Sunday, November 28, 2010


It was a good Thanksgiving. I have a big family; five siblings with all their kids and their spouses and their kids ... we are a force. A good force. A force I needed to knock me out of my loneliness. It's so odd for me as I am one who truly enjoys being alone. But this loneliness isn't about being alone, it's a whole new animal and one I'm not use to wrestling with. This loneliness is complete, absolute and isn't going to go away any time soon.

My family is not only large they are also slightly crazy. Thus, whenever we get together you just never know what is going to happen. This year it was a dunk in the ocean on Thanksgiving day. I admit to being the instigator of this. The clan had walked down to the rocks that over look open ocean in front of my mothers house. We have always taken a walk between the thanksgiving courses. A little walk to the sea and it's time for pie! This year the water was like a mirror; calm and crystal clear. There is a spot where it's possible to dive off the rocks into a deep pool when it's mid-tide or higher. This day the water in this pool was emerald green and incredibly inviting. I told my sister "it's like Niagra Falls, even though you know it will kill you, you still have this urge to jump in!". My niece looked at me and said "if you go I'll go". Oh, no,no,no, you see I was just kidding. But, damn, it was inviting. Then she suggested we just go down and stick our hands in it to see how cold the water was. With wide-eyes of surprise we said, simultaneously, "it's not that bad!".

Now the heat was on. Jenny and I both agreed that it might be worth doing just to say we did it. She suggested we go in our underwear .... I had no suggestions. We shooed all the men of the family away and the women looked on. Jenny and I stripped down, leaving our shoes on since the rocks were covered with barnacles. I decided I really couldn't watch her go in first so I stepped onto the slippery, seaweed covered ledge and dove ... head first ... into that green pool. And came up screaming! The family has said the look on my face was one to remember for a life time! My dog, Ella, jumped in after me and proceeded to get out of the water faster then I could! Jenny was right behind me with a screech and a "holy shit" ... and then we were throwing our clothes back on over all our wetness.

Jenny's husband, Jay, had stayed to watch football but got informed of the insane thing his wife just did. He jumped in the car and drove it down as close as he could to the foot path that leads down to the rocks. Thus, as we made our way through this path of bayberrry bushes and scrub pines to the field there was a warm car waiting to take us the short trek back to the house ... and a hot shower!

Crazy? Yes. But I felt like I had grabbed life a little harder and, as one friend said "dove right in". Jim would not have done this dive into the frigid sea but he would have loved the fact that I did it. Jim grabbed life like this every day. He couldn't sit still for all the things he had to do, or see, or people he needed to visit or places to go. He had the most amazing energy that could exhaust me sometimes .... but I so miss it now. I so miss him now.

I know that time heals, I actually can feel my own healing at this 8 month mark, but I wonder how this loneliness gets healed. I feel this emptiness even when surrounded by my large, loving, crazy family. I walk around this hole in my being when out with friends. And sometimes, when I'm laughing, I wonder if my eyes betray the deeper well of sadness that pools in me.

I'm incredibly grateful for my family and friends. But, you see, there's been a death of a family ... and now it's only me.

Loving you all back,

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

I've had many friends reach out to me this week, asking what my plans were for this day. I also had several offers to join different families in their eating frenzy. Jim and I would frequently join friends ... who feel like family ... for Thanksgiving. But this year my mom made it obvious that she wanted to have me and whoever else wanted to join around her table. She doesn't ask for this kind of thing often so it feels right to join the family this year.

Because Thanksgiving isn't one of my favorite holidays I thought I could get by this first without too much problem; I've told people this as well. But, I'm admitting to you now, it's feeling a little tough. Last night, the eve of Thanksgiving, I was watching a movie on T.V. by myself. I was really missing how much I use to enjoy being snuggled next to Jim and watching the "boob tube". We both would find that simple act of curling up and zoning out to a movie to be the best part of the day sometimes. Last night, it just felt way too lonely.

I was watching Disney's animated Beauty and the Beast and started to wonder, Is this where the belief that all will be right with the world comes from? If we are pretty enough and have a 22 inch waist we'll be just fine? Where even the most horrible experience ends up with "happily ever after" ... she always gets her man .... becomes a belief?

I'm a sucker, and wanting a "happily ever after" ending to this most horrible experience. Problem is, I was happily ever after-ing with Jim. I had found my prince and knew it. So now what? Something is definitely wrong with this picture.

