Category Archives: Grief

Canine company

Look who has settled into his big blue bed on this rainy day! Finn usually spends the morning downstairs while I write, only traipsing up here when my husband delivers a second cup of coffee. My zoom-mates know to expect them.

I didn’t manage to bustle out the door for a walk this morning. It feels like a day to cocoon.

Cocooning is a luxury, a laziness, and a way to preserve health. I don’t know how to think about it anymore. All this isolation, even partnered and filled with canine company, might be getting to me.

It might also be a good day to whittle down the pile of papers next to the computer. Already a clipboard of novel-related notes surfaced.

A clipboard! Gawd.

On the top page clipped to that clipboard, I found a quote that feels relevant to today, to our time: Grief … is a form of moral intelligence and even wisdom.” Terry Patten, A New Republic of the Heart.

Phrases from the novel Pamela

Finn gacked and gacked

There I was googling kennel cough and windpipe obstructions at three a.m. Finn was in distress. Coughing and coughing and letting loose pancakes of foamy mucous. Frequently, poor guy!

(Only on the rugs for some reason).

Called the ER at Angell at four but opted not to go, instead making an emergency appointment at our vet this morning for tomorrow. And then, lo! Finny coughed up half a kibble in one final pancake of slime and hasn’t coughed since.

Whew!

You know what else I’m grateful for this morning? Trees. Always trees. I know I’ve told you before, but the golden chain tree out front came in the mail as a twelve-inch long bare-root sapling on Arbor Day many years ago. I don’t remember exactly when, but the boys were little. Just look at it now!

Another favorite tree on our walk

I’m also grateful to have known Michelle. There is a lovely tribute over on Nancy’s blog this morning. Thank you, Nancy. You speak for a lot of us who are still missing that intrepid and generous soul!

And why do I say “still” missing, as if i should somehow be done by now?

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of my brother’s stroke. He has come such a long way! Did I mention that he has started to be able to move the affected right leg? Amazing. His progress confirms the stroke advice to measure progress in months and not weeks.

Can’t wait to see him next month. In the meantime, there are quilts to post on Etsy, a Slave Dwelling Conference to attend, and butternut squash soup to make!

From the archive : Michelle

Those two sentences were left by Michelle* about a year before she died. It was in response to the loss of our front yard maple.

The comment in italics, below, came roughly a year later and was her very last here. It is classic Michelle.

I’d written a post that began thusly:

The vultures are always circling the corpses-but, we are not dead yet. Turn away from the chaos and cruelty. Shelter deep within your truth. “Gandhi called his overall method of non-violent action Satyagraha. … Nowadays, it’s usually called non-violence. But for Gandhi, non-violence was the word for a different, broader concept-namely, “a way of life based on love and compassion.” In Gandhi’s terminology, Satyagraha-Truth-force-was an outgrowth of nonviolence.”

I’ve been obsessed with RGB all day. Every site and all the opinions have saturated me. I too have to let her go though I dearly wish she might have stayed longer. No one will forget her. She was one of a kind. I’m not looking forward to the fight with circling vultures, but I just got my checkbook out to send some encouragement to Biden/Harris (can’t do any financial transactions on line) COURAGE I tell myself. Courage and clear determination.

When I remember to care, to do something helpful, my body reminds me I’ve been away too long. This is a most satisfying post dear Dee. I read you like memoir chapters sometimes and it feels like listening.

I’m still focused on balancing. I get the news Via BBC and move onward to read about friends afar on blogs and face book and great thinkers and doers from all around the web, sharing them on Face book. Today I made the monthly bank trip and spent time at the Farm market. I nap at will as a part of my awakened practice of listening to my body with compassion and understanding. I would worry about the planet and our coming election, but it won’t help.

Brilliant memes, Dejoy is dead in the water and joyless. I still have trouble saying Fuck anyone because i associate the word with the patriarchy that invented it. Hang on for the elections and vote in person if you can.

Your Grounded self is never still. How fortunate you are.

Michelle Slater! Her voice, her heart, and the example set by her intrepid and spiritual life are still so very missed!

* Michelle Slater, blog : MsUncertaintyPrinciples

***

So this is another thing I plan to start doing — publishing stuff from my DRAFTS FOLDER. It’s miles long and years deep. I’ve learned the value of looking back, as a way not just to remember, but to integrate. In a funny and counterintuitive way, looking back helps me stay current with myself.

If I repeat myself because some version of the draft got published, so be it. I mean I’ll try not to do that l, but you know how it is!

A trip to Saratoga Springs, long delayed

When I updated WP last week, I lost the ability to opt out of the clunky block editor, which is why yesterday, when alternating between composing on laptop and phone, eight blocks became irretrievable. Ugh! Sometimes I take such glitches as signs to reconsider publication. That difficult line between personal and public.

The post was about a recent trip to the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery where K’s father’s ashes are interred. How pretty a day it was (if overly hot) and maybe, how unceremonious our visit was. No prayers or poems, no stones to lay above his epitaph. For days I felt as though we’d let him down (or let ourselves down — is that the same?)

I like to think, though, that he would have appreciated the casual knot of family, even if empty-handed, bound as we were by love. A call to the West Coast to complete the circle. The sky so blue and clouds stacked like stairs.

It both helps and hurts to know that though Covid didn’t cause K’s father’s death, it prevented a timely memorial service and in this, we are like a multitude of others. So, so many others. Delayed ritual. Loss added to loss. A year and a month later.

Here are some pictures of other epitaphs, many unusual, colorful, or downright hilarious.

As I lamented the lack of Kaddish or wine to a Jewish friend, she reminded me of a much simpler Judaic custom. “May his memory be a blessing,” she said. Yes. Yes. May his memory be a blessing.

His memory is a blessing.

A Wednesday in March

More light in the kitchen late afternoons. I arranged my sister’s blue bottle collection on the sill to invite that vibration and to mark my sister’s passing.* This week marked two years gone. I’ve had a lot to say about that, but for now, not here.

This lovely heart came from Hazel after Noreen’s death. She was grieving too. I looked at the stitching up close today and appreciated once again, the craft, the care. My sister and I found this Virgin at a second hand store in Salem that we enjoyed frequenting. She mounted it on wood and added eye hooks. The ceramic pentacle had been hers as well.

Editing going full throttle right now. Or at least, as full throttle as I do anything anymore. Needed a solid nap this afternoon after being awake til three am.

When I couldn’t sleep last night, I came downstairs and read a Booker Prize winning novel set in Glasgow: Shuggie Bain. Alcoholic mother, despicable father, unbearable poverty. I’m compelled to finish but it is unrelentingly grim.

Almost done reading Eliza’s letters post-1744. Those describing her husband’s death are full of anguish, full of praise for Charles’s virtue and character. They had fourteen years together. Good years. Malaria did him in.

* also prompted by chakra/color exploration on sparklinglotusink, Acey’s blog.