“We are increasingly fluent in images with no handhold, images freighted with all the orphanhood in the world, fragments, fragments.” ~ Bolaño

Orange by learydotmark (FCC)

“We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible.” ~ Ann Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Saturday, late afternoon. Rainy and cool, 61°F. Fall is impending.

Autumn Leaves, by muffett (FCC)

So here I am again. I thought that I might have something to say today, but I’m not certain that’s the case. The house is quiet, the kind of quiet that can only happen on a rainy Saturday in fall, when the mood is lazy and the energy is low.

Officially fall in one week, but there is no mistaking the scent in the air: fallen leaves and something else, unnameable.  If I were in the mountains, perhaps it would be the scent of apples, but around here, it’s more the whispers of summer grass changing into winter Fescue. Each day, more flocks of Canada Geese fly overhead, creating commas in the sky.

Last night I dreamt of swimming nude in cool water, first in a lake, and then in a pool. The water enveloped me, embraced me, and it felt like home. I walked up a hill, and I saw a rust-colored owl. In the background, someone said, “This is the seat of where America was founded.” Water. Owl. History. Non-linear, unconnected.

“Sometimes life just seems like chapters of goodbyes.” From a country song. Doesn’t it sound like a country song? It is. Rascal Flatts. I love them, but Corey doesn’t much care for them, not since he found out that the lead singer is a man who has a high voice. He swore that the lead singer was a woman. Nope.

Funny how preconceptions/misconceptions can sway our attitudes.

“Everyone must come out of his Exile in his own way.” ~ Martin Buber

Autumn in Kyoto, by Daily Picture (FCC)

Time for boots and sweaters. Time for yoga pants and socks. Fall is like coming home, and I don’t really know why that is except that it is and always has been. I have memories of walking the trail to the Humpback Rocks, the boys with us, Eamonn bitching the whole way. Earlier memories, climbing the trail as a young woman. Smelling the crisp mountain air, the loam, the soil. Stopping along the way to look at interesting rock formations, fungi.

We’re (Corey and I) going to try to make a trip to the mountains at the end of October. We haven’t bee in years, and I would really like to go. Of course, the trip depends on so many things, not the least of which is getting new brakes on the Rodeo. Money. Always a factor. Money controls everything. Hate that.

I think that both Corey and I are a bit depressed, and a key reason is money, or the lack of it. He’s still waiting to hear on two jobs for which he applied. He’s very qualified for either one, but that doesn’t mean anything. So are hundreds of other people, all of whom are competing against him.

I have this image of President Obama standing up there with his jobs bill, an orange-skinned Boehner sitting smugly behind him, a look on his face that says, “not in my lifetime.” Obama has regained some of the fire in his speeches, but it’s because he’s campaigning again. I don’t want to talk about it, don’t want to talk about politics in this country and just how far out of touch the entire system is. I can be depressed about other things.

“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” ~ Alan Watts

Autumn Sunset, by Superior National Forest (FCC)

I just lost my train of thought. Big surprise there. I haven’t been focused since I began this post. It’s hard to concentrate in here because Eamonn came home and started bitching. What I wouldn’t give to have my computer working again so that I could have my workspace back to myself. Had to turn off my playlist so that he could listen to his Rolling Stones album. He’s decided that he wants a turntable so that he can listen to albums. He’s borrowing Alexis’s turntable for now, one that I got her for Christmas ages ago. It’s here at the house instead of with her for space reasons, because we have so much freaking extra space in this 1100 square foot house.

Right.

I’m going to have to stop writing for now as it’s impossible to think.

Sunday later afternoon. Cloudy, high 67°F.

Obviously, I was not able to get back to this post yesterday. Eamonn hass gone this evening to a Blink 182 concert, so I have the room to myself again. My Blues playlist is going in the background. Corey is going to do errands before he has to work third shift tonight, and Brett and Em are doing homework, which means the house is once again blessedly quiet.

