steps

After our first bike ride of the season.

The pace of life is picking up and has been for a while although I admit to becoming aware of it long after other people who are more of the busy world.  I know many people who have already gone to far away places, stayed for a month and come back with healthy looking skin and bright eyes.

This coming Sunday, I am scheduled to teach pysanky writing at my church and a friend wanting to sign up noted that there are two others events going on—a zoom Moth Story hour and an in-person music rehearsal.  Wasn’t it just last week when every gathering happened in front of a computer monitor? How glorious that there are now conflicts. How glorious that travel time is now part of many plans!

But I live a small life. 

On Sunday, on our way into church—we arrive an hour before services begin to go to choir practice—Julia and I noticed perfect small yellow narcissus blooming in corners around the back of the building.  Without a spring garden of my own, I notice and cherish those brave little yellow blooms.  I know that even though the day may be warm and sunny, there are cold days ahead. Silently, I wish the brave blooms are sheltered enough to survive another freeze. 

And I wondered, had I seen blooms in this place before? I might have just before we were locked down two years ago, but what I remember from that time is only the spring flowers we saw on our Covid daily walks.  I think it is probable that these little narcissus bloomed in 2020 after no one was walking into the church building and last year it was the same. I think to thank them for their perseverance and persistence, their willingness to be so beautiful even when no one was looking. 

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a happy ending

Snail slow and in ever decreasing increments, I come back to and move onto some completed changed old self.  Never walking into the same river twice, but stepping on the same stones, recognizing the direction of water flow. The books strewn around the house—some closed with bookmarks, some open, face down on the coffee table, on the desks, on the edge of the bed far from where I sleep—they were not there six month ago. I walked around the house this morning looking for the book that I’ve decided to start my mornings with. I almost cannot write, cannot think a single thought before I read the reading for today.

I am my own delicious throwback to days before Covid and quarantine and autism and moving and death and heart transplant and a wild child. Who was that me way back then? I have almost, but not completely, forgotten her.

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traveling

Lily Pond at Longwood Gardens

We are home and . . . .

We left on Friday, early in the day.  There was the threat of rain but there was also Longwood Gardens, one of my favorite places in the entire world, a bit more than an hour north.  On the way home.  Almost.  It never rained but it was cloudy and clammy.  Julia complained, but I was not to be dissuaded from indulging in the garden.  We did some walking, less than I would have liked, more than Julia wanted.  Compromise!  Beds of color do not impress her, but the water fountain with musical accompaniment was pretty thrilling.  Best of all was when I found the plant that is her favorite.  I almost didn’t find it.  It was in the very last exhibit, behind the green house, in a corner of the water lily ponds.  Mimosa pudica, also called the sensitive plant.  The tiny ground hugging plant with leaves that fold at the slightest touch is of never ending fascination to Julia.  And she was thrilled we found it.

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thoughts on the coming transitions

Julia put on a red plaid skirt, a green plaid shirt and a tiny white shrug today, together with some anime character knee socks and her white sneakers. The sneakers a concession because she has track after school.  When I saw the clothes heaped in a pile on the bathroom floor, ready for after shower dressing, I made my sour lemon face which Julia did not see—those clothes do not go together.  And admittedly, if I tried to put them together . . .  but then again, I would have never attempted to put two plaids together let alone a dark red and a light green.  Julia put them on and they looked okay, interesting even, somehow not outlandish at all.

Julia has her own style.  Always. And she is on her own learning curve.  I have said these things, thought these things for a long time.  The mantra has seeped into my soul and I am beginning to believe it.

Julia will be walking in the high school commencement ceremony in a few weeks.  She will not get a regular diploma—something that was hard to give up on when she was in 9th grade and something that I am so grateful that I did not hold onto.  I think she might have been coaxed and prodded through the requirements and MCATS at Newton North, but not during these crazy two years, not during her rough transition from Madison in the months before shut down.

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a tzaddik

9:41 pm

I sit in front of the laptop.  I talked to two friends and cannot get to Cheshire via text or phone.  I scroll through Facebook, watching who sends sad emojis to me and sending my own sad emojis to as many friends as I can who posted the sad news of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death tonight.

I found a live coverage in front of the Supreme Court building.  People milling about.  Lighting, holding and leaving candles.  Talking.  Every so often it almost seems like singing will begin but so far, no songs.  Two people are holding pride flags, a few guys on bikes join the crowd, a few dogs bark.  There is applause now and then, as if someone had come out or said something, but there is nothing to hear.  Really, nothing is happening.  It is sad.  It is a wake.  Respectful.  I would like to be there.  And I watch.

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roots, wings, officers & self-pity

237D0ECB-BCFD-4BAE-8FF4-AEAD4D5CFD26The wedding and the week at the lake house were wonderful but not without snags and challenges—challenges that have continued into the new week.

