Monthly Archives: March 2013

Mothers Sharing Loss

MOMPOINTINGNo one loves me more than my mother. It must have been hard for her to see me so empty for so long, carrying around only memories of my only daughter.

It confounds me how much mothering goes into each person. Each one of us, in our earliest times, had to be carried around, fed and cared for, protected. Every one of us, criminal, teacher, traveler, president, beggar, … is a walking, living investment of time and energy and care. A precious, bottomless vessel of commitment, carried and kept from ruin by someone who must have cared. What did my own mother carry me through? And what did she know of loss? The day at Jones Beach, when I was four and I lost hold of her hand, did she panic? Did she know, for a brief time, how it feels to lose a daughter? Was she plagued with thoughts of what if -, what if -, what if -, like an ongoing heartbeat?

“This is something you never get over,” she said when I visited her recently needing some mothering in the darkest days of winter. “You will live with this the rest of your life.” We talked over omelettes and coffee at Bagel Snack, her regular breakfast spot. My photography class assignment that week was to engage people in their elements and get them to make eye contact.

Even as a mother who has lost a child, I have to remember: my loss is not just my own loss. When my daughter died, someone else lost a daughter. Someone else lost a step-daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a friend, a music partner, a niece, a cousin, a teammate, a classmate, a soul-mate. A dear young member of a community. I was not, nor am I now, alone in my grief. It was easy for me to overlook that in all my pain. But it makes the pain easier to bear when I remember that others share it. And there are so many others who know loss. If I knocked on their doors or met them hiking in the woods, they would offer me tea, hugs, an ear and kindness.

When I snapped this portrait, I believe my mother was telling me, “No, we can’t eat out every night at Arturo’s Ristorante,” a place we share our joys and sorrows over great comforting food.

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Something to Work For

“You’ve worked so hard on this book. Can’t you be satisfied with what it’s done for you? Why do you feel you have to publish it?” asks my friend, Annette, a published poet and fellow griever.

“I’m not sure. It gives me something else to focus on. Something to hope for and work for. And maybe it can be helpful to someone else.”

“Yeah, but you have to do all these other things in order to get it published,” she says.

“Well, maybe nursing a new goal and trying different things is helpful to healing. I haven’t wanted something so much since Marika was alive,” I say. “It feels good to want something again.”

“So how can I help? I’m ready, I’m willing. Read to me. I want more,” Annette begs.

“Then read on,” I say.


For days Suki was barking at the electric fireplace in my bedroom. I assumed a mouse was trapped behind it and ignored her. For days. Around the same time I noticed Suki had stopped begging me to play. She no longer followed me around the house squeaking her favorite toy, a green ball. Then one day I wanted to play with her but couldn’t find the squeaky green ball. I looked all over the house with Suki at my heels.

“Suki, where’s your green ball?” I finally asked her. And she immediately trotted to the fireplace and began to bark. Sure enough, stuck behind, out of her reach, was the green ball. We’d communicated, made a connection. We could play.

I need my readers’ help. All these wonderful comments you’re sending me via email can help demonstrate to a publisher that lots of people will buy my book. But the comments need to be sent directly through my blogsite to count. It means you have to first go to the site – easy – just click on the highlighted title at the top (left) of the weekly email that’s sent to you. A click on that bluish-green title takes you to the actual site. There you can view my entry as it was meant to be seen. And at the end of each posting there’s a place to leave a comment. Every time someone comments there, on the blogsite, my site’s analytic platform-measurement score grows. I don’t understand it myself. And it’s embarrassing to ask for your help. But this social media metrics is something I need to start attending to. Because I’m polishing the last chapters now and working on my book proposal. It won’t be long before publishers check out my site to see if I can gather, grow and hold an audience. So please click on the greenish title and comment bar. And let’s play – I mean communicate.

Thank you for reading.

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ALWAYSMy daughter signed her letters, notes to friends, emails … everything, “Always, Marika.”

