Thursday, November 7, 2013

the new house.


I do love words that mean more than one thing. I am in a new house, literally: I finally got to move in. I am starting to unfold, nest, settle in. Picking up the pieces of things that fell away over the last few months. And I am in a new house figuratively, too. My new website is up. Some of my favorite posts from here have been, and will be, reposted on the new site. Traffic will go from here to there, but not from there to here. There are things here that I want to keep mine, to keep ours. This space has been powerful for me, and necessary. I may come back here sometimes. A shift happens. And I feel a little melancholy for it, for the early words, for the kinship and connection I've had here. I made it through because of who I found here. Thank you.

You are all welcome to come over to the new house for its virtual house-warming: I would love to have you.

Thank you. I love you.



Thursday, October 3, 2013

in between



at the giant Asian market

I only missed you.

Instead of finding it all so cool
aisle after aisle of fascinating things,
instead of being amused and annoyed
at your narrow culinary skills
or how unmatched our palates are

I only missed you.
I only missed you.

Grief was comfortable
I missed it. I've missed it.
It hurts, and it clouded my joy,
but it brought you here to me
so close

When can I unpack you
what box are you in?
With the knives, with the baking trays
With my running shoes.
Not just the wooden box packed close with special things
You're inside all of it

when I can cook again
even foods you wouldn't eat
when I can cook in my own space again
you will unfold from hiding places
stretch out on the new blue couch

when there is room
you will well up beside me
while this new and different life begins


Friday, September 13, 2013

green river memorial


Day number 5 on the road. I'd hoped to be there by now. But the road has what the road will have.

Today, leaving western Nebraska, a late start. My planning mind was off a day, and what I'd thought was the short day was, in fact, not. But it's alright.

This land is beautiful. So clear, the geologic record: I always feel like I am in a submarine, a submersible, not an over-land car. I am driving in the ocean, driving under the ocean. Saw my first herd of pronghorn antelope just outside of Elk Mountain, Wyoming. I stopped at the same rest-stop we did back in 2006. It wasn't a hard day.

And then. And then, the soil began to change. From yellow and brown to streaks of red. The land changed from ocean bottom to sand cliffs. The mesas rose in the distance. I switched the stereo from dance music (to keep me awake) to Robbie Robertson, because it seemed appropriate. I am singing Ghost Dance, thinking of our trip, of how we talked about the history of this land, what it's seen, what happened out here. And then.

And then, before I realize I am this close, I am on top of Flaming Gorge. I am here, where we were, exactly where we were, and Robbie Robertson's "Golden Feather" comes on the stereo. I am crying. I hear. I hear the stones you picked up, all those years ago, the ones beside your box of ashes here on the passenger seat. I hear those stones begin to sing. They do. They sing to be so close to home.

I do not want to stop. I do not want to stop. But they are singing. I have to give them back. They want to go home, and I have to let them go. I pull off the exit, crying, resisting. I do not want to go. This is wrong. Wrong to be here. But I drive. Past the place where we got gas. Past the place where we ate Mexican food, grouchy from too long on the road. I pull over as I hear (yes, I hear) your ashes beside me begin to speak. Ask to be released here. The stones have kept on singing. Your ashes, what is left of you, an excited impulse. I open the passenger side door. The pot of my one houseplant falls out, cracks on the pavement. I remove the stones. I remove the small bag of your ashes, and shake you out into the palm of my hand. Shaking. Shaking. There are big pieces here, not dust.

The stones are singing. We have been here. This is where we turned off. Where we drove off down into the winding gorge, where we cried over slaughtered skinned coyotes, where you drove the car over too-steep embankments. Looking for a place to camp. Where you spent hours the next morning finding just the right stones, the two heavy, white stones we took home, another 4000 miles back, to sit on the bookshelf, holding words.

And now - they want to go back.

I scatter you. A small handful, here on the grass between road and sidewalk. I scatter. And then I place a stone. Oh.

Oh, I see now. This is a gravestone. A headstone, a marker you yourself picked out, painstakingly searched for, the last time we were here. It is right. It is right. To scatter you here beneath a stone you chose yourself.

The other stone - offers to stay. To stay with me. One with you, one for me. A pair of matched stones, broken, but connected.

As soon as the ashes are sent, the stone placed, I am fine again. Calm. I feel you. For the first time this trip, my love, I feel you. I know you here with me.

And I drive down through the mountains, as rain begins again, down a road we did not drive. A path we did not take. You are buried here, my love. And I continue on.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

light brigade


today is 4 years and 2 months (by day).

