Thursday, December 30, 2010

apparently, rumi has it out for me.

Sea of Lavishness

I have drowned in His Sea of Lavishness, I am the slave of His Dawn.
He is the wild perfumed rose who drew me to the rose garden.
Drowning in His Sea, all clothes are heavier than iron –
How heavy my turban is to me now, and my robe!
The Kingdom and its treasures, visionary beauties with soft faces,
All are mine, are mine, when my Friend is in me.

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Lord of the Palace will not grant me an audience
The confidant of the soul will not whisper me His secrets.
His charm, His goodness, His glory, His fiery eyes,
And the tender subtlety of His tyranny have all enslaved me.
He mocked me: "Where is your love, your radiance, your glory?"
How can any of my glory remain when I see nothing but Him?

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi

This is rather how I feel, with god (or my former self) mocking me, saying, yeah, where is your love and your radiance now? Well fuck you. How can any of my glory remain? Apparently, it does, and it will. Doesn't right now. This is going to take a long time of moving very slowly.

Monday, December 27, 2010

damn rumi.

Suddenly, in the sky at dawn, a moon appeared,
Descended from the sky
Turned its burning gaze on me,
Like a hawk during the hunt seizing a bird,
Grabbed me and flew with me high into heaven.
When I looked at myself, I could not see myself
For in this moon, my body, by grace, had become soul.
And when I traveled in this soul, I saw nothing but moon
Until the mystery of eternal theophany lay open to me.
All the nine heavenly spheres were drowned in this moon;
The skiff of my being drowned, dissolved, entirely, in that Sea.

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi

Though, if I think of this for matt, and not for me, it's much more beautiful.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

We didn't even celebrate most holidays, and this day still sucks. I'm trying to get myself, if not "up" for, at least organized for, going out to a movie. It was going to be movie-and-chinese food, but I don't like chinese food, and this is maine, where real chinese does not exist. I've missed two movie start times already.

Last night was a smack of grief-trauma, with flashbacks and screaming that hasn't happened in awhile. I woke up in the middle of the night having just had a dream wherein I was woken up in the middle of the night by Les Nessman, telling me my "flower of the day" segment had been moved to the three a.m. time slot, and I was On Now. I stumbled through some random made-up story based on the flowers in the vase in front of me, sounding like a drunk. Toward the end, I got more serious, drew the microphone close, and told the non-existent radio audience, "there will be roses blooming again. I know it does not seem like it, in the middle of this february. And it will take a long time, as there aren't many more places further North than us. I mean, there's Canada. The Yukon Territories. The North Pole. Spring is going to take awhile there, too. But there will be roses again. You will see those blooms again. I promise."

And then I woke up, singing both the theme song to WKRP and this song, below. In somewhat of a cruel blow, this song is one that always made me tear up when we played the cd in the truck. It came on one day on our way back from the river. He reached over and said, "are you crying again? It's such a nice song." I'd just nod, and try to sing, try not to imagine what the song describes. Then he said, "it's going to happen, babe. It's just life." He was always so peaceful about death. I looked at him and said, "I know. I know it's going to happen, and it is going to SUCK." The man gets to be peaceful about it - he gets to go and I have to stay. Hate to be all sour grapes, but Man.

A few years ago, my father was taken ill with something, was in the hospital for a few days, had exploratory surgery, problem found and fixed. Matt and I went up to visit him, post-op. Everything was fine until it came time to go. My mother bent down to kiss my father's forehead, he grabbed her hand, and they sat there for a moment, foreheads touching. I started crying. A nurse saw this and rushed to comfort me, saying, "it's okay, he's going to be just fine, it's okay honey." My mother snapped out of her moment and rushed to my side as well. I composed myself, and we all walked out. In the hallway, Matt took my hand. He whispered, "you weren't crying because you were worried about your father." "Nope," I said. He put his arm around me and said, "you were imagining what it will be like when one of them dies and leaves the other behind."

Apparently, I was consistent in my sensitivities, as well as potentially empathic for my own future.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

grown-up words

I am maybe fortunate in that I have very very few people, if any, demanding that I be who I used to be, which is one of the perks of being a relative loner and a great ignorer of opinions. I have a feeling my parents would like me to be doing things differently, but that is a much more long-standing issue than Just Grief. I know I have a few friends who would love to see me happier, who would very very much like to hang out and spend time with me - ANY time with me, and who respectfully and quietly wait. I definitely have a few people who are very uncomfortable around me, but try to pretend they aren't. I have a couple of new not-yet-friends who sometimes say they are stunned I am still standing, even now, and who listen to me ramble on if I feel like rambling, or just allow me to shovel out their barns or feed their cows.

I have at least one friend  from long ago who dislikes and disapproves of the way I am handling life. She was incredible in the first few weeks, then disappeared for months, only to call on the actual anniversary date to scold me for not being a better friend to her. I am thankful that when we did talk, she used incredible grown-up skills, showed beautiful compassion and understanding, and was all-around lovely. We aren't really friends anymore. We haven't said it, we didn't say it, but I have the sense that she respects my truth and my choices, even though she thoroughly disagrees, and wants it to be different. She wants a different me, and she can't have it. It's weird, because randomly thinking about who I would want at my "deathbed," I thought of her. Even though we aren't actively friends, and hadn't been for a few years before this Event, either. Something about someone who can use grown-up words, though, makes me like them forever, even when our paths divulge and we disappoint each other in pretty major ways.

A couple of years ago, I ghostwrote a couples counseling workbook. One of the best things I got out of the whole experience was language for desire and disappointment:

It is okay to want something from a friend or love that they are not currently giving. It is okay to express your grief about said shortfall or disappointment. It is okay to ask them if they would be willing to give what you are asking. However. If they are not willing, or simply cannot give you what you are asking, it is not okay to shame, harass, manipulate, judge, correct, and/or constantly try to change that person into the person you want them to be. If they can give what you ask, great. If they can't, and that disappointment is more than you can bear, bow out gracefully and Leave.

I know I used to have such skills; I used to be able to tolerate such discussions. Matt and I were doing awesome with this stuff. We were kicking love butt with our discussions of disappointment and needs. It was easy, and fun, and when it wasn't, we were massively brave anyway. The current me will get the heck out of such discussions quite quickly these days; I will wiggle out quite uncomfortably. It is different trying to be a grown-up with someone I don't know and trust as I do matt.  But I can still imagine what a grown-up set of skills might be. If I ever have need of them again.  

On other peoples' behalf, though, I am all about respectful and truthful communication. When I hear of someone being less-than-respectful to one one my widow people, I want to (aggressively, protectively) hand that person a little prompt card, suggesting a wee better way of communicating their needs...

"The reality of your life right now is painful/overwhelming/weird/boring/not fun and I am just not digging it.  Can you please go back to the life I enjoyed more? Can you please experiment with subject matter I find more interesting? Can you please change the way you are responding to this whole thing? No? Well then I will be self-responsible AND respectful enough to bow out gracefully at this time. Self-responsible, in that I will not continue something that is not feeding me, and respectful in that I honor your path even as it takes you away from me. "

That would be so cool ~ for those people I know who have un-graceful people they know, making judgments and demands on their lives. Not exactly fair that I would expect direct communication in others but not be able to tolerate receiving it myself, but there you go. You can't take the counselor out of me, apparently. I want other people to have the skills, I want the people I know to hear respectful, truthful, honest things. I just don't currently want anyone using those skills on me.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

sunday the 12th

seventeen calendar months today. For some reason, that seems very very much far more worse than 74 weeks. The other day, I imagined someone saying to me, "but he's been gone a year," and I said - "No. It can't be. That isn't. No." And then I realized - he has. He has been gone a year, and then some. A year and five months, today.

I went to mass, heathen that I am, and Mike's homily was perfect for me, as always. Well, as often. I learned that today is the 3rd sunday of advent, also called The Sunday Of Joy. (it is also the feast day of the virgin of guadalupe, which he didn't mention, but I already knew) So - the Sunday of Joy. He went on to describe the difference between happiness and joy. He took a detour to talk about grief - when our hearts are shattered, when we have lost one we hold most dear, when there is no happiness, there may be joy, somewhere, in knowing that our separation is only temporary. We must hold our hearts, feel our brokenness, and all the while know our separation is temporary.

I try to believe that. At least (at most), to know that there is more to this world and whatever lies around it than I will ever know. There is more heaven jammed into this place right now than most would know, and who am I to say whether our separation is temporary or no. I can't imagine love would disappear. I need to know, and believe, and remind myself, that love Is. And when my time comes to join the compost pile of this life, I have to believe I'll know it's time, because matt comes on over to pick me up. Rests his hands on the chair opposite mine, and just says "ready?"

