Healing Pie

Blueberries.  Half wild for the adventurer.  Half regular for what feels comfortable.

Rinse them in warm water – I feel the cold flow away from the berries.   I Feel the berries warm, let the new warmth wash over my hands.

Rinse them in cold water once for my love and once for my grief.  Cold water brings an anxious mind to the present.

Put half the berries in a bowl that is big enough to hold everything I thought I would have.  The other half of the berries go on the stove with lemon juice.  Acid.  Acid makes the berries brighter.  Acid hurts an open wound.

Gently cook the berries until they reduce by half.  Like my children.  reduced by half.  Gently mash away at what is left.  Break open the cooked berries to release the pectin.  It helps to set what is left.  It forms the gel that will keep the pie together.  It holds life together.

Mix the cooked berries into the large bowl with the uncooked berries.  Mix together what I thought I would have with what I actually have.  Mix them gently.  Add sugar and dry lemon pudding mix and a grated apple.  More acid.  More sweet.  More pectin. I trust the sweet to overtake the acid.  I trust in those that have done this before and tell me what it’s like.

I mix gently into my soul.    Love into the turn.  Watch life turn.  Watch the child slip away.  Mix her spirit and her sweet and her shine into the berries.  Mix for love.  Mix for loss.  Mix for the grief and the whatever is beyond.

Pour more dry lemon pudding mix into the bottom of the crusted pie plate. More acid.  I am told it makes the berries brighter.  I trust that it makes the berries brighter.

Everything goes into the plate and the plate goes into the very hot oven.  It’s seems too hot.  The temperature is much hotter than other recipes and cooking techniques.  This will burn.  When I open the oven to put the pie in, it heats my necklace.  My “Z” burns my throat for a minute.

Watch. Watch the pie change in the light.  Watch life boil with the weight of the pectin that is supposed to keep it together.

Half way through, turn down the heat and rotate the pie.  Release the scent into the house.  The love is tangible. It’s in the air.  It lingers.  I can’t put it back.  I can’t grab it or keep it.  I can only idle in what you have at that moment.  The memory of the sweet air will stay, but I can’t live that moment again.  It’s so sweet, the air, that I can almost taste it.  It’s so close I feel like can touch it… so close…. so close.  But it’s not there.  The sweet air is memory.

When the pie has bubbled for all it’s might – what’s left is not what I had.  I can’t have that back.  I have something different (new?).

The solemnity of the occasion allows my mind to wander and be focused at the same time.  The production of the cooking and the bake yields a result I can’t find in my daily routine.  In the fruit I find some escape.  In the bake I find center and calm.  I don’t find relief, but I do find a slowness that I need to give my otherwise racing mind.

Pie gets 5 stars.  Would recommend pie.



Emails are a kind of minefield.  Every email is dated and when I comb my deleted and archived email looking for evidence of this or that, I have to look at the dates.  June 2017 (graduation), July 2017 (getting ready for college), Aug 15 (the last day I would talk to her), Aug 16 (the day), Sept 1 (my first day back to work),

My mind separates everything dated into two buckets.

When I had her.  When I didn’t.

When we were a whole family.  When we fractured.

Every email I have to search comes at me and I immediately examine my memories.  What were we doing that day?  Where was she?  Was she happy that day?

I remember earlier in the summer I was reviewing my life and, taken in 5 year chunks, my adult life has had some pretty wild course changes and it’s always crazy to me where I ended up.  I’ve really never been on a steady course that would end neatly the way I intend.

I would occasionally look back with some regret (?) here and there, wishing the events in my life would have lead me down a less rocky path.  I would wish for an ease that never quite made it into my life.

And here we are.  Down a path I never saw coming and certainly didn’t work into the plan.

When my husband passed, we saw it coming.  I prepared, I planned, I moved into his death head-on.  I was ready for that.  I knew it was a gut-punch coming, but I managed.  I cried a lot and second guessed my choices without him, but bully for me.

Right after he passed, I moved my small family across the state to a new job, new town, new start.  I was able to make my date buckets into Before and After the move.  It was a protection.  It was a literal move. I didn’t have to refer back to anything that wasn’t on my terms.

This time, my life has a pinpoint.  A line of demarcation. 

Everything now is AD.



Sunday I decided I wanted to make an apple pie.  But I wanted this pie to look like a bouquet of flowers and I couldn’t do it without an apple peeler/corer/slicer.  I went to 4 stores looking for one even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to find one.  It’s an old-lady item.  Only available on amazon.  There isn’t much traffic in that peeler/corer/slicer needs – everyone wants a spiralizer.  That’s what is in the stores.

But I stood in all of the home goods aisles on the verge of tears because I wanted this stupid gadget.  I needed it in my house.  I needed it for my afternoon, I wanted this thing to be a part of my process.  I wished so hard that I could find one.

I wished so hard that I could find her.  I need her in my house.  I need her for the afternoon.  I needed her to be a part of my process.

But she wasn’t there.  I couldn’t find her.  All I could find was that stupid spiralizer.

And that’s kind of what it’s turned into… I’m compulsively looking for these *things* that I can’t find.  And I stare at the shelves and I walk away from the department and then walk back to where these *things* should be and she’s not there.  She’s never there.

I did end up making the pie.  It turned out very pretty – but it could have been beautiful if I could only have had the thing that I was missing.

0 stars.  Would not recommend.



I went to the doctor today.  Actually, I went to the NP.  She was lovely.  We commiserated the subject of loss.  We hugged.

I’ve always been a “power through it” type of person.  I have work.  I need to attend to whatever occupations I have.  Literal work, of course.  But also the work of being a mother, the work of the house, the work of maintaining a normal life.  I’ve always powered through because there was a greater good that needed to be attained.  Always something for someone else.

This time, I don’t have that… necessaryness (?) that I’ve always had before.  Alex is nearly 20.  I’ve got a stable job.  I have a house.  I have a companion (champion?) Everything is in place, I don’t need to make sure that anyone else is in exactly the place they need to be.

I suppose that has always been my self-care.  I care for others.  That is my job.  But there are far fewer people that I need to take care of.  So, without that occupation, I have much more time to stew with my own thoughts.

Here I am now – half of my children gone and no one that needs immediate attending.  My occupation isn’t what it was when my husband passed. I have no reason to power through other than doing it for the sake of just doing it.  And I don’t really have that drive right now.

Now I am medicated.

Maybe the crashes will ease up, be easier to handle.  Maybe I’ll move into numb.  Maybe that will be a relief.  Maybe I’ll be a little less anxious at home.  OR Maybe it won’t work. Maybe I’ll dive into more nerves. I don’t know.  I’ve never had to take the path of maintenance medication.  But I’ve also never had to take the path of child loss either.

Everything is different in a way that is distressing.  Not just the immediate and obvious bitterness, but the hopelessness that comes along with loss of identity, loss of control and loss of purpose.

I can’t power through this on my own.

I’ll never have her back.  I’ll never have him back.  I would really like to at least have myself back.  Even if it dose come in pieces.



In My Body

This is the physical manifestation (magnification?) of what profound grief feels like in my body.

  1. The grief comes in waves.  It feels like I’m caught in an ocean surf, crashing over me at intervals that I can not anticipate.  It comes a lot… CRASH… over my body.  I’m okay… CRASH… I’m okay… CRASH…   I can’t know when it will hit me.  I feel a literal sway in my body when it happens.  It runs the length of me, hitting my chest first.  Then my knees and elbows.  Then my head and ankles.  It is a crash.  And, much like the surf, it recedes quickly.  It goes back to whence it came, that place that it will come from again.  It crashes into me.
  2. My heart is literally heavy.  I feel a weight on the left side of my chest.  It’s like weights were implanted into my heart.  I can feel my heart, not in an achy sort of way, but with heft that wasn’t there before.
  3. My brain feels squishy.  Except when it feels foggy.  I’m not “on” like I was before.  I used to be fast at work.  I had answers, responded quickly.  Now, I’m slower to react.  Things take longer for me to process.  Even normal things, things that are a part of life that should be automatic, are now trapped in the squish.  It’s not unlike trying to walk through a deep muck in boots that get trapped by the vacuum.  I’ll get to where I need to be, but it takes a lot more effort.
  4. My knees and elbows hurt.  My knees and elbows have always ached.  Since I was in middle school, they’ve always had a dull ache in my life.  I just ignore it because it doesn’t go away.  But now, they ache more loudly.  If my achy knees and elbows were at a level 2 ache before, it’s turned up to a level 3.  It’s noticeable.
  5. My eyes hurt.  I’m always on the edge of tears.  My eyes hurt from holding back.  My occupation is not *crying*.  I can’t pay my bills with tears, I can’t function with tears.  So I hold back and my eyes hurt.  Especially at the end of the day.
  6. My throat is almost always constricted.  It goes along with the eye thing in that I’m constantly holding back tears.  My throat is tight.  When I get the CRASH, I get a lump in my throat.  When the wave clears, my throat goes back to constricted.
  7. I’m hungry.  I’m ravenous.  I want to eat.
  8. I’m tired.  I’m so, so tired.  I want a nap. I want to sleep in.  I want to go to bed early. I want to hide and it makes me tired.
  9. I’m scared.  I don’t like going places right now because I’m afraid that I’ll break down and I won’t be home.  I’ll go here or there for a couple of hours, but the thought of going anywhere for the weekend is so overwhelming.  (up north is the same as home… I’ll go there as fast as the speed limits allow).
  10. I don’t want to talk to people.  I’m taking my people back in tiny groups.  It’s overwhelming to think about having to get over the initial surge of “How are you doing?”.  I don’t want to answer and I’m not necessarily in love with all of the sympathy.
  11. I don’t want your expression of sympathy.  I hate the awkwardness.  But if you don’t give it to me, I’ll be pissed that you didn’t acknowledge my loss.  It’s a no-win situation.  If you don’t, I’ll be mad.  If you do, I’ll be uncomfortable.  That’s one of the reasons I don’t want to talk to people. Nobody is okay with this exchange.
  12. I like talking about other things.  I hate talking about other things.  It was the same thing that happened when Joe was sick.  If we talked about cancer I was mad because other things were happening.  But if we did not talk about cancer I was mad because cancer needed to be talked about.  It’s the same thing all over again.

There are other nuance, but that’s what it is on the whole.

It’s really shitty.  0 stars.  Would not recommend.




The Box.

I brought Z home from up north this weekend.

She’s been hanging out in the UP for the past 6 weeks.  I felt like that’s where she belonged for the time being.  But the seasons are changing.  It’s getting colder now.  The days are getting shorter.  There is more darkness than there was before.  It was comfortable with her there.  It felt right.

But it’s getting close to time to close up the cabin.  We’ve only got two or three more trips before we’re done.  And, obviously, I’m not going to leave her alone for the winter.  No visitors, no warmth.  There is no life over the winter.

She’s spending the winter with me.  It’s warmer here.

It’s… something?  I don’t know what it is.  But it’s for sure not where she’s supposed to be.  She’s supposed to be in school.  She’s supposed to be prepping for her nanny job that was going to take her Disney.  She was supposed to be complaining about or loving her living accommodations and I was supposed to be commiserating the high school v. college differences with her.

Instead, she’s here.

The box isn’t really the thing – the box contains ash.  It’s the physical representation of our loss. It’s what I’ve got to hold and look at and be near.  I can touch the box.  It’s heavy.  Surprisingly heavy.  It’s so heavy in my arms.  So heavy in my heart.

I moved Joe next to her.  These two boxes that contain so much of my life.

The reason I could never actually bury my husband is because I needed him with me.  I needed to be able to touch him.  The box was as close as I could get, so I took it.  Lots of people don’t like that I still have him in my house, but I had to have him around me.  I want to see the box.  It’s a pull from my soul that I can’t explain, so I just use the word “need” a lot and know that I can’t explain with my words and I hope people will understand.

She’s here.  She’s here.  She’s not here.  She’s gone. She’s here.

All I have is this box.

Two boxes.

Two stupid boxes.