“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


i could smell rain in the air for 24 hours before it fell. take 2.

my fingers awoke at 4 a.m.,
aching from words unwritten,
reaching for tylenol to ease the pain,
grasping for dreams half remembered. 
two messages were on the phone,
lighting my way through the dark house.


"One at a time, each child is blindfolded
and handed a paper "tail" with a push pin or thumbtack poked through it."

i could smell rain in the air 24 hours before it fell.  it has lately been falling through sunshine, sending friends out to find the hidden rainbows.  the nights are loud with lightning and the morning sidewalks are always wet, but the rain is mostly gone by dawn, the yard moving from shade to sunlight to shadow to shade and back again to sunlight.  this morning the birds are quiet and there is but a bit of blue in the sky; from where i sit it is white with almost-summer clouds, the sun pushing through only now and then.  a breeze seems to sing rain.  there are red dragonflies and orange daylilies outside the front door, but spring still lingers in the back yard with the surprise of wisteria blossoms dangling over the butterfly bushes.

rain. sunshine.
shade.  sunlight.
spring. summer.
here. there.
now. then.

one foot in the past, one foot in the now, a step about to be taken.  no signs pointing the way.  a broken compass.  a lost map. indecision, fear.  

"The blindfolded child is then spun around until he or she is disoriented."

the sky has grown gray even as a bird begins to sing. 
a cat yowls in the distance.  a siren passes by and stops.  

it is always better in the late mornings.  my achiness eases and i have sat a while with the day and things seem possible, my fears surmountable.  i wake knowing the answers and grow easy with the knowledge.  by afternoon those answers seem wrong and by evening they are gone.  i am left holding that broken compass and clouds cover the stars.

another siren.

"The child gropes around and tries to pin the tail on the donkey."

i must make a decision, choose a direction.
i must pin the tail on the donkey and hope i get close.

summer is almost here - time for stumbling through the dark truth of things.  truth like money is scarce.  truth like pain is not.  details are unneeded, except about the pain, which may be something or may be nothing, but is here all the time.  i not so secretly believe that it is mostly grief - yes, still - grief held onto too tightly, grief i write about, but in truth turn away from because i don't know how else to survive it.  my heart is the brokest it has ever been.

the pain began when i was writing an article for graciel, a piece about home and grief, and i swore i would never write about either again, sure that would erase the pain, but i was wrong.  it eased a bit, with help from this pill and that pill, with help from a bit of sunshine on my skin, but mother's day and a visit to the cemetery, and it was back.

and so.  another plan.  another maybe to move into my mother's house.   to use the front rooms, already repainted, and the back porch, as living spaces, and ease my way into the bedrooms.  so many reasons i should do this - i can make a list.  it would save money as i work on her house.  it would move her energy out and mine in.  it would force me to confront my grief.  it would this and it would that.  i would need to repaint the kitchen, her studio;  ditto the concrete floors on which i would live until the house is truly ready to be sold.  not much.  not really.  katie says she will help.   i could be all moved in by the end of summer.

i have said this before, i know, and it is hard to say it again - i feel foolish.  the dwindling money supply, however, is something i can no longer ignore, and so perhaps this time i mean it.  as i type these words, i don't know.  i want money to fall from the sky so i can avoid this decision, money enough to hire the work done, money enough to pay for new tiles in the bathrooms.  i have no idea where to find the courage and the strength.  i have no idea if my aching arms will go along with it all.  if my aching legs will carry me.

i stopped by the house sunday morning, to pick up mail and open all the windows.  the house next door has been sold and there was a child's shout from their backyard - i love it here! - that made me smile.  i swept the back porch and carried a small table to the curb to be picked up by someone else.  i watered a plant and checked the baby figs on the fig tree.  it needs so much work - i have let it sit for so long.  

it is not what i want, but it may be what i need.
the house may feel the same way about me.

by sunday night it felt impossible and i sat in a chair in the otherwise empty living room and cried.


"The player who pins their tail closest to the target, the donkey's rear, wins.
The game, a group activity, is generally not competitive;
"winning" is only of marginal importance."
                                                                   ~ Wikepedia



  1. listen ... listen to the universe and all it is telling you. the message resonates through your own words here.

    It needs so much work - I have let it sit for so long.

