Garden Therapy


Do you remember reading as a child, or reading to a child, this little ditty from Winnie The Pooh “this warm and sunny spot belongs to Pooh, and here he sits and wonders what to do?” Well, this is my spot, and I’ve been sitting there a lot, wondering how to create the rest of my life.

DSC_8406Toby, not much of a therapy cat, nonetheless loves to hang out in the garden and seems pleased to have my company out there.


I also have dozens, if not scores, of winged companions. Would you say that this is a giant bee, or really tiny flowers? Would you say that trying to compose the next 20 years of my life is a giant challenge, or just a tiny mote in the eye of the universe?

DSC_8373Zazou, who is also interested in bees, shows up to put the flowers into perspective. Me too, I’m in need of perspective. Perhaps if I go back to France and get a little distance from all that’s happened, my troubles too will shrink down to a manageable size.

DSC_8376Sometimes it all seems so dark, with just the tiniest bits of bright spots to remind me to keep my eyes open.

DSC_8390Other times I feel so wide open and exposed that the slightest psychic breeze can carry me away, scattered silly.

DSC_8398But even the bees like a change, like to spread themselves all around the small world of my garden, and so too, perhaps, should I. I’m a bit terrified to go back to France without Shel, lest every single thing remind me of him. But then, how would that be different than here? Thus I also contemplate a trip to some place he and I never went together, to remind myself that I do have a separate existence, now that I’m an off-leash puppy.

DSC_8423Solitary travels, even though I once went to Finland and Russia by myself, aren’t my favorite thing. I need to be able to share the bees, and their stings, the flowers and their thorns, with someone who cares.


I guess it’s all a question of what’s in focus: the beauty or the emptiness, the light or the dark, the loss or the presence. I carry it all within me, as well as those grief bursts, now less frequent, but more powerful. The paradox of the day is that often, right after having had a fine, even fun time, where I think to myself that I’m really doing a whole lot better, it all falls apart once I’m alone, and I dissolve into pain. I need to find a way to let it out bit by bit, like drip irrigation. Who said that tears make things grow? That’s such a gentle image, whereas mine scour me out like steel wool, leaving raw, dull spots where all the shininess has been rubbed off.

DSC_8412But somewhere in there, in the deep, hidden center, there is healing going on. Grief picks at the scab until it bleeds anew, but I put my nose into the heart of this iris and inhale its delicate apricot scent, and I remember that life is beautiful, even though death is part of it. Or maybe life is beautiful because death is part of it.

DSC_8461-002The fact that I am craving beauty, and light, is undoubtedly a good sign. They’ve got those in abundance in the south of France, and I have so many dear friends there. Shel wanted me to go back, even to move there, because he said he’d never seen me happier than when we lived there. French Letters too probably would be happy to be repatriated. J’y pense. I’m thinking about it.

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6 Comments on “Garden Therapy”

  1. Sue Geisler Says:

    I spent a couple of summers trekking around Europe by myself. Did cooking classes and most enjoyed a week alone in a tiny town in the North of Denmark. I was exhausted and “out of balance” with the world. That week was a saver in that it helped me sort out feelings and wishes. I came home and started a business that lasted over 30 years. I retired two years ago now and am happy to be quiet.. You’ll find your way – or – it may just find you!.

  2. Erin Says:

    As I read this, I thought “yes, go back to France.” See how it feels, If it feels terrible after giving it a fair shake, try someplace you and Shel never went together. Maybe that will feel right, maybe not. Is there any appeal in teaching a series of cooking classes in a variety of cities? My heart breaks for you, I wish you the best, and know that you will find your way. PS your garden is gorgeous.

  3. allenlecb Says:

    Go to France, right or wrong, you love the place and the people. If you need a change, I have just come home from Brittany (Guisseny), and it was wonderful.

  4. barrytwyman Says:

    Erin says it all Abra …..xx

  5. Ujwala Says:

    Abra, wherever your heart feels home…xoxoxo

  6. Dakari Wikkeling Says:

    Abra, when my husband died I traveled many places thinking that somehow I would feel better. What I didn’t realize that no matter where I was I was going to feel sad . That saying :”no matter where you go there you are.” was definitely true.

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