The cold front comes in
and chills my bones
with the reality
that you are not coming home -
That none of my family is.
not my mother
not my father
and not you.
So many people I have lost already
in thirty-two years of living
I have lived and died already
many lifetimes in this body.
This past week something really big happened for me. It was one of those things that originally came out of nowhere, yet will be something I will remember for the rest of my life. It all began almost a year ago, with an email. The woman writing to me was a poet, and she came across my photography online and wanted to use one of my images for the cover of her first poetry book. I was astounded. Somehow… in ALL OF THE INTERNET… this stranger from Utah found MY photos and fell in love with one of them for her cover. Was I dreaming?
And it wasn't just any photo, it was one of my favorite photos that I took in the year that took him. A simple, serene image of the soft slope of a horse's back just after a heavy rain… the sky still melancholy with a blanket of clouds. I can still remember the day. It was fall. I had moved down to central Texas from Dallas to live with his family on their ranch. It had poured all morning and the horses were covered in rain and dirt from running wildly through the pastures. Horses always know how to play in the rain, they never grow up in that respect - a lesson we could learn from.
Living with the loss of partner, or any great loss, is one of the most challenging things we will ever face in life. It sends us on a journey through the fire – into a darkness the likes of which we have never experienced before. It brings us to our knees and breaks us. Severely. I certainly remember this feeling well. Before my fiancé died, I knew I could handle anything that life threw at me. Only I didn’t really know that at all…Read more
Every once in a while, something slams into us without warning. On a hot summer night two years ago, it was the phone call, with my father-in-law on the other end of the line telling me that the love of my life was in a crash while flying, and he didn't make it. His death slammed into me like two planets colliding.
And then this week, on another hot summer night, I think Robin Williams' death slammed into all of us. I have been surprised by just how deeply this has affected me. I've found myself having the same reaction of disbelief as when my fiancé died. The same outcry from deep inside myself that "No. No. This cannot be real." I've cried multiple times, deep sobs, for the loss of this man who - despite having never even met me - had a huge impact on my life. I grew up with him, watching Mork & Mindy and later Mrs. Doubtfire just about every week. I watched The Birdcage religiously through college - one of my go-to movies whenever I needed a break from all the stress in life. I watched Hook countless times whenever I needed a good dose of wonder and a reminder that life is full of magic. In fact, just a few weeks ago I watched it for just that reason… I watched Robin's childlike eyes light up and it made me believe in wonder and beauty and magic again.Read more
It's been a while since I've cried like I did tonight. And it wasn't because of anything profound happening. It was just because of a movie. I went out to see The Hundred Foot Journey. It was a beautiful movie and a well-told story. And I am a big foodie, so I always love a movie that bubbles with a deep, soulful love of food.
The part that really got to me was the young couple of chefs that fall in love. That young, bold, sensual, adventurous, effervescent love of two young ambitious, smart, passionate, kind souls. A lot of the time I honestly forget what that felt like. Sometimes I hate that I can't remember, other times, I'm glad… because honestly it's easier when I can't remember. Less painful. Seeing it up on a screen in front of me though, in these two young people with nothing but life and possibility ahead of them, the knife began to twist.Read more
When he left for the trip he never returned from, we began writing letters to each other. Despite the fact that we also talked on the phone every night, we wanted to have the letters as a reminder of these times. Neither of us ever knew that he'd not make it back from that first flying contract. Neither of us knew we would only exchange three away letters between us before the accident happened. But I’ve been writing to him still, for the past two years, all along. Most of the time in my journal. But every now and again, I share them...Read more
I was at an estate sale yesterday and I found this little wooden bookmark hiding away in a corner that really intrigued me. I picked it up and read on the back something about The Star of Seven Day. Further intrigued, I purchased it and brought it home to research. It turns out it is a scene depicting the story of the Tanabata Festival. And this is where it got cool. This is the annual star festival in Japan that is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month each year. It celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively). According to legend, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar.Read more
I'm struggling tonight. A mix of emotions are coursing through my veins… as is always the case with anything new on this journey. Why does every single new thing have to pull at my gut with uneasiness for the fact that he is not here? *sigh*Read more
As an artist, I believe that every piece I create is coming through me from some other source and meant for one person out there. I've come to believe this because of it happening to me with many of my photographs and written pieces. Someone will come forward to share how important my image was to them, and how perfectly it aligned with something in their world, and I will know instantly that it found its home.
Nothing made me more certain of this idea than finding this painting last weekend. My girlfriend and I went to a local art festival, and as we walked into this woman's booth, my friend gasped and called my attention. As I looked up, I was speechless. There on the walls of her booth hung an almost exact painting of MY photo of my fiancé and I. And I knew instantly - I was the person she made that for, even though she did not know me at all.
Of course I bought it. And as I was paying her, I looked up the photo on my phone. I told her the story of my fiancé passing and then showed her the image - and she was as blown away as I was. We both teared up a little. I've had it resting on my writing desk since I came home… and it lights me up inside to look at. Not only because of the photo it represents, but also of the story this photo reminds me of...
I have to thank everyone for all the incredible responses to my post last week. You warmed my heart and really helped me to feel a bit more okay with all of this mess - and a bit less alone. Trying to welcome a new life is SO not easy, but its a heck of a lot easier with friends like all of you. You encourage me to be honest with where I am at on this journey, thank you for that. I thought today that I would share one of the self portraits from my photographic series I have been working on this year - and the story behind it - as it has become a big part of my own healing as of late. Both creating these images and writing about them has helped me to see myself and my pain in new ways… so I hope maybe this one will do that for someone else out there too….
"I just want to crawl out of my own skin" is something I said often in the first weeks and months after he died. For the whole first year really. Every cell of my body - every hair, every pore, every organ, was reverberating a constant and loud message of denial. Every cell of me, bumping up against the truth at every turn, abrasively, painfully. And then violently pushing and pushing, trying to thrust the truth out of my world. No, no, no, no, no, NO, NO, NO NO, NO!!!… vibrating loudly within every inch of me, trying to fight off a reality too painful, too unbelievable to comprehend. This single aspect of his death has been by far the most agonizing of all.Read more