Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How, I Wonder

For some reason, a particular encounter from last summer's CPE has come to mind repeatedly over the past few days.

It was a Sunday morning and I was on call in the hospital. Week-end daytime on calls were the easiest -- no overnight, just 8:00- 4:30, with a chapel service to lead on Sunday. I arrived full of energy and eager to preach my little sermon to whomever might show up for the service.

When I arrived, I was asked to meet with a family whose husband and father had himself arrived only hours later and would be dying sometime that day, after life support was removed. It took awhile to marshall the family members, and so I spent much of the day with them. The gentleman was about my age, a seemingly healthy and energetic man who had suffered a stroke while performing some household chores. His son, the age of my own boys, was in agony, and I spent most of my time with him. He had suffered several setbacks in his life in the previous weeks, and he clearly adored his father.

We made an unlikely pair, from an appearance standpoint. I looked pretty chaplain-y ~ which is to say: conservative pants, shoes, jacket ~ and he looked pretty ~ oh, I don't know ~ Goth, maybe? But we quickly developed a deep bond as we talked over a period of several hours, and when his father finally left us, he threw his arms around me and sobbed.

What I most remember, though, is the urgent question he asked me at some point:

How do you DO this?

I thought, and still think, that he meant to ask how I, as a chaplain, was able to stand situations such as his family's, day after day.

But now I also hear another question that he may have intended to ask as well: How do I do this? How do I live through these hours? How do I survive and go on after my father dies?

I wonder what I would say today.

I wonder what his own answer has turned out to be.

Trust in the Slow Work of God

I was looking at the quote below about the desert, which begins with the words, "In the desert the most urgent thing is -- to wait." I suppose that's one of the (no doubt many) reasons why forty days are ascribed to Jesus' sojourn there. You can't just finish your task, brush your hands off on your jeans, and move on. At any rate, it occurred to me to post one of my favorite prayers in response. On my other blog, I've called it the Grand Canyon prayer. I used it a lot when I was making seminary-related decisons, and one day I completely cracked up as I recalled that its author was a geologist. His idea of "the slow work of God" was a good deal more expansive than mine!

Today, of course, the years I spent on ministry discernment seem but the tiniest drop of time in a bucket compared to the time and intensity demanded by this particular desert. The Colorado River's eons of imperceptible incursion into rock seems an apt parallel.


Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown,
something new.
Yet it is the law of all progress that is made
by passing through some stages of instability
and that may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Do not try to force them on
as though you could be today what time
-- that is to say, grace --
and circumstances
acting on your own good will
will make you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new Spirit
gradually forming in you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing

that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

Above all, trust in the slow work of God,
our loving vine-dresser.

~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

And Then, On the Other Hand, and the Other Hand

I spent some time after church this morning talking to a friend there who also lost a 24-year-old son to suicide, on Christmas day seven and one-half years ago. I mentioned the plethora of baby showers, bridal showers, weddings, etc. in our lives this year, and she said that she has two family weddings this fall.

"It's getting easier," she said.

Almost eight years and it's "getting easier."

But then . . .

I just got a call from another friend at church inviting me to come and speak to her women's group next winter (!) on labyrinths. I love to talk about labyrinths. I love to pray on labyrinth walks. I love the giant labyrinth at Chartres and I love the tiny indoor labyrinth in our church.

And I am completely amazed that people still remember that I am a person with certain passions, and that they are still interested in having me speak to them.

Five weeks from approximately right now I will be arriving at the Jesuit retreat center at Guelph, where two years ago the Chartres-sized labyrinth mown into the grass enticed me out under a full moon for an hour's prayer at midnight.

I'm starting to look forward to it.

A new sensation.

Loyola House Labyrinth, Guelph ON

Bodily Grief

I might ask about this in a few other places, too, but it occurs to me that it seems that a number of people read this blog who might have some insight.

I am in almost constant physical pain, and have been since September. It moves around. For the first several months, it was my lower back, which most of the time felt that it was going to snap in two. Off and on, it's the muscles in my thighs; the pain often wakes me up early in the morning. Once I get up, it dissipates quickly. For the last week it has been my neck and shoulders. I thought that perhaps I had pinched a nerve, but as the week came to an end, I had to acknowledge that it was probably Hebrew: three hours a day, three days a week, sitting in uncomfortable chairs and trying to remain alert to unintelligible lectures. I've been fine for the last couple of days -- except, again, in my sleep. I think I must be dreaming about Hebrew and God only knows what else, as I awaken several times in the night needing to become fully conscious in order to figure out a way to roll over without experiencing agony down my neck and across my shoulders.

