Tina Blackledge


kids playing jacks

A little girl sits upon
a concrete porch shaded
by a corrugated fiberglass roof.
The rain drops come in sheets
creating a delightful percussion performance.

The deluge served as a thrumming
white noise to help her concentrate on
her game of Jacks.

Legs spread she carefully spreads out all her metal
fashioned Jacks. Then the girl took out a
very colorful bouncing ball, which was key
to winning the game. The girl liked this game
especially because it can be played by
oneself or with a group of friends.

She was equally content to play
with her sisters or all by herself.

Onesies…bouncing the small round
rubber ball and then grabbing one jack and
catching the jack before it hit the ground a second
time. Easy peesy, lemon squeezy!

Twosies…again the ball begins its ascent
upwards and the girl snatches two jacks
then expertly catches the small ball.

She feels delight as she goes for threesies,
She bounces the ball a little harder
so it will go up further and hang
there before descending. With a
practiced hand she scoops up
three jacks and then catches
the ball. She allows herself a small smile
as she progresses.

all conquered with a
well practiced hand.
A broad smile now
graced her face.

Grabbing sevensies then all eight jacks before the ball
makes contact with the concrete is a
significant challenge.

A feeling of pride and euphoria
washes over her as she captures
7 jacks with one go.

Taking a deep breath and studying the
pattern of scattered jacks
devising the best way to
make the snatch.

She drops the ball watching
its ascent then quickly extending her hand
to make the grab. A huge bolt of lightening
lit up the yard and a very loud thunder
boom followed shaking the ground
beneath her.

The ball hit the ground, bounced a couple
more times then rolled off the patio and into
the grass. She jumps up grabs her ball then scoops
the remaining jacks and heads for the house
just as her mom was opening the door to call
her in out of the storm.

“Hey Mom, I made it to eightsies before
the lightening hit!”

“That is great hun. Go find
something to do, I am in the
middle of making supper”

Mom kind of missed the importance of
the girl’s achievement but it was okay. She
had bigger things to think about.

A game, a confidence builder,
a time eater.

Starlight, Star Bright

Tina Blackledge

Standing in a silent void
eyes straining to see,
ears trying to hear.


Tentative steps forward
exploring the blackness.
Unclad toes feel the edge


Fear rises within
breathing rapidly
heart pounding in ears.

“Take the step”

Head snaps up
eyes scan everywhere.
A single point of light
no bigger than pinpoint
spanning a far distance
before me.

“Come to me”

Holding my breath
clenching my fists
I take the step and
find solid ground.

“Open your eyes”

Raising my eyes I
see thousands of twinkling
lights all around me
lighting the room in a
magnificent blue hue.
Lush green grass cushion
my weary, battered feet.
My eyes well with unspent tears
seeing him standing there
with outstretched

“I know the way is dark at times
and you are confused and scared
but I am always with you. I am
here waiting for you to take
the next step”

As my savior spoke,
his voice reverberated
within my soul, renewing
and rejuvenating it.

“Keep moving forward,
for there is nothing behind you.”

Turning behind me,
Black as pitch.
Not a single light,
I turn quickly to
take comfort in the
the light in front of me.

“There will always be light
to lead the way but
you may have to look
with your soul instead of
your eyes. My children have created
much darkness but you must
see it with better eyes. Look
at people as I look at them.
You must look through your heart.”

I feel weak and insufficient
to face this task. There is so much evil,
so much suffering, so much injustice that
my spirit becomes burdened. How
can I affect all the bad in the world?

“Child, only I can fix ALL the bad
in the world. You, my darling,
can work on one person at a time.
I have put you exactly where you
need to be at this specific time
to work on softening the hardened
hearts around you. I have blessed you
with eyes that see more than most,
with a heart that feels everything
deeply, and the ability to translate
my love to others. You have
everything you need to conquer the
battles around you but you will never
fight them alone, for my spirit will always
be with you.”

Blinding light begins to expand
from where my Savior stood to
reveal a crystal blue sky
with wispy clouds strung
from horizon to horizon.
A light, tender, voice whispers
to my soul.

“Take the next step. I
have you in my tender care.”

Letting A Piece of Your Heart Go

This piece is inspired by the struggle I felt when I had to re-home my three dogs recently due to declining health. This piece is also inspired by the loving counsel of my big sister, Nancy Honse. Nance had to say good-bye to many Springer spaniels during a toxic divorce so she knew better than most the heartache of losing multiple dogs.

Tina Blackledge

“Do you think dogs remember when you leave them?
Do you think their hearts are as broken as mine?”