I wish (though not really) that I believed in any one thing, so I could, I don't know,  join something and feel like it fit. No, I really don't. But I do like churches, and I always have. Especially when they are empty. If there were some Order who would take me, take me in all my spirit of gods but not the letters of people, take me without pinning me into one way and one way only, then I would probably become the nun my high school guidance counselors thought I would be (much to the surprise and hysterical laughter of my friends at the time). I've always been a monk of my own order. My fellow goofy monk has gone on ahead, and I am not digging this order alone. My match and my equal, my peer and my friend. I miss you my love.

Happy third sunday, 74th sunday, and day of Our Lady who brings surprise tangible gifts of her love.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I don't believe in causality. I don't believe that thinking good will bring more good, any more than I think that thinking bad will bring more bad.  For me, the law of attraction, or believing in the law of attraction, is pure hubris; I don't have that much power. If you put that law the other way 'round, somehow I deserved this, or earned this, because I thought the wrong thoughts. That puts a whole lot of responsibility and power on my little ol' mind, and I just can't take that on. Currently, I believe that things are going to happen as they are going to happen, no matter which way I align my thoughts. What I can do with my thoughts is care for myself or beat the crap out of myself. I think that forcing myself, making myself, notice small beauty is not to bring more beauty my way, but to notice it right then because I desperately need it right then. Because it is, right then. But beauty doesn't make this okay. It doesn't subtract from this, make this less than what grand rot it is. The two are not related that way. I keep trying to do that, force current beauty to make this okay, and it can't. Beauty can come along to help you bear that moment you're in, but it's not there to take that moment away.

I think funky math is also what so many people do when they try to cheer us up: "look - he might be gone, but the sky is pretty," "look - other people love you," "look - your life can be even better than before," "look - here is some delicious sweet thing, aren't you glad you are still alive to taste this?!" "look - you get to learn things most of us don't understand." Look - look at all these little things you have in exchange for what you had. The equation does not balance out, no matter how bad my math skills may be. Nothing will ever make up for this, nothing will ever make the scales balance right again. The best life in the world will not be a fair exchange. You can't compare things that way and come out anything other than angry. Well, I can't.

I keep thinking about what michele wrote a couple of weeks ago on Widow's Voice -

I don't think of the differing ways I have filled in this loaded sentence to be a balance sheet. There is no way to measure out in even amounts what I lost and what I have gained. I didn't have a choice about my life circumstance. All I can do is make the most of what lies ahead, in honor of the potential that exists with each day that I draw breath. ... Not in exchange, but in addition.

That last line has helped me so much. Nothing that happens in this life, however long it is, will ever be greater than (>) my life before; my life before will not be less than (<). Nothing will ever make things equal (=). Nothing will subtract (-) from how awesome our life was. I don't know that there is or is not an absolute zero, because my math skills don't extend that far. But there is nothing to make this a fair exchange.

Everything that happens now simply sits beside me. Everything from that day on is and. Everything is in addition.

Monday, December 6, 2010

beautiful things

I was going to start a little notebook of daily beautiful things, but maybe I will do that here for a bit. I seem to post a lot of pain and badness, so goodness is nice. Some days (like the last three), the best thing I can say about a day is that the sky might be beautiful, but wtf difference does that make. Today is better (see #1), and I still have to live here, apparently, for now, so it will help me to find something beautiful. As a practice.

* The incredible dream, early this morning. That dream may have saved my life today. I didn't wake up courting death, but I sure did go to bed that way. Beautiful, awesome, powerful, full of love dream. Thank you, my love. Right on. It has made me light all day.

* The massive happy dance our dog did when I got home this afternoon. A dance I have only seen twice since That Day.

* Coming home from our afternoon walk, thinking of the giant hawk who lives in the tall dead tree, coming into the driveway just in time to see her, lifting off said tree, hovering overhead for several seconds, then flapping off slowly into the woods.

* Louis the still affectionate, but far too big for close cuddling, bull calf. We have to do chin scratches from outside the gate now, but his face is just awesome - big goofy underbite and tiny little horns.

* The elegant, Dutch-made wooden cheese press loaned to me by the farm owners, along with an additive I needed to make cheese.

* Being home with our beasts, and bedtime not far off.

more poetry

I've lost the use of my heart
But I'm still alive
Still looking for the life
The endless pool on the other side
It's a wild wild west
I'm doing my best

I'm at the borderline of my faith,
I'm at the hinterland of my devotion
In the frontline of this battle of mine
But I'm still alive

I've been torn up inside
I've been left behind So I ride
I have the will to survive

In the wild wild west,
Trying my hardest
Doing my best
To stay alive

I am love's soldier

I wait for the sound
I know that love will come (that love will come)
Turn it all around

from Soldier of Love by Sade. The video on you tube is totally dorky, but the song itself....

Friday, December 3, 2010

soured and soared

My Friends!

My friends! My friends! However hard you look
You'll not find a trace of human nature in me!
Even the maddest madman could never imagine
What I have imagined in my heart!
I am so extreme, even madmen flee me now!
For I have mingled with death, soured and soared in Non-Being.

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A song sent to me from my high school friend. After 21 years, we saw each other for the first time just a month after matt died. She said, "I wish I'd connected with you again before you'd been destroyed." Typing that now, it sounds rude. Actually, it was a really awesome thing to say.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sweet Fragrant Fire

Look how the dark cloud has poured life to all the thirsty,
How a vast cup pours wine for those whose heart is light!
Heaven has spread its pearls over the plains of Misery.
This cloud is like Jacob, this flower like Joseph in the field.
It is our tears of longing that make Joseph's face so radiant
One of these teardrops will become pearl, another narcissus;
The hands of those who take ours will fill warm with gold.
Yesterday, the garden was flooded with fresh splendor
Because the Lovers were abandoned and drunk all day.
Close your lips like a shell, you drunkard! Don't move!
Let all the souls awoken to the Invisible
Cluster round you in sweet fragrant fire!

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi

The hands of those who take ours will fill warm with gold.

Friday, November 26, 2010

in this heart.

I'd sing it for you, if my voice didn't crack so completely on the third verse. 72 weeks ago, we were curled up on the couch, happy, blissfully unaware it was our last night there together, singing ridiculously silly Neil Diamond songs. There is a set list I found, that Sunday, a list of songs you'd written down that morning, songs to play on your guitar, for us to sing together. It is hard to do back-up when no one else can hear your voice but me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Slowly now the evening changes his garments
held for him by a rim of ancient trees;
you gaze: and the landscape divides and leaves you,
one sinking and one rising toward the sky.
And you are left, to none belonging wholly,
not so dark as a silent house, nor quite
so surely pledged unto eternity
as that which grows to star and climbs the night.
To you is left (unspeakably confused)
your life, gigantic, ripening, full of fears,
so that it, now hemmed in, now grasping all,
is changed in you by turns to stone and stars.

Rainer Maria Rilke.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Intellect Vs Love

Lovers know there are roses
in the bloody veil of love;
they live astounded
by Love's matchless beauty.
The intellect says,
"The six directions are blocked!"
Love says, "There's a way!"
Intellect sees a market
and starts to haggle;
Loves sees thousands of markets
beyond that market.
How many mystic martyrs
hidden in Love's soul
have abandoned the preacher's chair
to climb onto the scaffold!
Lovers who drink the wine's dregs
reel from bliss to bliss;
dark-hearted skeptics
burn inwardly with denial.
Intellect says, "Stay where you are!
Annihilation has only thorns!"
Love laughs, "The thorns are in you!"
Keep silent, and tear Being's thorn
out of your heart;
discover in your own soul
rose garden after rose garden.

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi

Thursday, November 18, 2010


(this happened last winter, right around our anniversary, but I need some reminders of goodness and mysteries.)

boris lost his dog tags, just a day after I looked at them, with both matt's and my phone numbers on them, thinking "I hope I never have to replace them, get new tags without your phone number on them." I retraced our steps for hours; didn't find them. It took me 9 days to get new tags, just my number on them now. boris and I went to the beach, I needed to let him swim. I was standing at the edge of the surf, missing our life so much. I looked down. Just barely sticking out of the sand was the corner of a green metal tag: boris. Matt's phone number, and mine. Ten days after it disappeared, it is found mostly buried in the sand, exactly where I am standing. Ten days of high tides and low tides, and it was right there, with me.

Last fall, Matt was out of town, and I had both boris and jake to tend and check on. I'd come home from work, taken bo to the beach, and needed to get back to do something with jake, can't remember now what, but I was in a rush. bo and I were ready to leave the beach when I realized I had lost my car keys. The spare key was at home on Matt's bookshelf. Crap. I would have to walk all the way across town with boris, leave him home, then walk all the way back to the beach with the spare key, then still manage to do whatever else I had to do. I searched the beach awhile, had some people help me look, and was just about to give up, close to tears. I closed my eyes and said "I could use some help, please." I opened my eyes. I am not exaggerating at all: a beam of light came out from the clouds and landed on my car keys, half buried in the sand, at the edge of the water.

