These muted days

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These muted days

​Your blankets have been hot-washed, tumbled and donated  and your corner of the kitchen is clear and simply a kitchen corner again,  suitable for the storage  of dustpans and brushes, dinner trays  and a box of emergency toys and crayons for the kids.   You were my baby  and I loved you  and I could have sworn fifty times today that you had come trotting shyly into the lounge,  seeking a warm lap  or my abandoned grey shawl to hide in.  Our quiet little opportunist.   My heart will miss your sweetness and the contentment of your sunlit dreams.   The

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The little one

The little one

The little one has mucus gathered at her nose this evening and she lays in my arms unpurring and still, onyx eyes open.   Her tiny animal heart  beats at a speed she surely cannot take for too long.   My fingers touch it, fluttering wildly in the cage of her ribs, beneath her front limbs  when I lift her up to feel the sun.  The skin of her ears is paper thin, red and veined, translucent and warm.   He, an old man in a crumpled suit, bones only recently filtered into the earth, bends to sing from his gut,  while

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A poem for us, about you

​Our wild sea is white in your absence though dogs leap and roll on the shingle, knowing nothing of our grief.   Of course, you are not really absent,  and the leaves, now withered and cracked, will grow again, emerald in the spring.   These songs we sing with tears in our throats will rise beyond this simple roof and be carried upon the clouds to your quiet, eternal heart. Lovers, daughters, friends and mothers shall never truly part.   Your kindness and grace, bestowed throughout the years, has given comfort and inspiration to us all.  Of all the words you

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Thoughts on living and dying

It is easy to forget, in the rain and the routine, the aches and pains of each day, what a tremendous privilege it is to be alive.   Proximity to death brings a kind of urgency about life that one can quickly lose in the humdrum of work, commuting and making dinner.  Having just witnessed the passing of my beloved grandmother, I am feeling a range of emotions from sadness to gratitude to emptiness.  But, within the grief, there is also an overwhelming urge to live.  To stop worrying, stop complaining, stop being fearful, stop clinging onto things not meant

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Only a few moments ago

​Only a few moments ago,  I slumped on the floor by your bed like a child and pressed my thumb into the fleshy nook of your elbow and felt the last waxy warmth between your ribs and your arm,  as though you were still able to hold me.   And I thought then about wandering upon the wet cobblestones in Galway after dark,  live music from gallery bars competing with the rushing of the sea and the stars  falling one by one like shivering birds shot out of the sky.   Sleep well now, my love, and thank you for

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15th December

Just a quick post to let you know that my beloved grandma passed away at 10:15am today.  After the rollercoaster of the past few days, the end was very peaceful and we were all by her side.   There is, of course, tremendous emptiness and sadness, but I am so grateful that both of my grandparents died, peaceful and warm, at home, surrounded by their family.  They deserved that.   Thank you so much for all of your kind words and thoughts over the past week or so.  They have helped a lot.

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Transcending the body

Transcending the body

When the vicar, Sarah, arrived yesterday to see my grandmother and to say a prayer for her, she walked into the room and said “Oh, it doesn’t look like Dora.”   Far from being an insensitive comment, it was tinged with tenderness and some surprise.  Of course, she would have always seen my grandma at church dressed smartly in a skirt and navy blue blazer with court shoes, beautiful white hair perfectly curled–always immaculate.  But her observation ran deeper than that, for me. There is something that, when it begins to fade, makes the person look less and less like

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A personal update: nearing the end

A personal update: nearing the end

My grandma is in the very last stages of her life.  It is hard to say, of course, but I can’t see that she will continue for more than a day or two.  It could be hours.  She is sedated now and unresponsive to touch.  This is a blessing in some ways, because her breathing is accompanied by a rattle, and she sometimes appears to be trying to cough and struggling.  It is disturbing to watch, but her facial muscles show no signs of agitation.  The nurses have reassured us that she is relaxed and that the experience is worse

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Splintered fences

Splintered fences

There are morning crows on the splintered fences, yakking and pushing each other around.  The first crunches of ice on the ground, these cheap boots that let the water in. I want this all to be over.  I want it only to begin. I long to reach in to the gut and the lungs and the mess of it.  Hold it still, keep it all exactly as it is. There is a Christmas tree in the bedroom now, the kind that makes slow patterns on the wall.  Crackling war songs and changing colours as she sleeps. I can still hear

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Words from a rugged master

Words from a rugged master

Tonight I felt like sharing three of my favourite Jim Harrison poems.  He was able to capture incredible beauty and inspire a deep love of the natural world in a way that was simple, pure and raw.  I love the powerful combination of grit and tenderness in his words.   Enjoy. Seven in the Woods Am I as old as I am?Maybe not. Time is a mysterythat can tip us upside down.Yesterday I was seven in the woods,a bandage covering my blind eye,in a bedroll Mother made meso I could sleep out in the woodsfar from people. A garter snake

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