Tuesday, November 1

Checking in

It's been a long time since I've done any socializing, blogging or anything else. I've buried myself in work. Fortunately, there was a lot of work that needed to be done so I was making some progress on that front while I was waiting to get energy for the rest of my life.

My nephew has moved back out after four or five months. He was doing so well but keeps trying to make the old relationship work. It was nice having him here but next time, I think I'll come up with another way of helping him without having him move in. I have a tendency to forget to take care of me.

It's been six months since Dan's passing so I guess it's natural that I'm starting to come around. I visited the doctor last week (after putting it off for a couple months, dreading getting yelled at) and found that all of my heart-related numbers are good. She suggested that I spend the next three months thinking about what I want things to look like and then, next dr visit, we'll come up with a plan for getting me back on track. Something about getting a 3-month pass that energized me. I started thinking of how good it would feel to show a bit of weight loss when I go back in January.

Tonight I'm going to a friend's house to celebrate my birthday (the one that was in July) so I guess I'm starting to come around. And, over the week-end, I started cleaning out a storage room, defrosted the freezer, and started sorting through Christmas decorations. And I looked up a guy on Facebook, a guy from high school who had emailed me a couple years ago. Gotta say, he's cute still at 62 and looks rather cuddly. Hmmm.

Just thinking before hitting publish. My thought is that I had trouble letting go of Dan when he was going in and out of recovery, even after he moved out. And grieving can also be a way of holding on, more than just getting over the loss. So I'm going to work on managing my thoughts. Look forward. Think forward. Plan ahead. Give the rear-view mirror a rest.

Sunday, July 10

Checking in

Today was a good day. I got up early (before the heat reached 103 degrees) and weeded some flower beds. Nothing like that for making a person feel better.

And then my nephew and I went to church. (I think I mentioned earlier that he's moved back in with me.) Neither of us had done that in awhile so we each did it for the other. Was nice, calming, centering. Felt good to do something new and something for each other.

I'm focusing on helping my nephew get acquainted with St. Louis and concentrating on creating a routine for us. So guess it goes without saying that I'm feeling much better. Taking steps.

Have a great week!

Saturday, June 11


I've been thinking about the need to go with the flow sometimes, floating, accepting, feeling and not resisting. Trusting that whatever is underneath my spirit will hold me up. Remembering that this, too, shall pass. Remembering to breathe in and out while it's passing. To smell the rain. Feel the breeze. Relax into the rise and fall. Because this, too, is life.

And so I was reminded of this poem by Mary Oliver:
Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding
the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them --

the muskrats swimming
among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that
rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided --
and that one wears an orange blight --
and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away --
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled --
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing --
that the light is everything -- that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.
- Mary Oliver

It rained this morning. Green leaves are shiny. Happy Saturday.

Thursday, June 9


I'm not sure what the official name for the stage of grief that I find myself in is called. But I'm ready for Dan to come back.

I mean, I did the funeral and the packing up of the stuff and the crying after the funeral.

And I did the "I can't believe he's gone" and the "I wish I'd been kinder, nicer, better" round of discussions with friends and family.

And the stage where I kinda forgot he was gone and in the back of my mind while focusing on other work, I'd construct these conversations with him, like you do with a live person that you're fighting with. I'd do my side of the conversation and then imagine his response, how he'd stay sober if I had him move back in, and I'd feel better thinking I'd figured it out and then that stream of thoughts would move to the upper most part of my thinking and, boom, it would hit me. Doesn't matter what persuasive position I pose to him in my mind, the man is gone.

But now I've decided I'm finished with grieving. Dan can come back now.

Tuesday, May 10


I've been checking out photos of trees, trying to decide what kind of tree to plant in the front yard in the place where my golden rain tree used to be. I think I'll get either a mimosa, a river birch, or another golden rain tree. But, in the process of looking, I came across this photo that reminded me of my favorite tree on the farm where I grew up.

It was a solitary oak in the fenceline between two terraced fields of wheat. It was older and larger than the one in this photo but you get the idea. I'd lie down in its shade with my dog and tell the dog and the tree all of my little girl troubles. Loved that tree.

It's no longer standing there, of course, but I think of it when I see a beautiful tree standing alone. It was the first tree that I fell in love with. And then I loved my golden rain tree. It's been gone now about five years. Guess I'm ready to try another one.

Thursday, May 5

Mother's Day

This photo reminds me of my mom, of all the days when we'd work in the yard together. She'd plant gladioli bulbs or thin out the iris beds, and I'd plant nasturtium and marigold seeds. And listen to my mom talking about growing up, meeting my dad, and working in Philadelphia while she waited for him to return from WWII. So my plan for Sunday is to work out in the yard, pull some weeds, trim edging, and make a place for nasturium to grow...

Saturday, April 30

Closing a Chapter

It's May and time for renewal.

My heart's not in it but, still, weeds grow and mulch needs to be laid.

But before moving on, or in the process of moving on, I need to share some thoughts and close the chapter.