I called Matt and said "the COOLEST thing just happened!" I attributed it to prayer and a need for help spoken truly, without an actual expectation of help arriving. Or something. We just both thought it was amazing.

I was not looking for bo's tags. I was looking for us. Pretty much the same spot my keys were found, his tags materialized. I stood there sobbing and laughing, gripping those tags. My love. You are totally cool.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

when you are lost in the forest

Stand still - the trees ahead and bushes beside you are not lost.
Wherever you are is called "here"...
the forest knows where you are. You must let it find you.

 - David Wagonner

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

hand games

Hand Games
Marge Piercy

Intent gets blocked by noise.
How often what we spoke
in the bathtub, weeping
water to water, what we framed
lying flat in bed to the spiked
night is not the letter that arrives,
the letter we thought we sent. We drive
toward each other on expressways
without exits. The telephone
turns our voices into codes,
then decodes the words falsely,
terms of an equation
that never balances, a scale
forever awry with its foot
stuck up lamely like a scream.

Drinking red wine from a sieve,
trying to catch love in words,
its strong brown river in flood
pours through our weak bones.
A kitten will chase the beam of a flash
light over the floor. We learn
some precious and powerful forces
can not be touched, and what
we touch plump and sweet
as a peach from a tree, a tomato
from the vine, sheds the name
as if we tried to write in pencil
on its warm and fragrant skin.

Mostly the television is on
and the washer is running and the kettle
shrieks it's boiling while the telephone
rings. Mostly we are worrying about
the fuel bill and how to pay the taxes
and whether the diet is working
when the moment of vulnerability
lights on the nose like a blue moth
and flitters away through clouds of mosquitoes
and the humid night. In the leaking
sieve of our bodies we carry
the blood of our love.

Monday, November 15, 2010

swings and nightmares (and pigs)

Today has been kicking my butt. Not like it hasn't been kicked every second of every day for 70 weeks and a few hours, but I thought I could get some things done today, and I was wrong. I slept on the couch until 3 am, which I haven't done since I passed the year mark. I had a bunch of nightmares, including one in which I tried to calm myself down by reminding myself I could wake up at any time and snuggle in to his back, feel him pull my arms more tightly around him, and tell him all about the dream when we woke up. Still asleep, still inside the dream, I also remembered - no. No you can't. Instead of that realization making it worse, my dream self shrugged and turned over. The rest of the morning had more and more dreams; in each one, I told him how I dreamed I was having a nightmare and that I dreamed I couldn't tell him about it.

I was fairly alright this morning, planning on actually doing some of the many things on the to-do list that will actually benefit me in the near-ish future - things like heating assistance, and work on my website - but then grief just crashed into me, and I haven't moved from my seat most of the day. I was checking out some of my old bookmarks from the other computer, and found ferree's post of awhile ago. Her image: swinging happily, then being violently punched off her swing, while her best friend was lovingly lifted off his swing. He got to go off on his new adventure, while she was left broken and bleeding in the dirt. Yeah. Exactly. I've got that.

I think I've been having a serious backlash from last weekend's farmer to farmer conference. I won't say I had fun, but it was nice to be around people who, as one farmer said, "don't care much about being social but are really good at what they do." I learned about land aquisition and discovered a small, previously unknown interest in raising pigs. I also felt very aware of my presence as the 13th guest, the uninvited presence of death amidst all the happy people planning their lives. They were there to have fun. I represent a lot of peoples' nightmares, things they would rather not think about, especially while they are Having Fun. I didn't want to get into discussions with people only to have to answer "my love died unexpectedly, so I am farm planning on my own." I didn't want to bring - I don't know - death, I guess, to the table so manifestly, for me or for them. I managed to talk farm things with a few people, and only once started crying during a conversation. I excused myself, then felt awkward and embarrassed for the rest of the afternoon. But, I did it. And I learned things. And I missed him intensely, how he would most likely say "I'm happy to support your interest in raising pigs, and I'll eat them, but it's not something I'm interested in for myself." I missed being teased in that way he has, that way that made me laugh in a way no one else can, or could. I missed having someone to plan a future with, even if we never actually settled on any one thing.

And since I've been back, I've been sick with a cold, dizzy, tired, overwhelmed by the effort to live here at all, let alone make decisions about what I'm supposed to do with this life while I'm here, write web content, explore land trusts, formulate business plans, track down contacts, bake birthday cake, everything and anything that lands on top of the mess that I am, bleeding in the dirt having been so violently punched off my swing.

To throw in more analogies, I know I need an anchor. I had anchors, before. Good ones. Sturdy, useful, awesome ones. All those anchors, along with everything else, have moved to the moon, where they have no more weight than anything else.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


"Can you help me find my keys?"
"I'm sorry. What are "keys"?"
"Uh - keys. You know. Keys. Car keys."

Shaking his head. "No. Sorry. I'm not familiar with that phrase. Carkees? Can you explain what you mean by that?"

"Keys. I need them for starting the car," pointing at the car, sitting right there in plain sight. He looks past the car to a set of trees, nodding knowingly, like he has any idea what I'm saying, as though I am completely daft.

Getting upset, and very annoyed. "KEYS. How am I supposed to explain keys? Where have you been that you don't understand keys? I have to find them, and I can't find them. Where the hell are they; I can't leave until I find them."

"Okay, okay, calm down. I will find them. I will find them. Tell me what they are, and where they are located, and I will find them for you. I don't understand why you need them, but obviously, you are very upset."

Blank look. Incredulous look.

"I don't see why you're getting upset with me. I am trying to help you. I told you I will find your keys, you just need to explain to me what they are and where they are."

"If I could tell you where they are, I wouldn't need you to look for them."

"Well now you're just being rude. I can't help you if you refuse to tell me where to find what it is you're missing."

(though this scene sounds rather plausible given what often really does happen, it's fictional. I was just thinking of how tired I am of trying to explain to very earnest people what this is like, who and what I am missing, trying to describe me to people who don't understand what I'm saying, and I am so tired of trying to explain and explain and explain what used to not need any description at all. It's like being asked to find what you need, then un-find it again, after teaching someone what it is and where to find it, so they can then help you after you've forgotten again. Or, to have spoken russian, only to have a brain injury that makes your native language temporarily unavailable, and to get it back, you need someone who speaks russian - but no one even knows what russian is, and they are irritated with you for not being able to teach them, because they only want to help. So now, you are supposed to suddenly access your Russian, teach it to someone else, then go back to being brain injured, so that they can then help you to heal. Right. Okay, enough analogies. For now.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Honoria turned from her contemplation of the ocean. "Miss Mado, she got through the darkness. She knowed love has to work itself all the way through the dark feelings; you can't go round them they has to be gone through, all the way through."  ~ The Other Side of the Sun

I didn't get to make cake until Friday, Matt's birthday. I didn't mean it to be that day, but it was.

It was pouring. The dog did not want to go out. We drove the tiny eighth of a mile to the dog park instead of walking, because it was so windy and he hates to get his feet wet in puddles. A man opened the gate for us, a very sweet man, who had apparently spent the night in the shelter at the dog park. He talked to me about his dogs, how much he loved them, how he was with them when they died. He asked about our dog, and I told him how Matt had crouched down in front of his kennel at the shelter and told me, "he's the only dog in here." I told him how we wanted an older dog, in order to give him a good last few years. The man said how important and kind that was, how special it was to adopt a creature knowing you are facing the end sooner than you'd like. He said, "you and your husband are good people." During all this, I managed to not cry at all. I was, however, trying to talk myself out of offering him a ride somewhere. I tend to pick up strays, and I've learned that a sweet, gentle homeless person is sweet and gentle until you get them in the car, when they become tenaciously resistant to getting Out of the car. Instead, I offered him the umbrella I had in my car, because he said he had to walk across town to meet his girlfriend. He said, "that's so kind of you. In return, I will sing you a song about your dog. I am really good at songs. I can make them up instantly." He told me that he would have a song by the time I came back from the car.

I came back. Handed him the umbrella. Left my rain-averse dog in the car. The man was standing inside the shelter. I was outside in the rain. He said, "so okay, tell me about your dog. What do you love? What makes him special to you and your husband?" I stopped. I stared at our dog, standing on the driver's seat, looking at me. I started to cry. The man said quietly, "Oh. We are sharing a moment here. Okay. You don't have to say anything. No. Tell me what it is about your dog." I didn't even think. I just blurted. "He is who is left. My husband died. And it is his birthday today."

