Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Never Not Broken

The Goddess of never not broken.

"You know that feeling when everything is terrible and terrifying and you don’t know what to do, and you find yourself crying in a pile on your bedroom floor, barely able to remember how to use the phone, desperately looking for some sign of God in old letters, or your Facebook newsfeed or on old TV shows, finding nothing there to comfort you?
Come on, yes you do. We all do.
And there is a goddess from Hindu mythology that teaches us that, in this moment, in this pile on the floor, you are more powerful than you’ve ever been."


This came into my inbox today and I was floored by the perfection of timing. 

I was in that place again yesterday and today.  Lulu, my six year old Corgi, started coughing up blood Sunday night.  Always on a Sunday isn't it?  I took her to the all hours vet clinic where they kept her overnight trying to find the cause.  She bled even more, losing an alarming amount of blood, but they could not find out why.  The next morning I took her to Greensville, SC to a vet hospital so that they could do CT scans, scope her stomach and run a million different kinds of tests.  Still no source, they kept her last night and are keeping her again tonight.  No one has ever seen anything like it and I am back where I was this time last year....

Sitting in hospital rooms, expensive tests being run and re-run, knowing there was something wrong but not able to pinpoint or treat it.  Realizing I was going to lose David and having to make decisions about hard things without enough information and from a place of utter exhaustion. 

Broken and broken again.  And the Hindu's have a Goddess for this.  I love that about them.  Also very Catholic, having a saint for everything.  Someone to walk with you through your troubles.  Akhilandeshvari is the Goddess of Never Not Broken.  She rides on the back of a crocodile.  But the point is that living in the broken places allows the light through, allows us to recreate and rebuild who we are, what our story is, and in that brokenness we have the chance to shine with an incredible light and beauty.  But we can only do it broken.

This is not a new idea, every religion and spiritual path has this imagery. 

Christians have Jesus and the cross.  At least, that has always been my image of Jesus.  Broken, dreams lost, the bright and shining future gone, alone and dying.  But he is reborn into new life.  A new life not imagined before his brokenness and only possible through that brokenness. 

We are never not broken and all we can do is dance on the back of that crocodile, riding the waves, allowing the light to shine through and creating something new and beautiful.  The trick is to not become too attached to the beauty because life will break us open again, over and over.  And that is Akhilandeshvari's gift, teaching us to live Never Not Broken. 

It's all I've got.  Living broken open, trying to believe there is beauty in that, and a kind of wild joy if I can find it.

Friday, November 8, 2013

More Kindness

As I was working in the garden this morning I thought of some more:

My mom who came up and helped me dig up every single garden bed.  Without questioning me.  Simply because "I have to, it's what we always did."  Even knowing I couldn't possibly work them all. 

She also took me to see baby goats three days after David died.  In spite of the fact that I was pretty sure I didn't want to see baby goats.  Those baby goats brought me a lot of joy as they jumped, and sucked on our fingers and shoelaces, and simply reminded me that new life happens. 

My son, who asked me if I wanted him to come live with me, even though neither of us was real sure about the idea.  Having him here reminds me that I have family, even when we push each other's buttons.  That he realized I would feel alone and cared enough to ask means a great deal.  He's a good guy. 

Parents of my students, who brought their children to David's memorial service.  What a gift that was, to see those young lovely faces; to have children there. 

...and I suspect the list will continue. 


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~
(Words From Under the Words: Selected Poems)
I have always loved this poem and Nye is one of my favorite poets.  This showed up in my inbox today as did the Gratitude Challenge that I signed up for last month.  For 21 days I will be sent a query about gratitude.  Today's was, "Who has done something for you that you cannot possibly pay back?" 
Every day Peggy calls me to check in.  Every. Single. Day.  Still, even now, eight months later.
Peggy and Micheal dropped everything to be with me after David died.  They held me up when I couldn't even see clearly enough to know I needed holding up. 
Jeannie organized.  Food, housing, hospitality, care.
Candace showed up when I called.  She sat with David as he puked his guts out and I went out for yet another round of medication, in a snow storm, in the middle of the night.  She told me the truth when I asked, when no doctors would. 
A woman from my church brought food, but even more important, she brought me a heart rock from the river by her house.  A heart shaped rock that she had held and prayed with.  I spent many an hour holding that rock to my heart, trying desperately to simply breathe in and out.  It helped.  More than you would imagine. 
The staff at Solace, who honored David in his dying.  Every one of them: doctors, social workers, nurses, housekeepers, volunteers.  Every single one of them. 
The folks at a church in Chapel Hill who sent handmade cards every single week that said, "Be happy, be healthy, be holy."  Those cards still come once a month and they are a joy filled gift for me. I imagine whoever it is who makes and sends them and I am so very very grateful. 
Everyone who showed up. 
I know there are more.  So many more.  In the middle of feeling lost and hopeless lately this challenge came today, along with this poem, and I feel gratitude.  There is no way I can ever repay these gifts.  Some of them because I don't even know the folks who gave them, others because the gifts were so large and big and beautiful that there simply is no way to return them.  But I also know that there will be opportunities to pay the gift forward...to offer to others what I have been given.  And that, in itself, is another gift. 
Thank you. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothin' Left to Lose

I went to the beach last week and part way through realized that I felt normal.  I don't even know how to describe it.  There is this heavy weight that is a constant around my shoulders and in my heart and gut.  I've gotten so used to it that I barely notice it.  But it was gone at the beach and I felt something close to happy.  I'm not sure why except that David was not a beach person and the beach has always been my home.  I was home and there were no real memories of shared beautiful times there.  I felt the weight settle again as I came up the mountain and I wanted to scream. 

And now I sit, work, get on with things here and wonder why.  There really seems to be no point to any of it.  I simply want to run, or stop.  What difference would it make anyway? 

We did this exercise in grief group last week.  They asked us to list what we were ready to change, what we wanted to change but weren't ready for, what we did not want to change.  I hit a brick wall...then when it was almost time to stop I realized that I wanted it all to change.  I wanted some different life, not this one.  I wanted to feel joy again, simple clean happiness, to be loved and to love someone, to just not be here.  But then again, how could I want all this to change?  All that this represents?  I'm lost and I just have to accept that I'm lost...for now.  And I have to believe that someday I won't be.  Otherwise, why bother? 

I get fed up...I'm working so hard and yet this doesn't seem to get easier.  I've never encountered a problem that I couldn't work my way out of. 

We had the annual barn dance this weekend.  I dreaded it.  It was a tradition that started after David and I became a part of this farm family.  It was something I had never done as me, always we.  It was hard.  I was grateful for changes; a bonfire this year and new people that I did not know.  I spent most of the time hiding and came home and cried myself to sleep. 

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose.  I used to believe in freedom like that, it was a driving force in my life.  Then I met David and loved him.  I'm not sure what that means.  I lost that freedom, I had something to lose and I lost it.  Now, what?  That old paradigm doesn't work anymore, but it's tempting, so very tempting.  Chuck it all and disappear.  How do you build a new paradigm?  I have to trust that it happens, one day at a time...sometimes one moment at a time. And at some point I will look back on this time and find meaning in it.  Right now?  I bounce between a million different desires and mostly try to stay in one place. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Begining of the End

Yesterday was the day we left for Thailand last year and it is the beginning of the end.  David was having what he thought was indigestion and figured he'd check with the doctor when he got back.  His yearly physical was scheduled for the middle of November.  And so began the ending.  It's hard to imagine that only four months later David would be dead.  I'm so grateful that we took that trip, it is such a beautiful memory for me to hold on to.  Bittersweet, as so many things are, but a gift non-the-less. 

I find myself struggling now almost as much as right after his death, maybe more so since the shock has worn off.  I get up and try to get ready to go to church on Sundays, sometimes I even manage to get dressed, and then I can't go.  I love our church and the people in it, but that's just it.  It was "our" church and it's so hard to be there alone.  Everything is hard right now. 

I feel so alone and yet barely have the energy to get through work, never mind reach out and socialize with anyone.  It takes all my energy to do the tasks that need doing. To clean up the garden, carry in wood, eat, plan lessons, care for the animals.  I'm still lost and confused and simply muddling through one day at a time.  There ought to be a twelve step group for grief. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Bucket List

I've been thinking a lot about bucket lists.  I asked friends for their thoughts on going back to school.  I always wanted to get a PhD.  Most folks said to go for it.  A couple of folks said think hard about it.  And one friend said, "if it's not on your bucket list don't do it"  or something like that.  I haven't been able to let go of that thought. 

I simply can't remember ever really wanting much.  I always wanted to have a child and I wanted to belong somewhere, with someone.  That's it.  All I ever really wanted. 