By this time tomorrow (insh'allah), I will be loading two big cats into the van, clipping Boris into his palatial middle-seat bed, filling the cooler, leaving behind more of a mess than I'd probably like. Maybe somewhere around Wyoming, I will start to believe this is true: that I'm free.

It still feels overwhelming, and it still is overwhelming. Talking about it only makes me mad - only getting the stuff done will get it done.

There isn't anything to say, and there is everything to say.

But here is this: if you are inclined, please join the light brigade. Any time between now and our projected arrival date (Sunday the 15th at the latest, Friday the 13th earliest) - please light a candle for our safe voyage, our excellent adventures of the good kind, smooth driving, safe roads, calm animals - whatever good wishes you have. If you pray or meditate, please pray and meditate for us. It's a whole big wave of love that carries us across; I am leaning in to that. U.S. east coast friends, release me, send us good winds. U.S. west coast friends, make that big ol' catcher's mitt of receiving - we are coming your way.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

same road, new road


I have just realized my driving route is the same route matt and I drove cross-country in 2006. After about 90% of the same roads, same rest-stops, same campgrounds, I veer north where we'd gone south. Instead of south to california, I drive up through the place that was tops on his "life list" to hike and explore - a place he didn't get to go. Seeing the name of that area on the map as the first place I veer off our route - this is going to be alright.


Monday, August 19, 2013

moving on.


This last 6 weeks has been a blur. Three weeks from today, I pack up the animals in the new van and drive across the country. I'm too stressed to be excited. I'm too overwhelmed and tired to even think about that life. There is so much shit to be done, on so many levels: a business to launch, writing to be done, millions of details to cover. Oh, and packing and sorting, and figuring out how to pack and number boxes so they can be mailed to me later. Half my moving money disappeared in new van repairs. Expenses still coming just preparing for the move. Continually contacting potential buyers for what still needs to be sold. Realizing that this shit is happening SOON, and I am not prepared. How am I going to handle the cats on this trip? And what was I thinking getting a new car that I don't know well - just before I drive 3000 miles by myself with the dog and two cats? And what about and what and what - oh, it's a broken record of stresses, it sure is. And I am tired - of it all being on me.

I myself was a blur, for a little while, last week. Productive and focused. Feeling good. And then I stopped. Something broke. The nausea that had dogged me for weeks came home to roost, and stayed. I lost four days. I'm back now, at least part of me. My focus has not come back, and I can't seem to muster up the interest or energy for anything. I don't have a choice, though, with this clock ticking.

I went to one last movie in our town, and felt you there. I've felt you here a lot. Arriving with a sucker punch at times, and sometimes with just sweetness, letting me know it's alright. Driving around, really realizing that I am gone from here - no more physical prompts of our time, of our life. Goodbye, goodbye - it's all so strange.

And all of this - this stress, and nausea, and overwhelm, and exhaustion - it's grief. I mean, yeah, it's the stress of business and moving myself and 3 animals across the country, but still: grief is underneath it.

Waiting for the enormity of it all to get so incredibly big that it all gets small again.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

a car is not a car

Cleaning my car today - more thoroughly than ever in the time it has been mine - getting ready to sell it. Cleaning out the inside, scrubbing off old dirt, I was imagining the kind of ad I might place:

Sweet, much loved car for sale. Most of its miles were earned on adventure: crossing the country from east to west and north to south, piling down dirt roads in search of quiet fishing spots or unmapped hikes. It got a number of its dings going places it wasn't ~quite~ designed to go, whether down steep river plains in the red lands of Utah, or trying to make a three point turn at the edge of the deep woods.

It has barreled down long farm roads, and pulled over to watch pronghorn antelope. It has sheltered its owners on surprise sub-zero nights when they were supposed to be sleeping in tents. From out of its trunk, it's offered the makings for tea on the side of the road at sunrise, even when not far from home. It's safely transported birthday cakes shaped like castles, and trains, and unicorns. It's carried groceries and seedlings, held countless cups of tea, heard many, many songs belted out by both drivers and passengers. It has heard so much.

This car has seen more births than deaths, though it has seen them both. It has carried its fair share of raucous laughter, peaceful silence, and screaming cries. It has held it all. And then some: wet dogs, kids being taken to prom, unhappy cats (in carriers). Mundane and ordinary, unique and beautiful.

What I wouldn't add - what I wouldn't add:

That I began to cry as I erased your fingerprints and the scuffs from your shoes. I know they're in there. I've never cleaned the car like this, so you are still in there. I found greasy smudges from the dog on the head of the seatbelt cover, and a flood of words and images came back to me: how Boris always wedged his head between the driver's side headrest and the window when you were driving, wanting to be as close to you as he could, how he'd done this that day, before settling down in the backseat. You said he knew where we were going, and was content to lie down a bit.

