31 December 2011

June rains gave way to July stars. I didn't see them, but I knew they were there. What was it like, those first mornings without her? On June 18th, we went on the boat. I resisted; I thought I shouldn't leave the house, she might die while I'm gone, and then came the first time of thousands of time that I had to tell myself, "But she is already dead."

I didn't know when I started this that I would look back on these words to re-inhabit my life without my mother. I cry, sometimes, but the other day I smiled, I laughed at the thought of my little brother Michael showering her with kisses, as he told my mother how much nachas she brought.

A new year begins soon. I have a small package of golden sparklers in my bag, I will hold my husband's hand on the subway. My brothers are in the country. Michael is at Petey's cabin, Adam is in the northern solitude of Arizona, meeting his girlfriend's grandmother for the first time. When they come home, they will move into a loft in Red Hook - he wrote to me: Seriously there is no reason that we should be able to be in a place this awesome.  I like to think that mom made it possible.  I think she did. Petey is in our house - he says that being amongst couples is too hard. I understand. I feel the same way about being with families, or listening to the girls speak with careless luxury about their mothers in a way that makes me choked with desire.

It is almost a new year. My mother was alive in 2011, my mother was at our wedding. When 2012 arrives, I will not be able to call my night owl tonight, at the stroke of midnight, like I did every year. My mother will not be alive in 2012. I do not know what this year will bring. I do know I am taking my husband to Tulum, where I went with my mother a decade ago, and I will think of her as we lay amongst the ruins. I have no resolutions, but to be resolute.

I sat down at the kitchen table today, to start a book, the book I have been meaning to write. I have been waiting for my story to arrive. Turns out, I have been living my story. It might be a slim volume, but it will be filled with the only things I can give: love, memory, and honor. It will be for you, Blanche Susan Land Batnick. It will be a book for my mother.

20 December 2011

Dear Mom,


It has been 6 months and 3 days since you died. How can that be? What was it like, that first morning, those first days without you here? 

I have been writing, Mom, I have spent time with my brothers, I haven't seen Poppy enough, I have been to weddings, I went to Zac's first birthday party on Sunday and when I saw Jane (it was the first time since Shiva, I think I was afraid) I cried, I had brunch with Lisa, I went to Petey's Turkey Federation Family Day, I saw a man who was hit by a car and died.


Mom, I don't know how this has changed me. I know what I can see now, that I couldn't see then. I know that what I feel is beyond emotion: it comes from my body, my body that came from yours. I want to hear your voice, I want to watch tv with you in bed, I want to hold your hand. Mom, you are dead, but why can't I call you? We build towers into the sky, we have been to the moon, but this is the impenetrable loss that cannot be triumphed. So I write to you, Mom, I send you millions of kisses, I eat oatmeal and I think of you, I get under piles of blankets and I think of you, I open my eyes in the morning and I think of you. I want to eat toast and peanut butter in the morning with you, drink your coffee with cinnamon, sitting at the kitchen table, the phone ringing non-stop (everyone loved you!). Mom, it was hard for me, in those last months, to share you. I wanted to shout that you were mine, ours, my mother! I know that I am so lucky to have had a mother who was so loved, but I wanted you to myself. There was so much that I didn't get to ask you. What did you use ammonia for? What was your recipe for stuffed mushrooms? How did it feel to know you were dying? That was the hardest question, Mom, and the question you didn't want us to ask, the question you didn't want to share with your children, but when we asked, you told us, for you were always honest. One night, you said to me, "The girls were so sad today." I asked, "What about you?" and you said, "Me? I'm not too sad." It was so hard to watch old friends cry when they came to say goodbye to you. I couldn't do it. But it gave me peace to know you weren't too sad. It gave me peace to know that you were at peace. I know you felt you would be with your parents again, with your mother, that a few months before you died, you told Adam that you felt them tugging at your toes. Mom, I will be with you again one day, and that gives me peace. 

Mommy, I love you and I miss you from so deep inside. All I want is what I will never have. I want you, I want you back. I would trade all these words, I would give anything. I think these words worry some - that I am not okay, I am not moving on. I am not okay, I am not moving on, but, I am okay, I am moving on. I owe you my best life. Mom, I know you would understand this: what would it mean if I did not feel this way? How could I not be decimated by losing my mother? How did you raise 3 small children in the wake of your mother's death, your mother who you loved like I love you? This is the gamble of love: those you love might leave, those you love will die. I take that gamble. I choose love, like you chose love.

Mom, I would give anything to hear your voice again. Every day, this mourning, this grieving changes, but I cannot imagine a day when I will not miss you. That's the great rub of it all - I will move forward, I will grow, and I will change, and with every movement, you will not be here. You will never be here again. We will never be together again, Mom. Except, you told me and you are my mother, and I believe you, you said it! I will be with you always, except for the private moments. Be with me always, Mom. I need you. We need you.

I love you.



12 December 2011

Most nights when I set out to do this, I know what I want to say to you. It is always at night. I am, like Blanche Susan, a sleepy night owl.

The thumb on my left hand is dry and withered. I do not seek to remedy it. I stroke it, I nurture it, for I know where it comes from, and I do not want to hear any other explanation. It is my childhood, representing itself. If I were to tell my mother about my left thumb, she would know it was the thumb that I sucked until I was too old to suck my thumb, my unconscious habit, in bed, lights dim, under the covers, with a book tucked in front of me and a pile of books beside me.

The other night, I was out with my husband and J., the troubadour, who both claim to not remember what it feels like to be a child. Not remember what it feels like to be a child! It seems impossible to me. I think my entire life is a winding pursuit to the secret garden I dreamed of when I was small. I search for the path that leads to a palace blanketed in snow crunching beneath my feet, a gown made by my mother clutched between my mittened hands. I look for the doll makers, the suffragettes, the pioneers, the mute geniuses, an old house in Paris that was covered with vines. I look for the life I found in the books she spoiled me with. She, the non-reader, indulged her daughter at the library, at the bookstore.

The sadness of mourning, you learn to live with. The anger of grief, you learn to live with. The anxiety, the fear, the depression, all of it becomes a new, familiar friend. What I will never learn to live with is missing my mother. My mother is my phantom self, the part of me that is no more. I do not want to close my books, my dreams, myself as my mother's child. I pick at my left thumb, I treasure that old wound, for in it is the late nights, hot under blankets in the cold house, the girl who didn't quite belong, but was loved, and oh, how I was loved. In my scaly left thumb, is my mother, guiding me along.





