Saturday, December 29, 2012


My it has been a long day.

I revealed my marital status to a new friend. It had become so awkward, all those silences, the gaps from my side of the conversation. The last couple of times we've talked, it's sounded like I'm divorced, so that was weird. Not saying something was awkward. Saying something also felt awkward - not exactly a small-talk comment to just drop in casually. Revealing something like this can go so badly, can divert even the most normal of conversations into strained territory. But today, the awkward scale tipped, and I went with the awkwardness of saying "my husband died" rather than just feel like an idiot. If a relationship is going to continue, I can't keep evading such a large part of who I am. At some point, things get stuck and can go no further without feeling false. So there was that.

I told my new friend about my marital status because we were discussing my upcoming delivery of wedding cupcakes to city hall this evening, in honor of the equal marriage legislation that went into effect at 12:01 on the 29th. City Hall was open for marriage licenses and weddings. Some friends of mine were giving out free boutonnieres. I, of course, made cupcakes.

Not just any cupcakes. I baked for a few days, and C. and I spent the afternoon frosting. 10 dozen pretty wedding cupcakes, infused with the blessings of widows. It's late and I'm tired, but I really like the blessing of widows, and I got to silently give it a bunch of times tonight. I got to say it out  loud once when asked why I was there. The blessing of widows is a little like the 13th guest in a fairy tale, the guest who wants to give an uncomfortable beauty:
Tonight, we're bringing wedding cupcakes to honor your wedding.
We hope you have a very long life together.
And when one of you does die, we are so glad
that you will be legally honored as widowed.
Because to be widowed is hard enough.
To be widowed and given no legal or social
 acknowledgment is unconscionable.
Congratulations. Sorry it took so long.
We wish you long life and good deaths,
with the ones you love beside you.
Not wanting to be a downer on other peoples' wedding day, I didn't wander around repeating the whole blessing out loud. The closest I came (except for the time I was asked) was when I offered cupcakes to a couple who asked what they could give me in return:
                          You can have a long, happy life together. A very long life.
And on that note, I need to get to sleep. It is way, way past my bedtime.

Monday, December 24, 2012



I don't suppose we can have a moratorium on the
words "drown" and "drowning" can we?
Seems a large percentage of posts and things I have read in the last month
have used those words to describe - well, you know - the things
"drowning" is so found of describing. Just - I am ever so tired of
seeing the words again and again, and saying outloud again and again -
stop it. Stop it. Stop it. You have NO IDEA what those words mean.

That is all. Word tired.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012


The other night, I dreamed my friend Jim died of a heart attack before I could bring him his pie. In awake life, we'd been trying to find a time that would work with their schedules and mine, and it hasn't happened. When I had the dream, I decided I would make his over-due birthday pie and just show up with it. Wednesday seemed the day meant for delivery.

I started the process last night, failed twice, started again. I woke up after a long night of intermittent nightmares, wakefulness, stress. Woke up with money shortages on my mind, time shortages, needing to write and accomplish and fit in two hours of driving to deliver a pie I hadn't finished making yet, which needs to be done and cooled and ready before I have to leave. And what about all those self-care things, the yoga I needed today, the time to process the image of Matt in my dreams last night, the TIME to do anything. grouch grouch grouch. I decided this was no way to make a pie, or to deliver a pie, and put it on the schedule for tomorrow. Ah. A bit more ease. Then I went for a pre-dawn walk with the dog, light rain, singing Gaelic prayers out-loud because it stops my grouchy mind.

Coming back home, I stopped to check the mail. Inside, a check from the woman I garden and herd-sit for, an expected check for a few honey sales. Every little bit helps. My mind is already starting to tick as I open the envelope - right then: yoga, tea, write, study, break at ten.... the envelope is thicker than it should be. A card, maybe.

A card with a hundred dollar bill in it, a card with "thank you for all your work this year. A little something extra to show my appreciation of you."

I am instantly on my knees, thrown to the floor - this time with such powerful knowledge that I am cared for. I am always, always cared for. So intensely. So perfectly. Every.single.month since I left that job that was destroying my body and mind, money has shown up. Not a lot. But enough. Every single time. Usually right at the last possible moment. I am loved. I am cared for. All the time. It stuns me every single time.

Darn right the very first thing I did getting up off that floor was begin again with pie. Expansion. Goodness. There is time for everything today. There is certainly time to be my point of love in this world, to randomly show someone else that they are cared for. All the time. Always, always cared for.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

evidence and odd bits

So last week. Second week of a rather large cold. Coming off of travel and challenges particular to that. Blah blah. Anyway. Tired and missing and sore, I left home to do some errands. Along the way, I asked for evidence: show me it's really you, okay? Parking outside the library, thinking this again - actual evidence would be nice. Inside the library, I picked up a book I had ordered. The library attendant brought me two books: the one I ordered, plus one I ordered and meant to cancel, because it wasn't the one I meant to order. Surprise book number two, at the hold desk that morning?

Proof of Heaven.

I stood there at the check-out counter, giggling. Nice one, babe. Just as I started to dismiss it as "a stretch," I walked outside and found a discarded tissue on the sidewalk, clearly in the shape of a large heart. A big tissue heart on the sidewalk next to - Matt's truck. Not the same truck (though it is in town sometimes), but the same model and uncommon color. Ha.

Back in the car now, heading to the post office, I am chuckling at this "evidence," wondering if it really is evidence, or if I am searching. Thinking how frequently these things happened so soon After, how I never questioned them: their random precision so precise. Parking the car, getting out, walking to the post office, I am thinking these things, wondering, asking in my mind - where are you now babe? Is there a you here? Can you even give me evidence from where and when you are?

I got the mail from my box. On the counter is a current copy of Harper's magazine, left behind by someone. I glanced at it. Start to laugh again. On the cover, a male face is filled with galaxies, stars and planets. On his finger rests another man, a small human. The star-man peers at the human on his fingertip. The two titles in bold-face beneath this illustration are:

Our place in the universe
I am your conscious, I am love.
That was a really nice trifecta.
Even with the slightly odd grammar up there - I just looked up "conscious," to see if it can ever make sense with that usage. Not really, no. But the definition of "conscious" is really lovely here, too. You are in my sense of myself. You are in my sense and sensing of this world. Our place in this Universe is love, is sense, is awareness. Our place is conscious.
Well now I am crying, and hadn't meant to be. But there it is.
I will take this. I will take this as evidence
and carry it around with me.
I carry your heart with me.


Thursday, November 22, 2012



A better day. Thank goodness. Just acknowledging the truth of what was "up" helped a lot, as did a low-key day of rest, reading, being out in the woods with the dog. Have been up since 4 today, reading, writing. Good. About to go for a run and then hit the road to parts north, hoping to hold the intention of ~less reactive, more skillful~.

For those acknowledging/enduring/celebrating a holiday today, and for everyone else acknowledging/celebrating/enduring a regular day of life - I wish you some goodness, some peace, and a welling up of love right underneath you, where you are.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

a complete sentence

I do not like this season.
Am not, and have never been, a fan of enforced holidays.
Without Matt, there is no buffer, no back-up, no acceptable-to-others reason why I am not attending events that are not fun for me. Excruciating in their not-fun-ness. I remind myself of the last holiday season Before. How awkward and difficult, navigating on my own, with Matt off playing poker, and my step-son with his mom. Just this full-on crucible of strain. I had them to go home to. I had him to talk with about it, all the awkwardness and dissonance. I had my own family who knew me and loved me, who came from the same orienting part of the world, inside and out. I had a crazy-check. I had a self-check.