He does this now, still - his head between the headrest and the window, but not as much. He is more likely to climb into the passenger seat, laying his head in my lap.

We took this car so many places, you and I. Had countless - and not enough - adventures and road-side tea. We. We. We lived so much in this car, had so much life in here. I can still feel your hand slip under my thigh as you drive, even though I am the only driver now. You drove us to the river that day. Someone else had to drive me home. This car. This car has seen so much.

And it's okay to let it go. It doesn't work for driving cross-country with one big dog and two unhappy cats. Like so many things, once the practical news occurred to me, it became okay to let it go.

But still. But still. Today, at first filled with love for my car I don't think I've ever felt, giggling at how I might write the ad that sells it, adventure story and all, and then filled with so much longing, so much pain and melancholy. It isn't just a car. I find myself saying - if you were here, this wouldn't bother me at all. If you were here, this car would've been sold long ago, in favor of your truck and my alleged Vespa. But a car is not a car, and it is not just dirt I wipe away.

Anyway. This car has a few more adventures left for me, and I must get to them. 



Sunday, June 30, 2013



So many countdowns.

It's been quiet here, in this space, largely because my internet connection is spotty here. But also, there is so much going on. So much of everything. And today, it is - a lot. Today, as I finished recording the run through of the audio program I'm making, exactly then, I realized it is one week, by day. One week by day, not by date, to the last time I saw you. That day. At the river. Four years ago, next week.


I have to check to be sure that is right.

I have made it through this whole last year without claiming that number. Without saying it out-loud. And now it is here, and I will have to answer, when I am asked: it has been four years now. Four years. And so much has changed. Is changing.

Within just a couple of months, I am leaving New England entirely. Leaving the places we lived, the places we explored, and I am so ready for that. I feel like I will be myself again, though differently. It is a weird broken-heartedness, to face this new adventure without you.

In just three weeks, I am heading to see my old friend from high school, to record for real. Headphones and microphones, business receipts and background music. He and I across the sound-board from each other, as we were way back when we were kids. Things move from gestation to creation to out inside the world.

With a new website, and new things I've created, this place is changing too. Feeling a little overwhelmed with it all right now, all the decisions and writing, all the designs and meetings. It's all good. It is all for love. It is a lot of change.

And for now, right now, I just need to be with that. With the nearest, soonest countdown. In just seven days from now, my love, we will have reached that four year mark. Four years.

I miss you.

I miss you here with me.



Saturday, June 8, 2013

weepy beast

the way my father misses you
breaks my heart
how he says your name
out loud, to himself, as he is using your tools
as he thinks of how you worked
as he reconstructs things you designed
and I dismantled to move

how he tells me this morning
he can't wait to figure out
how to use your nail-gun

and I know there is so much more he doesn't say

because of how heartbroken he is for me
how protective

and I am a weepy, weepy beast today
having come back from the library
to use their internet
to find my dad gone
and boris under the trees
tail tucked over his nose
perfectly camouflaged

several minutes later, dad comes inside
a little frantic
saying he couldn't find the dog
and had been out searching
for 45 minutes,
and had he been with me all along?

and he isn't mad
just thankful
everyone is alright

I imagine
how panicked he was,
not just for boris,
but for me
for me, and what heartbreak he imagined

and it all comes flooding back
those first few days
of everybody's heartbreak
and my father's for me

it's heavy
and hard to see

we miss you, my love
we miss you.
and my heart is a weepy beast
what with all of this.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013


You know what got me today? Goats. A sweet little video of goats.

Out in the woods this very early morning, following the creek, hearing the thought only after I thought it - "Boris won't drown in those rapids, they're too shallow. It's alright." Feeling it again, how pervasive this is, how deeply entrenched in me now, a reflex not requiring thought. The light through the trees, finding a stand of trillium and jack in the pulpit, remembering our last day at the river, what words you said to me. How much you'd love this little spot, out here in a narrow stretch of woods. All of it.

And then we came home. Boris slept and I planted.

A morning of planting and pruning, thinking how beautiful this garden is, these gardens are, and how they are not mine. How I will be leaving them soon, onward to find my own next home, my own new gardens to build. Intermittently tearful.

