Years ago, I was filling out paperwork at a doctor’s office and I left the “occupation” line blank. I’d been out of the “workforce” for a number of years, busy having babies and raising babies and contemplating the deeper implications of housework. I had no idea what to put on that line although a few thoughts did spring to mind- housewife, stay at home mom, work at home mom, self-employed, writer, domestic goddess, other.

I come from a weird lost generation of women. We didn’t burn our bras and for the most part, our mothers were one generation removed from June Cleaver. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s embedded in me some kind of reluctance to identify myself on paper or in person as a “house-wife” or a “stay at home mom.”

I confess, I’ve had some arrogance about this and obviously, it gave me great pause when filling out forms.

The doctor was a pediatrician…and as he looked over the form he was quick to point out this empty space on the page. “What about this?” he said. I shook my head and sighed, “I never know what to write there.” He nodded and smiled sweetly. “Well, what occupies your time these days?” At this point in my life I had four children, three of them boys, under 5 years old. “Parenting, I guess.” He nodded again and wrote on the line, “Occupation: Mother.”

It never feels like enough and it always feels like too much. There’s a whole lot of pressure being a parent. We’re building humans here. That’s kind of¬†a big deal. At night I lay in bed and think about how I’ve been instructing them, what I’ve taught them, good and bad. How I’ve fed them, good and bad. How many years are left in this present occupation of being “mother.”

So, in looking back on how often (or not often) I’ve been posting here on Mrs Metaphor instead of worrying that it’s not often enough or that the subject isn’t deep enough, clear enough, written well enough I always find myself thinking instead about my present occupation of Mother. What occupies my time these days is still very much parenting, it’s my day and night job and the learning curve never seems to get any less steep. And so, instead of feeling guilty or apologetic for my posting habits I just gotta cut myself a whole lot of slack. I know that’s the advice you’d all give me in any case, you’re all so wise and kind. I mean that.

I’m going to go occupy the kitchen now. I find that when the floors become so sticky that children’s shoes are ripped from their feet as they walk through it’s my signal that it’s time to wash said floor.



gravity, gravitas, gratitude…

Well, it’s my birthday.

I’m 45 years old today. What a strange feeling it is, growing into myself.

By way of reflection, then, I guess I’ll write about this birthday thing.

I recognize as I sit to write today I am carrying this shifting perspective. I spent most of my young life looking forward;¬†to becoming a teen, to becoming a driver, to becoming a voter, to become a (legal) drinker, to becoming a graduate, to becoming a parent…all the life happenings in the first third of our life are looking forwards it seems. The road is always ahead of us.

I admit, I had no grief for the end of my 20’s. Angst had been my watchword until that point and it never really looked good on me anyway. Leaving “29” behind was a relief.

My 30’s found me parenting for the most part. Distraction and sleep deprivation were at the top of the laundry pile so I wore that on a daily basis. My 30’s were comfortable and well-worn, hopeful yet utilitarian in some¬†ways. “39” came and went in ¬†a whirlwind, a wonder, a wandering.

And so, I did not mourn at 40 although I know that many people do. I still felt, at 40, I was forward facing and I embraced 40 like a sweater when the chill comes. Those extra pounds that my hormones suggested were neatly woven into that sweater, the wool was warm as it was itchy, a constant reminder that I was no longer 20, no longer 30. I admit, wearing 40 with some aplomb meant hard conversations with reality and expectation. It may have been at 40 that I realized finally that I’d never be a rock star but that’s a story for another day.

What struck me most about turning 40 was the response of my body to the basic reality of gravity in particular. The pull of the planet on my physical self was so gradual and so constant I had barely realized it. ¬†I fought against it for a while. It’s a little crazy making so¬†40 was the year I made peace with planet Earth on this sneaky assault and offered myself some grace.

Today as I consider turning 45 I find I am filled with gratitude. ¬†The road ahead is, as always, uncertain, maybe dangerous or monotonous or poorly mapped but it’s my road even so.¬†In some ways perhaps the only way for me to cultivate this season of gratitude is to be willing, finally, to look back and see where I’ve been, to acknowledge the pull of the earth, the heaviness of time and the richness of life lived so far and move forward holding all of this and my shifting perspective in the pocket of that wooly sweater, close to my heart.

