Wednesday, December 28, 2011


...You went from a living, breathing, loving man to a photograph.
   In an instant.
  And I am still reeling.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

good words

It's not a christmas post; I don't have one. Except I milked the cows and did chores so the farm owners could have an uninterrupted christmas morning with their kids. I brought over appetizers and fancy cakes to ronald mcdonald house so the families staying there would have something nice. And I read this, just now, which made me cry (surprise surprise). I know it is a different thing to lose a child than to lose your love, but I often find the words there suit me well.

...But what she gave me was infinite. The understanding of unconditional love, of absence, of suffering, of impermanence, of fear. (Fuck, I was afraid after she died. I was afraid of being alone and being with others.) She gave me an understanding of without. She gave me the whole of the abyss. ...I gave her some kisses, tears. I gave her an urn. A place on the shelf in the secretary. It sits in front of all my books about God. Those things seem the least I could do, the very least. ...

And the part she wrote about the tattoo makes me want one so badly, want the one I have decided on, the small one inside my wrist. What would you think about this babe? The new ink your son has, the huge ones he has planned, the one I want on me?

And then back to gifts - I love those lines above: you also gave me the whole of the abyss. You gave me absence, suffering, love. And other things, intangibles. Beautifuls and miserables; things I don't even know.

Last night - and I claim it as a gift - I was sacked out on the couch watching tv-via-netflix, and just as the subtitles flashed "you have my heart," the screen froze. The screen froze leaving those words hanging there: You have my heart. The re-loading arrows blinked, but nothing changed. For maybe the first time that whole day, I laughed. Hello my love. And you have my heart too.


Goodnight everybody. Peaceful christmas-hanukkah-kwanzaa-solstice to you.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

payoffs and widows

I hesitate to post my thoughts - but widows understand, so I can do it here. I read this;  via a facebook post today. It's an awesome story. I love it.

But there is one line in there that only another widow would get. Only another widow would wonder about. Here's the passage:

Before she left the store Tuesday evening, the Indianapolis woman in her mid-40s had paid the layaway orders for as many as 50 people. On the way out, she handed out $50 bills and paid for two carts of toys for a woman in line at the cash register.

"She was doing it in the memory of her husband who had just died, and she said she wasn't going to be able to spend it and wanted to make people happy with it," Deppe said. The woman did not identify herself and only asked people to "remember Ben," an apparent reference to her husband.

Did you find it?

...she said she wasn't going to be able to spend it...

Is it just me, or did your thoughts go to - wait. How old is she? When did her husband die? I wonder if she is giving all her money away - "she said she wasn't going to be able to spend it" - because she is planning on killing herself.

Typing that, I feel panic. Should I tell someone? Alert them? Hello - big ol' flashing warning sign!

But not only was the donor anonymous, I also feel like - you know, I understand. And maybe she isn't suicidal. Maybe she just has too much monetary wealth and she is going to sell everything, buy a camper, and move to alaska. Or mexico. Or India. Maybe she cannot stand the thought of spending life insurance money on average, mundane things, and doesn't need to. Maybe she just needs to do something, to be some kind of good force in the world.

I guess I just had a wee little reaction to the subtext. The gloss-over - knowing full well that "kind widow in her mid-40s plays santa" is so incredibly much more than just a happy news story.

. - An addendum. Maybe I am a busy-body. I sent an email to kmart corporate. Then I looked up the assistant manager listed in the article, found the person I think is said asst. manager on facebook, and sent her an email. Of course, typing it, I was thinking - oh my god, what if this brings massively unwanted attention to the poor anonymous widow? What a horrible horrible thing I might be doing! But I typed anyway. I kept it kind of short, and told her that there are some warning signs in the woman's actions, and that if anyone knows her, they might consider reaching out to her. I said that the woman doesn't need attention or pity, but that love and acknowledgment - a card or a phone call - can sometimes be the difference between getting through one more moment, or - not. Thanks C - I wouldn't have thought of that one. I also encouraged said assistant manager to pass along the SSLF and Widows' Voice.

Maybe I did the wrong thing, and have brought unwanted attention to someone who does not in any way want it. But if said woman got through the whole Kmart without accepting attention, I bet she is pretty good at saying No to intrusions.

Meh. Must stop over-thinking.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

The dissonance is so much worse this time of year. Christmas is not important to me. Matt and I were not big holiday celebrators. The last year he was here, we did get a tree, he got us new stockings, and we did presents. But it was because we wanted to. Not because it was expected. I don't know. I just hate this time of year because of the dissonance between my way of doing things and the requests and expectations of my parents. With Matt here, it was fine. Tolerable. Still a drain, but we had each other. We had the same thoughts and feelings about the whole thing. We had sounding boards in each other. Reflection. Validation.

What is left is just the wrongness, the annoyance, the dissonance. The difference between my parents and me is so much  louder when there are things expected, "celebrations" expected - and I am feeling it so much. And "going along with it," agreeing to attend these events that are not meaningful to me, I am so full of resentment. I am a twisted wreck, and I am tired and so incredibly fucking sad that my real family, my match, is not here anymore. My parents are not bad people. They're fine. But I am and always have been an oddity to them. And now there is the added trying very hard that they are doing. Which I feel like a jerk for not enjoying. They want so badly for me to be happy. I know. But what was true before is still true now: I don't like bags full of presents I don't like and can't use. I cannot get excited for cartoon christmas movies. Giving me more and more of the things I do not like will not make me like them. We are not a close family, and pretending we are wears on me.

It's just family stuff.

In the Before, I had my reality check. I had perspective. I had - I don't know how to say it. Affirmation? Confirmation? Alliance? Matt and I lived in the same reality. Same context. We talked about family stuff. We found humor in it, drew lines in it, supported each other, listened. Now I feel like there is just dissonance and I am alone in it. I feel even more like a jerk, because while I am not rude, I do not have half the calm gracefulness I could muster when he was here. When I was calm and rooted and far more able and willing to say No to things that weren't true for me. Now I am far more likely to be a passive crab about it, which irritates me, and then I start crying again. I want him here to not have obligatory celebrations with. I want the man who thinks like me. The one who sees no conflict at all in having fun decorating a christmas tree while not really caring to get presents, give presents, or call up family members. I've got no team anymore. I've got no one like me, not even me. I fucking hate christmas.


Thursday, December 8, 2011


There is a movie in my instant queue called "the loss of nameless things." I haven't watched it yet, but I like the title.

The things I have lost in me don't have names anyone would recognize. I get afraid even I will cease to recognize them, the feeling of them, with or without their names. That sucks.

And something I realized this morning, which does have a name:

I lost my ability to imagine good things.
I don't imagine bad things, I just don't imagine. At all.

The loss of interest in imagining - I don't think that loss can be named.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

unsayable absence

Listen, and feel the beauty of your separation,
the unsayable absence.
There is a moon inside every human being.
Learn to be companions with it.
Give more of your life to this listening.
As brightness is to time,
so you are to the one who talks
to the deep ear in your chest.
I should sell my tongue and buy a thousand ears
when that one steps near and begins to speak.



And, from here  ...Or maybe I am looking for pieces of her? Or shards of myself? Those that flew away with such force that pieces might still be embedded in the walls, those that crumbled away gently to such a fine dust that they could never be reconstituted, those I ripped out with my fingernails and cast away with a shudder of revulsion. Look, there's the part of me that cared when your boyfriend dumped you. That small pile of fluff in the corner, there's my certainty that everything will, in the end, be ok. That small translucent snippet of cellophane, a discard from some piece of medical equipment, the part of me that looked around eagerly for help, turned to higher powers for assistance and aid.


Monday, November 21, 2011


sometimes I feel like this...
because I am clearly still not getting it.


I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
~ T.S. Eliot ~

In the Before, I had no problem with "dark." In fact, when I was seeing clients, or writing for various papers, I often talked about fear of the dark, fear of darkness, the endless pitting of darkness versus light, how silly it all was. Darkness is nothing to fear; darkness is just an inner turn, a waiting. Most things start in darkness. All germination begins in dark (well, okay, except for a few flower seeds that need light to germinate...). Anyway. Darkness is not now, and never has been, a metaphor for lostness or evil or anything negative at all, for me. Why do I say this? Well, because I like this Eliot poem very much. And because all my metaphors and analogies of life in the Before instantly became useless emptiness the moment the lead warden stepped out of the woods and said, "I'm sorry, but he's passed."

The darkness is the light, and the stillness is dancing.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Invisible

When the Invisible has become your food,
you've won Eternal Life and death has fled.
When the agony of love has begun to expand your life,
roses and lilacs take over the garden of your soul.

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi


Friday, November 18, 2011

this morning's radio

I'm in the middle of making a sculpted cake for my little friend's 5th birthday. Crabby, overwhelmed, down - the usual. Had to run out to the store and flicked on the radio, which is unusual for me. This song was just starting:

I do recommend you listen, rather than listen and watch, as the imagery starts off with an older man lying in bed imagining his wife when she was young. I stopped right there - no need to add more visuals to a song that already gets me.