The homeless man was quiet. He turned away, he turned back. He put his hand on my shoulder, "I mean this is all honesty: god bless you." He continued to say, crying now himself, "I am trainwrecked. How long has it been? How long ago?" He asked for Matt's name. He said, "Okay. I will mention the pup in your song, but this one is for Matthew. This song is for him, and for his wife."

He stood there, composing himself, steadying himself. He pulled a harmonica out of his bag. He started wailing away. Then his voice, clear and loud, as thunder started rumbling at the tree line, and the winds picked up. Man, he had an incredible voice, a raspy, blues voice. He sang a song for my love, directed to the clouds, to the heavens. He spoke for me. "Matthew, thank you for your life. Thank you for the love you brought to me. Thank you for being here. I know you are gone, but you are not. I know you wipe the tears from my face while I sleep. I know you are here, and you're gone. You are holding me, I know you are. You are gone, and you're not. Remember all the trips, and the days in the sun? We had such a good life, I will always be your wife. It is so hard for me here, but I will not go out, I will not let my light go out. I will try. The puppy and I will try. I am out here in the rain with him, for you. Thank you thank you for your life. I will always be your wife. This is hard and I love you, and I know you are free. I know I will be with you again. This life may be long, but I will see you. I will see you soon."

He sent up his words for me, words I could not sing, and I whispered, "Happy birthday babe. Happy birthday."

There were several verses. The song wiped him out. After he was finished, he told me that his best friend drowned 8 weeks ago. I'd read that story - "transient man found in the water off the docks." I had not, and did not, tell him how matt died. He talked about the shock, and how he found himself losing time, blanking out. He asked me to keep him, and his dear friend, in my prayers, and he would keep Matt and me in his. Then, taking the pause in the rain as his opportunity, he walked off for his morning coffee. I sat in the car with our dog, and sobbed.

Happy birthday, babe. Can you believe that man's voice?!

66 weeks ago today.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Just now realized that it is, by date, exactly 15 months. Today (without knowing the date), I pulled the honey supers off of our beehives, for the second time without him. Date schmate, I go by the Sundays, but still. Especially as I was not planning to do this until later this week, and changed my mind.

That's all. Just 'huh.'

Monday, October 11, 2010

anti-rant rant, overwhelm, radio silence.

I am back, earlier than planned. I am cranky, exhausted, over-stimulated, crowded, disgusted with people, incredulous that this is my life, that matt is not actually here anymore, hyper-sensitive to sounds, touch, sights, pretty much anything and everything. I left a tea mug and a couple of dishes in my sink before I left, and the sight of them makes me want to smash windows. Yeah. Too much. No respite. I mean, other than washing them and being done with it. Matt is not here to make me laugh, to cook dinner, to listen to the whole goat school adventure, to wonder with me about peoples' interpersonal skills and lack thereof, to - with no effort or explaining necessary at all -  understand exactly why I am fried and so tired of people I am seriously, again, contemplating vows of silence and social abstinence. That I know there is no comfort, and no one who is My Family here in this world, does not help, though it is true.

Anyway. Long hours of driving, not in my own space, a hyper dog, going through places where matt and I have been knowing how not here he is now, leaving said dog at my folks, more driving, and arriving at an Inn that made me want to drive the 3 hours all the way back home and scrap the entire thing. I was tired and hungry and in a region where the most edible things you can find for dinner are at the Rite Aid. I apparently made a huge assumption that the room I booked at the inn was the top of the line room, with private bath and balcony, as according to the website price list, I paid more for three nights than even that room's set price. Huge assumption. I got the bottom of the line room, top of the stairs, next to the shared bathroom, with a shared balcony. Prices were apparently jacked up for the weekend. The first night, there alone with no other guests, I was woken up (I think) some time in the night by a male voice (the innkeeper's teen grandson, I think) near my door saying "now, where will I sleep tonight?" I have a vague recollection of shouting "you are too loud!" before going back to sleep. The next night, the room adjoining mine was occupied by a woman yelling something about the position of her much quieter roommate's "pee bottle," and the blasting television. The other occupant must have said something about keeping her voice down, and she shouted "I refuse to be quiet just because someone else is next to us." Long, long night. I didn't bother staying for the third night.

Goat school was a mixed bag. I learned a couple of useful and interesting things. I also learned that I know quite a bit already. I learned that day long sessions, without my own home and my things and my routine to go to for comfort take far too much out of me, still. There were couples there of all ages, sweet little families discussing how and where they would build their barn together. I felt sick. There were little clutches of people making small talk and asking each other questions during breaks. I felt sick - and curious. Would there be any questions whose only answer would be that matt died, or could I get by without divulging that? I did not mention it to anyone the whole weekend, which was interesting. Interesting to watch myself give truthful answers to questions without actually giving any information, and to watch people stumble a bit or look expectant when I didn't give a lot of detail or respond as would be expected. I felt like I managed to be there without actually being present, which was weird in and of itself. I realized it was Sunday around 10 am on Sunday, Sunday #65, and I had to leave for awhile.

The two people running goat school were exhausting; well, the wife especially. Her rants against everyone and everything were highly dramatic with a lot of shrieking. Her husband's rants were more pointed, specific, and less dramatic. He is a Southern Baptist minister, and my favorite parts were when he blessed our meals, and when he spoke gratitude to god for everyone assembled with him. Prayers were one of the very few times neither one of them was slamming someone else. A partial list of the people and institutions judged, criticized, slandered, and flat out insulted: anyone raising goats commercially in the entire state, other than them; the entire population of the southern part of the state; poor people; people on food stamps; artisan cheesemakers; the under-educated, and then hours later, the over-educated; people who mix their own grain for their animals; people who bring their does to another farm to be bred, those who bring a buck to their own farm to breed their does, and those who use artificial insemination; the university cooperative extension; the Maine organic farmers and growers association, and their annual fair; people who let the public come to their farm (though there were 45 members of the unsanitary public sitting outside their barn); the state licensing department in general, and several specific, called-by-name individual inspectors. People who raise Nigerian dwarf goats. People who give wormers by injection; people who don't know what a wormer is (even when you are at a class to learn these things). People who eat cabrito (kid goat); and anyone, anywhere, at any time who does not agree with their practices, judgments, or assessments. Oh, and my very favorite, in the last chapter of their goat school handbook, they spent several paragraphs ranting about how people who couldn't spell and had no knowledge of basic grammar had no business being in the goat business, let alone writing about it anywhere, at any time. This after pluralizing nearly every word in the preceding chapters with an apostrophe (ex. "chapter's"), and ignoring most basic grammatical rules.

For them, the whole world is stupid. Though I will admit I often share this very same view, it is not the bulk of my teaching style. They had no idea who might be in their audience - the cousin of the dairy inspector maybe, or a colleague of the extension educator.  From personal knowledge and relationships, I know that much of the damning evidence they gave against certain individuals is completely untrue, and only shows their ignorance.  They could have offended large swaths of people and never even known it - those people would have just walked off, angry and disappointed. Several hours of this lack of gracefulness - well, sucked. By the end, when they were staunchly not answering someones very legitimate question - if we're not supposed to go to someone elses farm to breed our does, and we're not supposed to let anyone elses animal on our farm, and you feel artificial insemination is an over-priced guaranteed failure, what are we supposed to do to get our animals bred - I finally interrupted. Because I am also bossy and opinionated. Because I am also a teacher, or I have been, and you ALWAYS have an opportunity to teach with kindness and respect rather than meanness and exclusion. Because it is never okay to ignore someone because they don't understand what you've said, especially when your double-speak is confusing to your audience. I answered the guy's question, and gave my own little rant about self-education and the importance of relationships in the farming/breeding community. The goat school instructor loved it, and thanked me. Weird. Later he told me how much he hates it when people judge others. Oy. I have a heavy dislike of ignorance and un-gracefulness in people in general, but I do try to keep it to myself.  Or at least, I try to keep it down. But then, maybe I am just as self-clueless as he was. Maybe I do all those things I hate in other people, without realizing I do. If I was clueless, how would I know?

All of these things have taken me over - the ugliness, the food, the inn, the people, being in part of the state that shows what often comes with poverty and low education rates, being surrounded by all of it. The coarseness of people - to each other, to animals, to anything - has always been overwhelming to me. Matt was/is the same way. Fortunately, being so overwhelmed with the grossness of human actions usually took one of us at a time. The other understood, without speaking, without explaining, without trying to fix it or change it. Now, when it takes me, there is no one who knows, I feel surrounded by ugliness, and matt's gigantic hole in the world gets bigger and bigger and worse and worse.

