What Love’s Memory Gifts Me.

“The song ended, but the melody lingers on.” ~ Irving Berlin

July 13, 2021

Wow. On this day 19 years ago, I married Prince Charming in Eagan, MN in a rose garden, before our our reception at the zoo, where we danced in front of dolphin tanks.

Yes, I had that love. The marriage contained me and sustained me until it restrained me and I had to leave.

Nine years ago today, I attended my 30th high school reunion in Los Alamos, NM and sparked a summer love that reminded me of the girl I’d been—playful and creative—and the woman I’d become—whole and soulful.

Yeah, I got that groovy summer love, as an adult! But the summer ended and so did we.

Seven years ago today, a man I called Fire held my hand and walked me into a garden wedding. When the pastor asked the guests to agree to support the couple, my boyfriend’s booming vow “We do” resonated internally like a key turning in a lock. After decades of friendship.

So, I leaned into the curve of life and rode our Crazy, Sexy, Cool Love. Later, I’d know it as Sacred Love—the thing each of us spent a lifetime craving and seeking. In our 50s, we created it, cherished it, and refused to bullsh*t each other.

Walls down. All in. Sexy Valentine’s Days and deep conversations about our dead mothers. Chicago. Louisville. St. Louis. Columbus. Lobster on the grill. Wrightsville Beach. Florida. New Mexico. Weddings. Friends. Families. Birthdays. Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Year’s. Chillin’ at his place overlooking the river. Being soothed by the smell of his cigars. Morning coffee at a small round table. His long, lanky, basketball-player legs and arms. Strong hands. A cross between Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott.

This man loved me. All of me.

So, he took a part of me when he died, unexpectedly, in his sleep. I needed to be with him. And he with me, even in the afterlife. It takes time to let go.

Here I am, full circle. New Beginning. New Mexico. The place I return to to find myself. The Land of Enchantment. Home. At a time on the calendar that registers memories of times when love reignited within me.

I remember. The fire of love cools but never dies, even if it appears as ashes.

We’re reminded: love lives inside us and attracts to us what is right for us in divine timing.

I am love’s common denominator in my life. On this day, and all the others.

Enter Here.

“It’s good to do uncomfortable things. It’s weight training for life.” ~ Anne Lamott

Come in, into the quiet center.

Sit in the darkness, the fear, the fucked-up reality of humanity.

Embrace her. In you. Then, welcome the light of stars in the dark night

and the rise of the sun in early morning. Let her shine on you and in you.

Feel her warmth on your skin. Lift your chin, your arms, your everything to the vast and changing sky.

Let her drama dazzle you. Walk in nature. Study the sway of tree and leaves waving in the wind.

You don’t have to save the world, but someone must.

Traveler from dark to light and all the layers in between, why not you?

Save her with poetry and kindness. No need to be famous.

Be you. Invite deep solace. Begin by going in.

Go in while there’s time.

Go into your body. Connect with your soul.

Get out of your mind and the mayhem.

Stay on your mat.

In your chair.

Home.

Drop into your heart and be the peace you’ve been praying for.

How I Dance with Grief.

Grief is a force of nature, like the ocean. She can be calm, the waves gentle, just a noise in the background, as she’s been for me over the last several months.

Four years after my beloved died unexpectedly in his sleep, I drew another line goodbye. Kevin died March 4, 2016. That day this year, I visited his home state of Florida. I emotionally kissed him goodbye. I meant it this time!

By the grace of God, the gift of time, and sheer will, I released Grief’s grip on my being. I regained a sense of self, strength, and quieting of the incessant internal screaming. The ocean waves blew soft.

Now, it’s August. Grief threatens my calm. She’s not mean, but she’s present, reminding me my two truest soul connections in my 55 years on earth no longer inhabit this place. Queen Obvious!

My soulmate dog Phoenix, a lover in a Black Lab body, died last year after 11 spent glued to me. Of course, I grieved her, but I also used my brain to dismiss the pain since her death made sense in a way Kevin’s didn’t. She lived a full life.

Now, she’s back in my dreams, standing by my bed, staring at me with her caramel-brown eyes stirring me awake, nudging me into yesterday’s grin. But she’s not there.