01 December 2011

Where are we going? Tomorrow night, I am going to my mother's childhood temple to be with my uncles as a plaque is raised, bearing her name and the date of her death. One night, a few nights ago, I dreamed of my mother, dying, over and over again I heard her last breath, and in my dream I fought with those I felt took away our time together, instead of fighting with myself for the time I didn't spend with her. When we brought her home from the hospital the last time, I made plans to take her to lunch. We never went. I am imperfect. My mistakes keep me awake at night. There are so many mistakes, and no one knows them better and more intimately than I do. I long to undo them, but I cannot.

This morning I bathed, I drank coffee, I put on my newly tailored black lace pants, I fed the cat. I got in the car, and stopped still a block from our house: in front of my car, in the intersection, a man was lying face down. He had been hit, the driver left the scene, traffic was stopped, two men kneeled next to him. He was dead, I think. There was no blood, he was old. Where was he going? Police officers arrived on foot, someone crossed the street, picked up his hat and his shoe (they had taken flight, the man was dispossessed of his hat, his shoe, his life) and returned them to their dead owner. I pulled my car over, turned it off, and sat. And then I walked to work.

I think of the man who drove away after he killed someone this morning. He drove away from his mistake, he drove towards his mistake, and it will ruin his life.

M. told me today that she read the toast she gave at her sister's wedding last weekend. She toasted her sister and talked about their brother, dead 13 years. She was nervous to speak about her brother. She has lived half of her life without him, and with fine-tuned antennae, grown since girlhood, she has learned what I stubbornly have not: people do not know what to say. She reminded me that if they did, it might be because they understand, and no one should understand. I say gently, though: live life, love, and the understanding is inevitable. Hurt, heartbreak, mourning is in direct proportion to the depths of one's mortal love. She was nervous, but she did not cry and she whispered in the ear of her sister the bride, "He is with us."

M. told me that when I arrived at work this morning I was white as a sheet. "White as a ghost," I thought, but I know no ghosts. I know dead people, and you are not dead.



22 November 2011

I seek to know who I am without my mother in this world. I seek to know where my words go, the words that used to go to her. I seek to know what becomes of a daughter of a dead mother, who feels hopeless, alone, unmoored, unloved, uncared for. I do for her, but that is not always enough. What of me, who am I, where is my family, who do I belong to?

The streets are empty, the children have gone home. I have no home. There is my apartment, there is our house that she died in, but where is my home in this world? When she was in the hospital, for the second to last time, on a night my brother and I saw her go into septic shock and shouted for nurses, doctors, anyone, she was dying and she was not ready and it was terrifying and I held her hand and she asked me why I was crying, my stepfather said, "My home is where she is."

Oh, Mom, the things I didn't know. Where is my home without you, Mom? Who am I without you, Mom? Where has my childhood gone? Where are the memories of 32 years? Who will tell my children what I was like as a child? Remember when Marc and I set out to catch butterflies with a bucket of water and a net? "Did we mean to drown them?" you wanted to know. I don't know the answer, but without you, there is no one to ask the question. Mom, my children will not know the sound of your voice and it's ups and downs, the punctuations, the funny inflections (Coral became Caarrrl, please, oh please, don't let your voice slip from my ears). On our camera, there is one video of you telling a story, 2 weeks before you died about Michael being bad when he was small. I press it against my ear, like a seashell. I want to hear the sea. I want the sound of your voice. I want you. Oh, Mom, Mom, Mom, my girl. I am drowning, quietly, alone, in the small 5'1" space where you used to be.

Mom, I was afraid, that night when you came to me, but last week, I was drying my hair and a breeze passed over my shoulder and I was dizzy and the apartment spun and the light caught the butterfly in the frame that we bought in Paris and the pale pink wings shone blue. The apartment was still. I was not alone. Magic was with me and the air shook. Do it again, Mom. I don't want to be alone.



17 November 2011

If the trees stayed green all winterlong the hope that the bare branches would bloom again would be gone. We need that hope, I know we need that hope, but I cannot find that hope. We have chosen our mother's headstone. I must sign the paperwork and approve. I do not approve. We wait a year to mark the grave. I need a year. The loneliness is worse than ever and I miss her more than any metaphor can amplify.

The air smells like cold and fires are burning. When we sell our house with the fireplace next to the couches (my grandmother Hannah Daisy's tweed couches - lilac, violet, periwinkle, her colors, her sister Muriel Iris was a turquoise) we laid on for those last months, my last fireplace is gone. Card games are gone (I didn't play them with her, but with my grandmothers, also gone) - Gin Rummy, War, Go Fish. I could still play solitaire, only I can't remember how. This is the time of the magic of hearths and home. When the crackle is gone, along with your mother who really did roast chestnuts, you are all you have left.

I don't want to find some beautiful pearl, a shining rope to cling to. I am all that I've got, and all that I've got is so very angry. I do not want to be told it will get better, I will get better. Do not tell me that. I will mourn my mother for the rest of my days, whether you see it or not. So, off I go, on my own. I am not afraid. Wherever I go, my mother is waiting for me.

I never wanted to go away, and the hard part now is the leaving you all. I’m not afraid, but it seems as if I should be homesick for you even in heaven. -Little Women

29 October 2011

How can it be snowing? It was barely summer when she died. Today is an aberration, but my life is guided by aberration; the life expectancy of an American woman is 80.4 years, so by that figure, my mother, and those who love her, were robbed of 23 years (remember the provenance of bereaved: bereafian "to deprive of, take away, seize, rob"). 23 years more years would not ready me to lose my mother, but 23 years more is what we should have had. There would have been weddings, our children, joys that she would have delighted in, sadness that she would have led us through.  My mother didn't do for rightness, but for the believing in the rightness, the knowing of what rightness is. There are storms in the world, hurricanes and earthquakes and devastation, yet we are short on the perfect storm of rightness, a wind that always blows north. I follow my mother's wind, I sniff the air in search of her path to follow.

My mother would have been the best old woman. I want (insufficient and bears no weight under my needs, that small word: want) to know that old woman. I will always be her daughter but I was only just becoming her adult daughter. When there is nothing more to come, no more from who you have lost, the mind becomes a hothouse of new and old. Though my mother lives no longer, our relationship lives to me, and as long as I am here, she will guide me. I will go forward, I will change, I will grow, but mothers can look into that prism of their children and see their future, though my mother is dead. Remember:


Besides, 
in my opinion you aren't dead. 
(I know dead people, and you are not dead.)

