Tag Archives: transitions

In Between Lives: Ailbhe’s Experience

Some come to this world beyond with eager wonder, the need for resting, the joy of homecoming. I, however, fought fiercely for my life, even after it was very obviously ending. The illness was wasting my body away, but this only had the opposite effect on my tenacity of spirit. I had too much to lose, too much more to do. I suppose I died in battle, but not the kind I wanted to be remembered by. I didn’t win, of course. But I didn’t know any better not to try.

Until Mairin joined me, I was a spirit haunted by the living ones, by the stories I read in their eyes before mine drew closed against the day. But she was not long in arriving, in a way, we were all reunited quite quickly, and this was beyond joy for us.

It is hard to quantify time in the space beyond solid things, where there is growing and changing but no yesterday or tomorrow. But the time does come when we are to start getting ready to experience the adventure of another lifetime. I am grateful and overwhelmed with excitement for this.


We are gathered together about a fire that does not burn, a silent glow flitting about shimmering faces. I reach out and take Mairin’s hand. Our hands do not meet, but intertwine, fall together, weave into one another.

All around me, the intentions and feelings of others shine bright against the pale red sky. They form a web of wordlessness which is instantly understood. This is the way of speaking without any need for language and the limits it places on expression.

I am thinking about the world I left behind, where there are rivers and wild boars and hunting and crying and trees and beer, and passion, and hunger and sorrow and dancing and shouting and running . . . and that solidity I continue to try to touch, that I am not quite used to living without.

None of us feel we have had enough of the world, of moving and living and breathing and knowing the beauty and sorrow and joy and somber reflection which is all living out loud. There is much more to experience. There is growing old: most of us have not done so before. There is growing and learning new things, and, I probably mentioned this before but, there’s beer. I mean, I miss food, and eating, a lot.

I miss sunrises and singing the song of the dawn to a real dawn. I miss screaming and climbing trees. I miss knocking out anyone in my charge who is causing trouble and even miss their causing the trouble in the first place. I’m glad I don’t have to sleep, but miss curling up on a sleeping roll, or even on the hardpacked ground close to the smell of earth and rooted things. I miss all sorts of things,. I’m ready to try my hand at more.

As the day wanes around us, I take notice of the children chasing each other through a field of grasses not far off, and I consider that as much as I enjoy watching them, I could do another life without having children of my own. Taking care of a nine is need enough for responsibility, children are far less capable of feeding themselves. Also children demand a particular kind of patience. I’d have to be able to reconcile myself to many hours of inaction where I’d simply be holding them, and learn to tolerate getting spit up on. Then one day I’d have to provide the means to secure their future. I ran from my future as a child. What’s the point of bringing someone into the world, then demanding she not be who she was born to become?

In this place beyond time, I have reconciled with my birth family. But even now, I hardly spend time with any of them, my sister Mairin being the exception of course. My family is here all around me, laughing and sharing stories, dreaming into being our next try at living. I look out at the fields that sway for miles, full of wildflowers and wilder children. They are not so different, I realize, from the dreams forming shape and dancing in our eyes. Wild ones and our children.


Cold Comes Then

Cold seeps
Sullen and sulky

Slides beneath
the weather strip

Slips between
glass and track

Sears weary bones
With the ache of age

Inches shivering
Down your back

The Door Through

The room fills with people
Here to walk the painted labyrinth
Outlined in lights
We sing the songs of many times and places

And then you stand beside me
And hand over hand
The light that I am,
You are weaving, over and through

Things tenuous now, I tossed into in-between
Again, I part ways with uncertainty
Grown weary of its constant uncoiling
Assessing the world with wary narrow stare

And for a single second
One tick of the clock
Counting, counting down up there on the wall
I decide, step across, let go

Take your hand, our eyes meet
Everything I ought to run after
Around me falls away, dissolving
Even the fear of loving what I could lose

So much lighter now
Only brilliant joy
Welling up, cascading down
Earth and sky, and I

At the center, and from inside out
Around us, everyone is glowing
And it dawns on me, I’ve already answered
Your question at the heart of what we’re singing:

“I have opened a door
A door for you, that no one can close,
Will you walk through,
Will you walk through with me?”

Music and lyrics by Lawson Barnes and Carol Barriger

I Am — Barely

I am barely speaking
I am waiting for
The times when
I will no longer
Weep for you.

I am barely blinking
I am remembering
The spaces
We once occupied
At the same time.

I can hardly keep listening
I am sitting
In the silence
And it is so loud
And I don’t know
What I am.

I am barely moving
I wander the places
I could have shared,
But held close in.
I could have belonged to,
But only longed for.

I am barely sleeping.
The circle of
Time and space
Chases me back onto myself
To the mirrored
Reflected pieces falling
With nowhere to land.

I am barely becoming
Aware of
The dissonance of silent voices
The fragile brokenness of living
Aching to be made more than the marrow it is
Coursing as it does through dreams.

I am almost terrified
That choices are stepping stones
Vanishing once they are crossed over
As if decision is wading through the mud and the fog
The mists veiling what lies ahead
And nothing but footfalls behind me
Beginning to lose definition.

I am barely teetering
On the point
Where water meets sand
Would you jump in
No telling which you’d meet
Or would you simply
Keep still?

I am barely asking
This question
Which has no answers
Only arguments
With tales trailing behind them
Longer than before I was born.

I am imperceptibly hoping
That I will turn around now and walk away,
But if I listen or move
Or even blink,
I might miss you passing by
And remain unknowing.

I am tentatively dreaming
Of the day when I do not retreat
Back the same way I have come
So that then, if we are ever
Again in the same place
You will know that I am
No longer afraid of my own shadow.

I am deeply wanting
To find the time to tell you
That I have listened
To myself and followed
My own footprints
To a space
Of my own.