Mouse Tales/Tails


Last Sunday, my intention was to write about food. It was so rainy miserable outside and I looked forward to puttering in the kitchen and maybe share my recipe for homemade granola. I was excited by the idea of venturing away from my usual dark subject matter. Ah, best laid plans!

Oats tossed in coconut oil and molasses toasted in the oven, filling the kitchen with cinnamon smells. I might even have been humming Christmas songs when… I discovered signs of mice. Apparently they’d been enticed by the regular bounty of Rufus’s dried food he often leaves untouched for hours. A veritable dish-worth was tucked between the napkins and dish towels in one drawer, another stash in the tea drawer, a few nuggets hidden in the hollow handle of the hand mixer. Gross. The day turned into pulling drawers apart, washing dishes, cutlery and gadgets. The kitchen remained a mess for days with counters and table covered with drawer and cabinet contents waiting for the all-clear.

The only kind of traps we had were the horrible sticky ones but I still set them leaving one of the uglier napkins in a drawer as a decoy lest they suss out the danger. Monday morning I could hear the frantic scratching sound from the living room. Yay! Success! Ugh! I couldn’t just let it die slowly, possibly gnawing one of it’s limbs off to escape. I went into the garage and found a small garbage can and in the bottom of it was a rock. Thank you Rob who collected them and left them all over the place like this one, miraculously appearing — I needed to sink the mouse. He once called me in tears because a bird had smashed into his windshield on the highway but he had no problems murdering rodents.

I woke my accomplice Molly, who with much commentary and horrified noises, gamely accepted her assignment and pulled out the drawer. Don’t look at it! I said as she followed me out the door to the hose spigot. I filled the garbage bin, then, with more ewing and squawking and fighting back tears, she dumped the sadly, pretty-cute mouse we were torturing, into the plastic bag with a rock in it. I pushed it down into the water. We both went off to work a little late and a little traumatized.

Of course, there’s never just one. The next day I found more droppings where yesterday there had been none. My local hardware store had more sophisticated and humane traps that kill quickly and you don’t see it – well, except for the tail of number 2. Not moving though so we knew he’d been squished.

It’s been a few days and so far, the other trap is still empty and there’s no scat in sight. Rufus will have to learn to eat when the food is out.

When I was a conscious child and then a teen and maybe for a little bit longer past that, I was a vegetarian. I could not bear to see dead animals and would shake my fist at cars with deer carcasses on top of them during hunting season. I have become more hard-hearted. I do not weep when the neighbors’ dog makes a dent in the groundhog population. Sometimes I find carcasses – maybe just a fluffy tail with a bit of skin – of one of the millions of squirrels who entertain Rufus. I get a shovel and feeling a little like I might throw up, I fling it into a nearby wood. I am still thrilled by sightings of live deer and saddened by dead deer killed by cars although they are pests in this corner of Connecticut. But I’m tough and practical in my old age. Everything has an expiration date and every day that we live, we draw closer to our own. Sorry-not-sorry about those cute brown mice.

So much for not writing about death and darkness. Hey, and let me know if you want my granola recipe!

Posted in Seasonal Musings | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Seasonal Darkness and Light

My bedroom is lit with a glow I rarely get to see since I leave early for work during the week and on Saturdays, I’m hurrying out to yoga class. Only on Sunday do I get to linger in bed and enjoy the sun slipping into my room. But today, with a cup of tea at my side and the dog (after a brief walk in the bitter cold) cuddled up beside me, is Thursday – Thanksgiving – and I am appropriately grateful for this sweet opening to the day. It’s quiet. No one seems to be going anywhere so even I-95’s perpetual hum, as constant as a river, is strangely silent. Tip: if you have to go somewhere for Thanksgiving leave early on Thursday.

Molly and I walk across the street later to share the day and what is always a magnificent meal, with neighbors who are like family. This is the holiday I like best – getting together to share a meal, no gifts – just eating with pleasure and catching up with each other and the now adult, kids.

This year, I’m strangely possessed by a festive spirit, at least as far as decorating goes. I’m usually a grinch about it all but I’ve already hung wreaths with twinkly lights. After 21 years of grouchiness I’ve blamed on the exhaustion of working in retail-overdrive, I am ready to embrace it, viewing the enhanced energy of the season as excitement rather than hysteria. I don’t know what’s come over me and can’t guarantee it will last.

