What I’ll Accept

“Accept whatever comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more aptly fit your needs?”
—–Marcus Aurelius

I’m still trying to write Part Two because I wrote Part One and I already posted something in-between, but I can’t quite get there because this is the story that wants to come out, and really, it can be An Ordinary Miracle in its own right.

And I’m wanting to write this because for whatever reason it was that came over me, I seized a box of photos from when my kids were little and so many years away from losing the innocence that’s their birthright, tore through them and picked out the cutest of the cute and took them to my therapist to show her.

“Here,” I said as I walked in. “Look. I don’t know why, but I had to show you.”

There should be a word for the kind of loneliness you’re left with when someone you love more than life – or maybe you love life because of them, or maybe you’re not so sure what you feel about life, but you do know they’re what makes it bearable – when that one you love is all of a sudden dead. Just…dead. One minute they’re here, then they’re not, and one year, eight months and three days later you still can’t believe it and no matter how much good you know they’ve helped you see even though they’re dead,  you just don’t see how you’re going to go on much more without them.

Signs” notwithstanding.

We moved to Montclair when Philip was seven and Natalie five. Phil and I had been looking for a house in nearby Verona, which was somewhat less expensive. But our realtor’s office was in Montclair and the more we drove through it, the more Montclair’s funky, artsy, hipster, stately atmosphere started to feel like home, and I began to wonder why we were driving away from the place I wanted to live instead of toward it.

So Phil and I decided to expand our search into Montclair, and two weeks later I did something I hadn’t once thought to do during the five months we’d been on the hunt. I opened the real estate section of The New York Times on Saturday morning and saw a “Cozy and Charming” house for Sale by Owner in Montclair at a price that made me think there must be something wrong with it. There were built-in corner cabinets in the dining room and I don’t know why that’s what they mentioned in the ad instead of the the huge backyard with the deck and the patio and the stand of six cedar trees that stood guard over the large plot of grass just beyond them. But corner cabinets worked for me. I’m a sucker for aged and charming and “built-in” anything.

I made an appointment to see it on Sunday. Even if “Cozy and Charming” turned out to be “Cramped and Confined,” at least we’d spend some time in Montclair.

So next day we went to see it with Philip, but without Natalie, who hated car rides and asked if she could stay with Grandma, promising she’d come to NJ when we bought a house and were really going to live there.

Montclair is a lovely, hilly, hip and shaggy-tree town. It has lots of parks and a 408-acre reservation that spans three towns. It has movie theaters that show Manhattan-movies and restaurants and shops that make weekend parking impossible. It has a museum and a university, an uptown, a downtown and even a town in the middle. There’s the diversity of the not-so-mini-mansion-rich and lower-east side poor. And it’s filled with artists and writers and journalists and actors. High-level creatives, the kind of people I imagined had something I didn’t but living among them felt right even if I wound up keeping mostly to myself anyway.

When we pulled up in front of the house, I did what I always did – got out of the car, looked up and down the block, stood for a moment and asked, How do I feel?? To my surprise, the answer was good. Like, really good. Like, I think I could wake up and come outside and be really-glad-I-live-here good.

You already know the end of the story – we bought the house. But more importantly, we bought a home.

I suspect most of the house-buying-and-selling-thing is a transaction of the kind Nadiya had to suffer. Where the realtors swoop in, take the soul out of the house and hussle you out the back door when the buyer’s coming in the front. So the people who are making one of the biggest decisions they’ll ever make in their lives don’t get to meet each other until maybe it’s all said and done. I don’t know how it got to be like that, but welcome to Real Estate 2013. Me? I got lucky. I got Sam and Gina.

Sam and Gina raised their two kids in that house, but with a third on the way, they needed more room. They didn’t want to leave as much as they felt they had to. But it was the home they’d spent years creating and no matter how many realtors called begging to sell it for them, they said no, we want to try to sell this ourselves.

(And as I found out later, one of those realtors was mine, who called Sam and Gina and said, “I know a couple this house is perfect for – and I can get them to pay you $25,000 more for it!”)

The house was smaller than what I’d imagined for us, but its advertised Charm-and-Cozy actually was Charm-and-Cozy. The yard was lovely, with a wooden swing set in one corner and and a shed that looked straight out of a farmhouse with red siding and white trim in the other. And when a bunny leapt past me as I stood outside contemplating all this, I knew this was my  house.