...Won't you take me with you darling I don't want to stay
And this place just keeps on getting sadder ever since you went away...

And I don't think, don't think I can wait any longer
O Lord I'm counting down the days
I'm gonna come back, come back and hold you my love
Soon as I get my wings....


Back to cake.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

updates and rude behavior

the updates portion:

Reminding myself that boris is injured, not sick, helped calm me down immensely. And, as cathy commented on my last post - whatever happens, I will just deal with it. Teeth clenched, reciting mantra: "deal with it."

Happily, the vet appointment went really well. The vet actually spent 45 minutes with the dog and I; we discussed options while boris politely expressed his desire to leave. He has new ~as needed~ pain medicine, he's otherwise strong and healthy, and I have a few options, ranging from relatively cheap but heavily pharmaceutical through moderately expensive with no side effects all the way up to expensive surgery. I always do better when I have actual information, rather than blind panicking fears. So. All is feeling better on the dog front. He's still limpy, but we will deal with it.

As for the "rude behavior" part of this post - we have a grocery store in town here that insists on those aggravating and annoying "rewards card" things. I hate them on principle. I also don't like the particular store, either. However - I have had matt's rewards card thing on my keychain since he stopped having need of it. It's old and beaten and worn. I go to the crappy grocery store sometimes just to use his card. So today, I went to said store, and before I could say anything, the crazy cashier person RIPPED THE CARD off my keys, tossed it in the trash and said "you can't use this one anymore." She then whipped out forms for me to fill out for a new one. I think I just stood there with my mouth hanging open. I actually forgot to pay, at first, I was so shocked. Normally those cashiers remark at how beat up the card is and ask if I want a new one. Not this time. How fitting that jackie's post on WV today addresses just such forced removals of our husbands' things.

Everything else was in complete slow motion, while I wondered if I should tell her to give me the old card back. If I should educate her with direct eye-contact whilst saying simply "could you retrieve that card for me please. It belonged to my husband before he died." Instead, I went out to my car, where I then sat for a good 7 or so minutes wondering if I would go back in and do just that. Wondering whether - I don't know. Whether I was ready to not have his card anymore, wondered if driving away without retrieving it was okay with me or not, imagining whether I would regret not getting it back so that I could decide if I was done holding the little scrap of plastic that his fingertips had worn.

I sat there wondering how good it would feel to see her eyes widen and her jaw drop, to hear her stammer an apology as she reached down into the trash to get my dead husband's card for me. I thought about all the tender, newly grieving people she would not ever do that to, having been politely but firmly corrected. Made aware. That a stupid rewards card is not always just a rewards card, and you should ask before you decide what someone is done with.

In the end, I drove off without making my cashier re-education efforts. Though I did imagine the conversation she'd have had, when she got home from work, all about the woman whose card she threw away.

Ah, to be so oblivious. To not have to grit your teeth and deal with it.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I was not expecting today to be such a bad day. I took boris to the beach. I sang some songs, and even sang one of our songs - and that was the start. The last line of said song is "I love you, til I die," which now I sing a little differently. Bam. Okay. Pulling it together. Then on our way back home, I noticed boris' usual limp was a lot worse. Really a lot worse. I made myself leave the house, telling myself I was worrying too much. I'd planned for a morning of being Out In the World. Normal things.

Eh. I don't even want to write this. Today has been a shit day of multiple ambushes, all while trying to be out of the house for once, somewhere other than work. Hard not to think - man, see what happens when I try to be normal? Back home, I see Boris is in pain today, he's whimpering when he moves, and he's stuck close to me. I made an appointment to see the vet tomorrow, likely for x-rays and discussions of surgery. I need to go to work soon, and am forcing myself to not call and cancel. I was not expecting such an ambush filled day.

That's all. Venting the ambush. Think good thoughts for the dog and me.

~ an addendum: Feeling a little better now. I can't believe the number of drowning references the world packs into just under an hour, in one place, in one morning. That and well-meaning but oblivious acquaintances wanting details of "how I am"... not realizing that my "fine, thanks," coupled with turning my head away from them and back to the newspaper means "I am done talking." The non-response and tear-filling eyes should really be a clear signal. I'm thinking I might bring a fly swatter and ear plugs next time. That should help with "being normal."

And on the dog front, reminding myself that boris is injured, not sick, helps too. One moment at a time - get through the vet appointment and go from there.


Sunday, November 13, 2011


It is two years and four months today. Don't know that the arbitrary marker means anything, or that it is "responsible" for the badness and heaviness in me. Honestly, I'm not sure there is ever anything but heaviness, it just has different shades.

I super duper much miss being light. Being normal. I miss finding things funny. Or you telling me something is funny. I miss being teased by you. I miss your hand on my knee while you're driving; your hand on the small of my back as you usher me in through a door. I miss holding hands across the breakfast table while we read the paper silently. I miss being able to go out for breakfast with you, to eat hash and pancakes like we did 122 weeks ago right now - just be fucking normal. I am tired of dragging my ass around this world. Everything comes attached to this. This comes attached to everything.

I wish I had some light in me, some light to share. I got nothing. Although, some trees in our neighborhood are a really amazing shade of red.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Rough times lately.

But also lots of very early mornings of silence, tea, thomas merton - and piles of tissues.

“I was not sure where I was going, and I could not see what I would do when I got [there]. But you saw further and clearer than I, and you opened the seas before my ship, whose track led me across the waters to a place I had never dreamed of, and which you were even then preparing to be my rescue and my shelter and my home. ...Show us your Christ, Lady, after this our exile, yes: but show Him to us also now, show Him to us here, while we are still wanderers.”

Thomas Merton
        The Seven Storey Mountain

“I will no longer wound myself with the thoughts and questions that have surrounded me like thorns: that is a penance You do not ask of me.”

Thomas Merton
              The Sign of Jonas


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

We pray to make it whole,
tip the world on edge and
follow the trail home, singing.
Our voices carry
into the future,
our brief language
a migration of words,
slow voice of mountain,
wandering voices of caribou, wind.
Blown seed, all the
lost languages wandering
through seasons, moon and sun,
wandering through centuries,
drifting, every year
the grass return, the birds
begin to sing,
the sky clears and
we can see forever.

~ Gary Lawless

Sunday, October 30, 2011

love dogs

One night a man was crying,
“Allah, Allah!”
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
until a cynic said,
“So! I have heard you
calling out, but have you ever
gotten any response?”
The man had no answer for that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.
He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage,
“Why did you stop praising?”
“Because I’ve never heard anything back.”
“This longing you express
is the return message.”
The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.
Your pure sadness that wants help
is the secret cup.
Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.
There are love dogs no one knows the names of.
Give your life to be one of them.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

You waited until you were alone.
Death is a private thing.
You knew your last act
was to a different audience.
As it entered you -
oh how you must have danced!
curving toward God, elegant and alone.
Dear one, what is it like?
Tell us! What is death?
you say, your voice swathed in wings.
I am born in the endless beginning.
I am not. I am.
You start turning into us,
we who love you.
You weep in our sadness,
you laugh when we do,
you greet each moment fresh,
when we do.
So may your gift of loving enter our own
and be with us that way, forever.

~ Elias Amidon

from here

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

stupid cake.


I am going to a birthday dinner tonight for three of us who have had recent birthdays. I am making cake. All through this cake making, I have become more and more agitated. I keep noticing I am holding my breath. My shoulders are tight, and not just because my neck still hurts. The dog is needy, and I am annoyed at the time I take to figure out what he needs. I was having a good day, and the agitation has crept up on me. But then I remember - or I realize. I've known since I decided to make this cake how potentially "loaded" it was. Every time it came up in my mind, I thought, yeah, but I've made this cake a bunch of times Since. I've even made cake for my friend E.

But I have not made her this cake. The last time I made this particular cake for this particular friend was July 11th, 2009. For her baby shower on July 12th. Which I did not attend.



Matt and I had some songs we were (very loosely) working on together, him on guitar and both of us on vocals. This one is a wee hard for me to sing now, given the whole river thing, and also of course, I have to sing both parts. But this morning, Boris and I went to the beach after waking to the very pink sunrise, and I sat on the beach and sang. First some old Gaelic chants I knew, then this song. Saw a seal out in the water - first time I've seen one here. Nope, I don't think my singing raised a sea creature. Just was nice to see, and nice to feel my old and usual happiness at the natural world. It's a really pretty planet. Even though my voice cracks on some words.


Monday, October 24, 2011

is "going postal" still a phrase?

Because I must keep myself from doing whatever "going postal" might currently mean. The new tenant downstairs - a man older than I am - has someone over, and they are very loudly and VERY BADLY practicing on their electric guitars and electric keyboard. The same phrases over and over and over, punctuated with some sort of hideous acid jazz interlude. I've had this place to myself for three blissful months. My landlords lived here before that, and they never listened to music of any kind. And they most certainly did not make these hideous noises that reverberate through my entire house, and blast through even my own now blasting music that I only have on to COVER THEM UP. It is not working. And now, just to escape the noise, I am going to bundle up and go sit outside.