I don't know why I've never been able to dream about a future.  I suspect it's because my father took whatever I cared about away from me.  Sometimes if he knew I cared about something it would "disappear" or be given to my sister.  I learned young and well not to want anything.  But I never got over the wanting to belong. 

With David, I belonged.  I belonged to him, he belonged to me, and we belonged to each other.  I got sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, grandchildren....It was such an amazing gift to be a part of that big loving family.  His death has changed things there, it's not as seamless as it was and there are some ragged edges that David's presence smoothed over.  I hope I still belong there, I have to believe it's true because right now it's still a small part of what I always wanted and finally got to have. 

What else could I want?  I want him back.  I don't think that's a bucket list wish that I get to have come true.  I always wanted to live on a sailboat.  I fantasize about that a lot these days.  Especially when the house and land overwhelm me, which is often.  It bothers me that I don't have anything else to put on that list.  I remember after the movie Bucket List came out we talked about it and realized that we were happy, we had everything we wanted, didn't need anything else.  It's so unfair. 

For some reason this last month has been as hard as the beginning was.  I force myself out of bed and to work, then I work myself to exhaustion or watch mindless tv so I don't think or feel too much.  When I do I can't stop crying, I walk around feeling like I've been kicked in the chest again.  It's hard to breathe.  Maybe my bucket list has this one thing on it:  I want to feel joy again, to belong, to be loved and to love.  I'm afraid to even write that down.  Who gets that twice in one lifetime? 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I realized recently that it's been a long time since I posted anything.  I just haven't felt that I had much to offer to the conversations of the world.  My journey feels as if it is becoming more and more personal and I am less inclined to put it out there for others to see.  There is also the feeling of an endless spiral of emotions and I simply don't feel it's useful to keep repeating it over and over in public.  There are old, ancient even, hurts that have nothing to do with this new grief and yet everything to do with it.  Hurts I'm not sure I'm ready to share.  Maybe it's simply winter and time to dive deep within instead of outward.  In any case, I find myself being more silent in my grief journey as it turns again and again on it's axis.  If I'm tired of the pain, certainly ya'll must be as well.  I am not gone, simply stepping cautiously right now.  I love that you are out there, listening.  Dont' give up on me.

Cloud Hidden


This chapter is closed now,
not one word more
until we meet some day
and the voices rising
to the window
take wing and fly.

Open the old casement
to the lands we have forgotten,
look to the mountains and ridgeways
and the steep valleys, quilted by green,
here, as the last words fall away,
the great and silent rivers of life
are flowing into the oceans,
and on a day like any other
they will carry you again,
on the currents you have fought,
to the place where you did not know
you belonged.

And just as you came into life
you go out again,
from one unknown
to another
and fall and turn
and appear again in the mountains

not remembering
how in the beginning
you refused
to join,
could not speak of,
did not even know
you were that
almost forgotten
of eternal presence.

~ David Whyte ~
(Where Many Rivers Meet)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Grief and AA

And then today I woke up feeling pretty okay.  Not exactly cheerful, but not miserable.  I did laundry, picked basil and made pesto, put together a Thai Curry, made brownies, and found myself dancing around the kitchen to the Reggae song that came up on the Ipod.  Took Lulu for a long walk, cleaned the house.

Why, oh why, can't I just make this happen?  Why isn't there something, just one thing, I can do to change the bad times into okay times?  It's so frustrating.  Just having to put one foot in front of the other and get through. 

Maybe it's giving up trying to control it.  Maybe it's admitting that I have no control.  Maybe it's just the passage of time.  I'm starting to sound like an AA meeting.  Not so very different really.  All of us just trying to find a way to deal with our pain. 

Maybe it's that a friend is meeting me to get the materials to build the goat house.  Maybe it's that I didn't have to get up early and squeeze everything in before I went to work.

Maybe....but probably more likely the AA comparison. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Flying on Blind Faith

There is an online widows group that will set you up with a penpal.  I figured what the heck and signed up.  One woman wrote that she just couldn't do it right now and she hoped that was okay.  Okay?  Of course it's okay...my gosh I don't know what I can and can't do from one moment to the next.  The other woman and I have been writing back and forth.  Today as I was answering here I thought, "I should just post this.  It's exactly how life is right now."  So I am.  She asked me what I thought about getting a dog and talked some about her grief group telling her that joy and pain could exist at the same time.  So.....life, again.


It's been a horrible week and I have been simply putting one foot in front of the other. It's about all I can manage right now. I wanted to respond though. I dont know what happened....well, it was David's birthday and then a week later the six month anniversary of his death...but I got through those just fine then a week later I could barely get out of bed and I cry all the way to work and home again, and for no apparent reason while I'm home, or in the grocery store, or whatever. I HATE this. The therapist and grief group folks say it's normal. yay. I'm so angry and sad and grouchy and tired.

I have to say that the dog and cats save me most days. The dog because, well, she's a dog and is just so present and loving. the cats too but in a different way. And some days it is only the cats, dog, and chickens that get get me up and going and keep me going. It makes a big difference for me. Even though sometimes I wish I could just lay there and not be responsible for them. I dont know what I would do if I didn't have them. I highly recommend it.

I"m not really feeling the joy and pain simultaneously thing right now. I was for a while, but this last week has just been so hard. just hard, hard, hard. And yeah, no one really gets it who hasn't been here. I feel like I should be better now or people think I should. They tell me how great I look and how great I seem to be doing and I want to kick them. :)

Today I got up and got dressed to go to church and then couldn't walk out the door. I took all the church clothes off,  put on shorts and took the dog for a walk. crying. I just couldn't face it.

sometimes I feel like such an idiot. I change my mind about things from one second to the next. and half the time I have no idea what I want. I found myself in the grocery store today...Have to buy cat food! again the animals save me.....just taking these huge deep breaths to keep from falling apart, and it was all I could do to push the buggy and breathe. So it goes. I have to trust that it will get easier and better again. but I'm flying on blind faith right now.

I'm so glad you are out there!


Monday, September 9, 2013

Grace Love and Mercy

I wake up in the morning and immediately know.  It's back, this is going to be a hard one.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason to when the pain shows up, it just does.  I had to drag myself into reality this morning and force myself into the day.  Then everything that could possibly go wrong at work did.  Getting into the car to come home, I turned on the Ipod and "Our House" came on.  I used to consider that one of "our songs." 

"Our house is a very very very fine house, with two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard, now everything is easy cause of you..." 

Only it's not anymore.  Everything is harder.  Who do I tell about what happened today?  I had to load and unload two fifty pound bags of feed, take all the recycling, figure out the new damn health insurance, etc etc.  Nothing really that big a deal, except well....he should be here.

I was crying so hard driving home I almost pulled over a couple of times.  I found myself bargaining with God.  "Just make it all the way it used to be.  Bring him back.  Please, I'll do anything."  I hate feeling so alone; one of the things I loved most was having a partner, having each other's backs, sharing the responsibilities. 

Deep breath.

Was it worth the cost?  yes, absolutely.  As our minister said in church: "It is only Grace, Mercy and Love that count when we are counting the cost."  And I would not trade the grace, love and mercy I received for anything.  It doesn't change the fact that I wish he would come back and that today nothing seems as if it will ever be that good again.

Friday, September 6, 2013


I am enough.  Brene Brown says that is the one thing to remember.  If I can remember that, then I can allow myself to be vulnerable which leads to connection and joy.  If I can't, then I live in shame and fear.  Simple little words, hard truth. 

I have struggled all my life to believe that I am enough. That I don't have to work even harder when someone is not pleased with me.  I don't have to be nicer, or quieter, or kinder, or easier.  If I am working harder than the other person is, then it's time to stop.  If someone asks me to do something for them and then they but up roadblocks or put down everything I suggest, I'm working harder than they are and it's time to stop. 

It makes my brain hurt to think about this and how to change it.  But it makes my heart soar.  I've been trying it out and it's scary, hard work but oh, the payoff!  I have been jumping through hoops for a group that said they needed my help.  Finally, I realized that I was working really really hard for them but they didn't like anything I did.  Every time I checked off a box, they added another one.  I've been in relationships like that too.  Every time I checked off a box, another one appeared.  There is no winning there.  I will never be good enough there, but I can be and am enough. 

I am enough.  And when I am in relationship with myself and/or another who sees that...wow, life opens up into joy and ease and grace.  And when two people treat each other as if they are enough, just as they are...that is love, that is grace, that is friendship.  That is a gift beyond value.  And it is more than enough.  More than enough to change a life, to change the world.