The girls lament the loss of summer. I did not know summer was ever here. It was warm while my mother was dying, and the sun was shining, and then rain poured from the sky when she died and R. sent me photos of a rainbow flashed from it's terminus on a dingy block, seemingly shot into the sky from the tumbled down, magic warehouse we were married in.

Now, there are no seasons. There is a circle from today back to April 3rd, the day I was married and I had the luxury of yelling at my mother to shut the door (I was nervous for 15 minutes before the ceremony). Up on the chair she went, during the hora we danced for her, with pure glee on her face, our small speed demon. And then, I mark the days that follow. The day she almost died in the hospital, the day chemotherapy was no longer an option, the last car ride together (in the back of an ambulance, just me and my mother, on her way home to die), the last kiss, the last hug, the last words I can't remember (watching your mother die is so very not like the movies), the last breath. There are no seasons, the cheap thrill of pumpkins or the first snow or blossoms to mark time. There is today, and there is yesterday.

I will make it okay, because she taught me how. But I want more than okay. I want the algorithm that teaches me how to live in the shadows of her beating heart. I want my mother.


11 October 2011

Childhood is my temple.

Last night, I was with my mother for the first time since she died. My friends have told me that she visited them, in a pink terry cloth robe (she had one, covered in ducks) to admonish one for being too hard on himself, or to another she came, with a bowl of strawberries so red, so fresh, they were near psychedelic (she had forced strawberries upon her best friend, "Eat them, eat them!" and commanded us to set out fruit for our guests towards the end, when food barely passed her lips). For the first time since she died, I was not remembering her, it was not what she would have said, what she used to say. She was with me. For a breath, she was with me. In my black and white bathroom, I said aloud, "Mom, where are you?" and from behind my left shoulder she answered. "I'm right here, my girl."

A few days before she died, I sat on our deck (outside, I could not do this in the house she slowly breathed in) and made arrangements for her body to be prayed over and laid in a simple pine box, for that is what Jews do, and my mother was so proud to be a Jew. We did not have her buried in a shroud. Instead, she wears the dress she wore to my wedding, her moose fleece, and on her left pinkie is the same gold ring that is on mine. It says "LAMB", for us, her and my brothers (and you, too, Uncle B.).

The moths of mourning are eating holes in my shroud. The stillness, the rigidness keeps me upright, but the pole is loosing ground, the tide is having its way. Saturday was Yom Kippur, and tears poured down our faces (me and Michael - we were not crying, the physicality of it passed the emotion of crying) as we listened to the Rabbi's sermon - he lost his mother a few months before we, ours, and we felt he was speaking to us, about her, when he spoke of those who have gone too soon. My mother was only just 57 years old.

I sit, I write, the stillness is back - it was gone when I took up my pen, the tears poured, but in an instant, they disappear. Next to me is the Book of Remembrance, printed every year for Yizkor, filled with names of those remembered to G-d on the holiest day of the year. It looks the same, but it is not. The year is 5772 (which means Petey is 72) and my mother's name is listed inside, three times. Blanche Batnick. Blanche Batnick. Blanche Batnick. We too look the same. Leigh Michelle. Adam Ross. Michael Henry. We look the same, but we are not the same. We are wounded. We must learn to live wounded.

May G-d remember the soul of my mother, my teacher, Bloomie, who has gone to her supernal world, because I will - without obligating myself with a vow - donate charity for her sake. In this merit, may her soul be bound up in the bond of life with the souls of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, and with the other righteous men and women who are in Gan Eden; and let us say, Amen.



01 October 2011

Journeyman

My grandfather turns 90 in a few weeks. The world has changed since 1921, and my world has changed in the ninety some odd days it has been since my mother has died. I hold his hand and listen to him talk about my grandmother, gone 6 years, the love of his life, and he is the door in the cupboard. He longs for her, he misses her, his cough rattles deeper through his bull-like body, and he prepares to meet her again. On Rosh Hashanah, we sat alone and I listened to him again tell the story of coming home, one early afternoon, from getting whitefish salad for my grandmother. He sat down next to her, she lifted her hand to his face. Her hand dropped, her throat rattled (it is true, the death rattle happens, I didn't know if it would but it did, it began the night before my mother died and it terrified me) and she was gone, but she is never gone. Before he sleeps he sings her the anniversary song, "I remember the night, when we danced, la la la..." and as he sang it to me, soundless tears poured down my face. He cut the challah at my wedding, and I can feel him getting ready to go to her. He is here, but he is going there, and I want to say, "Poppy, send me a postcard. Let me know that they are all right. Slip this letter in your pocket for my mother. Kiss her for me. Millions of kisses, please, Poppy."

I miss the fresh feeling, the daze and haze of the world without my mother. Three months later, I do not understand her absence more than I did then, but I sit easily next to this feeling, or the place where my feelings ought to be. The passing of time signifies to the world healing and understanding, but for me time robs me of the cloak of sympathy. How can I heal what I do not understand? On Thursday, for the first time since her funeral, I went to temple. I saw the plaque with her name and date of death. I did not think of her funeral: I thought of the velour that used to cover the chairs stratching my small legs, under the short plaid dress my Nana Hannah bought for me at Bib and Tucker with it's thick-planked, creaky, gleaming wood floor. I thought of braiding my father's tallis when I was very young and my parents were still married. Most of all I thought of fingering my mom's jewelry during services, the pearls and diamonds and cut jade bracelet that is now mine. One day, Adam will give a girl my grandmother's engagement ring (it was in a box in the vault, my mother wrote on the box "for Adam, love Nanny" and Michael will give a girl my mother's engagement ring. They won't be able to call her, like I did, and whisper "Mom, I'm getting married." My boys, I am so sorry you will not have that joy. But, there will be joy, the joy of watching what magnificent husbands and fathers you will one day be. For now, my boys, you are magnificent sons and brothers, and I am so proud of you. Mom is, too. You give her such nachas.

11 September 2011

The other night I sent my father a photo of me, just two and in saddle shoes, feeding swans with my mother at the duckpond. 26 hours later, his response came, and with it went my breath:

I remember it like it was yesterday
G-d rest her soul

I thought of what it means to my father that the girl he married when she was 19, he 20, the mother of three of his four children, has died. He was the second person I called when she died, and he came to our house, and cried as he kissed her goodbye. For the first time, I saw my father as the unseen, the third person in the photo, the one behind the camera. Now, my mother is the unseen, but she is as real and as present as my father is in that photograph taken 30 years ago.

