Heroes of the night (haiku)

(c) clr 2016
(c) clr 2016

Working on a youth line that is open 24/7 I have seen how challenging it can be and yet, it is also a labour of love.  However the true heroes at this agency are those who listen with compassion from 6 to 8 and 10 hours each night.  These counsellors are the true heroes of the night.

such sadness
listening all night long
the graveyard shift

uncovering truths
old wounds open – and,
untold secrets

such sadness
listening all night long
the graveyard shift

sudden tears
bearing heart and soul – sometimes,
left for vacant

such sadness
listening all night long
the graveyard shift

listeners
of compassion
heroes of the night

(c) Tournesol’16-03-18

Daily moments March 18 2016 Heroes of the night

 

Inspired At Three Word Wednesday, we are given: Uncovered , Vacant, and Abrupt(sudden).  

Don’t you feel sad?

Since last December I have had many class interviews on the phone students about the work I do, working on a youth help line. One question that came out often, just warmed my heart. The fact that these youths were concerned about me!  So when I saw this prompt to write a poem and start it with a question, this came to mind.

 https://pookypoetry.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/write-a-poem-that-opens-with-a-question.jpg

 

Don’t you feel sad when you go home at night
listening to unhappy stories about this or that?

Why I guess sometimes I do feel sad alright!
That is really sweet of you to ask me that.

Do you cry sometimes?

Why yes, I may feel a tear
run down my cheek
from time to time.

So how do you feel better?

I think you are wondering
how I practice self-care.
I am very much aware
I need to be mindful
of my feelings as well
or else I would not be capable
working here as long as I’ve been able.
I talk to my supervisor
some of the time
or a counsellor friend,
they always will lend
a good listening ear
so I can continue working
day after day right here.
I walk a lot, write a lot too
I read for distraction
and love comedy shows
like The Big Bank Theory
gets me laughing quite loudly.
There is always a counsellor
or manager available
to allow me to debrief
which is a great relief!
Thank you so very much
for asking and caring such!

© Cheryl-Lynn 2014/05/10

Submittted for: PookyDailyPoetryPrompt # 9 Open with a Question

You are stunning!

I looked at the clock and noticed there was an hour left on my shift. It was a busy evening alright. But I like that because time passes quickly.  I had done two hours of Live Chat and I was now back on the phones after my dinner break. It is odd to call our breaks anything but “breaks” because we can have lunch at 2p.m. and dinner/supper at 10 p.m. depending on the shifts we work and how we have arranged to make sure the service is adequately covered.

The phone rang…

“Hello, you’ve reach a counsellor.”  I could hear faint sobbing, soft whimpering…

“Take your time, it’s okay; just take all the time you need…are you safe?”

I hear a weak “yes” and she tells me her story. She was just discharged from hospital for her eating disorder. She weighed well under 100 pounds…I winced at the thought of her wasting away and thanked the Great Spirit that she was, in fact, alive. “They fattened me up so much I can’t stand it!” she wailed.

The change for her was difficult to bear. She needed support in slowly accepting her “healthy” body.  We talked a bit about what she could do to distract her thoughts and then she shared some sad stories of her past. Such sadness I choose not to share here, but this is what I wanted to remember …  her fight to live even if for a brief dangerous time in her life and how she tried to become invisible…literally.

We explored her passions.  She was an artist and singer/song writer. I was blessed hearing her sing briefly and for a fleeting moment, I could hear her smile…what an angelic voice…such beauty, it managed to transcend through the wires of telecommunication.  She promised to try to focus on her beauty…voice, passions, art, inner and outer beauty and would call back if she felt overwhelmed.

When got I home late that night,  I could not help but imagine this beautiful person and wrote a brief message I imagined sending to her:

Image source: Thestir.cafemom.com

Do you know that you are stunning?

the last few years, I could barely see you

so frail were you, hugging seemed daunting

what if I’d crushed your bones,

you were really so very tiny;

I remember seeing you back then…

the wind was blowing and I could swear

it was pushing you farther from where

I was sitting on the park bench waiting

watching, silently observing you wasting

away and praying for a miracle.

 

That was a while ago my friend,

now the miracle did transcend

you are beautiful just as you are.

Pity you don’t yet see that far long

but hopefully in due time

with your gifts of beauty and song

you will sing the words that rhyme

and you will finally see

what’s so clear to me.

I pray someday your insight

will see your beauty transcend

as well as in the light

of day…blessings, my dear friend.

© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/03/14

 Inspired by my original post at StopTheStigma You’re Beautiful

The Cluttered Mind

Street Art, de Gaspé, Montréal, Qc. - Cheryl-Lynn
Street Art, de Gaspé, Montréal, Qc. – Cheryl-Lynn

Any clutter

causing turmoil,

attempt to toil

and scrub keenly

rinse liberally

wipe cleanly

look gingerly

It’s Spring!

Hurry!

 

Remove the mess

missing calmness

too much there

too little where

it really counts

{sigh!}

Futile movements

STOP!

Relax,

observe

sight see

in your chi!

Explore!

corners and  inspect

under crannies

introspect

scrutinize

reconnoiter

do not tolerate

things that loiter

fester and disintegrate

left with useless rubbish

causing souls to tarnish,

losing life’s clear luster;

 

Investigate

contemplate

meditate

navel-gazing

can be daunting

awful or amazing…

times even

hair-raising…

Feeling outrage!?

don’t dispirit

seek a sage,

catch the culprit

of doom

and gloom

and misery!

trash the felon

forever gone !

 

Now, there’s room

for finer things

like hope and love

long-lasting peace

tranquility

… and,

serenity.

© Cheryl-Lynn 2014/03/16

To read more about clearing the mind of clutter check out my blog at StopTheStigma and click here

Inspired: When The Student Is Ready by Dorothy Chiotti

Counselling or confession? (haibun)

I grew up in a small French Québécois village with approximately 5,000 in population. We had two huge Catholic churches at each part of the town, one United Church and one Anglican Church. There were three French Catholic primary schools, one Protestant primary school, one Catholic collegiate for boys, one convent (primary and high school) all French. I was not permitted to go to the only English school because it was Protestant and in those days the priest threatened to excommunicate us from the Catholic Church.  I suppose that was like waiting for the roof of your house to cave in, in those days.

My sister and I went a French Catholic primary school that housed two English classrooms where we fit Grades one to seven included. The first Friday of the month we had the same Catholic priest who came to our school to hear our confessions. That was basically when we would say, Bless me Father for I have sinned, my last confession was last month and I listened to 2 dirty jokes, swore at my sister, slapped Tommy for tripping me and disobeyed my mom once or twice. I remember seeing the shadow of the priest…he often sighed out of boredom and we usually always had about the same penance…Three Hail Mary’s and an Act of Contrition.

When I went to high school, we were bussed to a bigger town nearby. But that meant I had to find a way to get to confession OR ELSE! Well or else nothing, I just couldn’t go to Communion if I had not been absolved of my sins. Keep in mind that was how we thought then and today I am NOT that person and the Catholic Church has certainly evolved with the times but this is not the purpose of this post…I am getting to my point real soon…confession is the point.

My parents were struggling in their marriage for various reasons. Without getting into details, home life was tense, my feelings towards the situation was concerning me because for one thing, it is a sin to not like your parents and my dad was not an easy person to like. We didn’t have school counsellors in our schools then and quite frankly, I was not too pleased that my mother had told my principal and Grade eight Latin teacher about “our” family situation. I get it now but then, I was so ashamed. As a teen we don’t particularly want anyone knowing about our personal life. We had worked so hard keeping our family troubles private. In the 60’s it was frowned upon if marriages failed (well in a Catholic village in Quebec it was) …it was just, well, not allowed!
I started going to confession at the church. I loved going to that church because it was so beautiful. It had been originally built to be a cathedral, the stained glass, the architecture, the marble, the statues…such beautiful art! I even enjoyed doing the Station of the Cross. The huge paintings of each station were lifelike and it was always a deep spiritual experience at the 13th station, a magnificent life like statue of Mary holding her son.

Jesus Is Taken Down from the Cross

13th Station of the Cross

(haiku)

Heart filled with sadness
kneeling in prayer for our sins
  a solemn moment.

Sometimes I would go to confession before doing the Stations of the Cross, other times it was after. But I always felt good after leaving the confessional. I also saw the same priest for my confessions because only one  priest understood English; he was le Curé, the parish priest. Every month sometimes every other week, I would go confessing my sin of having mixed feelings about my father… {Okay, maybe I threw in saying a few swear words or listening to a few dirty jokes}. He would never judge me or scold me for not respecting my father or the other transgressions.  He would simply nod; I felt his presence, his empathy and his kindness. He would give me a tiny penance of a few Hail Mary’s but always, he would end with the sign of the cross granting his absolution and saying, Je vais prier pour toi. (I will pray for you).