Just writing this out calmed me down a bit, so at least nothing has been broken. I do seriously wonder if complete radio silence with all other humans is a legitimate path for me. I have had one beautiful moment, one, in maybe even the whole 65 weeks, where I stood inside someone elses barn, watching such pretty cows stand out in the yellow sunset mist eating their hay, and knowing how beautiful the light was. If it was mine, if I could have gone in, right then, to my own home and my own woodstove and sang to myself and the dog, knowing my own herds were safe and contented, no other people around, I might have even been happy. So hard to have any kind of life, to care about anything, to want anything, to believe in anything, to not be so beaten down by people who are not matt, not the life I lived before, to be overwhelmed with the coarseness and meanness of the world, knowing I have no home here anymore, no comfort, no one who is my family. I am just so tired of carrying this weight, drinking from this cup, slogging through with this backpack on - to use a whole lot of images to just say that I am tired and I want to go home.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I woke up with this stanza in my mind...

Around the lip of the cup we share, these words,
My Life Is Not Mine. Rub the cup across your forehead.

(and then I looked up the actual poem:)

Spring, and everything outside is growing, even the tall cypress tree.  We must not leave this place.

Around the lip of the cup we share, these words, My Life Is Not Mine.

If someone were to play music, it would have to be very sweet. We’re drinking wine, but not through lips. We’re sleeping it off, but not in bed. Rub the cup across your forehead. This day is outside living and dying.

Give up wanting what other people have. That way you’re safe. “Where, where can I be safe?” you ask. This is not a day for asking questions, not a day on any calendar. This day is conscious of itself. This day is a lover, bread, and gentleness, more manifest than saying can say. Thoughts take form with words, but this daylight is beyond and before thinking and imagining. 

Those two, they are so thirsty, but this gives smoothness to water.  Their mouths are dry, and they are tired.
The rest of this poem is too blurry for them to read.

—from The Essential Rumi

Thursday, September 30, 2010

birthdays, rivers, and cemeteries

Six years ago, I spent my birthday at the cemetery; Matt was away on a yearly retreat. I've always loved old cemeteries, so this was not out of character. Plus, this one has woods and water, so it is extra nice. Wandering around, wondering about all the people, their stories, their lives, trying to figure out who is related to whom, and by what routes.  Reading so much in the simple names and dates: the sea captain who seems to have married several sisters, each one in turn, as one after another of them died; the wives who appear to have died in childbirth; the sons and daughters whose death dates far precede their parents; connecting birth and death dates to historical events, guessing as to what was going on.

Five years ago, it rained for two weeks solid, between Matt's and my birthdays. We planned a camping trip for his birthday, but found our usual campsites washed out by the rain. We spent the night in a hotel, and drove out to the river in the morning. We set up camp beside the river, already fast and flooded from the rain. We made camp breakfast, which includes an insane amount of food, as he didn't like to have leftovers to pack back out. As we sat by the fire, eating breakfast and reading his birthday books, the river rose. In the few hours we were there, it split the banks, turned into waterfalls and rapids, devoured rocks that were tall stepping stones when we'd arrived. Watching from the banks, it was so beautiful - dangerous, amazing.

Matt loved rivers. He needed them. Most of our adventures included rivers of some kind, from the very first place he took me from his childhood, to the Colorado, the Swift, the Rainbow, the Mississippi. The river where he died was our sanctuary; it was refuge from the stresses of living in a populated world. Last year, July 12th was the first dry sunny day in nearly 6 solid weeks of rain. The river was flooded, fast, dangerous and amazing, though we had no idea of that until it was too late.

So it occurs to me this morning, the river has always been beside us, and I have always been walking in cemeteries, alone.

Friday, September 24, 2010

All that glorious suffering.

Suffering is a treasure, for it conceals mercies;
The almond becomes fresh when you peel off the rind.
O my brother, staying in a cold dark place
And bearing patiently the grief, weakness, and pain
Is the Source of Life and the cup of Abandon!
The heights are found only in the depths of abasement;
Spring is hidden in autumn, and autumn pregnant with spring.
Flee neither; be the friend of Grief, accept desolation,
Hunt for the life that springs from the death of yourself.

-  Rumi

I do have a hard time with all this Treasure of Suffering stuff. My life, my heart - pretty darn good treasure before. Source of life, springs of goodness - all that. For now, I take these poems, these lines, as ~ this is supposed to be desolation. This is supposed to be pain. Drink it down, my friend; this is the cup you have.

I am off to shovel goat poop in the rain.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

open for suggestion

My birthday is coming up. I've already been older than matt for awhile, given that he died 3 months and 3 days before his 40th birthday, and I am 11 days from mine. Birthdays were rather quiet in our family. Matt did not like to be showered with gifts, or really have a big fuss made over him, or near him. He did allow me to make him cake, mostly because I really like to make cake. Elaborate, goofy, long-involved-process, cake. His favorite, from when he was a kid, is duncan hines cherry chip cake with cream cheese frosting from the can. He hadn't seen it in stores for years, and - knowing me so well - he told me that a from scratch, organic dried cherry bits cake with homemade cream cheese frosting was just not going to be It. I'd already been concocting that masterpiece from the first time he mentioned it. Foiled. Eventually, my mother tracked down a case of said cake mix (yes.) so he would never be without. There is still a bag of cupcakes in the freezer at my parents' house, and spare cans of frosting.

All of which is entirely not the point of this post.

Last year, in the two weeks between matt's and my birthdays, I sent myself on a crazy, grueling 15 mile, 4 summit hike, and a much slower 6 mile hike. A wee nuts, but I needed the woods. This year, between matt's and my birthdays, I am going to goat school, where I will be with around 100 other people learning how to trim hooves and give shots. I booked an extra night at the inn so I could take off on a good hike after being near all those people.

Also not the point of this post. Except that last year, there was no cake. I wasn't eating anyway, and in no way wanted to acknowledge my entrance into this world. And, making myself a cake, knowing matt and jake aren't here to eat it - not so much. I'm still not much for celebrating, but this year, I want some cake. My plan is to make cake, and share it with a friend and her three and one year old kids, because I like them, and they like cake. I may or may not point out that it is my birthday. Only, I really miss someone noticing, and caring to think what I might like. So. Though you all won't be here to eat said cake, I am inviting you to participate in my birthday, if you'd like, by making cake suggestions. If you have a favorite/preferred recipe, or a favorite cake to eat, or you had some awesome concoction at some restaurant, but you have no idea how to make it, leave me a note.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Guiding You by the Hand

What I long for, you know would kill me;
What I think will kill me, you know will heal me.
Loving you, I enter a darkness where I can't see anything.
"You do not need to; I am guiding you by the hand."

- Rumi

Thursday, September 16, 2010

This made me laugh. No small feat. Helps that this is how my mind works too.


Spent the last hour or so on her blog. Her daughter was killed by a rogue wave, with her daughter's husband as witness. Her words have got me crying today in a way I haven't, and that "haven't" has been wrecking me. Tenderness is what I need, and tenderness is what smashes me most. Her blog adds my father-in-law's pain to my own today, and I can't hold on to them both, but it also, oddly, helps. Matt was his whole word, along with his grandson. Ray can't talk to me. Can't see me. It is too painful for him. I talk to his wife, and I am so glad and thankful for her.

Anyway. Though she lost her daughter, not her Love, her words are so specific, so perfect, so awful and hard and beautiful.

I have to stop crying. I have to go outside. I have to do something with the stupid cup of this day. As she says, "this is the land I have been given to walk." (I mean, to mix my metaphors.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Garden of Love

In the always-green and boundless Garden of Love
There are many other fruits than grief or joy.
My awareness is not bound to imagination or illusion
There is another state of being which is rare as You.

- Rumi

Monday, September 13, 2010

deleted, and crime

There was a new post, but I took it down. Posting this in case anyone saw the title for the deleted post, and was concerned about crimes going on over here. There was another crime here yesterday (the second in a month, after five years of nothin'), but it wasn't violent, no one got hurt, the guy was arrested, it didn't directly involve me, and everything is alright.

Well, of course, not everything. But in the realm of crime, everything is alright. 

now it's just getting weird: crime spree

I have lived here for five years, plus a month. In those five years, there has not been any crime here that I've known about, other than a few homeless folks camping in their tents in the woods, and I have no problem with them. Sunday morning, early, I was taking boris to the dog park around the corner. There is construction going on next door to my house, where the violent crime of a few weeks ago happened. As we walked by, we got out of the way of someone trying to move the giant truck full of concrete building pavers. I said to the dog, oh, he does not look like he knows what he's doing, we should probably just cross the street. As we walked, I watched the guy drive over the curb and bump out into the road. He stopped in the middle of the intersection, grinding the gears, stalling the truck, then getting it restarted. He did this every few feet. I noticed that one of the big straps used to hold the load secure was dragging under the massive tires, and whenever he would try to move forward, the truck would skid, stuck on said straps. So one of the stalled-in-the-road times, I went over to the side of the truck and waved at him. He just stared at me. So I went around to the driver's side, and he still just stared at me. I yelled, Roll down your window! He did, and I told him what the problem was, and maybe he should fix it, though (I said), maybe it doesn't matter. I have no idea.

