“there are a thousand communicable ways to talk love, there is not one fitting word to explain away empty.” – Jacqueline Cioffa
I wasn’t going to write a sappy. I wasn’t. But, I jumped.
My father was and always will be the great love of my life. It’s been seven years, the 5th of May. I know the date I was there beside him. My mom, too. I can’t speak for my brothers, nieces or anyone who had the good fortune to meet him. He taught me everything I know about kindness, loyalty, humor, respect, family and faith. His faith was unnerving, never wavering for one second. I was a hellion, a wild child and my dad never judged. He watched and waited to pick up the pieces. There are too many stories. One I remember vividly. I was 18, spoiled brat, came home drunk, puking my guts out. I don’t even drink anymore. My father cleaned me up, put me to bed and slept on the floor beside me. I can still feel him near, even if I can’t see him.
“Take care of your mother, be a good girl. I love you with my whole heart.”
Okay dad, I’ll try. Although I’m not sure I’m doing a bang up job. Her and I, we fight. Argue. A lot. Rarely agree on anything. I’d like to wring her neck. This woman, the person I call mom I aim to please. She wanted a cordless vacuum for Mother’s Day, not a fancy car, Dior or diamonds. Something useful with a purpose. That’s all. I’d be so lucky and well-adjusted to be more like her. The original, fearless warrior.
I’ve experienced the love of a father like mine, and a mother. Together, they made our family complete. Wherever you are Choff, I hope you’re winning and smirking that devilish grin. The heavens and the orbs are in your favor. It’s your time.
I have to go right on living. It’s rudimentary. Five-year old mathematics, numbers you live a whole life by.
I think they stink. Crap odds. I have to stay anyway, a while longer. I guess. The canvas resets to a stark sterile dove white, a color choice off a paint swatch. The happy, unhappy complicated family colors muted and wiped clean with the stroke of a paint brush. Obliterated by a sixty dollar gallon of paint.
I close my eyes and trust I will see them, the shade memories. I trust they were indeed real, trust they will remain to guide and comfort the remaining journey.
Putrid acid green, Pepto-Bismol pink, sherbet orange and garish gold marble swirls alive in the brain.
Life lived in increments and numbers. The numbers they never lie.
I hang crystal prisms in the bedroom window to capture the sunbeams washing over my face, remembering the weight and light of a kind of pure and selfless love.
It wasn’t perfect, I’m not deluded I know that.
Life was solid, a true gray with primary colors whirling all around.
And that, you can build upon.
Six feet of dock stretches out over a flat, refreshing cool body of water with no threat of jagged rocks, seaweed, or prey absolutely nothing that could hurt you.
With each breath we count, constantly weighing the risks, odds and numbers.
Me, I love to swim. I need to remember that more often.
Inside every jump right before you hit the water lives the dream and infinite possibility.
Right here I’ve been. Five years, or six? I lost track. From this chair. In this room. I recover, over and over. I type days and days, novelties. My view, the intimate, safe space where I am free. To be. The color I am. Black circular with the pinpoint hole starving for the light. Sick, oh yeah. I have been that. Not today. Today I am less unwell. I am sunburst orange, slightly out of focus. The sun is out. Time to teak the lounge chairs. Put away summer season. This room I love, this space can wait.
Maybe I overthink it. Maybe I’m the fidgety, free-spirit bound by an overweighted body, so yes I do. I overthink it.
Perhaps, I think too much. Anticipating the one thousand steps in front of me, stuck inside the tens of thousands behind my back. I don’t know. I can’t fix the past, weave a sparkle plenty doll future where the waters remain oh so calm, indigo swaying temperate.
I. don’t. know. I call it straight, as I see it. Then, there are the convoluted thoughts, ice cubes smashing angry against the glass. We’re all connected, until we’re not.
Simplistic words of a child.
Until they’re the heartbreaking sounds, gut wrenching final good-bye from a beloved.
The precious one, we can not, will not, refuse to exist without. I overthink it, how could I not.
The Vast Landscape and GEORGIA PINE. symbiotic, extensions of my time here.
-excerpt from GEORGIA PINE.
by Jacqueline Cioffa
ONE TIMES FOUR
Georgia pulled the rocker close to her grandfather’s, almost touching. She needed to be near, reassured by the sounds of his breathing. Side by side, gliding back and forth. She had nowhere to go, nowhere she’d rather be. Mostly, she rocked while he nodded off. He was her most favorite person. She refused a life without him. Georgia knew what was coming. Maxine wasn’t the only one with a gift, she didn’t brag. Her grandmother was a fading memory, but Georgia could still recall the tight squeeze of her hand. How overtired giggly they got when she tucked her in. Harry whispered secrets in her ear.
8/8/14. Global Meditation for Peace.
Is happening today, around the globe. Set your best intentions, positive healing thoughts. Many of us have more than enough, too much stuff. Excess is the new millennium philosophy. Take two minutes, a minute to meditate, pause and reflect. Children are being blown to smithereens, missiles shred civilian planes from the sky, war and chaos are the new comfort. Others (our brothers) suffer, while we sit comfortably watching the news on one of seven TVs, aghast. Grateful, this tragedy is not happening in ‘my insular world.‘ It is happening, indirectly. This is our collective planet, on lease for a short while.
