Coming Unglued

Here’s my second posting in your Creativity Challenge, Lisa Kramer! (Anyone sweet and patient enough to be reading this, please jump on over to Lisa’s page to be inspired!)

When I started this blog days after my husband’s death I named it FARE · WELL because even as I wrote my goodbyes to my husband, I knew one day I’d be on the other side of it. My heart would heal. There’d be scar tissue, but as in the original sense of the phrase, fare thee well, there was hope for better days.

This week I’ve been reflecting a lot on my journey’s joy, discomfort and growth. It’s been a roller coaster couple of weeks that are emphasizing more than ever how deliciously complex life is up close and how stupidly simple from the long view. In the middle of these transformational Covid Times, I’ve been in my own personal transformation I’ll call the Great Ungluing. And just like when you pry apart something that’s been previously glued fast, there’s all that residual sticky stuff that resists the pulling apart and hangs on for dear life through elastic strands that lengthen and become gossamer threads but try to their last molecule to keep from getting unstuck.

So here I am, partially pulled apart and that’s making me really notice myself in new ways. Much like many of us are in these uncertain and unfamiliar days where our global society seems unrecognizable. We are either running around in our masks looking askance at one another with suspicion or finding a way to connect and with glazed eyes discussing the absolute Twilight Zone reality we are living in and trying to reassure each other that, yes, this is really happening and we will be okay.  The sticky underbelly that’s not been exposed in so long, suddenly naked. Visible. Seen. Exposed from its unexamined warm and safe cocoon of glue. These types of ungluing happen in stages…or at least that’s how it’s happening for me. There has been pain, confusion, sadness, regret, and much joy as the layers inch apart.

This week I’ve also been reflecting on all the long-term effects of this pandemic, especially on those who make their living creatively. (Another shout-out to Lisa Kramer who raised my awareness on this to new levels.) Anyone who depends on ticket sales is particularly vulnerable as I was reminded when I went to a new-to-me musician, Paul Thorn’s, website to poke around. What I found was a list of cancelled tour dates- heartbreaking- and also fall tour dates, online content, and an upcoming Sunday Brunch concert-hopeful and inspiring!  So, in this post I’d like to pay homage to all those who are trying to find their way through and keep their fans engaged until their venues open once more. (For the record, I have no connection to Paul, his site, etc. I just like his music and want to pay back the gift of it.)

A friend recently introduced me to Paul’s music and I’m so glad he did. In my messy, mid-unglued state, his refreshing, irreverent, soulful, tender, and hopeful blues (Yes, I said hopeful blues. Go listen.) resonated in a big way, which led me to his site to explore more. If you’re unfamiliar, I hope you wander over and take a listen. His songs provided a place to sit in my messiness and just be with it. Moved to both laughter (She Won’t Cheat on Us) and tears (That’s Life) by his music that reflected the highs and lows of my recent journey. (I defy you to not be moved by the live version of That’s Life‘s introduction/song)

But in the lyrics of I Have a Good Day, I found a soul connection. I realized how much I’ve struggled through the ups and downs of not just the past few months, but the past three years and am finally finding the sunshine again. And I think of all of us out there struggling to keep ourselves and family healthy, keep our spirits up, keep from going to dark places in our heads or simply reconciling the new view looking back at us from the mirror (…what is my hair doing??) This song reconciles the push/pull of the short view/long view. That even when we’re up close and personal with our tough days, we can know the sun will shine again and counting our blessing can be a stepping stone to stacking up the good days closer and closer together.

When you’re coming unglued there’s a lot of opportunity to despair that the pain of the process will never end. But remembering the long view, we can step forward hopeful that what was covered up by the sticking together is a new way of being that can lead to better days. So, I’ll keep inching my layers apart and peering in and dealing with the sometimes-gut-wrenching truth of what’s revealed, knowing some good days are around the corner. In the meantime, you’ll find me at Paul’s Sunday Brunch Live concert on Facebook. I hope you’ll join me.


finding god in corona

I was recently inspired by my dear friend, Lisa Kramer’s, Creativity Challenge to simply do something creative during this challenging time. So, I’m rising to that challenge today because I was suddenly struck by something that is corollary to what many have been voicing lately (including an open letter, falsely attributed to Bill Gates, that resonated with many despite it not actually being Bill’s ideas) that there may be some good that comes out of what is undoubtedly a trying and frightening time. And so, here I am at an almost forgotten blog site I created upon the passing of my husband nearly three years ago.