And, I thought what it means, "G-d rest her soul," and how common words reveal themselves as beaming vessels when the soul in question is the one that made yours. If ever a soul is resting, it is my mother's, who, like our Rabbi said (the same Rabbi that married us, 75 days before she died, and oh, what a day can mean when there are only 75 left) climbed the mountain with us to know that on the other side, she would walk on and leave her children in a valley.

Today, 10 years later, I think of my mother's dear friend, Josephine, and how Josephine knew instantly, this morning, 10 years ago, that the love of her life would never return home. He was a firefighter, on disability, but for the reasons she loved him, she lost him: into the towers he went, out he never came. I think of our dear friend, Gabe, who toasted us so beautifully at our wedding, and how he stood on the sidewalk, 10 minutes late to his job, and watched a plane explode into the place he was not. The gift, and weight, of survival was handed to him in a loaded quiver that will be slung across his back for the rest of his life.

I think about my father's words, "G-d rest her soul", and I am grateful for the 8 years we had with our mother as she lived over her illness, and let it be the white noise that played in the background, when most would have let it be the dissonant symphony that clapped a deafening refrain. On Mother's Day, we sat in the living room together and read her Winnie-the-Pooh (we laughed, it is our favorite), and went for a drive by the beach. My brothers learned how to lift her gently, so as not to rattle the cancer that filled her body, they dressed her, cooked for her, fed her, and I knew that inside, deeper than where the cancer dwell, my mom was beaming, for her boys were driven by love, not constrained by fear. I have never thought "G-d rest her soul" because it is so clear to me that never has a soul left as proudly and peacefully (though not joyously, do not think that) as my mother. I think today about those nearly 3,000 souls who did not have the gift of forewarning, who had no time to dance the hora (though there is never enough time). 57 years is not enough, but on this day, I am grateful (again, common words, beaming vessels) for the warning that Death came closer, before Death came to our house.

So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the forest a little boy and his bear will always be playing. - Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A. Milne

17 August 2011

Dear Mom,

It has been 2 months since we lost you. Liz got married on Saturday night, and we were there (you rsvp'd yes, and ordered the sirloin), me and Kevin and Petey and Davey. Petey wore his hat, which you wouldn't have been happy with, but it was his fancy hat, which makes it better. When we got home from the wedding, to our house, to our house that you lived in and died in, I had this email waiting for me:

Are you THE Leigh Batnick...
…who was a sweet & lovely 5th grader at Lakeside Elementary in Merrick in 1989-90? I suspect it must be you, as your writing is as deep & graceful & magical now as it was then. I came upon your blog just now, and am so very sorry for your loss.

Of all things, I remember your mom’s signature on your report cards & absence notes. She had happy handwriting!
My deepest condolences to you & your family; my heart goes out to you.

With love,
Christine aka "Ms. Wicks"

Mom, you remember Ms. Wicks! She was my favorite teacher, her, and Dr. Isaacs (he understood me before I did). The thing is, I haven't exchanged a word with her in 21 years and she emailed me precisely at the moment that I was toasting Liz and Liz and I met in her classroom. In my toast, I quoted from the letter Liz wrote you on June 5th, and in that letter she spoke about Ms. Wicks.

Mom, I know you already know this. I haven't written back to Ms. Wicks yet, because I'm waiting to understand; I spend my days waiting to understand. Liz, who knows deep loss from the its eddy, wrote to me:

...Although I know you do not feel connected to your sadness, rest assure, you are at a kind of magical stage of subconscious connection. She is speaking through your heart, mind and pen (or rather, your laptop). Sadness will roll in with the tides of mundane memories, with holidays, with realizations about the lack of phone calls. Unfortunately, it will eventually come. But for now, know that the unexpected thing about loss is a strange super-powered infusion of love that you gain from the person that you lost. It is almost like a shield that they give us for our hearts. And that shield is made up of the energy created by the POWER of your connection to them. Some may call it denial or shock, but really, I think it is the protection given from our beloved, the one who knows that our fragile hearts can only take so much at a time... Lest they break in two. And that is the last thing that they would ever want to happen...

I spoke to Ray-Ray tonight, and she told me that Jane asked you before you died, as best friends can, "How will I know you are with us?" and you answered "You will know. There will be no doubt about it." When Jane opened the library the first morning she went back after you died (you loved little ladies and librarians who loved pink wine), 3 computers were on but the main computer, the host, was off. No one was there, the computers are turned off every night, religiously, and she knew. It was you. The mother-ship was dark, but still, she lit her 3 children.

Mom, you light your 3 children. I think about what I did not ask you; I did not know you were afraid of heights. Petey told me when you went on the ski gondolas out West, you hovered over desert and prairie, canyons and brush, and your hands tightly gripped the sides. I am afraid of heights, too, or of precipices, more specifically, and I couldn't breathe as we ascended the Eiffel Tower, so down quickly we went. I never knew you were afraid of anything, except what could hurt your children. You are fearless to me. You feared not death, you feared not life.

Mom, your heart has stopped, I heard your last breath, but your heart made mine, and now Liz tells me, that you cradle my broken heart. Please, come to me. Be with me in dreams. Michael dreamed of you, dead, but re-animated, and I am so jealous. In his dream, you told the three of us that Petey took good care of you, and when he told me about his dream I said, "You're right, he did" and Michael gasped, for I had said exactly the same thing in his dream. My girl, be with me in a dream. Tell me what I know (but the knowing is hard, and it's not the same as your voice telling me, kissing me, nuzzling your head into my neck - you are short!) you would say if you were here. Tell me that you love me, tell me that I am the daughter, the person, you hoped I would be.

Mom, I fear not the night or a great height. You are with me, you are in me, you are all around me. I love you, my girl, and I love my brothers and we talk to our uncles and I will be better about calling your friends (my friends) and seeing Poppy. You have taught me how to live, and I want to be my mother's daughter. There was no one better than you, my mother.

Tuck me in, and slowly tell each part of my body to rest, to exhale from my tiniest toe, to the tip of my head, like you did when I was small.

I love you, I love you, I love you and this is not good night, for maybe I will see you tonight.
Lulu Belle

12 August 2011

I cannot explain to you this unbelievable desire for something I will never have again, this deepest need for my mother to return to life. She was smaller than me, but felt so much bigger, feels so much bigger, and every time I held her hand, which was often, I was struck by her smallness, by how very small her hand felt in mine. I felt like a man must feel, holding the hand of a woman.

