.” Kissing the top of her head, I inhale the sweet smell of her shampoo. “Take a deep breath. There you go. — Good. And another. — What do you feel when you breathe?’
I can feel her breath begin to deepen as her belly presses against mine. “I can feel the storm inside me.” She whispers, taking another deep inhale. “It feels like a tornado.”
“Can you see it moving?” I know the storm she describes well. It is the same current of energy that surges through my body when I leave her room after her nightmares. No matter how much I try each night, I have yet to successfully coax my body back to sleep after one of Hope’s disturbing visions.
“Yes, but it feels stuck in my belly. It isn’t moving anywhere else.” Her words quicken and begin to run into each other as she continues. “It feels like it is trying to get out, trying to eat me alive.”
Weaving my hand between us and rubbing soft circles on her belly, I lower my lips to her ear and gently whisper. “Don’t be afraid of the energy, Hope. It won’t hurt you. But you can help it move. Do you want to help it move?”
She shakes her head yes against my chest.
“All you need to do is with each breath gently guide it out of its ball and throughout your body. Imagine when you pet a cat and with each stroke their fur and any knots tangled in it get softer. Feel the energy move down your legs and to your toes. Feel it move up your chest and down your arms. Then feel it sparkle out of your fingertips like a magic wand. Don’t forget that you are the princess of your story, Hope.”
I can feel her body release even more into our hug as her heart rate slows back down. A few minutes pass in silence until I hazard a peak around her head. Each rise and fall of her chest confirms my suspicions, as a softness creeps into the emotional lines of her face. My strong little princess fell back asleep. Very slowly I lay her back onto her pillow, kiss the top of her head, and pull the covers up to her chin. I know she will not wake up again until morning. Her nightmares only grace us with their presence once a night. Thank goodness. Hope deserves peaceful dreams, and it tears at my heart that her new visions are fraught with so much agony. If only I knew what they meant, I might be able to help her stop them, but only she will know their meaning at the right time.
Reassured that she is fast asleep, I get out of Hope’s bed and slowly meander to the door, avoiding the creaky floorboards of our old home. The warm hallway light relieves some of the tension in my shoulders and I decide to keep the door open. Maybe the warm light will protect Hope from any lingering darkness in the corners of her room.
With a sigh, I let my shoulders shrug. The relieved feeling from a moment before is quickly fleeting as the weight of emotions from Hope’s vision begin flooding my body. The pain Hope felt, the fear in her eyes… Shaking my head I squeeze my own eyes shut. I can feel each emotion that ran through her body as she awoke from her vision. With each wave of piercing emotion comes a knot of guilt residing in my core. Guilt that I cannot take away her pain. No child should have to experience that which Hope feels in her nightmares. Amidst the rope of emotions fraying within me, I know Hope’s best bet is to learn how to have a positive relationship with her gift. And that is exactly what I vowed, those many years ago, to help her do. While she didn’t come from my womb, Hope is my daughter and I love her with all my heart. She is my world.
Walking past my bedroom door, I look longingly at the warm bed with its white down comforter and Posey, our cat, sleeping curled in a ball on my pillow. She always steals the warmest spot of the bed when I leave. A soft chuckle escapes my lips, bringing a welcome wave of joy to break up the heavy emotions storming inside my core. With a few deep breaths, I follow the same visualization that Hope had to expel the energy throughout my body and I decide to pass my bedroom and begin the trek down the steps towards my studio. There would be no more sleep for me tonight. I can never fall asleep after feeling Hope’s pain.
Each step feels like a mile as my legs rebel against my mind’s “No Sleep” warrant. I finally make it to my studio and slide the pocket door open, revealing a dark cluttered room with paint and canvases strewn about along the tiled floor. I should have gotten socks from my room. Each step on the icy tiles wakes any lingering sleep from my muscles and, if I was not before, I am now fully alert for the task at hand.
I haul a sterile white canvas to the back wall and grab a few paint tubes, brushes, and my paint splattered paper plate from the ground. I plop down in front of the canvas and begin working. Painting always helps clear my mind, but more importantly it helps me express the emotions I feel deep in my body. Each emotion has a color, a flavor, a unique signature.
Staring at the blank canvas, my mind drifts back to a time long ago. I tried to fight my empathic gift when I was younger. The deep feelings that I knew did not belong to me or my life, consumed me to the point that I was left in a perpetual state of panic. It wasn’t until I found Lana, Hope’s mother, that I learned how to navigate the overpowering energy. Lana taught me how to have a gift and not get lost in it and that is exactly what I am teaching Hope. I wish I had Lana’s unconditional love when I was Hope’s age. She was extraordinary, just like her daughter.
I dip my paint brush in some water and begin to swirl my tool of choice around in each paint puddle. Each swirl mixes the colors until I find the shades that perfectly match my inner chaos. It is here in this space of creation that I give myself permission to zone out and get lost in the emotions. However, this time, I don’t get consumed like I did when I was young. I have learned how to safely let go and deeply feel.
I don’t know how long I sat there adding layer upon layer of paint to the canvas, but it feels like only a few minutes have passed when the bright morning rays of light start shining through my studio window. Hope will be up soon to get ready for school and I want to surprise her with my newest creation. I painted it just for her. A reminder that if she can get through her nightmares, she can do anything. We all need a reminder of our strength. Not the toxic macho strength that comes with endurance and shoving away our feelings, but the strength that comes with being vulnerable and showing up in the good and the bad moments of life. The strength that comes with knowing the world and still maintaining our innocence. Hope is the embodiment of that kind of strength. My little angel who has deeply felt and seen the worst in people within her visions and wakes up each morning with so much love in her heart.