Oh and I was in such a nice mood. So now I will have to tell the man, when he asks, that he is FAR TOO LOUD, because otherwise I will become a passive aggressive bitchy person and shoot invisible daggers at him. No one needs that. And if I tell the landlords, when they ask, without telling him first, well then that will be weird too. Sigh. Angrily wearing earplugs probably won't work in the long run...



Saturday, October 22, 2011

little snippet


Then I will make up to you for the years
That the swarming locust has eaten…

~ Joel 2:25


Thursday, October 20, 2011

noticing, plus.

In the world of weird lying:

a woman I know tells me things personal things all the time, then posts the complete opposite on her fb page.

Another person I know just spent the weekend at an out-of-state rehab for her alcoholic husband, but writes a long fb status update about how she missed out on these other things going on because she was having a great time away at her husband's medical conference.

Why? I mean, if you are going to lie, or if you're embarassed about what is truly going on, why are you compelled to lie about it online? Why say anything? Humans. I do not understand.

I know I have my own issues and oddnesses. There are just some things that people do that I don't understand. The therapist, the massively judgmental, and the anthropologist parts of me collude on things like this.

Even this is loss - Matt and I noticed these kinds of things together. Meh. I don't feel like adding that right now. Right now I feel the tiniest bit more amused by the oddnesses of people than I do overwhelmed and lonlied by it, so I am gonna try and keep it that way.


And then an addendum, because I don't feel like a whole other post - I spent most of the day in the ER, in a cervical collar and strapped to a board, because I hit my head really hard yesterday and my doctor thought my neck was broken. Unexpectedly strapped to a board, immobile, in pain, being asked questions about marital status and emergency contacts, trying not to scream for matt knowing he can't answer, trying to tell the nurses that part of my crying is not from physical pain so they wouldn't suddenly do more invasive procedures or something, all while surrounded by trauma triggers. It has been a long and painful day, and I am so glad to be home. No broken bones. Not allowed to go into work for a few days. Must lie down a lot.

I don't have to tell you all on how many levels and in how many ways this hurts.

Giving up Your Soul

Dancing is not rising to your feet painlessly like a whirl of dust
blown about by the wind. Dancing is when you rise above both
worlds, tearing your heart to pieces and giving up your soul.

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

a new one


The difference between birds with wings and holy people with the
Wings of passionate Love, is that birds with their wings fly in a certain
Direction, which is always changing, and holy beings with
Wings of Love long only to fly away from all directions.

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi

I haven't seen this poem before. Nice one.

My kid is here, tromping around upstairs, looking at the upstairs apartment with the landlord. How weird, and good, and strange, it is to have him here. How crazy. Matt's birthday was Saturday. I forgot that other people would know that too, other people would be in more pain that day. Other people would notice the day. J. and I are going to go check out some tattoo flash when he's done talking renovations with the landlord. How strange. How strange. How many different people I am lately.


Thursday, October 13, 2011


I'll maybe write more about it later, but if you are interested in photos from last weekend's Nose to Tail pig event, the slideshow is here:

There are no photos of the slaughter itself, for many reasons. The rest of the photos are shots of innards and eviscerating, butchery, and people wielding knives. Caul fat is beautiful.

And, I realized on sunday morning that is was 27 months that day. Woke up in the tent, a new tent, curled in the sleeping bag matt bought me for our first christmas together, made tea on the campstove I bought jake when we couldn't find matt's in the chaotic aftermath of 27 months ago. Walked to the kitchens to begin day two of butchery. And kept glancing at the clock: today, right now, at around 11:35 am, this is what I am doing. I am butchering pigs, not screaming in the woods. This is what I am doing on this day.


Friday, October 7, 2011



Just this morning,
led me into
the rose garden that is
outside this world
nor within it.

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi

Not true - the above, but hey, I can hope for it. The old praise poems sung to kings, lauding their merits, were meant as encouragement of what could be, not necessarily what was.

The sun is up, I have tea, I am preparing for this weekend away with pigs. I have the excitement of adventure on me right now, and that is mighty nice to feel.

First on the agenda today: I need to get my license renewed. The thing is, 6 years ago, I was blissfully happy, and it shows in my license photo. I have aged and changed so much in these last two years, I am afraid of what the new photo will show. I don't want photographic evidence of pain looking at me every time I open my wallet. I am sitting here with my "hydrating facial mask" on, hoping it eases some lines and hides them from the camera. Vanity. And comedy. No hydrating mask is going to erase all the evidence of this.

In other news, I don't seem to be able to comment on any blogs lately. Not sure why. I can't even comment as Anon. So in case you're reading this, and I'm reading you - hi.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

just drained


I am tired of living this.
Preaching to the choir, I realize.

I am tired of all of it,
and tired of the person I am these days,
tired of being down and annoyed and sad at the person I am.

I'd like to go now.


Hey babe. Your son is so sweet. He calls me on his way out of work. Calls to see if I want to come have tea with him. He is the only one who talks about you like normal. He's the only one who doesn't seem to give me that pity face I am so tired of. He doesn't give me "meaningful touches" to show he empathizes. Anyway. He is a good kid babe. Handsome. I saw him up at the counter, from the back, and saw shades of your musculature rippling under his shirt. He says he is glad you didn't have to ever get old and sick and be trapped in a hospital bed. That if you had to choose, you would have chosen this way, though older, and not to cause us any pain.

Free to the end, my love.

And, Jake and I were discussing how you used to come up behind and knock our knees out. He told me how some friends of his do that to him now, but he always turns around expecting it to be you. Just the look on his face as he demonstrates for me, I can see, though he doesn't say it, that he is disappointed when it isn't.

I dreamed this morning something long and involved, but in the end, I was laughing. It was a painful dream, but still, in the end, I was laughing. And as I woke up, I thought - man it was so good to laugh.

For our birthday season this year, I am going to learn how to slaughter and butcher a pig. How insane is that. I am camping for the weekend on-site; the first time since way Before. Probably for the first time since we drove cross-country, since we hadn't taken overnight hikes in quite awhile. Remember our very first trip? I hadn't eaten pork in almost 15 years, but we stopped on the way to the mountains and bought thick cut, local bacon. You cooked it over the fire while I was still asleep inside the tent. From there to slaughtering pigs. So much time has passed. So much everything.

I am so tired. I am so tired of coming home after these long ass days that are beating me up and know you are not here. At all. I am tired of missing you, of needing to miss you. Of why I miss you. There is no - good thing. There is no good thing at the end of my day, no rest. Just, as Julia just wrote, just getting up to do it all again. 

That's all. I miss you. I am older than you now, and you won't catch up on these birthdays you have no need of anymore.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

rivers and tides

My son went to visit some of his old high school teachers today. Some of them didn't know his dad died. I don't know how they missed it, though he had graduated and school was done for the summer when it happened. Anyway. On being asked how his dad was, J told the teacher that his dad had drowned, and the teacher was shocked - that it happened, and that one of his students had just drowned in the same river this weekend. It's a long river, and I knew instantly where the student's death had happened. J. insisted it happened in the same place as his dad, but I know the sound of his voice when he starts making up parts of a story to sound even more dramatic. I just now looked it up: different part of the river, miles and miles apart. But still, same river. Google search also listed another news story of drowning that happened this weekend just up the coast from here - a man swept out to sea, his 4 friends stranded on a rock, after being hit by a large wave. And all I can think is - this is supposed to be rare. Drowning is supposed to be rare.


Saturday, September 10, 2011


one of those days
where the number hits me
a glimpse of what
two years is
in the outside world
how is that possible it has been
over two years
you have been gone,
since you have been


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

not a victory march

I was already going to post this, and then I remembered that Jeff Buckley drowned.


Monday, September 5, 2011

the old guy


There is an old man who lives up the road from me. Every day, we pass each other, each on our respective morning walks - me with Boris, the old guy on his own. At first we just walked past. Then there was a nod of recognition, followed months later by "good morning." Lately there has been a "how are you" spoken as we walk by. Today as I was walking up the hill, the old man, coming down the hill, pointed at me and smiled. "You and I, we seem to run into each other a lot, don't we."

"Every day," I said.

"How are you today honey?"

"I'm alright," I lied. Completely lied. I have already spent most of the morning crying, and just now got it together enough to get outside with Bo. "And you? How are you today?"

"Well," the old guy shifted and smiled. "I get out, I'm moving and walking around. That's what counts, that's what is each day, that is what I have."

I feel my eyes well up at this. Thank goodness my sunglasses are quite large. We are somehow still walking in slow opposite directions and yet standing close.

Then he asks, "are you married?"

I choke. "I'm widowed," I manage to say, though I am clearly crying now - I can feel tears rolling down my cheeks, caught by the lower rim of my glasses.

"Oh honey. Oh honey I am sorry to hear that."

"Me too," I said.

"You take each day, you take it by each day. That is all you can do."