Well, I certainly didn't mean to get so morose today. In fact I had planned to write about all the things I could feel thankful for .... but this is what has leaped out of me so there you have it. But for the record, I am incredibly thankful for my amazing family. I'm thankful for all these friends who, though we don't share the same gene pool, are family to me too. I'm pretty blessed to have all that I have and to be sitting down to a feast in a few hours. That alone is far more then so many have on this day.

And I'm very thankful that I had Jim Daniels in my life. I miss him like hell, but would not trade the time we did have together for all the tea in China.

Loving you all back ... and have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Urge for Going

I was listening to Tom Rush sing this song written by Joni Mitchell . The lyrics are beautiful about the ending of summer and rushing in of winter with the "geese in chevron flight ... and I get the urge for going". I may be feeling this urge today.

Sometimes I try to imagine myself as being the most free now then I have ever been. But I feel the most saddled and stuck then I ever have been. Jim gave me wings.

"I get the urge for going, but I never seem to go".

I found yet another camera/travel bag of Jim's this morning. It was pretty much empty except for the few things he always had with him when he traveled: passport, business cards, pens, lip balm, and all kinds of foreign currency not spent in that distant land and worthless here. HIs passport is filled with all the different stamps of all those countries he visited. It's easier to tell people where Jim had never traveled to vs. where he had been, it was that extensive and exotic. He needed extra pages in his passport to make space for all those stamps; declarations of having arrived and departed.

"And I get the urge for going, when the meadow grass is turning brown,
summertime is falling down, and winter's closing in."

Oh, I went with Jim a lot. I'm incredibly lucky to have traveled to so many corners of this world, to have sat with so many wonderful people - shaking our heads and smiling at each other without a shared language to understand each other ... it's amazing how a smile and gentle touch can communicate so much. Eating their food and hoping all would remain well for me since my gut was so tender compared to our hosts. I loved traveling with Jim. I loved how he connected with all the different kinds of people. I loved his ability to make even the most stressful traveling experience into a wonderful adventure.

"I get the urge for going" ...

But lately I feel a bit anchored down by all my responsibilities: the house, the bills, the stuff I keep bumping up against and remembering that I really must take care of that .... too. Finding that travel bag and some of it's contents was hard today. I just threw my head back, gave a big sigh and, once again, shore myself up to take a look at what I might find; knowing it's going to leave me feeling empty and alone. His passport picture ... that beautiful face staring back at me ... yup, empty and alone flooding over me.

"See the geese in chevron flight, flapping and racing before the snow
They've got the urge for going, they've got the wings to go
They get the urge for going ...
Winter's closing in"

Loving you all back,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Actually, I like rain. It offers new color schemes to the day - all the variations of gray. Henry Beston wrote of the sea and the sky as "pewter gray" in his book The Outermost House. I've always loved that description of gray.

But in November the gray is so complete, so stark with the leaves off the trees and those bare branches clacking together. Todays rain doesn't fall but rather flies sideways in thick sheets with a howling wind. Dressed in my yellow slicker I use to walk down to the beach on days like this. I was a wild child loving the energy of a storm, head bowed to it's fury I'd walk to the ocean to witness the waves crash on the rocks and feel the raw power in my solar plexus.

That wild child chased adventure, she didn't need anyone else, she was strong on her own and capable of walking directly into the northeast gale. Lately I find myself looking for this girl in my woman's being. Too often I feel lost and unable to do this alone. This morning this wind and rain has me feeling caged and trapped, unable to adventure out on my own.

Today I wish for someone to come look for me, who holds me most dear in his heart and notices when I've headed out into the storm. I miss this feeling of being special to someone and knowing they need and want me by their side. But it takes a certain person to allow this wild child her freedom, to honor her adventurous spirit. There were few who were able to keep stride with her in the howling wind and to share a love for it as well.

Today, I'm missing that kindred spirit that I found in Jim Daniels.

Loving you all back,

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bird by Bird

I stole the subject from Anne Lamott, who is one of my favorite writers. This book is a wonderful "how to write" book and basically she is saying, step by step. Well, this is how I'm beginning to tackle all the things that I want to accomplish around the house ... one project at a time. I remind myself I don't even have to actually complete the project, just get it started, make a dent in it and then maybe I can get back to it again at some point.

The other day it was the work bench down cellar. There are a lot of tools and other stuff that I don't even know what half of it is because this was Jim's area, his work space and he knew what everything was and, miraculously, where everything was. Over the last 2 years, as people came to help with projects, they would go down into that space to find the tools needed. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it's organization so it was hard for folks to put things back where they had found it. Thus, it had bloomed into a complete, chaotic, mess.