A great pause…

“They remember…that you loved them
They remember…the terrific life you gave them.”
They felt your suffering…they knew you could not
care for them anymore.”

Tears flow freely down my cheeks.

“I believe…they hurt to watch you suffer
and they could not do anything to help.
Just like people who are in our lives
for a season, so it is with pets. we help
them for that time too just as they
help us.”


“You took excellent care of them…in giving to them
you gave the most painful care you could have
because you loved them.”

I know why God made you the big sister.

I said good-bye to three wonderful, loving dogs who are listed below.

Holly 5


Tuck up close




They will always occupy a space in
my heart but they are in good
homes with active humans.
I will always miss and love them.
My sister’s words began my healing,
for they spoke directly to my heart
and soul. I can bear my physical
deterioration but my heart has been
broken so many times that I did
not think I would be able to cope
with saying goodbye to my dogs.
I am deeply grateful for my sisters.



Tina Blackledge

Eyes so weary, not wanting to open
but the sweet fragrance of lilac
in full bloom tantalizes my
senses. Inhaling deeply
causes a broad smile
to grace my countenance.

I hold the breath as long
as I dare, for I do not
want to let that beauty
escape my body. Alas,
I have no choice and must
exhale slowly.

My arms feel heavy as
I lift one to wipe my
tired eyes. With
great effort I open
my eyes to a flood
of light, which I
must use my hand
to shield the intensity.

My vision begins to adjust
and I immediately conclude
that I am dreaming. Full
lilac bushes fill the boundaries
of this place. The rich colors are
so deep and rich that it makes
their fragrance that much more

As I sit up, a wondrous world
greets and overwhelms my senses.
My resting place is a thick soft bed
of tender new grass.

Delicate hummingbirds flutter about
in their hurried manner collecting
nectar from the abundance
all around me. It is a beautiful
ballet of every kind of amazing
hummingbird God has ever created.
It felt as if I watched them for hours
but I did not feel hot, tired, or hungry.
I looked toward the sun to determine
the passage of time only to discover
it was absent from the sky.
Light was everywhere.

Surveying the area revealed
all manners of creatures and
beautiful fauna filling the
space with indescribable fragrance.

A gentle breeze cause the grass to sway,
the trees leaves to rustle softly, and the
flowers to spread their seed. The seed
glittered like stars in the bright light
creating a wondrous scene of
unfathomable beauty.

Fawns were curled close their mothers,
while new kits danced and hopped to
catch the gleaming seeds. A bunny jumped
into my lap to inspect this strange visitor to
his home. Looking down for the first time,
I noticed I was wearing a dress made of woven
reeds and flowers. It was stunning and
so soft that I had not realized I had
anything on at all. My hand went to
my hair to find it had
been woven intricately
with flowers as well.

My attention returned to the bunny
who was sitting up looking
at me with a cocked head.
Its pink little nose in constant motion
trying to determine exactly what
type of creature I was. I gently
stroked it just behind his right ear
and his left foot began to thump
in tandem. After which, he
promptly scurried away
satisfied I was not a threat.

My eyes followed the little
scamp until I saw a figure
begin to emerge from the haze
surrounded this place. I stood
to get a better view.

My heart began to beat faster
my eyes welled with tears of joy
and my breathing was rapid.

For the figure walking toward
me was my beloved. He was here
I was here, we were here together.
I did not question the impossibility
of the situation; instead, I accepted
it fully.

He stood before me in all his glory
then took me in his arms.
“I have missed you my darling.” his
voice caressed my ears.

He gently wiped my tears that had
begun streaming without my permission
or knowledge.

I caressed his face and lost
myself in his eyes joining his soul.
My lips found his and tasted his
sweet kisses again.

We laid down upon the soft bed of
new grass reintroducing our bodies
to one another. Then we lay embracing one
another neither willing to let go.

I tracing lazy circles on his face
while looking intently into those
beautiful eyes. He knowing that
I was full of questions as to the
whys and how’s of this situation.
Kissing each of my eyes then lingering
upon my lips. He whispered,

“My darling, I will always be
here waiting for you in your dreams.”

No, this cannot be a dream. No!
Just as his words ended, the world
around me began to fall apart, disintegrate.
We held each other tighter but it mattered not,
for he too floated away into oblivion.

I opened my eyes to see the
patterned white ceiling of my
bedroom. I am alone. I am all
alone, forever. I wrap my arms
tightly around myself and
try to escape once again
into the bliss of unconsciousness.

Hands of Time


Tina Blackledge

Sunshine peaks over my shoulder
through a window in need of some
attention. Warming rays ease the ache
in hands I find myself inspecting too diligently.