I was told about a woman who, after her mother died, became a Hospice aide. Before June 17th, I would not have understood this, the return to the scene of a horrible crime, but now I do, but I won't, for I'm not as good as that woman. If I cannot have my mother, alive, well, crying "Girlfriend!!!" loudly and off-key into the video chat, as Teepee's ears stood straight on end, huge and ridiculous, I would have the end again, the feeling of purpose, holding her failing body tight, giving her the last hug I would give her, as Nancy, her hospice aide turned her on her side to check for bed sores. The first time we did this, my mother held me as I held her, and our tears mingled in pools on our cheeks, falling from the same green eyes. The last time, my silent mother's body was a weight in my arms, her breathing was jagged in my ear, and the tears were only mine.

Where does redemption come from? Where is joy, pure and unfettered, without her? My girl, I cannot feel free without you here. I know what you want for me. You told your children when we promised to one day go to the Galapagos, to see the tortoises and the blue-footed boobies, that we could only go if we promised you one thing: we would have fun. Mom, I promised you, and I promise you, but it has not yet been two months, and in my sadness, I honor you. Don't be mad at me, my girl, for not being a goer and a doer quite yet. I want to be still, to be quiet, to be with you, with my thoughts of you.

08 August 2011

Dear Mom,

I am writing this on your computer, and I am thinking of how cute you were by the light of the video chat, falling asleep, the laptop bigger than you, tilting in towards your forehead as you fell asleep. And I would say, gently, "Mom, go to sleep," and your eyes would open and you'd say, "How did you know I was sleeping?" and I'd say, "Your eyes were closed!" and sometimes you'd be snoring lightly too.

Mom, I started reading our emails to each other today. Your email account is open (were you the last person left using AOL? Without you they are doomed!). You have 1890 unread emails. I will look through, to make sure there are none that need to be answered. I started answering your emails in June, and I had to tell friends why you yourself could not answer.

Our emails to each other are funny and silly and full of love. I am so proud that I wrote to you: i appreciate your pearls of wisdom. you have the longest, wisest pearl necklace in the world. My last email from you is on May 15th, but on April 7th you wrote:

To the most beautiful bride,

Wow! What beautiful pictures. You and Kevin look amazing! This was the best wedding I have ever been to. I am soooooo proud of all your efforts and your vision and how you remain true to yourself and who you are.

Hope you are having fun and thinking about you all the time.

Love & xxxxxx's.
Mom

Thank you, my girl, for allowing me to be the person you made, even when you did not understand that person. Thank you, my girl, for being honest, always, even when I wished you were not. You knew all of my secrets, because I trusted you to treat them with care, and because we need to be told when we are doing the wrong thing. Without you, who loves me enough to tell me I am wrong?

On the anniversary of Nana Hannah's death, I posted about her here, and you wrote, "Yes you have it right. I certainly do miss her. 17 years is a long time. She was so beautiful." Mom, now I am a daughter whose mother has gone, and I think of the years that stretch before me, without you here. You told me, before you left, "I'll be with you always, except for the private moments." Mom, stay with me always. 32 years with you was not enough.

I love you, and I miss you are words not enough.
Your first born, your daughter,
Leigh Michelle



02 August 2011

The is and the were.

Because the world is unknown to me, I wonder, if we go to Joshua Tree, to a place that I do not know, to a landscape that I can only dream up, will I find her there, waiting for me? I live in a world where my mother was and I am. We, none of us know our fates (her favorite joke? Want to make G-d laugh? Tell him your plans.) but it is conceivable that I will live longer without my mother than with her. The tense of her being has changed, she has passed, they say, she was, they say. She is I say! But that will slip away, and every night I fall deep asleep, for every day I say, over and over and over again, she is dead, my mother is dead.

Z. told me tonight "I am so sorry about your mother." And he meant it, I know, with a full heart, but how do I explain that I stand, thirsty, at the bottom of a cavernous cavern, and his words are a drop of water falling from heights that I cannot see. No one should know this feeling, until the knowing is unavoidable, but oh! oh! what I wish I did differently while I still had the chance.

24 July 2011

Finest thing.

Our mother taught us the hard lessons of life. When it would have been easier to say yes then to press on through her child's tears, she choose the path thicketed and thorned, for it would lead to a beautiful island where her children could light a fire and make their way in the world, through plenty and drought.

The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer's ending, a sad, monotonous song. "Summer is over and gone," they sang. "Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, summer is dying."

The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days of the whole year-the days when summer is changing into fall-the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.
-Charlotte's Web

The crickets sang of no rumors. Like my mother, the crickets sang of truth. There is a glass wall, thick, clear, soundproof, between myself and my sadness. The bed my mother bought me has been taken away, I lie here in the heat in the bed I bought with my husband. Where does my sadness lie? When the yellow light comes through the trees, will it be waiting for me? I read that the deeper their love for the departed, the harder it is for mourners to leave the cave of denial, and I felt not so terribly wrong for eating, for sleeping, for picking which black dress to wear. Summer will go, it will leave us (I cannot say die, batteries do not die, only people, and for me, only one person) yet it will, once again, return. Beyond the glass wall, I know, unlike summer, my mother will never rise again but here, in the stillness of July, 37 days later, 899 hours later the daughter that I am now, the daughter of a dead mother, waits for her great love, her first love to rise again.

11 July 2011

The unexpected.

It is almost the full moon. The hospice lady told me that my mother might die on the full moon, that people usually do, and I believed it, but my mother, not usual, did not. On Friday morning, June 17th, my uncle, the third of three brothers, six years older than my mother, who loved her with a love often reserved for one's child (he did promise their mother, on her deathbed, that he would care for my mother, and he did, Uncle B, you did) kissed her head, and told her that he would see her later. I pulled him aside, and whispered, if he could, please tell her that it was okay if she did not see him later. He did, as he cried, and she didn't wait, but she would have, had he not asked, and he was brave for saying what he did not mean.

I cried on Saturday night, in a church, as I listened to my husband play. It was the first time, almost, that I had cried since her funeral. I always thought that when she died I would instantly get sick. Nothing that I thought would happen has happened. I am rigid, I wait, still. Turns out, almost a month is not enough.

And if you wonder if you ought to, if it is right, say something. The bereaved (provenance: bereafian "to deprive of, take away, seize, rob") are more frightened than you. There is fear in mourning, there is anxiety. Moments when you forget that you are a mourner, are terrible for the remembering. If I could wear it on my sleeve that I am different, no longer the same, I would. Part of me lies with her. It is all I care about, my mother, and it is all I want to talk about. I want to tell you about her, and I will.