Was it a promise? Or a plea to remember her? Was it wishful thinking? A wink at immortality?

Who dares to say “Always” in a world plagued by climate change and global warming? How can she sign something “Always” with nuclear weapons prolification, terrorism, financial meltdowns and ecological destruction rife all over the Earth? With freak accidents, madmen with guns, asteroid impacts? Cancer. A million things can go wrong. It takes just one to end your “Always.” So how can anyone even imagine “Always?”

Always is every time, at all times and For all time. Forever. Continually, repeatedly, in any case and without end. Always is the sun rising and setting, hopefully. Time. Space. Rocks, maybe. But even the Earth may not be around for always.

Shortly after Marika died I found a small gold ring in her room. A ring, an unbroken circle, symbolizes infinity and undying love in many cultures. But this ring is one of those adjustable bands where the ends don’t meet. As soon as I put it on I could tell it would snag on something someday and fall off. It is not for always; sooner or later I will lose it. And that will be okay. I’ll wear Marika’s ring as long as I have it; when it’s gone I won’t regret not tucking it away in a box or someplace safe.

We used to say that Marika lived like the lights could go out at any time, like she had only an hour left. How differently would we live if we all had expiration dates stamped on us like cans of beans?

Maybe I need to embrace “Always” and live like I’ll never expire.

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The Second Anniversary


“Susan and Stephen want us all to come for brunch on Tuesday,” say my friend Liz and her daughter, Nicole, over the phone on Friday.

“I can’t. I have my class on Tuesday,” I say.

“Well how about breakfast on Monday then?” Liz asks.

“No, I can’t on Monday.”

“Whatcha got going on Monday?” she pushes.

“Monday’s the second anniversary of Marika’s dying. I don’t want to do a get-together with people then. It’s the wrong kind of energy,” I say.

“Well what ARE you doing for Monday?” she prods.

“I haven’t really figured it out yet. Something quiet, reflective, alone. Light candles. Walk with Suki around the pond? I don’t know yet. Maybe a campfire, yeah, she loved campfires.”

“Well let me know how we can help,” Liz says.

“You wanna help me build a campfire?”

“In the snow?” she laughs nervously knowing I’m serious.

“Yeah. A campfire in the snow. A little warmth in all the wet and cold. I don’t know,” I say sensing a mutual doubt about this proposal. “I need to think. With March 4th coming up I’ve been worried and confused for days. There’s no way I’m gonna be fit for company on Monday,” I end the conversation.

It is my season of hailstorms and hurricanes, this 2 ½ month period from March 4th to Mothers’ Day. In between those dates fall my birthday and Marika’s. These are all opportunities to wallow in misery and close off the world. My mind whirls painfully as I try to sort out what this day really means and how I should commemorate it. What keeps coming up is my Aunt Bertha. My favorite aunt lost her husband on her birthday over forty years ago. To this day, during the entire month of August, she refuses to let us visit her or wish her well. She has kept mostly to herself for almost half a century, feeding on little other than her immense sorrow.

The day my daughter died was the worst day in both our lives. It’s a date I’ll never be able to forget but why should I celebrate this day? The only good thing about it was the kindness, the support, of so many friends. I would never have come through that day and the past two years without my friends.

“Hey Nicole,” I call back. Did you and Liz finalize a day for the breakfast or brunch yet? Because I think a breakfast with friends is EXACTLY what I need on Monday.”
So today, in recognition of the day two years ago when I lost Marika but found my caring community, I sat by the pond, remembering the good things about Marika and my life with her. And then I took Suki to breakfast with Liz and Nicole at Susan and Stephen’s house. My friends, Barb and Jan, took me out for lunch with Brie. I took Marika’s friend Rachel and her new wife out for sushi dinner. And in between, because the assignment in photo class this week was to take 70 pictures of people in their environments, I went to Dennis and Virginia’s and Dan and Celia’s with my camera, counting friends, counting my blessings.

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