Logic and grief get along like math and poetry. I know, that’s a thing, but not for me.

Grief aligns as the ultimate juxtaposition—the truths we resist and those we cling to.

My sister Jayne and I both started dating new men in 2014, after losing our husbands to death and divorce, respectively. In early May, I visited a friend of double decades and let’s just say, it was on. Walls crumbled, hearts opened, and Kevin and I became Fire & Ice.

In December of the same year, my sister went speed dating and met her mate, Dean. They danced and tripped over baggage and learned to step toward rather than away in ways that work for them.

Dean was in our home that day in 2016 as we all awaited Kevin’s arrival. The guys would meet for the first time. We had reservations at The Melting Pot. I don’t know if we ever cancelled.

I know I was worried when Kevin, king of communication, didn’t call and was late, so out of character. Dean said, “Everything will be okay.” He lacked my experience of death whispering on the wind before she’s announced. Everything was not alright.

The police went to Kevin’s house and found him “unresponsive” in his bed, with his bag packed, the sweater he intended to give me inside. One last surprise from the greatest gift God ever gave me.

I grieved the loss of my Fire actively. Like a mermaid, I dove to the depths and found the treasures. Four years later, “I’m fine” found truth in me.

Here’s the juxtaposition. Well, one of many. My sister’s love with Dean has progressed naturally. I prayed for her to find a special relationship again after Grief almost crushed her under the weight of losing her husband of 33 years. So, I celebrate her engagement.

This morning, sitting alone at the kitchen table that currently sits in the home I share with my sister, while she stays with her fiancé, Grief joined me for coffee.

Like a frenemy, she asked: What if Kevin would’ve lived and Dean would’ve died? You’d be planning your wedding. Grief can be such a b*tch!

No, I wouldn’t want that, either. Grief persisted. Look how happy Jayne is!

It reminded me of Kevin insisting, “Sometimes it’s good to put yourself first.” He said, “Icey, if there was only going to be one book contract, wouldn’t you want it to go to you?” I gave in. “Yeah, I would.” That’s not how it works, though.

Besides, this thought is different. It invokes shame in its existence. It screams to be suppressed. Jealousy over my own sister’s happiness? I want to spit it out like a cockroach on my tongue.

Still, I recall after Jayne’s husband died, she found it difficult to be in the company of other happy couples, even her children and especial my friends. Bittersweet is the taste of what you lost staring you in the face.

I’m a Scorpio. I turn into pain, not away. Truth nourishes my soul. So, here it is: I’m jealous my sister gets to marry the man she connected with in 2014 while I still grieve mine.

In my 20s, I would’ve suppressed that truth into the bowels of the earth and walked away. Or ran.

Maturity is the ability to hold two truths—or five. I’m honestly giddy for my 60-year-old sister getting to plan a wedding for the first time in her life. I’ve gotten to do it twice. Her first vows were spoken at the Justice of the Peace.

Now, my heart flutters with the same butterfly-joy Jayne emanated when I married my second husband—the sure bet. On that day, my sister’s Great-Barrier-Reef-blue eyes reflected what I felt in my gut.

Recently, my sister and I donned our masks (hello 2020) and ventured to her appointment at David’s Bridal. I stood on a stoop below, witnessing the dresses doing their number on my sister. Facing herself as the glowing bride in the mirror, she sparkled.

I took in the show and captured photos. Jayne tried on gowns until she found the one. A surprising smile rose from my belly into a balloon expanding in my heart with its string tied to my tongue.

My sister shown like a sunbeam. Our (deceased) mom’s presence floated in the air like perfume.

Yes, to the dress.

Yes, to love, wherever we find it within life’s juxtapositions.

Welcome present moment, with all your messy, authentic, bold, and beautiful feelings. I celebrate and anticipate Jayne and Dean’s upcoming spring wedding. You can bet I’ll be dancing.

How to Hike the Grand Canyon of Grief.

“The canyon is so large that it’s size can be misleading without a frame of reference.” ~ Mike Knetemann

There will come a day, a shift, a change, a decision, a reckoning with your grief.

