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.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

3 things

Yesterday was not so bad. Wait. That's not true. Driving out there, being so near to the river, looking down that road, then coming back, past the fire station parking lot with those familiar ambulances - that all hurt. And seeing me, seeing myself there, the road where I was found, being back there again. And all the places we have been, all the familiar roads, trips, all the places we have been. All of that. Was horrible and hard. I came home and slept for hours. And that part was good. And I felt better. In small ways, slowly. What came to me, and remains today, is being willing to feel comfort. Being willing to be comforted. That came from wondering about these hearts I find, the earache medicines, the dog tags and birthday songs, and what I am supposed to do with them, or know from them. There is no "do," really. But today, and yesterday, what I hear, for me, in tenderness and kindness for myself, is to be willing to feel comfort. Not fixing, not replacing, not promising anything at all, but willing to feel comfort. I can take that one, today.

And there is this too, from Gillian this morning:

Because I think (in my limited experience) that grief will learn to hide itself over the years only to reveal its presence when it wants to. That although the grief we feel now might soften, might eventually evolve into an accepted and familiar part of our being, I suspect that later we will have times when it will wound us afresh all over again and possibly in a completely different way. And I think it might be important to set aside specific moments in life if only to feel our grief once more. To acknowledge that although we continue to live and breath and love, something important has been painfully altered, and it remains altered.

Something important has been painfully altered, and it remains altered. It is a beautiful day here today, our dog is at my feet, I ran this morning, and I have tea. Again and again I tell myself: be willing to feel comfort.

This is a mish-mash post - I also wanted to say something about camp widow. I didn't write anything for the contest thing. Aside from being not much into, I don't know - contest things, I also couldn't afford the airfare and hotel should I win the conference costs. Well. Let me rephrase that. Airfare and lodging would wipe out my savings account, and that's not terribly practical. East coast to West coast airfare in itself is craziness. And, I don't love conferences. Workshops and such - meh. But as the weekend comes up, as the windows for even reasonably/astronomically priced airfares begin to close, I am bummed out. It's not the workshops I care about.

I want to physically be with these people I love. I want to know people in actual real life, to have shared real life experiences, to have and continue friendships that have an actual basis in physical reality. I want to have tangible things to refer to when we are not in the same room or same state or same continent. I want to have shared things that are not only internet shared. I may be a writer by trade, but I am not good in print. As I've said before, just being together silently doesn't really go over so well on-line. You can't really order breakfast together on-line, or point out a cool bird, or hand somebody a tissue. Typing is not a substitute for spending actual time together. I want actual, tangible friendships. Not, you know, lots of them, but enough. And to be super honest, I want to be one of the cool kids. There are friendships happening, or deepening friendships, that I am not "in on," and that bums me out. I feel left out of something good.

And lastly - to validate and acknowledge the comment leaving difficulties - blogger is still being cranky, especially (as I've found) if you are using Explorer rather than Firefox. And, if you keep getting redirected to log-in, so far, I've found you can log in with your name and url, rather than that pesky annoying google account thing. Or, send me a message. Hi ferree!

++++++++++++++++ PS - I have to go back out there today, too, to pick up what I had dropped off for repair.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I have to go out by the river today. I am not looking forward to it. That is all.


Saturday, June 11, 2011


Matt has a lot of friends who are priests, and ex-priests. It came in extremely handy to have a catholic priest as a close friend, one who could speak intimately about my love, and his life, as all those people crowded into church four days after. Matt's uncle felt matt would want some priest he knew in childhood, but I knew. Jim was perfect. Today, I emailed Jim to ask if he would say a Mass for Matt this month, this month between 23 and 24. I always hesitate. I figure if his friends wanted to have any contact with me, they would. Anyway. Jim said yes. Said he has been thinking of Matt a lot. And that he wonders, too, who these Mass intentions are for - the gone or the still here. Who needs them more?

I think my love is fine, where he is, wherever he is, if he knows he is still him. If he does not know, then for sure, he is fine.

I saw a house last week. An indulgence on my part, possibly not wise, as I don't know how I'd buy anything. But I got there, to a very old house, very empty, except for the old man's old books on his old bed. I picked up one, some book about faith, an old christian something, and opened it. Inside, what fell out into my hand - a single blister pack of homeopathic earache medicine. Precise and random. I think it means - just Hi. Hello. Something is by your side.

I have been reading this morning about the needs of others, how it makes them tell us what things mean for us, when really, what they say is what they need for them. It has nothing much to do with our life, our own meaning, or our own needs. I have given up on thinking I know what things mean, or that they mean anything beyond the Hello, and, I am here. What says hello, my hopes tell me it is matt, my heart says it is love, my mind sometimes looks to science - some kind of loving science.

I need to say it's him. I miss that man so much.

So Jim is saying Mass. I think that is enough. A friend of mine I don't talk to near enough told me yesterday how she has been feeling, hearing, knowing she wants her life rooted in god, but she does not know how. She says, "I don't even know what that means, let alone what I am supposed to do about it." I resist (though not very well) the urge to say - just knowing that you want it, sometimes that is enough. But I know that isn't true. Just wanting it leaves you just wanting it, shouting at the sky or your own heart that you need more direction than that. Something to DO with that wanting for rootedness in god. God is bloody amorphic in the times I need her most, and the thought that all we need to do is turn our hearts that way makes me angry, which I'm pretty sure is the opposite way from where I want to be.

Anyway. Jim is saying Mass on June 28th, his next opening. I am wishing I could be catholic. Wishing I could be anything that would hold me up, or take me in, or let me farm on their land and chant out of their books. But I know none of those places are true for me, or true to me. I've descended into rambling again. For what started as a hello, a notice that tomorrow, the 12th, is the 100th sunday, the 12th before the 12th, the 23rd month.

I will say Mass in my own way. I think my love is quite used to that.


Sunday, June 5, 2011


I think I will start a new thing: when I read your words, and feel them, and have nothing to say, I am going to leave you a *. Like the Jewish tradition of leaving a stone on a gravestone, to tell someone you've been there, that you love them and you're there.

A description of that stone-leaving practice:

1) It is a sign to others who come to the grave when I am not there that they and I are not the only ones who remember. The stones I see on the grave when I come are a reminder to me that others have come to visit the grave. My loved one is remembered by many others and his/her life continues to have an impact on others, even if I do not see them.

2) When I pick up the stone it sends a message to me. I can still feel my loved one. I can still touch and be touched by him/her. I can still feel the impact that has been made on my life. Their life, love, teachings, values, and morals still make an impression on me. When I put the stone down, it is a reminder to me that I can no longer take this person with me physically. I can only take him/her with me in my heart and my mind and the actions I do because he/she taught me to do them. Their values, morals, ideals live on and continue to impress me - just as the stone has made an impression on my hands - so too their life has made an impression on me that continues.

So, no, you're not dead. I don't mean to imply I'm leaving asterix on your metaphorical grave. But when I read your words, I feel my love for matt in what your words bring out in me. I know I am not the only one who remembers. Through what you've written, I feel my kinship with you though we probably haven't physically met, and I can feel the love you have for your own love. If you have odd * show up in your comments, that is me ~ nothing to say, but you have made an impression, and I'm here. I put my stone down: your words have an impact on me. The impression continues, even though I do not see you.