It's a blur now, how that ended, how that moment passed. I think we were already passing each other as he asked the question that got him that response. By the time I said thank you and half turned away, I already had tears breaking through the containment of my sunglasses, dripping off their edge.


a photo for HBPG


Thursday, September 1, 2011


It used to be, in the Before, if I was feeling stressed or anxious, I could look around at my reality and root myself in it. Sweetheart, look: everything is fine. If it is ever not fine, you will deal with that then. My go-to way of calming down, of finding an anchor, is irrelevant and suspect now. I cannot look around and say that anything is fine. Reality is crazy. Reality is wrong.

Lately, I've been feeling completely upside-down, confused, waking up thinking this has all been a dream - really, not just wishful thinking - I'm forgetting where I am and where I've been. It's a bit like the early days: I leave myself notes to remember what day it is and what time I am supposed to be somewhere; I find myself thinking it's morning when Boris and I are out for an afternoon walk. I start to answer a question I've been asked and feel like I'm not making any sense. Part of all this mind muddledness is trauma, part of the picture of trauma. There are also lots of changes going on, new stressors, new uncertainties. I've started working full time hours for the first time in two years. But the biggest most huge thing of course is that this life is utterly entirely unreal. It's insane. It's not logical. It can't be real. Everyone going on about their lives, sun comes up, sun goes down, tra la la, it all just happens, and excuse me, but are you aware that matt DIED? It has been over two years I have lived in this insane reality. Of course I'm f-ing nuts.

I don't know why it's worse this week. The confusion and sense that I'm asleep and dreaming this has been so intense. The weirdness of the world, the discordance of all of everything - it's all just getting me. National Public Radio plays all day in the barn, so I hear more news in a day than I usually do in a month or more. Between the news stories on bath salts and reality tv in the Netherlands, I'm starting to feel like I'm living in a Jasper Fforde novel. No wonder I can't seem to get a grip on anything; the world's gone totally squiffy.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

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


Saturday, August 27, 2011

and another.

Another random water death by someone fit and healthy.

I learned today that our friend David died last week, as the newspaper said, "during the swimming portion of the triathlon." He was 20 years older than matt, and matt had described him as "someone who probably used to be in good shape, but has become stiff and tense." David was both things - in good shape, and stiff and tense. He moved with a tremor you'd only notice if you were the kind to notice things. He was angry and self-righteous, anxious, controlling, and brilliant in his chosen field.

We were coffee shop friends. Matt had been working with David on some design renovations for his house in the week before his own random water death. When Matt died, this stiff, formal, somewhat angry man offered his time to me, saying, "I'm pretty good with these sorts of things."

I was just thinking of him the other day - David, that is. Matt I think about all the time. Was just randomly wondering what he was up to, how his summer was going. Driving down to the coffee shop today, I was thinking of how, when someone dies, when some random accident happens, we say "it hit close to home." I was thinking how people probably said that when their friend Matt died, that such a tragedy happened so close to home, and how for me, it wasn't "close to home," it WAS home.

I walked in to the coffee shop and sat down with a friend. We did our normal catch up on things. And then he very gently and slowly told me: there is some news. Some news in the way of sudden death. And then he said his name: David. He told me the details are not released. He told me he wanted to tell me before I read it somewhere, or overheard it in some less-than-gentle way. While reading the tribute on his employer's webpage, I came to the part where David was taken from the water during the triathlon. My friend said quietly - "it was water. That was the other thing I didn't want you to find out about alone."

What is odd to me about this is my lack of grief, I guess I'd call it. Now, David and I were not in any way close. I hadn't seen him for months. It is bizarre that he is gone, just - poof! but I feel inured to that somehow. He and his ex-wife were hostile with each other, so there is no one like me, there is no one whose life was twined with his, no one whose home took this direct hit. Maybe that is why. Does that seem rude? Dismissive? It's like seeing what happened to me, what happened to matt, from this outsider's view, this casual connection point of view, where it is not my life that has been hit. The loose-knit community absorbs it, people are shocked, but no one's life, no one's daily life, is personally changed.

And maybe because it HAS happened to me, the shock is different. I already know that weird random shit happens weirdly and randomly. I already know that the world blows up, and what happens after it does. For the people "close to home," things have a momentary rift, and then ease back to normal, perhaps with a fleeting tint of "life is short."  People who take a direct hit know there is no normal anymore.

I'm not crying. I'm not sad about David. Do I need a five tombstone movie to be sure I'm still in here? Am I callous and shut down? I don't know. My friend and I sat there talking about it, talking about the details and funerals and all these things. A man came in wearing glasses a bit like David's. I said, "I thought that was him, even though we sit here talking about his funeral, I looked up and was ready to say hi to him." My friend told me he had been doing that all day. David was many circles out from the center of my home. His death will make no difference in most of my daily life. But he is one more person I will not look up to see coming through the door, no matter what the corner of my eye thinks it sees.

It's making me feel somewhat cocky. Somewhat - I don't know - fearless isn't quite the right word. Within the freak out panic of my mother around the weather coming through this weekend I feel myself bristle and think - dude, you have no idea. You die whenever you die, and there is not a thing in this world that will change it or stop it or anything else, so stop freaking out. Having only heard about David barely two hours ago, I feel a cavalier smart-ass-ness in me - get over yourself. Stop being jerks. Stop freaking out. Random shit will pluck you from this place, from this life, or it won't. Nothing you can do. You aren't safe, and you aren't in danger either.

It's really quite a bit smart-ass. Maybe I do need a movie.


Saturday, August 20, 2011


This post involves the slaughter of meat birds on a small farm. If you are sensitive to imagery involving animals, you may want to skip this one.

Before today, the only creature I have knowingly and directly killed was a severely injured flicker that was being euthanized at the bird rehab where I volunteered. With the exception of mosquitoes, ticks, and fruit flies, I do not kill anything with reckless abandon. I relocate spiders. I bring injured mice outside for the owls to eat. My laying hens will live out their lives long after they stop (sporadically) laying eggs. I was a vegetarian for a very long time, and now I eat meat. I like to know where my meat comes from and how it was raised. I knew if I was going to eat animals, I would eventually need to be directly part of their deaths. Today, I was.

I knew this day was coming. I'm signed up for a nose-to-tail hog processing in the fall. I thought maybe I should be involved in the deaths of smaller animals before I went on to the larger mammals. I've had several opportunities to help with small farm meat bird processing. Once was the week before Camp Widow, and I just felt too raw and sensitive to do it then. I almost backed out today.

I got up at 5 am to have some time to calm myself down before heading out to the farm. I kept panicking. I wasn't sure I was strong enough, or calm enough, to do this today. It wasn't until a brief text volley with a friend that I realized I was expecting to be traumatized. I was expecting to have matt's death come flooding back to me. I was expecting him to die again, there on that farm with the chickens. I was terrified to be that close to death again, and what it might do to me. It may be weird to say, but realizing he would not die again instantly relaxed me. I went from fighting back panic to being almost excited.

I drove the hour to the farm and found my friends just waiting for me to arrive. K and I went directly out to gather the ducks. Who were huge. I had my first wave of panic. Ducks are big. I won't go into deep descriptions here, as it is disturbing to me to recall and would likely be disturbing to read. Well, okay, it will still be possibly disturbing. I can't tell this story for myself without some graphic parts.

So in the barest of details, the slaughter of birds is not the calm and quick affair I had read it would be. It is graphic and visceral and loud and upsetting. I played the scientist and asked why there was so much thrashing, and why could it not be done more quickly. My friend (an acquaintance, really) said "they don't feel anything after the first few seconds. That's all just muscle spasms." Seriously? Have you ever been a bird with its throat cut? How do you, how does anyone, know whether they feel anything or not? That sure did not seem like 'muscle spasms" to me. That looked like struggling. Later, as the production line got going, there would be a bird struggling at one end of the table while people eviscerated or plucked cooling birds in the middle. It seemed so incongruous, to have this struggle happening and no one - I don't know - witnessing it. There was a prayer said before the first bird, but it was not enough for me. I felt like first dismissing, and then ignoring, the struggling was just a way of trying to make it okay for the humans involved. Now, mind you - these people take very good care of their animals. They raise them with respect and care. They are not cavalier killers. I think it is just a human tendency to mitigate what we view as suffering by telling ourselves it is not so bad as it looks, or by ignoring it altogether. I am a terrible liar, especially to myself. I cannot say that someone elses' experience is not so bad just to make myself feel better. I cannot pretend I am not complicit in pain or difficulty just so I can eat with less guilt.

Matt and I talked about raising meat animals and how that would be for us. He was a fly-fisherman. He hated killing fish. He did it with a prayer and a thank you, as swiftly and cleanly as he could. He refused to make it pretty, but moreso, he refused to close his eyes and pretend suffering wasn't happening. He did what he could to lessen the suffering, but he would not pretend it wasn't there and that he was not the cause of it. Once the killing was over, there was no sentimentalizing - we said thanks, and we ate fish.