Although you’ll never stop missing your special person, the loss that carved your heart into the Grand Canyon will shift like sand and dirt and rocks.

You’ll climb, step by brutal step, even while for days you’ll hide from the storm in your tiny pop-up, one-man tent with only the small sterno can of memories to warm you.

You may not know your tears from the rain or a flood in the belly of the canyon.

Your person, tethered to your soul as they are, left the earth. Left you. Unbelievable. Unfathomable.

You may notice all the wrongs in the world now. Or feel as though your loss is the worst. It is. When it’s yours. When you’re in the canyon, cold, hungry, alone, without a map or a backpack.

A common, “How are you?” can pierce like a sword.

Be alone, if you need. Nobody knows this pain, the wretchedness. No, not yours. Yours is personal, brutiful, and deep with layers.

Yet, many have walked the Grand Canyon of Grief.

While I lived within its walls, I walked cemeteries to impress upon me the truth that people have been dying for a long damn time. The headstones sing their songs. Baby. Husband. Father. Daughter. Beloved.

I let the dead, and the angels I called on, witness my pain, in the canyon, in the cemetery, in the woods.

Nature kept changing her colors. My beloved departed in spring. Summer grew under my feet. Autumn painted beauty in my face, forcing me to see honeysuckle gold, granny-apple green, and red rich as Elvis velvet. Winter white seemed appropriate, although nothing was. Not anymore. Not in the canyon where I received the news.

When my beloved died, life threw me in the hole.

Survival. Even that instinct threatened to leave me. Maybe you question, too.

Please stay.

I offer no magical promises. No ridiculous predictions, like when my friend said, “It will take a year.” It took a year to get to one year of grieving. Then, I heard, “The second year is the hardest.”

Grief tells jokes, like the ones about getting married. Only experience teaches.

And, you don’t have to learn a damn thing if you don’t want to.

You can just do your time and come out on the other side like an ex-con returning to the game.

You can let grief take you down. Yes, people do die in the canyon. Please, my dear friend, don’t let it be you.

Think of one person you don’t want to have to walk the canyon on your behalf, because you can’t. For me, it was my sister. After my beloved died, I didn’t want to live.

I walked in circles in the canyon. I sipped water, and sometimes guzzled beer.

I communed with animals and howled like one. I curled up in fetal position and hid in small alcoves. I walked in my grief like in boots with blistered feet and a backpack full of canned goods—with no opener.

I abandoned much on my journey. You will, too.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find the waterfall, shower in it naked, and let it pummel feeling into your body. See, it’s easy to go numb in the canyon, or become disoriented.

Drink water. Keep walking. Rest when you need to.

If a man offers you a sip of whiskey, take it. If you want to. Even wanting that is desire for something other than the one thing you can’t have—your person back.

Some days, you’ll walk for miles. Others, you’ll be immovable.

Grief isn’t a race. Take your time.

The youth run ahead, desperate to escape the canyon. That was me when my brother died. And five years later, when my mother joined him. Then, I was 28.

I’ve both met and played the denier, too, drunk on illusion. I was not in the canyon—because I said so!

Wise women and men smiled.

Now, I speak to you, my grieving friend, not as one with answers, but one who’s walked much of the canyon and found no shortcuts to the switchbacks.

Grief never ends. But, the canyon? You can climb her walls.

How long will it take? I can’t say. I don’t know how deep in you are, how heavy your pack, what kind of boots you walk in, or if you have clean socks. I don’t know what kind of shape you’re in, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Grief tests them all.

I don’t know how many miles you’ll trek in a day, if you’ll enter that meditative state where you just keep moving.

I don’t know if when you become most motivated, you’ll find a side canyon and a little shack where they sell the best damn green chile cheeseburgers you ever tasted and Coca-Cola you swear is the original. You may fall in love with that tiny Indian village and convince yourself you want to live there, with them, in the canyon, forever, as an act of resolution.

Trust me, they don’t want you to stay. They’ll point you on your path.

I don’t know how long you might resist before you begin the ascent. You may stay, watch the seasons change, see how the sun rises and sets even down there, even for you, even after the death snatch.

Learn the value of water. Listen to your body. Quiet your mind.