And then I came in, and a sweet little video of goats destroyed me. Because it was beautiful. Because I can see and feel how close it is to mine. Because this life of mine will be beautiful again. And I will stand in my yard, lean on my shovel in some kind of gorgeous light, look out over galloping little goats, and know I am home. It will be beautiful. And you will not be here. My life will be beautiful again, without you.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

sunday the 12th

Comes around again, Sunday the 12th. 3 years and 10 months. It's been hitting me hard, but then - there has been so much lately. Of course it is hitting me hard. I left our house. Left it in stages, but still - the last look, the last moments there, were not my own. Sometimes I feel like I amassed an emotional debt I will need to pay later, leaving that way. Well, maybe I already did - leaving the house, swallowing the emotions, not a half hour later, I became car-sick, dizzy, ragingly nauseous. So there we go. The body always knows.

I did have my time there. A few days before, I wandered the rooms and touched walls. Said thank you. Did all the things I always do when I leave a place that has sheltered me. There was also the matter of bucket on bucket of heart rocks to do something with. My mother wants to sell them. Yes, I find this disturbing. Very, very disturbing. Instead, I wandered the yard with handfuls of rocks, casting them and placing them, wondering who would find them, if they would be found.

I stopped at the garden fence, between the blackberries and the chicken coop he built, stood there, stooped there, placing heart rocks amidst leaves and roots.

And in a flash, perhaps a slow flash, I remembered I scattered ashes here, that day J. dropped the jar and I found a small pile of what was you on the street beside my parking spot. That day, I scooped up handfuls of body and bone, stuffed them in my pockets. I released them into the air, scattered them in the soil. Let you feed blackberries and echinacea, let you feed multiflora rose and bittersweet and mint.

So there, at the garden fence two days before I left, placing heart rocks, I realize, well - this makes sense. It is a burial ground, in a way. It is sacred space. You are, in part, buried here. We both are, in a sense. We both are.


Phase one of this move is complete. For a few months, I will be in phase two, the middle place, the neither here nor there. Phase three, the adventure, comes soon after the 4 year mark. For now, I am perched here, in a place you should be if I am, a place I wouldn't be if you were.


Thursday, April 25, 2013


One more night here.
I am so far past fried.
But this phase is nearly done. It's just the last few things, those things that don't fit neatly into boxes. And those boxes that keep getting shuffled around.

I keep checking with myself to see if I am, in fact, feeling emotional or down about this leaving here in any way. I don't seem to be. I am so far gone, left here so long ago, was ready to go even Before. I know it's not endless. It feels endless.

My former employer came to pick up my chest freezer today. One of the very last things to go. I've forgotten the kindness of men, the sweetness of a kind man. Not that there aren't any - just. You know what I mean. I guess, as I type this, I realize it is some poignancy, some melancholy, for those early days After, when I was still too raw for words. When all I could do was milk and muck, when the yellow light after light rain gave me one good moment of peace. My first moment of feeling I could live this. I miss that me. As nice as it is to not be retching on the floor regularly. As nice as it is to feel excited about this move, to feel happy to leave this place. As nice as all that is, I miss the raw newness of this, when you were here. When you were still here so viscerally.

S. hugs me goodbye, and I tear up - at the kindness (that always gets me - Before and since), and at the memory of strong male arms, the solidity of a hug like that. Something I do not think about. Not on purpose; it is just not present here at all, and so has faded from my mind. And then, there it is, and I have to stop, I have to go sit down again and rest. And miss you. And miss you. Like a high tight-rope walker, I never look down, but sometimes the view from here rushes up at me and I realize just how high this is. The reality of this circles back. And I poke, again, at what could be tender places but are not. The tender places are still in me and they are inside these boxes. The ones marked "keep this close," and the one - the other one. But there are no tender places in this house or in this yard, or in this view out these windows, or even in this state.

Today, stopped at a light coming home from one last trip to goodwill, I am behind a truck. Staring at the words, the oil company logo and then realize: oh, that is my story. The name of this particular company is Dead River. I always thought that was a stupid name, indicative of how divorced from environmental reality some people are. But now, now of course, that name is something else. It doesn't sucker punch me. Instead, I blow a deep breath out and say, outloud: man, I cannot wait to be out of this state.

Almost, almost. Almost out of this state.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

before I forget...

Ah, before I forget. When I leave here (so soon!), I will leave behind some physical memory prompts. Each morning, Boris chooses which direction we walk. When he chooses to walk up the hill past the church, I remember the whale story. And each time we walk by, I think - I should write that whale story here, before we leave, before the landscape doesn't prompt it anymore. And so, before I forget, here it is.

To get the real meaning and sense of this story, you really do need a little background. I tried to make it easier on you, to find a way to put the text right here, but all I could find was this and it won't let me copy and paste. You will need to pop over and read it. Just this brief little story of the whale, from Andrew Harvey's Hidden Journey. Read it, then come on back.