Trust me,  there are no qualifiers:  YOU ARE ENOUGH. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Kintsukuroi:  the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold resin, making it more beautiful in the broken places.

The wound is the place where the Light enters you. (Rumi)

We are all broken and wounded in this world. Some choose to grow strong at the broken places. (Harold J Duarte-Bernhardt)

Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, it's how the light gets in (Lenoard Cohen)

Every culture has their version of this truth.  At least I hope it's a truth because there have been so many broken parts of me I have to believe they had a purpose.  I should qualify as a priceless work of art at this point.  But honestly, I love the image of our brokeness healing stronger and more beautifully than whatever perfection we thought we had before. 

I met with a friend today, someone I love very much and had not seen in about six years.  And I saw in her all the beauty of her life, her joy, her pain, her fears, making her one of the most lovely people I know.  And somehow she sees something of that in me as well. We talked a lot about the broken parts of the last six years.  And  I had this image of us both sitting there on a bench, talking, and shining like the sun. 

        Thursday, August 29, 2013

        In My Skin

        I was sitting at a stoplight this afternoon when out of no-where a wave of "something is not right" flooded over me.  The oddest part is that it was wholely physical. You know that feeling you get in your gut when something is just WRONG?

         Everything in my being knew something was Not Right.  My gut, my skin, my nerves.  Then after that extraordinary awareness came the words.

        "This is not what I was supposed to be doing now, this is not where I was supposed to be, these are not the things I was supposed to be thinking and feeling and dealing with."  Yeah, I've thought all those things so often these last six months....but I had never FELT them like this.  It kind of took my breath away.  And then it was gone.  And I was mostly okay.

         I remember someone telling me that grief is like waves and she liked to think of it that way because it gave her some control over it.  You can sit on a beach and let waves wash over you or you can get up and walk away if you need to.  And those waves always retreat back into the ocean.  Sometimes they come hard and fast and sometimes slow and easy...but they are a process not a wall.

        How do I get comfortable in my skin again? 

        Wednesday, August 28, 2013

        Showing Up

        Showing Up

        Are holy
        And sacred ...

        And utterly unique.
        There are gifts you were born to give.
        Songs you were born to sing
        Stories you were born to tell.
        And if you do not give it,
        The world will simply lose it.
        It is yours alone to offer,
        No one can give it for you.

        And dearest,
        Because this is important,
        This wounded world
        Needs all the songs we can pull from the air,
        Every story that helps us remember.
        It needs every single gift
        Large and small.
        And yes,
        This grateful world
        Does rejoice
        Every courageous time,
        We are true to ourselves
        And to our gifts.

        And so it is
        Dear heart
        We embrace the song
        And the story
        And all our gifts
        Because world has such great need
        And because the world exceedingly rejoices
        And because
        There is no sadder thing
        Then to leave this world
        Having never really shown up.

        This appeared on my facebook feed today and I sure needed it.  I've spent the last week or so in deep pain.  Not interested in writing, sharing, talking.  So very very tired of coping, or not coping.  The therapist who leads the grief  group tells me that sometimes it's the time leading up to a big anniversary that is more painful than the event itself.  David's birthday is Monday and then five days later is the six month anniversary of his death.  It feels big, huge.  Unfair. It could not possibly have been six months. I'm angry and so very sad.  And...what am I supposed to do now? I know also that I have been saying these very same things for six months now.  I feel like a broken record and I am certain that no one really needs to hear it again, I'm not sure I need to say it again.  I have no choice but to feel it over and over again, but I'm sick of it.  so, rant over. 

        I am learning every day how important it is to simply show up.  To show up to whatever life asks of me, to hope that whatever gifts I have will shine.  I'm not sure what they are but I learned in David's life and dying that the best gifts are not flashy or big and bright.  They shine quietly, softly, seen with a sideways glance or a quiet hand on a shoulder.  David loved well and people felt loved by him.  It was his greatest gift to the world.  I am grateful to have been loved by him.  Listening to people talk about being loved by David was a gift to me as well. So much quiet joy.  I hope when I am gone I will have done as much.  I hope people will say "she loved well."  So I am practicing showing up.  That's hard work and I am tired tonight.  Sleep well dear ones.

        Saturday, August 17, 2013

        The Assumption of Grace

        This week has been as hard as any in those first days, only without the anesthetic of shock.  The air cooled and the sun came out and I found myself thinking, "I could just lay down on the driveway in the sun and not get up."  I didn't, but I kept it as my mantra for a day or two.  I could, if I needed to, choose that option.  I won't pretend:  I looked at that driveway for a long time, several times.

        I also found myself tilting on the edge of my old anorexia.  I was thinking I was fat (which I'm not) and that I would just stop eating.  Directly on the heels of that thought came another.  "Ah, I must be really stressed."  Life feels like it is spinning out of control but, by God, I can control this...what I eat, if I eat. I have not heard that old anorexic voice in years and years.   I made some lunch.  And later sat down and made some choices about small steps I could take to try to bring some order into what felt so uncontrollable. 

        It has got me to thinking about what I leave behind.  I am a leaver, it's easy for me to walk away, it's very difficult to stay.  I have lived here longer than I ever lived anywhere as an adult.  My relationship with David lasted longer than any I had ever been in.  I have been in relationship with the farm family longer than I have almost any other friends.  It's an uncomfortable place for a leaver to be and a small voice says, "see, see how hard this is? Let's just move on."

        I used to think of this leaving as a positive thing.  Deal with the issues, the addictions, the disorders, the pain, and move on.  But we never really move on.  They are a part of me. I feel myself circling back around to learn to embrace them and integrate them into the present me. 

        If nothing else my hope is that doing so will keep me from falling back into the hole that those things once were.  If all things are touched by grace, perhaps doing so will enrich my life, who I am and what I have to offer others.  I'm gonna work with the assumption of grace. 

        Wednesday, August 14, 2013


        Crash.  That's about it really.  Or as they say in grief group...a grief spike.  Yay.  I feel like I am back at the beginning again.  How is that possible?  I couldn't stop crying today.  I cried around the house, I went and sat in the shop and cried, I put my ring back on and cried, then I took it off again  and cried.  Every time I spoke to anyone I cried. Everything overwhelmed me, getting gas, getting the truck inspected, shopping at the market. I hate this house, I love this house.  God.  Help.  Me. 

        Maybe I am working up to September 2, his birthday.  Or the 7th, the six month anniversary of his death.  It does seem to work that way.  As if preparing myself for a big day will someone make it easier.  My old belief system at work.  If I can just be really really well prepared I can handle anything.  As some of my friends like to say, "how's that working for you?"  Not too well. 

        Several times this week I could've sworn I saw him walking toward me, getting in a car. That hadn't happened to me yet, I thought maybe it wouldn't, but it did.  What a strange and heart-wrenching feeling.

        Just keep breathing.  It's just a wave coming in. In the way of waves, it will go out again.  Leaving new smooth sand in it's wake. I can do this.

        Monday, August 12, 2013

        There was a woman at the festival, Glennon Melton, whose blog I have been following for quite a while. She just wrote a book called, Carry On Warrior.  She is a recovering everything and she tells the truth. 

        It would be easy to think she had it easy.  She has this amazing blog, wrote a book, she is beautiful and has a lovely family.  She seems to have it all.  But her telling the truth behind that perfection is a powerful act.  She believes and lives that secrets = shame = fear.  It was amazing to watch this woman talk about all the things so many of us would choose to keep secret.  And she is free and in that freedom an amazing force for good in the world. 

        What if I told the truth?  Really told the truth?  To myself?  To others?  What if we all did?  And what if we heard it with love?  What kind of world could we create?  Can you imagine?  It's terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. 

        We build our lives with stories.  The stories we tell ourselves to keep ourselves sane and safe, the stories we tell others to save face.  How do we decide which part of our story defines us?  What part of the story ends up on the cutting room floor?  How would the story change if I picked up some of those pieces and integrated them, chose to tell the whole story, not just the easier parts?

        I think I have always had such a strong desire to move on to the next best thing that I have left a great deal behind.  Rather than integrate those separate stories into my life, I have simply left them. 

        It might be time to tell the whole story, to find a way to integrate the parts left behind.  What would you share if you did not have to be afraid?

        Love Wins

        For a few days now I've been trying to sort things out so that I could write.  I'm not sure I'm sorted but I feel an increasing need to try to put thoughts into words.  For the last two weeks I have felt almost normal, then today I crashed again.  I have no idea why, I simply woke up sad and spent the day crying and trying to get myself to do something, anything.  That said, I now know this is simply part of the process and the one thing I know for sure is that this will change.  Again.

