Little One

(For my nephew)

Your entrance was preceded by
your mother’s cry of pain
and followed by your own
announcement.
“I am here,”
you proclaimed, though
the words haven’t been given to you yet.
Your mother’s struggle supplanted by
the love felt for you as you were
lifted, a gift, into
maternal embrace.

I hope you have your father’s sense of humor;
his ability to express the
boundless love he feels
for those he cares about.
His frugality, integrity, and
honesty.

I wish for you
your mother’s laugh, her
fierce spirit and
intense loyalty.
I hope you have her stubbornness, and
her refusal to back down
when facing the seemingly insurmountable.

But these are just parts of your possibility;
the truth will be so much more.
You are a combination:
both the before and
something new.

We’ve been waiting here for you;
we’re happy that you’ve come along.
A family, made a little bigger,
a little brighter, and elevated as your
giggles signal the
hope of another generation.

You will do things we can only guess at;
songs will touch your spirit,
stories will guide you,
and you will learn
as you take your first steps.
We will pour ourselves into you; and though
your family may, at times,
struggle to understand you,
(and you them)
know that you are our kin.

And that means something.

There is so much love for you that you
will one day understand;
I am overcome with the splendor of you,
and you have only just arrived.

I won’t hope that you don’t make mistakes;
we all have, and you surely will.
But, I wish for you to learn from them;
take your parent’s advice and heed them.

I wish I could spare you from
the pain of the world,
but that would only serve to
keep you from sharing
all you have to give to it;
and you have so much to share,
little one,
so much.

by Erik Shinker

Keepsakes

Trinkets retained,
samples of penmanship, photographs, and
items once associated with
those now gone.

Snapshots in time, preserved in the
inanimate, the trifling, the
discarded. Things to be cast aside by
the unknowing, which carry meaning in
their motion through time.

Memories made tangible
call to mind moments
so easily lost.
Those of us,
left behind,
cling to the last scraps we still have;
awaiting the day we
are reunited.

by Erik Shinker

And All the World is Gray

In 2017, at the celebration of my grandparents’ 60th anniversary, my uncle Mark asked what it was that they wanted their children and grandchildren to learn from them; my grandpa answered:

“The most important thing, no matter who you are, is not to be prejudiced as you grow up. Mind your elders. Be friends with everybody. You want love and friendship and that’s the way I am. I hope my kids and their grandkids find someone and they treat them how I treated Monette.”

I typed those words into the notes app my phone, trusting auto-correct because my sight was blurred by tears similar to those I have while typing this now, and was glad that my uncle had asked that question even though it alluded to the day that my grandparents would no longer be here with us; for Richard Diaz, my grandpa, that day has come.

IMG_7456.JPG Continue reading “And All the World is Gray”

A Song for Marilyn and George

It has been ten years since my grandfather passed, and I cannot help but wonder at what he would think about how far I have come. So much has changed since I last saw him, and I can only hope I have walked a path similar to that which he wanted for me.

Perpetually Past Due

Grandparents seem to fall into one of two distinct groups: they can be unknowable entities that we are forced to visit through obligation; shriveled creatures who seemingly live on another plane of existence as relics of times gone by. Or, they can be loving mentors that support us and willingly give sage advice; human teddy bears who want to see us succeed in life and look forward to our accomplishments. I have been lucky enough to have the second type on both sides of my family. My maternal grandparents are still living to this day; this is my remembrance and tribute to the two no longer with us.

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What It Means to Be Alone

It is a strange thing to look around and come to the realization you are alone; it is even more strange to comprehend that you don’t mind it being this way. But how did you get here? Did everyone leave you, or was it a slow process of elimination until you were the only one left? Isolation can be comforting, especially for introverts, but is it healthy? At what point does cynicism overrule optimism and force you to accept your isolation? They say that hindsight is 20/20, so let’s take a look back at how this came to be, and what it means to be alone.

Continue reading “What It Means to Be Alone”

A Song for Marilyn and George

Grandparents seem to fall into one of two distinct groups: they can be unknowable entities that we are forced to visit through obligation; shriveled creatures who seemingly live on another plane of existence as relics of times gone by. Or, they can be loving mentors that support us and willingly give sage advice; human teddy bears who want to see us succeed in life and look forward to our accomplishments. I have been lucky enough to have the second type on both sides of my family. My maternal grandparents are still living to this day; this is my remembrance and tribute to the two no longer with us.

Continue reading “A Song for Marilyn and George”