Point by Point Again


Some scribbled thoughts from our first year of grief. Drafted May 10, 2017 between what would have been Tony’s fifty-fourth birthday and the nine-month anniversary of his death.

We live simply now in this time of grief. Simple food. Simple schedule. Simple wants. The heaviness slowly lifts. The agitation calms bit by bit. It is almost nine months.

In July of 2016 I wrote a blog piece on church spires. Steeples directing my way home point by point as I wound my way through small Iowa towns in waning summer light. I never posted those words. They lie in wait. Neglected. Unrevised. Upended by all that was to come in August.

Now I think people do. Point us home that is. To however we now define home. A place of refuge and therefore a source of strength. A place of solace and of love. “Where we do the hard, emotional work of relationships,” as Tony used to say although maybe in more casual language.

Yesterday Paul had another endoscopy, this time with a pill camera. I had a long hour wait, alone in the starkness of a recovery room, its sterility surrounding my vulnerability. One of the many, many, many times I miss Tony just being a few miles away at work. Available if necessary. Waiting as a form of prayer for a call of “all went well.”

“ASK” on urban sign.


My anxiety swirled, lodging in my pained arms and in my inability to breath. I texted two friends. But loving words encapsulated in bubbles were not enough. I wanted a human voice. I called another friend. She talked me through my fears even as her aging father held a tantrum in the background. Her father and I bookending her giving soul in the heavy emotions of my grief and his growing dementia.

The grabbing of hands, giving and receiving hugs, making eye contact, hearing voices over the phone, sharing thoughts transformed into words, brief smiles exchanged, sometimes even a laugh or two, these are the points which lead me in healing day by day. Often moment by moment.  Holding me together when I don’t know where my life’s destination truly is.

Today I rise early mixing waffle batter for Paul’s breakfast. I would rather hide in bed with my words and green tea and dark chocolate nursing my spring cold. But I force myself to parent. Because I wasn’t very good at it in the beginning of our trauma. My mind and body raging with shock. Lost between points in an abruptly chaotic universe.

I hope the boys forgive me when they are older or perhaps now. For the food that wasn’t cooked or even in the house. For the many hours I took refuge in my bedroom. For the words I did not have to share. For not understanding what they needed in their own pain. For putting my oxygen mask on first and theirs second. For so many things I know about or don’t. The decisions and gestures I left undone.

My point people remind me to forgive myself too. For everything. For last words never said. For not understanding what was happening that day on the beach. For only being able to gasp for breath the year before Tony died, the one filled with all that surrounded Ricky’s then mysterious illness. I lift these along with all my inadequacies up and out of myself each evening before bed. Giving them over to the universe and to the mystery of God. Unable to carry any extra luggage now in this journey called life.

Field of Barley at Sunset

*Photo and image credits:


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