At 45 I catch myself pondering that perhaps this is midlife and this is where the perspective shift comes in. In a conservative estimate, half of my life is spent; some of it invested, some squandered, some saved. And that draws me back to the heaviness of time, that fleet-footed behemoth, that noble currency. I’m lost and found, floating, swimming, running and resting and I feel this shift finally from the near constant facing forward. I see myself standing at a crossroads the path behind me so clear I can see deep into the past and remember well where I’ve been. The road ahead is uncertain, exciting and always daunting. There will be some hills, some valleys, roadside attractions, tourist traps, detours and divine appointments and rest areas too, I hope, with clean facilities and decent vending machines. I’ll take it.

information and revelation…

I think the internet might be sucking the brain from my head. I used to think it was aliens from outer space coming in the night, extracting my brain cells and wiping my memory clean. Now, I’m pretty sure it is the internet or maybe it is the news on the internet. In any case, the brain is being sucked from my head and I am fully on board with it. If I was not fully on board with it I would shut down the internet on my computer and try to reclaim what is left of my poor, soggy grey matter.

The lure of the internet for me is clear; information and revelation. I like knowing more, learning more, hearing more. I want more, more, more. The more I know (or think I know) the more I feed the illusion of power and control. But of course, as that Spiderman movie taught me, “with great power comes great responsibility.” If I know more (or think I know more) then of course I have a responsibility to SHARE that knowledge, don’t I? And so I tweet. I tweet therefore I am (in control.)

The part that worries me though isn’t that I tweet too much or that I have too many crazy political arguments on Facebook. The part that worries me is that when I do sit down to write I find myself stuck after about 140 characters. I find that expanding my thoughts to more than the size of a Facebook post feels overwhelming and clunky. What was my point? Why didn’t I make my point in the last paragraph so that people can get on with their lives? Are you still reading?

Now for a word from our sponsors.

Social media saved my creative life. It brought me back from the unpublished dead more than once when I first began. Starting a blog opened up an avenue to me that did not exist 20 years ago. It was a new road; unpaved and less travelled. These days the “blogosphere” is a super highway; crowded and loud, the air is cloudy and the potholes are deadly. In the early days “web logs” were diaries, private thoughts, writing exercises and perhaps for a number of people they still are, but the pressure now feels global. I have to write with a larger view in mind, I should plan for outsiders reading my work, I should monetize, I should diversify, I should get a bigger server, strive for better SEO, stronger presence, graphic design and clean message.

It’s exhausting…and maybe not really the point of it all anyway.

The lure of the internet also brings revelation. It might just be me but all my life I have lived for the mail delivery. Every day is Christmas when the mail comes. It isn’t that I have traditionally gotten amazing things every day in the mail, it is just that sometimes, I have gotten amazing things; packages, correspondence, coupons, doesn’t matter. The potential for amazing things exists because of mail delivery.

And now, I can get mail every day, all day long, essentially. With the advent of email the potential for amazing things happening increased 100 fold. With the start of Twitter, amazing interactions could happen with alarming frequency. I promise, I will not stop tweeting until I finally get William Shatner to give me a shout out. ¬†It’s a weird goal but a girl’s gotta dream right? Don’t even get me started on the mass interaction bonanza of Facebook. You can keep your Farmville, frankly, but give me the news feed on a slow writing day and I’m a happy camper. I find myself hitting refresh just to see what ELSE is happening in the world.

More. More. More.

The worst part about all of it, the dangerous part for someone like me, who purports to be a writer, is that it all feels productive. Martha Plimpton retweeted me to her followers so I think I accomplished something. 70 people “liked” my post on Facebook so all signs point to affirmation. It’s trite to say that social media and perhaps the internet experience is, after all, a “slippery slope” but that doesn’t make it any less true. ¬†Sometimes “trite” gets it right.

And so what’s the solution then? Quit tweeting? Quit Facebook? Quit the internet? I know quite a number of people who have done just that and lived to tell about it. I still have friends who won’t touch Facebook or Twitter with a ten foot pole. Even my priest gives me grief that I prefer email to phone calls.

It helps, I suppose that I do at least admit the underlying principle to my problem. This underlying principle is easy to put my finger on, it’s a long time issue. In a chatroom full of people I doubt I’d be the only one raising my cyber hand if asked about it.

Online interactions remind me that I’m not alone.

