September 23 is never a good day

Paul, 1992 - before bipolar This is probably my worst day of the year. It's Paul's death day. And today it is twelve years since he died. I've been up since 4:30 this morning, not even able to sleep in to my usual 5:30 or 6:00. I finally got up around 5:30 and went to the gym. That I worked out was a good thing. Working up a good sweat is always cleansing. I also did a couple of things I've been meaning to do for a long time. I replaced his photo we've had fading on our mantle for the last twelve years with a new vibrantly colored copy. And, after Bob and I went to visit Paul's grave this morning, we stopped into the cemetery's administrative office to make sure his gravestone is cleaned before our next planned visit on his birthday, December 31. Today, we saw a very dirty stone with grass growing over it. Still, as is our tradition, we each left a stone. Other than that I am just hanging out not doing much of anything. Not able to concentrate very well. But I didn't … [Read more...]

Thank you for sharing my memory of Paul

A big thank you to all of you who have donated and/or signed up to join me on September 25 for the Didi Hirsch annual suicide prevention Alive and Running 5K. Now that I'm on the 5K committee I was asked to set a fundraising goal. And at the outset I set my goal only at $500. But thanks to you I just upped it to $1000.00 and I'm only $48.00 short of reaching that because so many of you responded to my Ask. Just to give you a little background, I first discovered Didi Hirsch after Paul died. My husband and I participated in their eight-week Survivors after Suicide workshop. And as depressing as those sessions were, they had a lasting effect on me. I also found out that as horrific a story of loss as mine was, it could always be worse. I also reconnected with a person I've known since grade school in Glencoe, IL through my involvement with Didi Hirsch. Stan Lelewer's son killed himself about six years before Paul, and when he heard about Paul through a mutual friend he was … [Read more...]

No, I shall never forget

Putting a Face on Suicide Just because I haven't mentioned it all month, just because I've been busy posting about my European trip and September 11, just because I'm working like a fiend on book marketing doesn't mean I've forgotten. No, there is no way that would happen. The anniversary of my son Paul's death day (did I make up that term?) is looming and it is constantly on my mind. September for me is that dreaded month. First because of Paul's death and two years later the September 11 disasters. I've never been able to make sense of either one. I wrote this poem (really just a musing) in October, 2001 at an Esalen, Big Sur CA workshop. Tragedy in Perspective They say the poets need to retell the story to find meaning in the devastation, the incineration of over 3,000 people. We are the ones who can make the world feel better with the beauty of our words. But, I can't find the meaning. All I can see is the grief, the disbelief, the yearning, searching looks … [Read more...]

Choosing my answer carefully

At first the question made my heart pound so furiously that I couldn't get an answer out. Later on, I was adamant about saying I had had two sons and explaining right up front that one was dead. Nowadays, I choose my answer depending on who is asking. I don't want people with young children or planning to have children to hear my sad story. No one should have to go where I've been unwittingly. I believe my blurting out my story in response to a simple, friendly question gives out way too much information. Leaving Paul out makes me feel guilty, but way less guilty than making people asking innocent questions feel bad. Wrong? Right? Who knows? The Dreaded Question It happens again like so many times before. I'm at my sister's house, talking to her neighbor someone I've just met and she asks me the dreaded question one that I'm avoiding by talking about what a great day this has been in Portland and isn't my sister's garden just beautiful and what do you do for a … [Read more...]

Paul’s things

For me it is important to have his things around. I haven't hidden away his picture, and I don't hesitate to talk about him either. I want to keep remembering him, and I want others to know about how important he was in my life. I wrote this next poem while at a workshop at Esalen with Richard Jones. It's been published in "Mamazine," an online magazine, and in The Great American Poetry Show, Volume 1, the anthology I coedited. Black Bomber Swaddled in this black bomber jacket all weekend, I am safe from the Big Sur chill. It's too large for me. And that's okay. It was Paul's. I bought it for him years ago at American et Cie on La Brea before he went crazy and decided to leave us way before his time. I like how it snuggles me, like he's in there too giving me a hug. It's the only piece of his clothing I have left. I've given away the rest: his favorite plaid shirts that smelled of sweat and smoke, the torn jeans he salvaged from second-hand stores, his worn … [Read more...]