Not to over-analyze my jolly-ness but I am feeling the contrast of last year when I was so damn sad. From the time of Rob’s death in October through the end of December, I felt swallowed by grief that surprised me with its depth and weight. We had not spoken in a few months. He’d moved out nearly two years earlier after I finally admitted that I could not pull him out of his darkness. I’d already lost him, I knew that – yet the finality and awfulness of his death hit me like a gut punch.

Someone mentioned it was probably cumulative grief. His demise in so many ways mirroring my husband’s. A year later I am happy, although the roller coaster of grief, anger, bewilderment and questions have not completely disappeared. Time on a couch gave me some insight that helped me but what ultimately cracked my mourning darkness last December, was almost weird.

Wanting to spend the last of my FSA money, I scheduled a series of acupuncture treatments. The woman talked non-stop, asking me questions about myself that she seemed to already know the answer to, rattling off facts about nature, time, space peppered with Eastern wisdom while slipping needles into different parts of my body. I told her I was aching because the man I’d loved had died so sadly. She threw up her hands and said, ‘Are you kidding? He’s having a grand time, off celebrating in the universe! He’s fine!’ And somehow, I wept with what felt like relief, and I believed her. Like that, the cloud of profound grief lifted and has mostly, stayed away.

A year later, with the shift of planets and reminders of the past, bringing me into the darkest days of the season, I hang little lights around my house, burn a fire in the stove, and embrace the night, marveling at the moon through leafless trees. I imagine all that joy happening in the distant universe and I feel it right here.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Doing Something

Last Sunday, I knocked on the doors of complete strangers. I left the warmth of my wood stove because I’d committed to volunteering a few hours to getting the vote out. I headed out to the Democratic Headquarters where the young and eager staff downloaded an app on my phone that gave me a street-by-street map of the neighborhood I’d be canvassing. Addresses included names, ages and voter affiliation of residents – with each house on my app with at least one Democrat resident.

At 3:00 PM it was cold and windy in the unfamiliar neighborhood assigned to me in my city of roughly 88,000 residents. The streets were empty and at house after house almost no one opened the door. I get it. I hate when people ring my bell. It’s never a good time. My mind, my beliefs, have never been changed by a stranger on my doorstep. So what was I thinking? Honestly, I acted on the impulse that I had to do SOMETHING.

Being the good girl that I am, I did my best to complete my assignment of visiting about 40 houses. A few doors did open and politely accepted my literature for the local Democratic candidates. One man was even enthusiastic. But finally, when one of the rare white guys on my list with an Irish name and a hipster beard to boot, opened his door just long enough to bark “NO!” at me before slamming it, I packed it in. Knocking on doors is not for me.

However, I did take the day off so I can drive people to the polls on election day.

I did this in 2016 and delivered 7 votes for Hilary. Unlike door-knocking, it was very rewarding. The voters were fellow city residents, all 70 and older, all but one, African American. Almost all of them had moved up from the South in the 1950s – part of the Great Migration. I loved hearing their stories.

A man without any teeth, reeking of alcohol but wearing a crisp, white shirt was beaming after casting his vote. He told me it was the first time he’d ever voted. I couldn’t help asking how he missed voting for Obama? But I could guess. His wife had trouble walking and remained in the car (FYI: ballot will be brought to the car by an election official if you can’t make it inside) and we’d been commiserating about loving someone with addiction. And anyway, he’d voted this time. I wonder will he bother again?

Another woman reached into her pocket when we got back to her place and I was afraid she was going to try and pay me but instead, she handed me a mint wrapped in plastic. I kept it on my dresser for months – a sweet reminder of the inspiring part of that day and that despite the outcome, we’d done our part.

I won’t knock on doors but after these past two years, after this awful week — eleven Jewish elders including Holocaust survivors, gunned down with an assault rifle while they gathered in their synagogue, two African Americans – both beloved grandparents, out shopping, murdered by a racist in Kentucky, assassination attempts made on leaders and journalists — I must do something. This is a fight for our lives. Let me know if you need a lift to the polls.

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Traveling and Other Ways to See the World

I used to consider myself a good traveler, moving comfortably through the world while sleeping in less than stellar beds, trying all different foods, figuring stuff out on the fly. While I’m not quite ready to give up that notion about about myself, I am a different kind of traveler than I was in my youth. I know this because a week ago I returned from a 10 day trip to Ireland and England and I’m still exhausted.

Some things are easier now – like packing. My vanity has diminished over the decades so I have no problem limiting my wardrobe to the bare minimum. For this trip I focused on comfort and warmth although I confess I did sacrifice a little comfort for slightly cooler looking shoes. A small wheeled carry-on with wheels was perfect for everything.