Somehow, I knew he did not mean he was praying for my sins but for our family situation. Little did I know that he was listening to my sister’s confessions; my mother would visit him for spiritual counselling as well and he encouraged her to leave our father. He had been silently, confidentially hearing my stories, my sister’s tales and my mother’s struggle for years.  My mother trying to do the “proper” thing for a good Catholic mother and wife. Confession for me actually became my very first experience with counselling from 1965 to 1968. Curé Chapedelaine made an impact on my life more than he or I realized.

Who would have thought that today, I would be counselling on an anonymous youth line? I knew what it meant to share something private and confidential.  He listened with respect and from a place of compassion; he very discreetly  gave my mom his blessing to separate from our father. I don’t know many Catholic priests in 1967 who would have given such advice.

Confession to me
a long time ago
meant so much more
than just fighting my foe
Satan was not my spur
in any way
I must concur.
Confession for me
was my first experience
disclosing my personal story
forming a first in my counselling history.

© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/03/14

A call of hope

The prompt for this story says to  Dream Big. Wow!   I can make up a story, a poem or write about something I have always wished for.  The options are endless and you know what? Today my dream may be different from my dream tomorrow or next week. Are not dreams part of who we are?  Are they not mere escapes at will in order to survive the world in which we live?  Since this is my birthday weekend, I decided to add more than a dream and more like a celestial dream…something over the top and a dream I have wished come true many times.

My Angel Playing Violin by Blacktoner

A call of hope

Dawn tilted her head as she listened to the other teen at the end of the line. Let’s call this caller Gabriella.   “I can’t take it anymore,” she wept, “My father is coming home in a few hours and I know he’s going to…you know….”she sobbed softly.  Dawn could hear the fear in her caller’s voice. She was barely a teen, her mother died last year .  Gabriella had no one but her father now.   He’d started drinking heavily after his wife died.   She had an auntie and grandparents but she was too ashamed about what “they did” that she did not dare ask for help…until tonight.

Dawn listened, and tried to reassure her caller.  She  asked her if she could go to her auntie’s house for the weekend and it would give her time to think about what she might want to do later.    She encouraged Gabriella to call the youth line again from auntie’s house.

Dawn waited…there was a long pause.  “I guess I could go but he won’t let me stay overnight usually because, ….well, you know…”  Dawn thought about that for a moment and did something she has never done before. “Go to your auntie’s right now. It’s just a short walk.  Bring a bag of clothes for 3 or 4 days and once you get there, tell your auntie your father gave you permission to stay over.”

Gabriella interrupted, “But I already told you!!! He will be angry and he gets violent when he gets mad. He’ll just pick me up there and drag me back home. I’m too scared to do that.”

Dawn repeated softly, “Sweetie, I know you’re scared. You are a very brave girl. You reached out here tonight and took a chance to tell someone about your situation. I get it. And you know what? I trust that you can do one more brave thing and that is to go to your auntie with your bag of clothes. Leave a note on the kitchen table saying your auntie needed you to babysit and help her with the children for the weekend. Then call me as soon as you get settled at your auntie’s. Is that okay? Call back here and ask to speak to Dawn.”

The caller hesitated and then said, “Okay, if you say so. You will be there when I call back?” Dawn reassured her that she would. They disengaged.

Dawn then went into the quiet room where counsellors often went to unwind after a difficult call.  She shut the lights, put on her “special music” her smart phone, lied down on the comfy couch and put in her ear buds.  Soft angelic voices hummed softly, followed by a violin crying melodiously and Dawn could feel herself drift off.  Her soul seemed to lift from her body and float above her for a moment and then it floated away.

Gabriella hurried to pack her bag and walked the 4 blocks to her auntie’s house.  As soon as she walked up the steps, her auntie opened the door as if she were expecting her.  She said, “Hey there, Gaby, I was waiting for you. It’s so weird. I fell asleep a few minutes when I put Jimmy to bed and had the weirdest dream. You were crying out to me running away from a monster. It was the scariest thing.”  She hugged her niece warmly. “Well, come in sweetie.”