So one early morning, maybe last winter I think, Boris and I were out for a walk. I was railing at the universe, annoyed at how not clear things are. That if I were Loved, as is sometimes suggested, then it needs to be more obvious and constant, not this fickle garbage, not this obtuse sideways love.

You want to show me you love me? Give me a whale, then. Allegedly, you have done these kinds of things before. You have the universe do crazy things, beautiful waves of love via whale. So where's MY whale? You Love me? Then where's my whale? Where is my whale?

And you know what? It needs to be a CLEAR whale. Not some vague, yeah, I guess that maybe sort of is a vaguely whale shaped rock or cloud formation. You're out there? You love me? Fine. You show me my whale. A bumper-sticker shaped like a whale that says something like "Megan's whale" or "the whale of mmd" would be awesome. Clear and direct.

So I am wandering down the street like this, demanding my whale. You know where this is going, right?


Boris and I are passing the Polish Catholic church. Next to the church is a small garden where a statue of the BVM stands, her arms outstretched. ("BVM" - that's blessed virgin mary). I often nod at her as I walk by. From the opposite side of the street, I nod at the mama, direct a "you show me my whale" thought at her, and turn back to the sidewalk ahead. My eye catches something just beyond us, scooting around the corner.

It's a bird. A quite larger than song-bird bird. Boris and I approach the intersection here, just past the church and the garden, and I stand for a moment watching the bird scratch at a bare spot of grass. It's not a bird you'd see in downtown portland. Not a bird you'd see here at all, especially not in late winter, roaming around the sidewalk just after dawn. Upland ground birds just don't live around here.

I keep walking. Two steps, maybe three. And then I stand there, mouth open, eyes wide.

It's a quail. You gave me a quail. A q-whale.


I asked. No, I demanded. And three steps later, there is a quail. Love, plus comedic timing, plus a little play on words.


I saw that bird only one more time, though I have looked for it since. It was perched high in the eaves of the rectory, within the gates of the church and garden, tucked in and puffed up against the cold. Each time Boris directs our walk this way, I look up at the eaves, and I snort a little laugh at the BVM. Good morning mama. Thanks for the qwhale. Before I forget, thank you for the qwhale.


Thursday, April 4, 2013


the grief project I have been working on with my whole heart and mind for the last year just got cancelled. Permanently. Poof. All that time wasted. I worked with my editor intensely for several months creating the initial site launch content. We had moved on to recording a program. "Next step recording studio!" Then she moved to another department. I got a month of silence. And today, an email saying "project is cancelled."

I am beyond heartbroken right now. I can't even deal.

Send me some mojo, will you?

This day sucks.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

clean slate

You'd think I'd know my own process by now. I do, I mean, I am just surprised that it applied to this moving thing. Here is how I work: first, something is presented. I am adamant that I will not ever do this thing. Hours, days, weeks later, I think, well, okay, maybe it's possible. Not likely, but possible. This stage is followed by the I must do this thing right now.

And that is where I am. The scales have tipped. Realizing that it will cost nearly four thousand dollars to send my furniture, books, and belongings cross-country made it really impractical to hold on to things. That, and some powerful, emotional discussions with my widowed people, and a few unintentionally well-placed words from my neighborhood butcher tipped the balance even more. As hard as it was to think of letting go of things his hands have made, I suddenly realized that what Matt would want for me is beauty. He would want beauty in my life. There is only one thing he made for me that he would acknowledge is beautiful, and it will fit in my car. The other things are rough and functional. The furniture we own together, the family things from both of our respective lines - they are beautiful, yes. But I did not choose them. With the money I am not spending on ridiculous shipping fees, I can hunt for new things. I can choose them. I can see what this new life requests, and what it calls for, on its own.

So - in my flip-flop, adamant both ways nature, I have been on a sell-off, give-away rampage. Not much is left. The family pieces will be stored in my folks' barn. My car is small enough that there is a clear breaking point: bringing anything more than what fits means at least a few grand in costs. Maybe at some point in the future (oh widowness, you have me add "if there is a future"), maybe at some point in the future, I will have a pod of things - books and art, mostly, the bed platform we built together - shipped off to me. But for now, it has come down to what will fit in and on my car, and a few boxes of things light enough to send by post.