I needed him there with me today. I imagine he would have come up with something to make the process more gentle, or more swift. I wanted to hear him talking to the animals, calling them "my friend," coming to them with his strong, gentle hands. He could be calm in the face of death. In the face of anything. But even more, I needed him to talk about all this with me. To talk about being open to death, to understand and witness it without making it pretty, to be present to our actions and still want to eat meat at the end of it all. These kinds of discussions were normal for us.

I want this now. I need this now, as my life comes closer and closer to the death of animals I have raised. I want to be able to stand there and calmly round up the meat birds, not turn away when they are put into the cone. Not stand there with my mouth hanging open while the bird thrashes around and everyone else just goes about the other tasks at hand. Not pretend that death isn't happening, that I have taken a life that was not mine. I don't know what I would do differently. Just - to do this, to be so close to death itself, to be the one choosing it, ordering it, dealing it out - I so much need him here. It would not make it pretty. But his perspective and his unshakable calm would change things for me. To do this without him is so entirely sad.

I have been in a daze since coming home. It's only when I sat down to eat (raviolis, thank you very much. no meat for tonight) that I really started to cry. I cannot believe I have to live this life without him here. That there will be more deaths, more meat, more days when our doing it together would have made everything alright when it is not. I miss how he refused to make things pretty, how he came to things with such a gentleness, such clear peaceful goodness.

And what I miss, what I miss what I miss what I miss is my love here to talk with about this. To hear his voice. To see that little light in his eye and that gentle smile. To see how it is that he leads an animal to slaughter. To see what this experience is like when done with him. I always knew this day was coming, if I was going to continue eating meat. But I thought he would be beside me. I knew he would. And he is not.

My mother cannot understand how I can do this. How I can, even in theory, raise an animal knowing I will eventually eat it. My mother eats meat. Grocery store, factory farmed meat. My argument - however unsuccessful - is that I would rather eat a creature I love, that I know has been loved, than eat one no one has ever cared a thing about. I cannot be complicit in a life unattended and unloved no matter how cheap that might make dinner. And here is the point, for me, in all of this. I want my heart open enough to witness this. To hold on to this. I want to love and care for creatures knowing full well they are going to die. That I am responsible for their death, as well as their life, and that this is part of love. I do not want to look at anyone I love, meat or not meat, and ignore the fact that death is part of us. I can't make that pretty, and I can't pretend it doesn't hurt.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I'm back.  Boris had a lovely time with my father; the chickens and cats and gardens survived just fine. I think I may have spent an entire eternity on lay-over at o'hare. And, in other news, I have internet at home again.

When I picked up Boris, my mother asked if san diego was "worth it." I don't know that I can answer that, and certainly not in any words she would understand. I don't think I can create an equation where travel + money spent is < or > camp widow. I missed matt in new ways, found him missing in new ways. I took my first trip somewhere without him, and it was very wrong. The way we travel together, our rhythm of adventure, is gone. I am going to live, and I am not too thrilled about that. There will be trips and adventures, and he will not come. There are whole new places to explore, and we will not explore them together. I sat in a place I should not be, with people I should not know. I left more lonely and more sad than I arrived.

Walking in to the reception area on Friday was overwhelming. All these people. All these people, and every single one of them is widowed. Every single one. Usually, in crowds, I go into "city mode" - walking quickly with determination and focus, with a bit of the "fuck off" vibe so as to not attract the random proposals I seem to pick up from men with heavy accents. But then I realized, in this crowd, everyone is like me. This sea of people wearing green lanyard nametags, and not one of them deserves or needs the brush by or blank gaze. I kept thinking "but they're all so young," and then remembered - me too. I am one of them. There was a lot of that this weekend. A lot of reminding, as if I could forget, that I belong here. I am one of them. This is wrong. There was a lot of this is wrong.

I also got to spend long hours wandering around with a friend, sitting in churches and eating figs (figs. Local ones. My farmers' markets do not have figs. Or avocados. Or dates.) I did not get confused or pitying looks when I told Dan and Jackie about the confusion and stammering I caused my hotel's young check-in girl when I asked her to check where the widow conference was, and that I had to say the word "widow" more times in less than two minutes than I have in a very long time. I got to sit by the pool holding hands and crying with people I love (though studiously avoiding looking at the pool with all those flashback inducing people in there). I got to sit outside and discuss this life without the annoying need to translate and explain everything I'm saying, as I do with the non-initiated.  I got to touch and hold on to people I already loved from a distance. I got to put my arms around people and just stand there, linked, talking within our group - a party I enjoyed, rather than tried to escape. I had hands on my back, arms around my shoulders. I got to meet other 'accident widows,' which is a rare and wonderful thing. The meeting, that is, not the accident. There is something that passes between us, unspoken and not needing to be said. Exhaustion kicked my butt, and I didn't get to spend nearly enough time out and about, but I feel like our connections will continue to grow. In that, it was exactly what I wanted - physical roots to take back into the non-physical world.

I also learned that my bed is not nearly comfy enough, and I need hotel-level amendments.

There are a few things I would like to see at future Camps - maybe an organized field trip somewhere, like the botanical gardens or something. To be out somewhere doing something, without needing to shout over music, would be great. (NOT the SD zoo! Good lord what an over-priced mass of ill behaved humanity.) I also found myself very much wishing you were there Amanda - to key out insects and plant life with me.

At the hotel itself, having a room set up with chairs and coffee/tea would be nice. A widowed-only space, like a cafe with exclusive membership. I know there were plenty of chairs everywhere, and starbucks did a brisk business, but a designated hang out place would be nice. In grand irony, we shared the hotel and conference center with a huge contingent of spandex clad "fitness supplement" people in town for their sales convention. Big banners outside read "STAY YOUNG FOREVER!" Poor dears. They also wore green lanyards. Big thick ribbony ones. They were all very perky.

In a macabre but totally within character way, I found myself wanting some kind of listing, with names removed, of causes of death, causes of widow-ment ~ was I the only drowning there? There was one widowed by fire, one by air; was the earth element represented? How many sudden deaths, and how?

I am a bit dreading the questions from people here - how was it? Did you have a good time? What was it like? I have no answers for this. I especially have no answers for anyone who has not gone through the hazing it takes to get here. That is one big thing I take from this weekend - how much nicer it is to not explain. To know that explanation is not necessary. I left San Diego thinking I wouldn't be back, that I don't need any more Camps. But then, I impulsively signed up to volunteer for the east coast event in 2012. It's still wrong, and I am apparently going to live.

Those who are near me do not know that you are nearer to me than they are
Those who speak to me do not know that my heart is full with your unspoken words
Those who crowd in my path do not know that I am walking alone with you
Those who love me do not know that their love brings you to my heart.

Rabindranath Tagore


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

This Love

This Love sacrifices all souls, however wise, however "awakened."
Cuts off their heads without a sword, hangs them without a scaffold.
We are the guests of the One who devours His guests,
The friends of the One who slaughters His friends.
Although by His gaze He brings death to so many lovers
Let yourself be killed by Him: is He not the water of life?
Never, ever grow bitter; He is the friend and kills gently.
Keep your heart noble, for this most noble love
Kills only kings near God and those free from passion.
We are like the night, earth's shadow.
He is the Sun: He splits open the night with a sword soaked in dawn.

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi

Sunday, August 7, 2011

some sweetness

It has been rough, people. I know you know, so I don't need to get into it.

But today, I have had some sweetnesses. After changing out of barn clothes, I attempted the "shop for san diego" thing again. I actually looked at, and bought, dresses. Can I just say to you that today is the first time I have felt any interest whatsoever in my appearance. The first time in exactly 2 years and one month that I have wanted to be at least a little bit pretty. I just need to remember to not wear anything pretty to the barn, or while cooking, in the next 5 days. I can become stained just by standing still.

And, after making a very sarcastic comment about death and accidents on a friend's facebook page, a very old and dear mutual friend sent me an email. We haven't spoken since grad school, maybe 12 years ago. There are still people I care about who do not know. After just over two years, I still have to say the words to new ears. I got the most beautiful, heart-lifting and helpful message from he and his wife tonight - an excerpt, because it is so perfectly beautiful for what I asked for as I went to sleep last night:

The photographs are beautiful, and it is plain fate robbed you. I don't know you real well, but please know that you are one of a tiny, tiny handful of people who I've known in this world who when you spoke of magic, I believed, and I've thought of you often when I grow cynical or exhausted at the general mayhem which continues to rule the day. I still have that photo of you and A, the fire still glows off of it. It is blessed to know where you are once again. Please know as I'm sure you do that the earth delights to lift us up, even in this time that is so bittersweet for you, and you'll fly in realms you knew before your love was taken away. I know this of you. Peace to you. 

So much exactly what I needed.

And if that weren't enough (and there is a huge void to fill, so nothing is quite enough), I somehow landed on this blog, and was stunned to read that she was widowed by drowning. That she was there when it happened. There are a couple of other similarities between she and I, but enough to say - wow.

Okay. I am heading home, to the land of no internet, where the dog is waiting patiently to play, and chickens probably need to be fed. Nice clothes will have to wait for later.