Walking away, I was kind of laughing, thinking - I wonder if he's stealing that truck? Maybe he hotwired it, and that's why it keeps stalling. Nah. That would be silly. Then I was just messing around with myself, saying, well, if he IS stealing it, I probably should have really studied his face, in case I have to describe him to the cops. If he's stealing it, he must have wondered what the heck I wanted when I flagged him over. Citizen's arrest? Walking back, I saw the man had dropped a parcel of concrete pavers on the side of the road and just left it there. I figured, oh, maybe someone sent him over there to pick the truck up, as a favor, and he is just doing the best he can. He probably didn't even notice losing that side of the truck. I certainly know what it is like to be having a supremely bad day where nothing is going right. Felt kind of bad for the guy. Rough day.

This morning, I opened up the paper. And saw: man steals large construction vehicle loaded with concrete pavers. Officers have charged the man with operating under the influence, driving to endanger, and allegedly stealing the vehicle from a nearby construction site. No one was injured, and the man is being held at the county jail.

And what did I do, immediately? Picked up my phone to call matt, and tell him - hey! You know that guy I saw yesterday? He really WAS stealing that truck. And here I was, all Polly Helpful, pointing out ways he could make his get-away go far more smoothly.

So glad no one was hurt. I already feel kind of awful that I didn't call someone about suspicious driving behavior, but I did talk myself down on that one yesterday, thinking - what do I know, and I'm just being silly. Maybe big trucks are just really hard to drive. But if someone had been hurt, I don't think that would have gone down too well for me, that I saw it starting and didn't stop it. Thankfully, I do not need to go down that particular road. However, I will say, that if I see anybody driving and behaving oddly again, I will call the police. It was just sheer luck it was early enough on a Sunday that that guy didn't hurt anyone.

All of which to say - two crimes in less than a month, right next door to me seems just a wee bit silly. And,  once again be so bummed that Matt is not here to shake his head at me and my "helpfulness."

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I think this might be the first time the 12th has coincided with a sunday, since sunday july 12th 2009. I don't have it in me to look, and it doesn't matter. I feel so badly that I am not better at praying, or disciplined at all with meditation. I feel like I am not sending him enough love, not helping him enough on his journey, not realizing it is his journey, and I also am just so destroyed I can't, I try to pray and I end up vomiting. I used to be able to handle the enormity, and lately I cannot look at it at all. That's it. That's all.  I know it will shift. Later, I will force myself to do yoga, I will possibly force myself to sit and pray, I will hurl myself at afternoon Mass, and this day will end. Maybe some goodness will come.

And in related/unrelated thoughts - I was thinking yesterday that we/I need a new word that means: "I don't have anything to say, what you wrote just really got me, and I feel so much, relate so much, and love you, and really don't have anything at all to say because there aren't any words in there that mean anything at all, and anything I actually type means pretty much nothing in comparison, plus I am crying too much to type."

Words are symbols anyway, right? Made me think of when Prince changed his name to some unreproducible character, and then had to be called "the artist formerly known as Prince." Can we come up with something that says all that, some new thing that refers back to all of that that doesn't have any word at all?

Friday, September 10, 2010


I notice that a lot of my comments on others' blogs sound... very angry. I did not used to be an angry person. These days, I am quite angry, and angry that I am now an angry person on top of that. So angry that life took the pretty decently happy, silly, peaceful, non-angry person I was and shoved me through the anger-maker, like a giant angry-sausage making machine. No one needed more anger in the world. I was a pretty good "force of love" before, even if useful only to myself. I ain't no "force of love" these days, and knowing that makes me feel even farther away from who I was when he was here, from our life. And it makes me feel even more crazy. This is not my world, this was not my world, what freaking planet IS this? Eh. I think I need to find something that makes me feel even a little bit like myself.

My time at the farm ended yesterday. I had been volunteering at a very dysfunctional farm, off and on, since March or so. A place where no social skills were required, which was good, because I have none. A place where the entire place is in constant, massive disarray, so there is always something to do. Since the anniversary, my interest in slogging out there has seriously waned. But I kept going. I was out there yesterday, picking tomatoes, pulling carrots, and just thought - oh, this is my last time out here. It wasn't a "thinking about whether I am done here or not" thought, it was a decision made for me, somewhere in me. And though the place is a constant vexation, I started feeling very sad to leave it, to say goodbye to all of it. I felt like I was saying goodbye to life, to ONE MORE THING that has to go. Which is silly, because this place was not part of our life before, I only found it After. But I think it is just the leave-taking, triggering off the Real Things. Time is moving along, and that is just sad. So many things that would have been easily let go of, with not even a thought, are suddenly massively precious.

Anyway, I am heading off to a dairy farm today to see if they need fall and winter help with their creatures. Working with animals was what I'd wanted from the start. For a brief time last winter, I worked on an alpaca farm, weighing babies, giving shots, holding animals down, breathing with them while they had little minor surgeries done. I felt like Me: sit here and breathe with this creature, and then go muck out that stall. Awesome. But the farm owners had just hired a young man to manage all the regular daily chores, and in deep winter, there wasn't much for me to do. Plus, I find alpaca a bit odd.

I think it's just that difference between non-human animals and plants - I often spent whole hours being pissy while weeding or trimming or planting. Then I would realize how pissy I was being, and choose to do something else, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. But animals require just that little bit more conscious attention, and I often notice this new angry person has been much quieter during that time I've been tending critters. I snap back into myself, without even noticing it. I only notice it after-the-fact, like - hey, I remember you. I am so sad, for me, for the me I used to be. Shit. I hadn't been crying, now I am. I need to make myself a list, as Dan did. Though I think I will call it "things that don't suck," because the angry person needs just that little bit of edge.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

now appearing in a cookie near you...

free thought

I know you are free, my love.
I am glad.
I am not. Not free, I mean. I know, if you can, you are trying to hold on to me.

I know you are free, and I love you. Even in this, 'cause that's how I roll.

I got the sh*t end of the stick, it seems, and I hate to be so bitter and not see any good. The good is, you are free. Except you were here too. I hope you know where you are, and are having a really cool time. If you aren't at all you anymore, where would the fun be in this adventure for you? I am trying to still be me, and that is way harder than it seems.

I am thinking of you. Hope you are picking that up, out there where everything is thought. (at least I think it is).

Friday, September 3, 2010

in the hatch

Reading a comment from someone on Widow's Voice, who signed it "widow. Day 156."

It is a bit of a siege, isn't it.

Sometimes I feel like Desmond, in that first season of Lost (sorry - geekness slipping out here): down there in the hatch, with his highly structured routine of some kind of health shake / healthy diet, followed by a workout, keeping his creative intellect alive with music and reading, being "fit" even though there was nowhere to go and no way of knowing how long he would have to stay there, or if any world even existed outside of that hatch - all with the one goal of being relieved of duty so he could rejoin his love. He just had to not let the world blow up before he could get there. Just that one thought - must get home.

...Keep vision of my love alive in me. Must get home. Must do job while here. Must keep self from going crazy and letting world blow up. Keep heart connected. Home is somewhere. Do job while here that may or may not mean anything at all. Must get home.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010


Last night, just after midnight, I was woken up by some kind of violent crime happening outside my window somewhere. A very angry man yelling and swearing, a second voice terrified, crying, and pleading. Couldn't tell if it was a woman or a child or teen. It took me a second to realize what was happening, and I jumped out of bed to get the cell phone from the kitchen, turn it on, and make sure my own doors were locked. The yelling and swearing, followed by pleading and crying, happened again just as the 911 dispatch picked up. I was just really waking up while trying to talk to the dispatch, trying to remember where I live, figure out what direction the voices came from, and make guesses as to which direction they were heading. At the same time, I was freaking out because Matt is not here, the landlords are away on vacation, the dog is sound asleep, my property is surrounded by scrub woods and industrial factories, matt is not here matt is not here matt is not here, and pictures of what could be happening to the person crying were flashing through my mind - not helping. Dispatch sent out officers, and kindly offered to have one come to my house, but I declined. I didn't hear any more voices, and police cruisers went back and forth a few times over the next hour, but who knows what happened.