I notice how angry I am lately. How tired. To go or to not go, either way is stress. And then I think I am a monster. That I am mean and hard and brittle. That I cannot lighten up. That none of this is as bad or difficult as I make it out to be. This is unwinnable. I can't look at myself with love on this one, because to do that is to say No, and No would have to be said so many times. And also, to question, to quote something I don't recall, to question if I'm the a*hole here. Am I jerk? I no longer know. I no longer know what is the effect of actual real dissonance and truth, and what is just me being a crab without grace. I have no external crazy-check from my love, and my own self-crazy check is absolutely unreliable these days.

I read other things on-line about the collective grudge and drudgery of holidays, and I wonder why anyone does it. I wonder if anyone actually loves it. I may or may not be the bad guy here, the monster, the graceless one, if there is a graceless one. There is also the fact that I brace for the baseball bat to the gut - Matt built a lot of their house. His hands, our life, are everywhere. I am routinely doubled over from the blow, the many incessant blows, and then arrive at the table as though everything is fine. I would just like this season to be over, now, thank you.  I'm so very tired of assessing my own level of monster-ness just because "No" is not accepted as a complete sentence in these parts. And, I want my family back.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

little boy birthdays

You would think I'm nuts.
You know how I am. With cake. With food. With anything.
Even if, for the second year in a row, I am irked that
I get less than a week's notice for such a cake request -
you know I can't not do it. I can't not take the creative challenge.

I almost didn't. Ro is not so little anymore.
Not the little boy
sitting on the steps with you,
while you were on a lunch break.
Not the little boy who was an only child then,
his sister barely formed
inside their mama.
He certainly wasn't this little boy,
the one who has two little ones
he is now big brother to.
The one who still tackles me with such great force as I come up the stairs
The one who has lost the baby-fat cheeks
and retains his great exuberance.

I'm not sure if he remembers you
If he knows why I am still in his life
If he knows why I look at the empty space on the floor
where you and I ate dinner one late work-night
Before they all lived there,
before the couch and the toys
and the empty space filled in

In the end, I had to make this cake -
there are so few times to really play,
to touch that pure fruitcake goofiness,
the intense crazed joy that is a little boy
telling me all about this "new star wars thing."

You would think I'm nuts.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

times and changes


Haven't written here for a bit. That's not true. I have written here, I just haven't posted anything.


I feel a million miles away, and I do not like where I am. Like our life never happened, I repeat it as though it's a fiction. I read things I wrote in those first months and feel nothing, until I do. And then it is a freight train. This happened to me.


I close up the garden I started that year Before. I touch soil I turned when he was here, when life was what it Was. I don't want this garden anymore - like so many things, it has stopped being fun. It has stopped being good. And to leave it feels strange, letting go of one other home, one other place in my life that was life. To let go of what was ordinary and normal, knowing it no longer fits.


Watching election season via facebook has shown me a lot of things that no longer fit. That I no longer want to find a place to fit. Tangential friendships ended, not simply because their political views are vastly different than mine, but because I see how their political views are used as a weapon of hate. Ending friendships even when our political views are the same, because I see the same seething hatred underneath their emphatic shouting about love. I don't want these lies in my life. The vast gulf between what you actually live and what you shout about. Ugliness is ugliness, no matter what ideals you're voting for.


Four years ago, this whole life was different. The poll lines were a party. Matt brought me a thermos of tea, and we all hung out in the parking lot, waiting our turn to go vote. There was hope and fun and silliness. We were one big neighborhood. At home, we stayed up late to watch the election results. We watched and listened and heard. It was good.

This year, I talk out loud to you, inside the polling booth. And then I remember that other people can hear me, standing just behind the canvas flaps. I stand there muttering and weeping that you should be here with me. Goofing around as we did the last time we voted - just a week or two Before. We voted for a friend of yours, running in a local election for who-knows-what. After we voted, we walked through the park, naming all the trees we could name. All of this I brought with me into that little canvas booth, filling in ovals, talking out loud, wishing you were there. There was no party in the parking lot. There was no sense of one big happy neighborhood. There was only me, in the car, parked and texting about the difference between four years ago and now.


Monday, October 22, 2012


Dog woke me up today, before 5 am. Outside, even with my grumbling, the sky is beautiful. Venus rising bright over the water, Jupiter up there somewhere I know. A few nights ago, another dog-induced morning, I caught my first ever glimpse of the space station as it zipped by, a million miles from nowhere close to here. I think of the sky over Wyoming, the borderlands of Utah, wondering what the sky is like right now, out there, what the sky would be like if we were out there again, 8 degrees, campfire, a whole landscape unknown and unseen.

I like to keep monks' hours, the darkness my favorite time of day. The sky lightens and Venus fades, and I have work to do. And oh, it reminds me of the poem I told him those last days Before. The day I picked him up from the airport, while we drove to dinner talking of Rumi, of arbitrary suffering, of my wanting to be in the business of joy, rather than this business of pain. He talked of Rumi and Shams, how there is no model of that kind of love these days; and I recited these lines to him:

a night full of talking that hurts
my worst held back secrets
everything has to do
with loving and not loving
this night will pass
and then we have work to do.

And with that, I have work to do.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

friends and allies

it was a dark morning
a really dark one
hurled notebooks and spilled cups of tea

in response,
instead of prayer books and breathing calm
(who the hell can breathe calm when what's wanted it hurling a cup of tea
you know you are the only one here to pick up afterwards, and therefore,
you know that you can't)
instead of breathing calm
I go to the screen and find people, my people.
And words I needed to hear.

thank you.
I feel so much better now
I can even consider eating pancakes.


and if you don't know her yet:


Monday, October 15, 2012

43, and not 43

It snuck up on me. Knew it was coming, but hadn't named it as sad. Maybe it is more than sad, sad is more than this. Certainly many things going on, many things that contribute to this - emotionality. But you should be 43 today. You should be 43 and we should be teasing you about being an old man. You should be 43, and you are not, and you are.

It's raining again. Last year, I think, I was out slaughtering pigs. Yeah, sure, you read that right. This year though, in the rain, I am thinking of the birthday song from the homeless man, the gift of your second birthday-without-form. So I'm bringing it back, below, for you, and for me.

Happy birthday babe. I know you here with me.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, October 14, 2012

old friends

I saw
an old friend of yours
at the butcher shop today
I knew him by his voice
a cadence like yours
responding to his son
the way you did
the way I still do

it was his face that had me confused
once I turned around to look.
he brushed by
and I circled around again
to look
to see if I could match
the voice to the face, to the eyes

it was him
but I didn't ask. I didn't stop,
my hand on his arm, gentle,
saying his name
imagining he would know
just by touch

He looked past me
not only not recognizing me as me,
but not registering another person at all.
Game face. City face.
"typical," you'd say. "a little arrogant."

It shook me a little, in a nice way, almost.
to be so close to someone who knew you so well
and I regret now
that I didn't stop
didn't stop
to put my hand gently on his arm
and call you close to us again,
to me.


happy birthday babe. we miss you. we all miss you.
a whole lot of us silent and silently
we all miss you
together, apart.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

more than words can tell

Woke up from a nap with this song in my hazy mind, hearing only the lyric "I love you more than words can tell..." Not being a Grateful Dead fan, I still knew what song it was. But I didn't know any more of the words until I looked them up.


