Archive for April 2016

Spring Has Sprung

April 16, 2016

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I know that some of you are still suffering through the last dreary days of the year, so I thought I’d cheer you up with the things that really cheer me up – my garden, and Minou. Both are in fine fettle these days. Here’s a little peek at my garden.

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The entire foreground  used to be lawn, but I had it taken out last fall and replaced with drought-tolerant plantings. It’s just starting to come to life. The gorgeous dogwood tree was already there

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and I love its extravagant showiness. At first I thought it was a rare treasure, but now I see that the whole neighborhood is full of them, the exact same variety – there must have been a big sale on them about 20 years ago.

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Tulips have such a short life, but such a radiant one.

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I planted a cool little tree, a Forest Pansy, which is a kind of redbud. This is its first season to flower.

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Every day I inspect the garden for new flowers, and Minou almost always accompanies me on my rounds.

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At the end of the day this is a sweet spot to sit with a glass of wine, reading the paper, or grilling something for supper, maybe doing a little homework. You can think of me there in just a couple of hours, wine in hand and something on the grill, although definitely minus the homework today. The forecast for today and tomorrow is “sunny and delightful” and I’m taking full advantage of that gift.

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From Darkness, Light

April 6, 2016

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I awoke expecting to feel gutted, on this, the second anniversary of the day Shel died, which was the worst day of my life. I had long envisioned misery, had prepared for it as for an arduous journey. As part of that, I decided to take the advice of hospice, which I had previously scorned, that alcohol and drugs make grief worse, and hadn’t altered my consciousness with anything but the scent of my plum tree in bloom for the past three days.

In anticipation of sorrow, and also because my back was sore from raking in the vineyard, I had slept in my recliner, which always feels like sleeping enveloped in a giant hug. Minou slept in my lap, on the fuzzy blue blanket that Shel used to wrap himself in, and instead of waking me up by knocking random things off my desk as he normally might, he snuggled and purred gently until I felt ready to face the day.

I got up slowly, waiting to feel fragile. I had thought about not going to school, lest I burst into tears in the middle of answering a question about soil micronutrients. I solemnly made myself a comforting breakfast.

And then, I found myself washing dishes, making phone calls I’d been neglecting, doing a little homework, dressing for a warm day, zipping up my backpack, and letting my car follow the well-worn path between my house and school, where I spent an absolutely normal day.

Coming home to a lovely warm afternoon on the patio, I was so tempted by a bottle of rosé in the fridge. And I thought two things about that. One was that maybe they were right, maybe I felt better because I hadn’t been drinking at all. And the other was that I should be feeling worse, that it was unfaithful of me to be spending this day without dissolving into a puddle of sadness. And so I tried, I really did. I thought about all the things that usually tear me apart, about everything I lost on the day Shel died, about how profoundly shattering it was to watch his beautiful light go out. For the first time in two years tears didn’t come to my eyes at the thought of it all. I’m staying away from that rosé though, just in case.

Perhaps later, as darkness falls upon me, grief will accompany it, although I don’t feel it lying in ambush. I wish Shel were here to see the new life I’m slowly making for myself, how I’ve navigated living alone for two years with only Minou for constant comfort, and even to see my tearless eyes on this momentous day. I think he’d be really proud of me.

Blue Screen

April 3, 2016

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When people ask how I came to be here, a student at my age, so far from home, I always reply with some version of “after my husband died I needed to re-boot my life, so…..” But although it’s convenient and universally understood, that’s really the wrong image. Usually when you re-boot, all goes back to normal, to the beginning, as it was before. You turn it off, you turn it on again, et voilà, all is as it should be.

But that doesn’t happen when someone dies. You turn it off, you turn it on, you sleep, you awaken, they’re still gone, you’re still here. The processor is still humming away, but the program is lost, suffered a fatal error. It’s the blue screen of death, each and every time you look at it.

Perhaps in times past people faded more quickly from memory. But now, with digital images, slideshows, videos, audio recordings, the face and smile and voice of the lost one remain here on earth, ever present. A beautiful picture of Shel sits on my desk, just next to this keyboard, and he’s looking right into my eyes every time I dare to glance that way.

It will be two years this week since he died. Two of the longest and shortest years of my life.