A poem written 9/5/9

Remodeling as a Transformative Device

(Better than Illness)

Every summer for a long time,
or often anyway,
illness has caught me—
serious enough to warrant
immediate concern
life-threatening even.

And all time was then divided
into before the diagnosis
and after it, life wiped
away as I had known it,
what had seemed important
became less than trivial.

Amnesia set in
about how things had been
and I couldn’t get back
to “normal.”
The process of healing
took the time it took

and the lessons came
and some stuck;.
some left until
the next time.
And on and on it went
with help coming at key moments.

I learned how to ask and receive.
I learned how to balance in chaos.
How to laugh at darkness.
How to let myself feel
and even cry in the presence of others.
And I wrote it all down:

the insights, the quest, the stories
that seemed to give meaning
to suffering, to healing.
Was there no other way
to transformation than
ripping off my skin

again and again?
Then, this summer:
remodeling—Let everything be different
than it had been. Let clutter
be cleared, past failures forgiven,
all belongings spread out,
nothing where it had been.

Ask: If I were moving,
would I keep this?
And as dusty carpet went out
and clean wood floors went in,
light came too, gleaming.
Kitchen cabinets refaced in rich cherry,

Santa Cecelia (patron saint of creativity)
and the name of our chosen granite from Brazil.
All that was worn and shabby
made new again.
Moving on without moving away.
Color, space, clean air,

promise, possibility, openness.
We can’t find our way back
to what was…
even it we wanted to.
Old habits are breaking
like how high to reach to answer the phone

or where to locate a pair of scissors or stamp or fork,
nothing is where it was,
all part of the 17 or 39 or whatever number
of changes in the environment to sustain
healing changes in me.

And the rest of the family?
Well, they are in the thick and thin of it too.
If they can be nourished
by all this,
if they can learn to function
without the usual foundation,

if they can be surrounded by and
immersed in energy for where they are going…
all the better.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
Copyright 2009

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