I’m not feeling well today, so enjoying the sanctity of home, I dip into trees as they’re sliced into paper to anchor words in books. The living trees look into this room, approving this bound way to transform.

I peruse book shelves until one book calls and a page beckons. I look up and a hummingbird flutters by offering nectar to my heart.

I’m feeling peace around my brother’s passing on April 14.  As I talk to people, I learn more and more I’m not alone. We bond in the bands that are stretched and expanded, offering horizons beyond what we see or logically know.  We loosen what’s caught.  

Today, I’m drawn to open W.S. Merwin’s book, “Present Company”. I come to this poem.

To ______________

There is no reason

for me to keep counting

how long it has been

since you were here

alive one morning

as though I were 

letting out the string

of a kite one day at a time

over my finger

when there is no string

I sit with that, aware that the tsunami of tears has calmed.  Moisture fills my eyes and heart, the moistening connection that never severs, only lengthens and strengthens each breath, no strings attached.  

Rocks that form a turtle coming out of a rock-hard shell

Circling, the center holds

Tender with Ease

Fog and sun balance on the ridge.  I feel balanced this morning, grounded.  I walked with a friend yesterday afternoon/evening embraced by the trunks of redwoods.  We watched the sun set and the nearly full moon move like a ship in the sky.

I read about how we need quiet, silence, how quiet places are being developed where people can pay and be taught how to listen.  We’re so bombarded with noise that we’ve forgotten how to listen. I listen now, the only sounds the clicking of my keys when I type, my stomach growling requesting nourishment, and birds.  All is still except the slow movement of pink fog. I feel myself pulled on its exploration, its ease. Sometimes it rushes in but this Sunday morning all is quiet.

My brother was born on July 17, so would have been sixty-six in three days.  My mother who passed in 2005 would have been 92 on July 16. What is it about birthdays even when the person is gone that strikes a match inside?  I’m tender, tender today, tender with ease.

The evening view from my friend’s home

The moon, a beacon in the sky

Reflecting on the Gifts of Living

Last night the half moon increased the gold in its light as it moved across the darkening, then, black clear sky.  This morning fog rests momentarily on the ridge It dips down into the valley as though licking a spoonful of sweet before it dissolves.

I watch and understand transition, embrace and release as I dip and sip this moving change of form, this transformation of matter to air.  I appreciate the gift in not knowing when that final sip will come.

Yesterday Marlene and I took the train from San Rafael to Santa Rosa.  It’s called a Smart train which is ironic since it’s path is too short to be of much use to commuters who sit stopped on the freeway as the train moves along passing tidal ponds, pools, and marsh filled with parent and baby birds.  

It’s a landscape of aliveness, and aliveness sparks inside the train too, as separate lives unite in moving along past hills, trees, parking lots, businesses, and homes.   As seniors we have special pricing and seats, and I appreciate that as I sit erect, representing youth in maturity, as garbed in my years, I could be wearing diamonds, silk, velvet, and lace, rather than sandals, sweater and pants.  My spine stacks erect, wisdom represented in the grace of unknowing aligned. 

We exit the train and walk, turning this way and that, to a restaurant Marlene found on-line when she Googled patio seating.  We arrive to learn the outside seating is full.

Well, there is an advantage to the look of disappointment on faces our age so we are quickly ushered to a private garden where leaves are brushed off a small table to be replaced with cloth napkins, water, tableware, and bread.  Our attentive waiter brings us all we need, including a finale of cannoli as delicate and airy as the fog I view now.

At the table, Marlene hands me a copy of the poem “What the Living Do” by Marie Howe.  She offers it as support for my brother’s passing. I wait to read it until I get home as I prefer not to show emotion in public.

Home, I read and finish with:

“I am living.  I remember you.”

Sipping Within



My sensory awareness group met today.  As I settled into myself and felt the support of the floor and the chair, a tear came and rolled down my cheek.  My throat felt tight and scratchy and I began to cough. Grief extended into my heart and down to my feet.

