Sunday, May 23, 2010


Dear Ellen

It's Sunday evening. I just spent the last hour trying to paint my toenails. I thought, it's almost summer, I want to wear sandals and I need to do something about my toes. You would think this is a simple thing............

I went to your drawer to get the clippers and polish and realized why I was putting this whole thing off till now. I saw your little bottle of nail polish and dissolved into tears. "Cajun Shrimp", last years perfect color, took me to a place I didn't want to go. I held the bottle in my hands and remembered last summer, a bittersweet time we shared in Florida. You couldn't take the chance of an infection from a pedicure at a shop so we became each others artistic toe stylists. I would set up shop on the front porch and there you would sit as I carefully applied the color. Layer after layer until it was perfect. You would smile and approve and then insist on painting mine. I would sit quietly while you worked. Such an intimate and loving thing we shared. Afterwards, while we admired our amazing talents, we would laugh and talk, not wanting to go in the house till darkness crept over the porch and the cat would beg for dinner.
It's those things I miss, those things which bring to my knees. The small and sweet things I only knew how to share with you. These days, now almost five months later, I find myself moving through the days in a quiet way. I think of you and smile. I remember our times together and feel comfort in the memory. There are days I don't cry. There are times I even feel happiness in laughter shared with friends.

But, there are "cajun shrimp" moments. I let them in, I sit with them for awhile, I feel the tears flow. I realize the reason I didn't want to paint my nails before this is because you were the last one to paint them. It felt like one more thing I had to let go of.
It took me awhile. They don't look so great and somehow there's polish on my arms.
I know you are laughing at my toes, but I somehow don't mind. Dear Ellen, there are some things which will never be right without you. Toes are one of them.

I love you

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Dear Ellen

It was a strange week. Such a mixture of interesting encounters, stressful tensions, realizations and reminders of the frailty of life. On Monday a well known actor walked into my gallery and reminded me the thread of human emotions runs through us all, binding us, regardless of our perspectives. Grief is powerful, it is painful, but it makes us thoughtful and compassionate.

I waited all week, impatiently, for news on the sale of our house in Orlando. A couple I've never met are making decisions affecting the direction of my life. What an odd thought. Another reminder I have no control over anything. Finally, on Friday, a phone call from Orlando to let me know the sale is moving forward. Tension is replaced with relief and a tinge of sadness, a realization of one more thing I am letting go of. Grief seems to be a part of me, as though I have learned to embrace the letting in and letting go. I can't escape it, but maybe I can live with it. Grief is a powerful teacher.

Susans mom died on Tuesday. It was sudden and shocking, the kind of loss you're never prepared for. My heart went out to Susan, her pain so fresh, so intensely written across her face. I watched her begin an all too familiar journey. I sat at the funeral on Friday and felt my own story bind with the beginnings of hers. Dear friend, I understand.

Maybe compassion is an antidote for grief. Maybe it is only through these threads which bind us all we will find comfort, find release, find our most human selves. I found it twice this week, once in the kind words of a stranger, once in the tear stained face of a dear friend. I am learning more about love from the roots of grief than I would have thought possible.

Such gifts from such loss. You continue to teach me so much.
I love you

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Dear Ellen

There are so many changes happpening with me. Sometimes I don't know who I am or who I've become without you. Sometimes I can't remember the person who was your partner. There are days when I don't recognize myself, as though I'm so detached I can't feel or see who I am in the mirror. It's as though I am floating through the days and though they might be full of people, I'm not there. I'm staring at them and I know I'm talking with them, but my voice feels hollow, like it's coming from someone else.
I'm trying to figure out who I am in the world without you. And though it looks like I know what I'm doing, it looks like I'm "handling" things, like I'm doing "so well" the truth is I haven't got a clue. I just keep stumbling along because there's still the memory of me who was half you pointing my shell in the general direction of progress. It all looks good until I get home at night and the silence reminds me there are whole parts of me missing.

This I do know.
You have never left me.
I know this, I believe this. I feel you with me, even in my darkest moments. You have stayed with me, have watched over me, have cared about me and if you could, you would tell me how to let go of who I was. You would tell me to be patient, to take each day as it is, to let in who I can be. The little girl, the lost person inside me dosen't understand, but the woman who knew you does.

So, the missing parts will be missing for awhile. In the meantime, if I listen carefully, if I am very quiet, I can hear you. If I am paying attention I will know the way to go.

much love,

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Home Again

Dear Ellen
It's been a busy couple of weeks, between Jazzfest and a Gallery Opening, I haven't had time to keep up with my thoughts. Maybe this is a good thing.

Jazzfest was different this year. It was difficult, it was emotional, but it was good to be with friends and experience the musical energy. You were missed. Somehow, I kept expecting you to come bouncing back into my booth with a big smile and a great story about someone you met while waiting in line for a mango freeze. Instead, I saw you in the eyes of friends and heard you in the musical breeze coming from the Blues tent, a favorite song reminding me of a different time. Jazzfest was not the same without you and I don't think it ever will be, but the familiarity of it all was comforting to me.

The Gallery opening was on Friday. It was a mix of good friends and total strangers which filled the studio with interesting conversation and laughter. It was a warm and wonderful evening you would have loved. I'm sure you were there. These past two weeks have been full of you, full of bittersweet moments and memories. I move through these days in a dream, keep getting up, keep moving forward, keep busy, keep breathing. Life pushes me, drags me through the day, encourages me to honor your memory with the good. Life dosen't stop, I can't stop it, but I carry you with my every step.

The house is quiet again, the friends all gone. The cat and I stared at each other this morning and resumed our normal routine and conversation. We find comfort in it. We like the world, enjoy it when it comes calling, but really, there's nothing like an old bath robe, a cat on your lap and stupid TV luring you into slumber. I sense you here in the quiet, in the silence. I feel your joy and hear your laughter at Jazzfest, but here, at home, I feel your heart.

It's good to be home again.