        What I am most intrigued by are the ideas that have come together for me since attending the WildGoose Festival this last weekend.  It's a kind of Christian Woodstock, complete with rain and mud and music.  I was incredibly uncomfortable at first with all the church and Jesus talk.  I have never been easy with it and since seminary I have struggled even more.  But these folks are redefining church and Jesus, and while I still didn't feel comfortable, I found some ease. 

        I often found myself feeling old, or maybe just sad that we are still working on the same ideas.  Much of what were new ideas to these folks where old ideas to me.  Folks talking about simple living and revolution and fighting for equal rights...all old stories but new again.  However, it was wonderful to see the variety of people and the respect they all afforded each other. 

        All the large problems and movements can be overwhelming.  I become overloaded by all that needs doing in the world, in my own life.  And we must keep fighting those battles but I think the only way to do it is by simply doing the next right thing.  To look up each morning and do that next right thing that is in front of me.  And all those next right things turn into a life, a movement, a way to save ourselves and each other.  We can only take the hand of the person next to us and walk together for a bit.  We manage big movements with small moments of love, connection and caring.  When we really see each other, speak to each other in truth and love, we change the world.

        But really, what I came away with was this:

        Show up to your life.  Be brave.  Tell the truth.  Be kind. Love wins.

        But most of all:

         Love wins.

        Sunday, August 4, 2013

        We are all just walking each other home

        I've read several things today about Silence.  The silence we offer others and the silence that is required of us by others or ourselves.  Something in me knows this is important.  It hasn't quite coalesced but I thought maybe writing would help it come together.  After reading two writings about silence, the title quote was in my inbox.  Again.  Somehow they all come together. 

        We are so afraid of reaching out and connecting with others, known or unknown.  As a culture we seem to have perfected the art of seeming to connect without actually having to do it.  I fear it's getting worse.  I know, as an introvert, I welcome blogs, email, facebook, etc as a means of connection without having to put out the energy required to be present face to face.  I dithered for several hours last night about going to a party, dithered until it was too late and the choice was made for me.  I should have gone, I needed the connection, but it made me tired to think about it.  This morning I regret it.  A dearly loved friend reached out to me yesterday after several years of not connecting.  Another called to ask if I wanted to get together.  My uncle sent another message reminding me to consider applying to the Peace Corp.  I finished my home visit, opening my life up to being present for a dog needing safe harbor.  Every day there are so many opportunities to be truly present, it's kind of overwhelming.  I find myself withdrawing to the safety of solitude.  And yet what has saved me over and over in this process is connection and speaking some of my truth.

        I think of all the silence I have kept around my life.  Writing about this grief process has been one of the first truth tellings I have ever done.  And it brings me peace, comfort, connection.  I have been told that it does the same for others.  It has opened a door for connection that would have never happened otherwise.  I find myself wondering what would happen if I broke silence more often?  What if I broke silence and told some of the other stories?  The secrets I keep because of fear, shame, tiredness, wanting that part of me to be done and in the past? 

        Connection through breaking silence, even if it is simply by making eye contact and offering a smile to a stranger, seems to be what saves us.  Over and over again.  I am grateful for the world we live in that allows breaking silence in the relative safety of technology, but I worry about that ease and safety as well.  I see us shying away from eye contact, touch, concrete reality.  In the end I think that is what saves us.  Looking into anothers eyes, pulling their arm through mine as I say, "Come on, let's walk together for awhile."  We are all just walking each other home.

        Saturday, August 3, 2013

        I have had an amazing week.  Many times I found myself simply feeling enthusiastic about being alive.  Each and every time I noticed, it took me by surprise.  I have been finding more and more of myself again.  While I miss David, I am grateful to be moving into who I am as me.  I am recognizing the parts of myself that I let go of, that I altered, when I was with David.  I know I've said this before, but it all just keeps spiraling around again and again.  Each time there is more clarity, less grief. 

        I let him take care of me, which was such a joy and such a deep deep breath.  But I am remembering that I can take care of myself too.  Not in the same way, not with the same end goals but in my own way.  I finally took the "girl" weed eater out of the car, put it together, charged it up and actually used it.  I can't tell you how great it felt to cut down weeds.  My next challenge will be cutting wood with the chainsaw.  Later. 

        I applied to be a foster dog person.  Something I always wanted to do but couldn't because David's response was always, "No more dogs!"  or "which three are you going to get rid of?"  We laughed, and he tried to keep me in check, and it was okay.  But now is different.  I feel like a teenager, trying to figure out who I am in the world.  Maybe that's a nice place to be, back at the beginning but with skills and knowledge that were beyond me back then.  We'll see. 

        I am feeling more at peace with the work I do as well.  I find myself taking it in new directions, at least in my head, and that is good too.  We'll see what this year brings.  What I know is true is that I am good with kids, how that continues to manifest - I have no idea.  But it's interesting to me again, rather than an obstacle to be overcome. 

        I like feeling like this and it terrifies me.  I know I will struggle again, be in great pain, probably even find myself back on my knees trying to breathe.  But I am starting to know that it passes and the spiral moves ever upward.  I will not stay there, I will move forward into the unknown.  And I am beginning to believe that it will be good. To paraphrase a saint whose name I cannot remember:  All is well and all manner of things will be well. 

        Tuesday, July 30, 2013

        I've been checking the beehives every couple of weeks.  At the beginning of the summer there was a lot of honey, things were building up quickly and it looked like a great year for honey making.  I was excited, looking forward to selling at the market, feeling kind of proud of myself (as if I had much to do with it).  Then it started raining.  Everyone was happy, we've had so little rain for so many years and it meant lots of flowers and thus lots of honey.  A good year for the bees.  Then it kept raining and did not stop for weeks.  When I checked the hives the honey was gone, the bees using it to stay alive when they couldn't forage.  Now folks are starting to feed sugar water hoping to just keep the hives going.  All those wildflowers and the bees can't get to them. 

        Somehow this seems like a bigger message.  Life just goes wrong sometimes; often.  What seems to be good might not be.  We can do everything right and it still doesn't work.  Sometimes all we can do is hold on, do what we can, and keep moving forward.  Sometimes all we can do is hold the line and hope we make it.  Life is like that.  It's not a judgement, it's not a test, it's not good or bad.  It just is. 

        The girls keep working hard, I will be gentle with them...leaving most, if not all, the honey for them this winter.  We will look forward into what the next year brings, trusting in a compassionate pattern to the light.  The world keeps moving forward in it's own time, in a bigger dance than I can really imagine.

        Just a little thought tonight.  It's not all about me. 


        I went to my first grief group tonight.  It was kind of wonderful.  I'm pretty leery of groups but this one felt...real, welcoming, honest, safe.  There was a lot of humor and a lot of pain and a lot of tears.  A kind of perfect combination.  I was welcomed easily and with compassion.  I found myself wondering if suffering the loss of someone you love so deeply can really open you up and make you different.  I mean I know it does, but I think maybe it can make you vastly different.  Different from most other folks out there; more open, more honest, more compassionate, less willing to tolerate the small stuff.  Maybe I just want to think I'm gonna be special.  That all of this will have some Greater Meaning.  That I will belong to some special club.  Or maybe, if you let it, grief really can open you up to a deeper way of being in the world.  Probably it's some of both, like most things are.  Anyway, tonight the group opened up a bit more space for me to breathe and I am grateful.

        I've noticed this week that I have had a sense of myself again.  I don't know how to explain that feeling.  It's sad because I am not a part of an "us."  But it's also kind of nice to feel a sense of my whole self, not something broken.  Like everything else, it is a bit of both happy and sad, easy and hard.  If I have learned nothing else, I have learned that there are no black and whites in this process.  Everything is shades of gray.  I'm grateful for the shades of gray, those black and whites are a tough roller coaster to ride. 

        Grateful today...for other's on this journey, for possibility, for space to breathe. 

        Sunday, July 28, 2013

        Leap And The Net Will Appear

        I think there is a kind of rhythm to the days.  I find Sunday to be the hardest day and it bleeds over into Monday.  After that things get better.  Then on Saturdays I feel shaky and by Sunday I'm a mess.

         I've never liked Sundays.  They seemed to be the day everyone else has family, everyone else has some kind of routine, some kind of special something.  I remember when I was single I would simply hate Sunday and grit my teeth through it.  After church everyone went off to their family dinners and reading the paper and naps.  I guess they still do.  With David I became one of those people and now I'm not.  Again. 

        I worked in the garden this morning and finished cleaning the house.  I need to find a new routine.  As I say that I am struck by how often I say those words.  I need to find a new.....something. 