Within despair, a golden butterfly may flitter your heart awake. An electric-blue dragonfly may perform magic.

Breathe deep, my friend. There will come a day, a reckoning, a rising.

Before this day, there may be hundreds of declarations, “This is it!” only to realize how far you have to go. Not a race. No points for arriving first. Some have to go back down.

Do what you’re there to do: grieve.

She’s yours. Born of love and loss. Grief’s your companion in the canyon. She is the canyon.

You’re human. You’ll learn the brutality of this and wish you were the golden butterfly.

Walk. Sip water. Rest. Listen to nature and your own instincts, which sharpen in the canyon like night vision.

One day, more than seeing, insisting, determining, you’ll know. The reckoning realization of how far you’ve climbed from the canyon floor will strike you like a clock strikes the hour.

You no longer belong to the canyon. You will, at an unexpected hour, and after you’ve run out of water and eaten your last apple, glimpse the rim. It’s the rim a new possibility.

How to Be a Tree.

“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to us to merit the face you have at fifty.” ~ Coco Chanel

This tree, she is a woman. I’ve walked beside her and put my hands on her, exchanging energies for seven years. I never tire of her, through all the seasons, atmospherically and metaphorically.

I’ve brought special people to meet her. Kindred spirits recognize her before I introduce them. “That tree is a woman,” said one boyfriend walking with me in my grief, trying damn hard to make me love him. In that moment, looking at her, he forgot. We loved her together.

She greets me and calls to me whichever way I walk on trails through the woods. The other day, I noticed, from a certain angle, she appears pregnant. When I face her from the other side, where the bark is bare and my handprints lay, she’s a woman’s legs reaching upwards, her head buried beneath the ground. She holds her center between those long legs reaching to the everything, her privates so clear and public.

My sister and I once spotted baby racoons peaking out and hiding there, from their tree mama’s womb. They ran back down into her for safety, solid and wide, a condominium complex to creatures, in her body.

Today, I merged with her. I felt the rings of history traced and expanding within me. Bark like skin has endured and grown through a thousand seasons, rainstorms, and children’s laughter on the path beside her.

She adjusted her stance and deepened her roots years ago when people came close and carried electronics into her vibrational field. Most recently, she startled with so many human voices released into her arena. She’s come to welcome them as kindly as the deer and little masked thieves. She holds a sense of humor about humans bearing masks, only matched by her compassion.

This tree is a queen. No one tries to overthrow her. Little ones bend before her. Grass gathers at her feet in spring. A white blanket snuggles close in winter. She’s in love with the river running at her back. Like her, he’s ever-changing and always remaining. Her strength is indisputable. If she were a poem, she’d be titled Phenomenal Woman.

She sways and radiates her vibrant lime-green leaves with the wind in celebration for life. Yes, on blue sky days, but also under gray clouds, starry nights, and times when she finds herself naked again.

This tree stands at a crossroads of several paths which intertwine and encircle her, along the river, through the field, across to the cemetery where old trees salute, and home to neighborhoods where visitors live.

Today, I embody her. When I asked, she said, “I’ve been waiting.” She’s as sexy as any wide-open woman. She houses many and cares for all. All are welcome, like the Lady Liberty of our united nature. She hears and feels it when other trees fall in her forest. She nourishes the collective air and peers at the fish performing. She’s regal, standing at grace with everything. She sings with the all the birds and lets owls perch on her arms.

Nothing deters her from her purpose. To be a tree.

Why I’m Still Dancing.

“Joy comes to us in moments—ordinary moments.” ~ Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

Good morning, thoughts.  Let’s wrestle.

I wrote an article yesterday full of big truths I wanted the world to face, in the face of Coronavirus.

People are dying and more will die.

Somehow, I blamed it on positivity, rose-colored glasses, and some people’s belief in a buffoon of a president.

The piece landed with a thud—making me rethink my purpose and passion for truth, as if there’s one.

Yet, I keep insisting, in writing, and in public: juxtaposition demands maturity.

How about me?

The truth is I’m scared.

Sometimes it’s hard to sit with Fear, harder than Grief—and she’s a bitch.

Grief is yesterday. Fear is tomorrow.