Maybe I need to pull out the
Jon Kabat-Zinn books? A chiropractor is out of the question - I have a friend who is a physical therapist and he has communicated way too much about patients of his who had been seriously injured by chiropractors for me to feel positive about that option. The Lovely Daughter thinks I need to find a Chinese medicine practitioner. Yesterday I picked up a flyer advertising a woman who is offering yoga classes in her home, wondering whether she might do private ones in mine - but the classes she officially offers are for young mothers, designed to fit her schedule and theirs, so it's likely that any offhand comments she makes about her own life would more than offset any physical good she might do me.

As I write this, I realize how likely it is that my feeling of being utterly trapped is contributing to the particular pain I experience. Perhaps
Full Catastrophe Living is indeed the place to start. A had always thought of the word "full" in the title as modifying "catastrophe," but maybe it modifies both nouns. Living in the face of full catastrophe? Living fully regardless?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Long and Winding Road

A couple of days ago, the wonderful women at RevGals hosted a discussion on the challenges inherent in a minister's trying to help a parishoner who is grieving the death of her child. It's a good conversation and I highly recommend it.

I left only one comment; like many readers here, I could have monopolized the site, but I thought that listening would be the better part of valor.

I was struck by a couple of things. First, the genuine desire of the pastors to be of help. I have seen little of my own pastors in the past several months. I can acknowledge some of the responsibility for that; I have not been much in evidence myself. But I have reached out to others for help instead, in large part I think because I see our pastors as fixers rather than listeners ~ and I think I see them that way with good reason. I treasure them as gifted leaders of our church, as friends in ministry with whom I have worked for years on multiple projects, as committed parents and community leaders, as tremendous supporters of my own move toward ministry, but . . . . People have a way of diappearing, and that includes the best of them.

A friend of mine wrote a
recent blog entry about the long and lonely months devoted to her battle against breast cancer. Her main point: it takes a l-o-n-g time, and, while friends are present and encouraging and helpful in the early weeks, they don't realize that you still need them many months later. She reserves her most profund gratitude for those who were still there to accompany her to chemo or lend a hand with her daughter or play a game of Scrabble with her long after the rest had disappeared.

I am surely as guilty as the rest. Most especially now. I think often these days of what I would like to do differently in the future, as a neighbor, a friend, a pastor. I think of the other things that impinge upon our time and how we set priorities. I think of how important it is to read between the lines, hear between the words. I think about anticipating the struggles people might be facing, and what I might offer in advance. I think about understanding the reclusiveness that so often marks grief, and how to intrude upon it in a generous way.

Right this moment, for instance. It is a magnificent morning outside. I am studying Hebrew and working in the garden and house -- memorization being one of those things that must be accomplished in small doses over long periods of time. I would love it if someone pulled into the drive this morning and sat on the porch with me for half an hour. I would love it if , rather than the usual "You are so strong, so wise, so articulate, so blah blah blah whatever," someone said to me something more along the lines of "Do you want to talk about the parts you don't talk about?" I would love it if someone called to say, instead of "We hope you'll join us tonight," something like, "I know you probably won't come, but maybe I'll come by here in a few days instead."

I would love it if there were more people who understood that their task is not to provide comfort ~ because there is only occasional and very little comfort to be had ~ but to offer presence. I think that that dichotomy is perhaps at the root of so much absence: that presence without comfort is the best you can sometimes do. You cannot comfort a woman whose cancer threatens the possibility of seeing her daughter graduate from middle school (a joyful event that my friend has just witnessed). You cannot comfort a woman whose child is dead. It's that simple.

What can you do? Anything at all? Well, yes. You can put aside your own fears, the ones along the lines of, If this could happen to her beautiful child, it could happen to mine. You can clamp your mouth shut every time you are tempted to make something akin to a pronouncement, one of the multiple variations on God is with you, and instead ask, or wait to see, what her experience of God is these days. You can put a lid on the shock or dismay or sadness you may feel in response to what comes out of her mouth, and try to create a little island of safety for her in a universe that has revealed treachery and instability. You can honor her experience by hearing and seeing and enduring it with her.

