Tag Archives: Love Lasts Forever

Swan Songs

Swan Songs Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops changing colors of fall foliage as she contemplates death as a beautiful transition rather than death as the end.Ancient legends tell us of the swan, mostly silent during its lifetime, that sings a song of great sweetness and joy in the moments before its death. A swan song.

In the fall of 2011, when doctors announced they’d found a donor and were scheduling my daughter’s stem cell transplant, she told them, “I can’t. My concert. I have to do my concert first.” Everything was put on hold until after she’d performed her songs on a crisp fall evening, to the crowd at The Nines in Collegetown. “I wanna see more of you dancin’,” she’d sung out that magical night. Later, I wondered if Marika knew it would be her last performance.

Now, every day I can, I go out hiking with friends under brilliant blue cloudless skies. In these bright days before the trees are stripped bare to the bone, I gaze at their rainbow of fall foliage. “October is more colorful than Christmas,” I tell my companions, as I gather a few perfect leaves to take home. The wind picks up, and red and yellow leaves fall gently. “It’s like watching the forest cry,” I say. The show of color is October’s glorious swan song.

Death is not the end. Death is change. Transformation. Some call it beautiful. It is a beautiful transition. Birth and death are simply two points on a continuum, the circle of life. We have been dying since the time we were born. Every minute of every day, cells in our bodies are dying. Eventually our physical bodies die completely. But our spirits are still singing somewhere. I have to believe this. I’m still hearing, “I wanna see more of you dancin’.”

Rain and colder weather are in the forecast. This may be the last warm evening until next spring. I’m on the deck singing, with my dog, a ripe pear, cheese, and a glass of Madeira. If I sing and dance and do everything like it’s my swan song, when it’s my time to transition, I will have lived my physical life with my fullest heart.


How does one live life to the fullest? If you were to plan out your last great act on this Earth, what would it be?




Valentines for the Lost and Lonely

Valentines for the Lost and Lonely“Its heart is broken,” I say, to the woman at the counter, holding up a damaged box of Valentine’s Day chocolates. I buy it anyway. Plus ten Mozart chocolate balls. The shelves around me drip pink and red heart-shaped boxes and stuffed animals with bows. I hug my purchase and tell myself it’s “from Marika,” the daughter I loved so much that my heart broke when she died. On this holiday, one of her favorites, I will treat myself the way I treated her for twenty years; I will spoil myself.

For days I had listened with envy as my married and partnered friends yammered on about the jewels they got last year, the gifts they are expecting, and where they will be taken for dinner. I would not be receiving any bracelets or chocolate.  No chance this year; the men in my life being my son, my cat, Anderson Cooper of CNN nightly news, and this picture I took of an ancient Mesopotamian genie at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that’s sat on my desk for months waiting to be photo-shopped. If I wanted Valentine’s Day to happen, I would have to give up my lost and lonely cover. I would have to become the angel with the arrow.

So I mailed out cheerful cards to my mother, my Aunt Bope and friends who, like me, don’t have Valentine dates this year. And I lined up a dinner and chick flick with a neighbor for evening of the 14th. Then, in honor of my chemo warriors, survivors and deceased, I donated blood. Listening to the special V-Day music mix on the CD my daughter had made, I photo-shopped Facebook valentines for friends and made a list for Friday the 14th:

Send mushy email shout-out to my son.

Light an online candle for my father.

Light real candle and drink port for the memory of his mother, my beloved Omi Rosie.

Post online valentines and good cheer.

I feel like the Valentine fairy. In this coldest winter, I flit around crazily looking for good cheer to pass on. This holiday is just a silly opportunity to send out some welcome sweetness and warmth. But someone somewhere said the best way to mend a broken heart is to keep giving love to others. I say it’s to remember that life ends but love can live forever.