And I suspect Sam and Gina thought the same when, sitting at their dining room table making our offer, the French Doors slid open and Philip walked in. He’d been in the yard playing with their five-year-old daughter. “Excuse me,” he said, addressing himself to Gina. “But the little girl went into the barn and I don’t know if she’s supposed to.”

No, she wasn’t supposed to, since what Philip meant by “the barn” was the shed in the corner with the lawn mower and paint cans and garden tools and bug spray and pretty much every parent’s toxic nightmare all stashed into one spot. Sam ran out to get her while Gina gushed her thanks to Philip. And on the way home in the car, I turned to Philip and said, “You know, if we get that house, it’s because of you.”

Which I did and do believe. Because when Sam called us that night to congratulate us, he also let us know they turned down a higher offer because Gina was firm that the house needed to have children, and I knew it was Philip she had on her mind.

I’m not immune to the what-ifs, but thank God I don’t take them seriously. It’s crossed my mind that, well, what-if we didn’t buy that house, what-if we’d moved to Verona instead, what-if we’d chosen a different school for Philip to go to. Except more than that is the way my past has been woven, the way one story overlaps with another and how I can’t unravel one thread without unraveling it all. And Philip has been so much a part of whatever’s recognizably mystical in my life that even though I hate that I have to accept that he’s dead, I’m willing to accept he’s not gone.

© 2013 Denise Smyth


Hey, buddy

I’m taking a detour, again; swerving past the post I’m in the middle of writing because something half-formed is on my mind and I need to give some sort of shape to it. Because I’m trying to grasp some wisp of something that’s eluding me, something that’s solid about me and Philip because he’s not solid and the physical is easy, the physical we take for granted. Because I don’t talk much about him to the people whose lives he was part of, and they’re going about their business and I don’t know if they’re forgetting. And right now, it’s words that keep him real.

The couple I work for, Jack and Maggie, have two kids, a boy and a girl, in college. Yesterday, their son stopped in the office. A few minutes later, Jack walked in and said, “Hey, buddy.” And there was a seismic shift in my reality that took hours to recover from. See, “hey buddy” is a guy-thing. It’s a dad-and-son thing. It’s a thing I’ve heard before from fathers and sons on the softball field and the soccer field and at fencing tournaments and wherever I happened to be when I caught that moment of most generous affection some dad shot his son. And most of all, it’s a thing I heard between Phil and Philip.

Grief is insidious and unpredictable. It makes use of anything – an unintended glance at a picture I’ve looked a thousand times, the sleeve of a certain leather jacket sticking out in the closet, two little words from a time that doesn’t exist anymore. For hours I was closed and stung and pissy and weepy. Then, in an odd and directed way, there it was  – 201. And the pieces shifted into place, but yet another different place. Because what hit me was that for those few hours I’d forgotten that I have a relationship with my son, the way Jack and Maggie have a relationship with theirs. That I don’t have to accept that Philip’s dead, but I do have to accept my grief because he’s dead. It’s not what I want, but it’s what I have. And as I said to Lucia, I’m not in the world in the same way, and when I forget that, I get myself into trouble.

I was commenting on a post by afichereader at somenewnormal (who is a lovely, elegant and serious writer) and I’d said that there is only, ever, Now. Which got me to remembering that I can’t solve an imaginary problem in some neurotic future I’ve invented. I can only solve a problem where I am. The future, when it “comes,” only ever comes as Now. Which doesn’t mean I don’t plan – but planning and projecting are two different things. If I save money every month because I might need it down the road, that’s planning. If I sit here and chew my nails because I’m alone and I don’t think I’ll have money when I get too old to work and what’s going to happen because Natalie’s not going to want me to live with her and what happens when you can’t afford to pay your rent or buy food or pay your car insurance and you have nowhere to put your clothes and your computer breaks and you can’t get another one and…

Whew. I don’t know about you, but I need a breath.

Worrying, suffering, sorrow, require Time. I’m not talking about clock time – that’s for showing up where you’re supposed to show up when you’re supposed to be there. Or for sitting your ass in front of the TV because Breaking Bad’s about to premiere. I’m talking about past-and-future. Which I’ve also heard called, “psychological time.” I’m talking about the mental trips we take to places we’ve been or places we imagine and by “places” I mean situations, I mean scripts we write and stories we tell ourselves and all the misery we create while we’re at it. Think about it. When do you worry about what you’re doing when you’re doing it? If you say, well, here I am baking this cake and I’m worrying about it right now because it’s for my friend’s party and I want it to be like, the best cake ever, or at least better than anyone else’s cake but what if it’s not so good and nobody likes it and they all know I’m the one who made it, what then?

