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 bravery...it is needed...and courage....to go and be present to the sorrow and grief." (here)