Sunday, September 23, 2012



I have kicked butt these last weeks.
Not easy, in fact quite a lot of painful
on the floor, knocked down again type things.
but I have been released from some energy drains
have let go of things that only brought frustration
or more pain.
It's weird to not have bees on the to-do list
the habitual thought of needing to get over there
replaced quickly with relief at no-I-don't.
          the sadness at digging up the garden
          is replaced by renewed irritation
          and such readiness to be done
          thank you fall woodchuck for reminding me
          by eating every last green thing
          that had recovered from your previous assault
          another carload of things to goodwill
          including all the business forms and
          professional checkbook ledgers
          (the pages with your handwriting removed before the rest went in the box)
          your old reel fishing poles, not used in many years
          because fly fishing had become your favorite
          clearing out the chest freezer
          I stood at the sink
          holding on to the counter
          while hot water rinsed away the contents
          of the last ice cream we bought together
          a heart left in stark relief while the rest of it melted away

          I have done good work, clearing out this place.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

bees, part whatever

I just had my bees inspected by the state apiarist. Nice guy. Went into those hives all bare-handed like it was nothing. My girls are strong and healthy, and the estimate he gave me for selling them was more than I expected. He asked why I was getting out of the bee business. I told him it wasn't fun anymore without matt. He didn't have the reaction I'd expect he would if he knew why matt wasn't here. I slipped it in to the following sentences... you know, a casual mention of death: "the year matt died, we were running three hives." Then the response, the apology, acknowledgment, and telling me I am too young for this. Respectful, kind, professional, human. A little later, Inspector guy said - "I don't even know how you do something like that, live after that. I'd move too. No reason to stay." Bee people. They really are good.

I still feel, I don't know, melancholic, a little heartbroken, a little wishing it didn't need to be this way, this selling of our bees. Another chapter in our life closing, differently than it would have if you were still here. A lot of little leave-takings. A lot of little melancholies. Digging out perennials to gift to other gardens. Boxes of things to goodwill. Posting our bees for sale. Looking around at the darkening skies and coloring leaves and knowing (Insha'llah) this is my last fall here, my last winter here. I am removing our roots, my roots.

It is weird to hold the line to moving. To hold to the reality of selling our hives. To continue to dismantle the gardens. The romantic notion of beekeeping, and even of gardening, is at odds with the reality of both. The romantic ideas can cling to me, especially on days like this. But I know if I allow that nostalgia and dreaming to keep me from doing all this, I will be angry and resentful come spring, angry and annoyed with myself that I let the romantic image sway me from my actual experience. What was once, what could be in the haze of romantic vision, neither of these are now. Money from selling the colonies means heat for the winter, means breathing room for the next couple of months. Right now, it feels like a gift matt can give me, a gift our life can give me. So. The bees are posted for sale. Wish them luck. Wish me luck.


Monday, September 17, 2012

new year

I had a whole long post. Took me ages to write. And after all of that,
I thought - I really don't want to write all of this. So I won't.

What I will write is happy new year to you. May it be filled
with sweetness and blessing, and all good things true for you.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

born to run

23 days before matt drowned, I started to run.

I know it is 23 days because according to something I read once, if you do something for 21 days in a row, it becomes habit. I wanted to run. After years of believing I was not built for running, I still wanted to run. Every single day after work, no matter how annoyed or tired, I put on my old sneakers and ran/walked as best I could the half mile up to the pizza place and the half mile back. It wasn't easy, but it was effortless, right from the start. The friday before the sunday he died, I hadn't run yet. We were settled onto the couch after a late dinner. It was after 10 pm, but I couldn't keep still. Just a short little run. I wasn't fast, and I couldn't get far, but it had become habit. That Friday was day 22.

On the way to the river that morning, Matt said maybe he would start doing 300 push-ups a day for the next 21 days, and just continue the rest of his life. Do I need to finish that sentence? To finish that thought? That the rest of his life was less than an hour from then.

After that day, I tried to run. I tried to run even though I couldn't eat. A friend with whom matt had hiked at 12,000 feet in the Rockies just 6 days before told me that, on that hike, Matt said how proud he was of me and my running, how thrilled he was at how proud I was of myself. All through everything after he drowned, I wanted to run. I wanted to not let him down. Grief and pain, and eventually, injury, took over though. Running stopped. For one long winter, even walking had to stop. Grief settled into my body and I couldn't move.

This spring, I started couch to 5k, for the third time, I think. When I realized that if I kept with it, I would reach the 5k point by exactly two years and nine months, I kept going. Now at three years and nearly two months, I'm still not fast. My feet hurt a lot. But I run three to five times a week, 30 to 40 minutes at a stretch.

Today I flashed on a conversation we had, Matt and I, me telling him that I want to know what this body is actually made for. This body I've been wearing around. I know I am not built for speed, I told him, but I think I might be made for endurance. I think I might be made for distance. Matt was an incredible being. A body so completely unlike mine - strong, light, powerful. He could do feats of strength and agility that impressed long-time pros and practitioners. He naturally mastered any sport, typically proficient at his very first try. I loved to watch him move. He made me want to move more, to be stronger and faster and just - more. I knew I couldn't be him, but I wanted to know what was me. Endurance, maybe. Slow and steady, for a very long time.

On the recommendation of my osteopath, who needs to fix my feet every few weeks, I read Born to Run, finishing it today with a long slow read on a rainy day. Towards the end, I could not stop crying. Crying, and wanting to run. Crying, so moved to read love and running and joy all woven into one. Crying, and wishing he was here. Knowing he would be set on fire by this book, that he would immediately set about logging hours and miles, pushing himself on bare feet over mountain passes. Crying, knowing that long distance running feels like it might be my home, slow and steady, and that he is no longer here - for me to watch, for me to learn from, for me to be aggravated by his coaching and correction. Crying for my loss and for his.

There's a lot more in this book that got to me, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone. If you read it, you'll most likely know. And nope, there is no sudden widowhood lurking in the pages. No four tombstones here.  Enough to say that, just as when he and I first met, I feel an old slow lock gliding into place. I won't ever be fast, but long, slow, and steady might just be my home.



Tuesday, September 4, 2012


... tears are the blood of a soul wound...

And ~  I can see that image, that wall of tears in crystal. ...Bottles of weeping lining the walls.


Friday, August 31, 2012

chickens, podcasts, and chainsaws.

Yeah. It's an interesting mix over here today.

Yesterday was such a good day. A great day. Not because it went well, but because I started the day at 4 am, listening to Jon Bernie. With a cup of tea and a dark sky with bright planets, it was - glorious. And by glorious, I mean that I cried a lot, in a good way. I am absolutely in love with my new ipod. In one tiny little square, I have an entire sangha.

The 4 to 6 am time slot impacts the rest of my day so much. The last month or so, those hours have been filled with nightmares, and with me being too exhausted to get up to avoid them. But this week, I've (mostly) been up. Listening.

The goodness helped me through a massive chicken challenge. Well, a challenge to my stress levels, anyway. My one good, thriving garden is just starting to have tomatoes come in. This, after losing all of the squash, cukes, and zukes to a massive bug infestation. I just planted seeds for fall crops. And. We have meat birds out there. By "we," I mean the person who owns the farm, and supposedly, I will be receiving a few birds in exchange for all the veg we've shared. The chickens free range. They are not supposed to. Containment of birds is the owner's job; I did as much as I could do without it being my property. Anyway - I don't even feel like bitching about it much. Just that yesterday, all 26 birds were inside my garden fence, having uprooted some tomatoes to take dust baths. Having eaten all the beet greens, newly planted seeds, and lots of tomatoes. Not their fault - they're chickens. They were hungry and thirsty, and they found what they needed. So while I was quite angry, I also noticed the calm in there, the post-sangha calm. I also noticed how sad I felt, and why. Nothing here is my place. The birds, the gardens, this home I've lived in for seven years, the spaces and places I move in. 