Gabriella’ father arrived home and shouted out to his daughter but there was no answer. He looked around the living room, went to Gaby’s bedroom and then came back to the kitchen and saw a note on the table. “I’m staying at Auntie Sue for the weekend or maybe longer. She needs me to help with Jimmy and the baby, Gaby”

He was fuming with rage.  He threw the table against the wall.  Suddenly,  he heard a strange sound, a violin a woman chanting;  then he saw his wife! But it couldn’t be.

She floated right through the living room wall.  The music continued and this apparition that resembled his wife  floated up closer to him.

“William”, the apparition said. It was not the voice of his wife but her face was so, so, lovely! His wife who he missed so much was here.  The voice seemed harsh at first. “William, I have an important message. Sit down and listen. I will only say this once, so pay attention.”

The voice spoke of the Great Spirit of slipping to the other side and consequences.  It was a long speech and although he was scared there was something peaceful about it.  As the apparition slowly lifted, the strings of the violin intensified in a melody that wrapped him with intense emotions fear, guilt and wonder.  He wept for the first time since his wife died, and wept and wept.  Then he called his sister-in-law.

Gabriella couldn’t believe her ears!  Her auntie gave her a message from her father.  She was so surprised.

Dawn heard a knock at the door of the quiet room.  Her colleague announcing that her break was finished and time to get back on the phones.  She stretched and could not help feeling tired despite her nap.  She felt like she had run on her usual 6 K run on Lakeshore.  She rubbed her legs and went to her workstation.  The phone rang, “You’ve reached a counsellor, how can I help you?”

“Hi, Dawn, I have a caller who says you told her to call back, let me patch her through.”

“It’s Gabriella. I’m at my auntie’s like you told me to do. And the strangest thing happened. My father is going to rehab and will be away for a few months. He said we’ll talk about my staying with Auntie for good and maybe he’ll just visit me for a while instead. Isn’t that strange?”

Dawn smiled, nodding gently a tear running down her cheek.

© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/03/08

Written for:  The Seeker’s DungeonThis week’s prompt is  Dreaming Big  (running from March 6 – March 12) Click here to see what other writers have contributed to this week’s prompt as well as last week’s.

The Red violin soundtrack (Anna’s Theme)

Compassion heals Pain

Cropped Photo: Mural street art - Montréal, October 2013 Cheryl-Lynn Roberts

Cropped Photo: Mural street art – Montréal, October 2013  © Cheryl-Lynn Roberts

Pain has become my best friend forever
that actually makes me feel alive…
without it?
I’m not sure I would survive.

Acceptance is the magic key
prognosis of a puzzling condition
he who has a medical degree
diagnosed a painful affliction.

But rather than sink into despair
I simply trudge on anywhere
and work with passion at my career
filled with compassion that is so dear
and knowing that my fate is clear
destined to help , soothe a hurt soul
I  feel blessed fulfilling this role.

Nothing better than to give…
listen, care, help them  forgive
yet not regress but
live again
and moving on, learn to let go
of their past hurts and childhood pain.

To feel a physical pain inside
simply confirms that I’m alive.
And when I think of those who stride
in war and poverty, still survive;
how dare that I consume self-pity
and whimper meagre aches and pains
when those who suffer ‘round the world
of hunger, rape …do they complain?
They only ask for peace … petty portions
of cease-fire, gain some liberation
and tranquil minds, and scanty rations
what so often we take for granted.

Pain has become my best friend
that actually makes me feel alive
without it?
I’m not sure I would survive.

I feel so humbled to assist
these youths who suffer silently
and reach out to us for a list
of ways to live more positively.

And then I try to instill hope
that will in time conquer despair
and offer skills to help them cope
until they learn to truly care
and turn their life ‘round for repair.

I feel so humbled to assist
these youths who suffer silently
and reach out to us for a list
of ways to live more positively.

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, January 5, 2014

Poetry share, prompt 37 for MindLoveMisery – Unavoidable Pain 

Is compassion enough?

it seemed so hopeless
and hard to see the light
walking in the darkness
having lost sight
blind to any likely hope
focus only on despair
not seeing some DO care
that love is everywhere
one may just not be aware
yet…
misery is tormenting sometimes
but still … temporary…
suicide is tragic every time
yet still … permanent!
somehow we must try
harder
somehow we must speak
louder
somehow we must hear
better
somehow we must help
further
somehow we must never
stop trying, reaching, talking, listening
and above all caring.

by Cheryl-Lynn Roberts,  originally written September 7, 2013

 

Photo: deadlygothicdesigns.webs.com