Monday, January 31, 2011

statistical anomalies

There is an old joke by some stand-up comedian about religious intolerance that goes something like this:
First person: So. I see you're wearing a cross. Are you a Christian?
Second person: Why yes I am, and I see you are wearing one too. Where do you go to church?
FP: Second baptist.
SP: Me too! Second Baptist east end or west end?
FP: West.
SP: Me too!
FP: Second baptist west end 8 o'clock service or 10?
SP: 10.
FP: Me too!
SP: Second baptist west end 10 o'clock service. Do you sit on the left or the right side of the church?
FP: Right side.
SP: Me too!
FP: By the choir or by the doors?
SP: By the choir.
FP: I sit by the door.

I know, and know of, a lot of widows these days. Hundreds. In those first months, I searched all the blogs I could find, discarding most, landing and remaining on some. I kept a bit of a tally in my head: age, cause of death, kids or no kids, whether the one left still living was present at the time of death, whether they seemed "like" me or not "like" me - all sorts of things. Being widowed under 50 is statistically uncommon. Widowed due to an accident, also statistically unusual. Widowed in an incident the two of you shared, but only one survived? In all those hundreds of blogs I read, I found one person whose partner was killed in an accident in which they were also involved. One. Later, I met one other person who was there in the water when her husband drowned. Two. Two people, not including myself, who were involved in the same accident that killed their love. Two out of hundreds, both online and in person. The window of same-ness, already quite small, felt smaller. No one was like me. And I felt like saying it was akin to shouting "heretic" in a roomful of people sharing very similar pain.

My closest widowed friends are close because of who we are and who we were before we each got here, as well as who we each are now. I'd like to think we'd be friends anyway, if somehow our paths had crossed. Manner of, and involvement in, death is no guarantee of connection. One form is not better than another. When and where the flowchart of badness splits into two different paths matters in some ways and absolutely doesn't in others.

But I will say, now, today, that there is a kinship there, way down on that cosmic flowchart. There is a kinship in the sound of search planes. A kinship in the swarming of rescue crews. A kinship in a particular anomaly. I hadn't realized I still needed that until just lately.

I don't know how to end this without sounding somehow like I am glad someone else died, and that someone new is in pain. You know I am not. It is beyond bizarre to be thankful to recognize myself in someone elses' pain, to be thankful for our similarities, to be glad they have shown up in a place that I could see, so that I could have a need in myself answered. Our accidents were not the same, our lives are not the same. But there is kinship I needed echoed, and I am glad for that.


I'm back, kind of.
In that, well, here I am.
The stomach-flu/food poisoning is over. The allergy/flu is lingering. The bruising and such from the fall down the stairs has faded. The sucker-punch grief, well, she's still here. There will be goats to milk this week, and impulsively purchased snowshoes to break in. Taking a lot of solace in a new widow's blog, though that feels awful to say - that I am glad she's here, though horrified that she needs to be. But it's helping, so there is that. So here I am, looking for the road that might eventually appear. Stumbling along and singing best I can.

I really don't have much to say. Thanks for checking, thanks for reading, thanks for listening.

When Lovers Die

When Lovers die in their journey,
The spirit's king runs out to meet them.
When they die at the feet of that moon,
They all light up like the Sun.

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I just cannot cannot stop crying.
I have been quite sick, so there is that. And being responsible
for other peoples' animals - so there is that, being outside of my routine
and away from my cocoon. It has been a long couple of weeks of depletion.
But I just cannot stop crying. Cannot stop, today, feeling like
I have failed and am failing - failed to notice when he needed help, failed to
save him or stop it from happening, and failing now, in not - doing something or somehow
or whatever. All I know is I feel like a horrible failure to god and to love and to matt and to me
and I just cannot stop crying today.

Our dog and I are going to camp out at the farm tonight in case there is a lot of snow. A kindness to myself so I don't need to stress out if my landlord hasn't plowed the driveway in the morning by the time I need to go feed the animals. Just sleep there, and be done with trying to get there. It will be couch sleeping, but still. Certainly slept on my own couch more nights than not.