I came home and took Bo to the beach. Found loads of heart rocks. Felt peaceful and calm and sad. Felt thankful and happy to be here at the water with our very happy dog. Found wild apple trees loaded with apples that I will go back and forage today. It was a good day, all of it in its way.

Today, I woke up exhausted, and put off Jon Bernie til noon. The power company has been outside my windows all day, chainsawing down trees and scrub growth. This neighborhood has changed so much lately. More traffic, more noise, more crime. Fewer trees. The sadness has stayed from yesterday, and the calm replaced by more grief. It's alright. I feel, I don't know, more alright with the rhythm of it. It's more leave-taking, seeing the end of here circling around. It means I am weepy today.

I will be a weepy commando in just a few minutes. A friend and I are introducing her not-quite-6-month old daughter to the finer skills of trespassing and foraging. Wild apples and weepiness. That's the news from right here.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

meat, part two

Or part three. I'm not sure.

Just a quick little note, a process for me. Am going to dinner at the old farm next week. Casually, the owner says, "we just got Louie back from the butcher, so we'll have beef something."

Louie was my first bull calf. He was just a few weeks old when I first arrived at the farm. When he was small, we were buddies. I halter trained him. Those original owners hoped to sell him to someone who just wanted "a sweet ol' lawn bull;" in ten years of raising dairy cows, they sent one to slaughter, and then couldn't bring themselves to eat the meat. The new owners did not have that sentiment. The dairy business is also, by default, the meat business. Bull calves are stud replacements or they are beef. After they took over, we sent several bull calves to slaughter. Calves I'd bottle fed. With them, it was just facts. There is no farming without death.

Knowing that they intended to slaughter Louie was - different. He was my first farm guy. Louie was a love. So much of a love, he didn't realize he was a very large animal. By the time he outgrew the calf pens, it had become a little dangerous for me to get in there to feed him. The way we played around when he was tiny was not wise when he outweighed me. By the end of my time at the farm, I couldn't go near his paddocks; he had no idea he was dangerous. He either thought I was a cow, or he thought he wasn't a bull. Either way, unwise. A rookie mistake I made.

So it's strange still, to see a freezer full of meat. I spent a day or so thinking about it. Wondering if this is another of those times when I will question the categories in my mind, question whether meat-eating is a choice I still want to make. But then I think. This morning I remember - Louie lived on acres of pasture, with other cows and bulls. He had a fantastic bull life. You can either have a never-Louie, because there are no wandering herds of wild cows somewhere where creatures live out some magical "natural" life, or you can have a brief Louie, raised well and with kindness.

I wonder if it is as simple as that, a small switch in my thinking. A pet bull, with my own added emotionalizing, or a real bull.

Not sure yet.


Friday, August 24, 2012

and again...


Three years, one month, twelve days, and I seem to be in a strange loop again. A loop of nightmares, middle insomnia, and almost every morning waking up thinking - wait. What happened? What? Shaking my mind, questioning it. Are you sure?

Dead. Really? That man. That one. Really. Jesus. That is insane.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

a willingness for beauty

Okay - another bee update. Yesterday was rained out, so no super removal. I did spend a lot of the day, too much of the day, trying to organize the people who'd offered their help. As a person who instinctively and impulsively offers help and follows through with those offers, I find lack of follow through vexing. Vexing is actually a gentle way of putting it. People who offer and then seem irritated at being asked to follow through especially push some pretty tender spots in my emotional make-up. I also had someone who offered to pick up and deliver some equipment for me insist on being paid for their time and mileage after they dropped said equipment off. My bad. I assumed it was a kindness, not a business transaction.

But those disappointments are not what I want to focus on today. In meditation last night, I realized how much I have taken responsibility for right outcome with this, what a burden that has been to me, and how much I have allowed this to enrage and irritate me. This morning, I read a few things that also shifted my orientation from dread about the upcoming honey harvest to a willingness to find it beautiful. I reminded myself that my responsibility is to show up and to be present, to listen to myself. That there is too much else involved for me to claim sole responsibility for outcome. That and a full-coverage bee suit, and I was calm and ready.

The first helper was actually there when I got there, smoker going, equipment ready. He was around my age, dressed how matt would have been, which helped immensely. As it turned out the three other people who said they would help never came. But the helper I had was calm, respectful, funny. He was in no way patronizing as some of the older potential helpers had been via email. He remembered me announcing that my partner had died at a beekeeping meeting that first year. He had a perfectly calm response to my few teary moments speaking of matt. He encouraged me to really think about whether I was going to give up beekeeping, but didn't try to convince me not to. He did most of the work and was not one bit annoyed or impatient with the bees or with me. It was, quite simply, beautiful. A gift to me.

So now I am home. Five supers full of honey waiting to be uncapped and spun out. Podcasts loaded on the ipod for background. This went well. Willingness for beauty really helped me out today.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

rain date

Oh I was hoping to be done with honey harvest today.... but it is raining, and you can't pull honey supers in the rain. Or when it's cloudy. Bees do not like cloudy.

It's funny how sway-able I am. Some farm owning friends of mine offered to let me move my hives out there, so when tending time comes, there are more hands on deck. For a moment, I thought this was great. A family! People care! It will be fun! And then I remember - I really don't enjoy beekeeping anymore. I don't plan on living here for much longer, so starting a new bee-yard relationship is irresponsible. I don't need more encumbrances. I do not like the version of me that comes out when beekeeping is intense. As another friend said yesterday, "I think there are things you can do that feel connected with matt that don't involve you being stung repeatedly."

I am just such a try again, and try harder person.

And this is the thing - sometimes, if something is stressful or hard, I think: sweet me, you witnessed matt dying randomly and accidentally. Compared to that, this is nothing. Relax. You can do this. And then other times, faced with something hard and stressful, I think: WTF am I doing? I just watched matt die, randomly and accidentally. Why am I wasting any time at all doing sh*it that makes me mad?

Certainly a context change in there. It comes down to what is worth it and what is not. What is hard, but will help me or be satisfying in the end, and what is hard but not worth the pay off, if there even is any pay off. Will confronting this ease my way at all? Or bring me closer to peacefulness? Or even just create something that I will actually use? I feel like I am walking this line repeatedly in big things and small. Streamlining.

On that note, I am off. Refinishing furniture, finishing a project matt had started. Unlikely to be stung doing it.


Friday, August 17, 2012

bees, 2

I am done being a beekeeper.

You are supposed to be here for this shit. I am not supposed to be getting mobbed and stung and fucked with. YOU are supposed to be here and we are supposed to be doing this together. Right now, I hate bees. I hate them. I don't know why they are aggressive like this, but I can't get anywhere near them. Not that it does any good, but right now I just want to leave the damn hive open where I left it and let the bees figure it out themselves - fall over, get rained on, I do not care. Nor came out there, all suited up, to help, but I can't even run the smoker without hundreds of very angry bees stinging me through my clothes.