That would be, actually, doing quite a lot.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Would I have had the good sense to abandon seminary once and for all if I had known . . .

that in the middle of the first term of Hebrew, the verb used (because it behaves itself in a regular fashion) to explain the baffling concept of voice in Hebrew would be: katal ~ to kill


To kill.
To be killed.
To kill oneself.
To cause someone to kill.
To be caused to kill.
To cause someone to kill himself.

(A portion of the chart on page 71 of our workbook.)

Oh. My. God.

(And yes. I made it to the end of the class before bursting into tears. Just barely.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Desert's Secrets

The Desert's Secrets
(Alessandro Pronzato)

In the desert the most urgent thing is---to wait. The desert does not take kindly to those who tackle it at breakneck speed, subjecting it to their plans and deadlines. It soon takes its revenge and makes them pay dearly for their presumption. Instead, the desert welcomes those who shed their sandals of speed and walk slowly in their bare feet, letting them be caressed and burnt by the sand. If you have no ambition to conquer the desert, if you do not think you are in charge, if you can calmly wait for things to be done, then the desert will not consider you an intruder and will reveal its secrets to you.

Source: Meditations on the Sand

(from today's inwardoutward.org)
(image here)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ordinary Time

I went to mass late yesterday afternoon because, for a number of reasons, I did not want to worship in my own church on Father's Day. The priest (who happens to be my spiritual director) was wearing green vestments instead of the white of the past several weeks. Hmmm, I thought. Ordinary Time.

What does that mean, ordinary time?

I know what it means, liturgically. But what does it mean?

Here's what I've done on this very ordinary day: I've studied Hebrew vocabulary (to which I intend to return as soon as I finish procrastinating). I finished a verbatim for my spiritual direction program, which took twice the hour I had allotted to it. I took the dog for a walk. I ate some Ramen noodles and did a couple of loads of wash. I am sitting in the living room at the moment, where the Quiet Husband, the Gregarious Son, and the Lovely Daughter are all watching a soccer game on tv.

It all seems pretty ordinary.

Yesterday's readings, of which I am reminded as I skim through some blogs, were not about the ordinary. Jesus stilling the storm seems to have been the gospel reading across the board. Job's creation story made an appearance in Catholic contexts. Nothing ordinary in either of them.

I think it's really interesting that this season of Ordinary Time begins with such extraordinary encounters. What would I say, I wonder, if I were preaching?

Maybe that the ordinary conceals the storms and the mystery. Maybe that if you see a woman in olive cargo pants and a pink t-shirt walking an overly enthusiastic beagle-dachshund, you might want to consider that she is, interiorly, in that boat in the middle of the storm, saying, "How could you be asleep?" Or that she is aligned with Job in bewildered engagement with a God who seems, indeed, to sleep through storms.

Which means that the same might be true of anyone. "Be gentle," said Philo of Alexandria, "for everyone you meet is carrying a great burden."

I guess that's what I would say. That the ordinary conceals the eventful.

Friday, June 19, 2009

It's Hard Because You Never Know When . . .

Hebrew language class last week: We are, as I've been writing about in my other blog, learning Hebrew by reading the story of the binding of Issac in Genesis 22. Our professor began the summer by talking about the story as a great narrative: the promise, the tension, the human effort to achieve the desired result, the apparent solution, the challenge, the final resolution. It IS a great narrative.

But we began with the promise: to Abraham and Sarah, of many descendants, as many as there are stars in the sky.

There will be no descendants for me, not through Chicago Son. Not through the tall young man whom I had once imagined teaching his children to play soccer on the beach. I think that if you had scanned my insides as that particular lecture began, you would have seen my stomach turn completely over, quite literally. At least that's how it felt, physically, in my gut. On the outside, I looked like a student taking notes. On the inside, I was on the verge of throwing up.

The whole month of June: God, Abraham, a son's life in the balance. Sarah, who never again speaks in the text as we know it, to either her husband or his God. Not really the most auspicious beginning for my study of Hebrew.