I shared that I was experiencing a visceral feeling of grief from my brother’s death on April 14th.  I had hoped I’d moved on.

Later, a woman  who’d just completed a workshop at Spirit Rock on death, dying and aging asked if I thought what I was feeling related “just” to my brother’s death.  I knew that it was more than that. She suggested that my feelings related to impermanence.

I could feel how true that was.

Later we worked with flexibility using partly inflated balls.  I felt my holding and inflexibility. I was trying to hold a stance of strength. I felt the work of holding back tears, what it does to my legs, neck, and spine.

What I learned today is that flexibility and impermanence relate and when I can honor the waves of both, float a little more openly on the natural movement I am, I can breathe, and tears may come, but in and through the tears there are waves, and released, I breathe, and am breathed.

Allowing immersion in impermanence, I hold both joy and sorrow, no dividing, and there I celebrate the wonder of being alive. Vitality is my wand and spring when I honor that impermanence is the ocean and land we share.  There’s nothing to do and nowhere to go. I’m here.

Even rocks know tears –

Sunflowers as Teachers

The fog is a tight wrap this first Sunday in July, and yet I wake thinking of sunflowers.

Yesterday I learned two friends lost their siblings.  One lost her twin.  

I’ve stopped counting the days since my brother passed, months now, but found myself expanding out into loss, into an ability to be a circle of petals rather than a tightly held bud of pain and grief.

Last week I joined Steve in his Alexander Technique session.  In my first attempt to come down and sit on a stool, I felt fear still held in my knees from the accident where I broke bones in both feet and couldn’t walk.  I find myself wanting to honor all that is true for me – fear, grief, anger, love. I want to receive the changes as they come.

May this be so for this collection of matter animated spirit today.

Love, Peace, and Ease.

Sunflowers share a vase – come together and part

Mergansers at the marsh – photo by Bob Dresser, recently passed away

Morning Mourning

My sons are support as I deal with transition and grief.  They hold a container for me. We three love the book The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  We read it aloud when they were young.  Again, this morning I read the part where the robin directs her to the key and then to the ivy-hidden door.

I sit with that now, with gardens and doors.   

Peer into Roses and Bowls

Rocks or Doors?

Living in the Layers

I wake to hear my cat Tiger breathing in my ear. He’s resting on the pillow next to mine.  When I turn my head, I peer into huge owl eyes.

His eyes invite me into my own. I notice the layers, the delicate touch of lid on ball, and as I feel the layers in my eyelid, I feel rivers, banks, mountains, rocks, and sky.  As Walt Whitman said, “I contain multitudes.” 

Yesterday I flung a bright yellow tablecloth over our round kitchen table.  I placed a softer yellow candle in the middle and lit it. I wanted to rise on a new flame, to let the grief of my brother’s passing 75 days before, and the grief of little Velvet leaving on Tuesday, rise into the sky. 

Then, the sunset last night was bright red – fire, and now this morning I see soft, white clouds – layers layering the sky.

I’m reminded of the poem “The Layers” by Stanley Kunitz.

The poem ends with this:

In my darkest night,

when the moon was covered

and I roamed through wreckage,

a nimbus-clouded voice

directed me:

“Live in the layers,

not on the litter.”

Though I lack the art

to decipher it,

no doubt the next chapter

in my book of transformations

is already written.

I am not done with my changes.

“I am not done with my changes.”  Life beckons. I’m alive. 

My friend Elaine is participating in a study at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, IONS. One question is: “Could you love a flower as much as you love a person?”

My first thought is of the transience of a flower.  A flower’s life is short compared to mine and yet the petals fall and there is fruit.  As we mature, do we feel our own petals fall? Do we feel ourselves letting go? I believe my father, mother, brother, and yes, little Velvet did too.  Did they see the fruit they’d leave behind? Yes, and we who are left nourish on it now.  