For an introvert, prone to awkwardness in real life settings, the internet is safe. The internet is for those of us who look inward first. It is stunning how easily I can turn a phrase and show my worth on the internet while in person I struggle with the right facial cues. In person I feel I am navigating the world from inside some giant machine with arms and legs I cannot control or recognize. Alas, it’s ironic then, that being online really IS me, inside some giant machine with arms and legs I cannot control or recognize. It is the illusion of control and power, the illusion of profundity, the illusion of productivity. And this is the sound of my brain being sucked out of my head; the fear that absent the constant affirmation of computer information and digital revelation I will simply fade away to nothing, that I would find myself sitting in a quiet room with no good thoughts of my own, with no real hands to hold, no soft words whispered in my ear…

This is not a promise to stop tweeting or stop posting on Facebook or stop refreshing my email or even to stop writing on my blogs. This is simply a moment of reflection, a nod toward intrinsic information, a quest for real revelation on a road that is overgrown and untended but not forgotten.

“Although the road is never ending
take a step and keep walking,
do not look fearfully into the distance.
On this path let the heart be your guide
for the body is hesitant and full of fear.‚ÄĚ

‚Äē Rumi

A moveable feast…

Last night I dreamt that all my plants had died. I walked out onto the porch and stared at them, noticing the empty spaces that used to be filled with their broad, green leaves. Every step I took toward the bank of deceased plant life was punctuated by the crunching of dried, discarded leaves underfoot and I felt sad, profoundly sad.

I know why I had this dream. ¬†Yesterday I sent my boys off to Cincinnati with my mother for a one week hang out. For years, my daughter Riley spent a week there and then one at a time, the boys would get their Grammy time. This is the first time all three boys have been able to go at the same time. They’re finally mature enough, civil enough, potty trained enough. It seemed like the right choice considering that our “school” plans are shifting in the Fall.

Rather than homeschooling everyone again, my daughter will begin her Sophomore year in High School at a private arts based, “real” school. My oldest son will begin his 6th grade year at a technology/game theory “real” school and my middle son will begin his 4th grade year with Chicago Virtual Schools. So, while Henry is still technically “at home” he will be reporting to teachers and following a strict curriculum for like the first time ever.

And it’s a lot of pressure…for me and for them. It’s exciting, change is good. We’ve had a great run of it this last 9 or so years of homeschooling. The freedom to go anywhere and do anything whenever we wanted was a bonus and as I came to discover last year, a burden too. It’s difficult to be the only oversight on this particular garden.

The thing about having a garden, whether it’s a container garden on my deck in Chicago or a full on raised bed in my yard in Tennessee, is that it needs tending. Our years in homeschooling never really looked like an organized garden with specific rows planted for sweet peas and tomatoes and kale. Instead, we opted for the wild, unfettered prairie grasses and natural cycle of fertile and fallow. We embraced weeds, we scoffed at tidiness, we watched with interest to see what the seeds falling from passing birds would produce. It was all very organic in practice but not terribly measurable for the rest of the world. ¬†This garden is beautiful, it is so ridiculously fruitful and outrageously satisfying but the truth is that this garden never was meant for me. This garden is a movable feast and my work isn’t to create a stagnant decorative addition to my own landscape but rather to help cultivate in my kids the garden they will take with them anywhere they go.

As parents, we are in the business of letting go, almost from Day One. At the start of parenting our whole lives center around teaching and discipline and cataloguing moments on Facebook and then one day we look up and realize that it never really was for our own benefit. Before too long they are filling in their own answer blanks and choosing their own playdates and picking out political candidates and moving across the country. Those toes we counted with such passion when they were small were never ours to keep, it seems. Every step toward independence is right and good and painful and grief worthy.

So, I know why I dreamt about my garden dying. I simply do not want to let go yet. I’m afraid and I’m grieving already. A friend once told me that “our children are not the fruits of our labor” and I always kept that idea in the back of my mind. Our children are not our fruits, they are the whole garden, each one a lush and beautiful, growing and miraculous garden. ¬†If we tend to them well they will get up one day and move somewhere else, somewhere that needs the beauty they offer and it’s going to feel empty in those places they used to occupy here at home. And I’ll be here, watching those empty places and waiting for the return of the¬†wild, unfettered prairie grasses in the natural cycle of fertile and fallow, this moveable feast.

on sleeping and waking…

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

From Essential Rumi
translated by Coleman Barks

A friend who was getting off an antidepressant after many years told me not long ago that he felt as though he was finally “waking up.” He had not realized how asleep he’d been all those years. He was sleepwalking, he was numbed to the world, to his wife, to himself. This was protective at first, it saved his life perhaps. The struggle now though was to walk through life finally awake, feeling the pain and the hurt and not dying in the process.