That I am online so much is adding to my surreal sense of life right now. An overnight without internet access is probably a good thing. Just going to be away from the computer for a bit - maybe just a day, maybe many. Maybe none at all. Clearly, I don't know anything at the moment.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

movie landmine warning.

Why do I go to the movies anymore? Lordy.
Without giving the story away, but in the interest of fair warning:

In case anyone is planning to see the movie I Love You Phillip Morris,
there are death scenes.

Based on the previews, I was not expecting this movie to have death scenes.
Just as I was not expecting death or widowhood when I went
to see Nanny McPhee, Inception, or most of the films I have seen in
the last 18 months. I think I have blocked out most of them, because I
can't remember them now.

I will say that I recently saw The King's Speech, and not only is it a
fantastic film with great acting, there was no dea... oh, shoot. I just remembered.
There was a death in that one too. But it wasn't an emotional death scene, at least for me.

So there we have it. The best movie review I can give you, and all I can say is -
the death in it isn't that bad.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

a wee call out

A wee silly call out, just because - I'm totally fine, but took a rather large tumble down surprisingly ice-covered stairs last night. Nothing broken. Gigantic bruise and some soreness making it challenging to wander around and challenging to be still. Plus, an allergy stirred up that has me slogging through some molasses. I've been largely camped out on the couch ordering seeds* and watching episodes of edwardian farm, but I can't get at all comfortable, and seem to be getting more sore for the sitting. So, though it kind of goes against my nature to be public about such physical things (and I may just post then delete) - if you feel so inclined, send some good mojo out my way for at least getting comfy on this couch. Apparently, I am in a reaching out mode.

*2 to 1 flowers over vegetables, J., and even a flowering grass.

Monday, January 17, 2011

multiple choice

The range of emotional and mental territory I can travel in a day is a wee bit staggering (to me). Every day is a marathon, and still I have no idea how I will fill each one as it starts.

I am, I have been, and still am, at the edge of my faith - not just in god or in love, but in anything. As far afield as one could possibly go, if one were me. Here is my current multiple choice thinking:

A. There is no god, and never has been.
B. There is a god, and she can be a cruel, indifferent B*tch.
C. There is a god, and s/he knew this was coming. Therefore, S/he put you as far into love and trust and goodness as S/he could, hoping it would shield you from the blast. Hoping it would be enough to carry you.

Now, the actual answer is probably more like the square root of duck sauce, multiplied by some integer of who knows what.

All I know is that when moments of C smash into me, I'm sobbing and I know I'm loved. I feel held up and sat beside, not fixed, but tended. This whole path seems possible. Not good, not right, but possible. Whereas A and B just suck, and I am sobbing and angry and alone and everything sucks and I soak myself in unwinnable imaginary hells. I mostly live in options A and B each day, with some forays into the unmentionable D: that there is a god, and Matt is here with me, but I am too dense/stubborn/addled/lame/lazy/bull-headed/fill in the blank to recognize it. Which then usually devolves into another imaginary argument between me and the god I no longer believe in as to whether it is understandable that I would be lost at this point, and not so good on the trusting.

So tonight, driving down the road, having shovelled out the barn and tended creatures, I am smacked by option C, option C, that who or whatever powers this universe knew this was coming, and so loved each of us that S/he or It put us as deeply into love as we could each possibly go. To give us something to hold on to. To have some memory, some visceral, beautiful thing to hold up against the living and imagined hells and wracking sobs and all the horrible mind crap that takes up my days and my dreams. Hold. On. To. This. A pre-emptive medicine. A tanking up on goodness for the long haul about to come. Because you are loved, sweetheart, and that has always been so.

How that works functionally, given that I still have to live this, well, I have no idea. That I am tanked up and full of love makes no difference to me at times. That Option C is true is often seen by self B and Self A as mere delusion. But even if I am making it all up, Option C is still a whole lot better than the other letters I have on my list.

And p.s., from Wendell Berry:

"Sometimes our life reminds me of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing
and in that opening a house, an orchard and garden, comfortable shades, and flowers
red and yellow in the sun, a pattern made in the light for the light to return to.
The forest is mostly dark, its ways to be made anew day after day, the dark
richer than the light and more blessed, provided we stay brave enough to keep on going in."

