Sunday, January 29, 2017

Compartmentalized Grief

There seems to be plenty rolling around inside my head these days, but the words just don't come.  This morning I walked around the house most of the morning unintentionally with one sock on.  Only when I went to put my shoes on did I notice.  It is clear that I am not fully in this world.  I have spent much of my time rooting around in my heart; picking up pieces.

So many good intentioned people offer advice for how to get through my days.  I am new to this.  It has been 92 days, tomorrow marks three months since my husband left this world.  Continually adjusting, feeling my way forward in darkness and in light, this is my unique journey.  

This week, I have compartmentalized my grief.  In the stillness I cry, created time devoted to face whatever comes.  Wave of emotions still come to me through the day in my workplace, in the car or while I revisit our favorite walks. Ceremoniously expressing my grief appears to make life manageable while I continue to live and fulfill my responsibilities.  Curiously and gratefully I step ahead each day recreating me and building a new normal.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Love Is Eternal

Now the gold polish has nearly worn off.  My two youngest daughters bent on knees on the floor, bathed my feet and made them sparkly for the fall wedding.

Our fingers entwined, my husband and I walked onto the dance floor.  Our dearest friends sharing the space with us, we danced.  Just the two of us.  With everyone else.  He held me close; our bodies swayed sometimes together and sometimes not.  My husband did not complain.  The pain consumed him.  Yet, he wanted to dance. "I know you like to dance," he replied, after I scolded.  Dancing was too much for him.

He never really recovered.  The pain of unknown cause, a constant companion.  Our last dance.

Silly, but I can't bear to remove the polish and I dread when the last of it rubs off.    It is just another little reminder of the man I love and how he constantly, selflessly thought of me and loved me and still loves me so.  Love really is eternal.

Saturday, December 10, 2016


He walked passed me twice, his eyes averting my direction. I was a mess sitting in the lobby of the hospital-a high traffic area; tears streaming down my cheeks while choking back audible sobs and snorting. Grieving comes in waves. I have learned I can never prepare or predict when it will roll in. While waiting to check in for lab work, the doctor who diagnosed my husband's cancer walked passed me. I said hello and without hesitation he hugged me, and then asked how everything was going.  I was unsure he heard the news about my husband.  "You, you know Jerry passed away, right?" I asked.

Shaking his head, his eyes lowered in the direction of the lab request I held in my hand, "Are you OK?"

Assured I was fine. He walked off. There was so much that was unsaid. I sat. I cried. His voice has remained in my head for six months both reassuring and ultimately disturbing, "Don't worry, he's not going to die from this. Look, he's  not going to die from this." He reassured me over and over during that first appointment and then each time we saw him thereafter.

My shoulders heaved, my eyes lowered to the floor. I had no tissues. My nose ran and the flow of tears was steady. Hospital visitors, patients and staff walked by as I tried to muffle the sounds of grief.

A stranger stepped forward, "Would you accept a hug?" The woman probably in her forties had been on her phone chatting with someone when I first entered the hospital and then later texting. Her arms wrapped me. She whispered comfort into my ear, "It won't always be like this. It will get better." This compassion was touching.

As I moved closer to my turn at the lab, still crying, I shifted in my seat seeking comfort, I noticed a full sized Christmas Tree on display nearly touching my elbow. Fabric stars with names hung from the branches. I scanned the tree and found a star in honor of my husband. I smiled. He is with me always.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


I am broken,
Like every other
As I should be.

In striving
For perfection,
I fear
The whole,
The light
The dark.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Love Lost

When I was nine, maybe ten
I met my Great-Great Aunt Lizzie.
She lived alone in Portland,
Not far
However, I had not known of her.

It was hard to imagine
That my aging grandmother
Had an aunt,
Nearly one-hundred,
One who survived the Pandemic of 1918
When many many others did not,
Among them,
My grandmother's sister,
And Aunt Lizzie's love,
The man she was to marry.

A constant reminder of
Tragic young love
Sparkled on her wrinkled finger
Until the day she died.

Saturday, July 16, 2016


Motherless arms
Hold the baby
Free of akward
The newborn
Sinks into
The fleshy cradle
While mother looks on,
Sadness catches in her throat.

Motherless arms
Hold the baby.
Does the longing ever fade?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Mother Load

I carry the lightness as well as the load that motherhood brings.  It is a part of who I am.  Coming to escape, my children are on my mind. Wandering campus for a place to write, I find an unoccupied picnic table shaded by trees. Settled in I find “MOM!” carved into the surface of the table.  Snickering, I realize, I can never fully escape my maternal role. My heart is filled with the good, the bad and the ugly.  This is the life I chose, a commitment for better and for worse. 

Hope carries me through the anxiety and fear that missteps may narrow the possibilities presented to my children as adults.  This too, is part of growing up.  Even after more than three decades in this mothering role, I too continue to navigate my way in this world, as a wife, mother, and human accepting the messiness that goes along with "adulting."