        I am tired of whining about feeling sad, lonely, confused.  And truthfully, sometimes I feel happy, even peaceful.  Sometimes I even feel excited about new options.  And I guess that is progress. 

        I bought new rugs, the kind I like.  I think about getting a new couch, the ones I have that came from his ex-wife are uncomfortable.  I applied to foster dogs.  I added a new beehive and two new chickens.  I think about starting a school, in the shop.  Maybe I'll get another tattoo.  If I don't feel like eating dinner I don't, sometimes I just make popcorn. 

        Life is change, I know this.  I just thought maybe, finally, it would be more subtle.  A friend told me a week or so ago that I had packed a lot of living into my fifty-six years.  I'm pretty sure it was not a compliment. I had begun to appreciate the routine, the subtle changes.  And Boom...another huge change that is only creating a lot more big changes.  Is the universe trying to teach me something?  Change.  Control.  I have no control, not really.  No matter how I plan, prepare, consider options, harness expectations, sink into comfort; I will not be ready when the change comes.  The only hope is trusting that when I leap the net does indeed appear.

        Wednesday, July 24, 2013

        Staying Open to Wonder

        This was in my inbox today:

        Wonder makes everything porous
        Allowing in
        and out
        all available light.

        - Carrie Newcomer

        I once took part in a group based on the teachings of Parker Palmer and one of the leaders spoke often about staying open to wonder.  Instead of criticism, anger, fear, etc we were encouraged to be in wonder.  To wonder where a feeling was coming from, to wonder what would happen if...., to simply wonder instead of judge. 

        I had sort of forgotten that whole idea and then Carrie sent out this post.  She does a lot of work with Parker, probably why I love them both so much.  I had a terrible morning today and kind of let myself wallow in it.  I noticed how sad I was feeling in the house, never mind all the overwhelm that I often feel.  Ick.  Sick and tired of it all, I went out to run errands and for whatever reason felt okay again when I got home.  I am learning that there is no rhyme or reason to these feelings, nothing I can do to change them really.  Sometimes going to work or to a yoga class changes things, but not always. 

        So, I got home and was reminded of Wonder.  I wonder what will come from all of this?  I wonder if I am growing stronger?  I wonder how much more open to life and love I am now?  I wonder where I will be at this time next year?  I wonder if pain is simply a part of life, to be experienced not avoided?  I wonder what happens when I simply let it be?  I wonder....and as I wondered I realized that I felt the light again...deep breath.  I can do this.  Today, I can do this.

        Tuesday, July 23, 2013

        A Kind of Hell

        And today the floor falls out from under me again.  I can't keep up emotionally or physically, I dont' know why I insist on trying.  I guess because deep down I still believe control is a good thing.  Both of my students cancelled, a gift as I was overwhelmed from being away and it is a chance to catch up.  Except it isn't.  I walk in circles, crying.  No idea why.  It's just that everything makes me sad. 

        I got a beautiful note from someone I barely know.  We meet and talk at Market.  She simply said that I am "strong and wise, and honest and loving, and brave."  And, "It's just such a shame that being remade has to hurt so much." 

        Yes, yes it is.  It's more than a shame, it's a kind of hell sometimes.  One of the counselors from Hospice said she prefers to think of these ups and downs as a wave on the beach rather than a roller coaster.  It helps her feel as if she has a bit more control.  You can walk away from a wave, it's hard to get off a roller coaster.  That image has helped me a great deal.  It's a slightly less hopeless feeling. 

        I feel like such a mess sometimes, it's good to know others see me in such a positive light.  Perhaps after all, something good will come of this.  God knows what, but I have to believe something will. 

        Right now, today:  I simply miss him, miss him, miss him.

        Monday, July 22, 2013

        A Forced Reckoning...an odd gift

        I realized on the way home from the reunion that I hadn't written in quite a while.  In some ways I take that as a good sign.  I went to the Bair family reunion last weekend.  I was terrified.  Terrified that it would be so hard I wouldn't be able to do it, wouldn't be able to stay.  Terrified that it would be awkward, uncomfortable, that no one would really like me, that I didn't really belong.  Terrified that I would see his face everywhere and wouldn't be able to stop crying. 

        And I did cry as I drove into his hometown, but when I got to his niece's house I was okay.  Somehow, I don't know how or why, I slid into something that felt like normal.  I felt so happy to be in the middle of this big loving family.  I felt real gladness to see his sisters and all the nieces and nephews and little ones.  I love hearing the stories and catching up on everyone's life.  I felt like maybe, just maybe, I belonged. 

        One of the nieces told me that she felt her Uncle David's presence shortly after he died.  Just stopping by to say goodbye.  And she told me that she had always thought David was simply a kind of sad personality, but that after I came into his life he was truly happy.  That he was completely different, there was joy in him.  What a gift she gave me.  I know he brought me peace, and joy, and grace.  I believe I did the same for him, but now that he is gone sometimes I become afraid that I imagined it.  I am so very grateful for the stories that help me know it was true. 

        One of the biggest comforts for me is to know that I made his life happy for the five years we had.  I never quite understood that saying about how when you really love someone all you want for them is their happiness.  Now I do.  I've been thinking a lot lately of how I changed, things I gave up to be with David.  I don't regret any of it.  I gained so much.  But now I am trying to re-examine my life.  What do I want to keep?  What do I let go of?  What do I take back into my life?  It's an odd and interesting place to be. 

        On the ride up and back I turned the stereo in the car up really loud and sang along with the Allman Brothers Band, Alabama and a few others that David did not like, at a sound level that he really would not have liked.  I also chewed gum, something he hated.  In fact, it might have been one of our only fights...about me chewing gum.  I recognized a small part of who I am that I let fall away.  Not a big deal, to set it aside or pick it back up again.  But an example, a remembering.  I suppose we are always in process, wondering who we are and picking and choosing paths to follow but now it feels different.  A forced reckoning, an odd gift.  I'm not very comfortable with it but I recognize it as the opportunity it is.  To combine the birthright gifts I brought into this world with the gifts loving David gave me, creating someone new and hopefully just a bit better. 

        Saturday, July 13, 2013

        PhD in the school of life

        The learning curve is steep, very steep.  There are just so many things I do not know how to do, do not have answers for, just do not know.  This week brought me to my knees with unknowns.  I felt like I was back at the beginning, I had no idea how I was going to keep on like this, and I was sick and tired of being...what?  I don't know, but not someone I want to be. 

        I am better today, was better yesterday.  I'm not sure why except Thursday found me on my knees in the driveway, sobbing in the rain.  Crying, "okay I give.  I have no idea what to do.  I can't keep on like this.  I can't do it anymore.  I need help."  I'm not even sure who I was talking to.  God, higher power, the light, whatever; and I, are not on good terms these days.  I'm not feeling real fond of him/her/it.  But you know what?  I can't do it by myself.  And when I gave in and gave up, I felt better.  The universe began to conspire to help me out. 

        The sun came out.  I came home to find bags of lillies on my porch, a gift from my son.  I spent an entire morning planting them and it made me happy.  Then I cleaned house, hauled and stacked wood, weeded the garden, fixed the electric chicken fence, cleaned the coop, harvested onions, sprayed the tomatoes trying to stay ahead of the fungus, and ... well, more.  I am tired and happy today.  I feel as if I might be okay. 

        One of the hardest things about all of this is asking for and accepting help.  I always prided myself on not needing others.  Then David lulled me into trusting someone else.  And, in his illness and death I have needed so much help.  I have been given, and taken, more than I ever have in my entire life.  Sometimes it makes me a little crazy.  Being dependent is not something I do well, being in community is not something I learned early on.  I am just getting glimpses of it now.  And I have no way to pay anyone back.  There is simply nothing I can do to repay or earn the gifts that I have been given and continue to be given. 

        That does not sit easily with me and it is another steep learning curve.  To let someone take care, give, help.  To ask and just be grateful and thankful.  I am learning. And trusting that the time will come when I can return the many favors.  And more importantly, that I will see when it is time and respond.   When I fight and fight and fight the love offered, believing that I don't need it or anyone, I get crazy. 

         Somehow I thought I would just move on when David died, I would be sad but I would move on. I had no idea I would be plunged into a PhD in the school of life.  The truth is, I can't do this by myself.  This is one of the biggest lessons I have ever had to learn and I am not doing it gracefully.  But I have rarely learned anything new gracefully. I can't do this by myself...and I don't have to.