Taking the dog out this morning,  I kept scanning the woods on the hill to see if anything looked - wrong. I am definitely still wigged out about it today. I noticed earlier that when I wrote a little snippet, I felt calmer. That, and acknowledging that being an "auditory witness" to violence is still upsetting, even if you are physically safe and never in any danger at all.

I was up for awhile after it happened. Freaked out. Trauma triggered, obviously - having to call 911, someone yelling for help - way too close to home. I've never heard violence happening, or that kind of fear in someone's voice before, and though I knew I was likely quite safe inside my house, I just needed to tell someone what happened. My landords went on vacation and turned off the house wireless, so no internet. I couldn't call Matt (not by phone, anyway), I didn't want to wake up any of my friends with young children. I couldn't think of anyone in a more reasonable time zone to call. I did finally think to text my local widow friend, just in case she had insomnia, and thankfully (for me), she did, and offered to come over. (thank you C.) By that time, I'd calmed down some, and felt able to go back to bed and at least try to rest.

The worst part was sitting there, stunned, trying to find something to do, something calming for me, and, however possible, helpful for the people involved. I went for the things I used to do... before, but they no longer feel relevant. I couldn't tell myself "everything is okay," or even "everything will be okay," because it isn't and it won't be. I couldn't send out thoughts to the victim like: "you are safe, god or something has you," because - No. She isn't. She isn't safe. God or love or anything will not keep her, or me, or matt, or anyone "safe," and some things are not going to be "okay." Shit things are GOING to happen. Can happen. Will happen. Could happen. Just because I believe there is a god, or an energy, or a kindness operating in ways I don't always see, does not mean everything will be okay. There is no anchor. What god or love or kindness might do is to stand there beside you while you are getting the very shit beaten out of your soul. And it won't be enough, because you are still going to be beaten.

And then, because it was late, and I was over-tired, and stressed out, I started feeling bad that I was focused on myself at all, and not concentrating all of my energy on sending out love to both of the voices I heard, waves and waves of love and whatever goodness might be lurking around. I don't even believe it, that sending love would change anything that is going to be. Sending love is all I still have, and I need it to be helpful, I need it to still change something. Anything. It has to be better than filling my mind with all sorts of horrible scenes playing out, or rehearsing all the ways I no longer believe.

I think this is the hardest, deepest - loss? just - thing? for me - I used to have such a deep faith and trust in life, and in my own core. Not that massively difficult things wouldn't ever happen, but that goodness would always be there. The context of beauty and goodness and love would always be there. I leaned on it and trusted it. Me and god had a sweet, hard-earned, collaboration. Things would always be okay, things would always go more deeply beautiful, even when events were rocky and difficult. I lived it for 38 years, 9 months, and 12 days; I saw things become more beautiful than I could have ever created on my own. I trusted it. I so much need all of that to still be true, and I don't see how it can.

I don't think I've become pessimistic - I hope not, and if I have tilted that way, I hope it doesn't stick - but I just, I struggle so deeply with how the faith I had relates to this reality, and where do I go when I am lost and needing solid ground, and there isn't any anymore. God, my friend, if you are reading this, I need more help than you think.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This was on The Widow Lady today. It has the apparently "required in all things" reference to drowning, and it is related to what I was going to post today anyway:
No, no! go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kissed
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
Nor let the beetle nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

She dwells with Beauty - Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips;
Ay, in the very temple of delight
Veiled Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

John Keats, Ode to Melancholy

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In the Hands of Love
God is working everywhere his massive Resurrection;
How can we pretend to act on our own?
In the hand of Love I am like a cat in a sack;
Sometimes Love hoists me into the air
Sometimes Love flings me to the ground.
Love swings me round and round His head;
I have no peace, in this world or any other.
The Lovers of God have fallen in a furious river;
They have surrendered themselves to love's commands.
Like millwheels they turn, day and night, day and night,
Constantly turning and turning, and crying out.

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi

Friday, August 20, 2010

odd morning (though, for me, not really)

bo and I were at the beach. I was picking up precisely carved heart rocks. buff young man came onto the beach, and I noticed, because I am always noticing how no one is built like matt, and looking for flashes of his musculature in anyone elses'. Laughing with and to matt about all this, how if anyone looked, they'd think I was checking the guy out, but in truth, I was checking matt out, via this other physical form. The young man laid down on his towel and read his book. bo chased the ball, and I picked up rocks. A little later, the man smiled at me, and I don't even remember now what he said, but it turned into him asking me something, and I then asked what he was reading - the bible (a military field copy, at that). Interesting.

Then he asked, "would you like some company? Would you like to talk a bit?" And I was cracking up inside, this inside joke between matt and I in that moment. I crouched down next to the guy, and he said: "What is love?" Seriously. I told him I had no answer to that. He then went on for a very long time about love, mostly giving examples of what it isn't, trying to teach about what love really is. He did have a couple of good things to say, hidden in there. The whole time, I am having a conversation with matt about how odd this is, watching our dog swim, waiting for this kid to get to his point. His whole - speech - really had nothing to do with love as I know it, and I kept waiting for him to notice he wasn't exactly reaching his audience! I know he meant it all to connect with god and truth and all, but his message got a little lost. He was enthusiastic, and I'm a good listener, so he went on. Anyway. I was getting both bored and restless, and so was boris - used to having my undivided attention, and not getting it.

I stood up. The young man stood up, and said, "so are you married?" I told him. He barely touched my shoulder - and didn't say anything. He wasn't uncomfortable, just quiet. Then he spoke a little bit about being in Iraq, and what he had seen. Then, he touched my arm again to turn me towards him, and gave me this fierce, incredible hug. Calm, strong, completely rooted, solid. Holy cow. In that moment, I just felt how fiercely matt would hold on to me, how solid, in those beautiful, powerful arms. How fiercely he would hold on to me RIGHT NOW if he could. And I was laughing and crying (inside myself, not on this stranger) and saying to matt - "you found a way, didn't you. You found a way, this morning, to hold on to me." The kid would NOT let go. I went to shift away, and he held on, and said, "I will stand here as long as you need." Oh my god, how much I wanted to stay there, to pretend it was him, to be held on to.

However, boris does not stand around, and the kid is not matt. I let go. The kid started talking about war again, said just a little about god, and about jesus, quoting one of my favorite bible passages (disclaimer - one of the few I actually know). Nice. Precise stuff, this. Anyway, I also had a pretty good guess by now the kid was also hitting on me, but what the heck. He offered to walk with us on our morning loop around the parking lot, and his hitting on got more clear. Like the "long con" - working up to it. He shared quite a bit about himself - oh, such a young kid with a lot of young kid... stuff, and I was quite ready to go when we got back to the parking lot.

That was my morning. I have really wanted something too-precise-to-be-random to happen again, outside of myself, out in this physical world, something I could not possibly have created or conjured. Random invitations to talk about love, and being fiercely, fiercely held on to - not a fair trade at all, but so very very nice.  A bit weird to tell - I don't have a sense yet of what I want to share and don't, but these - tangible evidences of love touching down and being close - I like to hear them myself.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


love is our cross to bear

amen omen

in the colors

and because I heard it at a good time today...  under african skies


Chelsea posted about their dog today, and I was writing a long comment back, and then remembered that I started this blog partly so I wouldn't hosey other peoples' parlors. So:

Matt asked me just the day before he died if I could handle our dog on my own. I So Much wish I had asked him why he was asking. Instead, I said - "of course I can. I take care of him myself all the time when you're out of town." I think, if any part of him knew what was coming, he wanted to know whether having our dog would help or be too hard. boris would follow matt anywhere, the sun rose and set on that man for him. but bo was by my side in the water that day, and in the woods, and constantly now. Thank goodness. Not only is he currently the only other surviving member of our family living here with me, but he is also the reason I talk myself out of letting go of the steering wheel, during those really bad moments.

We talked about getting a dog for months before we finally did. We wanted an older dog, to give him a "really good last few years." Matt knew immediately that boris was The One. We got to the shelter, he crouched down in front of the second kennel on the right, looked at the dog, looked up at me and said, "there aren't any other dogs in here. This is the one." Man, he had great skills at that. boris was, and is now, exactly perfect for us. We adopted boris at the end of July, 2008. I have now had him longer on my own than we had him together.

A few months after M died, I called boris by one of matt's nicknames for him, and he jumped up out of a sound sleep, frantically looking around. When he realized matt wasn't there, he started whimpering, and laid back down. Oh, that sucked. He used to run up to men on the beach who were built somewhat like matt, especially if they were wearing shorts and tevas. A few feet away, he would realize they were not who he was looking for, drop his head, and run back to me. He doesn't really do that anymore, doesn't go up to pickup trucks that look like Matt's and try to get in, doesn't respond to Matt's nicknames for him. He didn't even have that much of a reaction when my step-son came for a visit, after having been away for 10 months. Not sure which is harder - the looking for matt, or the not looking for him. 