In the days soon after Dan's passing, I found myself checking the cell phone for a missed call but it's finally soaked into my subconscious that this is not going to happen.

Checking my cell phone is just one of many small ways that I'm reminded of how much Dan had filled my life. He had moved out, at my request, three years ago but we still spoke each morning and each night before shutting down. We ran errands together. He came over on weekends and played with our doggies. We appreciated each other's being there. I visited him in the hospital; he fixed my computer. Stuff like that. I had told myself that I was taking steps to rebuild, once I finally settled on the tough love approach, but it's clear to me now that my efforts to still help him were helping me to be less alone.

In the last week of his life, he'd started drinking again in earnest and the last time I saw him, I'd told him that I couldn't go through the drinking thing again. That I needed a few months alone, a few months of a clean break. I said that knowing that if I saw him sober I would get pulled back in.

He was so smart, interesting, humorous, thoughtful. He knew all of my issues, understood them, remembered them, knew how they related to new things that were happening with me. How many men do you know who do that??

He even understood why I needed to break away. The last voicemail from him tells me so. The next time we talked, he asked if I'd still visit him in the hospital when he had his next surgery. I told him to call me when he got there and I'd think about it. Then, the day after that, the next call was from his roommate telling me that he was gone.

Now, my friend reminds me that a person doesn't take their life because of one fight you have. And my shrink says when someone is under the influence and takes an overdose of pain killers, but doesn't leave a note, you can't know whether the person intended to take their life or if it was an accident. No one thinks clearly under the influence.

So I hold onto that gray area. About 90% of the time, that works for me, not being certain. The rest of the time, around twilight and dawn, I know. And I wish that I had erred on the side of "love" more so than the side of "tough". And I do the "what ifs" until I think of what Dan would say: it's not your fault; you always worry too much; so you really think you're responsible for my life?

So then I comfort myself by saying a prayer to God, and to Dan if he's listening, being thankful for the love that we shared and for the ways we helped each other to get through life. And asking for forgiveness for things done and undone. That brings me a sense of peace.

I know, from my mom's passing, that the people you love never really leave you. They are there, always. Once enough time passes after their death that you stop focusing on where they are not, then you can sense where they are.

There's no question, after everything, the thing that remains between Dan and me is love. That's what I'll take from this. I'll lay down the rest of it and get busy focusing on that for which I am responsible: taking care of my own life. Not that it will be easy or that simple. Change is hard. But I would have had to do it anyway. And I would have had to do it alone. It always comes down to that. The only life you can fix is your own.

Saying all of this out loud, so to speak, is a step forward. This poem by Mary Oliver is also helpful in moving on:


Some kind of relaxed and beautiful thing
kept flickering in with the tide
and looking around.
Black as a fisherman's boot,
with a white belly.

If you asked for a picture I would have to draw a smile
under the perfectly round eyes and above the chin,
which was rough
as a thousand sharpened nails.

And you know
what a smile means,
don't you?


I wanted the past to go away, I wanted
to leave it, like another country; I wanted
my life to close, and open
like a hinge, like a wing, like the part of the song
where it falls
down over the rocks: an explosion, a discovery;
I wanted
to hurry into the work of my life; I wanted to know,

whoever I was, I was

for a little while.


It was evening, and no longer summer.
Three small fish, I don't know what they were,
huddled in the highest ripples
as it came swimming in again, effortless, the whole body
one gesture, one black sleeve
that could fit easily around
the bodies of three small fish.


Also I wanted
to be able to love. And we all know
how that one goes,
don't we?



the dogfish tore open the soft basins of water.


You don't want to hear the story
of my life, and anyway
I don't want to tell it, I want to listen

to the enormous waterfalls of the sun.

And anyway it's the same old story - - -
a few people just trying,
one way or another,
to survive.

Mostly, I want to be kind.
And nobody, of course, is kind,
or mean,
for a simple reason.

And nobody gets out of it, having to
swim through the fires to stay in
this world.


And look! look! look! I think those little fish
better wake up and dash themselves away
from the hopeless future that is
bulging toward them.


And probably,
if they don't waste time
looking for an easier world,

they can do it.

As always, thank you for listening, for being there.

Tuesday, April 26

For Dan, who died on April 10.

Saturday, March 12

Just thinking

Spring is coming soon. I might start blogging again. Might start a new blog. Might not. We'll see.

Here's the truth: I got really bored with setting five goals, figuring out something to do related to them every week, and keeping track of my so-called progress. I was more active but not more happy or less happy. Just more tired. Somewhere along the way, I realized that the goals I was writing down were simply activities. Things to do is not the same as goals.

So now I'm taking a break from pondering myself. I'd requested a book from the library about living in the moment. It came, I brought it home, and I'm taking it back un-read. Am going to live in the moment instead of reading about it.

And, I gotta ask, what's so frickin' great about serenity? I've survived all kinds of things. Why do I need the safety of serenity. Where's the fun in that?

One good thing: My friend Sherry is back. Yes, she is. I feel good!

I've revised this to remove "blogger" from in front of "friend." That's just wrong.