The Cracked Mirror

This March I turn 56.  And for the first time, it is not a birthday I welcome.  It will be the first one without my husband since we married over 26 years ago.  My daughter is leaving home and moving to Colorado five days later.  And I look in the mirror these days and feel old.  Not just older, old. It is not something we often admit, certainly not in public or polite company.  And yet here it is. I look in the mirror and see .... Skin that does not snap back the way it used to. Wrinkles in new and ever-expanding places. Gray hair that shows more quickly. Age spots have become constellations across my arms. I need glasses to put on my makeup. Even the shape of my body is changing.  No longer quite so pert nor quite so round. Gravity is having her way with me. Egads.  If this this doesn’t scare the men away... I consider turning off the tap to this train of thought, but then decide, what the hell, in for a penny, in for a pound. Let it pour, let it rant, let it overflow the banks. No way out but through. And so, the pity party rages, and down the rabbit hole I tumble with … Stories about being old, and used up, with nothing to offer, and nothing to give. The flirting is finished, the feeling of being delicious and desirable, done. I imagine what will it be to walk into a room and feel no

Days Like This

And then there are days like today. When I am called to make soup,  with onions and celery and carrots and ginger.  It is my version of Miso soup, hearty with many vegetables.  I slice and dice and sauté and stir while classical music plays in the background. I go to make a cup of tea, staring out the window at the garden filling in beyond.  As I take in a deep breath of the Earl Grey, music in the background, and the soup cooking on the stove, it hits me.  How much I miss him. Amongst the sizzling onions, and wafting steam, and the scent of garlic and Earl Grey.  How very much I miss him. I grasp my belly as I consider escaping the feeling, finding relief in some other task to do. My taxes need reviewing, the trash sits full, the dishes are dirty, my emails are waiting.  But instead I choose to let it come.  To rise up and overflow the banks, to welcome the grief rather than push it away. It is nearly spring.  Daylight savings is around the corner, the days are getting longer.  There are the sounds of birds calling for their mates, and flowers are bursting out in bloom. But on a day like today, I sit myself on the couch, letting myself sink into its welcoming arms.  We have become good friends, my couch and I. Tea in hand, tissue nearby, I let it rise, overflow its banks.  How much I miss

Braver Together

Sometimes we need a hand to hold.  Even though we know we can do it, are strong enough, smart enough to do it, sometimes, we somehow, just don't. Sometimes we need a little extra help, to get us over a hump, a bump. To give us a hug, or a sweet smile, to hold our hand for a little while, as we grow the muscles to do it on our own. Several weeks ago, I wrote about the Rapp Saloon and my desire to read at their poetry open mic. And how, for any number of reasons, I didn’t go. Then last Friday night, my dear friend and writer/teacher extraordinaire, Deborah Edler Brown, sent me a text.  “Hey, want to go to the Rapp Saloon tonight?” Yes.  Yes. Yes. No hassle, no fuss, no anxiety. She came to my house, we had dinner. I drove, it was dark, there was rain. I parked. Then into the room we went, all warm and cozy, buzzing with other poets who were there to listen and to read.  A deliciously delightful host invited us to write our names, a one-line introduction, and something we wanted to share. She began to call out names, and then it was my turn. To walk up to the mic with my poem, “Wells Gone Dry” in hand, and begin to read. I heard my voice echoing in the microphone and looked out into the room, seeing my dear friend’s face, smiling, encouraging me on.  I trembled only a little,

Without Him

It is strange the things that trigger the grieving.  The other day it was my visit to my accountant to prepare our taxes. Every year for over 26 years we had our ritual at tax time.  The annual argument over turbo tax vs. an accountant.  I always voted for the accountant; I usually won.  Then the organizing of receipts as we’d take over the dining room table to decipher the little scraps of paper we’d accumulated throughout the year.  And then finally, we would take a weekend and sit side by side while he read the receipts out loud and I would enter them into the computer. After the appointment, there was always that time when I would sit in my car and pull out my phone to call him to tell him the good / bad news.  And then we would go out to celebrate that we were finished, at least for another year. This year I was so aware of his absence as I went through the process.  No argument over the accountant, no one to help me sort out the receipts. No one to sit by my side, coffee in hand, to read me the details.  And there was no one to celebrate with about the refund we would be receiving this year… * * * Without him.  That is my awareness now. Everywhere I see his missingness, his absence.  Like the crescent moon against a black sky, I am reminded how every little / big thing

If I Were to Die Tomorrow….How Would I Have Lived My Today?

Sitting in a room with other beautiful souls, participating in a Kirtan Concert with Bachan Kaur, I let the heavenly music wash over me.  Eyes closed, heart open, the songs flowed and danced and invited me to settle deep and relax, let go. At the end of the evening, we were invited to share some personal discovery or bit of wisdom with the gathering.  This is what came to me, “If I were to die tomorrow, how would I have wanted to live my today?” In speaking those words, I realized this question has become the benchmark for many of the choices I’ve been making. In years past, at various workshops, I was prompted to write about how I would spend my life if I only had six months left to live.  I never understood the question so urgently as I do now.  I always thought I had time, more time.  To figure it out. More time to get there, wherever there was. In truth, my life was good, great even. I had most everything a woman could want. I had my family, our home, a job I really enjoyed, good friends.  I wrote, and had recently completed directing and producing “Skins I Have Worn,” a life transforming experience. And then Mike died.  And my tomorrow became my today. For the past months, I have only had room for survival, for getting from point A to point B.  Adjusting from couple to single, married to widow. It has been a

Alaska – A Place to be Reborn

Alaska. The name rises up like a word of power, a word of promise. Pristine, clean, home of the Aurora Borealis.  It has called my name, a siren song to my heart, for years.  I remember the first time I even considered visiting.  Mike and I had gone to a travel convention, stopping at the various booths to learn about Spain, Mendocino, Costa Rica.  As we walked down one of the halls, I looked up and spotted a giant poster of Alaska.  Denali loomed huge and majestic in the background. Its wildness beckoning from beneath the clouds.  I felt a ripple move through my body as the vision tugged at my heart.  I grabbed Mike’s arm and pointed, “Yes, yes!  That is a place I must go.  We must go.” I had just been writing about it yesterday morning.  How it had become a place that I still wanted to visit but would no longer be able to do so with my husband.  And, if I went, I would not camp as we’d originally planned, but rather join a cruise, with its safe, comfortable way of viewing the wilderness. But then later that day, out of the blue, my brave, world traveling, daughter asked if I’d be interested in going with her - to Alaska - for the June 24 summer solstice.  She knew I'd longed to go there, a friend of hers was from there and had encouraged her to visit.  His family owned a bush plane company and would