Hope lives today on behalf of tomorrow, despite fear.

Because I believed, affirmed, and read The Secret and Awaken the Giant Within and still landed on my ass, I wanted to disavow all that.

But, last night, while distracting myself from myself with the TV, I caught Garth Brooks being honored with the Gershwin Prize on PBS.

He played “The Dance” and damn, I’m glad I didn’t know the way it all would go.

That’s the truth I’m afraid of. Not knowing.

I didn’t know when I went to St. Louis for a Hall & Oates concert, I was going to fall in love, and for a moment, he would be my king.

I’m glad I didn’t know he’d die in his sleep.

I didn’t know when I came to Ohio to stay with my sis, I’d live with her, love it, and get to pursue my writing dream, for seven years! It’s been the best thing.

Life is juxtaposition. We must decide how we’ll face it.

“You plan and God laughs” doesn’t mean he’s laughing at us. There’s a bigger picture.

Sometimes I’ll go for a party and find sacred love, go for a summer and find a home.

Heck, I couldn’t even know when I opened the curtains this morning, a pink cotton-candy sky would drop into baby blue like a kiss from above, “This is for you.”

Sure, there are facts. Wash your hands!

There are fears. Hello, humanity.

But through it all, I’ve met the crazy, grand mystery.

Good within bad, bad within good, and only because I’ve called them so.

Today, I surrender to the not knowing how it all will go.

But believing in beauty, I’m still dancing.

How We Get to the Truth When We Don’t Want to go There.

The false dilemma fallacy is often a manipulative tool designed to polarize the audience, heroisizing one side and demonizing the other. It’s common in political discourse as a way of strong-arming the public into supporting controversion legislation or policies.” ~ David Ferrer, 15 Logical Fallacies You Should Know Before Getting Into a Debate

Are we so set on pulling up our bootstraps we can’t recognize the sadness of a worldwide pandemic?

Many of us have lost and will lose. Jobs, homes, and 401ks. We don’t want to hear that or believe there’s a train barreling towards us. Not me is our first instinct.

Yes, denial is the first stage of grief. We’re grieving the falling away of many of our personal and societal foundations.

I know grief intimately. Not just from the deaths of my brother, mother, brother-in-law, and beloved.

By the way, when the police officer on the phone first told me he found my boyfriend dead in his bed, I screamed, “NO!!!”

That was after he tried to tell me the man I love more than anyone in the world was “unresponsive.” I wanted to know what hospital they were taking him to. My heart couldn’t hear the truth. For several years, I believed my dead man could come back to me. I kind of still do.

How deep does denial run in the face of losing who or what we love?

“It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,”Donald Trump said about the Coronavirus.

Sure, I myself have practiced delusional positivity.

When my mother was diagnosed with death, I fired the doctor, determined to take her somewhere to save her. I thought the doc not only cruel, but full of sh*t.

Apparently, that’s what Trump thought of journalist Peter Alexander of NBC asking the President of the United States what he’d say to “Americans who are watching you right now who are scared.”

The Commander in Chief snapped, “I say that you’re a terrible reporter!”

Yeah, that’s how I felt about the doctor who delivered the truth in a tone I didn’t like.

Maybe our leaders aren’t always able to guide us, but sometimes reflect who we are.

I’m nothing like that jerk might be what we insert, or worse.

Or, like my ultra-successful businessman friend—who once complained about having to pay $5 million in taxes—maybe you only see the good in a man who glares with disdain for truth.

Our delusional positivity is unbending when it suits our favor.

There’s a fine line between The Secret that swept our nation in 2006, just before the worst financial crisis in our history, and our ability to look at truth, facts, science, or unbecoming characteristics of our chosen ones.

The finger I point here is at the woman in the mirror.

When five years into my marriage I felt disconnected from my husband, I focused on his good qualities and how much I loved him. I refused to look at, let alone feel anything but my good feelings because that’s what got me there.

I kept saying, “I have a great life” and “He’s a good man.” Both were true.

We like to look at our favorite side of the coin, spiritual bypass with love and light, and pretend if we adhere to affirmations, we can keep the bad at a distance. Trust me, I’ve done it.

