When Sheryl Sandberg posted June 3rd on Facebook about her 30 days of mourning since her husband died, I was pulled into to her deep feelings and grief. I so related to what she said. Although I have not been posting for quite awhile, I have written more about the loss of my husband as well as exploring grief in our society.  Sheryl so eloquently shares her thoughts and feelings  – allowing others to remember and share those same feelings of grief even if they hadn’t expressed it as well as Sheryl has.  I am in tears each time I read it.  She also shares how to relate to those in mourning from her own 30-day perspective.  Most people don’t know what to say.  Sheryl writes: “Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not.”  Or, just changing the question by adding “today” – “How are you today?”  Simple yet subtle shifts for greater connection and understanding.

I am grateful that she shared her feelings with the world.  It seems to me that death, grieving and mourning are coming out of the shadows in some ways. It affects us all.  Certainly, Sheryl’s post going viral reflects a connection and readiness to receive this depth of sharing about something comment to all of us.  It made the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle the next day. Each week, there is an Op-Ed article in the Sunday New York Times that addresses death and grieving.  I see these articles as a further opening of this conversation in our society. There was also the Metropolitan Museum in New York’s Costume Institute exhibit last fall, “Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire” that reflected a time (where there was prescribed etiquette and mourning fashions from the 19th and early 20th centuries.  This was a time when death was a more prevalent cultural conversation and acknowledges through dress and appropriate displays and actions.  Here’s the link about the exhibit: http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-museum/press-room/exhibitions/2014/death-becomes-her



After Bali

I took one of Mike’s sarongs with me on my trip to Bali.  We stayed for two nights at a resort on the ocean near the island of Manganyan, known for the best  snorkeling – amazing fish in wild colors and beautiful coral.  We spent a day on the water riding out to the island and snorkeling in two different areas.  We got soaked in a rainstorm mid-day.  Back at the resort, I hung my sarong up to dry . . . and left it behind by mistake when we left the next morning.  Although it turned out it really wasn’t a mistake.  In fact, I had a bit of premonition that it might happen when I packed the sarong.  I obviously needed to leave a bit of Mike in Bali.  It felt right.  Mike and I had talked about living there part-time while he worked on a project in Australia. It was to be his last time working at a project site.

I’ve been back from Balifor two months.  It seems shorter than that.  I went with the intention to give myself a gift of a break from all that has occurred the past 2 plus years.  Unplugging and going to the flip side of the world is a real break from the day to day.  And such a beautiful place to do it – with an incredibly wonderful group of girlfriends.

Since coming back from Bali, I discovered that I have been in a fog since Mike split this earth scene.  A friend said it is a healing fog – cushioning the shock.  It’s been a year and 8 months.  The fog is lifting, and I am grieving again.  Since all emotions are good, this must be the next step in accepting the change that has occurred with Mike being gone.  I find myself weepy at odd times.  I know to just let it out.  I don’t spend time figuring out why.  More diving to the depths to release the grief and allow greater healing to occur.  What I learned in Bali with my girlfriends when one would start getting teary . . . blubbering is good.

So much time has passed and changes are occurring.  I took off my wedding band a few weeks ago.  I decided I didn’t need to wear it any longer.  I’m not married anymore – except in my heart.  I continue to wear the diamond ring Mike gave me – it’s got all the love energy in it.  The ring was his mum’s.  She bought it with lottery winnings. She had always wanted a large diamond solitaire.  She told Mike it would be his later on.  Mike’s mum died when he was 16 years old.  When Mike father died about ten years later, he got the ring.  And then he carried around the world for the next 25 years – working in places like South America,Thailand,Saudi Arabia,  northern Canada.  He never married during all this time.  His work managing multi-billion dollar construction projects didn’t allow much time for relationships.  There is a lot of love in this ring and I feel it.

I’m off for a vacation with girlfriends to Bali.  Mike and I had talked about him doing one more construction project at a location around the world.  The one he wanted to help manage was in Australia– just a short airplane ride away from Bali.  I keep thinking about this and our plans for this project as I pack to go.  I still miss him a lot.