So now I am home, still shaking. More from the YOU SHOULD BE HERE to deal with this than with the actual upset at bees. Though I am definitely still upset about bees. So now I am waiting to hear if I can find another full body armor bee suit so I can go back there again today and get this done. And go back tomorrow to actually remove the supers.

This is my last weekend as a beekeeper. Angry bees + not having you here to do this stuff with me = fuck this shit.

Sorry for the language, me.

update - well I'm home now, and calmer. Fully suited, two of us managed to get the supers off, excluder on, and supers back on, all without incident. Giant bee suits make a big difference. However, I have just learned that I missed an important part of the whole bee excluder thing, so the whole fiasco of today may be completely worthless. Whatever. Two of three helpers for tomorrow cancelled; now trying to find new helpers. Repeatedly asking for help, repeatedly trying to pin down people who said they would help and then stopped responding, trying to organize a bunch of people who are trying very kindly to squeeze me in somewhere, matching a whole bunch of peoples' schedules to the weather - I really don't need beekeeping to remind me how much of a non-priority I am, as it should be, in other peoples' lives. So. Thank you to the hoardes of bees for making my decision very clear and easy.

For now, I am going to take benadryl, eat dinner, and try not to think about tomorrow.

Monday, August 13, 2012



"...the world of “acceptance" is a whole new world of suffering in its own right."

Again with the good words. Much needed on this crabby at-war-with-myself morning.

I am a strange morning person. I love the very early morning. And - early morning is often when I am the most inwardly crabby. Little wars. Things need changing.


Sunday, August 12, 2012


A cake photo, from the iphone. I didn't have my camera at the party, so I'm hoping there are some better ones out there that someone else took. Castle cake. It was awesome.




Sunday the 12th. Three years and one month. Today, I am making a pink princess castle cake for the little one born one month After. I'll post some photos after it's assembled (the cake, not the child). It is weird to me, all of it. All of this. All of everything.

I guess that's it. That's all. It is weird to still eat and bake and cook, to care whether the cake has the proper proportions ~ the flags need to be just a bit higher to balance the width of the base ~ to be in the stream of "normal" life. I mean ever at all, not just cake. I feel like I am eternally missing my center, here in the land of function.

But that cake will not build itself, and 12th or no, I need to get to it.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

the helpers

On my mind a lot these days - what is a nurturing environment for me? Is there anything that would bring back my Before self? Or at least encourage it? It is so hard to shake the anxiety of impending doom, of guarding against more loss, of knowing I do not have it in me to deal with another emergency. Though there has only been one emergency in over 41 years, it was a doozy. It is hard to not guard against more. Hard to choose something other than anxiety. I understand me, I just wish it wasn't so. I miss my normalcy. I miss trusting that everything is alright, or that it will be so. I had far more of my former mojo in the months soon After - closer to impact, I was more me. I resent the shrinking smallness of my world and of my mind. I have faded.

I titled this post the helpers, I remember now. It's because of this blog - He writes so often of adventure, of being willing to open and to soften and to see. I want to be back there. Want to feel that peace and calm and trust again. To be the adventure I used to be. I am not. And I am not in enough places that feed me, that bring it out, that nurture me. I am tired of feeling this way, both repulsed and saddened by the infectious non-adventure and anxiety in me. If I have to live this, and I do, man I want my peace back.


And this just showed up in my inbox today. Nice. Thank you.


Saturday, August 4, 2012


I got my first stings of the season this morning. Overdue, really. Except I got caught in that not-helpful mind loop of: you got stung because you are stressed. No. Getting stung made me stressed. Well maybe you are trying to hide your crabbiness from the bees and they see through it. But - the stinging made me crabby! ...sigh. Regardless, more honey supers were added; tall enough now that I can't see into the top box, and could barely see into the one below that. Should have harvested a week ago. This is the first time we will have two harvests in one year.

This marks my fifth (wow) year of beekeeping, and my fourth time harvesting without you Matthew P. It has been different each year After and Since - the first fall, a horrible bumbling experience with strangers who claimed experience, followed by a repeat effort with broken extractors shooting blue sparks while your friend, her daughter, and I stuck screwdrivers into the wiring to try and make it work. The second fall was sweeter and quiet, though my heart was too broken to feel anything but sad. I didn't even harvest last year; just didn't have it in me, and the bees didn't either. This year, however, those honey boxes are full full full, and I need to find a team to stand in your stead.

The peach tree that used to stand beside our hives is gone. That first fall as beekeepers, we harvested honey and dipped ripe peaches into broken combs - excellent timing, that tree. The yard owners took it down last year, or maybe the year before, after years of declining yields. The seat we built beneath the tree, where you used to go each morning to meditate and watch the bees, that is gone too. There's not really a place for a seat now. I don't watch them like we did; I rarely check on them. Not the way we did together, anyway. I'm disappointed in myself that I am not calm around the bees as I was Before. I am a lazy beekeeper now, and feel less confident, that's for sure.

But I will begin to assemble a team - harder than it seems, as I'm finding many people afraid of bees - and be full of wonder and awe and all of that again, slicing open the comb, seeing the colors, guessing at their source. It was such a celebration that first year. The following years, while not grim, were simply efficient. This year, I think, it will be a celebration again. Although a very different one.

My hand is swelling some. Time for homeopathics and benadryl. And more emails finding people unafraid of bees, or willing to become that way.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

well timed


Feeling a sense of impending doom today, anxious where I wasn't anxious yesterday. But the best I can do, and it's a really good best, is to remember I am not in charge of this show. And to read this, in my blog list today, from a blogger who has not posted in months...

Friend, you lie quiet,
watching the dawn light color your heart,
dreaming of healing for your hurt body
lying there unanswerable to your will.
You breathe deep and your breath has two sides:
inside and outside. You are on both, being breathed.
The future approaches. You will heal or
you will go back to being God.
Which will you do?
Oh by all that is beautiful -
May it be that you live!
May your body heal happy and whole!
May energy fill and delight you!
May we join the dance your presence gives!
May you live!
And if you die?
Oh dear self, by all that is beautiful,
Know you are Safe! Everything is All Right
Forever and Ever and Ever!
The most wonderful, exquisite, familiar
Truth is what is True, and welcomes you.
It will be very easy.
You lie quiet now, praying.
A great healing is coming
and you want to be ready.
The colors of your heart blend
with the light of the morning.
You are blessed.

~ Elias Amidon


Thursday, July 26, 2012

wills and things

I have a diagnostic thing coming up next week. I have no concerns at all for the actual procedure, or for test results. What completely unglues me, or has, is that matt is not here, which means I have to go out and find someone else to drive me to the appointment, someone to be there to hear the doctor's instructions while I am too fuzzy to hear. Arrange for someone to come and walk the dog that night so I can sleep. That matt is gone is why I'm getting the full-on knock out, rather than the local, awake-but-not routine.

The other thing that freaks me out is the thought of saying goodbye to our dog. None of us are strangers to sudden random death, and I know full well I could not come back. But honestly, because I am me, the thing that calms me down is (1) remembering that I am not in control of death, and it will all happen when and how it wants: mine, and anyone I care about; and (2), that if I do happen to die during an ordinary procedure, at least people know about it, and my animals will not be here home alone. That is such a fear of mine, that I'd die and no one would know, and my animals would suffer. Bleh. I hate that one. I remind myself: see item #1 and just calm down.

Anyway. Somewhere on my computer, I already have a will written out, such as it is. But I've also written out a list of "helpful things." Matt didn't have a will. Not only did he plan to just walk off into the woods to die when he was 111, he'd also said, "I don't need a will - everything would go to my son anyway."