At that time, I thought writing would help me heal from that devastating blow. Writing has always come easily to me, was my favorite thing to teach, and has been a refuge for me in many painful times. But, in the end, that was not the case. In order to survive, I died inside and so nothing would come out on paper. Instead, I buried my grief under work and daily activities and lots of things that looked like living, but weren’t. I am recently rebirthed into the land of the living only to find myself in the midst of a truly stunning global upending of human existence that is challenging all our knowns. Forcing us to find our inner reserves. Which brings me to the subject of God.

Spiritual to varying degrees throughout my life, I’ve resisted religion in any formal sense since I was about 12. For context, I was raised Catholic and hold a Christian viewpoint since that’s how I was raised, but I’ve really always more identified with the Transcendentalists of the 19th century who thought they were closer to God in nature than in a church pew. Not surprisingly, my thirst for spirituality has increased since the passing of my husband. And this is why I was pondering all of this anyway. For a long, long time, I was angry with religion. For its failures. I focused on the judgment, fear, guilt, hate, and punishment I found there. Please understand that I do acknowledge that many churches and devout followers (I have many wonderful friends & family who fall into this category) do much good in the world- but for me, the math just didn’t tilt toward overall good. It was a net loss in my ledger. I recently went to a friend’s mom’s funeral and found my eye looked differently upon what I found inside. The words, the people, the rites, not to mention, the unsurpassed baked goods you find in a church fellowship hall. It had all shifted a bit for me and I realized it was because I had changed inside. My recent spiritual journey had taken me inward and that has changed my world view on what I found sitting on a church pew.

So, in my recent musings, I’ve landed on a realization. As David Hawkins noted, every great teacher since the beginning of time has said to look within and find the truth, for the truth of what we really are will set us free. In so many churches this has been lost. People go in and come out only momentarily changed, if at all. We look outside ourselves to put something in us that will make us do better or feel better when all the time we’d be better off pulling out our better-doing, better-feeling selves. We already have those things within us. We don’t need much teaching for this, it is innate when we can simply remind ourselves to tap into it. God is an inside job. This is what I see in all the immensely good ways people are responding to this pandemic. Are you seeing it? Are you noticing more families riding bikes, taking walks, putting together puzzles, playing games, creating videos together, helping their moms and dads figure out how to teach, fostering shelter animals, sewing masks, posting social media recordings of sonnets, music, and drama, looking out for their neighbors, feverishly researching the virus, making tough decisions to go to work for the greater good? So many people are doing the right things in so many beautiful ways. We are pulling our better-selves out for one another. I find God in all of these acts and so many others that are playing out in this Shakespearean drama that we are living in. If you haven’t been looking, start. Then, look inside and find your better self and share some of that with the world.



Yesterday turned out to be such a hard day and a harbinger of hard days to come. And I wanted to hide from the world. Crumble. Go back to bed and pull the covers over my head and pretend I could make all the hatefulness in my email box go away. But, it just isn’t in my nature to lie down and give up. To not deal. And sometimes I hate that about myself.

I don’t know what you’re thinking about all of this. I want to talk to you about it so much it physically hurts to not be able to. I just know that we are so different in how we approach things like this. And I know how you would want it handled with your kids. But I don’t know if I can be the person you were… I don’t know if I can turn the other cheek. To let her walk all over me. To treat me so abominably in the worst moment of my life and get away with it.

So, I’m just here to say that I’m trying to find my way. To honor you and your memory. To do what’s right by your kids and still somehow hold in tact my own sanity and self-respect. Please help me, honey.  I need you here to help me with this…which is so irrational because if you were here I wouldn’t be dealing with it.

I miss you



I moved out of the rental in Maryland yesterday. Packed up the car, the dog, and the huge peace lily your Aunt Jane gave me along with all the other detritus from my life up there and started the long, slow, journey back to the lake.

I’ve never dreaded coming home like I do. Maybe it’s not dread, really. It’s a feeling I don’t think there’s a word for. A simultaneous feeling of wanting to go but not wanting to get there. An irresistible pull toward this place while feeling the knot in my stomach about my arrival. And it was every bit a hollow and lonely as I expected. The loneliness is physically painful and ever present.

