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Lions Roar : July 2015
A Fresh Loss Whether grandpa can visit or not, KAREN CONNELLY’S son knows he’s worthy of love. What they did to you you did not do to me. —from “Late Poem to My Father” by Sharon Olds. “Do you have a dad?” Timo asked this question in a mildly awed voice, as if it had just occurred to him. The pieces fit together with a satisfying click; we’d been talking about Harabeoji, his paternal Korean grandpa, a lover of opera and books and Timo, his grandson. So it had just occurred to him: I, his mother, must fit into the great familial scheme of things and have a father. I had never mentioned my father to my son. He was still sitting cross-legged on the floor, waiting. I lay on my side on the sofa, hand propping up my head. Behind him, before me, prisoner’s bloodshot eye, and said with a kind of humorous humility: “You are right. I just don’t like how you are saying it.” The room melted into raucous laughter, and as the guard burst in, he discovered that all was better than all right. He probably expected to find me cowering in the corner. After all, I did not have time to think about what would shift the situation. Time-bound monitoring, evaluation, and plan- ning were not possible. I think, though, that my years of practice had helped me be alert and responsive to the near- catastrophe I had created! My absence of fear and my words seemed, at least this once, to hit the mark. I was grateful to finish the session in one piece and with smiles all around. JOAN HALIFAX is the abbot and head teacher of Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. ILLUSTRATIONS BY JEFFREY DECOSTER SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2015 67