Option C: a pattern made in the light for the light to return to.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

too much

there's a lot of flooding and drowning going on in the world right now, and it is too much for me. I'm hiding my head in the sand as much as I can (though I feel like a bit of a lout for not being present to it). I also made the mistake of reading about the tuscon shootings, and my mind went immediately to all the new widows, and what those first moments are like. This week is also the 1 year and six month mark. I am rather losing what is left of my mind. As I was leaving the farm, the older farmer I work with gave me a long, sweet hug yesterday (prompted by nothing other than when I got there, he asked how I was, and I just shrugged, and went about my chores). I had to make him stop, because if he kept up holding on to me I would not have been able to drive home. There is no one really to hold onto me, in this - how insanely stupid is that. The most hideously horrible painful experience in this life, and the one I need to hold on to me is gone. As it was, I made it home without intentionally crashing by reminding myself that I didn't want to accidentally take anyone else out with me. I also found out that I don't have health insurance any more, which caused issues in some other things  - just adding things on my to-do list that require my being a grown-up, and advocating for myself, and all sorts of things my trauma-addled being just no longer has a capacity for. I pushed myself too far with making phone calls and fixing things and even trying to explore things that might possibly be to my own benefit. I can't sit still, and I can't take action. Nice. Lovely. I looked at a few photos of matt yesterday, and that did me in, too. That I can't bear to see photos of the man I love is extra super excruciating.

Anyway. That's it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

sorry 'bout the language.

today, I feel like a mussel shell
raised up and smashed down
raised up and smashed down.
Fucking seagull. Just eat me already.

poem for the 78th.


Nothingness, through You, births these songs of pure passion,
Time's darkness is adorned with their luminous tears.
Cupbearer! Never forget us! Fill the worlds with your breath!
Archangel of the Heart, make clay and water live!
Breathe into our ears the divine breath of Love!
We are tumbled haystacks, Lord, corn confused with straw;
Blow on us, separate us,
Send grief to grief, and joy to joy
So mind sinks back to mind, and the heart soars to heaven.

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Eternity Briefly Trembles

You hide me in your cloak of Nothingness
Reflect my ghost in your glass of Being
I am nothing, yet appear: transparent dream
Where your Eternity briefly trembles.

I Will Share with You

I will give you my shirt, I swear, and my robe;
Whatever the King graces me, I will share with you.
From the King's hand comes to me directly
The cup and jar of Eternal Wine –
The source of the sun itself begs me for a mouthful.
I am silent, my throat is sick, you go on talking if you have to.
You are the voice of David, I'm just a jet of scattering straw.


Pray, pray always: Prayer and adoration are your breath.
If your breathing stops a moment, your life will end.
The soul in its exile longs for its kingdom beyond space –
Why does its animal half feed so long in fields of death?
Your essential soul is noble; how long will you look in darkness?
You are the royal eagle: Listen, the King is whistling for you.

- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi

Saturday, January 1, 2011

ask, don't tell

(this is from March of last year, but I like it, and I need to read myself again.)

I just came back from meeting a retired minister who has a beautiful farm. She lives near my folks, and has heard what happened. I went to meet her goats. I will admit I had some – expectations. I expected to meet the animals. I expected to be invited to tour the place, to check out the grounds. I expected to maybe be invited in for tea. I expected that, if I brought it up, she would have something wise or comforting to say, something about god and life and love. She did not. I met the goats. We talked for a few minutes. She did not mention god at all, and the only thing she had to say about love is that I will find someone else, that Matt would expect me to, that she has heard my mother talk about him, and she knows what he would want. And she reminded me that the cycle of life goes on. Really? Years as a minister, and this is the best you can do? Tell me I will love someone else, eventually, as though that is my main concern right now? “Oh dear, oh dear, when will I have someone else who is not the man I am actually still in love with, who I watched drown in front of me just 8 months ago?” The best you can do is tell me what someone you have never met would want for me, as though I myself wouldn’t know? I realize I expected her, as a minister, to “know better.” I expected her to be able to stand there with me, even as a nearly complete stranger, and – I don’t know – ask. Ask about god, ask about faith. Ask about love. Wonder with me about how this will unfold, in god’s will. Not give me useless, pandering platitudes about what great things await me “in the future,” and how life will always go on.