On Friday afternoon at the lake, Julia had a melt down.  It was not about anything in particular and it was not the worst she has had but it hurt me pretty deeply.  We had spent the week with Cheshire’s new in-laws and they were lovely to us, to Julia.  We’ve been with them for holidays and the long weekend over the Fourth of July.  Their interest in Julia and kindness towards her cannot be faulted. Even their children are kind and loving. It was precisely for those reasons that Julia’s behavior hit me so hard.  She was making the situatin difficult and uncomfortable.  All I could see at that point was that I had brought a very difficult family to the table. Quickly my hurt devolved into self-pity. Everyone else was coupled, I was alone.  I could not even deliver Cheshire’s father to the wedding. Okay, that was not my fault. At least, I knew that rationally, but rationality had no place in that dark space.  My aloneness and loneliness, that I fought against all week, reared its ugly head. I saw myself as a taker and my move to Boston as a mistake. If I was far away, Cheshire could, for the most part, engage with her husband’s extended family without the challenges that Julia brings to every event. Of course, when I voiced some of this to Cheshire, she disabused me of the ideas.  Continue reading

right here

A short note on grief: To anyone who has silently complained about a friend grieving too long, or who has wondered WHEN their own grieving would cease and themselves back to their old self, I have learned that grieving is a process without end.  You grow the rest of your life around it, it doesn’t disappear.  At some time, you will or you might do everything you would have done before losing your beloved.  You might do more than your pre-grieving life could have imagined but at any moment, the everyday round can side swipe you.

Today, a Mary Oliver poem popped in my inbox and I read:

“It is
your life, which is so close
to my own that I would not know

where to drop the knife of
separation.  And what does this have to do
with love, except

everything?”

Nine years disappeared and I was right there wondering about the me who considered myself so independent through out all of my marriage and who found breathing almost impossible after David stopped breathing. 

And it is with so many feelings, including gratitude, that I find myself back there.  Or rather, right here.

beach day

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Time is crazy.  I’ve been chatting with Cheshire and some friends back home.  I think it is last night.  I look at the dates on this blog and they are not necessarily reflective of when I posted.  Not exactly.  I acknowledge how tied I am to clock and calendar.  How would I do in a Star Trek universe? Jumping galaxies, condensing and expanding time. I’m overthinking.  I am inclined to hold the time differences in my head—it doesn’t work.  I write, I post, I text.  I just hope I haven’t woken anyone up. Continue reading

liturgical year

It is Thursday and we’ve been out of internet range except for select minutes for days. I have many pictures to post from our incredible hikes in the outback, the center of Australia. There is no way they will upload on hotel internet but I will have access to better soon.

Today is the eighth anniversary of David’s death. I wrote what comes next earlier today.

I never understood the church year and as a kid I wondered why from year to year the stories did not change because some of the repetition bored me. Now I have my own liturgical year, March to July, transplant to expiration. I can relive it in an instant, scenes with vivid recall like yesterday, clearer than yesterday. Eight journeys around the sun so far. Those early ones when the best I could do was to find care for Julia while I allowed for a good long wallow in pain. Then, the years of Miyazaki movies and Chinese takeout. First just the two of us and then with friends (Bless them for their indulgence).Then sitting in piazza San Marco with gin and gelato and observing in NYC with Cheshire and Indian food. Today, waking up in a cold tent, cuddling with Julia for warmth under heavy blankets. Traveling the Australian outback with a group of people we didn’t know three days ago. Last night, arriving at a camp site not set up for us, we made up beds and cooked a noodle dinner together, eating so late that Julia’s eyes were closing. No way I could have imagined today eight years ago. No way could I have imagined the company we would keep this day. Grieving, observing, and one day, not quite yet, celebrating the years and the life I/we share with David. Continue reading

cheer & finals & loss

Saturday: My second basketball game in as many days.  No, I haven’t gone over to the dark side (excuse me, my basketball-loving Hoosier friends).  Julia is cheering.  Not perfectly by any means although pompoms hide many a sin, cheerleaders stand to one side of the basket and cheer from the side, and most folks are here for the basketball players. She is very happy.  Tonight she doesn’t even have ear plugs in. The gym’s echo is quite pronounced and the buzzer is incredibly loud and annoying.  No complaints from the girl.

I realize that it is me that wants and expects perfection before performance.  Julia and her cheer coach do not.  Julia is out in front of the crowd on her own terms.  Sometimes she perseverates on how she holds her pompoms and she does not stand as still as the other girls. And people do notice.  As we left on Saturday, various people told Julia that she did a great job.  Some of the compliments were accompanied by a knowing look to me.  She is being congratulated for her chutzpah, her sheer and absolute nerve to insist on being herself even in a line up of girls all the rest doing the exact same thing.  If there is pity, I refuse to see it.  This is a hard lesson for me—a lesson in letting her go and letting her be herself.  I would prefer that she show her independence by cutting up her food and sleeping in her own bed every night. I would prefer to let go of reminding her to go to the bathroom and listen and respond to people talking to her.  Instead, she insists on my letting her go in front of crowds with pompoms. Continue reading