Unexpected Gifts

When time collapses. When a terminal diagnosis enters stage left, it can feel oddly as if the sweetness of life is condensed. Or as one woman put it in A Time To Live, (a British documentary about 12 people, mostly in mid-life, who have been given a terminal diagnosis): ‘The colors are brighter, the trees are greener,…

The Alchemy of Love

Sir Anthony Seldon, a British schoolmaster and political author, recently described the beautiful alchemy that transforms love  at the end of life. His wife Joanna died of cancer in December 2016. ” The illness might have withered her body, but it strengthened our love and faith.  Never had we known such profound physical intimacy and romance…

Presence

‘My father was in a coma for six weeks before he died,’ a man told me recently. This man also described how he sat with his father until the end. ‘It was the best thing I ever did,’ he said. He felt there was some intelligence that passed between them wordlessly as they spent time…

Three Years Ago

In a couple of hours, it will be exactly three years since Laura passed.  Three years.  It seems impossible she has been gone so long.  But there is a beautiful symmetry at work.  We were together, as a couple, for three years.  And now after another three years the pain of her loss has ebbed…

Liz and Rayya

It squeezed my heart to hear Elizabeth Gilbert’s recent news.  In case you missed it, the Eat, Pray, Love author Liz Gilbert announced recently on her Facebook page that after learning of her best friend of 15 years, Rayya Elias’s, liver and pancreatic cancer, she realized she was the love of her life and there was…

On Grief

I’ve come to believe that you don’t heal from grief.  And you don’t get ‘over it’ either.  Instead you heal around it.  The body creates a safe place for it to live on inside.  A sort of encapsulated sanctuary where it doesn’t poison your day to day existance with sadness, but where it can just…

Aliceheimer’s

Aliceheimer’s is a poetic little book about a daughter looking after an aged mother with alzheimer’s. Alice has a memory like swiss cheese.  But her daughter Dana Walrath doesn’t focus on the loss.  Instead she sees her mother as having special powers such as the ability to speak to dead people, to time travel and…

The Night Visitor

I wake in the sweet spot, the warm burrow of duvet and sheets after a long night’s sleep and feel a tender embrace encircling me; a hand on my cheek, the other stroking my ear, toes gently scratch and tickle the underside of my foot, and arms pull me in close. ‘Oh Laura,’ I sigh…

Laura Calls Time

In England, one night, when I was talking to Laura, she said ‘It is time’. I thought at first she meant time for her to move on.  I felt a twang of pain at the thought of her absence. But now I think she meant it was time for me to move on, to head…

Tolstoy on Suffering

‘They say suffering is our misfortune. But if I was asked would I stay as I was before I was taken prisoner or go through it all again, I would say: “For God’s sake –  let me be a prisoner again!”  When our lives are knocked off course, we imagine everything in them is lost….

A river of tears

January has been a month strafed with pain and loss. I thought I was over this. And there have been lots of good days – days of joy and great highs.  But also days of sobbing and lying on the couch bundled up in Laura’s old fur coat. Is this a new phase of grief?…

Sacred

Today is a sacred day for me. This was Laura’s last full day on earth.  And close to midnight, I got to watch the magic of her soul streaming upward out of her body. But I’ve always felt sad that I missed Laura’s final words, or rather that I couldn’t make them out.  Just before…

Little Presents

I was standing in line for the bathroom at Starbucks last Saturday, when the young woman behind me bent over and picked up a dime.  Without thinking I said: ‘It’s your lucky day!  Do you find many coins?’ She beamed back a lovely smile and said: ‘Ever since my mom passed, I find these dimes everywhere.’  Her…

A Fond Farewell

And so it is…Laura’s body (or what remains of her beautiful body) is finally out to sea very near to this beautiful beach in the Dominican Republic. The night before, I slept with laura’s ashes in my arms and felt a great calm and an extraordinary sense of electricity in my chest.  We also danced…

Letting Go

I’m preparing to scatter Laura’s ashes and say a final farewell to her incarnate form.  It is odd, I feel unexpectedly sad about parting with her remains. Perhaps it is because this little box of rubble is all I have left of our human life together. Her beautiful physical presence left such a strong impression…