I woke up today with a headache, mostly sinus, I think, not a migraine. I’ve put a call into the neurologist’s office to set up an appointment for Botox shots for my migraines now that my health insurance has been straightened out. I need to call tomorrow to see if they’ve gotten the pre-approval necessary. I don’t know what to expect with the Botox. A woman I used to work with at GW got Botox when it was still experimental; she had doctors in her family. It did wonders for her, so I’m hoping that it helps me. The injections go directly into my scalp . . .

“The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense.” ~ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Höstsonaten: Autumn Sonata, by guldfisken (FCC)

So where was I . . .

Money? Politics? Fall? Let’s move on to something else, shall we?

I gave passing thought to submitting an application to become a Notary Public, since members of this family are constantly needing to have things notarized. However, I cannot notarize anything that contains my name or anything for my spouse, so I’m not entirely certain that it would be worth it. It costs $45 to apply, $10 to be sworn in, and then the cost of the seal, which is unknown. We get things notarized at our credit union for no charge, so I would have to weigh the pros and cons. We’ll see, I suppose.

Corey is pondering the pros and cons of going back to sea. He would need to renew his licenses, get a physical and drug test, all of which is not inexpensive, but the reality is that he’s making so little money with his maritime security job. He’s already lost at least on shift this week. He’s not even making half of what I make on disability, and it’s really hurting us. In fact, we’re in trouble with our mortgage again, something we never thought would happen again.

It’s not because we’re being negligent; it’s because we simply don’t have enough money to make ends meet. We’re one of those families on the edge that the politicians are talking about, living paycheck to paycheck.

We don’t charge our sons rent, although I know that many people charge their kids rent after they turn 18. It’s just not done in Filipino households. My dad would be highly affronted at the thought of doing something like that to family, and I concur completely. Family is family, no matter what. The kids are in school, and that’s the most important thing.

Sure, we could use help with the bills, but I just can’t see imposing that kind of pressure on the boys. We didn’t do it with Alexis. I used to think about winning the lottery, having a windfall of cash. Now, I just hope that we can hold it together until 2012.

“You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.” ~ Erin Morgenstern, from The Night Circus

Fall Foliage in Central Park, NYC, by Alaskan Dude (FCC)

I suppose that I feel acutely the need to be the kind of parent to my children that my parents were to me. My mom and dad paid for my college and my graduate school (for my first master’s degree). They didn’t have to do that, but they wanted to do that. I wasn’t saddled with student loans, and I did not have to pay to live with my parents. I did work full time from the time I was 17, but that was by my choice. I used my money to buy a car, to pay my car insurance, to buy my clothes and to pay for my expenses.

I did move out of the house for a year when I was a sophomore, but when I wanted to move back home, it was never an issue. I lived at home, and I helped out by cleaning the house and doing anything else that was asked of me, but my parents never asked me for money. Granted, my dad made a very good living as a merchant marine, plus he had his Navy retirement. But I was brought up in a household that instilled in me a deep respect of learning, that placed a value on a college education, probably because neither of my parents had one.

I want that for my kids. I want them to know that we support them unconditionally, that we want to help them to gain a foothold in society. We cannot bestow them with trust funds; we cannot buy them expensive cars or send them to Europe, but we can love them and support them. It’s what my dad would have wanted, so it’s what I want.

Maybe I’m naive, or maybe I am old fashioned when it comes to certain things. Who knows, but I want my children not to have to worry about their education. They are already being assaulted with so many of the other realities of growing up.

“You like it under the trees in autumn,
Because everything is half dead.
The wind moves like a cripple among the leaves
And repeats words without meaning.” ~ Wallace Stevens, from “The Motive for Metaphor”

Fall in Seneca Creek State Park, by Anosmia (FCC)

Anyway, my musings about fall . . .

I know that I have said this many times before, but autumn appeals to me in a way that I cannot quite define. I think that’s part of the reason why I think that I would love to live in Ireland. I know that it’s rainy there and that it doesn’t get hot in the way that it gets hot here. Something about cloudy days, drizzle, how comforting it is to be inside with a book or a movie.

Something about sitting down at this computer to write while the wind whistles through the increasingly bare limbs of the trees. Something about the lushness of the berries that abound. Something about the song birds that flit from bush to bush. Something about wrapping the body in comforting clothes, sipping tea, eating soups and stews.