05 July 2011

Your mailbox is full.

I wore the white dress today that I wore the night before I was a bride, on a night while my mother was still alive. Today, the dress was dusted with the pollen from white lilies, a mark, I'm told, that is hard to remove. I can smell the sharp sting of the tiger lilies my mother's Tante Muriel Iris brought to the house when I was small. I can smell the perfume I sprayed on my mother's pillow as she lay dying (Near, it is called). As we are made, we are marked. The kriah ribbon lies in a silver shell next to my bed. It is torn, I am torn, and I wept to remove it on the last day of shiva. I do not yet miss what I will not have. I miss what I had two weeks ago. I miss caring for her, I miss the bittersweet house full of love and sadness, I miss her brothers, I miss my brothers. I miss the moment I heard her take her last breath, for though she was leaving, and left she has, it was her breath.

I basked in you;
I love you, helplessly, with a boundless, tongue-tied
love.
And death doesn't prevent me from loving you.
Besides,
in my opinion you aren't dead.
(I know dead people, and you are not dead.)
-Franz Wright via The Long Goodbye by Meghan O'Rourke

29 June 2011

I have no secrets.

The end of a pickle floats in this morning's coffee. The bath grows cold. I have no secrets. I only wear clothes heaped in the basket next to my closet; a bent hanger has jammed the door shut. A woman named Gloria will come in the morning to clean around my discarded dresses, my piles of denial and I will not give her keys. Weeks ago, I dreamed of H., who stole my precious thing. I thought I'd want to write to her to tell her that my mother is dead, and what of my mother's mother's engagement ring she plucked from my white bathroom? but I cannot write to her. I cannot decide which shoes to keep, hunger is easier than deciding. I cannot cry.

I saw my mother again, on the shores on Sunday. The sea carried us past her, in a cove, on the sand, but there in the distance, I saw her again.

I read, so I can see life, for I do not feel my own.

The safety deposit box is opened. There are savings bonds, a diamond ring, a deed for the house. The letters come. I wear a thin gold bangle shot through a perfect pearl. Even when you cannot/ see the moon, it is ok/ She is always there.

I am waiting for my mother.

24 June 2011

The phenomenal return home.

My mother died 7 days ago. It has been one week since I kissed the hollow in the nape of her neck, since I ran my lips against the downy hair on the back of her head. I have lived 165 hours without my mother, and I have not, for one minute, understood that she will not appear in our driveway in her big white car, that I will never again hear her voice talking on the phone in the laundry room.

The day after she died, my brother and I stood on the back of our family boat, as it rolled past green backyards with sprinklers and swimming pools. We passed swans along the way, and families of ducks. Herons stood on the wet, grassy patches that sprout from the bay. I saw my mother, sitting in her chair, laughing with glee as the salt water sprayed our faces. I saw my mother standing in the marshes, on the lawns, at the edge of the park she took us to as children, smiling, squinting and shading her eyes with one hand, waving at us with the other, happy that we were together.

I am going back there tonight. I will be with my brothers, I will drive her big white car and I will have lunch at our favorite place. My stepfather will hug me. I will fold her clothing, and wear her pajamas. I will look at the ants tumbling through the mountains of grass and not understand how they are allowed to be here, but she is not.

My mother and I shared 280,320 hours of life. It will take more than 165 hours to understand that she is gone, forever. She lived from April 9, 1954 until June 17, 2011 - 57 years, 2 months, 1 week, and 1 day and not a minute longer - but I am still waiting for her to come home. I will rub my eyes and hug her, she will tell me that she loves me and she is proud of me, and we will hold hands and know, together, that these 165 hours were all a bad dream.

19 June 2011

Eulogy for my mother.

The Strawberry Moon reached its peak at 4:16 on Wednesday June 15. On Thursday June 16th, I could not see the moon in the sky. As my mother lay dying in our den, a tree was felled from our neighbor's yard, to make way for a swimming pool. A man cradled by a rope scaled the tree, and cut it limb by limb, as a crew of others in green shirts stood in our yard to guide the falling parts away from harm, away from my mother who lay, one foot here, one foot there, her shallow breaths and pulsing neck monitored by my hungry eyes. A glass door and five men shielded her from the tree, but nothing can shield the masses who love my mother from what has fallen on us.

On Thursday night, I stretched myself on a deck chair and listened to my brother talk to his new friend with the beautiful name. I looked at the tree in our yard that now stands silhouetted by a ghost. It stands still, and will continue to, without the caress of another's leaves against its own. The tree that is gone remains with us in its absence. Its living form is no more, but what remains is the roots, reaching down, like fingers holding tight. Under the shadow of the tree remaining and the shadow of tree that once was, I whispered in my mother’s ear “Be a butterfly, fly like the butterflies we grew as children, from chrysalis to beings of the sky.” I told her to be free to go, so she can land on our shoulders.

My mother died on Friday, June 17th at around 1:02 pm. Our “giver of Nachas” as my brother Michael called her, as he covered her cheeks and nose and forehead in kisses, left the temporal world while my brothers waited together on the deck. Petey laid on the couch beside her bed, and I, I curled on the landing listening to her last breath.

My brothers and I will mourn our mother for the rest of our days. We mourn the loss of the old woman she would be. We mourn all that she will not be here to share with us. I was lucky enough to have the clouds part on April 3rd for my wedding; she had been so sick in the months leading up to it, and yet on that day she glowed with love. I was resolute that our wedding would be big and full, a festival of love, peopled by friends and family, the community that we have built. I wanted her to see the people who would care for us when she was gone. It is not luck that my mother was surrounded with love from all over the country in her last months. She lived to give love, and everyone who knew her felt themselves to be the center of her universe, for she gave of herself completely, and with the utmost honesty.