So you’re not worrying about the present, not at all. You’re worried because you’re already at that party with a crummy-no-pun-intended cake and you’re all embarrassed and such. You’re not really there while you’re whipping that butter and sugar into airy goodness and adding eggs and flour and vanilla and what-all-else to make a creamy, luscious batter that yeah, you stick your finger into even though you said you wouldn’t and when the cake is in the oven you get to lick all that creamy goodness off the beater because there aren’t any more kids at home you have to give it to first.

I know this. I know this because paying to attention to Now was my work when Philip died. It’s not something I did once, it’s not something I just got the hang of. It’s practice, and far as I can tell it’s the practice of making peace. Having peace. Because if I sit here paying attention to this hot cup of tea I’m sipping, I’m not thinking past/future and all the heartache and misery I bring along with it.

Right after Philip died, I told my sister-in-law Joan that I was terrified to live. That years and years and years were going to go by and I cannot do this without Philip because I will turn into a sick, wretched old woman who’s lost her mind because she lost her son. What is there for me, what the fuck is there?

You won’t, she said; I know you won’t. And she told me about an elderly woman, a patient in the dental office she works in, who carries around her son’s obituary. Every time she comes in, Joan said, she talks about her son and pulls out the obituary. And all I could think was, Obituary?? Philip has an obituary?? Where is it, who put it there, who wrote it? He can’t have an obituary, that’s for people who are really dead; for ghosts, people who have names and families but don’t exist except as names on the paper they’re printed on. Philip can’t have an obituary because he had flesh and blood that came from my flesh and blood and what does it mean to be ink on a page that someone will glance at and not even notice?

I am that old woman, I cried to Joan; she is me.

See, I recognize her, and she scares me. She went down the hole I stand on the brink of, which is not the same as the void that Philip left me. One’s where you go when you give up, the other where you go when you find the courage to do so. And I’m not going to say I don’t know which way I’m going because I know the choice I made. Thing is, I can’t go without bringing that old woman with me.

© 2013 Denise Smyth

An Ordinary Miracle (Part One)

A month or two ago, Kirsten and I went to see a one-night showing of a movie about addiction. Part of it involved a mom talking about losing her son to heroin, at which point Kirsten leant over and whispered, “Are you okay?”

I was. I felt nothing, at least nothing discernible.

Yesterday, she and I went to see “Gravity,” whose title had more weight in it than any of the particularly-long 91 minutes that followed. Yet in the few moments of the gorgeously-lipped, enviously rip-thighed Sandra Bullock telling the oh-so-manly-and-charming George Clooney how her kid died, I cried right along with her. Maybe it was because the first and last time I sat in an IMAX theater wearing those goofy glasses was when Philip was seven and Natalie five and we’d first moved to Montclair and I raced into the city with them one evening after school to meet Phil to see whatever IMAX sensation was playing on the Upper East Side. Or maybe it was because yesterday I was weary of this, all of it, of every day dealing with Philip dead and not coming home and the ambivalence of wanting to be wherever the hell he is coupled with not wanting to leave Natalie and not being entirely sure that I won’t wonder how fast it was Death came when I’m actually staring into its dark and infinitely deadly eyes.


I’ve had a secret habit of wanting approval in ways that ran my life. Secret, that is, to me. I never looked at the way I felt around anyone who had authority, how hard I tried to be the good girl while my guts seethed with resentment and rebellion because it wasn’t me giving the orders. For Chrissake, I’m not a child, but I spent a good portion of my adult life feeling like one; feeling odd and left out, lost in confusion and wondering where my life was, could somebody out there please help me find it?

But when I got pregnant, I knew exactly what to do, which included having my baby at home. Approval? Ha. None available, from the doctors I called for help, down to my mom, who cried, “I didn’t raise you this way!” Even Phil wasn’t entirely on board, and took to telling people he’d be at the hospital, pacing, if anyone needed him.

To give birth at home, I needed a back-up doctor who’d agree to meet me at the hospital if something went wrong . Barbara, my midwife, wouldn’t see me until I found one. And I had to find one since I’d already disowned my Colorless, Cheerless, Clueless no-matter-that-he’s-really-Handsome OBGYN, Dr. Fuster, for being the pompous jerk that he was.