Friday, August 5, 2011


The coffee shop where we met is now a used clothing store, the original business having moved a few storefronts down. I went in to the shop to find something for san diego, as most of my clothes are suitable for barn-wear or arctic winters. Browsing for clothing to attend a widow conference in a store that used to house our meeting, our footsteps, our flirtations, our shared  newspapers and countless hours of tea and toast, hands held over the table - this was a very bad idea. I stood in the dressing room holding piles of ill-fitting clothes; just stood there and sobbed. Shit. This is just all - awful. Horrible. Wrong. So completely and horribly wrong.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

More later

More later, because I feel a little nauseous. And, I am on the side of the road pirating someones internet, there is a thunderstorm, and I want to go home to my thunder-averse dog. And, I need to freak out a little bit.


More later.


Sunday, July 31, 2011



goodbye july.
this year at least,
I am glad
to see you go.


Friday, July 29, 2011

close by

I have spent more time with my kid in the last week than I have in the last year and a half. It is awesome. And very very strange. I catch myself a lot - thinking matt is around here too. Clearly, my kid is back, then I must have woken up and things are back to normal. More times than usual, I catch myself thinking "oh, I should get this for matt." Or I see his truck and think it's him before I realize, no. We sold his truck. He will not be there behind that wheel. As great as it is to talk about matt, remember our life, do a lot of our normal old things, it is also oddly jarring. I think I am back in denial. Or something. Some strange new place. In some ways, I feel like I have been almost remembering him "wrong." Not wrong. Just - mine. No. I don't know. I don't know this new place at all. Maybe having J. back just brings color into some black and white parts. Yeah. That's wrong too. I think maybe I have been alone in this for so long that having someone in it with me, someone so intimately inside our life - it's just a little strange. I'm a little disoriented.

I've also been out of the online loop for awhile too, and I find I feel a little more calm and at ease when I'm on, reading and checking in. I'd let go of going to san diego. Being online again, I have alerted the universe that I would now like to go. Now, it is a down to the wire thing - if the gods and universe find airfare for me, I can go. I can go because someone else is awesome and kind and has offered money for the rest. Right now, it is a maybe. It is a wait and see, and hope that the waiting does not increase airfare to the point where the "see" part of that equation isn't enough. So - maybe. If not, I will lift up my tea mug and give a variation of the passover assertion: next year, in san diego.

And this, from Rumi, in my inbox this morning. I cannot think too hard on "when eroded rock becomes sand," with all the images that brings back in me, but it is beautiful all the same.

That Last Moment

No-one ever sees that last moment
The eroded rock becomes sand
But if they did they would hear
The Sea singing.

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

burned out.

Not having internet at home is wearing me out. Mostly because I have no way to check out. No way to connect with our on-line community here, unless I head out into some public internet place. That has its own stressors and overwhelm: people people people everywhere, and no one is the one I want.

So much has been happening the last month. And I needed to remind myself last night: it is still JULY. I am not even out of the anniversary orbit. I have had my current housing situation changed and it remains an unknown. I have been tossed around with the idea of moving to the new house. My son arrived. That is an awesome stressor, but it is still a stressor. We've spent the last several days - hours at a time - crafting his job search and taking care of other things. He is doing fantastic, and I am massively proud of him. Of us. Having him back is a huge adjustment, in both comforting and disorienting ways.

During our out-for-public-internet job stuff, I met with the owner of the new house, and decided to tell her I would take it. I said yes. But then, in the midst of all the noise and people, she started going on about all sorts of things that were not the original arrangement, not what we'd discussed, and certainly not what I'd just said yes to. I was still reeling from having actually said yes out loud, and the surprise of having things suddenly not be what I'd thought pushed me over into complete check-out land. She wants me there, but her idea of what that looks like is not what we'd discussed. We'll work it out or we won't. Whatever. But seriously - all that torment for myself, and now it may not be an option.

On top of these things, I have started working at the farm with the new owners. It is immensely painful. Horribly. Bad. They are lovely. They are in love. They are painful for me to watch. It is painful to go through my day, learning new things, getting frustrated and excited, knowing matt is no longer home. Knowing he is not here to talk like this young couple does - thinking things out loud together, discussing their options, making plans. There is no one home anymore who cares about this life with me. I think that has been going around - some of us writing about losing that echo of life, losing the one person who is invested equally in life.

The worst thing though: I was learning how to use the milking machines a couple days ago. It was my first actual day working for them. The new owner, S for anonymity, called me over to crouch down beside him and check out the inflator attachment. As I leaned under the cow, I put my head on his shoulder. Shit. It makes me cry even now, two days later. I put my head on his shoulder and the thought smashed into me - I will actually never put my head on matt's shoulder again.

I felt the change come over me. There was no way I could start openly crying right then. I shut myself down. I worked for 6 more hours that day with that thought pounding in my mind: I will actually never -

As soon as I got in the car I started crying. A - I had to draw on our deal, and my own desire to not impact anyone else's life. I got home and just sat outside with the dog for the rest of the day. Just sat. Not even thinking. Cried. Went to bed before dark. The next day (yesterday) I got in some internet catch-up time, saw a lot of people I haven't seen in a long time who were peripherally part of our life (a whole other drain in some ways), met with my son to work on his plans, met with the owner of the new house to say my "yes," listened to her own scattered, disorganized we're-trying-to-move-out-of-the-country stressors, and felt every last bit of energy drain out of me. Today, I was back at the farm, doing more milking, making mistakes that come with a steep learning curve, knowing matt is not around to hear me talk about how much I hate not being instantly gifted with certain things, watching the two owners in their normal old life, together.

Sitting here now, half way between there and home, in a little cafe with some good chocolate, realizing how much I relied on the normalcy of the internet at home. I may be on it too much, that's true. But in the last couple of weeks, so much has started blowing around, changing and starting and becoming unclear, that having lost even that one little anchor adds an amazingly noticeable stress. I can't easily decompress or distract. I can't easily share the hardness and pain of things like putting my head on some man's shoulder and having that collapse all of everything. I feel like my little world has been blown apart, like I've been in an insulated bubble for the last two years, and suddenly the outside world is rushing in. There are too many changes, too many things going on. I feel extremely disoriented, not sure how all of this happened. I doubt that getting internet access at home will help that at all. At this point, the thought of trying to figure out who provides what and for how much is too much. But it is one area I could relatively easily control, one source of vexation and annoyance I could change.

I think perhaps there are no other thoughts allowed while it is still July.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Origin

At the time of separation, Love creates imaginary forms
When Union arrives, the Formless One appears,
Saying "I am the Origin of the origin of sobriety and wine;
Beauty in all its forms is a reflection of Me.
Now, this moment, I withdraw all veils to reveal
Beauty's final splendor, without any intermediary.
For so long now you have been busy with My reflection –
You have won the power now to gaze at My Essence alone."

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi

And, twice today I caught myself thinking "I should get this for matt," and actually reached for my phone to take a video of the dog so I could show him the cute thing Boris was doing. Two years and two weeks today, and part of my mind has not received the news.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

all that can be...


I don't usually say anything about my step-son. He lived with us. We were very excited for his 18th birthday. On so many levels and for so many reasons. My step-son's birthday is July 13th. His dad drowned on July 12th.  We had stopped off for a quick swim before picking him up at the airport later that day. My kid just turned 20. That is insane. He moved out of state soon after matt died.

He called me last month to tell me he wanted to move back home. Today, he arrived. Wearing his dad's shoes. He has started to fill out a bit like his dad. He arrived with his car full of all of his belongings. He is looking for a job. We just spent 3 hours hanging out, normal, sweet, silly. He knows all my jokes; I know all of his.

My kid has been gone for just shy of two years. I have only seen him once in that time.

The other living member of my family is home. All that can be right in this world - well. All that can be righted is righted when my kid is near by.

Here is how I think of this - almost all the time, I am calling out into the world and nothing stops it. There is no echo back to me. When I am with someone who knows matt, they catch. They cast out their own memories. Between the two of us, matt exists. He is three dimensional and real. When my kid is here, our life exists. He was real. We were real. We lived. It is all as normal as it can be.

And a small detail thing - the whole time my kid was here at the coffee shop sitting across from me, there was a man across the cafe, facing me, who had matt's hair and matt's beard, the same small bald spot starting on top of his head, matt's coloring. Never seen the guy before, and he left right after my kid. I choose to believe it was a physical reminder, a suggestion, that my love is orchestrating what he can, being here with us. That he has been doing what he can to keep our connection strong. Our family. Maybe he isn't. But I will take it.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011


So much has been swirling around in the last several months on the housing front. None of it "started" by me, and none of it requiring that I do anything. Just lots of different options coming up, people around me changing, offering, suggesting. My landlords moved out. They appear to be in conflict with each other over whether to put the house on the market or not, so for now, it's just empty (other than me). Just change. Could be a change that works for me, could not be. At the moment, the biggest effect on me is that they took the internet with them when they moved. I have a pretty short fuse for - well, most things - these days, so the search for new internet options tends to fizzle at the first annoyance. House-wide cable will be shut off soon, and though I tend to be more on-line than tv watching, the complete lack of distraction is a bit concerning. Not enough physical work to be done here to balance out the vast hours of time I will not be entertained (or annoyed) by streaming netflix.

I have a house I might move to. I think my heart has already moved in. My mind is slow to say it out loud. To leave this last place we lived, to leave the physical evidence of our life, to leave the home and streets and buildings that say "he was here" back to me. But I think he may be more clear, out there, that I might be more clear. Away from the ugliness I can't stop seeing, Such a short fuse I have, scales so heavily weighted with ugly. The new house has fields-in-the-making, projects, gardens to reclaim, an art studio and kiln, a little barn, a tiny pond. It has hard wood floors and fireplaces. Matt was out there to check out some renovations but was snuffed out before he got to them. That is a graphic statement I hadn't meant to type, but there it is. The owners are friends of his, moving out of the country, wanting to care for him by caring for me. Seriously - I type this stuff and wonder why I haven't already moved. Slow things done slowly, or as a friend said to me - the first time your soul moves after being wounded so severely, I bet it is like a part of your body coming to life after long injury: exciting and scary and painful and slow.

Do you want to see the house? It's on flickr, so if you want to see, leave me a comment and I'll send you the link. (if you're wondering, being out there makes catering delivery/travel longer, but doable.)

In other news and changes, the farm where I've been working has changed hands. I had taken myself out of it, feeling like it had turned jagged and weird in the transition. But now I am back, having met with the new people and been offered something I have looked for for years: full time farm work with good people doing good work. It was not all good, or even instantly good. It is a very long drive from the new house to the farm. It twisted me intensely, this "decision" between a place that suits my heart and this place that suits - well, practical things, I guess: income, experience building, those things. A huge storm blew up in me. It was quite uncomfortable. However, it did show me how much my heart wants to live in the other house. So, for now, my answer is Both. How or if that will work, my answer is both. There are a lot of unknowns everywhere, even in the practical realms. Changes.

I saw some movies. Most of them surprise 4 tombstone movies. Maybe next time I venture out for internet access, I will put up my reviews. I will tell you that a book got me through the anniversary week: At Hell's Gate, by Claude Anshin Thomas. I'd seen a description of his workshops on meditation for veterans many months ago. A month or so ago, I ordered his book via inter-library loan, and checked out his website while I was waiting. On his website, I read some of his personal journal writing - it's graphic. It's violent. It is the sort of thing I cannot allow into me, as even Before, violent images stay in my mind and my dreams for a very long time. So I ignored the book when it arrived. Avoided it. It was in the car to be returned to the library for at least a week. And then, the day, the actual date day, I opened it. And read. Yes, there is a passage that describes violence, in fact, it was the same event I'd read about online. But this time, it was - tamer. The intensely violent details were not there. And I kept reading.

This book, and acupuncture, saved me last week. Yeah, probably god and love and all that "saved" me too, but it was this book that got to me. For one, he reminds me of Matt in so many ways. But what makes me recommend it to you out there is that he does not make anything pretty. He does not FIX anything. So many people spout off this pseudo-buddhist crap about "breathe and know that everything is exactly perfect as it is," and "the only thing present is now, and it is beautiful." Mr. Thomas says (and I paraphrase, rather than quote): ~ I wanted to punch the nun who told me that, the others who told me that a million times over. Instead I screamed that the past is here right now and it is not beautiful here and breathing will not make it alright! The world is not right, and nothing can make it be that. ~

Awesome. He talks throughout this book about mindfulness and meditation not making things suddenly okay, or even ever okay. You cannot chant your way into blissfulness. He even says that this itself, this desire or this directive to "be okay with all that is" is in fact a denial, a shaming and suppressing of pain. As though pain were bad, as though only a cinderella transformation will do, as though if you are suffering, you are clearly not in your true self, not in your center, and certainly not a good buddhist-christian-jew-hindu-anyone. So much I heard in those first months was similar to what he heard: breathe and know everything is fine. All that matters is this moment. Your true self knows you aren't really in pain. Between that and the incessant you can do it! cheerleading from people whose beloved was safe and alive, I felt like punching a few nuns myself.

I needed this guy, not just last week, but now. I needed to hear that what the practice of mindfulness can do, and does do, is allow you a different relationship with pain. A changing relationship with pain. For him, mindfulness is a way to live here, in this world that is so full of pain, with wounds that won't ever fully heal. It gives him an anchor.

I returned it to the library (c - you can ILL it) and bought one of my own. I need to read it and re-read it, remember what he says, what he practices, what he lives and what he lives with.

Okay my people, that is all I've got. Getting burned out on the out and aboutedness of internet access, and I've gone past the point where I can sum up my experience and recommendation of that book in any good or coherent way. Best to stop typing, then.


Sunday, July 17, 2011


I've got stuff to share, things, decisions, even some movie reviews. I just don't feel like it. I have things I think to write, but I think them while trying to sleep, or trying to get my shoes on to run, or trying to do any manner of other things. But when I tell myself it's alright to sit down and write - I am tired and want tea. Well. So there it is. A bit witholding, a bit fickle, a bit distracted. Today is #2 by date for my fellow widow who shares this week and year. Week 105 for me. Wonder when that manner of counting will stop, and how I will feel when it does.

The Traceless

Like cream concealed in the heart of milk,
No-place keeps seeping into place.
Like intellect hidden in this sack of blood,
The Traceless keeps infiltrating traces.
From beyond the intellect, astounding Love arrives
Dragging its robes, a cup of wine in its hand.
And from beyond Love, that Indescribable One
Who can only be called "That" keeps coming and coming.

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi


Tuesday, July 12, 2011


That Sun

Whatever you love here in existence
Has been gold-plated by God's qualities;
When that gold goes back to Origin
Only a dull copper will remain,
And you will be disgusted and reject it.
Don’t go on calling counterfeit coin "beautiful"
That beauty you love is only borrowed.
Gold will abandon all surfaces in the end
And return to the Mine of Magnificence.
Why not set out for that Mine?
The light will return from the wall to the sun;
Go now to that Sun that dances always in harmony.
From now on, take your water from heaven directly
Why go on trusting a rusting drainpipe?

~ Rumi

Sunday, July 10, 2011



The actual calendar date may be in two days, but two years ago today, this day, there were approximately 2 hours left of your life. Of our life.


Friday, July 8, 2011


I didn't sleep well. I am tired. I spent 5 hours last night teaching people how to make jam, and learned this morning that none of it set. I've been making jam since I was a kid, and this is the first time it didn't work. I told everyone I would redo all of it. I went out to check on the chickens (after waiting for the yard sale people to leave the yard). My "non-broody" breed of chicken is broody for the millionth time. I leaned in to poke at her, and another chicken freaked out, jumped on my head, and flew out the door. I live in the city. Chickens are not free-range. Right at this time, my landlord's friend showed up, so he couldn't help herd the chicken back to the coop. Small child started thrashing around, driving the chicken further away. Nice. I came in and tried to sleep. No. Heard chicken in the woods next to the house. Fell several times looking for the blasted thing. Finally saw it in my neighbor's yard - neighbor who is grouchy and curmudgeonly and is pissed we even have chickens. Nice. Meanwhile, my landlord is now in the woods trying to help, while I am falling down in the hidden woodchuck holes and tripping through downed tree limbs. He thinks this is hysterical. The whole time, his 5 year old son is screaming and crying I LOST MY DAD! I LOST MY DAD! SOMEBODY HELP! I LOST MY DAD. The neighbors are crabby, the chicken cannot be found, I am falling down in pricker-bushes, the landlord is laughing, and the child is screaming.

And this is the last night Matt and I were home together, making dinner, right about now. Two years ago right now. This is year two weekend, and I have not enough sleep, an unclear housing future, runaway chickens, failed jam, irritated neighbors, and a small child screaming. And I just burned the crap out of dinner.



love's rocks

Dive Today

Tomorrow you'll be brave, you say? Fool! Dive today
From the cliff of what you know into what you can't know.
You fear the rocks? Better men than you have died on them;
Dying on Love's rocks is nobler than a life of death.

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi

These words - I don't know what they mean, practically speaking. How does one die on love's rocks. What does that even mean. And still, I like them.

And, in mundane unrelated news, my landlords informed me a couple days ago they are selling this house. This morning, they are having a yard sale. It is supposed to start at 9, but people have been slogging up the driveway since 7:45. That's all. Not good, not bad, just a little slice of what is going on today, over here, where I have no idea which love rocks I'm supposed to die on, and I'm pretty sure none of these people in my driveway would either, should I ask.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

broken cup

As far as I know, only one person from my actual area knows about this blog. So I'm not posting this to drum up business or any of that. Just that I finished this, this long epic slog that was nearly abandoned many many times, that was rescued and remedied and cheered on by many people who read this blog - most notably bev, dan, and carolyn. Actually, without Bev's technical assistance, I most certainly would have trashed it. Practical assistance and cheerleading with good purpose.

