Why I’ve Been Away

Celebrating my father-in-law’s 96th birthday in January 2016, a little bit less than a year before he died. He and his wife of nearly 70 years are seated in front, with our dear family friend on the top left. (Then there’s me, my husband, and our daughters.) Sadly, we have lost all of these elders in the past year.

Even though I have a pretty crippling case of writer’s ambivalence, I never intended to stay away from these pages so long. But then WordPress went on the fritz and, never having quite escaped feeling ashamed of my technophobia, I failed to enlist tech help from the nice people at GoDaddy. Then I finally did, and in a heartbeat the Daddies fixed the problem, which had to do with uploading photos. Then the same problem happened two heartbeats and two blog posts later. On top of which my iPhone went all funky, and the first worldwide ransom ware hack happened. The universe seemed to be signaling that it was time to take a break from all things online. Perhaps instead I should weed my garden before the heavy rains and the finally emerging sunshine conspired to create a jungle outside my kitchen window.

Which I did. I even spread 52 cubic feet of mulch by hand on our hillside.

I also took a break from blogging to spend what little energy I had on extremely intermittent activism: publishing a couple of letters to the editor, attending some town hall meetings about affordable housing, even phone banking a time or two to try to save healthcare from the Republican repeal attempts.  It wasn’t much, but at least it was something, and made me feel less helpless.

Mostly, though, I stayed away from writing because of more pressing priorities: tending to my aging in-laws in their final months of life. In December, my husband’s father died a few weeks shy of his 97th birthday, and my mother-in-law died on Memorial Day, three weeks before turning 90. They were wonderful people, and although their decline was sad, it was inspiring to witness my husband’s faithful attention, and to be of help where I could. We recently hosted a celebration of their lives at the assisted living facility where they spent their final years. The day helped make small again one difficult year in the scope of long and well-lived lives.

While attending to matters of life and death, we’ve also been attending to more mundane matters: After 17 years, we had our entire interior repainted and re-carpeted, with some other minor improvements as well. Sorting through my in-law’s effects and noting how ephemeral the stuff of life is helped us be ruthless with our own deferred sorting, organizing, and getting rid of stuff before the contractors started. It was as arduous and time-consuming as weeding and laying mulch and tending to our failing loved ones, but in the end just as satisfying.

So now that these chapters are over, it’s time to see what will come next. More writing, perhaps, though I have been happier and less tortured not writing, so we shall see. Something meaningful, I hope. As the summer draws to a close and a new season begins, I’m back, refreshed, and ready to go.


What’s been going on with you as the seasons change?




4 thoughts on “Why I’ve Been Away

  1. It has been a long ‘year’ since last summer for a lot of us. Condolences to you on your family losses (my mother died a year ago, so I can relate). But I think many of us are still grieving the election loss and the shock is still echoing in many of our nervous systems’. I feel it in mine and see it in the bodies of my yoga students.

    • Thanks, Heidi, for the condolences, and also for your astute comment on grieving the election loss. My in-laws’ decline provided a useful distraction, but beyond that I have been so often in a state of impotent rage and despair that it has felt meaningless to blog. I am not a quick or deft writer of the moment, and with so many millions of people writing beautifully and incisively about the political situation, I have felt little to add even when I do find that sweet spot of metabolizing my rage and despair enough that I CAN write. No shortage of material, obviously. It is tricky to balance the need for active engagement and self-protective withdrawal. As you point out, this is a grief reaction. I am sorry for the loss of your mother, and sorry for all of us that “Cry, the Beloved Country” is an apt summary of our own times.

      P.s. Of course my computer crashed again right after posting this last post, and I couldn’t even get online. What IS the universe trying to tell me? Keep my anti-virus software updated better?

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