I had a conversation with my dear 93 year old Aunt Helen shortly before she died, about how good the old days really were. Memories of my grandmother’s home-baked bread, of family gatherings, home and hearth and love and laughter, cuddling us both in remembered grace, were like a feather comforter for the spirit. “Life isn’t better now,” she mused, “just faster and more complicated.” Continue reading “Legacy” »
I wish you could all share the experience I’ve just recounted, but I realize it’s not so easy to find a Medicine Man unless you happen to live in Santa Fe or Sedona, but perhaps there’s another way to leave the past behind, if you choose to. Several people have written about this technique, but I learned it from a wonderful metaphysician named Rev. Margarite Batease of the Soul Heal Ministry, so I’ll pass along her methodology. Continue reading “Cutting Away the Past In Case There’s No Medicine Man Handy” »
“How would you like to do a sacred ceremony to free you from whatever you choose not to carry with you, anymore?” my Medicine Woman friend asked me earnestly. “In tribal custom,” she continued, “when the time comes for you to become a Wise Elder it’s necessary to become whole again for the good of the tribe.” Continue reading “Time Shares in My Body” »
I wanted to love and be loved forever. I wanted to grow old with the man I loved. Like Yeats with Maude Gonne, we’d love the sorrows of each others’ changing faces, and it wouldn’t matter one whit if we weren’t young and beautiful anymore, because we’d laugh together at the losses and infirmities, and we’d see each other on the inside, where our hearts and souls would still be lovely as before, and we’d bask together in the beauty of a life well-lived, a family well-raised, shared accomplishments to look back on with pride and affection. Continue reading “What I Learned About Love” »
“Language instead of tears. Anger instead of pent-up misery. Action and change instead of acceptance and self defeat. A warrior instead of a victim.”
—Nellis Wong, Poet, founder, the Women Writers Union
I was married for twenty years to a man I loved far too much for far too long. It never, not even for one minute, occurred to me that I wouldn’t be married to him forever. All my dreams — to say nothing of my time, money, reputation and even my business life — were all inextricably intertwined with his, in that comforting entanglement that grows with the years and makes you feel loved and safe. Continue reading “Divorce… and the Grace to Go Forward with Courage” »
When your worst nightmare comes to pass a second time, a bizarre numbness sets in to keep you alive. When my daughter Bronwyn died, six years after her sister’s death, I simply went underground and for two months did nothing but try to live through it. I couldn’t write or even talk about my loss, couldn’t find sense in her journey, couldn’t do anything to make myself understand how both my daughters could be gone. I knew by then that time doesn’t heal all wounds, that the sorrows of losing those you love are always just a thought away, and that much to your astonishment, “life goes on,” as Edna St. Vincent Millay said, “I forget just why.” And you must find a way to go on, too. Continue reading “… and Having Writ, Moves on” »
“You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when. You can decide how you’re going to live now.”
—Joan Baez, Folksinger
When my daughter died at thirty-five, in the midst of my grief, I had an irrational recurrent guilt that I hadn’t bought her more hot fudge sundaes. She loved them so, but in a lifetime of illness and heart problems, her weight was always her bane, and so hot fudge sundaes were few and far between for her. Continue reading “What Do You Love?” »
Losing a child is a special kind of grief, irrevocably out of sync with nature. We’re not supposed to bury our children — the mind and heart rebel and struggle to find a place to contain the unbearable and unthinkable.
We give birth to infinite love when we give birth to our children. Joy, hope, dreams, ambitions all crystallized in one tiny new life, unsullied by the world’s perfidies or sorrows. We hold our small miracle in our arms in a state as close to ecstasy and God as humankind ever gets. Continue reading “On the Death of a Child” »
When my daughter died, I couldn’t find the strength to say the words aloud. Passed away, I could manage, as if she still hovered somewhere just outside my reach. Died was final and irrevocable and I simply could not say the word.
The first few weeks after her death were a haze of grief. A time of pain so deep it blotted out light. When I roused from this torpor of sorrow — through no effort of my own, mind you, but because the human spirit seeks survival against all odds and assaults – I found myself not quite alive, but in a period of sleepwalking. Continue reading “The Heart That Once Truly Loves Never Forgets” »
Truth is I need to pray to a Mother God sometimes… not a Father God. One who’ll understand without more explanation than I have the oomph to give. Which is really odd, in my case, as my Mother never understood and my father always did, but still the mythos of being gently Mothered must live in my longings… or maybe it’s because the cranky, stern, male God of my childhood Catholicism, bears no relation to my gentle, kindly father, so I don’t connect the two. Continue reading “Prayer for Me” »
I grew up talking to God… an Irish thing to do. Walking down the street saying, Hi God, it’s me Cathy, how are You today? That’s a great tree You made. Thanks for the sunrise. Please help me with my math test. Please make it easier for my mother to breathe. That kind of conversation. I didn’t want Him to think I was a fair-weather friend, who’d only call on Him in times of need. So I talked, and I knew He listened. If I prayed, He always answered. Sometimes He said no. Continue reading “Chatting with Heaven” »
My mother could foretell death. She’d inherited the family banshee, the Irish harbinger who shrieks her fatal message to one member of each generation to let them know that someone is about to die. “What a pity about John,” she might say, “he’ll be gone by June 15th,” and close family members knew enough not to make plans with John for the 4th of July. Continue reading “Irish Childhoods are Different” »
Because she didn’t understand that love was meant to be soft and warm, but she intended to be loving, nonetheless, my mother gave from her brain, instead of her heart. I believe her heart had been battered shut in childhood by a tyrannical father and ineffectual mother, but her mind was limitless and her teaching skills formidable, so that would have to do.
When I was five, she insisted the local librarian permit me access to the adult library. She disapproved of children’s books, except as occasional recreational airbisquits for the brain, and even at that, Anne of Green Gables was about as airbisquity as was acceptable.
I had a vision, shortly after my daughter died, in which I saw her standing on a great plain of Light, through which a Golden Road traveled towards Infinity. She stood solemnly, awaiting a command to move on – with Dakota and me standing like sentinels, one on either side. She said we mustn’t set foot on the road, or we’d have to cross over to the Other Side, but that we could travel with her for a while. Continue reading “Traveling Companions” »
Some things you never forget. Like the comfort of your father’s hand in yours when you’re small and afraid, or the final ember of light in the eyes of your dying child.
Other threads are inextricably woven into the softer fabric of soul. The sensuous, cold satin of summer’s first ice cream on your five year old tongue… the careless rapture of life before cognizance of consequences tempers immortality. The first triumph that defines your path. The first loss that staggers you into the inexorable realization of death.