My heart blooms with love when I look at a flower, a mirror veining connection between mountains and rivers, life and death.

Morning Sky

Day 75: A Little More on Grief

I sit here now after a Zoom call with three close friends.  The four of us spoke about and shared the weight and pain of grief.

I shared how on Tuesday I broke down when I bent to pet a little dog.  Sobbing I told the man who held the leash that my son and his wife had just lost their little dog Velvet/Vellie.

I’m not one to cry in public and certainly not with a man simply walking by.  What’s happening to me now? What is this weight that continues to break apart?

Anna led us today in Sensory Awareness.  We began by moving from our elbow, allowing our elbow to lead.   We then allowed the wrist to lead, the pinkie. As we moved the arm and shoulder blade, we felt into the back of our lungs, the front of our heart.

I felt how I hadn’t been breathing fully, had been holding onto my breath.  We spoke of how there may be a place for that, a place to hold back, and as I sit here I think of how grief, all grief, touches us deeply within and asks us to pull apart as though removing a shirt.  What is it to live with a full heart, open and exposed, beating, beating, beating, pounding the sound of breathing, connecting transition with love?

We agreed it may feel painful to allow the full pulse and weight of grief, but only those who do so are allowed to reach into the tangled thorns and bring forth the rose.

I look out now, allowing my eyes to open, flowers on a stalk, birthed and berthed, in the soil and soul of my heart.  

A rose in my garden

Day 75: Being a Dendrophile

Those who’ve been following this blog know I’ve been keeping an accounting of the days since my brother passed away.  This is day 75. Yesterday his wife and daughter flew back home to renew their lives, one to CT and one to Boston. I sit with that now, with the life that each of us roots and rises.

I am a dendrophile, a word I just learned.  I love trees.

I remember the first tree I fell in love with.  It was in our backyard on University Avenue in Des Moines, Iowa.  I climbed up into it, and sat embraced. The trunk rose, then spread in a hand-clasp of four. It is my special place even now though I also revere the redwood tree in my yard that rises as one to become two.  

Today I am with the Is that So? story.  There are different versions but the point is that things happen to us, and each event is open to interpretation as to good or bad, but though the immediate interpretation may be perceived as good or bad, in the long run, it all evens out.

I can say the “midlife crisis” and my experience of menopause was intense but it led to a breaking open of my shell, an examination of my life.  It led to an “airing out of the fairy tale” in which I’d been raised, and opened a new ability to know myself. Though painful at times, I wouldn’t change it for anything.  It allows me to be who I am now which isn’t to say I don’t still have a long way to go.

When I went through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation for cancer treatment, and was “cut, poisoned, and burned” as one person put it, I felt how connected we all are.  I was immersed in love.

Now, I sit here, surprised at the hit I took with my brother’s passing.  He’d been sick for three years so I’m grateful he’s free of pain and expanded into a wider world.  I’ve spent the last 75 days remembering back, but now, I’m ready to look forward again, to enter into a time span more connected with trees who tend to live longer than we.

I look to my teachers as they rise and give oxygen.  I’m grateful for all we share. As I allow the trees to move through me, my horizon seeps.

Redwood tree in my yard greeting the morning sun

Day 73: Velvet, the Great Healer

Little Velvet has passed in Chris’s arms, hearing Frieda’s voice. Frieda is in Montana though now on her way back.

It’s hard to understand such loss, to be with the weight of continuing grief. Perhaps it’s the release of a dam that allows us to think we have some sort of control, but, no, we learn we don’t. All that matters is Love, and that is what Velvet, and her brother Senna, and others, give. As John Squadra wrote, and I often say, “When we love, we create a circle. When we die, the circle remains,” and so the circle of love Velvet, little Vellie created, remains.

This little girl battled cancer like no one I’ve ever seen, well, maybe my brother. The two of them gave it their all, and now, they’re out of pain, and we here struggle as tears come to eventually wash away grief.

Little Velvet, “Vellie”