The reminder to me when I read this poem and when I think of my friend’s experience is that dulling the pain has its moments but those moments have to be temporary. ¬†It cannot be the full story of me. As much as I joke to my husband and my friends that I’d rather medicate my pain- order another margarita, sneak another piece of candy, sit in my car outside the gathering of people I’m avoiding, watch reality TV- I know it only prolongs the pressure. It doesn’t dissipate anything, it just pushes it down the road. I have to want to stay awake and in the absence of that, sometimes I have to do it anyway.

rosemary and time…


Last year in the Spring I spent a great deal of time digging up the back yard of our house in Nashville. I’d decided that I would finally give gardening a try. Knowing little, knowing nothing and having only Google and the kindness of green thumb friends I dug up my yard; around the porch, near the fence, in the bare spots and the balding patches. I convinced the lawn guy to cut down a diseased shrub one day and spent the rest of the weekend pulling up the stump. It was therapy, deeply intensive therapy.

When the empty spot was finally tilled and filled with dirt I sat down on the porch to survey my work. I wanted a rosemary bush there. I found two rather large bushes sitting outside our local grocery store in the heat of the Spring day. They were strong and woody, ready for room to expand, ready for a place to lift their branches and reach to the skies.

They did very well over the course of the summer in that house. They did lift their branches to the skies. They did expand. In the mornings I would wander outside with my coffee and offer them water, rub their leaves so that I could remember throughout the day the simple fact that I’d done this. Rosemary means remembrance.

We moved away from that house in early September, up to the windy city of Chicago, into a loft style apartment on the second floor. No yard. No garden. No dirt.

This past week I finally remedied that, buying a topiary of rosemary for my deck. I had not realized how much I missed that early morning greeting, the moment of quiet on the porch, the wind whispering through the leaves, clothing itself with the perfume of rosemary, of remembrance.

the tree of life…

The Celtic Tree of Life was the image I’d settled on for this tattoo. There is something engaging about this tree, the one we left behind in favor of the ¬†Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The story reminds me of the scene played out day after day in my children. They are so eager to know what the adult world holds that they’re willing to leave behind the innocence, the “now” ¬†and go right to the “not yet.” ¬†Perhaps this is what religion is all about, trying to reclaim what was lost, trying to reconnect with the tree of life, the re-find the innocence we throw aside so willingly.

In reality, there is no physical tree like the one I have drawn on my shoulder. The Dogwood tree comes close although the blooms here are done in blue, a nod to the mother of God.  According to tradition the story of the meaning of the Dogwood is this:

These flowers also have meanings to them like every other flower. The mythical meaning of the dogwood flower is that the tree was chosen to provide wood for Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. However, the tree was unhappy about this cruel act it was forced to do, and thus Jesus after being nailed to it, told it this;

“Because of your regret and pity for my suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross, two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the middle of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see it will remember …”

I have not written a poem for THIS tree…that’s next, I hope. For now, even thought it’s not Poetry Tuesday I can tell you what I know of the “other” tree.


genesis: eat


I know the other voice

in the garden

near the tree

silky, sibilant

each sentence end

dropping suddenly

sotto voce-


sketching stunning spectacle

words fill me

with false flattery

a meal I can touch

but not take in-


it leaves me


hungry for excess

spent without cause-


the promise, then,

this fruit, hanging ripe and red

held up as antiphon

to my newly minted need

calls out simply-

take and eat


©ADC 2011

daydream believer…

There is something about a celebrity death that always gets me in a soft spot. Regardless of how much or how little I might have cared for the celebrity who has passed away I still find that reminder about my own humanity, about my own lacking, my own legacy.

Davy Jones died today and it hit me hard, much harder than I expected. He was 66. He died of heart failure. My heart failed a little when I heard the news. I googled it to make sure it wasn’t a hoax. That’s been happening here and there on social media outlets. But it is true and I admit, I dropped into a full on sob when I discovered this.