A will is not just "what should happen to my stuff." I mean, legally, yeah. But what I'm thinking is how great it would have been, when everyone went crazy in the first days After, to have had a written list: organ donation, cremation, no I do not care what happens to my ashes, and they can be split up however you want. If there are any questions, my love, my son, and my father are the ones who get to think these through. It would have saved so much time, and negated any argument before it even reached my ears.

In my own list, labeled "in case of sudden death or vegetative state," I specify all my preferences. I also include passwords to my on-line accounts, directions for accessing this blog and how to post on it, names and contact information of people who need to be told, my social security number, and instructions to please not attempt to pay off my student loans (because I know my father would try). Seriously - no one cares one bit about my credit rating now. I do have a short list of where my possessions go, but really, it doesn't matter much to me - and that is clarified as well.

Having a list would not have made matt suddenly dying any better. Having this list will not make anything better for anyone who cares about me, either. But having this list is a way to love and protect my people now, for the eventual and guaranteed later. In the crazy that comes up in the aftermath of death, no one is thinking straight. Everyone thinks they know what you would want, and they are too distraught to realize they are shrieking for what they want. So there is that - make your wishes clear so that the ones you love do not need to battle anyone, even if you think no one will argue. Especially if you think no one will argue. As for the other things, the passwords and contact lists, sure - they can be found. But I think if Matt could do it again, he would want to give me the slightest bit of ease, would want to show his love by making my way easier, in any way he could.

So this is what I said to my friend, the one driving me to the appointment next week, the one who knows I am freaked out about leaving our dog behind. She asked for my wishes about Boris should I happen to suddenly die; I told her I have left her a list, with instructions and requests. This morning, she sent me a text, saying how she and her husband need to do this too. And all of this just made me think - how preparing for something you never want to happen to the people you love is actually a gigantic gift of love for them. It says that you love them enough to face the reality that you have no control over your death. It says even in this, I will give you evidence of love.


An evidence addendum: I finished up this post, got in the car, clicked on the radio, and just as I hit the highway half a minute later, this song came on. Never heard it before. Nice one universe.


Friday, July 20, 2012


There is a massive clean-out going on here today, completely unplanned. I mean, I've meant to for a long time now, but it wasn't in my plan for today. Not really news-worthy. Just - matt would be psyched. He would also wonder why I'm holding even the small bits I am. He would hold up something, I imagine now, and ask "why are we taking this across the country?" or "is this something you think you'll use?"

Huh. I realize I just typed "taking this across the country." There are indeed changes happening, though not right now. Preparations being made, thoughts moved, if not the household yet. Making the load lighter, picking tasks apart. Making all of myself lighter. I read somewhere the other day, someone leaving a place they have loved, that they would not miss the magic of the place because they will take everything magical with them. I will miss this place, this evidence of our life. And I will take our life inside me. I will take it everywhere I am.

I have lived here longer than anywhere I have lived since childhood. In the Before, we'd starting packing for our move. I was so happy to leave here. So happy to leave it behind, with all its flaws and annoyances. It would be something I thought of fondly, and fleetingly. To leave here Now will be hard, even with the irritations piling up.

If I think too much of erasing even your old fingerprints, left in grease stains on the cabinets, I feel my edges start to cling. Like years ago, when my mother would go through bags of things I'd destined for Goodwill, pulling out each thing I'd bagged, saying "are you sure you want to get rid of this? But it looks so nice. You should keep it." This is different, of course, this evidence of our life is not a dress that's nice but I never wear. It isn't a candle-holder that has never been my style. It's where I look and see you, standing there. It is also the place that housed me while I screamed and cried and stared. It is the place that has held my hardest and my most beautiful. But I suppose that is in me. It goes wherever I go.

If I sit too long, I will lose momentum, and all this stuff in bags will now sit here on the living room floor instead of being hidden in closets and in drawers. Keep going. Keep going. A purge of what really never should have come in the door. Lightening the load.


The car is packed, the house is clean. In the things I sorted through, I found a file from an old writing teacher of mine. I knew her husband had been killed by a drunk driver. I even tried to contact her once, early in this After. But I have no recollection of seeing this writing from her, these hand-outs, though clearly I did way back when: my underlining and notes are all over them. Sitting outside, I find this, in this paperwork from her, a quote from Theodore Roethke:

I learned not to fear infinity,
the far field, the windy cliffs of forever.
What we love is near, at hand,
Always, in the earth and air.
What we love is here,
and what is here is home.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

by date

as we read the paper
you would point out obituaries
of elderly couples who had died
within tight orbit of each other.
I would nod my head
and say - makes sense to me.
of course they do.

We will not be one of those couples
neither elderly, nor dead within close range.

I was not one of those people who wondered
if I would survive
I knew
with resentful certainty
that I would live.
though I kept waiting

Buying half and half for my tea
I would glance at the expiration date on the carton
saying half out-loud
"I will be dead by then."
Every time
Every time
Every week, buying again,
saying I will be dead by then.

Sometime over the last several months, I have stopped saying this
Have stopped thinking it.
I reach into the stacks
see the date
and think -
pretty unlikely I'll be dead by then.
It is not a relief,
just acknowledgment.

Now, how I can be fine, in the hours before the last calendar date
Fine, even relieved,
until it sneaks up behind me
smashing parts of this body, this me,
veins opened I have not seen or felt
flashing scenes of the soon after
slamming me back to the day
bruised and screaming
that I do not want to do this anymore

the place of retching will pass, I know
it does
The day itself was beautiful, this week
and beautiful
but this is not that day.

the kettle is boiling
tea needs to be made
the date on the cream
just is.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

by day

three years have passed
on this day
At the time,
I will be at church
without you
not bursting into flames
as you often joked I would.

I will always have this day to myself
No one else knows to count the weeks
like this

Like this,
I will have you to myself

I will have that day,
the way it was
Just the two of us, and Bo.

On the date,
everyone else can remember.
Everyone else can rush and claim their part of you,
claim their part of me.
On the date,
they can send their text messages,
or find they have forgotten to.

But on the day
on the day today, my love,
it will be you and me
as it was.
As it was on that day
three years ago today.

I miss you my love.
So so much
I miss you.
I hope you are alright.


Friday, July 6, 2012


It's a grand round of posting, apparently.

There's a lot I need to say, I need to talk about, and I can't. Not here, not with really anyone. That's not an awful thing, I just need to acknowledge that I am holding a lot, on a lot of different fronts.

This is how this process will go - whichever process I'm in:
            Excitement, alarm, refusal, assurance, clarity, calm.
            Rinse. Repeat. For everything.

The thing that I take from this, these large grand movements going on in so many different realms, is that I trust me. I trust me to know what I want, what I need. I trust me to say what I see, to state what I know, with kindness and clarity. I may not feel it as I write, but I see it afterwards. No matter how chaotic, I have abiding deep trust in myself. As I always have.

What is fascinating is that I can write - "as I always have." That the core of me has not changed, though it was lost for quite some time.

I began reading a book this morning - Wild, by Cheryl Strayed.* I'd been searching for words, a way to describe what is me these days, what is happening, what it is - see I can't do it even now. But I open this book, and I read these words:

It was a world I'd never been to and yet had known was there all along,
one I'd staggered to in sorrow and confusion and fear and hope.
A world I thought would both make me into the woman I knew
I could become and turn me back into the girl I'd once been.