8/8/14. Today, an army of peace warriors are sending light and good wishes into the universe. Hundreds of thousands strong. Be mindful.
Walking into my local bookstore with a stack of my books, was another scary, gratifying, humbling, indie author adventure. On a good day, I’m in sweats, zero makeup, typing away. When I started writing The Vast Landscape, I never expected the amazing, overwhelming, heartwarming, visceral response to Harrison, and her story. The book, my book sits on a bookshelf next to John Green, Donna Tartt, and yes, E.L. James, in excellent company. So, while I hate to dress, apply lips, concealer and blush, go out into the real world with my cardboard box of dreams, I do. In spite of the million and one reasons not to, insecurities, horrible PR & Marketing skills, hand tremors and anxiety. I do it because no one else can & my bestie tells me I have to. Big dreams start small, one by one by one. I am Indie proud.
Support your local bookstore because, they’re smart.
BOOK SIGNING to follow… in Sept. O’yeah
Xmas, 1970. Santa brought a white doll house, with a blue roof topped with a shiny, gold bow. Wooden furniture and a funny man with kind, hazel eyes smiling at me, full of pride. I was 2. How could I remember? How could I know, dare to imagine, how full of happy this man would make me. This oh so amazing, lightning bolt father of mine. How magical growing up in our family would be, how jovial he would make it. He kept a solid roof over my head, our heads. Every single good I am came straight from his heart. He was Christmas, the Easter Bunny, Disney, the every hero in my bedtime stories. Being in his company never got old or monotonous. He taught me the most important lessons by example; be kind, be compassionate, be humble, don’t judge, keep it simple, give whenever, as much and wherever you can. Keep on giving, give it all away. Don’t boast, don’t ask, do it in secret. Because, you have more than you need. However much you have, share it. Don’t hold onto to things; grudges, ideas, envy, they won’t matter. Take care of your mother, she won’t ask but she’ll need you. How could I know, when he said goodbye forever, a lifetime of his love would not die. I miss him, my daddy. Me, the adult woman forty-four Christmas’ past. I miss the one who made life brighter, better, more meaningful than yesterday. He’s never far, lives in every wall, every memory, every room in our house. It might be impossible for a two-year old to remember playing doll house with her daddy, one long forgotten Christmas. It’s not impossible today. I recreate the dream, close my eyes and I am back there, on a shaggy, spotted, brown and yellow carpet by his side. He’s easy to remember, impossible to forget. I loved him before I ever knew I was capable of great big love, and I’ll love him every day after. My heart tells me so, and I am half a heart his precious baby, adored daughter. The other part belongs to her, my mother. And there’s plenty of room leftover. He showed me how to keep stretching, expanding the muscle.
Happy Father’s Day, daddy. Thank you for teaching my heart how to smile, for loving me so complete, so big, so much better than I could’ve asked for.
I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord
the dark squashes me in broad daylight
And I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, Oh Lord
big moments, big, big grandiose moments
still waiting, still hoping, oh Lord
do you hear me, screaming
Can you feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord, oh Lord
faith is a five letter word hard to swallow
rocks, pebbles slice and cut going down
I bleed red same as you
Well, if you told me you were drowning
I’d jump in and regret it
I would not lend a hand
yeah, I would unwilling
hatred, tick embedded disease
I’ve seen your face before my friend
don’t have any
friends, strangers, foes, allies, enemies
But I don’t know if you know who I am
how could you, hide my face
so complicated, hard to navigate
Well, I was there and I saw what you did
everything I thought true
wrong, wrong, wrong
big moments don’t come
I saw it with my own two eyes
I misunderstood, got it wrong oh Lord
I did that, sole responsible
I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life, oh Lord
keep waiting, hope dwindling
fight or flight, fight or flight, fight or flight
Lord can’t save me now, joker, charlatan
thick of it
Stranger to you and me…
DRUMROLL, Phil Collins
Oh Lord, I forgot
love that song
Phil Collins, In The Air Tonight partial lyrics
“It all comes back to a red metal bench in the woods on a small hill by a nothing- special pond. The air is sweet and wet and fall is here for now. Ducks sleep near the brisk, damp water waiting to take flight to sunnier places, offering no solution. I shiver and squirm in my own discomfort, clenching the bench, determined to will myself better. I’ll sit there god damn it, you fucking divine coxsucker, I’m as stubborn as you, until there is something to look forward to. I’m not pretending rosy and cheery just maybe a hint of curiosity.”
-excerpt The Red Bench by Jacqueline Cioffa
Because life is hard enough.
Everyone deserves something beautiful. I was never the girl who liked flowers.
I discovered I loved digging in the dirt instead, leaving the hidden seed behind.
Waiting a full, grueling season, wondering which plant and flower had survived the gray freeze of a long, biting winter.
Just like one hundred cycles before, the sun reappears. I wonder if the flowers will thrive long after I’m gone.
I do this for me, not money or fame. Just like the words I lovingly leave on the page.
To create, a little something magical.
Because everyone deserves a taste of beautiful.
Because life is hard at times.
Life is beautiful and hard enough.