Driving to the river that morning, Matt (who had never had a dog before) asked how most dogs die. I told him I had only ever had one dog live long enough to die a natural death, and he walked off into the woods. Matt reached back to pat boris and told him, "that's how you're going to get to go buddy, walk off into the woods whenever you're ready."  The last words Matt said to me, as he was standing in the shallow part of the river, were about boris. He'd run off a bit, and I called him. Matt turned around and said, "you don't have to worry about him here, babe, he's in heaven."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


No one has tried to pretty this up for me in a long time (mostly because I avoid people and situations where it would likely happen), but Dan's post got me feeling like venting a wee. That, and seeing an old acquaintance yesterday who asked what most peoples' reactions were to me, to this, and was rather shocked when I related some of the things said.

Anything to get someone out of the moment they're in. From the "it happened for a reason," "at least you had the time you had," "at least you HAD great love. Some of us never had that,"  to the "you'll get better," you'll get better you'll get better you'll get better, you are strong and glorious, you'll survive this.... For christ sake, let shit be shit. That any of us may eventually have some beauty or peace in this life that got destroyed is absolutely irrelevant to NOW.

I may, someday, have cool titanium cheetah prosthetic running "legs," but it will always SUCK that I don't have my own legs anymore.

(not to offend anyone with double amputations, a situation I know nothing about.)

Monday, August 16, 2010


Observed mysore-style yoga practice today. Watched a man move through a series of arm balances, and had matt flash through my mind. He was so amazing to watch move. Lost it, watching this other person move, and matt not here anymore. And, it was nice to see him do those sequences again, to see him move again. And it sucked.

I hesitate to do anything that might make me have to be here a long time, or increase my odds of longevity. Matt was in awesome shape. His physical practice was important while he was here, but it didn't predict a future. You go when you go. So there is that. Awhile ago, I heard a preacher on the radio saying how only god says how long we will be here. You don't exercise to prolong your life; your longevity is none of your business. You exercise to be the best channel, the best vessel, for god you can be.

I've been avoiding running and yoga because - what if I clean up my vessel, and my core is still not there. If my "before" methods of connecting don't help, man, then I am screwed. No - honest truth, I am afraid I will make my channel clear, and my connection with matt won't be there. I'll get all strong and healthy and I won't feel him more clearly, and he will really be gone. Sh*t. Well now, that is odd to say in such a public space, but there it is, and I am going to leave it. I am considering committing to this yoga practice - a minimum of three times a week, two hour sessions, for at least a month. That is what the studio requires.  The physical challenge, I can do. It's all the rest of it. It's an experiment. I think I am okay with it, as long as I'm not inadvertently prolonging my time here by doing it. What I've got right now is - my channel is definitely clogged and stormy. I can try cleaning it up a little and see what happens. Afraid to lose more, but should probably try anyway. Clogged up vessel = pretty small chance of connection with anything; cleaned up vessel = ???

Friday, August 13, 2010


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~
(Words From Under the Words: Selected Poems)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

the blog name.

Just the day before, Matt and I were talking about Jesus in the Garden - how, even though Jesus had deep, full faith in the world around and inside this one, it still stressed him out, knowing what he had to do. Even having witnessed amazing miracles, proof of the existence of things beyond usual sight, he was still scared, and sad, and lost. Even knowing what was to come after, he still begged to not have to drink this cup.

Rumi was destroyed when his teacher, Shams, died. Well, disappeared. Shams was abducted and presumed dead. Rumi wandered the countryside, sobbing, screaming, searching. Yogananda (one of Matt's favorites) was destroyed when his teacher, Sri Yukteswar, left his physical body.  Yogananda wrote: "beneath a hollow smile and a life of ceaseless activity, a stream of black brooding polluted the inner river of bliss for which so many years had meandered under the sands of all my perceptions." Even with his faith that his teacher had joined with the cosmic beloved, even with a faith way deeper than my own, he went dark.  

With everything Rumi and Yogananda knew, everything they had learned and witnessed and experienced, they were DESTROYED with the death of the ones they loved. It was only the tangible, physical evidence of their relationship continuing that brought them back. It was only knowing, fully knowing, that their love still grew, that they could go on to finish the work they were given to do. For Yoganda, it was seeing the resurrected form of his beloved friend. For Rumi, I don't know how it happened. It's written that someone asked him if he was still looking for Shams. Rumi smiled and said, "why would I go looking for him? He is right here, inside of me."

Even with everything Matt and I believed, even with as often as we talked about "leaving at any time," even for as often as we talked about the nature of this world, even with his friendliness towards death, even after I first told him he had a nice body and he said, "thanks. It's a rental," even with the deep faith and love we had, I had, even with all of this - I was not prepared for this. If Rumi and Shams and Jesus, with their faith far beyond mine, can get stuck in the net of believing all is gone, if their own faith can be so shaken, what chance does my own faith have. It's not really a question. It has to be enough. It helps to know that stronger faith than mine got shaken, and went dark.

The Edge of the Roof 


I don't like it here, I want to go back.
According to the old Knowers
If you're absent from the one you love
Even for one second that ruins the whole thing!

There must be someone... just to find
One sign of the other world in this town
Would be enough.

You know the great Chinese Simurgh bird
Got caught in this net...
And what can I do? I'm only a wren.

(from, The Soul Is Here For Its Own Joy, Sacred Poems From Many Cultures, edited by Robert Bly. For the rest of the poem, see

what happened, what should have happened.

 I'm writing this blog because I'm starting to feel like I am missing out on a community, given that, so far, I only connect through other peoples' comments sections. I am very thankful to have found the people I have found on-line over the last year. I wish I knew you all for a completely different reason.

I don't want to tell the story again today, so here it is, as written august 3rd, 2009,   3 weeks and one day after my love died. Fifty six weeks and four days later, I still can't believe that d-word applies.

You were just right here, that day, that morning. So strong, and joyful and full of life. It’s so sudden. I can’t take the shock. No preparation – other than knowing you. No preparation to have you bodily ripped out of my life, out of our life. I have been prepared to let you go, to let you walk off into the woods, I have been prepared by your faith and your being to let go of your body, to let you be dust. But not NOW. I am not prepared NOW. I was prepared for much later in life. I was prepared for 102, though I would have let go at 100. This should be our time. And your body is gone, and it’s freaking me out. Ridiculous. You and I go out for breakfast, then head to the river. You show me whirlpools, and are so excited to be in the woods and the water at the same time. You play with the dog. You set up our chairs. Then, you tell me this is heaven for him, and you walk into the river. You cough, you cough, I don’t help, and you drown. JUST LIKE THAT. JUST LIKE THAT. We are in the middle of life, and just like that, you drown. Over.

And the fireworks in my life blow up, everything up until that moment explodes.

The shock is intense. Seeing your perfectly strong body, knowing your skills and your strength, I cannot imagine you drowning; I can’t imagine you not being free, not coming out, not popping back up. I can’t wrap my mind or my heart around that piece. That suddenly, suddenly – suddenly, my love could be gone. The very long blink of an eye, because it wasn’t that fast. Or were those minutes? Like when we used to say that the night stretches out for those who need it? When you wake up in the middle of the night, and it just seems interminable, it’s because someone needed the extra time. Did time slow down like that?

I can’t handle you not here. The truck is in the driveway. It has to go to Andrew today. I know it is just a truck. Not as personal as your body. But it is one huge reminder that you are gone, and you are not coming home right now, not in this body, not to my body. You won’t be here to comfort me, the way I see it all play out: I jumped in the water to save you, and you had just gone under to let the current take you to the shore. You popped back up in the trees, and called for a little help getting out. You were gasping, but held me back with one hand up to let me know you just needed a minute, and you would be okay. I called 911, just to be sure you were safe and had the oxygen you need. And you would be hanging over at your waist, breathing hard. I would have to call boris to me, because he keeps dropping the ball at your feet. And then you sit down. And once you are safe, I start crying. You are a little freaked out, but you are breathing, you are calming yourself down. The dog lies down too. I pull it together, though, see, because you need me to be calm while you recover. It’s later, after the medics come and see that you are fine, and I am driving you home, that you put your hand on my knee and say “Sorry to scare you like that babe.” And I start crying so hard I have to pull over. But you are with me, and you are crying too, because it was scary. But we are together. We go home and sit quiet. You tell me you need to go off for a meditation alone. And when you return, we go to bed, and hold each other, and make love, and we both cry again – to be alive, to be holding each other, knowing we had come so close, so close to this other life. This one. This one that I have now.