Some people live like this for a lifetime. I’m not just talking about the naïve and blind.

We always think it’s them—the Republicans or Democrats or the kind of woman who can’t get her act together, or see what seems obvious from the outside, from our oh-so-wise perspective.

It’s easy to be objective when your heart isn’t in it.

Check this. No one would call Camille Cosby clueless. She has a doctoral degree. She wrote the forward for Dear Success Seeker: Wisdom from Outstanding Women. By all accounts, she’s one of them. She even worked as her famous husband’s manager.

Camille Cosby was in Bill’s business and knew his business, or so she thought. They shared a home and a family and a history of his proven good character. She would know if he was drugging and sexually assaulting women.

Or so she insisted against irrefutable evidence—as we often do when presented with truth that doesn’t align with what we’ve decided to shine the light on.

We like to believe if one thing is truth, that’s proof another thing (the one we don’t like) is false.

That’s how the American story goes. Think positive and take action.

That’s how my ex-husband’s business went bust while he worked his butt off and assured me everything would be fine. He wasn’t lying. He drove himself to delusional positivity and I rode that ship until it sank.

Maturity is the ability to look at the juxtapositions of life, people, and situations.

Let’s be mature as we face this pandemic. We fear certain truths will destroy us.

Yet, the brave ones on the front lines have been forced to face the truth, no matter what they told themselves or believed in the beginning.

That’s what serious sickness does. It wakes us the f*ck up.

Still, I have friends claiming this is hype. They believe their president knows more than doctors and scientists who’ve been studying and preparing for this. Ok, Camille.

I’m sorry, but this is different. This is real.

If you’re on the front lines, thank you for bringing dignity, grace, and honor to all of humanity. We are forever in your debt.

To my niece, a nurse, nephew, a cop, and other nephew, a firefighter, I could not be prouder of you or more scared for you. Please stay safe, I say, knowing where you work is the least safe place in the world right now.

Truth sets us free once we embrace it. Denial can kill. Especially now.

How Queen Corona Rules.

“A queen is wise. She has earned her serenity, not having had it bestowed on her but having passed her tests. She has suffered and grown more beautiful because of it. She has proved she can hold her kingdom together. She has become its vision. She cares deeply about something bigger than herself. She rules with authentic power.” ~ Marianne Williamson, A Woman’s Worth

Queen Corona has come to town, travelling with a thousand horses and an army of men. She is feminine power.

You cannot pay her off.

She’s not a princess you can seduce.

Or a child to be trifled with.

People step aside for the queen, yet peer behind for the king.

Where is he? The king got drunk on power, slept with all the pretties as if they were playthings, spent his fortune, and send his troops to wrong wars.

The king beheaded himself.

Queen Corona is feminine power.

We all bow before her.

First, in fear.

The closer she nears we see the parade is not for show.

She earned her crown. The queen rides with dignity.

She’s come to clear the field, to wake us up to our own greed and evil.

Queen Corona teaches us what matters by her royal presence.

She loves like a mother, after the father fled and the children grew wild.

Although she’s shrewd, Queen Corona doesn’t pretend everything is a business proposition.

She sends us to our rooms, lays down new rules, takes no backtalk, and reminds us what’s important now.

Take care of each other. We are family.

Grief Day 1: Phoenix.

I had to have my pal Phoenix put down. I’m still in shock. The house feels empty. I’m the only one here. It’s been Phoenix and me for so long.

Anyone can own a dog, but sometimes a bond beyond explanation is born between person and dog. It’s obvious good fortune, a gift, a blessing. God’s knowing.

Of all the impossible and unforeseeable twists and turns that had to occur—me coming upon a desire for a puppy at the time Phoenix arrived in the world, locating her through my neighbor whose cousin bred Labs, and having her brought home when I told my then-husband to get the other pup—sings of synchronicity.

Destiny delivered a special soul in a Black Lab body to partner with me on my journey.

Love was Phoenix’s mission; I was her assignment.

She loved life, chasing balls, hanging out on the deck, walking in the woods, greeting neighbors, and spreading joy.

One neighbor often hollered, “Here comes Phoenix, happiest dog in the world!”