Today: a mammogram. Last August I had spent one of my last CPE mornings, as things wound down, scheduling all kinds of overdue medical appointments. I got one of them in before Chicago Son died, and then cancelled all the rest.

The technician today was lovely and did her job quickly and efficiently; only a couple of the scans were as painful as they all used to be. I'm sure she thought the tears clouding my eyes were the consequence of physical sensitivity; she dropped a couple of hints to the effect that I might make an effort to come back more regularly. I distracted myself by looked at the pictures: the high-def results are much more intriguing to the untrained eye than the old ones. But I don't have much interest in repeating the experience. All I could think about were the three children I nursed during years when it seemed that optimism was not unwaranted. One of them in particular.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I keep thinking that I might write something, but none of it is bloggable.

We have a stack of birthdays and anniversaries ahead.

Our 35th wedding anniversary for one. I told the kids the other night that had their brother lived, I would have started dropping hints last winter about the big party they were expected to throw.

We have decided that a quiet family dinner is as much as we can manage.

September 2 looms ahead.

People tell me repeatedly that the second year can be worse.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Five Things: Self-Recrimination

It's the most distinctive aspect of loss to suicide ~ one which, apparently no one escapes:

The self-blame, the questioning, that conviction that had you seen, understood, said, done something differently, your loved one would still be alive.

People often blame themselves after a loved one dies. They blame themselves for things beyond their control ~ if I had only left five minutes earlier or later, if I had only made her a reservation for tomorrow, if I had only gotten up before noon or gone to bed after midnight. They blame themselves for the outcomes of events over which they did, in fact, have some oversight but, ultimately, no control. In Giant Famous Hospital last summer, I frequently heard refrains along the lines of ~ if only we had gone to a specialist sooner, if only we had not gone to a specialist, if only she had done that clinical trial, if only he had stayed home and accepted hospice. Self-blame is rampant when people imagine themelves to have had the knowledge and will and capacity to save someone, whether from death itself, or from prolonged suffering prior to death.

In the case of suicide, however, the all-encompassing and overwhelming nature of self-recrimination puts it in a whole different league. What did I miss? What did I fail to understand? What could I have done differently? THIS IS MY FAULT.

My own experience in the first weeks and months after our son's death was that whenever I wasn't consumed by my sense of loss, by the realization that my son was truly and completely gone, I was obsessed with the examination of every detail of his life, especially in its final months. Every word he said or wrote, to me or to anyone else. Everything he did, everyplace he went. Every detail of our last conversations, of the appearance of his apartment, of our last week-end together.

I was sure that something would tell me what I could have done to avert this catastrophe.

It is, perhaps, worse for parents ~ although, how would I know? I have experienced this loss only as a mother.

I recall, oddly enough, the first time that one of my children had any kind of physical injury. Our boys were eighteen months old and we had gone to Florida for a week in February. I had bought them some inexpensive sneakers, not wanting to spend much money since I figured they would outgrow their shoes before it got warm enough at home for them to run around outside.

A day or two into the Florida trip, Gregarious Son had a blister on his heel. What was I thinking, to buy such cheap shoes off the shelf? I wondered. I felt terrible that his playtime in the sunshine was hampered by a sore foot, and went off to purchase some sandals so the blister could heel.

If a mother can feel that responsible for a blister, imagine how she feels when another of her children dies by suicide 23 years later.

It is a terrible, pervasive horrific sense of guilt. I have replayed every word, every glance, every gesture, brought them all out into the open and examined them under a multitude of microscopes.

There is, of course, no satisfactory answer. In the Suicide Surviors group I sometimes attend, we talked one night about what we know now that we wish we had known then. But we didn't know then, and we couldn't have known ~ for, despite the depth of pain that most of us feel during various dark periods of our lives, we do not respond with thoughts of sucide. We couldn't have known, because it was nowhere within the realm of our personal experience or imagination that someone might respond in such a way, might even be thinking about any such thing,

The intensity of the feelings of self-recrimination are the one thing that I have found does fade. It helped to read a Suicide Survivors document that said, "If you had been responsible for this death, it would not have happened." It has helped to listen to other survivors articulate the same feelings, to see their love and concern for their loved ones, to see and hear about what they invested in people now gone, to be able to respond to them without hesitation and with a sense of absolute assurance that they are not to blame ~ and to realize that they can say, do say, the same to me.