When I finally crawled into bed, bone-tired from all the work of moving out and cleaning today, I hugged your pillow and breathed you in. Your essence still here but your you so frustratingly and unbearably far away and unreachable.

I miss you



So, I’m at one of our favorite restaurants. Eating at the bar. Having a martini. Alone. It is both familiar and peculiar to me. We loved to eat at the bar. You introduced me to the charms of a blue cheese stuffed olive martini.

I wish you were here. Or at least I wish I could text you and tell you of my finds today and complain to you and hear you say how it was all going to be ok. Rant about your ex-wife’s insensitivity at asking me for your death certifcate…

But you’re not here. Except you were at the jewelry store when I was getting my rings cleaned and the TV showed Triple D’s Psycho Suzie episode and that made me remember our trip there. Thanks for giving me a wink. But it’s still not enough.

I miss you.



The long holiday weekend has come and gone without you. I survived. It sucked. No two ways about it. I hated looking out at the lake, the neighbors on the beach with their picnic tables all set up and their paddle boards and beach balls enjoying their time together, but mostly I hated seeing the sun shining on the water. Every time I looked out, all I could think was how you would have been chomping at the bit to get out there on the boat…or wait, maybe that would have been me…

Either way, you’d have clapped your hands and yelled “yeah, baby” and started to grab the cooler and the boat bag and started to decide which snacks we had that were good for a long day on the boat. We would have talked about the plan- where did we want to go, would we take the dog (we have to take him for a little while and let him swim and then maybe bring him back…), when would we hook up with the other lake friends and where, what did I want to drink, how much should we bring, could I be convinced to have a margarita day?

And all that fun planning and organizing and zest for life is what I missed so much this weekend. Like I said in my eulogy- a black and white world where once there was color- this weekend was gray and dull and empty and wrong. The knot in my stomach won’t go away- like someone gut punches me each morning and the feeling lasts all day.

Each day gets harder, more real. They came and got your truck and computer, phone and all that yesterday. That was hard. Final. All these empty spaces where you used to be.

Andy emailed me yesterday and I emailed him back last night. That got to me too. I think it highlighted just how much we’ve lost, not just in the last few weeks, but since you lost your job… a whole social circle, gone. I told him I missed seeing him and Leslie each year- and it’s true- I really don’t think I realized how much I enjoyed those trips each year. Anyway, of course he wanted to know if there was anything they could do…like every other person…and you know, the things you want to say, I don’t know, you just can’t…

I wanted to tell him to go hug Leslie and tell her how awesome she is (cause he really hit the jackpot with that one), and do something fun she’s been asking to do, and hug her while thinking about how lucky he is to have found her, and make love to her. But you can’t say all that because it’s like showing someone all the deepest holes in your heart. The things you are grateful you had or did or knew. And saying those things is like cutting yourself and watching for the bloom of blood as it starts to bleed.

I miss you



I’m trying to put your things away – some of the things I washed yesterday- so I’m emptying out your dresser, so I can put my things in there. We never had enough closet space in this house, but we never had all our clothes here so it didn’t matter much. But now I’ve brought most of my stuff from the place in MD, and I have your side of the bed full of clothes that need put away.

I knew if I started touching your things- folding them, placing them in piles, it would make it feel more real. I was right. I know I need to do it and to feel it, but it hurts so much. I pulled out the outfit you wore at our beach wedding and just laid my head down on the pile of your clothes and cried.

I’m just going to put the piles on the shelves in the downstairs closet for now. I’ll let Ryan and Grace go through them to see if they want anything. But then what? What do people do with their spouse’s old underwear??? I had to laugh when I pulled out that one pair… you had them the entire time I knew you… just couldn’t bear to part with them, I guess.

I realized this morning that our first date was on December 13th, 2008 and you died on May 13th, 2017. Exactly 8 1/2 years together. So does that make the 13th lucky or unlucky? I’m not sure. I just know…

I miss you



I’m sitting here next to a pile of your clean laundry, neatly folded, and no longer smelling like you. The knots are in my stomach again- feels like all the time, really. I just feel lost, sidelined, and apart from the world. Not quite in it and not quite out of it. All things being equal, I’d rather be with you in either place, but just together. It takes a lot of energy to be here without you.

