An Unassembled Table and 42,538 Pieces of Hardware

Today I watched my almost 20-year-old kitchen table leave my home

It was old, stained, chipping, covered underneath with layers of Disney stickers

Evidence of its long and beloved history, weaved into fibers of oak.

Now it has left to continue its life with one branch of a broken family

To build more history, create new memories beneath a different roof.

I am sitting on the floor of the empty dining room, noise echoing

Around me are strewn parts of a new, unassembled kitchen table

And about 42,538 pieces of hardware carefully separated into piles.

I have never put together a table before, having never needed to learn

But these are unprecedented times – this table will not build itself.

I am squinting at an encyclopedic manual full of pictures and no words

Learning on the fly how to use a screwdriver 101, how to hammer nails,

How to assemble a table to replace the one I thought would always be here.

There is grieving in this process, but it is oddly comforting to cry while building

Viewing this hardware, these wooden boards, the way I view my heart:

Scattered in a thousand pieces but capable of reassembling.

How do you rebuild a life after so much loss?

Well, you sit on the floor of your empty dining room, weeping,

And one-by-one, you piece together the wayward, broken parts

Learning as you go the basic rules and steps for regeneration

Making far more mistakes than progress at first,

Putting together the whole entire thing only to discover you forgot several pieces

And you must tear it all down again, painfully, to be built up even stronger

Until it is, miraculously, through your determined effort,

Assembled into something sturdy, stable, just waiting for new memories.

A Balm for the Lonely of Heart

To the ones who rise up from gravity with heaviness in their chest

Souls fraying at the edges while consistently giving their best,

To the ones who care for others with shoulders stooped in pain

Hiding worlds of grief, pushing aside the rising shame,

To the ones who know within themselves they are sound and whole

Yet long for the caring presence of other likeminded souls,

To those who are afraid of the uncertain chapters ahead

Trying to muster hope out of a sense of looming dread,

To the fathers and the mothers raising children on their own

Producing optimism from thin air in the face of the unknown:

I see beneath your stoic face the mental wear and tear

How you long to share your burdens with those who truly care

I hear the deeper meaning beneath the words “I am okay”

How the feelings run so deep no words can possibly convey

What you have lived, what you have learned, what you must hide

The extent of courage needed to simply stay alive,

I know it feels like no one peers into your inner world

But I can see it, dear soul, your hidden pain is heard.


Brief Interlude

The snow is softly falling tonight

In this moment of quiet reverie

A welcomed dissonance in the chaos

Reminding us that even in times of uncertainty

There are hidden pockets of relief

Sights that still take our breath away

Small bursts of hope in the hopelessness

When for a brief interlude, our worries cease.

Nestling In

A quaint and cozy home with a welcoming feel

Young faces at the window, tender hearts to heal,

Food in the cupboards and blankets in the cold

A space that feels safe; a place to grow old,

Deep conversations from the bottom of the soul

Permission to be just as we are: human and whole,

A beloved life purpose to add meaning to each day

The ability to say exactly what we need to say,

Knowing we need not face illness in an empty room

Arms encircling in the darkness and the heavy gloom

Small rewards to get by from hour to hour

Affirming words to help us confidently step into our power,

Nestling into the safety of some form of permanency

These are my basic needs, these are my earnest pleas.


I followed my pain to its source

And it led me back to myself,

Unknowingly harming my self-worth

With critical, demeaning, bullying words

Tones of disappointment, tinged with guilt

Becoming my own abuser

Through a subconscious inner dialogue.

We cannot begin to heal our wounds

Until we first learn self-compassion

Speaking to ourselves as we would a loved one

Using tones of empowerment, benevolence, calmness

Treating ourselves as we strive to treat others

No longer the enemy of our progress

But a loving support to our own souls.

The Invisible Support

What is the invisible support propping up your feet,

When days grow long and bitter,

In a series of defeats?

What shields you through the fire and the rain,

Mitigating inner turmoil

Softening the sharpest pain?

Is it the voice of someone benevolent and dear

Placing arms around shoulders

Calming down your rising fears?

Is it the motivating gift of life pursuit,

Engaged in what matters most

All self-doubt to refute?

Cling tightly to those strong, reinforcing stays

Hold them in your best esteem

As they uphold you on your way.

Do Not Mind the Tears

Do not mind the tears, dear soul,

They are falling on their own accord

During moments of welcomed grace

And waves of crushing heartache,

All signs and evidence of your safety

For I do not allow my tears to show for any

But the kindest most entrusted souls.

Do not mind my unleashing of words

As they tumble haphazardly from my lips

No grammatical structure, no thoughtful themes,

A geyser of long compartmentalized sentences

That could no longer bear containment,

Proof that you must be of infinite value

For I do not share my words with any

But the most compassionate, warmhearted souls.

Do not mind my neurotic, blubbering presence

For it is only your inherent goodness

That has given me permission to be just as I am

Without fear of repercussion or judgment,

A gift of unconditional positive regard

You have graciously bestowed upon me.

Stepping Stone

No longer waiting for the next step to appear,

She finally stood up, shaking off the dust of stagnancy

And set to work gathering earth and stones

To build her own stepping stone.

No starbursts appeared to show her the way

No neon signs to illuminate a destination

Only the softly persistent pull of her intuition

Guiding her to pave the next step with her own hands.

Perhaps this is what it means to leap into the dark:

Breaking free from the cycle of waiting for rescue

Blazing the trail with courageous endeavor

Without any obvious intervention, only trust in self

Realizing in hindsight that in the forward movement

There was, unfailingly, the presence of divine undertones.

And the Sun Rises, Still

And the sun rises, still

Even after discouraging days

Our hearts find ways to mend

In unexpected ways,

Feet continue walking

Despite our weakened knees

And shoulders once hunched

Rise up with growing ease.

Eyes once sad and downcast

Look upward in meek faith

Hands that used to tremble in fear

Long for meaningful ways to create.

We are products of resilience

Toughened up and battle-worn

Learning to love altruistically

Softened from the loss we mourn.