        Wednesday, July 10, 2013

        Probably Good Enough

        I'm sick of writing, sick of being afraid, sick of being sad.  Sick of not knowing how to do something that really does need to be done.  Sick of not being able to know if I want to eat, never mind what to eat.  Sick of the damn rain, I'm now pretty sure it's never going to stop.  EVER. 

        anyway....I felt like I should write, but when I started I didn't feel like I had much to say besides all that.  So, I'm going to leave it at that and see if I can see my way clear to a happier place before I try to say anything else.  I have no wisdom, no insight...only pain and sadness and scared these days.  And I've said all there is to say about that.  No one needs another repeat, least of all me.


        Chocolate and trash TV tonight.  Sometimes I think that's the best anyone can do.  And it's probably good enough.

        go snuggle up with someone you love. 

        Sunday, July 7, 2013

        Four Months

        Four months, such a short time and such a very long time.  One third of the way through is what I kept telling myself as I was trying to get through the church service this morning.  There should be some sort of marker.  I'm sure some cultures have one, I just don't know what it is.  So, I cried through church again, found myself sobbing in the bathroom again, and had to leave early again. 

        I find myself wanting to shop. A sure sign something is wrong.  I hate shopping.  I find myself thinking it might make me feel better.  I'm pretty sure it won't, especially as there really isn't much money in the bank account. 

        I'm tired of being alone.  I know everyone who knows me is laughing.  Hard.  But I miss him, he was my best friend.  Oh God, dear ones, go out and tell someone you love them.  Go for a walk, hold hands in the movies, plan a project together, cook a meal, tell them one of your secrets.  Just go do it.  Right now.  Because you will miss it when it's gone.  I promise.  You will miss that they are always there and driving you nuts.  You will miss that they want to make love when all you want to do is sleep.  You will miss that weird dish that they cook, the horrible coffee that they make, the fact that they have to have the checkbook balanced to the penny.  You will miss it.  I promise. 

        So go find that thing that makes you the most crazy and appreciate it, just for a minute if that is all you can manage.  Then find that thing you love most and tell them.  Kiss goodbye when you leave each other and say I love you, even if you don't feel like it.  Later,  you will be so glad you always did.   Right now, marking this time, I go over and over those things.  Grateful for all of them and missing them like crazy. 

        This morning as I was drinking my coffee on the porch, watching the farm world and marking the anniversary, the great blue heron flew a circle over the house.  I haven't seen it in a long time and it picked up and ended in the same spot.  Simply inscribing a circle over the house, saying hello.  The creature who walks the path between this world and the spirit world.  Tell him I miss him, tell him the Butterfly weed has finally bloomed and that I love him.

        Wednesday, July 3, 2013

        Love always wins

        I wrote a long post this morning about how the rain is driving me nuts.  And how sick I am of feeling sad.  And generally being miserable.  Then it disappeared into cyberspace.  Probably for the best, but I felt a bit like I lost something valuable.  I was kind of liking my misery today.

        And in the course of the day my attitude has improved immensly, although it is now raining even harder.  sigh.  I am ignoring what it is doing to the driveway.

        The grief therapist and I have been talking a lot about what motivates me in the world.  I haven't been able to let go of it this week.  I think I'm working my way to something important.  These days it feels as if what motivates me is simply "getting through."  And right now that might be good enough.


        Before David, I fought.  And I was really really good at it. I fought to survive my father, I fought to be accepted, to belong, I fought for my life and for my son's, I fought for my right to exist in the world, I fought for my students.  It drove almost everything I did.  Then I met David. 

        I fought with him at first too.  I didn't know any other way to be.  But David was a conflict avoider, a peacemaker.  An interesting match.  It took us awhile to work it out.  For him to realize that disagreement was not dangerous and for me to realize that intimacy wasn't.  And in that process I lost a lot of my fight.  That loss was not comfortable for me, I struggled with it the entire course of our relationship.  It is only now that I can name the loss and look at it more clearly.  That discomfort was me trying to figure out how to live in the world without fighting. 

        I'm still trying to figure it out.  One of the things I'm realizing is that at the core of the fight was a desire to be seen and heard.  I only wanted someone to really truly see me. I didn't need anyone to agree with me or change for me, I just needed them to see and hear who I was.  And David did. Not always easy, as I hid it very well, underneath all that fighting. 

        So now I wonder how it would look if I went into the world wanting to be seen and heard?  What if I went into the world valuing that, not just for me but for others as well.  What if that's what we all really want?  Sometimes I think what I do with my students is simply see them.  Sometimes I am the first person who ever has.  I see them, hear them and value them, even if I don't agree with them.  Even if I still make them do the work.  I think it matters. 

        Does this change anything?  Does it help me figure out what to do with my life?  I don't know.  I think it helps me fill the hole that fighting filled.  Having been seen so lovingly I can let go of the need to fight.  I can stand up for who I am, for who others are...with clarity and kindness and love.  Maybe that is a powerful gift in the world. 

        This I know to be true.  Fighting is exhausting.  Speaking the truth is important.  Kindness matters. Love wins. Love always wins.

        Sunday, June 30, 2013

        Life went downhill after Wednesday.  I don't have much to say.  I'm sad again.  Really sad.  And I don't really know why.  I hate that.  I like knowing what, where, how, when and then acting on something.  The last time I remember feeling this helpless was in the middle of giving birth to my son.  I wasn't real fond of that either.  But there is no way out but through, so there ya go. 

        People come along at odd moments and kind of save me.  Today I couldn't decide what to do, couldn't decide about going to church, couldn't decide about what to eat...who cares about eating anyway?  really?  All I could do was cry.  Then Lulu looked so desperate that I took her for a walk around the farm.  We picked up a lot of ticks in the process, but while we were walking a friend called and wanted to bring her son and another friend by.  Yes, please.  In showing them the house and shop and farm I got my feet back under me and was able to go on with a reasonable picture of a day. 

        I am hoping this guy can finish the last project David started.  We designed it and then picked out and planed the wood for a wall unit for the TV and books, but it never got made.  I like his energy, I think it would be good to have him do this work. 

        I have a friend who rescues dogs, a lot of dogs, and she got one in this week that needs at least a thousand dollars worth of medical work.  She didn't hesitate to take the dog.  She put the story out there on facebook and in less than 24 hours she had the money.  But I know she would've spent her own money to care for this little pup.

        It's such hard work and I am getting tired. Sometimes I just want to have a do-over. I remember feeling that way in labor too. I changed my mind about the whole natural thing, but by the time it felt too hard to go on it was almost over. The nurse told me I could do it and I did. Someone saved me and didn't even know it. And then I had this child and he saved me too, and didn't even know it.

        We save each other all the time.  Sometimes we don't even know we are doing it.  Sometimes, we are just a kid wanting to see the farm and suddenly someone can breathe again because we showed up.  Sometimes we say yes to whatever or whoever shows up and life gets a little better.  I get so lost sometimes that I can't bring myself to say yes to anyone or anything.  I appreciate the folks who only let me go so far with it.  And I appreciate the times I take the chance and let someone save me a little. 

        Wednesday, June 26, 2013

        For a couple of days now when I get quiet, I feel David's presence and I keep hearing the words, "I gave you roots, the next person will give you wings."  And he feels happy and excited, like he knows something I don't know.  I want to believe this is true.

        Today I kept remembering Thomas Merton's quote, "It's impossbile to tell people that they are walking around shining like the sun."  We come from light and to light we return.  We live in light too, but we spend our time here on earth trying to remember that.

        When I get sad or angry that David is gone and I am left behind, I forget the thing I know is true.  What I know is true is that we are all one and we are all of the light.  He is not gone, he is not seperate from me.  We are a part of each other, always.  Not just David and I, all of us, everywhere.  We are each other and we are shining like the sun.  It's so easy to forget.

        And I forget that time is not really a linear thing.  There is no begining or ending.  Time, light, love are all a sphere that has no middle, so everything is center.  (another Carrie Newcomer line) 

        When I can remember these things and live into them I am okay.  Not just okay, I am living in peace. I am happy.  The work is in remembering, opening up the space to remember what is true. 

        Monday, June 24, 2013

        Today is our wedding anniversary.  It's been a hell of a day.  I knew it would be, I just didn't really believe it would be this hard.  Sobbing on my knees again hard. 

        Then Peggy brought the boys by and we went creek walking and threw rocks and found a crawdad and it felt good for a little bit.  Children are saving me these days.  Sometimes I think I should get one of my own. 

        Then a friend called and I told her the day was hard and she asked about our story.  So I told her and it helped me smile again.