A New Year

It’s been quite a while since I added a post.  In mid-September, I attended my annual WomanSpirit retreat – 5 wonderful days among the redwoods with girlfriends and 100 other women.  Last year, Mike helped us load up the car and then he stayed home and relaxed.  This year, I took Mike with me – bringing his drum to play, and thinking about him a lot.  A psychic friend at the retreat told me Mike was standing right next to me, so I guess he did tag along.  I thought I would write about this after our retreat but I wasn’t ready to do so.

October 21st was the anniversary of Mike making his sudden transition – exiting his earth suit.  I didn’t realize what a hard day that would be.  I was grateful I had a dinner scheduled with friends that evening.  I thought I would write something that day, however, I discovered there was still much to be processed before I could write again. At this point, a year had passed – beyond the “remembering what Mike was doing last year at this time”.  So much for it being easier, it just seems more final.  I think a part of me has been in shock all year.  Now the reality and more grieving are present.  

November 24th was Mike’s birthday.  Last year, I had bought a Kindle a few months before his birthday and was looking forward to give it to him as he loved to read. The Kindle sat in the drawer for a year.  I didn’t know who to give it to.  In November, I had to file some papers with the county clerk.  The gal behind the counter was telling me about a drawing they were having in the office and the prize was a Kindle.  She really wanted it – she loved to read.  It seemed like the signal to me, and a week later I went back to see her and gave her the Kindle.  I was surprised that I cried afterwards. 

We celebrated Christmas out of town this year.  I didn’t want to repeat our usual traditions at home that had included Mike.  My daughter and I went to Santa Fe for the week which was very relaxing, with help from the massages at the hotel spa.  I rarely stop and rest – something Mike was really good at.  We visited with family and friends, walked around the square, checked out shops and museums, and enjoyed local restaurants.  I thought I would write this blog while I was there – but no, it was time to just stop.  Mike would have been proud of me.

I’ve spent some time going through photos of the past few years.  Mike didn’t like to get his photo taken but I did manage to have some taken.  I even had photos taken that I thought I would send as a Christmas or New Year’s card.  That never happened, although now I can show them all with no complaints from Mike, just lots of memories.


Christmas 2006 Family Picture

Mike's Curry Dinner - Yum. May 2008

Mike's favorite spot on the deck. May 2008


Rings and Things

I’ve been pondering the question of whether I should continue to wear my wedding band, or . . . why do I continue to wear my wedding band?  When I got divorced from my first husband, I willingly took off my ring.   It’s not like that this time.  When Mike and I arranged our wedding in a week, he insisted on getting wedding bands for both of us.  I thought it would take too long to get them ordered, etc.   We both found rings at the first store we shopped.  Mike’s band fit perfectly.  I had mine resized after the ceremony.  Is there a time limit on how long to wear my ring?  It goes so perfectly with the solitaire that was his mum’s.

It’s weird.  I wear my wedding rings and think of Mike.  I see Mike all around me – his furniture in every room, in some rooms it’s all his furniture.  Our furniture melded together when we merged our lives. So did our kitchen pots & pans, knives and dishes. A good friend said to Mike, “Didn’t you know you were meant to be together, since your furniture goes so well together?”  Now I am left with the furniture – and no Mike.  Don’t get me wrong; I love the furniture and everything in the kitchen.  I just wish I had Mike instead.  (Here’s that magical thinking Joan Didion wrote about.)  It feels like I have the leftovers, no matter how wonderful those things are.

Speaking of Joan Didion, I read her book, The Year of Magical Thinking, two years ago and last year, I read Christopher Buckley’s, Losing Mum and Pup. Reading these books turned out to be preparation for where I am now.  Both books have provided me with references and ways to think about my experience of loss – and the process – of time and thoughts and questions that arise.

When I write these posts, I mull over the ideas and the words to use.  Weeks have gone by thinking, writing, adding, deleting, rewriting.  For now, I’m letting go of the question about wearing my rings.  I’m done focusing on this –  time to move on. The answer will be revealed in its right way and right time.  When I take my wedding rings off, there’s an indentation that remains on my finger. . . just like Mike has left an impression on my heart that will always be there.

