may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone
from maggie and milly and molly and may by e.e. cummings
The other day, I wrote a poem (a very mediocre, and maybe even bad poem) for the first time in a long time. But all at once, I had a good feeling inside me that I didn’t have when I started writing. The way my brain feels writing a poem is something like a bird diving for fish in the ocean. I am the bird and the fish at the same…
Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields
Running on Empty, Jackson Browne
Nostalgia. The word is rooted in the Greek “return home” and “pain,” but personally I don’t experience it as pain only, I experience it as a simultaneous longing and tasting. As if I didn’t know I was so hungry and only one bite of a delicious meal sits before me. What I have and don’t have lingers in the air. It’s wonderful and awesome and heartbreaking.
Summer is not my favorite season, but my…
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
On a hot August afternoon in St. Louis, I sat in the very cold, air-conditioned office of my divorce lawyer. Though we had several mutual friends, Rachel remained highly professional at all times. I’d trusted her to guide me through this gut-wrenching process and here we were — basically at the end of it.
“After you sign these places here,” she pointed to the document in front of her, “I submit it to the judge, he’ll sign and that’s it. …
“Someday soon, you’re gonna have families of your own and if you’re lucky, you’ll remember the little moments like this, that were good.” — Tony Soprano
My niece was a new bat mitzvah on the afternoon of June 15, 2021. My daughter and I were excited to be there — we’d flown to Philadelphia (our first plane trip in almost two years), rented a car and braved the Garden State Parkway to join the celebration. In the later afternoon that Saturday, we breathed in the humid, marshy smell of the coastal, New Jersey air and waited as people bustled in…
That’s great, it starts with an earthquake
birds and snakes, and aeroplanes
And Lenny Bruce is not afraid.
It’s the End of the World As We Know It, R.E.M.
My maternal grandmother, Virginia, was born in 1908 in Granby, Missouri — the second youngest of 10 children. When she and my grandfather got engaged in the early 1930s, they postponed their wedding and remained engaged for three years, awaiting some hope for the end of the Great Depression, some return to stability and predictability.
My Gran died in 2004, when she was almost 95 and I was 31 years old…
There are no unsacred places. Only sacred places and desecrated places.
poet, Wendell Berry
In 2003, I was not yet 31 years old — a young, married woman and by June of that year, I was very pregnant. My husband and I spent this early summer Saturday morning in our basement, packing up for a move to a bigger house before our baby arrived.
As we organized, sorted, and trashed the detritus that accumulates in basements, I picked up the unity candle from our wedding, housed on a dusty shelf. I held it up toward him, “Do we really need…
The art of losing isn’t hard to master…
Elizabeth Bishop, One Art
As a grief therapist, I immerse myself in the atmosphere of loss every day. I don’t expect much to be permanent in life. It doesn’t mean I don’t hold the same lunatic hope for permanency that we humans hold and it doesn’t mean that change doesn’t stress me out. As far as the time of Covid unfolded (and still unfolds), and despite my “thorough” preparation, this fourteen months has taken an unexpected toll on me.
I want to confess the bad stuff about me first, because people often…
“…I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
― Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca
I held my three-year-old daughter in my arms in the elevator going up to Heather’s dad’s hospital room. He was about to be admitted to hospice care.
Heather and I were 36 years old — friends since 8th grade history class when something about Mr. Schoenberger’s beard and penchant for talking about rattlesnake bites in the Old West cracked us both up.
I tried to prepare my daughter for what to expect. I didn’t know if it was right or wrong to take her…
Suspicion is the companion of mean souls and the bane of all good society. —Thomas Paine
The porn videos sitting on his bedside table were the first thing I made note of. The one on top was “Poke-ahantas.”
It wasn’t unusual for a paid caregiver to answer the door at a hospice patient’s home and usher me, a hospice social worker, into the bedroom. Mr. K wasn’t in his bed, however.
I’d never met him before; he’d just begun receiving home hospice care the day prior. The nurse’s opening notes said he was born in the former Soviet Union and…
Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing. —Miles Davis
Working around death and dying, I often feel different from other people—alone in a way. Very few people enjoy thinking about dying, disease, and the separation of this life from the “Let the Mystery Be,” as Iris DeMent describes it. Many people are intrigued but only in passing, as if I were a party trick. I understand the avoidance. It is a strange occupation to be with human beings for the express purpose of “helping” them die or, more often, helping their families help them die.
When I worked…