        We got married because my car insurance was due.  We were sitting on the back porch when I opened the bill and David said it would be cheaper if we were on the same policy.  Only, we found out you had to be married to do that.  So we kind of looked at each other and said, "do you want to?"  We had sworn off marriage but money got the better of us, or love did.  Here at the farm it was the middle of Haying Season, the time that waits for no one.  We took off a couple of hours one afternoon in our work clothes; dirty boots, sweaty shirts, cut-offs, and took a ride to Marshall, a small town not far away.  We traced down the right paperwork, found the justice of the peace just at lunch time.  No business happening for an hour, we came back at one o'clock, after lunch.  He looked at us and said, "do you have rings?"  rings?  nope.  "How about witnesses?"  We need witnesses?  nope, none of them either.  He sighed, went across the street to the local bank, and brought back two tellers to witness for us.  Done and done.  We went home to haying.  And we didn't tell anyone for about three months. 

        David's brother died and when they asked about how to put us in the obituary David casually mentioned that I was his wife.  Some people have yet to forgive us for the secret.  But we loved it.  It was ours and suited us perfectly.  Occasionally I regret not having any photos, but the image of us that day is so clearly imprinted in my mind that mostly I like it just the way it is. 

        Thank you Anna, for asking the question.  It opened a door to happiness that I was not able to do on my own. 

        Sunday, June 23, 2013

        I have spent several nights this week crying in the hammock under the full moon.  I do okay during the day, read a bit at night, turn off the light and then my body and mind betray me.  Or maybe they breathe a sigh of relief that they can finally get on with their work.  I don't even know why I cry, it just comes and lasts until there is nothing left and then I can fall asleep. 

        I woke this morning thinking about dying.  How I walked with David through the process until I had to let him go.  I thought of my father, dying this time last year, alone.  With his half moon of whiskey fifths around his recliner.  They took him against his will to the hospital and finally hospice, alone and defiant.  No one should have to die alone. 

        Maybe I am crying this week for myself.  Who will take that walk with me?  Who would I even ask to do that?  Someone is always left behind, hoping I suppose, to find someone to walk with them when it is time.  Or do we even think much about it?  Maybe in the dark night when we are afraid and alone.  Maybe then. 

        It's a great chain of living and dying, walking with someone and passing on the walking to the next in line.  But I think in this country we break the chain too often.  So many of us die alone, in hospitals or nursing homes, someone we barely know, if we are lucky, walking with us distracted and hurried, doing a job.  I have recently heard of death doulas and I see the need.  Someone to be with us, someone committed to the journey.  But I hate that it's someone we have to pay to be with us. 

        It is a truly awesome gift to walk with someone in their final days, and we have lost the awe of it.  Like so many things that are difficult or messy or take time, we push it aside, pretend it isn't there.  Birth, death, raising children, working for our food, truly learning another person's soul.  We let others do this work for us as much as we can.  The rest we numb ourselves from, create distance, try to ignore.  Until in the deep of the night, finally when we can ignore it no more, our bodies and minds breathe their sigh of relief and get on with the work. 

        Wednesday, June 19, 2013

        This was in my inbox today:

        To believe in the future with someone you love takes courage. None of us has any guarantees. But to say it and to speak it and to create that hope with our love and with our hearts and with our honest truth-telling and our hard work is what makes this life sacred and holy. It is what we were put here for, and the reason why comfort exists in any form.
        Today if there is anyone at all in your life you know who might worry about being lost without you, will you say out loud your decision, your holy choice to always be there? Maybe you're getting along with that person, maybe you're not. Maybe they know you love them this much, maybe they don't. But if the truth of your heart is to stay, if that is your honest intention, take a chance and let them know.
        Who knows how much suffering is going untended in the world, simply because we did not state what we felt, what we assumed was a given, what we had no idea the other did not fully understand or know.
        With love and love and so much more love,Jen (hopefulworld.org)

        I've got nothing to add to this, except one thing:  Go...Now.  Tell someone they will not have to live without you, that you love them, that you will stay.  Dont' let them wonder.  Okay, so that was more than one thing, do it anyway.

        Tuesday, June 18, 2013

        I walked into the bank today and paid off the mortgage.  It made my stomach hurt.  A lot.  In fact, it scares the hell out of me.  Six years ago I owned one pot, a couple of plates and forks, no computer, no TV, a lot of books and an oldish car.  Now suddenly I own land and a house and a woodshop and two cars and way way too many dishes and pots and pans.  How do people do this?  How do they live with this much responsibility?  I'm so afraid of doing something wrong and messing up. 

        I've been getting together with new people too.  I've never been great at making friends, I'm an introvert and it takes a lot of energy to be out there in the world.  I had gotten very comfortable with David and the farm family.  It was more than enough to fill my life.  But I find myself wanting someone to share things with, go places with, explore new ideas with.  So I have been putting some energy into getting to know folks.  It doesn't happen easily, I work with young children and don't have a lot of that easy interaction with adults that happens on many jobs.  People my age are paired up and living the same kind of involved lives that I was living with David.  I tend to work on the farm, hike, swim or practice yoga; none of those things encourage interaction. 

        I'd forgotten what it's like getting to know someone.  So much conversation to fill someone in on who you are, where you've been, who they are, where they've been.  Finding ways that your lives might intersect, learning easy spaces and hard ones.  When I'm feeling tender and scared and uncertain, as I so often am these days, it can be overwhelming.  When I'm feeling strong and positive it can be wonderful and exciting to open my life to the new...well, everything....that seems to always be right around the corner. 

        Six years ago, I could never have imagined who I would be today. If anyone had told me where I would be I would've said they were crazy.  Never in a million years.  So...I wish I could peak ahead to the next six years, just for a second.  But because I can't, I'm gonna go with:  It will be great.   Way opens, life changes.  All will be well and all manner of things will be well.   In the meantime, I will try to see the gifts in these new experiences and breathe deeply.

        Sunday, June 16, 2013

        Last year this time I was receiving a phone call from Florida.  My birth father was dying.  I had only met the man three times in my entire adult life.  I didn't even know he existed until I was a teenager.  And now I was the only person to call.  Father's Day has always been hard for me.  I never really had a loving father.  To my biological father I was a throw-away, or so it seemed.  The man who raised me was a sadistic abuser.  As a child I would go to sleep at night and pray, not exactly for him to die, but for him to just not be there any more. 

        My son's father, no surprise, was a combination of the two.  A sadistic drug dealer I had to sneak away from in the middle of the night.  He called when my son was a bit older and said he didn't ever want anything to do with us again.  No great loss, as he hadn't had anything to do with us to begin with.  But I had hoped, until that point, that somehow my son would have his father someday.  I didn't want him to grow up as I had, not knowing who his father was. 

        To be fair, a dear friend stepped in and became a father figure for my son.  To this day he calls him Dad and his girls think of my son as a brother.  I am grateful for his kindness, generosity, and genuine love for my son. 

        I know David was not the father he wished he had been.  I did not know him then but I think he suffered, as so many men of his generation did, with working too much and trying to make a good living for his family, and not being any happier with his choices in those days than women were with theirs. In his old age it was one of his greatest regrets, that he had not been the father he wanted to be. 

        I'm melancholy today.  No father, horrible father, father's death, my birthday, David's and my anniversary, all rolled into one great big fat week.  YAY!  I think mostly today, it's never having had a daddy.  And not even knowing how, when I was twenty three, to find someone to fill that role for my child.  I am grateful I learned as I got older, I suppose that is the positive in this.  I wonder what I will feel in a few days when the trifecta hits: boom boom boom:  birthday, father's death, anniversary.  I am planning now to take some good care, but wouldn't it be enough to simply grieve one thing at a time?  It doesn't seem to work that way.  Life is kind of like a tangled necklace, all connected and wrapped around itself.  Patience and deep breathing, when what I really want is to hand it to someone else and say, "here, you do it." 

        Saturday, June 15, 2013

        I've been thinking a lot about the idea of being seen and heard.  As a child of abuse it was not something I experienced growing up, I think it's pretty common among that subset of children.  I also grew up choosing relationships where that did not happen, recreating my past.  Perhaps David's greatest gift to me was that he gave me a relationship where I was seen and heard. 

        He saw all the crazy, angry, beautiful, creative things in me and did not turn away, did not try to change any of it.  And in doing so allowed me the space to change some of them for the better.  He heard all the ugly stories, all the crazy crap I had lived through and created for myself and he just let it be.  And in doing so allowed me to let some of it go. 

        For someone like me that is an astonishing gift.  I believed in my heart of hearts that most children got that from the start and so had no idea what kind of gift it was.  In reality, I suspect none of us gets that kind of unconditional attention and acceptance as much as we deserve, and so we all wish for it and wonder if it's possible. 

        To be seen and heard and loved in all our prickly, terrifying, amazing beauty.  That was David's gift.  Not just to me, I saw him give it to others as well.  Many times they did not even realize what he was doing, I doubt he even realized it. They just knew they liked him, felt safe with him, could relax with him.  They felt loved by him.  And he was almost always surprised by that. 