Sure, there was the realizing my own mortality part of it, the loss of someone who is still so young, comparatively speaking, but it was more. The moment I read the news I was transported back in time. ¬†I was 8 or 9, ¬†sitting in my cousin’s basement listening to The Monkees, watching re-runs of the television show, acting out our own plots for the show, choosing up which Monkee we’d be marrying. I didn’t pick Davy. He was the easy choice. Mickey was too much of a jokester. Mike was too serious. I always picked Peter, he was kind of the oddball and I had a thing for the underdog I guess. Still, the loss of one Monkee, even if it wasn’t the one I planned to run off with, was a striking loss.

I had to ask myself what it is that hit me so hard. Why am I so moved by this particular loss today?

I’m tempted to say it is because it was so sudden but that’s not quite it. Unexpected is maybe closer. And then the image that came to me was that of a door being opened, a door that has been closed for a very long time. On opening this door a flood of memories come out, a flood of emotions, long-lost hopes and goals, young thoughts and daydreams.

Here then was my childhood, laid out before me all over the floor in the hallway. Each memory scattered there was a time capsule, a toy chest, a ticking clock. I saw myself at every age I can remember playing with dolls, reading books, running and jumping and then I saw myself systematically shelving of all the artifacts of that age. I was in a hurry to grow up. And I realize at that moment, I am no longer that little girl and then also, I am exactly that girl, even now, always.  I am not grieving Davy Jones but the girl who loved Davy Jones when she was 8, the girl that knew all the words and dance moves to the songs, the girl who really was a daydream believer.

There is something about death that opens a little door in each of us and spills out pieces of our lives into the hallway around our feet. It is, just then, our choice as to whether we’ll shovel it all back in quickly and quietly or stop a moment, sit down amid the mess and put our hands on each bit of pain and joy we have stored up all this time.

One small but important piece of my childhood passed away and that piece meant something to me, something I had packed away all these years. It spilled out at my feet today and that is why I sobbed into my pasta this afternoon and why I spent some time on the floor, sifting through the memory of who I used to be.

Rest in peace, Davy Jones. Thank you for reminding me of that daydream believer I had packed away.





If you like this piece and would like to see it in

the Mrs Metaphor Kickstarter funded book…

let me know and help make it happen!

finding the bliss…

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word, “bliss” is defined first and foremost as “complete happiness.” The suffix of “-dom” refers to a realm or jurisdiction. ¬†In other words, when I attend the blogger/social media conference in Nashville this weekend called “Blissdom” I am essentially entering the kingdom of happiness.

I’ll take it.

I attended last year for the first time at the urging of my friend Calie (aka Broccoli Cupcake.) I confess that I did not want to go. I’m remarkably insecure in new settings and the list of amazing bloggers and Twitterati superstars was intimidating to say the least. I joked to those I knew at the conference that I would be lurking in the dark corners of the conference and I admit, I did a little of that. For the most part, however I found a niche, a track, a place to groove. At the risk of gushing I’ll just say that the Blissdom crew makes it easy. It was a party. I had fun.

This year finds me living in Chicago rather than Nashville, still homeschooling (this time with a high schooler,) starting a new blogging venture with Drama Free Fitness and facing the prospect of launching 2 self published books while pitching a third to a publisher. So, yeah, I’m busy and then the crazy kicks in even more with the “I ought to be…” buzzing in my head.

I ought to be promoting things more.

I ought to be following up on my relationships from last year.

I ought to be focused.

I ought to be preparing for what I’m doing there.

But each time I start to think about what I ought to be doing I fall into a mini panic attack and run screaming toward my two friends Ben and Jerry. If this keeps up I’m going to need to be brought into the conference by a semi tractor-trailer.

And so, I let it go, because I don’t want my life to be about getting ahead or increasing my Twitter followers or Facebook “likes.” ¬†I need my life, my “bliss” to be about this present moment. I had this moment of clarity today as I pondered writing up a post around Blissdom for Mrs Metaphor, and a post for Blissdom on Drama Free Fitness and on DoxaSoma. I am spread so thin already, moments of clarity pierce my very skin and drive right into my vital organs.

I am about being present in this moment, in the now. That is who I want most to be. That is the epitome of my “bliss.” I can sit gazing at the pool and worry about the temperature, worry about the fit of my bathing suit, consider the ramifications and ripples made from my jumping in as I stare and plan and ponder but really, being there and jumping in, feeling the cool water on my hot skin, that’s where the moment resides. Being there, being fully present, that’s where I find my bliss.