It’s an absolutely stunning day on the lake- hot & sunny. And all I could think was how we’d have been out there early. Stocked up with w/a Yeti full of ice and cocktails, beers, and snacks with a plan for swimming up the dog and getting him back to the house if it got too hot for him. You’d pack the drinks, and I’d go behind you and add more because I never felt like you packed enough. We’d make a plan to meet up with our Lake Friends after they did their yard work and household chores- things we’d left undone. We’d have a whole day on the lake to ourselves before we met up with anyone and I always liked that. How we knew to focus on the fun first and get the living in- chores will always be there, but we took advantage of the sun and smooth waters when they presented themselves. I’m glad for that. Thank you.

I’m trying to stay focused on the things I know need to be done, but it’s hard. I need to call the credit card companies and tell them you’re dead. I need to find the marriage certificate so I can process the life insurance policy. I need to clean off your side of the bed- since I just keep adding clean laundry to it. I keep to my side at night and wake up wishing your leg would come over and touch mine as you stretch out. But it doesn’t. Never will again.

I miss you



I came back to the lake house today. I had knots in my stomach the whole way. I came back because I had to, but knew it would make it harder. And it did. Work left your golf clubs and lunch box on the front porch. That didn’t help much. Thinking about you telling me about the last time you got to use those clubs- with your new boss who took you to the fancy country club in Richmond where, for the first time in your life, you had a caddy. It was fun hearing you tell me about how you were ahead in the first 9 and what it was like to have a caddy. I remember thinking that you were one of those people who was so good at adapting to any situation. You made everyone believe you were in your element even when you weren’t. That caddy probably thought you had golfed with a caddy a thousand times. I’m sure Ryan will want your clubs- at least I hope so.

The house felt so empty without you. No hug. No kiss. No call ten minutes out to ask what I wanted to drink when I got here. No slumping on the couch to watch an episode of Scandal or House Hunters International. Just the nearly dead flowers you got me for Mother’s Day the day you died still sitting in the vase where I left them. And my unsigned Mother’s Day and birthday cards sitting on the counter. So many missing things replaced by one massive feeling of loneliness. Joylessness. I feel like white noise. Like blank space. An animate void- walking, talking, going through the motions of life without really feeling anything.

I don’t want to go downstairs. That image of you lying there lifeless. Not you anymore. Not us. Of taking off your ring and your hand slowly falling down by your side, so much like you were alive that I suddenly asked you if you could just wake up. I watched and waited, hoping insanely that you might take a big cleansing gasp and say it was all a mistake and you were ok.

But you didn’t. And tomorrow I have to start to deal with it for real. Until now, it’s been a holding pattern, but now I’m here. In our house, that’s now my house. And I have to take the first tiny step to making it real that you’re not here.

I miss you



I keep looking at this huge canvas we had made of your obituary photo to stand in front of the urn. It’s on the mantel now and you stare right at me when I am brave enough to turn my gaze in your direction. And when I do it hurts to see you look so alive.

My thoughts turn to all the things we’ll never do again and how all the things we did will now seem so un-fun without you. Trips, and wine, and boating, and binge-watching Scandal.

I don’t cry though. I just look at you and hurt- and then my mind brings back that day, the moment, I guess, like a video loop that I can’t stop seeing. I ran around and did so many things to try to make it not be true- calling 911, dragging you off the couch to give you CPR, letting the 911 operator tell me to keep going and counting all the compressions, starting over with each 100. I don’t think you were there for any of that. I think you were gone before I even got you off the couch. But in those moments, I just wanted to rescue you. To do all the things, any thing I could to make it not be true. Maybe you were watching me. Maybe you were meeting up with your dad and brother and grandparents, not concerned at all about what was going on with your feeble little body- like the farmer in the painting of The Fall of Icarus– just going about his business, not concerned at all with the tragedy unfolding nearby. But that moment is what I see a lot of the time.

The scab fell off yesterday. The one I got from my knee rubbing on the rug while I gave you CPR. I liked it being there. Reminding me that this happened. That there was a physical reminder on me of what happened. That I didn’t dream it, even though I wish I had and I could wake up and hug you, hear you breathe, see all your arms and legs sprawled out across the bed.

But along with the scab being gone, I woke up today knowing you’re not here. Instead of your death having to dawn on me again and again each morning. I hated waking up and realizing it, but it’s no better waking up knowing you’re gone. Now my first question of the day is – Why aren’t you here?

I miss you