As often done before, I wait.
A crowded room, everyone on his
own journey either waiting to open the
next door or continuing their next step
upon a well worn path.

Although I hear the buzz of a busy office,
chit chat of fellow patients, a discussion of
lunch choices by hungry staff, and the
peel of laughter from daytime talk
show audiences emanating from a distant corner.

My vision is focused upon my hands but
my thoughts are inward. My hands are not
feminine, delicate, or beautiful. Rough skin
indicates years of laborious activity.
A lack of manicured nails accentuates the
fact these hands have seen
more work than pampering play.
A bit bent, a bit swollen, fingers
glide over the many scars that
have accumulated over the years.
Touching each evokes memories
embedded in the patterns.

These hands have know tenderness
tickling a niece or nephew to sleep.
They have known labor that was
both paid and to fulfill an open need.
Fury and rage have been expressed
when they were clenched tightly.
Yet, they have also created
beauty, recorded words of
some worth, and just
clasped the hand
of another whose
heart had just broken.

These are not great hands
of great worth but they
have done important
things for many in a small
circle of friends, family, and strangers.
I thank God because they should be
twisted and gnarled by now, useless,
and nothing but claws but
God has allowed me to keep
the use of my hands regardless
of my body’s failings. I Thank
God for loving mercy, for these
hands still work.

My thoughts are interrupted when
the nurse calls my name. I clasp
the walker and pull myself up
pausing a moment to allow my
legs to get the message that
it is time to work now. As
I take my first step,
clasping the walker
with all my strength, I silently
thank God for his mercy and love,
for I should not be able to walk.
No, I should be bed ridden, but
against the odds, I stand, I walk,
I have use of my hands and my
mind is still sharp.

As I traverse the waiting room,
I smile at fellow patients who
are at least two to three decades
older than I. Some are in
worse condition but some
are only beginning this journey.
They look at me with an array
of expressions; confusion,
skepticism, scorn,
judgment, empathy,
and the most destructive,

Again, I answer each of their
expressions with a polite
smile, for they do not
know my journey
and what I have
conquered to
arrive in the

feel pity for them
because they do not understand
but they will as the disease progresses
and begins to rob them of everything
they have ever held dear.
Eventually, they
will arrive where
I find myself today
in the
very lonely
very isolated

The doctor’s visits
have become routine used
only to fulfill insurance
requirements. The care is not
curative but palliative, for I
know she will say, “I am sorry
but there is nothing we can do
to stop this monster from
destroying your body.” Of
course, I already know this
and try to reassure her that it
is Okay and that I know
she has done all she could
do in modern medicine.

I am grateful, for
I know my now should be
much worse than it is so I
thank God for his mercy and love.
For some reason, He is delaying the
worst this disease has to offer and I must
take advantage of the now because
tomorrow will be too late.

Let it Be Me

Tina Blackledge

Teacher, I want to walk
where you lead.
Let me tread in your steps
and I will follow you.

“You do not know
what you are asking.”

Rabbi, I desire to follow your
teachings and lead others to
you. Will you not allow me to
follow you?

“The way is difficult. It overflows
with pain, betrayal,
heartache, persecution,
and sacrifice.”

I will follow you,
even unto death.

The Savior’s eyes well with tears
for he knows that his flock will
be scattered by the wolves
of hardship, pain, disease,
betrayal, weariness and
the ones who are lured
away by the deceiver.

“Child, let me show you
what you are asking”

The air thickens and a dirt path
is revealed. I step forward
to get a closer look.
Foot prints are ground
into the path. Each is more
heavily imprinted at the ball
and toes. The footprints are
stained deeply with blood.

Shadows appear, crowding
each side of the path. The
shadows are spitting, yelling,
and cursing anyone who dares
to tread this path.

“More will be against you
than are for you. Many will
try to make you stumble. And
many will rejoice in your
failure. My enemies will
be your enemies and they
are innumerable.”

Savior, I want to follow you.
I want to do what I was
created to do. Why would
you discourage me to do
what my soul desires?

“I am not discouraging you, child.
I am warning you that the path
is wrought with heartache and pain
and that you must prepare yourself now
for when it happens, your faith will be
tested greatly. The harder your resolve
to stay on the path, the harder the enemy
will try to destroy you. I have given
you all the tools you will need to fight
the battles that are to come. If they hate you
remember, they hated me first. When you
are betrayed, remember I was betrayed too.
When you are beat and mocked unjustly,
remember, I felt the first stings. When you
weep, I will be there to wipe your tears.
I will hold you and love you and remind you
that you are my child and I will always
love you.”

Lead me and I will go.
Let it be me.