It is fear of losing more, losing evidence of us, that holds me back, that has held me back. I don't want to live that way, choosing out of fear. I want to choose from beauty, if I can. Show up beautifully as Cassie wrote on WV yesterday, which helped immensely too. So there is that. Clean slate.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

travel light

Even as a person with comparatively not much stuff, I have a lot of stuff. Books, mostly. Kitchen things. But now that 3/4 of it is in boxes, I can't even think of what is in there. I have visions, beginning yesterday, of just lifting off with next to nothing. What would fit in my small car: matt's ashes. His hat, his journal, a few of his shirts, small evidences. Photographs of us. My violin - though I never play it, he played it Then, and I like to have it around. If I could replace everything, I would take just two pairs of shoes, a backpack of clothes, the tea press, and the kettle. I would take my journals of this After, and a few pieces of art. And then, I would leave. Lift off.

But what about but what about -

So I revise. What if I lift off with my small car and these things here above, plus a moving van. Not a truck, just a regular sized van. Take one or two pieces of small furniture that would be expensive - literally, emotionally - to replace. Leave the rest. Leave the rest. The books we've read and want to read. Most of the kitchen, with plates and bowls and cups. Leave the recliner I remember searching for, how psyched you were to find it. The bookshelves you built, even. The evidence of life we lived, I lived. Leave the kitchen table and the chairs, things I brought into our life together, things with their own history for me. Leave even things I like, because there is a freedom in it.

It wouldn't be as bad as it sounds. It could be like training wheels - I can store all that furniture at my folks'. No big deal. I will be a country away from it, but able to go back and truck it over if it feels connected to me. Anti-climactic in a way, then. Okay. So, writing it out, this seems like the logical idea. Pare down. Travel light. See how it goes.

So bizarre, all this. To be considering my new life, what comes, what goes, what waits. Weighing things out, over and over - what is the cost of this versus this, my heart and my wallet and my mind. What holds me back and what is freeing me. Tumultuous times with eyes on the prize. Weird. Weird life.


Monday, March 25, 2013

the body knows

cruising through this packing
discard, discard, recycle.
Your handwriting.
The keys to the jobs you had going
at that time
I know it's happening
but I can't look directly at it
all these things
I don't need to carry with me
detritus of our life

but the large dresser, the one with the art supplies
is the one that houses
all the files I took out of the metal cabinet
before I gifted that away

I keep ridiculous things,
just to prove you were alive
to prove
in case anyone wonders
in case I ever do
that you lived
invoices and detailed accounts
blueprints written in your hand.

But it's the dog file
the paperwork we have
from the day we adopted him
the receipt
the chart
the way we interpreted it,
the slant of the first owner's hand
showing emotion -
you thought, by the tremor on the page,
that he had not wanted to give him up.

and suddenly I am sobbing
holding back vomit again

I have done too much.
Earlier this morning
I emptied your suitcase
the one I unpacked and repacked
just days After.
It wasn't as bad as I thought

but it is accumulative
and brutal
I remember, not meaning to,
my mother and I lying on the inflatable bed in the guest room
laughing and sobbing over some strange Matt quirk.
Our life
and all those days After
the weight of everything I leave behind
when I leave this house

I am probably melodramatic at this point,
and my body is done for this day
even if my mind would charge on.

Man. Moving is intense.

Friday, March 22, 2013


Cheryl Strayed wrote a review of the book "Wave" by Sonali Deraniyagala. The power of Cheryl Strayed to influence decision making... after quite literally years now of avoiding all sorts of water imagery, it's pretty strange that I found myself wanting to read this book. Not only is she (Sonali, not Cheryl) a water widow, but her children and her parents were also killed. Yes. I am maybe crazy, and I probably won't actually read it. But I read the review, sat here perched on the couch crying, and also kind of laughing in that maniacal way, thinking - I can never escape water. That I did, then, that day, that I got out, is immaterial. Somehow, today, it seems - not exactly a blessing, but a relief that water will always be with me, grief, Matt, that day, the days Before, the days since.

It's a measure of growth maybe, or maybe just a simple measure of change. But what's also weird or interesting to me, and the reason I won't likely read the actual book, is that I could deal with her images of her family dying. (that's probably b.s., but this was my thought train...) But I do not want to read about her experience in that water. I do not want to see me. I do not want to see myself, to be brought back to myself in the water. Even now, I want to run away from that. I forget, sometimes, if that is odd, that I was in there too - like the lens is never, ever turned on me, not in that same way. There are things I cannot withstand yet, and might not ever. So while in a theoretical moment, I felt drawn to read the story of her entire family drowning, and what the world has been since then, there is no way I can withstand her words like mine, to hear myself back there again. It's not fear. I was not ever afraid, not like that. It is love for me. It is sheer love for me, that I do not want to turn and see the full force of my own pain, not that day, not there in that place. The places I can go do not include a view of myself there.