I no longer spend much time thinking about what I should have, could have, would have done.

But I would have. I would have done anything.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Reaching Out

Last night we hosted a little gathering to celebrate the college graduations of a fabulous foursome ~the Lovely Daughter and three of her friends from Montessori days. All of the girls, as well as all of their brothers and sisters, attended a small Montessori school through the eighth grade, forming friendships that have weathered the years and graduating in tiny classes of children who knew each other almost as siblings. I think there were 13 students in the Lovely Daughter's graduating class, and 15 in her brothers' class two years earlier. Small but cohesive groups, as Chicago Son's funeral sadly demonstrated, when young people who had met long ago over the pink tower showed up from New York, Oregon, and Toronto, along with teachers who had known them since they were three years old.

It has been such a delight to watch our girls grow into the wonderful young women they have become, and even more of a pleasure to see their friendships sustain and strengthen them through three different high schools and five different colleges. They are so appreciative of each other's gifts and differences, and they have so much fun together. And they have offered us as well the gift of friendship with a terrific group of parents, all of them (us) just quirky enough to seek out something of an alternative education for our kids and stick with it for as long as it was available.

Last night ~ sitting out in the yard as darkness fell and candles were lit, eating grilled chicken and strawberries and ice cream, all with people who have been friends to all of our children throughout their educational adventures ~ was a good first try for us, the very first attempt we have made to host anything at all in our home since Chicago Son died. I missed him every second, but I know he would have approved the laughter and memories of days gone by.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

There Are Moments

Two back story items:

I belong to a liberal, progressive church ~ but we are diverse and not all identical in our theology or politics by any means. (I personally am pretty far over on the liberal and progressive end of the spectrum.) In fact, one of the cool things about our church is that we are not all on the same page and yet we worship together and talk together and confront issues together without rancor, something the PC(USA) as a whole sometimes struggles with.

I grew up in a farming community and my family was in the grain business for most of the last century, which means that corn and soybeans were staples (again (sigh) no pun intended) of dinnertime conversation in my childhood.


I went to church today so that I could be present, insofar as I was able, to the celebration of the 20th anniversary of our senior pastor's ordination (15 of those years with us). It was a little TOO celebratory for my present frame of mind, but I was glad that I went. Lots of energy, humor, appreciation, and genuine joy.

Then I went to the grocery. The first person I ran into was a woman whom I see maybe once or twice a year, and have not seen since Chicago Son died. She was at the store with her younger daughter, who attended the same high school as my own Lovely Daughter and sang in the music program as well.

As I've said, I sometimes avoid people in public places if I haven't yet talked with them about Chicago Son. But I wasn't in an avoidance mood today, which was a good thing, because this woman and I practically ran into one another.

I have never seen someone move so fast to get out of my way. Our grocery is a very sociable place and it often takes a long time to get out of there, because of the many conversations among friends who haven't seen one another in awhile. But wow ~ this woman said "hello," moved on, and visibly looked into the space beyond me as we encountered one another a few times over in our travels down the aisles. No expression of condolences, no conversations about our daughters' college adventures, no mention of it finally being warm enough for the local pool (where at one time in our lives we whiled away many an afternoon).

I understand -- sort of -- the awkwardness, but this friend is a SOCIAL WORKER.

OK, enough said. My next encounter was with an older lady from church, who has, to my recollection (which we all know is not the best) said nothing to me about Chicago Son. We had exchanged pleasantries about the celebration this morning and started to look over the produce when she stopped and said, "You know."

OK, I thought, I'm OK; I'll be fine with whatever she says.

"You know, I get a lot of medical newsletters," she continued. "And I get one from a Dr. So-and-So. And he says that our increased use of soy in so many products is contributing to the increased prevalence of homosexuality among young people today."

I must have looked just a little astonished, because she went on to elaborate for a minute or two. I decided to try some humor, which I doubted that she would understand, but ~

"Well, um, you know, soybeans paid for my education!" I said brightly.

"But ~ " she tried to continue.

I decided that I needed something from another aisle.

There are encounters in which I would give anything at all, even more than usual, for the company of Chicago Son and his wit.

Sunday Morning Prayer

Terrific prayer over on Search the Sea, courtesy of Mompriest at RevGals.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Dream

I was driving down the highway in a small car, to Michigan, I think.