And that is it exactly. I can't even tell you why, and I don't need to. Doing the things I am doing now, the possibilities and openings, it is a way both back and forward, a way to leave the life that has been and come closer to it, all at the same time, and by the same way. I trust me, and that hasn't changed.


*reading the author notes today, I find... where does she live? I see. Of course she does. 


Thursday, July 5, 2012

an update on goodness


Side by side, all these things run. I think that's the way it will be, nailed to the floor with some things while awed and lifted by others, over and over again.

The project is going well - I know that's vague, folks. Sorry. Hey my testers - thank you. You are both awesome and helpful.

The raspberries are ripe in the bee yard. This means they are ahead of the crop of 2009. I know this because matt and I checked both the bees and the berries on July 11th that year, and they weren't quite ready, either of them. I don't know why the ripeness of berries lifts me, but it does.

And, in the random that probably isn't, a friend posted photos of her trip to the northwest today. A wee background - I was thinking South for the next move, but various things make that not a great idea for the next few years. I still may not move anywhere (godd knows I keep trying to get out of here; almost 3 years ago exactly, matt and I had just made plans with realtors and started packing...). The photos from my friend struck something in me, and I started investigating. As it turns out, the place she's visiting is home to everything on my geographic wish-list: fresh and salt water, botanical gardens, a zoo, a science museum, and other good things. You can have both chickens and goats in the city, if you so choose. And, it has three places/traditions I consider my spiritual home. And, in the too precise to be random realm, (well, there are a few here), one of my favorite current teachers was in my dreams last night. Where does said teacher live? Yup. I hadn't known that 'til I just looked it up.

So - just a field update. Side by side.

Ooh - and another update: have learned that my friend who posted said photos was not simply on a trip. She was on a recon mission. She and her family are thinking of moving up there. If I moved there, I would already have People. For a place that was not on my map of possibilities, it has certainly made its presence known.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012



Another person drowned. Not in my life, no. But the news got me anyway. Another woman watched her love die, thinking he was fine. Another woman was doing something they had done a million times before, not giving it a second thought. It all seemed normal, except that he was dying and she didn't know. I didn't know. Neither of us had any reason to even think it. It is inconceivable that someone so experienced would be in any danger at all.

And it smashes me so hard, brings it all slamming back to me. Maybe even more because I have been there not realizing what was happening, been there looking for help when it is too late. I have been there. And it's my reaction I can tell here; her story isn't mine to share. I'm both surprised and not surprised by how it knocks the wind out of me. I know I am helpless in the face of it, both for her and for me. All I can do is send love, to her now, to me then. And even that hurts a f-load to do.



some good words



"Help each of us prepare our hearts for these days away. I know we need to pack our is needed...and go and be present to the sorrow and grief." (here)


Friday, June 29, 2012

greeks, and t-2

I went to the greek festival in town tonight, with my little five year old friend and his family. Years ago, working in a terrible job, I promised myself a trip to Greece if I stuck with it for a year. I went to the Greek festival that year too, hoping to find someone who would teach me to speak Greek. Right. Anyway.

I put on a dress, because I have become such a slouch and a slob. I put on a dress because I needed to be pretty again, to at least feel like I'd made an attempt. It was nice - playing the super-hero-chase-me-tag that is the new obsession of five year olds, shouting over the loud music, deciding which version of baklava to eat, wondering whether spider-man would be a good cook or not. An aside: I'm thankful I spent so many years with my love and his son, in whose company I learned the ways and names of various super-heroes. Tonight, we discussed the relative merits of each of the X-Men. Earlier, we went through the ranks of the Avengers. R's choice of character: the super ninja the Black Window. I tried to correct him, but he insisted.

So. Standing in line, a few older Greek men told me I was beautiful. That was nice. I don't know. I guess it was just good to be out among people, music blasting, grills going. This town has been so small for me, even in the Before. After eating as much baklava as possible, R and I went out to play in the street, and scope out the line to see if any of his friends were there. I spotted an old friend of mine, old as in, over 15 years ago. We stopped to say hello. Ever since we've known each other, E has known I wanted to move out of here. So he says, "you're still here! Every time I see you, I'm surprised."

I paused. Restless five year old tugging at me. This is not a large town and E and I still know some of the same people. I keep pausing. I start to say, well, we were actually all set to move (I stop and look at him) and (pause) and then (pause)

So I am expecting E to say, "right, didn't your partner die? But wasn't that kind of a long time ago now?" I was pausing and waiting for it. And then it occured to me that maybe he didn't know. So I blurted - 'well, we were all ready to move and then my partner died so here I am still here.' And then I realized, by the look on E's face, that blurting out such news in the middle of a street festival with a hyper little boy doing dance moves with my arms is sort of a strange thing to do. While E and his friend are recovering, apologizing, stammering, standing there stunned, my five year old friend has had quite enough, and is running off into traffic. Clearly needing to follow him, I say quickly - "so mostly I have been here, stunned and reeling. That is what I am still doing here." And then I turn to go. What incongruence. I delivered this news from a full party stance - hopped up on sugar, fully in the throes of Black Window moves, playing chase in a sea of people eating gyros and dancing in circles.

I wonder what it was like after I left. Did E and his companion stand there confused? Was my odd bombshell, well, odd? Welcome to my world people. I am in the last two weeks of year three since this all began, and in a lot of ways, I am also still standing in line thinking I was getting baklava, and suddenly finding I have no idea what the heck is going on.


Monday, June 25, 2012

well, good.


I just feel like announcing that I have had a really good day.

That is all.


Thursday, June 21, 2012



It's coming in close again. July. Honestly, I can't say that I've felt it any differently. I'm not sure. What I do know is that year three has not been good and I am glad to see it end.

I don't know what to write here anymore. I'm working on things, trying to make this life suitable for my inhabitance. Feeling immensely frustrated. Restless. Life feels inordinately vexing.

There isn't any tenderness, and I know that is a large part of the "problem." A severe lack of belly laughs, of adventure, of feeling at home, of being loved and cared for. Of being a team. A catch-22 - what I need I am in no state to receive. (Ha - I can mean that quite literally too, as we were moving out of this State we'd lived in because we wanted a new adventure, more things to do. Anyway.) That the physical details of this life are rough right now is made worse by knowing I'm in it alone. I think I am tired of hearing myself say that.

An unsatisying post in an unsatisfying time. At least I'm congruent.


And then I found this video, below. Water imagery: painful. But worth it for the words.


DARK SIDE OF THE LENS from Astray Films on Vimeo.


     ...mumbling to yourself while you hold position and wait....

Sunday, June 3, 2012


It is sunday. Duh.

Have spent all day reading Grieving: A Love Story.

It was good. Too good. What is different now, at the end of week 151, is I have time to check the driveway to see if my neighbor is home before I go to the bedroom to scream.

I was at the library yesterday. Crouched in front of the stacks of books on grief, looking for a new-to-me book, the title I found somewhere I don't remember now. Crouched there, I remembered I had been there before. I know I have been there before. I know I have read lots of these books. But I don't remember. Where is the one I read, just weeks After, sitting in the walled garden by the library, tears everywhere, not giving a damn about the people there trying to enjoy their lunch. What book was that? When was that? And how could I forget? How is it that I could forget?

How is it that all of that intensity - could fade. That I can not remember anymore. That I am surprised by the memory of certain days, of places I have been and places I have cried. That they stun me, when they creep up on me, when I remember. That I look at me as though I am someone else. As though this happened to someone else. I am in someone elses' memories, although I live in this reality all the time. I am never apart from it, and still it comes as a surprise.