I stand here, my mother’s first born, the only daughter of an only daughter. The words I say are for her and for my brothers, her boys, my best friends. My mother gave me the greatest gifts I have been given – the gift of her love, her moral guidance through the world, the love of books and animals and family and friends. My mother gave me my brothers and nurtured us three as individuals, as unique beings. What went for one, did not go for all, with one exception: her love. Beyond that, I am her mad, bad bibliophile, Adam her gentle soul and Michael her chef and her warm and loving boy. My mother will never know her our children, as her namesake, my maternal great-grandmother Blanche never knew her. But our children will know our mother, for we would not be Leigh Michelle, Adam Ross and Michael Henry without her. I will tell them to be goers and doers, I will teach them to do unto others, I will teach them that relationships require hard work that pays in piles richer than gold and pearls, diamonds and rubies. We will tell them stories of my mother the boxer, of her ‘fro she named Moishe, her love of flying low, particularly on the back of Petey’s jet ski, of her Sternberging little Paul Sternberg in the third grade, bloodying his nose for a forgotten wrong. We will tell them how she gave freely to those who were good, and sought to understand with compassion and forgiveness those who were not. Our children will know my mother, for she will be a butterfly on all of our shoulders, for the rest of our days.

16 June 2011

Last night was the Strawberry Moon. Tonight, I cannot see the moon in the sky. Tonight, as my mother lay dying in our den, a tree was felled from our neighbor's yard, to make way for a swimming pool. A man cradled by a rope scaled the tree, and cut it limb by limb, as a crew of others in green shirts stood in our yard to guide the falling parts away from harm, away from my mother who lies, one foot here, one foot there, her shallow breaths and pulsing neck monitored by my hungry eyes. A glass door and five men shielded her from the tree, but there is no one to shield the masses who love my mother from what is falling on us.

I stretched myself on a deck chair tonight and listened to my brother who spoke to his new friend with the beautiful name. I looked at the spot where the tree was, and the tree in our yard that stands silhouetted by a ghost. It stands still, and will continue to, without the caress of another's leaves against its own. My mother will not know our new friends, she will not know the children who will be named for her. My mother will never read this. I whisper in her ear to be a butterfly, to fly into the sky like the butterflies we grew as children, from chrysalis to beings of the sky. I tell her to be free to go, so she can land on our shoulders.

05 June 2011

For Lisa, because she asked.

We gathered together again, grown tall like the cat tails on the marsh at the end of our block, once over taken by fire, the trucks sounding, smoke billowing when the school bus dropped us home. We have already lost one of our mothers and now we sat on the steps, drinking beers and laughing, with husbands and wives, waiting, as we lose another mother, this time mine.

She is asleep now, on the hospital bed that waited for her as we rode home in the ambulance on Friday, mother and daughter. We looked backwards out of the windows with our green eyes and we couldn't tell, on roads so familiar, where we were, on the roads that led her to visit her children in Washington, in Philadelphia, in Indiana in the days after the monuments fell and her son was too scared to fly home, so home flew to him, and our New York license plates elicited cries of love from here to the farmlands that stretched out before our open eyes.

The children are grown, Elliott Street is for new families, other families and these days, love flies here to say their goodbyes.

17 May 2011

Where I have been.


I went to the Stationery Show today. The first time I went, 8 years ago, I had a different name, a different job, I lived in a different city. 8 years ago, my mother had just had a double mastectomy to rid her of invasive lobular breast cancer. Today, I have a new name and my mother has stage IV metastasized breast cancer that thrives in her bones, her stomach, her lymph nodes, her blood.

Every night on my way home from work, I used to speak to my mother on the telephone. Now, she sleeps before I leave work. I walk home and I talk to friends about my mother, or I talk to her in my head, or I write to her, and tell her things I am afraid to say. When death is far away, it is easier to speak of it freely. Now that death creeps closer, we are in a delicate waltz.

My mother has always taught her children what her mother taught her: live each day as if is your last. Now that we know what will end her days, my mother and I think differently. Do not live each day as if it is your last. It is a terrible burden, terrible, terrible knowledge that no one should lay down to sleep with. Live each day full of love. Live each day with grace, with dignity. Be the best you, the person your parents dreamed they would make, the person you have always wanted to be.

Cancer has fractured my mother's shoulder, it has put her in the hospital too many times, it has kept her from her granddaughter's birthday party for fear of infection. Cancer causes my teetotaler mother to live on cocktails of painkillers. But, cancer has not made my mother anyone other than the joyous, sage, impish, speed-loving mother who will remain my North Star for the rest of my days.

02 May 2011

7 stars to treat with care and concern. Do not forget tenderness.


We slept, early, angry and deep, at the hour the North Star went out. The fountain flows for a day, the lights twinkle, the leader praised and then a new monument rises, with a new face. Stubborn ram, angry archer, make right in your home what you cannot make right in the world.

29 April 2011

The Loss of diamonds.


The Giverny we saw was less clotted with nympheas; they've bloomed every summer since 1893, or so. I trust they will bloom again.

27 April 2011

Imaginary doings

Foujita cat

A good muse does not fall asleep in an unmade bed. A good muse does not leave her dresses in a tangle on the floor.

26 April 2011

"Eyelids of the morning"


Rise, Mother, rise! We are under April skies and I need our nighttimes back. It is lonely walking home without you.

25 April 2011

Flick, flick of the multi-tailed whip


Mess. Once, twice, three times. Over again. Hiding places are running out.

22 April 2011

Mundane desires


Drawers need to be emptied, vegetables sliced perfectly, papers torn, shelves lined, windows flung wide open. Looking forward to a day to take out the trash.

20 April 2011

Dreams that are wild, dreams that are strange.


Sleeping the sleep of 100-year princesses. Need round Dior gray rabbits to gently open my eyelids to the sounds of petunias' melodies.

19 April 2011

My castle, my books.

...a languid Mexican actress read a poem with much tenderness followed by Harold reading it with much passion. It was 'Paris'. I wanted to dig Silvia Fuentes in the ribs and say: 'That's written to me, you know.' I felt an extraordinary tingle when my eyes met Harold's at the end of this, the first poem, written during our first 'honeymoon' at the Lancaster Hotel in 1975 and he gave me a small private smile. -Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter, Antonia Fraser

May we all be so in love, deep into our 70s.

18 April 2011

The elusive listener who listens.

Alexander McQueen butterfly shoes

Some souls, they knew, what was flying around.

15 April 2011

14 April 2011

The beautiful, the contained, the functional mess.


I have half a pistachio cake waiting, and a desire to play (controlled, precisely) with small, perfect things.

13 April 2011

EDICT


Four and three stars on your ankle, says his wife, who turns 32 today.

12 April 2011

My castle, my books.