(There are a lot of reasons for my destination to have been Michigan. The most obvious is that yesterday someone protested a Facebook quiz that identified Michigan as her ideal state, which got me to thinking about how much I love Michigan, and about a wonderful long week-end we spent there with all the kids, and about Chicago Son's exuberance up on the dunes at Sleeping Bear. Another possibility? I was in Michigan when he died. Another? Someone else I know goes to Michigan almost every week to visit an ill family member.)

Suddenly I realized that I couldn't see. I thought that I was falling asleep at the wheel, and shook my head a couple of times. My vision would clear for a second and then cloud over again. I could feel the car running onto the ground at the edge of the road, and I thought that I should pull back onto the highway, and then I thought that I should let the car glide to a stop in the grass. But since I couldn't see anything, I realized that I had no control and couldn't choose.

(I don't think that this part requires much interpretation. No vision. No control. No choices.)

Next thing I knew, the car was smashed into a zillion pieces scattered all over the highway, and I was sitting in the seat, kind of rocking back and forth, in the middle of the road. The police came and I found myself in a huge barn. I had lost my wallet and a dragon mask that Gregarious Son has hanging on his wall, something he treasures from a family vacation in Florida many years ago. I don't know why I was taking it to Michigan, but I was frantic about losing it. A police officer, a woman wearing jeans and a t-shirt and making dinner in another part of the barn, showed to me to a closet in the barn where they kept evidence. Behind the huge and glossy mahogany door was another set of smaller doors, and behind each of them another set, and behind each of them another. Each set of doors opened magically to the next set of even smaller doors.

(Shattered life. Can't find the pieces. Behind each "answer" is another mystery. But the mysteries, the questions, are treasures, secreted behind beautifully polished doors.)

I find myself standing out side the barn, using a cell phone I don't recognize. I think it belongs to Chicago Son. I am calling the Quiet Husband, who says he has not yet left to pick me up. It will take him hours to get there. I am beside myself; I want to get out of there and go home. I need someone to help me.

(A couple of days ago I received an email from someone who said he really didn't know how to take all of this away, and then offered me a few good suggestions. It was oddly comforting, to have someone I treasure, someone who is nearly 80 years old, acknowledge that there is no solution. If he doesn't know, then no one does, I had thought to myself.)


This dream is from early this morning. I had decided to try to go back to sleep after waking up around 6:00. I kind of wish I had stayed awake.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fantasy Life

1. Move to island community a couple of hours and a ferryboat ride away.

2. Pastor small church there. Host occasional island retreats of a day or a few. Write.

3. Come into the city for two or three days a week to do part-time chaplaincy at Giant Famous Hospital and some spiritual direction, maybe teach a college class as an adjunct, see my friends and go to dinner or the orchestra or the art museum (not all in the same weeek!).

Needs met: Solitude. Quiet. Church. Migratory birds. Kayak. Intensity of hospital on a reduced-time basis. Just enough big city culture and companionship.

Gifts offered: Worship leadership, preaching, teaching, congregational and hospital pastoral care, spiritual direction, writing.

Questions: Is there even a church of any kind on one of those islands? Would GFH take me on as a part-time chaplain? Would anyone be interested in publishing my writing?

In between me and there: Summer Hebrew. One last year of seminary. One year CPE residency. Debt. The garage that's falling down.

Just some thoughts, inspired by
today's Friday Five.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


In the past month I have twice avoided people with whom I did not want to discuss our loss. Just pretended that I didn't see either of them.

Today, as I was having lunch with two friends, a dad I knew from our children's many mutual Montessori years ~ in fact, we served together on the board of the school for a lengthy period of time ~ walked up to our table to say hello. He did not know about my own switch two years ago from teaching to seminary, and so I assumed that he also did not know about any of the other recent events in our lives. When he asked about the kids, I sucked in some air and said, "I guess you don't know about what's happened; we lost Chicago Son to suicide last September."

He assured me that he did know and had, in fact, either spoken or written to me last fall. And I acknowledged that I have very little memory of those first months.

That was the second time, I think, that I have had to say it out loud.

I don't even have to go outdoors for the nearly another 48 hours. I'm really glad about that.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009