Before what wound up being my last appointment with Dr. Fuster, I’d shaved my legs. It was pap-smear time, and any woman who’s ever had a pap smear knows what it’s like to spread your legs unwillingly and not look while someone you see once a year fiddles around down there, poking and probing until s/he climaxes by shoving that cold, hard speculum up your bajingo to crank it open and stick a friggin’ foot-long Q-tip into the holiest of holies.

I shaved my legs as defense. Then did some serious moisturizing. If Fuster expected me to drop my drawers and hoist my feet into his stirrups, at least he’d have a creamy set of legs to part. Except I outed myself by nicking my leg and so had to band-aid it because as anyone who’s ever shaved anything anywhere knows, even the tiniest of razor-cuts especially like to bleed.

“What’s that?” asked said CCCH OBGYN as he prepared to examine me. “I cut myself shaving,” I answered, surprised that he noticed. “I mean, can’t get a pap smear without shavin’ my legs.”

Since that’s what’s known as self-deprecating humor and since I was already gowned, stirrupped and vulnerable, a chuckle would’ve been, well, nice. But CCCH OBGYN looked down at me over his glasses and said, “We are not in the habit of counting the hairs on our patient’s legs.”

Afterward, fully clothed in his office and with a desk between us, I asked Dr. Fuster what he thought about home birth with a midwife, to which he replied, “Midwives are stupid. If it was up to me, I wouldn’t let them in my hospital.”

Well. I didn’t know Maimonides Medical Center decided to rename itself “The Fuster Center of Hubris and Stupid-Midwife-Control.” I was never again going to take the risk of shaving even one more hair for Dr. Fuster, never mind thinking of him as my back-up doctor.

So I called around to various obstetricians. As soon as I told the receptionist what the appointment was for, I got an incredulous, you’re-not-seriously-asking-me-this, “Um, uh, No.” The one doctor whose receptionist said, “Sure, no problem” was confused and unprepared when I told him what I wanted. “I don’t believe in home birth,” he said. “I’ve seen too many dead and mangled babies.”

I didn’t ask him how his rate of dead and mangled babies compared to that of Barbara’s 20-years-without-a-single-fatality one. How is it that a midwife can go 20 years with that kind of record? Maybe it was her standard of care and attention vs. his? I didn’t ask because I was too embarrassed by his lack of approval to spit out another word. So embarrassed, in fact, that I paid the $50 co-pay even though he could’ve said that to me over the phone and let me be humiliated in the comfort of my home.

So I left his office and called Stephanie from the nearest pay-phone and cried. But by the time I got home, I was over it. I was more than two months pregnant at that point and hadn’t yet been examined. My options were to give it up and go to the birthing center in NYC where I’d have a comfy room, music, tea, candles and a midwife who I could pretend was in charge even though every hour she had to walk out of that room and report to the doctors at the hospital who were monitoring her, one of them (I kid you not) being He of the dead-and-mangled-babies. Or I could figure something else out.

Which I did, by calling  the midwives at DWS Medical Center who said of course they’d be my backup – I had to see them twice during my pregnancy and if something went wrong when I was laboring at home, I’d be admitted to the hospital under their care.

Being pregnant was the most normal thing I’d done in my life. I didn’t have to ask what to do. I wasn’t worried because I didn’t get examined until my third month. I wasn’t worried that my baby wasn’t “developing properly,” that because I was thirty-something I supposedly had a higher risk of having a child with Down’s Syndrome and was told that I just might want to have an amniocentesis. Because then what – I could abort mission? Like my “imperfect” baby wouldn’t deserve to live because I didn’t want to deal? I wanted to have a kid. Was I in, or was I out?

And I’m not talking the politics of abortion. I’m talking my Very Own Personal Experience. I’m talking the moment I heard, “You’re pregnant” I was in a relationship I chose to be in, one I was responsible for in an extraordinarily unique way. And non-religious as I was, that moment put me in the presence of an ordinary miracle. And I finally felt the gratitude I’d heard so much about.

See, being one with life growing within changes you as impossibly as living on in the presence of its death.

To reiterate. The first time in my life I chose with surety and clarity and said fuck it, I’m doing this thing the way I want to – no confusion here – involved Philip.