Cooking with Mike

I miss cooking with Mike.  Our large, remodeled kitchen was perfect for two chefs – two sinks, two areas for prep and lots of counter space.  Going through papers, I found a menu for a dinner party we hosted on October 11, 2008 for family and friends:

An Indian Summer Dinner for Six

Halibut baked in Parchment with Garlic and Rosemary

Eggplant, Tomato, Onion Gratin

Fresh Corn and Fava Bean Salad with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

New Potatoes with Parsley and Butter

Mixed Greens with Apple, Orange, Avocado and a Citrus Vinaigrette

Fresh Peach Tart

Homemade Chocolate Almond Truffles

The halibut was Mike’s recipe – delicious and easy. I don’t think I’ve made it since he’s been gone.   I bought fava beans and corn on the cob last week at the Farmers Markets to make the salad for the first time since last summer.  It was a favorite recipe of ours. 

 Ours.  I miss that – sharing things that were our favorites . . . our “dinner and a movie” nights, our gatherings with friends, reading the Sunday papers together.  Last year at this time, Mike was helping me pit apricots for jam.  I’ve been stirring all evening and have made four batches of apricot jam.  Next week I’ll get another case from the farmers market and make apricot butter, which is my favorite.  Both are enjoyed by all that receive them at Christmas.

Mike pitting apricots

Swirling ashes and flowers at the oceans edge


Last weekend, I flew to Hawaii for a few days to join friends for classic Hawaiian weaving – I wove bracelets.  I was also there to release Mike’s ashes into the ocean.  He always wanted retire to Hawaii.  We decided to gather Sunday morning – about 16 of us.  I am so grateful for all that came together as I needed everyone’s help to make this ceremony happen.   

I had never opened the bag holding the box of ashes after I picked it up a week and a half after Mike had split.  It sat in the closet till I packed the bag with the box in my suitcase for the flight to the Big island.  Only just before the ceremony did I take the box out of the bag . . . and discovered that the box was a heavy metal box – sealed shut, with no way to open it.  I asked for a plain box.  Who knew?  Two men in our group both tried to open it and called it a safe, not a box.  The handyman at the resort was called to bring his tools. As he was figuring out how to open the box, he asked, “Did he really like this place?”  Yes, actually he did.  Success – the box was finally pried open.   

This being the No Faults Tour weekend with my friends . . . the ceremony began a little later than originally planned – and, it was perfect.  Including trying to get Mike out of the box.  One suggested a tide pool at the ocean’s edge was a good place on this balmy, windy day.  Another provided a basket to put the bag of ashes in.  A special friend wore a sarong in Mike’s honor, as Mike would have worn one if he had been here.  Another was wearing a look-alike to Mike’s favorite sarong.  She had bought it at the market just a few days before – colors she didn’t usually wear but it had called to her!  Aloha, Mike.  

We all filed down to the tide pool and gathered in a half circle.   I said a few words about Mike – about the joy and love that connected us to Mike and to each other.  I hadn’t been to this resort since our honeymoon.  Now Mike and I were both here again.  We prayed and sang the chant – There is only one of us, in your eyes it’s me I see, there is only one of us, you are my reflection, there is only one.  I stood barefoot in the water and with Amazing Grace being played on the harmonica, I poured Mike’s ashes slowly into the water as the waves rolled in and out.  The fine silver grey powder mixed and swirled with the water – stirring and flowing into a larger and larger area at the edge of the ocean. We broke our leis and tossed the flowers into the water – a mix of peach, pink, purple and white floating above the moving misty water.  The mist didn’t go out to sea as much as dissolve and merge with the water and drift down into the sand at the waters edge.   I guess he’s not leaving the beach.  We gathered back on the sand and many expressed how beautiful the ceremony was.  One said that this is how he wants to go – so simple and so moving.   

When I was pouring the fine ashes into the water, I flashed on how this is what Andy Goldsworthy has done . . . grinding up natural elements and pouring the colored powder down a river or stream.  Here I was making art – the ephemeral art of life – watching and remembering sweet Mike.