This trip was really about reconnecting with family while having some adventures with Molly. A return to Ireland for the first  since I was 18 and a first visit for Molly. She fell in love with Dublin. A highlight was connecting with family I had not seen since crashing their wedding more than 40 years ago. Thanks to social media, we’d reconnected in cyber space and thanks to this trip, our connection became real.

On our first rainy day we wandered the streets of Dublin clocking 10 miles of exploring, stopping in to dry at Bewley’s – a sweet haven where we were welcomed with beautiful tea, pastries and a seat by the fire.

The next day, we took my cousin’s suggestion and took the Cliff Walk – a stunning, sometimes dizzying hike along the coast. As we walked through Bray towards the start of the cliffs I scanned the houses for a garret where I imagined I might live. I could look out at the changing horizon and write, paint, walk by the ocean everyday. The cliff hike was magnificent. A fierce wind blew (appropriately) at our backs, pushing us forward past fields of heather, massive stones, the waves and yes, even a rainbow.

In London we stayed with Jane, one of my dearest friends who lives almost at the end of the North Line. Again, I imagined myself on a longer stay in another garret. Her husband came in from a run and told us about the cows he passes on his route. Yes, somewhere close enough to the thrum and jazz of a great city but far enough out to meet a cow. All on the tube line.

We headed to the West Midlands where we met up with the girls – Neil’s older daughters – who I claim as mine too, Molly’s sisters – and the rest of the beautiful family they’ve created between them. Our beautiful family. This trip renewed that for us – especially Molly. Raised across the ocean as, but not really, an only child. Watching Molly embrace her sisters made me weep. It had been 7 years.

Walking through the little villages that look like a set out of Midsomer Murders (I imagined where the bodies might be found as we passed through the woods alongside the river) I thought about watching the weather change across the fields and always having good tea to drink.

So here’s what I figured out from this trip – my first travels in a long time. I prefer to spend time in one place. I like to get to know a neighborhood with a space to claim as mine for a time. To look out a window at the same view but for the changing light or maybe even a season or two. That’s how I have fallen in love with other places around the world. I made them, at least for a time, my home.

Kyoto was my longest consecutive stint so I will always long for her streets, the river, the mountains – in that strange homesick way that is unique to anyone who has ever been an expat. Italy is another place I long for (because who doesn’t?) since it’s where I gave birth to Molly. I certainly lived like an Italian as I clocked in the weeks with other new mothers of premature babies in Brindisi Hospital. Thinking about my time in Bosnia and Croatia – is like remembering a lover who broke your heart – a bit painful – such a profoundly complicated relationship. It’s where my star-crossed marriage began appropriately amidst that awful war and so much sadness. I should, I want to – visit one day again, to see that land in peace. But it would be a journey, not a vacation. I need more than 10 days for that.

In fact, I think my days of Eurail passes and quick nights in cities, are done. Infatuation is fun but falling in love takes time and that interests me more. Here’s something that captures my imagination — being an international pet and house sitter. A way of being elsewhere in the world. That’s the kind of traveler I am now. One who wants to stay put for a time, to get to know a community, maybe a language, the food, the people. What better way to do that than walking a dog?

Sometimes I think that armchair travel is enough for me and there are certainly many great books and travel blogs. One of my favorites is Picnic at the Cathedral This smart and hysterically funny writer and her husband (a good sport) go to quirky places, take great photos, and include food, drink and room descriptions. For adults on a budget. That would be me.

What kind of traveler are you?

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Books Can Save Us

I have an abundance of riches in reading material. Stacks of both purchased and advanced reader copies of favorite or new authors stacked in towers around my house. So how to pick what to read next? What do you do? I’m a sucker for a good cover. And of course I have favorite authors who I eagerly snag from the Advanced Reader pile at work. I am always hoping to understand my beloved ghosts so am drawn to titles relating to addiction, book-love, memoirs and weird places. That’s how I picked up The Lost Chapters: Finding Renewal and Recovery One Book at a Time by Leslie Schwartz. It checks all of the above.

Leslie Schwartz is a novelist and an addict who spent 90 days in a Los Angeles County Jail for a DUI. Before starting her sentence she chose the books she wanted to read and her family sent them to her weekly. They arrived just in time – as books seem to do. Her list included a book of Mary Oliver poetry, The Woman Warrior, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Unbroken, Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart (a book that saved me more than once) and one of my all time favorites, A Tale For the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.

