"I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch,a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit."
"I wrote this poem the night my father died with a shrug. His heart was hollow and vacant of dreams. He was convinced he didn't matter.
"We were in very different places. He lived with my mother in a condo in the heat of Hollywood, Florida, and I lived in an icy valley outside of Norwich, Vermont. One day I was in the office where I practiced psychotherapy. Linda was trying to decide whether or not to divorce Jim, her abusive husband. I was listening intently as she spoke, when suddenly, behind her, there was my father, or what could be described as a shimmering hologram of my father. He stood, staring at me, and then shrugged. He reached toward me. The jade pinky ring he always wore on his right hand slipped past his knuckle and fell to the floor.
"Linda didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. Tears fell as she talked about Jim beating her up. My father beat me up, so I understood why she was crying. I reached over to let her know she was not alone. When I shifted my gaze back behind her, my translucent father was gone.
"Later that evening, I called my mother, who had just returned from the hospital. She told me in a trembling voice that my father had passed away a few hours before, when she stepped out to the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee. I wept myself to sleep. The tears broke through me the way the frozen rivers in Vermont break open in the spring. Rivers of reaching, rivers of yearning. I floated to sleep on a surging tide of grief.
I awoke when the night was at its very blackest, feeling as if I were not only the river, but also the riverbed. I was soil, fertile, deep, open. In that moment, I understood something, without reason or explanation. I stared at my right hand. It was moving, as if it were a green plant reaching for light. I watched it turn on the old brass lamp next to my bed. I watched it reach for my favorite blue Waterman fountain pen. I watched it stretch toward my worn red leather journal. I watched it write, as if taking dictation from someone other than me, 'I will not die an unlived life. . . .'
I got out of bed, carrying my journal over to the old mahogany desk that had been my father's. I could feel the river swelling in my heart. As I sat down, it flowed out of my hand. The tears had turned to ink. The words were a bridge across an abyss my father could not cross. They were his blessing to me."