Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I've been calling this emotion I'm in and out of (mostly in) the Grief Beast as it has an interesting way of attacking me in various ways. Many days it's not that bad really: I'm busy with work or have a full dance-card, away from my house my mind is on other things so the Beast is small and buzzing in the back of my mind or a slight ripple through my heart. In these times I can talk about Jim and laugh with others about some of his crazy ways (and there were many!) and I'm good. On these days people tell me how strong I am or how good I look .... they sound surprised. Guess on these days the Beast in me doesn't look like "mourning". A friend of ours use to tell us, when wrestling with his kid, "no rules, no ref here!" and this is how I see this emotion of grief - truly no rules and no ref with how it plays out in an individual.

But then the sun sets and I'm home alone and even though I've walked into our closet many times suddenly I see his clothes all hanging there as if I didn't see them before this moment and I find myself trying to find if any of his clothes still hold his smell. This is when the Beast leaps onto me grabbing me by the throat and just when I feel I might be able to catch a breath it will shake me until I'm on my knees gasping with sobs. I'm not sure I look real strong in these moments, probably sound a bit gurgly and far less then "good" too. And then the Beast will recede and this whole melt down lasts for only minutes.

I'm always astounded that I get up and walk away without the marks on my body from the grip this Beast held on me. But it leaves no visible mark. My heart is wounded though and I wonder what the scar tissue will hold for me.

Then there are moments of just sweet memories. My friend, Ted, was visiting from California for a week. I had comp tickets (thank you Rebecca!) to see Duke Robillard at the Landing in Pine Point. Duke played with Room Full of Blues in a great jazz spot in Providence R.I. Jim got to know Duke when he worked with the Providence Journal. When Jim was first diagnosed Duke sent Jim a CD with a wonderful note saying he was thinking about him. In the morning sometimes before I needed to be off to work and Jim's different therapies began I would put this CD of Duke Robillard on and Jim would start to sing. I can see him now, tilting his head just a little, pointing a finger at me and singing along - when he couldn't say a single word he could always sing (an interesting right and left brain thing) - and then he would stand and take my hand and we would dance in our living room even though his right arm was paralyzed and his right leg was stiff and not functioning he would still twirl me in and out and we'd dance.

At this concert I just went to, when Duke began to sing, the tears began to roll down my cheeks as this tender memory flooded over me. At times like this the Beast is simply a few tears through a smile filled with so much love.


  1. Dearest Mary, I am again moved to tears. Your soul is infinitely beautiful and something I so strongly resonate with. My life has been a very emotional one, filled with so much laughter and so many tears. I always seem to just let what I feel flow without restraint or judgment. And that is something I sense in you as a woman, as well as in your love for Jim. I am heartened that you can let yourself feel whatever is there and not feel a need to cut off any part of who you are, any part of the life experience, whether that is grief or joy. You truly are a rare and stunningly beautiful soul. My heart is with you. Distance wise I may be far away, but in my heart and soul I am so very close. All love, Robin

  2. Robin, the connection you and I have made just recently has been such an incredible gift to me. Your writings are always so pure and directly from your heart and you offer me amazing support from afar. Thank you so much!
    PS - where can I find your book?!

  3. A friend said recently: Grief is love with no place to go. When my Dad died it felt more like grief is hope with no place to go: an overwhelming sense of impossibility.

  4. mary,

    this posting hits home with the force ( and suddeness)of a pile hammer. Your grief, fears, and strength become so real through the gift of your writing. Many people have wrenched their way through mourning and grief, and many others wonder and fear how they will cope with it.

    Your words, truthful and oh-so-real, brought me into that sudden scary place, and also created a vivid image of how you can pick yourself up from your knees ( somehow) and
    keep going. While reading it brought cold fear to the pit of my stomach, it also showed me,and many others, that grief, love and inner strength are part of living.

    Your words will help others heal their inner hurts, just as your hands do for their bodies.

    Be well,


  5. Sweet Mary,

    It amazes me that we humans can love so deeply that our lives are never the same when our loved one dies. There must be a spark of the divine in us that our love transcends so fully all of time and space.

    When my beautiful dad was dying, he said to me, "I love you like the sun above." What a gift of an image. Simple. True. And I catch myself in the act of living on a beautiful sunny day remembering those words and smiling in acknowledgment of my dad's constant presence in my life.
    Even on days like today with fog and clouds, I know the sun is there.

    So, when you are down on your knees and when you are dancing with joy, Mary, it makes me feel comforted to know Jim's ever present, never-ending love is surrounding you, embracing you, buoying you up.

    While our life circumstances change, love remains our constant.

    He loves you like the sun above. I know you know that.



  6. Evening is the toughest... without a doubt.

    I want to manage my grief, have a strategy for dealing with grief,etc. After all, it is going to visit me with more frequency as I age.

    But alas, what I really need to do is to allow it....... to allow it to surface.... and have its place in my life... just like the emotions of anger or joy...

    And to know that this emotion will pass as all the others do...

    What a concept! difficult to embrace at times... but comforting when I can.