“…Ozeki showed me, that time in its clock-on-a-wall form, and story as linear, like a yardstick, is often the least truthful way to talk about or understand its passage. All stories can only be re-created by collapsing the past, the present, and the future. We are not what we do, like a resume. Jail, for all its insidious horror, its odious dehumanization, its dependence on the momentum of days, of counting along the agonizing progress of calendars facing ever forward, is really a place that embraces no time, for which there is no clear understanding of its movement. In jail, time moves backward and forward, It is without symmetry, a starfish with five arms and no central brain. We are not, it turns out, simply our crimes or our release dates. We are where we came from. We are how we change. We are what we remember, and what we don’t remember. We are the moments that pass, and also the moments that stand still. Time is not our enemy but our puppet. Memory is prophecy and what we think is real is just an illusion.”

This passage from the Lost Chapters is followed by one about addiction and finding recovery. It’s gutting and beautiful and everything I know from being on the other side – loving the addict. Neither of mine ever made it through the window.

“Forcing compliance doesn’t work. It inspires retaliation and usually still more relapse. This is why rehabs and jails don’t work. And yet, addiction itself keeps the addict enslaved, unable to want to stop. I am still in awe that I was granted that tiny window somewhere along the line and even more baffling that I slipped through it.”

I love this book. The author does not whine. She owns her shit and her privilege and shares her outrage and the injustice and failures of our system – particularly for women of color.

I’ve always adored books. Walking into a bookstore even after 21 years, I still feel the thrill of all those books! New titles! And I believe that books can really save us. I am not alone. My friend Nina was devastated after the early death of a beloved sister and found comfort, healing and JOY by reading a book a day for a year. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair.

And have you heard about this extraordinary man, wrongfully convicted as a teen? He spent 17 years in prison — and how reading saved him. Here’s his story and here’s the organization the remarkable John Bunn created A Voice 4 the Unheard – with the goal of bringing books and literacy to prisoners. Note the story of the corrupt and wrongful conviction doesn’t figure on his website. Is it books, is it reading that allowed this man to not be bitter after 17 years wrongfully imprisoned!?  He humbles me.

Forget the deserted island – these are tricky times. What books would you want in prison?

Posted in Grief and Healing | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

This Fever I Have

Sorry I’ve been away so much these last months. It’s like I’ve been a little ill. You know, like when you have a low grade fever but it’s not enough to send you to bed but you wish you could climb between the sheets and sleep until it goes away? That’s the way I’ve been feeling. For almost 2 years.

But I’m not sick. I’m angry. That’s what’s heating me up, twisting like a knot in my chest. Fury is constantly simmering in my system, sometimes spurting and steaming like my old radiators in winter. It’s not a good way to be and I don’t know how to shake it. Worse, I am unable to turn away from the wrecking ball. I regularly check the latest news of the backward steps or outright assaults on civil rights, the environment, healthcare, veterans, poor and working class people, babies separated from their parents (last count – over 500 children still not reunited), outright racism, that continues everyday under this dreadful administration.

The problem is, I don’t know what to do with my fury and sometimes, like here, it’s been debilitating. I lack the political eloquence and appetite to write about it. I am a sputterer and that’s not useful. Engaging in these discussions with someone who is (so bewildering!) on THAT side, is like road rage – it’s a no-win situation. And too late. He was successfully installed and the damage is well underway. So if you had a role in this, I’m pretty damn mad at you too, I won’t lie. I don’t know what to do with that either.

So I haven’t been able to share my usual passages of lovely morning walks or garden capers. I’ve been paralyzed and that makes me mad too. Over the years this blog is where I share meditations, stories, challenges of my life. It’s a personal blog – begun as good practice for maybe one day (or not) putting my memoir out there and I have come to love it. It’s lovely to have readers and people who cheer me on, to say, yeah – I hear you. Being part of a cyber blogging community feels rich. And, it gets me writing regularly. That is until I hit this roadblock.

But the hell with it. Today I’m going to put this out there and figure out where to go from here. That’s all we can do, isn’t it?  And come November — let’s vote the bastards out.