Perhaps this longing for fall comes from another life, one in which I lived a harder life but more immediate life, faced the elements directly. Perhaps I’m just being whimsical. But is anything more beautiful than the pageant of leaves that are deep crimson, gold and orange, even brown? The way nature seems to collude to create beauty out of a season that harbors death—it appeals to me.

And if I am to be honest, autumn also brings to the forefront those I’ve lost, those in my past. They are very much with me, and even though there is sadness, there is also comfort. Memories of Alan, my father, my daughter, and now my mother-in-law. All gone, all tied to the fall. It is the juxtaposition of death and rebirth, the idea that without the death that autumn brings, we could not have the renewal of spring.

That we ourselves imbue this season with so much promise is a very contradiction, but an understandable one. In the fall, we begin to walk a bit more slowly, no longer needing to move through the heat of summer as quickly as possible. We pause more, see more. We inhale the smoke from wood fires that no longer burn. We cocoon ourselves in warm blankets and give ourselves over to Lethe, and in the forgetting, we remember.

As Fitzgerald said, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

Music by Rascal Flatts, “Here Comes Goodbye”

                   

The Farmer

Each day I go into the fields
to see what is growing
and what remains to be done.
It is always the same thing: nothing
is growing, everything needs to be done.
Plow, harrow, disc, water, pray
till my bones ache and hands rub
blood-raw with honest labor—
all that grows is the slow
intransigent intensity of need.
I have sown my seed on soil
guaranteed by poverty to fail.
But I don’t complain—except
to passersby who ask me why
I work such barren earth.
They would not understand me
if I stooped to lift a rock
and hold it like a child, or laughed,
or told them it is their poverty
I labor to relieve. For them,
I complain. A farmer of dreams
knows how to pretend. A farmer of dreams
knows what it means to be patient.
Each day I go into the fields.

“It is rescue work, this snatching of vanishing phases of turbulence, disguised in fair words, out of the native obscurity into a light where the struggling forms may be seen, seized upon, endowed with the only possible form of permanence in this world of relative values—the permanence of memory.” ~ Joseph Conrad, from “Henry James: An Appreciation” (1905)

Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall, UK

                   

“the world’s so small, the sky’s so high
we pray for rain it rains, we pray for sun it suns

we pray on our knees, we move our lips
we pray in our minds, we clasp our hands

our hands look tied before us.” ~ Nick Flynn, from “Fire”

Tuesday afternoon. Hazy, hot and humid.

The Green Bridge of Wales, Pembroke, South Wales, UK, by geographyalltheway.com (FCC)

Well, I survived the weekend. Saturday was an endurance test, and when it was over, I fell into bed and slept hard. The many nights of interrupted sleep were gone. My body gave in to exhaustion at last.

The memorial service was very nice. Many people from her congregation shared stories about her, and the reception afterwards was very nice. Several congregation members (some of whom I remembered, and others that I didn’t) came up to me during the reception to say that they had enjoyed my reading. One woman said that it made her wonder what her children would say about her when she died, which made me wonder what people would have to say about me when I’m gone.

Then we (all of my kids, Corey, Ann, Mallory and I) went to her house and sat around for hours. We looked through her things and shared memories. We found a bunch of old photographs, her wedding album, her baby book. We drank wine and ate the leftover food from the reception. It was more than a bit surreal.

Of all my children, Alexis took it harder than anyone. She had a very special relationship with her grandmother, and she is feeling the loss acutely. She closed herself off from the rest of us, didn’t want to be hugged or comforted. We all grieve in our own way. After all of us left, Alexis stayed behind (later I learned for a long time). I think that she wanted the time alone to say goodbye.

The rituals we go through when we say goodbye to those who have died—so strange, yet so comforting. I know that they are for the living, not the dead, yet I’m not entirely certain that I would want people coming together to remember me. I suppose there is always the fear that no one would come and then if they did, they would not have good things to say . . .

I’m still having moments of unexpected tears, melancholy. That I seem to be getting a chest cold is not helping.