This is why I am not going to plot out my time at this conference with any real intention and why I may look disheveled and lopsided when you run into me. ¬†I’m not going to network. I’m not going to sweat the small stuff. I hope I wear matching socks but don’t be surprised if I don’t. I’m not going to worry about how my kids are destroying the house or think ahead to how much laundry I’ll need to do when I get back.¬†I’m going to hold Blissdom to the meaning ¬†of its awesome naming and work toward dwelling in the realm of happiness…this year, it means I’m winging it. I’ll raise a glass to all of our future successes certainly, but I am aiming squarely toward breathing deep the whispering wind of “ready” “yes” and “now” this weekend.

nowhere man…

My Uncle Ed died this week. He was about 75.

It came out of nowhere but not really. ¬†My mom’s older brother was always something of a mystery to me. Growing up he lived with his little family an hour or more from us. He lived on a stretch of farmland that I don’t think he farmed. He lived in a trailer and he had a mynah bird and a layabout dog named Max. It’s strange what I remember from those years. I remember getting carsick on our way there to visit him after his daughter was born. I remember the little store near his place was owned by a man named Ed Morton. He had a lot of beef jerky and soda pop in there. I remember when he and my dad and Mr Morton opened a paint manufacturing business together out there in the middle of nowhere and I remember when they closed it, amid unanswered questions and quirky circumstances.

I remember the day he had packed up everything, following an argument with my grandmother and moved his family away from all of us. We did not know where they’d gone. I never overheard my parents talk about it with our extended family or with each other. I suppose as kids we did ask about him, where he’d gone but I can’t recall asking, I can’t recall hearing an answer.

He was tall and always tanned in my memory of him. He was an imposing figure with a deep, booming voice and loose-fitting clothes. He always seemed to be pondering something heavy, even when he joked he appeared to me to be carrying the weight of the world.  He may have scared me when I was growing up but I liked him a lot. I missed him when he left Cincinnati under that shroud of secrecy.

After a number of years my mom found him and his family. I think she’d been searching a long time for her big brother. I think she missed him more than she let on during those years. She found him because like his father, his namesake, he didn’t have a middle name, just an initial, “B.” ¬†She found him before the internet and without a private investigator. To be honest it’s a mystery to me how she came across his phone number listing in Brandon, Florida but she did and then suddenly he was found.

We visited him in Florida not long after this. They were family but unfamiliar. Uncle Ed had lost something vital, something strong. He seemed broken to me as I saw him through my teenager lens.

I had seen him maybe a handful of times over the last 20 years. The dates and the occasions escape me. My mom kept in touch. She’d visit him, talk with him on the phone. I saw him after his son, my cousin, Scott, died of complications from his congenital heart condition. I remember Uncle Ed had lost a lot of weight. I remember him shuffling around the house, uncertain. ¬†After his wife died suddenly several years later of an aneurysm it was if more of his soul chipped away. He soldiered on though and I lost track of him again. I was steeped in my own life by then, my own family, my own struggles and joys.

I like to remember him best by the stories my mom tells. I like to think most of my mom staying with him while my dad was in Vietnam. My brother was young and my mom was pregnant with me. I like to think of him driving my mom to the hospital at Wright Patt Air Force Base when she went into labor with me. I like to remember that he worked at Wright Patt, that he was a rocket scientist, that he worked on projects for the government and that he quit, for moral reasons, I thought. I don’t know if that’s true but I like to think it’s true.

I like to remember that he started a strange, entertaining tradition of sending the turkey neck from a Thanksgiving previous, to one of his siblings and that the siblings would freeze it and send it back to him some time later. I like to remember that he told great stories, that he smelled like scotch and cigarettes and that as a kid it didn’t occur to me that this combination was unhealthy.

When my mom called me to say he’d died of a massive heart attack, we think (we hope) peacefully, ¬†in his sleep, I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel sad or empty or at a loss. Uncle Ed had always been something of a nowhere man, a story we told, a memory we had, a ghost of sorts. In truth, he was lost to me long ago. ¬†Writing this, at this moment, I do have a sense of the grief. Writing this today is a way of filling up that space I’d been holding for him all these years and in so doing I see how important his story has been to mine. In writing this I can see the space between the stories we tell, the pain we hold, the time we wish we had and things we wish we’d said, the people we didn’t know we’d miss.

Goodbye, Uncle Ed. I pray peace and comfort to you after a strange, disquieted life. I pray peace for all of our family in the wake of our loss. We will miss you. We always have missed you.

Edward B. Thompson