  2. I so often feel that wants and needs are at odds with each other. Your instincts are bringing you right where you need to be. I adore you and I adore your writing. Have I told you that? Sending you much strength and all best wishes as you find the way towards what you need. xoxo Gigi

  3. we think the rain washes everything away, and sometimes it does, but sometimes it causes floods and mud and muck to mire through.

    a compass is not needed as you draw your own map, a compass only shows you someone else's definition of direction. all you really need is the north star.

    maybe, maybe, you need to write about it (grief) more, in order to erase it, maybe it is the holding it in that causes the pain, and not the release.

    and then you made me think of the line from the song "you can't always get what you want..."
    maybe, if you get what you need, what you want changes. i'm not at all sure about that, but perhaps.


  4. ..as you sit in the empty room and cry, i sit reading your words, and rereading slowly, in case i didn't fully digest them the first time. and i cry. your heart and soul are in these words.
    grief takes many forms, and different time schedules. sometimes years. if you write, we will listen. and we continue to care about you.
    in fondest of thoughts, tilda

  5. Have you painted the table yet?
    I just love the photo and thoughts of smelling the rain.
    Sometimes the rain comes with the tears.

  6. Please do not be offended at what I am about to say…it is offered with the utmost respect and admiration for you as a woman, writer, and daughter. To be honest I feel out of place commenting on your pain. And I certainly do not know ‘blog edicate’…But my ‘mother heart’ keeps pushing me to speak. I have followed you going on a year now...and am in awe of your beautiful words and exceptional talent. I have watched you bleed on the page over the loss of your dear mother. But today...today I have to just say it...as a mother of four...as a mother who when my time comes, finds a delicate balance between wanting to be remembered and fear of being forgotten too quickly....and also knowing the kind of damage the grieving process can cause...and the counter productive result it can have. So...that being said...from my mother heart to yours...it would break my heart in a million brilliant pieces...to know that any of my children would grieve to your depth...and because of it...I have spoken with them...and implored that upon my passing...to promise to be sad if they must...for a time...but if they really love me...to please...please...please...celebrate my life through their moving on with theirs. To write me well...and remember me to their children and their children’s children...and to take what I have given them whether it be physical property or their educations, or their inborn talents, or their pointed noses...and make something of their lives....to live with joy...and curiosity and a deep respect for nature. I have asked them to use their sensitivity to bring compassion to the world and treat themselves with respect and wonder. I don't want them to waste not one precious minute of this glorious wonder called life in mourning what has passed. It is such a waste of time and yet I know it is part of our growth process. But like any other step of development it can become a stumbling block that keeps us stuck from moving forward and no mother wants to see her child stumble and not move forward to claim what is theirs. No mother. I wear my grandmothers wedding ring...I remember watching it flash as it caught the light when she was knitting, or quilting or playing the piano. She saved me when I was a child and I still miss her and I still regret not being more thoughtful when I was younger. So I wear her ring to remind me to do her right by creating a life she would be proud of. I wear her ring to remember where I came from. I image your mother felt she would be leaving you a gift when she left the house. From the 'other side' if there is such a thing...and I'm not saying there is or isn't...but if there was...I would imagine she would be saying...do what you have to with the house and my things...do what you have to...to move on...to have your own life...a house...a ring...are just things...what matters is what you do with your heart...your gifts...your wonder in your own life...please remember me...but please do not mourn me...celebrate me…through you.

    Do not stand at my grave and weep,
    I am not there, I do not sleep.
    I am in a thousand winds that blow,
    I am the softly falling snow.
    I am the gentle showers of rain,
    I am the fields of ripening grain.
    I am in the morning hush,
    I am in the graceful rush
    Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
    I am the starshine of the night.
    I am in the flowers that bloom,
    I am in a quiet room.
    I am in the birds that sing,
    I am in each lovely thing.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry,
    I am not there. I do not die.

    Memories of your mother may still be in the house…but she…she is everywhere.
    Sending love…

  7. Oh, Debi, I wish I could give you a hug right now. I've also followed your blog for over a year now and so I know of your grief and pain through your words. I think Julia said it perfectly, though, don't you? That your mother wouldn't want you to continue to be in so much physical pain and for so long in mourning for her.

    When my dad died, I was in such a strange angry, sad, numb state for almost a year and then gradually the emotional fog lifted and I began to feel like myself again. The sadness is still there, just under the skin (I don't think that ever goes away), but there has to be hope for happiness and security in your future. You need that and you deserve that.