Posted in Grief and Healing | Tagged , , | 23 Comments

Day Lily Days

The shelves at the garden center are almost empty. Only leggy, ragged plants with roots packed into their little containers like leftover spaghetti, remain. I wonder what’s next? Chrysanthemums and pumpkins? But wait – it’s only early July! Time for harvesting lettuce, maybe tomatoes if you were an early planter without greedy pests. At my place, there’s basil tucked behind my makeshift fence. Also arugula, thyme, oregano and cilantro. I picked up some new guinea impatiens – never my favorite but the only flower the groundhog ignored. I buy five at a dollar each. Walking out of the greenhouses past the once full space, now left only with boxwood and hydrangea shrubs, a tiny knot of sadness pinches my stomach.

I was in high school when I first registered a sense of melancholy around time. Not because I was happy and wanted the days to slow. I recognize now, I had long felt invisible at home and this probably inspired my urgency to capture my days. I filled journals, recording events, scrawling my angst and bad poems. I drew. I played music. Art gave me a sense of being able to own time. In creating, I felt I might claim it, especially in writing. It was as if unless I wrote about something in my life it did not exist.

The faded flowers in the picked over garden center triggered a flash of familiar poignancy. The sweetest seasons pass in a blink. In every perfumed inhale of lilacs, pinch of mint, nip of autumn air, I sense the finite. How many chances at such pleasure we get remains a mystery and too many I have loved long lost theirs. I want the daffodils of spring to last a little longer but appreciate the day lilies, rough and ready in a sprawling, wild summer explosion, a better reminder to seize today.

Posted in Seasonal Musings | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Building Fences, Causing No Harm

Molly called me at work on Friday, freaked out. An animal she couldn’t identify was trapped in the rusty old milk can by the back deck.

Just kick it over so the thing can get out, I told her, and film it running away so I can see what it is. She demurred insisting she’d wait for me to come home. Lucky for the critter, I’d be there soon.

I peeked over the side of the jug, wondering if I’d see bared teeth. Instead, there was this.

A wee groundhog. I hate groundhogs as I’ve written about here every summer. (Put in groundhog in the search – you’ll see!) They devour everything I plant and they multiply like crazy. Yes, they’re a little cute when they play beneath the pear and peach trees I planted in the sunniest, best garden spot. The garden spot I gave up on because they eat everything, undeterred by fences and other foils. I thought I was clever to plant these trees, determined to still be able to get some harvest off my little patch. Groundhogs can climb trees. I’ve seen them. And they love peaches.

So here, here was a baby – my prisoner. One less pest. I didn’t immediately free the poor thing. I considered trying to move him elsewhere, out of the neighborhood so he couldn’t come back. I certainly couldn’t kill it – that’s not in my makeup unless there’s a threat to me or my loved ones. I’m a catch and release kind of gal. I wasn’t about to kill this baby. Finally, Molly kicked the the jug and the thing scampered away and then back towards us, right under the deck I thought I’d varmint proofed.

The next day, I strategized my planting. Where could I place flowers where our resident beasts couldn’t get at them? And at least a few tomato and basil plants. I had luck last year with a table with a jerry-rigged fence around it. First I had to somehow get the table outside. Molly was working so it was just me to tackle this project. You know how, once you have an idea in your head, you just want to get it done? That was me. I dragged the table through the kitchen, hoisted it over on to its side and began shimmying it across the threshold where it promptly got jammed. Banging my shin on it triggered a flash of self pity and a choke of tears as I thought of the ghosts of  the men who should have been here. But I felt them cheering me on. There was a knock at the door – certainly an extra set of hands miraculously showing up!

Jehovah Witnesses. I invited the two women out of the hot sun, offered them a cool drink (declined), watched the short video on their Ipad, told them I was fascinated by their faith but felt unmoved by the video. But don’t you want to know more about how to learn about courage from the Bible, one of them (Rose) asked? I told her I was pretty good on the courage front and that right about now, hearing anything about the Bible makes me mad because of the way passages are being bandied about by the current administration to justify so many despicable policies and practices.

They nodded. Both African American and certainly more vulnerable to injustices than I, they did not disagree. Turns out, Rose is a neighbor from my city so I told her about the storytelling I help to organize in the community and suggested she come – although only to tell a story, not to proselytize. I took her literature and she took mine and she said she’d like to come back and talk with me more and I’d welcome her onto my front porch for a chat although I highly doubt she’ll be converting me. I think she just wants to talk again and I would too and maybe we can take to the streets together, sharing our outrage side-by-side.

Meanwhile, there was a table to move. Refreshed by my chat with the ladies, I managed to move said table out onto the deck. I hammered wood posts to hold up the fencing. I like the feel of swinging a hammer, the connection with the nail, the tightening of wood to wood as the weight of the hammer drives it together. I’ll have to get a ladder to harvest from my little table plot but I did it. I made a new friend, built my little fence and no groundhogs were killed or separated from their parents.