So, getting in just before the two year mark -


Monday, July 4, 2011


I was looking for something else in my email archives, and found a long interchange between a friend and I, from the two months After. Man. Here, my July people, and my Saturday people in this Good Friday world: it is sweet, and maybe it will help.

love, i find i have been looking up the etymological derivations of words like "faith" in hopes of finding any answers, any possible wisdom. but, as you can imagine, as you Know - the way in front is foggy. the dictionary does not yield gems for me today, nothing to pass on to you and make this more bearable.

it is unbearable.

and yet, you are Here. not 15 years ago, not 5 years from now - but, you, in your beauty and aliveness, are here. and so maybe faith isn't anything but a moving hand or a beating heart. it isn't out there. in the same way that dogs don't love because they ARE love, we can't have faith because we ARE faith. which is to say, one plodding foot put down after the other.

there is nowhere to go, just as you say. and even if i can't really make out what the fuck God was thinking to make all this happen, I thank God all the same for you.


Sunday, July 3, 2011


One week from today
by day of week, not date.

I didn't think it was affecting me.

I was wrong.

and this

Saturday, July 2, 2011


I am having a shitty
and it is barely 9 o'clock.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

a brief beautiful

I hadn't thought the upcoming 2 year mark was affecting me. Maybe it isn't. I mean, being weepy, exhausted, having flashbacks, all those things are not new, and certainly don't belong to any one day over another. But the last two days I have been so tender, so down.

Do you have those days when you just go looking for a break, a wee little reprieve, and find your "reprieves" cause more damage than they're worth? I decide to read awhile - fiction, even - and find the main character is an "accident" widow. I turn on the tv instead, and hear Steven Colbert making fun of drowning. Awesome. Nature shows: all water. Lots of water. I head to the garden, and find it has been almost completely destroyed by woodchucks. Go out for a walk and see parents screaming at small children, couples arguing, pop culture and general ugliness. I feel relentlessly ground down.

Took the long walk into town yesterday to sit in our coffee shop, just get out and about for awhile. I should never read the paper. I know this. I really, really know this. And yet, I do it, when I'm out and about like this. I do entirely skip the front page and all that gloom and violence. I caught the headlines of the editorial page though, and those drew me in. Some news about the portland diocese I find deeply disturbing. If matt had known in the Before, I am quite sure he would have mentioned it. So much incongruity in the church, in politics, in everything it seems. The church broke his heart so many times with all their - wrongness. He knew what it could be, what he wanted to help it be, but in the end, he decided he could not walk that path. Anyway. So I read this, sitting in our cafe, at the same table where we were sitting this time TWO years ago, with exactly two weeks left in his life, in my life, though we had no idea. Sitting there, feeling so indescribably deeply sad - for matt and what his church continued to be and to do, for me, feeling shown just continual evidence of ugliness, for me, for all that has happened and all that is and how he is still not here anymore. How is it I have lived 23 months and two weeks without seeing that face, without holding those hands. Fuck.

Anyway. I left. Walked and wandered, hoping I would find something redeemable. Seeing us everywhere. I went to buy bread. I came back, and stopped in a teahouse I haven't seen before. I walked in and immediately started to cry. I don't know. I guess I can't write about it in the way I felt it. Years ago, I had wanted to start a tea house here. These people have made something very close to the image I held. The food on the menu suits my being. It is calm and peaceful (at least it was while I was there). There are all sorts of lovely things on the tea menu about beauty, like beauty being possible in an impossible life. The colors are right for me, soothing and correct. The architecture, the photographs, even the stories in the menu. It reminded me of my travels so many years ago, which made me calm and sad all at the same time. Thinking how matt would respond to this place, how I would have been teary even if he were here, and he would have teased me about it, but also understood. I don't know. It did something for me, something restorative and beautiful. I walked in overwhelmed with ugly, and came out with a wee bit of beauty.

Walking home, I thought about how it doesn't help. I mean, it doesn't fix things. In the Before (to adopt a phrase, thank you A), in the Before, I was often overwhelmed by ugly. Like this - my scales were usually heavily weighted to beauty and goodness. Occasionally, the weight would creep up on the ugly side, or a massive boulder of yuck would suddenly slam down. But when ugly slammed down on my scales, I had matt to lend his weight to the other side, I had my own faith and resilience to get those scales righted again, to lean back to the side of beauty. For this last nearly but not quite two years, the weight on the side of ugly has been, and still is, heavier than I can lift. There is no effective counter-balance. Getting those scales to tip back and truly favor beautiful - well, I'm not sure that can happen again. But what I got yesterday, in that one little tea shop, over a thoughtful and beautiful tea, was a few little weights added to the beauty side. Not enough of course. But some. For a few moments, tiny little grams of goodness were added to my world.

So now there is a sign on my fridge for me - "do not add weight to the ugly side." I think, for now, I can use this. I don't know that it works to really go out looking for beautiful weights to add to my scales. When they come, they do not tip the balance or right the world. But there is beautiful, and I will take it. And try not to add more ugly to that other side. And also, try not to cry all over the nice owner of the beautiful teahouse. Bring tissues next time.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

found this

“Evening falling -
a soft lamenting
sounds in the bird calls
I have summoned.
Greyish walls
tumble down.
My own hands
find themselves again.
What I have loved
I cannot hold.
What lies around me
I cannot leave
Everything declines
while darkness rises.
Nothing overcomes me -
this must be life’s way.”

~ Arendt (whom I had never heard of)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

my people

I have sponsored a woman through women for women international for a bunch of years. If you don't know this organization, please check them out. They do beautiful work in this world. In a nutshell, they work in countries destroyed by war, violence, and natural disasters, teaching women business skills, building community support, and educating women on their rights. Women are in the program for one year. Part of the program is a pen-pal correspondence thing - you and your sponsored sister can write letters to each other. I have never written. In almost 10 years of sponsoring - not a word. Oh, I tried. In the beginning, especially. But I always felt awkward, even embarassed about my relative priviledge and ease-of-life. Seriously - you are out there, with half your family killed by some other half of your family, and you live in a tent city with no sense of what or where you will be next. What on earth can I possibly say?

So I didn't. For the most part, none of them wrote to me. But yesterday, I got a letter from my newest "sister." She says: "I am hoping to hear you are well. My children are ill; they are ages 11 months to 8 years. And I am sorry to say my husband was killed here when the fuel tank truck caught fire."

I am sobbing in the post office, holding her letter, knowing that I do now have something to say.

And I have spent the morning going through photos for the next collage, and crying more. So much beauty, so much love, to be swimming around in (shoot - even I can't avoid water language). So much pain in knowing what is gone. Part is mine, and part is hers, all swirling around. My relationship with imagery is so intensely changed. I am realizing that now.

Other peoples' pain has always been my territory. An odd comment, I guess, but as a therapist and a writer and a teacher, it is just what's true. So now it's my pain, it's my territory, and it's your territory, and here we are all here together. And so, two letters today ~ one to boo, about her collage, about images and intimacy, and one to Maombi: Hello. I never used to know what to say.

ps - I have just looked up her home area to see what incident she is referring to. Her husband died July 2nd, 2010. She is coming on a year, as I am coming on to 2. It was an accident that killed many people. I had no idea when I wrote my letter; I just knew he died. I don't know if that would change what I wrote.

Friday, June 24, 2011

odd out

I want to not do this anymore.

I can see on fb that my step-son is tagging himself in a photo album entitled "best of my dad." My step-son is MIA in part due to age appropriate non-adult fraternizing, and also largely due to the fact that I am a huge painful reminder of our life. Our contact is sporadic. It doesn't matter that we are family. We are painful family.

I was reprimanded by someone today for being a non-responsive friend, which is fine, and accurate. The problem is that this person thinks we have been close friends for 15 years, and that is not an idea I share. Clearly, we have very different definitions of "close friendship." I am tired of peoples' expectations of me that aren't based in truth for me. Which only really blows because the person who would totally get that, who had himself experienced those wayward expectations from others, is fucking dead. It used to be awesome to be me, and I was loved for exactly me. Now, being me irritates and wounds people.

I am thinking about leaving this state. I am thinking again of those vows of silence. I am tired of the effort of interaction I find exhausting these days, in a million different ways. I am thinking that, clearly, humans and I are just not well suited to each other, and I should just bake them things and be on my way. I had my people. I had my family. Matt's mother calls to tell me she doesn't think she would be surviving this is not for her new partner, that no one could survive such a thing without a good partner by their side. I want to, but do not, say the obvious. Ages ago, my father-in-law's wife told me, "I know he is staying alive for me. I know he is only trying because I am here beside him and with him." Why is it that I am meant to survive this, the one closest, the one without. That's rhetorical and ridiculous.

I have no point, and I am just bitching now. Just bitching because this is insane, and I am tired, and I want my love back, and I no longer want to survive this shit at all. Wait. I never wanted to.
Enough. I have things to do.