And now, I listen to voicemail and find my parents are coming through town and want to go to lunch. Want to stop by, with 30 minutes notice, and take me out into this world to eat, to make small talk, to pretend that I am fine. I am dressed in stay-home bag lady clothes. I have been reading grief all day. I am in no state to pretend that I do, in fact, have someone elses' life.


Saturday, May 26, 2012


This morning, I was thinking of the movie Fierce Grace. It's the story of Ram Dass in his post-stroke life. I was thinking of the a-hole behavior he showed in one of the scenes, what a jerk he showed himself to be. But then I remembered a letter he wrote that was also part of that film. I saw this a couple of years ago and had rather forgotten about this part. Oh how I needed this today. Awesomeness.

Hope it helps for you today too.


Sunday, May 20, 2012


(reposting again. I needed it.)

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.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Today has been a pretty darn good day.

First, I posted some old writing of mine (see below), and it felt nice. I miss writing. I mean, writing about things other than this.

I quit my job. Finally. It went well. I will need to reiterate it most likely, but that is nothing. No problem. It's the initial "I quit" that was tough. Clarifying the whole "I'm done now, which means I won't be coming in after next week" thing I can say a hundred times a day if need be.

I also got in touch with the licensing board to see about getting my clinical license back. I have no interest at all in sitting with clients again, and frankly, I don't know that I could even do it. But if I have to do something for income, it is going to be well paid and not destroy my body or suck up all my time.

The demo cd is done, delivered, and I have just now heard that round one is completed - I got an "I like this a lot, and would like to share it with my team."  It has now gone on to phase two. I am so freaking excited about that. And, massively massively proud of myself.

And. And.

And I so much wish you were here my love. I so much wish you were here.


non sequitur

posting this,  fiction written in the far Before, because I just need to step out of the After for a moment.

It was always the same. Driving this regular route, broad highways to brick lined streets, day in, day out, delivering: papers, notes, cards. The same boxes, same people, same rhythm, just me and the truck at the end of the day. Life in monotone. Then, in that straight white routine, a ray of sunshine, of brightness, blazed through. The first time was the best, the most amazing. It changed everything. There I was, unloading boxes in the regular way. I looked up because the light had moved, and there she was. Electric. Blue eyes – such blue eyes – and she smiled so brightly. I’ve never fumbled with boxes before. But that first time, all the towers of my world came crashing down, electrified by her. I thought I was sure and steady, but she has shown me that I am not, that I really never have been, it’s all been waiting for her. Waiting for the colors to change.

Later, that same first day, I watched her through the window as she sat in a cafe on my route, curled on the couch with her tea. Again, that same light smile, the same blue eyes, bursting through the contours of my life. Listen – I don’t even sound like me. She makes me think in poetry. I don’t even recognize my mind when I see her sitting there. She hasn’t seen me every time, but I’ve seen her. I’d like to say I don’t know how many times, but that’s a lie. It’s been thirty-seven days, before today. I’d even like to pretend I don’t dream of her and her electric blue, but the truth is, she wakes me up. Just last week, driving the velvet wet roads in the night, I heard her whisper, saw her face pull up behind my eyes. It was only then I realized I’d been drifting, letting the long lanes lull me into sleep. She saved me. Her vision kept me alive. Like she already loves me. Why else would she smile that way, show up in my dreams? She has to love me. It’s in her eyes. And she smiles, not like a stranger, but like a friend, a long lost part of me I hadn’t known I’d lost.

Every day, I walk past, glancing at her spot on the couch. Today it is empty. Steadying myself in her absence, something makes me look, makes me turn around. There. Sitting alone at a table, she looks up just as I look in. My face breaks into a huge-ass grin, the blue of her eyes fills the world. Before I can stop myself, I’m in, through the door, crashing past the glass that keeps her from me. I rush to her, arms extended, hand extended, reaching out. She clears her throat, looks up from her pot of tea. She reaches her hand out to mine and I stutter, stammer my way through hello.

“Intimate strangers,” I say when my tongue calms down to clear. “Sean,” I show her, pointing at the name patch on my jacket. Dork. Oh my god, I’m such a dork. Of course she can see my name. But there’s that smile again, the deep blue eyes alive, I’ve never seen such eyes. Like the sky at mid-day in Spring.

“It’s snowing down south. That’s where I’m from. I mean, everyday. I live in New Hampshire, but my truck is in Mass and it was covered in snow, so it’s coming.” Wow. Brilliant. Crap.
She smiles. Says she’s excited for snow.

“Well,” I hop from one foot to the next. “Uh, it might get slippery, so be careful walking, when you’re walking or wherever.”

How can I not laugh? How can I not lift her up and kiss her, hold her smiling face next to mine? Thank her for the many nights she, herself, has kept me alive, kept me company. Doesn’t she know? She must send herself to me. No one smiles like that except on purpose. She’s smiling at me now, waiting. I’ve been quiet, grinning, no idea how long. What should I say?

Someone has come in behind me, I can tell by the way she moves her head, how she shifts in her seat. She looks just past my ear and smiles again, that splitting searing blue. I flinch and look over my shoulder. Another man, small, non-descript, nothing special. Not like me. But he gets my smile. My twinkling blue. Without changing the look in her eyes, without shifting her smile, she looks back to me. I’ve lost her. How many weeks I have wanted her, longed for her, kept myself warm with her eyes, the secret smile only for me. I thought she knew me. It isn’t true. She isn’t mine. My blue life-line is a lie.

A slithering violence crashes in my chest. Politely I cough goodbye, and maybe even “see you around.” The world goes dark. I have to escape. The boxes. I’ll go back to the boxes. White, clean, square. Solid. Back to the towers I’ve built. It’s all okay it’s all okay it’s all okay. I will speak no more poetry. She beams that same shattering smile as I back out stuttering, pushing past the man who has stolen her, the man who receives her eyes. Outside, the snowstorm has begun. Cold pellets burn out the sun. Stumbling to the truck, I am blinded; there is only white, and there has never been blue.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

2 to 3

I'm not sure where I lost the numbers. I'm not sure if today is the 2 year and ten month mark, or if, by day, that was last sunday. I don't know if it is the sunday before the 13th, or if it is the sunday closest to the 12th or if it matters one bit, which it doesn't.

I know I woke up so many times in the night just wanting you here. Wanting to hear your voice, sleepy and low, wanting to just be f-ing normal and go down to the coffee shop and have tea and toast, to have our feet intertwined under the table, holding hands while our faces are each hidden behind our sections of the newspaper. I just want you back. I miss you. I hate this. I just want you back.


Thursday, May 10, 2012



Noticing this morning how it feels like I have you back. I mean, not literally, though I would love to wake up and find this was all just a dream. But I mean - and there aren't really words for it - but I feel like I used to with us. Lighter. Goofier. And being that, I feel like I know and feel and remember You. You as you were. Our life. Somehow, you don't feel so removed from me.

Walking our dog in the rain this morning, I was singing the zombie love song we were working on. It's a good song. Thought - ha. It would have been a great song to sing at your funeral; very fitting and funny. But then the thought on the heels of that one: I couldn't have done it, of course. I think my comment about being invited to your death was the better one. A sucker punch today, but I keep on singing anyway.

Progress, change, differentness. That I can feel humor and light, and that it brings me even closer to you.