Did you note the "had" ... that's right, I got down there the other morning and organized, vacuumed (of course!), grouped things according to color and shape (I'm kidding) and basically pulled that work bench back into a space that invites rather then intimidates. And I even have a sense of what is there now. Mission accomplished and it feels purty durn good.

It also felt good to be seeing the things that Jim had collected and had worked with. His cherished Japanese hand saw as well as the wood carving tools. These things brought a smile to my face and not tears, which surprised me. But again, it's easier to work beyond our immediate living space for some reason. But, I have been able to give away quite a few of Jim's clothes and shoes. I'm fortunate there are so many men in my family who happen to be the same fit as Jim when it comes to certain articles of clothing. I know Jim would delight in seeing the leather jacket on Will, the fine Italian leather shoes on Jerry as well as so many of his great shirts, the hiking shoes on Jay and his sisters wearing his T-shirts to bed. I feel fine seeing these things go to loved ones and I don't even mind seeing them again when they are wearing them. It makes me smile. Eventually I will probably get down to stuff that I won't mind carting off to Goodwill ... but not quite yet.

It is, after all, just stuff. But pawing through the closet and seeing his saxophone had me drop into the fetal position one day. So some stuff still carries a lot of weight I guess. Pictures still are painful for me, though this too is getting a wee bit better. Reading his journals is hard; he was a writer and a poet and it's hard to witness that beautiful mind and soul in his scrawling on the page. I can almost ... almost ... hear his voice and this hurts like hell.

Oh, this process. Part of me just wants to be done with it as it is so incredibly painful at times and so flat lined in my feelings at other times. I get sharing stories, and of course all of them are "Jim and I", and the realization of all the history I have with this man, all the moments, all the best times and many bad times too. And now he's gone .... and I have all this stuff.

Bird by Bird, Mary ....

Loving you all back,

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I've never been a big Halloween fan. I don't have the creativity to come up with a costume. Jim was never much into it either. I remember one Halloween, when we lived in R.I. and Jim was a staff photographer with the Providence Journal, a friend from the Pro Jo invited us to his Halloween party. We were on the fence of going or not then heard that it wasn't a costume party so we thought we might go. Another friend called us a half hour before we needed to leave to tell us it WAS a costume party so be sure to dress up. What?!

OK, we were still game. Jim rolled his blue jeans up, wore white sox and an old pair of loafers, slicked his hair back and put on a white t-shirt and rolled up the sleeves. Me? What else do you go as in the '80's? I put on fishnet stockings, an old mini-skirt, low cut top, stuffed my bra with wool socks ... I'm not kidding, rag-wool socks! ... and put my hair into a pony tail. Not great "costumes" but certainly different personas.

When we arrived at the party no one else was in costume! The friend who told us to dress up was thinking of a different party. OK, play with it then, just command the stage and work it. Jim was easily recognized but the hysterical thing was no one knew who I was, not until they talked with me! "Mary? OMG, is that YOU?!" C'mon, I wasn't wearing a mask, maybe too much eyeshadow, it went with my outfit, but I still looked like me, or so I thought. I heard rumors of how it spread through the paper that Roger had invited a real floosie to his party. And then this rumor was squashed when those who had talked to her set the record straight.

Jim and I always loved that story. Best costume and best Halloween party we ever attended ... though my costume was a little bit itchy!

This Halloween my family came here to my 'hood. There is a wonderful kids parade that goes through the neighborhood for the littlest spooks. My two nieces, Hanna and Jenny, brought their young families over for the parade. Yup, I'm a great aunt now to the sweetest little girls. Skyla Mae was the one whose birth I attended, she's 12 (or 13?) weeks old now. Astrid is one and her sister Linnea turns four in March (she's already sending out her party invitations). My sister and bro-in-law (the grandparents, but don't say it too loudly) also came over. It was so much fun. The kids loved being in the parade, they could trick-or-treat and then come back to my cozy kitchen and have hot chocolate, hot cider and pizza. And since the Patriots were playing we all gathered in the t.v. room and watched some of the game while the kids rolled around on the floor.

This party ended by 7:00, I was out of candy and hadn't eaten anything so my good friend, who had joined in this Halloween party with all of us, decided that he and I should go to the local tavern, watch the rest of the game, and thus avoid any more trick-or-treaters. So we did.

This might be my second greatest Halloween party. I wish Jim had been here to share in it .... perhaps he was .... calling the spirits back, "night of the dead" is what Halloween is all about .... maybe he was here with all of us then and loved seeing me laugh.

Loving you all back,