After Hearing A Friend’s Devastating News


I thought by now I’d know what to say,
knowing by heart these woods
and the path,
its straightaways and curves,
rises and dips,
places where the surest of footing
can be lost,
and the questions –
the endless questions –
to which there are no magic answers.

There is just
hanging in there,
putting one foot in front of the other.

I feel I should have more to give.
Instead I rush
with empty pockets,
full heart, wordless,
to say
the answers can only be known
by walking it out.
Oh! And one more thing,
I am willing to walk it with you,
at whatever distance works best.

Posted in compassion, friendship, intentional relating, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Something Right in the World

The whole ESL class walked to the library yesterday. Young children, too. When we emerged, it was raining. Then this happened.

fell in a puddle
while crossing an intersection
and others, from
different places, dressing
differently, speaking
different languages,
came around her to help
and to move her children, too, to safety.

found taking a snapshot
of someone’s unfortunate moment,
so I don’t have one,
but the image in my head
is a picture
of something right in this world.

Posted in refugees | 3 Comments

The Words Come Back

Continuing from “I Lose Touch with a Friend….


IT WAS 18 MONTHS after Ma died and I wasn’t completely back up to speed. I had to pace myself. Exhaustion would come upon me suddenly. Those who have grieved a loss know about this.

I accepted I was no longer writing. Now I needed to learn to be content with it. Contentment, it turns out, is not sold in bulk. It’s like manna – a day-by-day thing.

I guess I had it in the back of my mind that once Ma was gone, things might change. It wasn’t just that I would gain back several hours in my day, but that my concerns for her, which ran 24/7, would be lifted. Then my mind would be freed up for the juices to flow again.

All this to say, I kept waiting for things to get easier.
Instead they got harder.

I’ve wrestled with how to tell this next part without violating the privacy of others, but it needs to be said or an important piece of the story will be missing. Someone dear to us went to jail. (See how I have buried it far enough down that only the most faithful of readers would still be hanging on?) I want to be clear. It isn’t that someone moved far away or went into the service. It was jail. I couldn’t call. I couldn’t yet visit.  There was no way to make contact . . . except one. I sat and penned a letter. Next day, I wrote another. And the next, another.

I was back to putting words on paper. After a few weeks, I switched to the computer so the letters would be searchable, to cut down on how often I repeated myself. 🙂 This turned out to be an important decision.

I had no idea how long this might go on.
It went on for 38 months.

Those letters have ceased. These days I’m working on that story I was given. And it often happens, as I sit in the pre-dawn dark to tackle the next piece of it – coffee to my left, dog to my right, Ma’s wedding photo watching me from a few feet away – that I get a funny feeling. I begin to type and I start to feel I’ve already written it. And indeed I have. I go searching and find it in those letters. There it all is, just waiting for me, all I knew and saw and heard, all that was reinforced and revisited in those last years with Ma. All of it, conveyed in plain, direct writing to an audience of one, without worry over who I might disappoint if it wasn’t told perfectly.

In those moments, it seems everything needed to be the way it was, even the hardest parts. I can’t explain it. I’m just reporting what happened.

This is the last of a 4-part series that began with “A Writing Life, Interrupted.” Thank you for reading about this. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write it all down.

Posted in fear of failure, finding your voice, grief, long view, processing grief, roadblocks, rocky places, writing, you can't make this stuff up | 3 Comments