        I think that ability is what I mean when I say that he gentled me.  He smoothed off some of my prickly, scared, rough edges and made a space for the compassionate loving person underneath to come through.  I'm not sure I had enough time to make it permanent, damn it, but perhaps some of it stuck.

        The song from the rock opera Tommy keeps going through my head, "See me, hear me, feel me...."  I believe it's all any of us really want, even when it scares us so much we are afraid to acknowledge it, when it scares us so much we fight against it with all our being.  If I can learn to be present with others, seeing and hearing them and loving them in all I see and hear, I will have accomplished a great deal.  If I can learn to be present with others allowing them to see and hear who I am I might have accomplished even more. Maybe it's not even about learning to, maybe it's simply about allowing the gift to come through.  

        In some ways writing through this process of David's illness and death has been for me a letting go of the shields.  An act of honoring the gift he gave me.  I was seen and heard and loved so I will continue to allow myself to be seen.  To believe that being seen and heard is worthy of love and compassion and offers the greater gift of allowing others to let me see and hear them.  I think it's kind of working....during this process others have opened their hearts to me in ways they might never have otherwise.  And oh, what a gift that has been. I kind of smile at the idea of this big old spiral of gifts flying around and around and around, one begetting another until we can't really tell where they start or end.  The good life.  All we ever wanted. 

        Friday, June 14, 2013

        I've been trying to write for a couple of days and keep erasing things.  I don't usually do that, but thoughts haven't been coalescing for some reason.  This morning I realized they are just a bunch of thoughts and awareness's and maybe if I put them all down they will mean something.

        I took my ring off last week.  I kept getting this rash under it and it drove me crazy.  Every time it went away and I put the ring back on, the rash came back.  Okay then, I'll leave it off.  And now it feels normal not to be wearing it.

        In the midst of great pain, I saw the great blue heron again this week.  Hello dear one.

        The pond exploded again.  This time David wasn't here to help but I handled it.  Figured some pieces out.  Things he didn't figure out.  He knew a lot, a hell of a lot, but he didn't know everything. 

        I went out with a friend last night for coffee and a play.  It was good to be in downtown Asheville, watching the tourists and the Ashevegas scene again.  I hadn't done that in years. 

        A friend posted a poem about letting go today.  How it just happens, no fanfare, no talking, no setting a date.  You just do it. Like a leaf falling from a branch.  Leaves don't drop they just let go.

        Every once in a while someone posts a photo of David on facebook and when it pops up in my newsfeed it's like a kick in the chest.  Sometimes I see things in those photos that I'm pretty sure they don't.  The pain he was in at the time, his joy in something, his fear.  And sometimes it's just okay to see.  I smile and move on. 

        He was a big presence.  He was the glue that kept a lot of folks together.  I wonder what will happen now. 

         Folks are not checking in as much.  But life keeps pressing forward toward life.  More folks die, babies are born, houses are bought and moves are planned, kids graduate.  My piece of this is different from theirs.  I always knew that, knew that I would live into this in a different way from those others who knew and loved him.  That for a while at least, I would not have the grace of going back to normal after the memorial services. 

        I gave up a lot to be with him.  Some of it I did not even notice at the time, some of it I gave up consciously.  I didn't and don't regret it.  What I got in return was well worth anything I gave up.  I suspect he did and felt the same.  We didn't really talk about it.  I know I brought him joy and I know he worked harder than he probably would've liked.  But his last few years where the kind of years he had always wanted, he told me this.  He gentled me.  He SAW me and HEARD me and loved me because of and in spite of what he saw and heard.  He gave me a huge loving family to be a part of. That was all I ever wanted from life.  I would've happily lived the rest of my life there.  But now I am seeing doors opening again; new ones, old forgotten ones.  I'm not sure how I feel about it.  Will I lose the family I gained with him?  I hope not.  Will anyone every see and hear me again?  I hope so. 

        Sometimes the hardest thing is realizing that my life will move on without him in it.  He was a part of it and now he isn't.  Sometimes that feels impossible and sometimes it feels exciting.  And all of this I expect is exactly where I am supposed to be in the process.  I suspect that's what the therapist I have been working with would say.  And my response as always is a resigned, slightly cynical YAY!  So maybe what all of these thoughts are about is simply letting go, the spiral of life, little steps forward in the midst of big steps backward.  And me watching myself in this process.  Life for me is moving forward too and I feel relief, fear, joy, anticipation, sadness....everything.

        Wednesday, June 12, 2013

        Hiding again from the outdoors.  It's beautiful and so very very overwhelming right now.  So many things to do and fix and work on.  I just want to run very far away.  Leave everything behind and become someone new, someplace new.  Start over.  It's been a move to Australia kind of week. 

        My birthday is next week and then three days later our anniversary.  We never made a big deal out of that sort of thing, but it scares me anyway.  One of the first big hurdles.  Then there is family reunion, his birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I am going to run away for Christmas, I just don't think I can face it this year.  And then the season of his dying.  It all makes me so tired.  If I could take out the tape of my life and insert a new one I think I would.  Maybe not.  But right now it sounds like a grand idea, as good a one as running away. 

        It feels as if my life has been one great cycle of grief.  I thought I knew loss before, I thought I understood grieving, how much it hurt to lose what you loved, or to never have what you wished for or deserved.  But this, this one brings me to my knees. 

        There is a song I called, "It's Gonna Get Easier."  And the line that fits this day perfectly is this one:  "On my knees, just can't breathe, it's gonna get easier."  The pain and the sure knowledge that it will get easier, all in one sentence.  Living in the center of paradox is the hardest thing we are asked to do.  And I believe that if we live our lives well, that is the only place we can live.  I just don't like it very much today.

        Tuesday, June 11, 2013

        I am sitting inside this afternoon, on the computer, hiding from the beauty outside.  Sadness has been a blanket around my shoulders these last two days.  When I tease sadness apart I find alone-ness.  I'm not really lonely, but I am profoundly aware of my alone-ness.  Before David I had gotten to be pretty good friends with alone, I kind of liked it.  In fact, some of the harder work I did in the beginning was to learn to be with another. And now I am missing sharing what I see on my daily walk, hearing and sharing the details of a day well spent, bouncing new thoughts and ideas off another's perspective.  And I realized today that it's been almost four months since I have been touched, really touched. 

        Touch is so basic to who I am as a person and it was David's only request.  "If I ever get to the point where I cannot tell you what I want, just remember to touch me.  That's all I want."  I spent all the time I could touching him in those last days. I climbed into that stupid hospital bed with it's high bars and curled myself around him.  I was holding on to him when he died, smoothing his hair back from his forehead.  I don't know if he knew or not, but I was honoring his dearest wish. 

        We were well matched, we both spoke through touch.  We never drew away from each other in anger or fear.  In fact, when I was unhappy or frustrated with him I made it a point to touch, to reach out.  It's hard for me to stay unhappy with someone when I touch them.  Connection, energy flows, I remember that we are the same. 

        Two Rilke writings came up in my newsfeed today.  My mantras for this day:

        Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, XII
        Want the change. Be inspired by the flame
        where everything shines as it disappears.
        The artist, when sketching, loves nothing so much
        as the curve of the body as it turns away.
        What locks itself in sameness has congealed.
        Is it safer to be gray and numb?
        What turns hard becomes rigid
        and is easily shattered.
        Pour yourself out like a fountain.
        Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
        finishes often at the start, and, with ending, begins.
        Every happiness is the child of a separation
        it did not think it could survive. And Daphne, becoming
        a laurel,
        dares you to become the wind.

        ~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~
        We Move in Infinite Space
        by Rainer Maria Rilke
        It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses
        And we don't know what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can't say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside.

        The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate; and later on, when it "happens" (that is, steps forth out of us to other people), we will feel related and close to it in our innermost being. And that is necessary. It is necessary - and toward this point our development will move, little by little - that nothing alien happen to us, but only what has long been our own. People have already had to rethink so many concepts of motion; and they will also gradually come to realize that what we call fate does not come into us from the outside, but emerges from us. It is only because so many people have not absorbed and transformed their fates while they were living in them that they have not realized what was emerging from them; it was so alien to them that, in their confusion and fear, they thought it must have entered them at the very moment they became aware of it, for they swore they had never before found anything like that inside them. Just as people for a long time had a wrong idea about the sun's motion, they are even now wrong about the motion of what is to come. The future stands still, dear Mr. Kappus, but we move in infinite space.

        -- Rainer Maria Rilke, "Letters to a Young Poet"