“The part of us that has to be burned away is something
like the deadwood on the bush; it has to go,
to be burned in the terrible fire of reality, until there
is nothing left but . . . what we are meant to be.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle

Irish Coastline

Everyone seemed to like the collage, which is good. The hours that I spent making it really helped me. With each picture, I had a memory. Moving the images around to find the perfect place felt a bit like reliving each memory. I let the pictures speak to me, and when I was finished, they ended up where they were supposed to be. It’s really hard to explain.

I’m sending a CD with the separate images and the collage to Helma in Germany so that she can share it with everyone over there.

I was telling Corey that when you see pictures from the 50’s, everyone looks a bit like a movie star. I don’t know if it’s the black and white film, or the fact that everyone was always so well groomed—perfect hair and makeup. The pictures from her wedding were remarkable. All the men so sharp and handsome. The white gloves on the women. There is a picture of the then happy couple as they left the reception, and my m-in-law is wearing one of those fox furs, you know, the ones with the fox head and feet? So chic then.

Those always terrified me as a child, like someone had just coshed the animal over the head and then draped it around the woman’s shoulders.

The woman in the pictures had sleek hair, bright eyes, a tiny waist. She was young, happy, and filled with possibilities, her whole life before her. I know that she had a full life, that she saw many places, did many things, and I’m trying to hold onto that, not the last years when life was so unforgiving.

“And much of this I fancy you yourself have felt: much also remains for you to feel. There is an unknown land full of strange flowers and subtle perfumes, a land of which it is joy of all joys to dream, a land where all things are perfect and poisonous.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Sea Cave Pembroke, South Wales, UK, by geographyalltheway.com (FCC)

My mother came to the service. I looked at her and realized that she has shrunk so much, in that way that old people do. She told me the other day that she has gained weight deliberately so that she won’t have so many wrinkles on her face. My mother is 79 years old, yet I know that she does not see herself as being that old, any more than I feel as old as I am. She said at one point that she didn’t like being around all of “these old people.” She meant it.

During the reception I was watching her. She seemed so bewildered by it all. And I felt sorry for her because I knew exactly what she was thinking: Will there be people who miss me when I’m gone? Will there be people who say nice things about me?

What is a life? Is it the sum of all things done or is it a reflection of things never done? What defines a person, gives them worth? Religious people, of any kind, would say that a life is defined by the service to the maker, living a spiritual life.

I would have to admit that I have no answers to these questions, only more questions.

“I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know—unless it be to share our laughter. We searchers are ambitious only for life itself, for everything beautiful it can provide.” ~ James Kavanaugh

Trebarwith Strand, Cornwall, England (Pixdaus)

When I found the above Kavanaugh quote, I thought about which part I could delete so that it wouldn’t be so long, but then I realized that I couldn’t delete any of it because the entire quote sums up so much of what I feel. I am a searcher, always have been. And I have never been content, not really. That is not to say that I have not had periods of great contentment, because, of course, I have. But if you read me regularly, then you know that I move through a veil of melancholy.

It is just who and what I am. I have those I love deeply, for whom I would do anything, anything at all. I have a man I love completely, who has brought me great joy and a sense of peace that eluded me for years. Yet I would be lying if I said that I was truly content.

But exactly what is it that I search for still? I don’t know. Not really. I can only say that I feel as if I have so much left undone in my life, that while I have done many things, seen many places, tasted many flavors—that while all of that is true, I have still not done all that I had hoped I would do in my life.

I suppose if I had to sum up my life at this point, I would say that I am a daughter who was always lonely for a sibling, a mother who has always longed for a lost daughter, a spouse who has always felt that I should be more. I am perpetually on hold, and that is because I have not moved forward. I live in the past, haunted by loss, and I long for a future somewhere else, somewhere verdant and lovely.

In spite of all my education, I long for more. I wish that I could sit in rooms and discuss Eliot and Woolf on cool fall afternoons as the sun shines through the windows. I long to explore those authors I have yet to read, to immerse myself in new stories, new words set in far-flung places filled with people who are living life, people who are feeling.

I have a hole in my heart that will never be filled because I will not allow it to be. I have lined the walls of that red chasm with my father, my daughter, my uncle, my friends; I have poured into that bottomless vessel all of the memories of old loves and long-ago days. And unlike most voids, this one sustains me. The negative space defines me.

