Sunday, March 28, 2010


Dear Ellen

It's finally Spring. After a long, cold and rainy Winter, New Orleans is wearing a fresh coat of green. You loved this time of year. The warm weather would pull you out for long bike rides, walks by the levee, and digging in the garden. Weeding, you loved weeding for some reason I never understood. Oxalis would bring out the beast in you. We would plant beds of flowers, carefully choosing the colors, placing them in just the right spot, finally standing back on the curb to admire our work. I love remembering you in Spring, I love the memory of so much promise.

I wonder if it's Spring where you are.

Where are you? So many times I've thought about this. The day you died I felt certain you were lifted to a beautiful and spiritual place, a place I cannot comprehend. I could see it on your face with your last breath and I felt great comfort in that moment. I knew there was something beyond this world and you were safely held by those arms. But now, where are you? My mind can't wrap around an answer. Am I waiting for you to appear at the foot of the bed, waiting for you to tell me you're safe and happy? Will I hear your voice, channeled through the cat wailing at 3:00 AM? I can feel your presence sometimes, find a pillow with your scent still clinging to it, discover a note you'd written to me months ago and feel the coincidence is more than coincidence. There's good things happening for me, is that you? Is that your smile on the face of a friend or stranger who stops by the gallery for conversation? Is that you, in the warm Spring rain, coming to me like you said you would? I gather the thoughts, wanting to believe, wanting and craving the comfort they bring for even the shortest of moments. It is my faith, failing me, sustaining me.

I wonder if it's Spring where you are. I hope there's flowers.

I love you,

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The 50th Time

Dear Ellen

It's been an interesting week. I never know what to expect when I get up in the morning, but I think that might be a good thing. If I knew what was coming in a day I may not be so ambitious about climbing out of bed. Not that it's all bad, just overwhelming in a confusing insane sort of way. You think you've got something figured out only to realize you haven't even scraped the surface and you're still on hold, waiting for a human being to answer the call.

I'm learning about balance again. For the 50th time. I'm trying to figure out who I am in this new beginning place and it's really awkward for me. My feelings often confuse my perspective, affect my reactions, cloud clear thinking and turn me into a bewildered adult with an eight year old mentality. This makes for interesting conversations with myself, but does confuse my friends. I am trying to understand new boundaries, new challenges, a new relationship with myself and it requires balance. It requires standing outside my own skin observing the chaos and then deciding how I might tweak my thinking. It requires me to remember my manners, sometimes with others, but mostly within myself. It's kind of exhausting, but if I can figure out the most simple things these days, then I celebrate a victory.

What I missed the most this week is our long talks. You would always listen to me, always understood me and always told me to get over myself. I miss that. I miss how we would collapse in laughter when I would finally realize how absurd I was. Maybe that's my problem, it's hard to find balance when half of me is still missing.


Sunday, March 14, 2010


Dear Ellen

It's been an interesting week of varied encounters and emotions. What I'm learning is each day is going to be different and I can wake up and expect only that. My feelings are aboard Mr Toad's Wild Ride and the best I can do is hold on tight. When it's not terrifying to be out of control, it's exhillarating to feel the wind in my face. By the end of the day I'm exhausted, regardless of whether I even spoke with another person or engaged in the slightest activity. The cat and I drag our weary asses upstairs at night to watch stupid television shows, just so we can escape ourselves.

It's not all that bad, just confusing. The slightest thoughts or memories can fill me with joy or leave me pleading for the damnation of the universe. And either reaction can originate with the same thought, it just depends on whether I've had coffee yet or not, or the sun is shining, or a stranger says good morning, or the scent of the Sweet Olive tree fills the air as I walk to work. Am I that fragile? How can I do all I am doing in a day and still know the scent of your favorite flower will reduce me to tears. Can I even determine the difference between tears of joy or sadness anymore? When I walk to work should I take a different route to avoid the question?

I can hear you say "no" to that last question.

Where does all this lead me to? What am I supposed to be learning? Why do I think so much? Somebody needs to slap me. The cat would gladly oblige, but I won't give her the pleasure. It's time to get up, make more coffee and walk to work.
Today can be anything at all and more, it just depends on what route I choose to take.

I miss you so much.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Dear Ellen

I am a tightrope walker. Behind me on this thin wire is everything I know about you, me and the world in general. Everything familiar and comforting pulls me back, but I can't turn around because the wire is shaking and my balance precarious. There's no net below me, just an abyss of loss, self pity, depression and fear which is constantly pulling at me. Each day is a fight to keep my balance, to avoid the
fall, each evening I find myself hanging on by this thin thread of a wire with just my fingers. Ahead of me is a platform of safety. It might as well be a mile away.
I know, it sounds so drama, but this is what my mind dreams of at night. I used to dream of flying, wonderful and light and free, now I dream of high wire acts.

It's been two months now. It's a lifetime which just happened yesterday in terms of time endured. My protective fog has lifted, leaving me with a clear mind to indulge in sharp images and unexpected emotions. If I falter on my thin wire, the fall is hard. I do fall, often, and sometimes the spiral downward is a relief, like breathing in while drowning to quicken the process. Maybe it's not so bad, I think, to stay here awhile, blocking the world out.

But then, your voice in my head. Clearly annoyed. You rarely indulged in self-pity and didn't tolerate it much in me. So we talk, well really, I talk and you listen. I sit in the bathtub with a glass of wine and the cat lying nearby as a witness. I talk until the glass is empty and the water cold, the cat now bored. I talk until I feel better, until I figure out a way to climb back up on the wire. I laugh at myself, how utterly absurd I am to think I could get away with self indulgence when you are listening.

Each day I find a new way to see things differently, to cope, to understand this grief.
I am a tightrope walker and the platform is only a mile away.