Saturday, February 20, 2010

on the death of a childhood friend

She was an extraordinarily accomplished academic writer and teacher, renowned internationally. We had been out of touch for a decade, and I discovered that for the last eight years she was enduring a debilitating disease, leading her to be unable to talk, although she kept her mental capacity to her death, even completing two major books during this period of time.

I remembered her most vividly from third grade on and especially in jr. high school. We danced together -- both of us tall and awkward beside the third best friend of our dancing trio, the one who was lithe and lovely o
n her feet and became a professional dancer. But all of us enjoyed each others' company, spending wonderful four-person sleep-overs on mattresses on the floor, jumping on and off beds, making up stories, giggling and giggling.

In jr. high, more serious, she and I shared many confidences, stories about our crushes, of course ... it was 7th grade ... Also participating in our young peoples church group, performing or singing in the church and learning
about civil rights and the war protest movement from our politically active group leaders, our eyes being opened in our very white, very conservative Boston suburb town.

In adulthood, we met perhaps three times when our paths were able to cross; sharing where our lives had taken us and also sharing new perspectives on our lives as children, hidden secrets now more easily explored in our conversations. Her academic achievements were quite extraordinary, but we shared a childhood friendship that needed no intellectual parsing. From the tributes to her written by her colleagues and students, I believe she approached her academic discussions in a similar way -- honest and open, with great respect and caring for others, interested in direct exchange with great humility on her part and focused and kind interest in the other.

An impact of learning of her passing has been the sharing of this information among a group of additional childhood friends. One other of this group is missing and greatly missed. Those of us here have a renewed commitment to keep in touch, to support and nourish each other, even if from a distance.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Just two days later, a very different mood and very different feelings. Contentment with my life, my day, my evening, the blessings I have been given. The loneliness dissipated, gone where? Odd to have such a change -- come about from the gift of sleep perhaps?

When I am tired, how comforting and renewing is sleep. Fresh sheets, newly made bed, fluffed pillows and quilt, a book beside me. Looking out the window to the beauty of the quiet night, the moon still beckoning and spreading soft light across the backyard. Lovely and reassuring.

Now I recall with comfort the many other gifts I have received. My cozy home, my good friends I can reach out to (including the new and enjoyable virtual friendship circles and circles), always always my children, and now their children. My nieces and their (brand new!) children, expanding (real) circles of loving relationships.

Any my enjoyments: many books, many movies, television at my convenience, music and music and changing moods that music can generate, the radio shows, the lovely surrounding wood (inside and outside my home), delectable food, planning for (possible) gardens with changes of weather. The changes of weather themselves. The blessing of living where there is rich, lasting, encompassing heat, then the beauty of impermanence as the trees change color and shed their loveliness, the many shades of white, snow, ice, sky in winter, the color of cold, and to anticipate the multiplicity of spring changes...

So then to be alive is to be content. And I embrace the gift of contentment in my life.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


How do I describe my feelings. Perhaps by writing I can understand. Perhaps I think I can erase this lonesomeness, this sadness. This is not being alone, with which I am well acquainted, and normally a condition which allows me quiet and contentment. No, instead, this is missing so much: missing touch, missing companionship, missing friendship, missing intimacy physical and emotional, missing another, wanting to be outside of my self, wanting to be away from my sadness.

I walk from room to room. I know to move to work to accept to ignore to hide to cover to pretend to distract. I especially know to distract. I also know my blessings, my family, my past happinesses, my friends, my abilities, my accomplishments, my children. And yet and yet and yet, this sadness appears, feeling so apart. Knowing I could likely reach out and I would receive much more, but somehow paralyzed. What is the fear. What is the sense of lack, the inability. What impels me not to seek what I want and need.

This loneliness. It tears at me, my eyes tear. I listen as my heart is beating, wanting, waiting, but not seeking.