I dream of thunderstorms and turbulent oceans. I smell the faint scent of lavender and honeysuckle. I taste the last dregs of cold cups of tea.

I am a searcher in a world that has little room left for those who wish to explore.

I am old, and I am young. I am everything, and I am nothing.

More later. Peace be unto you and yours.

Music by Kate Rusby, “Underneath the Stars”

                   

Song of Tea

The first cup moistens my lips and throat.
The second cup breaks my loneliness.
The third cup searches my barren entrail,
but to find therein some thousand volumes of odd ideographs.
The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration;
all the wrongs of life pass out through my pores.
At the fifth cup I am purified.
The sixth cup calls me to the realms of the immortals.
The seventh cup—ah, but I could take no more!
I only feel the breath of the cool wind that raises in my sleeves.
Where is Paradise? Let me ride on this sweet breeze and waft away thither.

~ Lu Tung

For my other mother . . .


                   

I must begin with a confession: I was terrified of my mother-in-law for about the first year that I knew her. And any of you who ever faced her wrath will understand completely what I mean. But the fear that I felt then as a young woman entering her family is not what is on my mind today.

For several weeks now, I have been thinking about a black dress, not just any black dress, but a black satin dress that my other mother made me for a formal occasion. You see, that’s what I called her: my other mother.

Years ago, when I worked for a government contractor in northern Virginia, the company had these huge, extravagant Christmas parties, affairs at which people such as the Beach Boys and Ray Charles performed. I wanted a special dress for the occasion, and I picked out a Vogue pattern of a tea-length strapless dress that was fitted like a corset on the top, and had a very full skirt on the bottom. It was quite gorgeous, and it never occurred to me that my other mother would not be able to sew this creation for me. She was that talented. The dress had stays and top stitching, and of course, I chose an unforgiving fabric without really thinking about how hard it would be to work with. The finished dress was magnificent. I felt like Audrey Hepburn when I wore it. Everyone I knew asked me where I had bought my dress. I only smiled and told them that someone special had made it for me.

Later, when I became pregnant for the first time and found that maternity clothes consisted of big bows and garish prints, my other mother made me a maternity wardrobe. Again, the compliments I received were endless, and again, I said that someone special had made them for me.

I’m not trying to define my other mother through her sewing abilities, although to be sure, they were phenomenal. Rather, the point is that she made these things for me out of love, because she knew how much I appreciated everything that she did for me. And I loved her for her many talents and how she shared those talents with her family and with her friends.

I would like to think that the two of us were more than just mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. We were friends, friends who shared a love of British mysteries and histories. Friends who watched Mystery on PBS and then talked about the shows afterwards. Friends who shared confidences as easily as we shared books. And then there were the times when she was my mother-in-law, the times when she did not hesitate to tell me what she thought I was doing wrong or how I was going about something in the wrong way. I would get so frustrated. I mean, she could be quite formidable when she wanted to be. But I was thankful when our relationship survived even when I was no longer officially her daughter-in-law. She never changed in how she treated me, and for that I was very grateful.

But she was a very generous friend—generous with her time and generous with her talents. She loved her family, especially her grandchildren, and she loved her church. Each year, while she was still able, she would help to sew the costumes for the Christmas pageant. Each year, she would help to decorate the church for advent. For many years, she lent her voice to the church choir, in which she sang alto, and she would say of her voice that it was strong, but that it was not a solo voice.

That’s how she was. Not boastful, and at times, too self-deprecating. I know that she regretted greatly not having a formal education, and sometimes she would make a snippy remark—because those of us who knew and loved her must admit that she could be snippy—a remark about how while she did not have a master’s degree . . . I can still hear it . . . but she was one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. Her wealth of knowledge included things like literature, plants, flowers, vegetables, furniture refinishing, home improvement, and cooking. Together we reupholstered a couch and loveseat, and she taught me how to refinish old furniture. I always envied her lush green flower beds, the great expanses of Black-eyed Susans and other perennials and her plentiful summer crop of home-grown vegetables.