    It sounds like you are starting to consider moving into your mom's house to save money and to prepare it for a future sale or maybe to rent. I think that's a great idea, Debi. You have mentioned in previous posts about wanting to move. Maybe this step will not only provide closure for you regarding your mom's death (so you can think of her life not tied to the death) but also, eventually, provide you with enough finances to make that move you've been wanting to make.

    Just my thoughts...you need to decide what's best for you. Whatever your personal decision is, I'll support you!

    PS: Have you been sending your written work out to publishers? You have a true gift. Maybe that's your true calling - and it might result in big fat paychecks! Think of JKRowling and Stephanie Meyer and the author of those Fifty Shades of Grey books that everyone is buying. They hoped that they'd be published but they didn't expect that they'd receive so much by putting their work out there. You never know what will happen if you take a chance on yourself.

  8. Hello dearest:) I have an invite for you and am not sure how to get in touch. Can you email me at susantuttle36@gmail.com when you get a chance? Thanks love:)


  9. Your words - "It is not what I want."
    Follow what you do want - it is always better to create the life you want, not the one you "should".

  10. this post seems to need another chapter, extra words, answers, thank yous. first, of course, the thank yous. to all of you. for caring and knowing and understanding. for your strength.

    second, there is much i haven't said out loud about this ongoing saga with my mother's house. a couple of you know - most do not - but they are words i can't send into the world, words i choose to not send into the world. not because i am afraid of what they say, but because other people are involved, and their stories are not mine to tell.

    third. sometimes you have no choice what life will send your way. i couldn't save my mother. i can't ignore the financial stuff that is still going on with her estate, though we are almost to the end of much of that. i am legally bound to this house. none of this was what i wanted, but life is often like that.

    fourth. money would make all this easier, and money i do not have. all repair work and fixing up and tree trimming and painting and lawn watering, etc., etc., etc. cannot be hired out. i have been physically unable to do any of this, and so the house still waits. the real estate agent who toured the house told me i had much work to do and gave me one of those looks. you know those looks. she never returned my calls. and so the house still waits.

    last. something happened after i wrote this post. something i can't talk about except to say that everytime i think i can maybe move in to the house, everytime i say the words out loud, a similar something happens - a thing that changes my mind, that makes it clear that i cannot and should not move in. i have ignored those somethings, but no more. i am usually not one to ignore signs from the universe, but i have been. no more.

    so. i will not be moving in. it is not fear, it is not grief. it is, i think, called paying attention, and taking care of myself. it does not make the house go away. it does not mean things will be easy. all the stuff that needs to be done still needs to be done. there is still no money to do it with. there will be days that are harder than others - there will be days i feel like i can't do it. but i cannot walk away from the responsibility. it is mine, and all the wishing in the world doesn't change that fact.


    i want to thank all of you once again. i want to thank you for caring enough to say something, to offer your shoulders and strength and opinions and advice. possibly the day will come when i have nothing left to say about this house, though i doubt it. i have always been one to take a long time to move on from things - an old boyfriend, the death of a pet, whatever. this house has made it harder to move on from my mother's death, and it is possible - probable - that it is keeping me from creating the life i want. on the other hand, perhaps it is a very rocky path that i have to walk to reach the place i am meant to be.

    the house is not what i want. thank you, anonymous, for showing my own words to me. my mother knew that - we'd discussed it and though i agreed to move in to care for her cat, she knew i wouldn't stay. i feel no guilt about that. her cat is safe and happy, and at this moment, laying in the sunshine splashed across my bedroom floor. it is all my mother really cared about.

    and so. please understand if, when my feet are particularly sore from this path, i complain. if i cry. it is just one of those things life tosses our way.

    thank you all. thank you.

  11. keep writing, keep talking until the pain lifts. mother yourself some more. the moment will arise and your heart will know it's true home. you have always known what to do for yourself. grief has only tricked you into thinking you no longer know.

    this is about more than just your mother's passing. this is a full-fledged life rebirth in the making. when we are being reborn is when we feel closest to losing it all.

    with smooches and belief in the internet strength of YOU,

    1. yes. grief the trickster. i like that. it helps. xoxo

  12. seriously, "internet strength?" that was "inherent" with an override of spellcheck...xo

  13. sugar, i don't have any words. i've tried - many times i've tried - to leave a comment, but the words just won't come. so i'll just blow you a kiss wrapped up in a hug.

  14. Yeah, anonymous said it best. Do what YOU want. You have a support network out here whatever you decide to do.


come. sit under the emma tree & let's talk. i have cookies . . .