This is the second time within a few days that I have had a sudden view swing into place, seeing myself as someone who loves me might see. I am so accustomed to my normal grief, it's like there is a haze of normalcy around it. This view is different, more raw; new and intense: to feel the weight of what is broken, to feel so much pain, love, compassion, grief for who I see, even though who I see is me.  Schizophrenic love perhaps, to be both the one in pain and the one outside of it, looking in.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

paper trails

I'm not sure if I should be concerned. About myself. I am taking a break right now, having just cleaned out the big closet (the only closet, really) in this house - the one full of books and photographs, documents I haven't looked at in years, boxes that made the last move with me and probably the one before, without my opening them. It's not those I care about. I mean, I opened. I sorted. I discarded a whole lot. That's nice.

It's the paper trail, and my non-reaction. My sort-of reaction. My ~ acknowledge and keep going ~ reaction. To the paper trails. I didn't even know I still had the entire folder of receipts from our trip cross-country years ago. Each receipt initialed MD or MP, depending on who paid. I nod in acknowledgment, curt in my response. I keep them, but do not look through.

Later, going through evidence of my younger self, a much earlier life - well before Us. I see the photographs of then. I remember, but feel nothing - it's all so far away, a different life, a different time. I remember these times of my life, but feel nothing for the people involved. Our lives have gone different ways; it is all eons ago. That's a pretty normal response for me; it is the way I am. I leave things when they're done.

And what - bothers - me is this: that our life becomes that. A different life, a different time. People in a photograph. That our life is in a box (even as literally, your ashes are in a box, on another shelf, for another day). That our life, the evidence of our life, comes with a film over it. A curt nod, a small breath, I move on. Sort, discard, collect.

I don't seem to feel much these days. I feel disconnected. A weird, unexpected break in my writing work also keeps me from being in this. Maybe it's a gift, a weird gift. To plow through with no feeling, a dark blank place, like a scar, disconnected and distant. Holding my breath perhaps. No idea. On one hand, it feels good to just plow through, no sentiment for older things. I'm pretty good at that. Maybe it's just determined focus. Meh. Who knows. There is sh*t to be done and there is nothing to do but do it. My sharp edge bothers me, but it is also cutting through. So there is that.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

box mania.

Box mania!

I started packing yesterday. It's funny - I do all this, do everything really, with an eyebrow raised at the sky, wary and untrusting. I believe nothing until it actually, tangibly happens. The most solid and seemingly blessed of events, choirs of angels singing and signs aligning - they mean nothing. The Universe does as she chooses, and gives no reliable hints as to what Her aim might be. I take action, hoping Her will works well for me. This time. That I do actually get to go where I'm heading, that things unfold as I hope. As I need. But I trust nothing.

It's not negative - I'm not pouting. I'm not refusing to act. I just raise an eyebrow. At the sky. And keep on packing.

But first, I began to unpack. There are boxes of things from the other house, boxes from our life. Boxes of dishes and silverware, little elements. Things that a friend boxed up for me in the weeks After. In fact, I can tell the exact dates: dishes wrapped in newspapers marked August 1, 2009. Scenes of life, from then. I am curiously un-emotional. Focused. Detached, maybe. Keeping these things will not keep him close. If I didn't know this stuff was in there, I wouldn't know it was gone. For the most part.

Wheels are turning. Clocks are ticking. Long-distance tentacles reaching out. The bottom seems to have fallen out of a sure-thing project - more frequent skeptical and questioning glances in the general direction of the Universe. Things are in motion. More will be revealed. Eyes on the prize, as they say. The packing continues.


Sunday, March 3, 2013



I just gave notice to my landlords. After 8 years of living here, I will be packing up and clearing out. 8 weeks from now, this place will be empty and cleaned, and I will close the door on the place we lived. Your ashes are scattered in the garden. The chicken coop you built has been empty now for a couple of years. Things are changing. Things have been changing.

I have lived in this house longer than I have lived anywhere this whole life. Crazy. I left this house on a bright sunny day in July of 2009 and came home several hours later as a completely different person, with a completely different life. This house held our life, and it held that new life too. The walls and the floors have absorbed screaming and crying and vomiting. I have dragged myself across these floors, hauled myself up, leaned on the counters. I have stood in the shower, sobbing, remembering you there. I have laid in this living room, retching and convulsing. I have screamed where no one could hear me. We lived here. And it is time to go.