How was your weekend?


Posted in Seasonal Musings | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Mornings the Moon and a Wood Walk

Mornings are still dark when I wake and recently I opened my eyes and saw the moon just outside my window. My head still on the pillow, I spent a few minutes staring at it clear and silver in the sky. Full or close to it, waxing or waning, I’m not sure and it doesn’t matter. It’s the same moon and always there even if we cannot see it and that’s a comfort to me. I thought of the distance, all that space between me and the moon and about the incredible spinning involved to keep us all here. Thinking so much beyond what will I wear today or make for lunch was a great way to start the work day.

Looking up at the sky, thinking about space, casting my gaze at the stars or the sun or even a passing plane – my brain seems to expand. It feels as good as a stretch. A psychic stretch. My imagination gets charged by this simple exercise of thinking beyond where I am while being where I am. Realizing the vastness of being in the present. Does that make sense?

Meanwhile, back on earth on this Sunday morning, I went with my friend Tracy for a hike. We tramped on a path through the woods – nonstop talking because we always have so much to catch up on and even later, I think of something else I meant to tell her. She’s that kind of dear friend. We walked through the intermittent rain across a field and down a nice wide trail and through wetlands full of skunk cabbage and fiddleheads, past boulders and ponds. We were welcomed into this wood by a magnificent pileated woodpecker – gigantic and noisy. Cool and damp, smells and sounds (the birds!) of Spring. The just emerging leaves creating a soft green wash across the landscape.

We saw only one runner, a dog walker and 2 women – our age and gabbing like we were. One of them under an umbrella. Tracy and I both had hoods and weren’t worried about getting wet and she also didn’t care when I got mud in her car. And on the drive back, she asked what that noise was without being too worried and I suggested it was the wind through her car’s skylight. But when we stopped for coffee, I opened the car door and discovered that the sleeve of my jacket had been flapping outside. We laughed hard because it was so silly and we were happy. The coffee was good and I feel grateful to be spinning along and out on this planet during the morning hours in the sweet early greening of Spring.

What did you do this weekend?

Posted in Seasonal Musings | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments


On May 1st 14 years ago, the weather was just like today’s although Spring was further along back then. We’d already had many days of sitting out on the porch and working in the garden. That sounds lovely, doesn’t it? And it probably looked so too, if you didn’t know the dissolution in progress. Molly on the verge of turning 9 years old – did her best to stay neutral between us. The evening before I thought we’d made a breakthrough – that we’d be able to move forward in creating a new life – as separate, loving parents to our girl. Yes, she could spend Christmas with him in England and summer holidays. We’d make it work. But no, I didn’t want a cup of tea, I was going to sleep.

The next morning, the light was extraordinary when I woke in the room that Molly now sleeps in. Shadows and light of morning glows like a treehouse when the trees are in bloom.

There are no leaves out yet – so far there is only the red weight of flowers on the tips of branches promising, promising to deliver soon. This morning I woke at an odd hour and did not return to sleep – remembering, feeling him here, one of my benevolent ghosts. For years, I took the day off, but I no longer feel paralyzed by grief. Time does this. The sadness comes in flashes, unpredictably – thoughts of the terrible morning, imagining the pain he was in was so great that he couldn’t have imagined ours. Could he?

Every day I remember him. And often, those memories inspire laughter. Out for a walk on Sunday, Molly and I greeted a group of men as we passed them, all hovering over an old car. We continued on and in my mind, Neil was with us but had stopped to join the banter. We walked ahead as he made new friends. Laughing, I told Molly this – that if her dad was with us how we’d be still standing at the end of the street waiting until he caught up, his long strides covering the distance in half the time. He’d fill us in on who they were and what they were up to – a marvel that he’d be able to garner so much information since he was usually the one doing the talking. He’d have told him about the Maserati we once owned for a month in Italy before it was stolen. Or some old beauty antique he’d driven in England before my time. He was there with us.

Out walking Rufus after work today, one of my neighbors stepped out of her house to chat with me. Our first post-winter catch-up. Had I heard about the mailman busted for stealing money and gift cards out of our boxes? We caught up on the kids and then she asked with a pause,  ‘isn’t this…’ yes, I answered, with my voice suddenly thick with the rumble of possible tears. Thank you for remembering. She said, I’ll never forget.


Posted in Grief and Healing, Seasonal Musings | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments