Happy Yahrzeit…Again

I like to write something every year on the anniversary of my husband’s death, but this post that I wrote 2 years ago is still every bit as true, and I can think of nothing I would add or take away from it.

There was a time when grief obliterated my ability to do anything but put one foot in front of the other. Wave after wave of tragedy and difficulty had rendered me speechless. I could only find expression in fiction and the occasional poem. The truth was too painful. And for someone who writes nonfiction, that’s a problem.

When there is a death, you find yourself divided into “before” and “after”. Following the initial adjustment to “after” comes the succession of milestones on your path leading away from the event. Every widow or widower knows that date. The day their spouse died.

We have no word in the English language for this event. This macabre anniversary that suffocates the weeks leading up to The Day. This magical marker that must surely mean that life can now go on. A year gone must mean something.

But for American culture, you’re meant to be busy getting on with your life and not making other people uncomfortable with your grief. We do not mark the day with any ritual. There is no section in Hallmark cards for remembering the day your friend’s life fell apart. And one year later, I am still searching for words – anybody’s words – to describe this process of letting go and forgiving and moving forward.

Thankfully, the Jews in their staggering capacity to honor and express grief, have a word precisely for this time. Yahrzeit. A Yiddish word specifically meant for the anniversary of the day a loved one died – often marked by lighting a candle, fasting (if it is the death of a parent), and general recognition that on this day someone important to you left your life forever.

And even I feel like no one remembered this day but me, it is good to know that there is a whole language and people devoted to the idea that one year is not enough to move on. That grief and loss will roll back on you and will be revisited. Even if only for a day.

See you next Yahrzeit.


An Ozark Life

Though I love the manicured lawns and tranquil museums of the city, there’s just something special about living in the country. I’m grateful for the long stretches of green, knowing the hills I’ve passed might belong all to one person, or no one at all, or a few contented cows.

Even though I live on a highway, it doesn’t stop my retired neighbor from driving his golf cart a half mile to see his buddy up the road. There isn’t a golf course for 20 miles.

Then there’s the guy 3 houses down who used to ride his horse to the biker bar at the junction so he could drink all he wanted and still get home. The horse knew the way.

One morning I was about to pull out of the driveway when I saw my father parked across the road in his van. He was sitting in front of the little white church where maybe 4 cars arrive each Sunday. The bell still rings at 10am that day. Dad wasn’t alone. Our neighbor to the west was visiting through the van window, one hand wrapped in a rope attached on the other end to a very large bull with horns that curved up past the driver’s side window.

“Hey!” he waved as I slowed to get a closer look. “Just out walkin’ the baby.”


What do you love about where you live?

Outdoor Poems

Nothing inspires quite like nature. Admittedly, I’m usually inspired to slather on sunscreen and run from the bugs, but on those rare occasions when I can wander a cultivated garden it is pure bliss.

The Botanical Gardens nearest my home are a wonderful sample of what Paradise could be. Within a few minutes among the roses, hostas, and iris, the tension subsides, making room for creativity to flow. I may not be much good as an outdoors-woman, but I’m excellent at appreciating its beauty!

Here is a haiku triplet I wrote on one such visit:

A water’s whisper

bids me stay, and learn how

to still the rushing.


The path that winds back

upon itself lets each one meet

again, but newly.


Raindrops make ripples;

softened pebbles from the sky,

their presence soon forgot.


How are you inspired by nature?