Poem About Barbara

Comet Ison, NASA
“Enhanced Hubble Image of Comet ISON (hs-2013-14-b-full)” by NASA. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Recently, my dear friend sent me this poem that she wrote about me back in 2011. As I read it, I was amazed. She had captured a version of my life. And here I am today, having published my book Waking Up which explains, expands, and highlights some of the raw and wonderful experiences I’ve had over the past 30 years. Thanks for sending this, Marye Gail. 

Like a Blazing Comet

by Marye Gail Harrison, 2011

We met first professionally.
Her husband and I were in the same business.
he said, “You and my wife need to meet each other.”
And we did after work at “The Flying Pig.”
From the beginning we laughed a lot, shared ideas,
collaborated on a project,
wrote it up, even published.
Later we were “couples friends,”
often exchanging dinners in each others’ homes
until hers died suddenly, young,
in the spring after planting their garden.

Out of that grief, she began to explore
the More, whatever that might be.
Whatever workshops she took,
whatever books she read, she often shared.
Relaxed sitting in a big blue and white chair
in her den drinking tea,
looking out the windows at the woods,
I was also confused and stretched
practicing new listening techniques,
inquiries, self reflection.
She was like a sister I didn’t have;
I thought I would follow her anywhere.
I was angry and hurt when she started a new life
moved away, found a new man, new interests
an expensive air fare away.
But the space gave her room to explore.

Her strange meditation experiences frightened her.
An Aunt had been hospitalized for hallucinations.
She was afraid she was going crazy too.
“You’re not,” I said, “What’s happening to you
is what the mystics describe.
You need a spiritual guide.”
Finding one she traveled
deeper and deeper into her spirit,
grasped for words, trying to help me understand.
Mostly I argued with her, afraid of losing her,
seeing her slide away into realms
I couldn’t go or wouldn’t.
Surely the world we shared was more real
than this inner world in which she now floated
often untethered, sometimes afraid,
mostly indescribably in awe.
She was like a blazing comet lighting a dark sky,
not singly like the full moon,
but swinging a long shining trail behind
on which others could ride.

She stays in the present moment no matter.
I try to follow her example –
stay present to my pain and my children’s,
stay present during my heart surgery,
stay present while my mother died,
stay present to my husband’s dementia.
Stay present to my life, each day, each moment.
Stay present.