As great as it is - no. As hard as this is, as insane and stunning and painful - as hard as it is, the new life is calling. It won't let me do it gradually now. Heck, I've had a LOT of "gradual." Just that now, it's real. Now, packing begins. Not just for hoping I'll get out of here sometime soon, but because it is now.

Deeeeeeeeep breath.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013



happy anniversary
my love
the number of infinity on edge.
No poem today.
No crossword puzzle secret messages.
I won't even mark it with anything
just because that wasn't really our way.
I love you.
That is all.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Do not surrender your grief so quickly
Let it cut more deeply
Let it ferment and season you
As few human or divine ingredients can

Something is missing in my heart tonight
That has made made my eyes so soft
And my voice so tender
And my need of God so absolutely clear.

- Hafiz

found this in my blog cache, as I go through reading everything, re-tagging and making notes. Do not surrender so quickly - I think we have no fear of that. Grief has not gone anywhere but deep.


on waking

Last week, I read Waking by Matthew Sanford. It's intense, and beautiful. Intense not just because it is full of pain and death and loss, but because his injuries borrow from our life. Almost exactly eighteen years before the day of his death, Matt broke his neck in a diving accident.The fracture fell in such a way that he was not paralyzed. As he told me, the young man in the hospital bed next to his was not so lucky: same vertebrae, same fracture, broken in the opposite direction, made him parapeligic. Matt got bone grafts and surgeries instead of wheelchairs.

Reading this book, I jump from one Matthew to another. Intricate descriptions: the metal screws in his head, the steel halo. The bones cut and pasted in place. It calls his body back to me, his scars and his laugh, the ways he moved; the ways I learned how he could move and how he could not. So many tiny details of our life came from those wounds, so much of our life around those scars and the vertebrae fused. From one Matthew to another, he is called back in visceral detail, and I cannot ask what it was like, if my matthew felt these things, can't hear how these things compare. I can't pass the book along to him; I can't see his face as he goes back to that time in his mind. The mechanical details, I have. The questions raised for me in this book, I cannot have answered. It brought back his body, brought back his form, and there is nowhere to go with that but in, to name what is missing - the ability to talk and learn, to talk about what we learn.


I see men every once in awhile, see them as in notice them, the male form, the broad back, the strong hands, and I miss you. Your power and form, your laugh. I see the scar down your neck, the shadow at your throat, the slope from your pecs to your hip, the hollow of bone missing there. Your visceral, particular absence, for moments or days, no longer abstract. Brutal and beautiful both.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013


weird little things
going away
today, I cancelled the p.o. box I have had for ten years
the one that still gets mail for you
They won't be forwarded
the catalogs and advertisements
mailed to you
I realize
as I hesitate to click -
I won't see your name
inside a pile of mail again

outside the post office
was where I first recognized you
in an unfamiliar place
all those years ago
when we first met
knowing it was you
from the back
from your shape,
from how you walked and held yourself.

This morning, I continued to clean out
dumping old spices you'd kept
dumping old packages of things
we wouldn't eat even if you were here to make them.

One more clean out of the closet
I discard and take back the dress I wore
to your funeral
(a word, three and a half years out, I still cannot bring myself to say out loud)
the dress my mother chose.
I won't ever wear it again, but I am not ready to let it go.

In one bottom dresser drawer
I find your old wool pants
willing myself to put them in the pile
of things that need to go.
I don't associate them with you anyway.

I check the pockets just in case.
Just in case.
Inside, one poop bag, stuffed in your pocket
for a winter snowy dog walk.
And I stand there,
crumpled pants in my hands
trying not to cry
sifting through my mind to find an image of you
of us
late at night
your brown scarf looped stylishly around your neck
your hands stuffed in the pockets of these green pants
as you walk backwards, skipping


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

without holding

Going through some old files, looking for something. What I find is this  - some passages I had written the night of your memorial, and the day after it. I'd forgotten now, who was there, what was said, who I was. I'm afraid of the things I have forgotten, the things that would be so useful and important now. I feel like I'm at a crossroads, though a long and slow one: there are important and powerful, real and true things back there in all those words, all those things that happened and were felt. I live without them now. Until they come back, circling back sometimes. What did I write for me, and is it important to go back and look? Or am I supposed to walk on from it, to hear what gets written now.

This poem here below, I had forgotten. Joan read it at your memorial; I read this in my notes. This is where I am these days, this is where I live - the knife sharp and dull, and a long clenched fist unfurling.

To Have Without Holding
Marge Piercy

Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.

It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.

It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch; to love and let
go again and again. It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously,
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.

I can't do it, you say it's killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry,
You float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor's button blue and bobbing
on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.