But her apple pie . . . That was the absolute best. I loved her apple pie more than anything else that she ever made, more than her turkey, more than her pirate stew. For my birthday most years, she would make me an apple pie; it was something that I looked forward to every year. But the last one that she made me was several years ago, and she apologized when she gave it to me because she didn‘t feel that it was up to her standards. As her memory began to fade, she lost confidence in her ability to cook, and finally, she gave up cooking all together, just as she gave up sewing, and reading, and painting, and gardening.

My other mother was a strong, intelligent, woman who did not suffer fools gladly. But she was also extremely kind and generous. She faced more than her share of heartbreak in her life, but she carried on. In the last few years, we spoke about life and death quite openly. She told me more about her childhood, and she talked about some of her regrets. I know that she hated what the disease was doing to her, and I hated watching this once strong woman gradually fade.

Funnily enough, she never wanted me to know that she secretly believed that boys were smarter than girls. But in spite of this belief, she treated all of her grandchildren with great love and generosity. In fact, I only found out after she died that she had kept a secret for Brett all of these years: When Brett was in grade school and he got into trouble, she asked him if he had learned his lesson; he replied that he had, so she signed the parental notification and promised not to tell anyone, and she never did. That’s the woman I knew and loved.

I do not wish to remember her as she was the last time that I saw her, so small and fragile. Instead, I will remember her sitting at the end of the table at family dinners with her wine glass, how at Christmas we always had Christmas crackers, and everyone had to wear the paper hats and share the trinkets that spilled out after we pulled on the crackers. I will remember the look on her face as she held each of her grandchildren for the first time. I will remember her classic sense of style, her red boiled wool jacket. I will remember how she asked me one time if I liked her sweater and that I told her I thought it looked like a man’s cardigan; then years later, I complimented her on her sweater, and she said, “Well you told me once that it looked like a man’s cardigan,” and I said, well what do I know anyway? I will remember the way that she would curse under her breath as if whispering negated what she had said. I will remember the books we shared and the times she treated me to the symphony and the ballet. I will remember the fairy princess costume that she sewed Alexis when she was four that was later passed down to Rebecca, and the green Power Ranger costume that she made for Eamonn when he was in preschool; he told me that he had the best costume in the school, and he did. I will remember her love of public television and how she shared her Smithsonian catalogue with me.  I will remember rocking each of my children in her big rope hammock, and the family cookouts we had on the deck. I will remember spending time with her in the pool as the children grew from babies to school children and how she would make fun of me for not wanting to get wet in the water. I will remember the one curler that she would wear in the front of her hair when she was cleaning the house, and I will remember how she brought us pizza and made us eat after Caitlin died.

I will never be able to smell L’air duTemps without thinking of her. When I read a new book by Elizabeth George, I will think of her. When my peonies come into bloom, I will think of her. And one day, when I finally learn to make an apple pie, I will think of her and know that she would be proud.

                   

“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”  ~ Albert Pine

The faint echo of a forgotten grief

something I meant to say,
but never found the time.
Your hands were so small,
covered in old scars
(from years of pressing the earth
between your fingers),
and new ones from the onslaught of needles.

You would not have liked
the room in which you died:
dark and
pitiless in its sterility.
The place you spent your final days
smelled of age and waiting death,
while your home sat unused
and too quiet.

Lonesome without your presence
even your cat deserted you,
found a new home filled with possibilities.
You would not have liked that either.

What were you trying to say to me
when your hand grasped my wrist
with a strength I no longer knew you had—
when your eyes met mine
your brow arched as if to ask a question?

Yes, I remember the pills,
how easy it would have been
to melt them in warm water
then pour the elixir onto your tongue—
when it mattered the most
I failed you, did not have
the resolve you possessed.

Your Black-eyed Susans have withered
from inattention
and the rosemary has grown wild—
perhaps you would have liked that,
the asymmetry of things left to do as they will
when nature is left unfettered.

I walk through your rooms
hoping to catch the barest scent of your L’air du temps,
but nothing is left,
only my imagined sense
of your presence.

I had forgotten this part:
the acute loneliness,
the echoing silence,
the desire to eschew human touch,
the inexorable solitude,
the nature of grief.