Stories don’t unfold in a linear way any more than writing does. This story was necessary background for the next, which is a continuation of what I’d written about signs, and how I said I wanted to talk about the other ways I know Philip is around. And that’s what I’ll talk about next.

© 2013 Denise Smyth

Whats and Whys

Nothing real can be threatened
Nothing unreal exists
Therein lies the peace of God
—- A Course In Miracles

I guess you can say it’s all about perception. Philip says, “Mom, my perception is different now. Let me help you see.”

Elizabeth Blue helped me see, too. She wrote, “…the land will miss my body./Perhaps it will be lonely/I think it will weep./I think it will miss me/more than my body or mind/could miss it.”

First off – she’s right. If we are the world, then look at how Lucia misses her daughter. Look at Elizabeth’s dad and sister, all her family and friends, who goddamn miss her. Hell, I miss her, and I never even met her. But when Elizabeth speaks to Lucia, when Philip speaks to me, there’s no sorrow. There’s light and wisdom.

Although Philip once asked me how I felt when I’d see him sad, troubled upset; wasn’t my heart wrenched? How do you think it is for me, he said, watching you suffer like this? And he asked me what responsibility means to me. Which gave me pause to think how once he died there were certain responsibilities I threw away. What does it matter anymore; he’s dead? So what if I don’t act like the mom I was when he was alive?

I’m saying this seriously; I’m talking about the ways I stopped taking care of myself, the ways I tried to hurt myself, because Philip died. Things I’ve not yet talked about here. Why did I think any of that was okay because he was dead, but it wasn’t okay when he was here? Not to mention that he isn’t my only child. What about Natalie – didn’t I still have a responsibility to her?

But perception, and Elizabeth. To take what she wrote a little further. What is the world when we’re not here to witness it? How real is it then? And before you say, “Are you freakin’ crazy? It’s obvious the world is still here when you die – people die all the time and the world’s still here,” don’t listen to what I’m saying with your mind, listen with your heart or whatever you call the place in you that has room for wonder. The mind wants the kind of proof that makes it impossible to believe anything other form is real and it’s completely dismissive of space. Which, by the way, is necessary for form to occur in. But who ever thinks about that? What do you look at when you’re looking? Space, or the objects in that space? Space can’t be nothing, since without it, there can’t be anything.

What’s this have to do with perception? Just that we don’t see it all, literally or figuratively.  We dismiss space as nothing because we can’t see it, yet it’s essential. Which is to say that what we can’t see is not nothing.

How many different ways are there to perceive the world, and which one is real? An animal, an insect, a bird – they don’t see the world the way we do. But we have a higher consciousness, so our perception is correct, would be the argument. Fair enough. But think about this.

An ant goes on about its ant-life without knowing anything about us. It scurries around all day doing its ant-things according to however it’s perceiving its ant-world, which we happen to share with it. It knows nothing about us human beans. See, we have the bigger picture. We see the ant even if it can’t see us; we exist even if the ant isn’t aware of us, even if what we do doesn’t figure into the ant’s life. Which it mostly doesn’t, unless, say, we step on it, which I personally am especially prone to do when it’s the big, juicy black-carpenter-ant-type. And I’d bet if an ant could think the way we do, it’d be thinking it’s the Big Cheese of the Planet, Lord and Master of every other non-ant form.

Well…what, then, makes us so sure there isn’t some other consciousness hanging around here that we can’t perceive? And if the world is based on perception, what’s the truth? The “truth” can’t be anything that changes. If what’s true for me isn’t what’s true for you, then how can it be truth? Relatively speaking, it is; but absolutely? No. So if the world depends upon our perception…and if differing perceptions give rise to different realities…what is the true nature of reality??

Could I even pretend to answer that? Of course not. I’m just trying to put words on what all I’ve been thinking about since Philip died. What he’s trying to teach me, what he’s asking from me. And seeing how much I don’t know. It’s the willingness to not-know that makes room for the miracles.

I’m trying to tell a story and it’s textured and layered and I keep backing up before I go forward. When I ended the post about signs, I said I had more. Which got me to writing a story I wanted to tell you. Which then got me writing another story that had to precede that first story because it needs some context to be effective. And somehow, I wound up writing all this.