Phoenix was partial to her own kind when it came to dogs. Labs had an automatic in.

She loved most people but picked her favorites: like Carol, who connected with Phoenix on a trip to the beach in NC and her husband Pete, who Phoenix took to like a long-lost father, and Wayne, who Phoenix walked beside—no leash required.

Phoenix chose me as her favorite person. If dogs got tattoos, Phoenix’s would’ve said, “I’m with her.” Her gentle, undivided loyalty poured forth pure and untainted by the world for 11 beautiful years.

I never celebrated her birthday before, but this year felt like a major milestone.

She seemed to know. She made it a good one, with a long walk three doors down to the neighbor’s coveted healthy, lush, green grass. She made herself at home as if the world belonged to her. I sat down and pretended too, practicing Reiki, prayers, and presence on someone else’s lawn.

It didn’t matter. We were grabbing the good, our final togetherness.

Before we had to let go.

Somehow, Phoenix’s body broke down. Maybe for the simple reason life doesn’t last forever and there are many paths to getting out. We all go out. Ugh! The fact I don’t like.

I don’t like saying goodbye; I’ll never see you again. The worst!

However, if I’m going to keep living, I ought to find a better way to go through grief. These are the things we think of on Grief, Day 1… Maybe we can logic our way around. HAHAHA!

My heart hurts. My baby’s gone. I miss her presence, energy, persistence, her black shadow everywhere. I miss her marble-brown eyes looking into my soul. I miss laughing when she ignores me and walks away to sh*t in the neighbor’s yard at 3 am.

Missing my companion makes me miss my dead boyfriend even more. Isn’t that crazy?

Maybe it’s because Phoenix was “just a dog” in the way that Kevin was “just a boyfriend.”

Selected by God—specifically for me—to know, experience, give, receive, sit in, and cherish divine love. Divine. Sacred. Special. Undeniable. Unforgettable. Irreplaceable.

Soul connection.

Now, Grief walks in. No handcuffs. No threats. No tricks.

She reaches out her hand in invitation: “Come, walk with me a while again. We’ll journey deep but rise like dolphins out of water. We’ll return with radiance polished like diamonds.”

Grief looks different.

“Yep,” she says. “That happens when you’ve been looking at me for a while.” Then, she asks, “Are you ready?”

It feels like I imagine when I was a soul and I said yes, I’m ready for a body, and when I was I was a baby, but before I’d been birthed or touched the earth, I said, yes, I’m ready to join the world.

We don’t know what we’re ready for! Can we prepare for Grief? No, preparation isn’t necessary, but it helps.

It helps to be grounded.

If you’re not grounded, Grief can f*ck you up as bad as your worst bad, bad girlfriend.

Grief can make you love her and let her move in, not just to your home, but your heart.

Grief can take over your emotions the way a spoiled girl takes over closets.

Ah, but Grief carries crazy-cool wisdom woven in her womb. She’ll crack you into something new. She’ll sprinkle enlightenment around you and teach you how to feel the music in your blood. Grief will caress you and honor your secrets. She’ll comfort you in memory and heighten your senses.

She’ll make you think you’re high or crazy, but you won’t care. Once you have the courage to climb in bed with Grief, you may resist the world the way a teenage girl falling for her first boyfriend resists her parents.

Because that’s where the juice of life lives—where the heart and soul dance with unbridled emotions and the mind is merely a witness, all previous lessons dismissed.

While some people run from Grief, knowing she’s a too-large wrestling partner for their likes, the brave lean in. But, the wise don’t get lost or stuck.

I intend to be wise this time. Grief smiles as she takes me for a little spin.

How to Welcome Change.

“There’s little more satisfying than the feeling that at last you’ve taken ownership of yourself.” ~ Marianne Williamson

There comes a time.

You set yesterday aside,
Softly.

The thing you held;
Coveted.

Soft addictions cling like
Teddy Bears carried
Into adulthood.

Until you leave them.
Without tears.
Or fanfare.

There comes a time.

You pick up new habits
The way you used to
Lovers in bars.

It’s a new day.
You delight in what’s
Sweet, soulful, and true.

Your radiance.
In the mirror.