WHY is it that so many people feel that the best way to comfort me now is to tell me I will not always feel this way, that I will move on, that Matt would want me to, that I will have someone else, that I should remember the “cycle of life” and realize all is as it should be. Clueless people. Ignorant, stupid, innocent people. The person I planned on spending my life with just died. And the best thing you can come up with is that he is replaceable, and to look at how the daffodils come up. Nice. I am not stupid. I have not suddenly become daft to the knowledge that “life goes on” – oh look – the seasons are changing! Huh, life must go on then. How could I have been so unaware? Why have I been so upset?

This is the recurring theme: Quick! She’s in pain! Let’s talk her out of it. Let’s tell her things will be better someday. Let’s remind her to be grateful for what she had. Let’s tell her how smart and funny and kind she is. And let’s be sure, because we know it is weighing her down, to reassure her that someone other than the man she loves will eventually be beside her, snoring softly, waking up to kiss her good morning, rolling back over to have five more minutes while she gets up to walk the dog so he can sleep. Great. Bring it on. Thanks so much for your kind words. You’ve really relieved my suffering, with all this trying to talk me out of it.

The people I love, the ones I will go to again and again, are the ones who do not in any way try to “solve” this for me, or fix it, or fix me. They do not make any attempt to cheer me up, or shame me into feeling thankful that I had as much love as I did, and so should be happy with that. They do not tell me things will be better “later,” and that I have so much to live for. They do not remind me I am part of the cycle of life. Pandering, condescending crap. I know. I know you do not know what to say, and you are fumbling, and trying to be helpful. You hope against hope, inside your own hearts and minds that I will actually “be happy” again, that I will “find someone else,” that I will “recover,” because then there is hope for you. Then you have evidence that you would survive this if it ever happened to you. Oh look – love survives. It’s okay. Everything will be okay.

Please. Please stop it. I know pain is hard to witness and hard to tolerate. Please stop telling me what you think I should hear. Please stop telling me about later, stop telling me about my glorious future, that Matt expects and wants me to have. Please stop pointing out how life goes on. Stop. I am here. Now. Do not tell me about “later.” That completely ignores my “now.” What happens or does not happen “later” is irrelevant. Stop assuming you know what my deepest fears are; stop trying to calm those assumed fears for me. Stop telling me, as though you have the answers, as though there are any answers. Please. Stop telling me. Ask first. And I don’t mean “ask me what I need.” I mean – ask. Ask what this is like for me, ask before you make an assumption about what is real for me. Ask before you jump right in with your solutions to things that are not problems for me. Or, simply stand here, right here, in this present moment, not telling me how much better it will be later. You can’t make this better by trying to take the present away from me. If you must say something, you could wonder with me, about god, about love, about life. Wonder is good.

I am so disappointed in the goat-raising minister. Not her fault, really. She has not walked this road. She has no idea. I do resent the “I know better than you” condescension, but I’m sure she didn’t hear herself that way. No one actually thinks they are being clueless – that is the definition of it, clueless. I am trying to be kinder to people who have good intentions, to be more understanding of them, instead of railing against them in my mind (and sometimes on paper). It is not her job, even as a farming, goat-raising minister, to live up to my expectations. But I am disappointed. I guess I expected her to wonder with me, without thinking she knew the answers. I expected her to ask - How do any of us live in this life that can change so quickly, without any warning at all? How do we move with all the love that is here, that is inside us, that is still present, even though the form has changed? How do we continue to be the person they love, the people we knew ourselves to be, in this new form, this new life? What kind of beautiful form can this take, this love we know?

There aren’t answers to these things. But asking the questions, rhetorical as they may be, is infinitely more helpful, more healing, then anything someone can tell me. Just being with now is infinitely more respectful, loving, and kind than anything you can tell me about what you think I should do, or how you think I should feel, or what you imagine my future to be. I live in my life, I am far more intimate with its contours than you, and even I don’t know what will unfold. You are most helpful when you stand with me, without changing it, without fixing it, without making assumptions. It is okay to not have any answers. Please. Ask, don’t tell. Be clueless with me. Wonder is a very good thing.