And I think it’s because the fact of Philip giving me signs or experiences doesn’t leave me making fists with bent elbows, pulling them down to my hips and uttering a loud, self-satisfactory Yessssss! Philip told me early on that signs were pointers. In themselves they are not “truth,” but pointers to that truth. Reminders to pay attention. So what does this mean? What does it mean that the things Philip communicates are visible, but he isn’t?  Signs, listening, dictation, direct experience; these don’t take away the grief. Always the duality. Always. I weep for him every day; yet he’s all around me, always reminding me that he is.

But I’ve so many questions. What is Death? What is Life, for that matter? What’s it mean that we’re born to die? What’s it mean that so many people communicate with their dead loved ones? The “is-ness” of Philip, of Elizabeth, is palpable, but I want to ask what can’t be answered: Where are you??

In other words, what the hell is going on here?

© 2013 Denise Smyth

I Disagree

Today I’m wishing to be a poet. Today I’m wishing I could write elevated language; like what I want to say I just can’t get to in simple sentences. Because I’m trying to say what I feel when I look to my left and see Philip’s headshot on my desk, to the right and see the portrait of me, him and Natalie. The helplessness, frustration and continual shock of those moments caught in time, that this child of mine is to live in my memory but not in the flesh. I want to say it in such gorgeous language it’ll pierce your heart the way mine is; I want to give shape to our shared humanity. Because I’m standing out here in a way that feels alone in the way that only Death can leave you, and that’s not where I’m wanting to be.

I’m not a big reader of poetry. I don’t always have the patience, don’t always understand what I’m reading. But when a poem moves me, I stay moved. Like Stephen Crane’s, “In the Desert,” which I already wrote about. Like Yeats’ “Leda and the Swan.” Talk about gorgeous language, about language painting a living, trembling picture. Like Jane Kenyon’s, “Having it Out With Melancholy,” – depression elevated to art. Tell me there isn’t something in it that won’t have you saying, “Yes, yes.” Or anything by Louise Gluck.

My friend Ed is a poet. We met when I was 36. Philip was three and Natalie just turned one, and I decided to go to college and get the degree I’d never gotten back when everyone else I knew did. I still don’t have it, but I have Ed.

Ed is an English Professor, and he was teaching the Shakespeare class I’d signed up for. It was somewhere around the first minute he started speaking when I thought, “This is the teacher I’ve been looking for.” Bam. Sometimes you just recognize someone even if you’ve never met them before. And nearly twenty years later, I can tell you he’s saved my life. My emotional, spiritual, psychic life. The life underneath the busyness of what it looks like we’re doing when what we’re really trying to do is hang on for another day.

Last week Ed was talking to me about John Keats. Ed is a serious man, Keats is a serious poet. “Have you seen the sketch of Keats on his deathbed by Joseph Severn?” he asked. “Go look at it.” So I looked at this beautiful boy, 25 and dying, caught in a moment of rest and peace, and then I emailed Ed. Did you know he died the same day as Philip, I asked; did you know the year was 1821? 18-21?? I did not, he answered. Then, a few days later, this, from Ed:

Sonnet: A Poet, A Boy

He died the day the poet John Keats died,
whose tormented lungs finally gave way.
He was twenty-five, superbly alive,
inventing language to preserve the day,
the instant of the living human heart.
With words he seized a handful of water–
impossible, I know–but his great art
achieved this, as he, dying, grew gaunter.
The other one was an older child,
twenty-one on the day he lost his heart.
He was–I knew him–clever, loving, mild–
but becoming lost had become his art.
Two beautiful males share the same death date–
a poet, a boy, who rushed to his fate.

And I am collapsed again because that boy – my boy – “rushed to his fate.” It’s all our fates, no? To die? It’s a fact we don’t face until we’re forced to. Philip was racing to his death unaware and it is precisely his vulnerability that’s killing me. I’ve been asked if I’m angry at him for taking the drugs that killed him; I’m not. He didn’t know. Yes, he made poor choices but he wasn’t able to do otherwise. Like all the poor choices I’ve made – and I’m talking serious shit, alcohol-drugs-anorexia-bulimia shit. I couldn’t choose otherwise until I was ready, and I happened to live until I was.

You can’t not love the light because he’s died, Ed says. But I’ve always preferred the night, the gloaming and the gray. Yet sometimes, at a certain time of day, when that light hits the trees in a certain way, I think he’s right. But other times, like when its harshness wakes me from a dreamless sleep to remind me once again of what I’ve lost, I disagree. And even though I know Ed knows better than me, for tonight – I disagree.

© 2013 Denise Smyth