Blinking a few times to wash away the haze of my thoughts, I take a few deep breaths to come fully back into this moment. With the new traces of dawn shining through the window, I can see my studio in all its glory for the first time since I trudged in last night. Wow, the darkness really did it a favor. Now, in the light of day, the empty paint tubes scattered on the floor, blank and used canvases falling from their stacks along the walls, and the loose-leaf paper littering the tiles looks like someone had ransacked the small room. Looking for what, I couldn’t even imagine. The most precious thing here are the emotions splayed out in color on my canvases. With a shrug I turn back to my new painting. My studio always looks like this. How am I to find anything when it is clean? I have a clear system and it works for me. Hope always laughs when she strolls in. She knows she is just as messy as I am. It must be those creative instincts.
Standing up, I pick up the canvas in front of me and give it a good look. You never know what a final painting will amount to when you begin. With each brush stroke a new layer of its being emerges and I always feel like an archeologist as I unravel the mystery of the work in front of me. I almost gasp as the new light of day illuminates each subtle stroke. I painted the pain that I felt in Hope and the work in front of me shows it. With wide colorful brush strokes streaking across the canvas and large stretches of both stark white and black patches, the thickly layered painting reveals a chaos like none other. Staring at the turmoil depicted in paint in front of me, I can feel my body slowly relax and release, my knees begin to buckle. She did it. We did it. We made it through the storm. Now we get to enjoy the peace of the morning.
I almost forgot the final touch. Grabbing my paint brush one last time, I scrawl my signature at the bottom right corner of the painting- Hecatae Winters. Then I move over to the bottom left corner to christen the artwork with its name- Night Visions for Hope. Perfect.
Carrying the canvas out of my studio and up the steps, the chill on the floor from last night is completely gone and replaced by the warmth that only morning can bring. I can hear Hope’s gentle snoring from down the hall and a broad smile lifts the corners of my lips as I listen. Everything is going to be ok.
Walking on the balls of my feet, I creep closer to Hope’s room. Anticipation lacing every step. While Hope has always been my biggest cheerleader and supporter of my work, I always feel nervous when I show her something I painted for her. I can feel the hitch in my breathing as I glance around the door frame into her room, the sunlight streaming in catching the natural highlights in her long hair. Her body looks so peaceful as she lays there with her hair now fully covering her face. Her arms are falling over the edge of her twin bed and her legs stretch into an impossible feat of flexibility. Shaking my head, my smile only gets broader. A wave of relief floods my system knowing she is ok and sleeping peacefully after last night. She truly is my special baby.
Slowly making my way into her room, avoiding the creaks of the floorboards, I lift the canvas onto a lonely hook on her wall. Once it is hanging and stable, I take a step back and notice the picture frame of Lana and I on Hope’s dresser. Hope was only three years old when Lana passed away and while she may not remember her mother, I make it a priority to tell her stories about Lana every night before she falls asleep. The soft whistle of her snores brings me back to the present and I walk over and crawl into bed beside Hope. Maybe I can get some rest before her alarm goes off and the school rush begins.
After leaning in to brush the hair out of her face and pepper a kiss on her forehead, I pull the covers back over us and wrap Hope into my arms. Her lips subtly curve at their edges as she shuffles onto her side and nestles deeper into her pillow. Only a minute passes before her snores pick back up and, in that moment, I realize how truly lucky we are to have each other. How truly lucky I am to have my gift. Without it, I would not be able to feel the overwhelming love and peace of this moment right now, where Hope is safe, lost in a happy dream. While I do not know what the future will hold for Hope or her gift, I know that I will do everything I can to be the mother that she deserves and help her find her way, one night at a time.
My eyelids begin to feel like weights, and I let the heaviness take over as they drop closed. I can feel the excitement of the night wash over me in a wave of exhaustion. Hope’s warm body tucked into mine reminds me of when I held her in her tears, but the peaceful energy of this moment could not be more dissimilar to the turmoil of last night. I want Hope to know how much l love her, but only an indecipherable whisper escapes my lips as I drift off into sleep, back to my meadow where there are no clouds.
As I walked through the portal and into the meadow, everything was so clear. Wildflowers and grasses grew tall all around and the tree line encircled the field with its dark green foliage. I stood in the clearing, right in the middle of it all, with my gifts in a basket and my heart open to receiving. That is when they came. The beings of the North, East, South, and West, the elements, the animals, the plants, and my guides all walked into the clearing and gathered in a circle around me. They came to welcome me with love as we gathered for the ceremony.
The beings of the North, East, South, and West all stepped forward, each representing a powerful element. To each, I offered my gift and in return they gave me a gift of their unique magic. With the wind came a gust of protection, wisdom, and love that I still feel to this day every time the wind blows against my skin. With fire came the burning flame of my inner light and phoenix wings on my back, reminding me that I am always supported in shining my light bright. With water came a cleanse like no other. A torrential rain washed over my body as I sat in the clearing. It flooded my soul with pure joy and offered me a moment of release. But the gift that stood out the most was the one that Earth gave to me.
As I bent down on my knees to receive the gift that the beings of the West had to offer, I felt a connection like no other, a safety, a sense of home and family. Slowly, a vine of roses grew out of the ground and gently wound their way through my palms, winding themselves through my veins. To this day, I still return to these vines within me as I navigate my journey. They are a gift for which I am forever grateful. They are a symbol of my purpose here on Earth and my connection to Mother Gaia.
After blinking my eyes open, I looked around my room, now far from the idyllic clearing. I came out of this shamanic journey feeling like I had come home to a part of my soul that I knew but could not explain. My heart swelled in awe of what life has to offer when we get still enough to connect to the parts of us that are calling to be heard, the parts of us that go beyond our 3D body. The next time the wind blows, the fire glistens, the rain pours, or the Earth calls your name, give yourself permission to get still and listen. You never know what the elements may whisper in your ear.
One Day at a Time