The following night (1982), Richard revisited his favorite Dylan Thomas radio play, Under Milkwood, at a public reading...Unbeknown to Richard, while he was reciting to a rapt audience, Elizabeth quietly entered the theater and slipped onto the stage, standing behind him. The audience was thrilled at the sight of her, and Burton wondered what the excitement was all about. Wearing jeans and a loose sweater, she suddenly upstaged him by curtsying and throwing a kiss to the standing-room-only audience. She then whispered to Richard, in perfect Welsh, "I love you."
"Say it again, once more, my petal. Say it louder," Burton answered.
Elizabeth, now addressing the audience, repeated the words: "Rwy'n dy garu di." -Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century

Some books were written to be read on a plane by a starry-eyed newlywed.

11 April 2011

"Reader, I married him."

We are home from Paris, where June's sun visited in April forcing the sleepy cherry blossoms into wide-eyed morning, before, even their siblings have risen in Japan.

29 March 2011

Make me a record

Our chuppah, hand-sewn by me and my tasslemaster, gently waiting to be raised on Sunday.

24 March 2011

cloud-building


Come home, love,/I want to thumb your pages/one at a time. -"Night Reading" by Sally Ashton

21 March 2011

The slow reveal


Can we reconvene when I am married? I commit to him, I commit to you. I will visit, between now and then, because I need to. The usual coffee and you routine is my sunshine and diamond stamen.

16 March 2011

Sketch

The more it changes, and it how it does change, this stays the same.

15 March 2011

"Beware the ides of March."


Jezebel graveyard, Jezebel festival
? Depends. Did Edward borrow your rose-colored lenses?

Sugar moon, sap moon: beware Mars today. Do not be irritating.

(2010)

11 March 2011

JAPAN


I think of you, Japan. So small and paltry and mean a thing, thinking, and really of no help at all. Why this hiss, this roar, this rumble from the belly of the earth? What for? When the wind blows hard, the order we've built crumbles to the floor. Look how much we have made! None of this existed. We live in two worlds: that which is, that which we create.

10 March 2011

Fly with me


We are going to scheme again, together, the tap tap tap every morning, and the luxurious sip from grandmother china and saucers, those, I've never had those before. There has been a space invasion, and a pile of lace waiting to be sewn, I wake early and I think: for there to be change, there must be a change.

07 March 2011

Little fish, big fish.


It showered yesterday; rain, love, lingerie, swan cream puffs, aunties, cousins, childhood dreamtime, mothers, daughters.

The newest piece in my collection is cast from my grandmother's brooch. As I've told you before, and I'll tell you again, I am an only daughter's only daughter.

02 March 2011

Night of Joy

Rene Gruau

In the mailbox, little pale pink postcards say, "Yes!". The pile grows, warmth ensues.

28 February 2011

On choosing gold

Dear A.B., E.D., F.K., J.S., L.B., R.M., S.C.D.,

The bride wore black all weekend, and she wants to say: I sang. Quietly, softly, in my stuffed head, I sang from love. You are beautiful, I am blessed and I say,

Thank you, and I love you.
L.B.

One is not born a woman, but becomes one. -Simone de Beauvoir

25 February 2011

Calling me back.


The tulip table I left behind last night, will live, in memoriam, with Neptune's light perched on it's side.

22 February 2011

I wish I could share this with you.


I enjoyed the fineries of a faint illness today, and laid in bed, late, surrounded by the promise of getting better. Winter leads to spring.

21 February 2011

My castle, my books.

work, Snow White way

Thank you, V., for sending The Long Goodbye, an unremittingly gorgeously written, gimlet-eyed guide to a journey of eating darkness. I am scared, I am sad, I needed a flashlight-book.

17 February 2011

Wild Silence


I miss you. Quiet is how I feel right now. Thank you for understanding. You are always so understanding.

14 February 2011

What we have

Roses by Nick Knight

When time begins to be measured in strands of good and bed, the preciousness of days is fully realized. I say to you, don't wait till you know the days are precious, but I know we live too in the moment to see the economy of moments. Today is a day for love, let every day we are given be a day for love.

09 February 2011

L.P.

Yesterday morning, we went to 141 Worth Street. Our union is blessed by the City of New York. My B will be silent.

07 February 2011

The essence of it all.



Sometimes, love is like looking in a mirror. Sometimes, love shows you what you cannot see. Sometimes, love allows you to be the most lustrous pearl in the room. Sometimes, love lets you wear black nail polish to an all-white affair, because you find black beautiful and full of light. (video via Maryam Keyhani)

04 February 2011

She rises


This morning, I rose with love for Chell and Victoria; my favorite kind of girl is insight and light, wrapped in a New York minute. We touched on Madame Bovary and moved to loss. I need to find the pearl, or else I am lost. Last night, it was Cherokee Moon, born on Tuesday at 11:45 am, to our snow globe world.

03 February 2011

Together, we make a sweatsuit


And there I go, crunch, crunch, whoosh across the plasticine ice, to play Cupid. There is giving love, there is getting love, but Cupids? They nurture, nudge love from under wing to night sky.

01 February 2011

Humble, heart.

The lovely hand and heart behind The Wild Unknown, Kim, drew this gorgeous print to raise money for her sister, whose farmhouse and home burnt entirely to the ground last week. All proceeds go directly to Julia and her fiancé, so they can rebuild their life on the eve of beginning a new life together. Purchase here.

28 January 2011

Gloriosa


Bringing it back to color, there are 65 days, I am told, and gold - there will be gold.

27 January 2011

Butterfly woman

Papa Leonard and Nana Hannah

I'm working on a new piece, cast from a brooch that belonged to my grandmother. Looking through photographs of those gone and those here, when they were young, and oh! the things I don't know, and oh! the questions I must ask. We lay in the bed the other night, and he told me about his great-grandparents, killed in a forest, and how he thinks of his grandmother and her gentle chiding every morning. Ask your questions, know your past. Tomorrow is a gift, not a given.

26 January 2011

In the dark


Cruelty, thy name is woman. A beautiful film about a terrible kitten called Charlotte, Une Femme Mariée is a lesson in how not to be free.

25 January 2011

In a bedroom with hyacinths or a fluorescent hallway/we should all be


The other afternoon, when you fell asleep on my shoulder, I drifted off, too. But before I did, it occurred to me looking around at all of your things and your work and going through years of work in my mind, that of all your work, you are still your most beautiful. The most beautiful work of all.
-Just Kids, Patti Smith

24 January 2011

My castle, my books.

postcard from Patti Smith, in Paris to Robert Mapplethorpe, in New York

I waited and I waited, for no reason I could know, but it turned out just right. Just Kids kept me company this weekend, a magical otherworld that is real, and true, built on love and then mourning, a rabbit hole while my mother is in the hospital.