Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Level of Cheer Expected


Christmas has been low-key (just the three of us) but hard.  I feel the loss of Joe acutely.  Have to go upstairs and cry at least once a day.  I was just on the verge of getting to know him on a deeper level, as a friend--not just as my sister's husband, not just as an in-law on the fringes of my family of origin. When I was teen, and even long after that, I felt intimidated by him.  Honestly, I was frightened by pretty much all men, had no experience with harmless, benevolent males.  He'd startle me now and then with an off-color joke.  It was a boundary violation, I have to admit, but innocent. Just a clumsy attempt make me laugh. 

My friend says fresh grief stirs up all former losses, and that's how I feel, as if the whole world has turned sad.  I try but cannot rise to the level of cheer the world expects at Christmas.    

Friday, December 25, 2020

A Minimalist Christmas


Our Christmas tree is small, with a few strings of red and white lights, and unique ornaments we’ve collected over the years. I call it “minimalist,” and I love it that way. I could’ve done without one altogether, but now I treasure the twinkling lights when dusk falls in late afternoon. I hope they bring some joy to people walking by.

There were only a few presents under the tree on Christmas Day. It seems no one in the extended family had the energy to buy and send gifts. I certainly didn’t. Max was disappointed by the lack of 20- and 50-dollar-bills tucked into greeting cards. No one’s feeling safe enough to be extravagant. But he was exceedingly grateful for the few things he got: a Patrick Mahomes jersey, a UVA sweatshirt, and $150.00 from me for PC components. 

I got F. a card game, a puzzle depicting 25 different donuts, and National Theater of London subscription for streaming plays. He got me earrings, which I like, and that was plenty—I actually discouraged him from trying to do more. I truly prefer minimal gift-giving, get easily overwhelmed by the demands of buying gifts for people who need nothing.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020



I picked up a tool from a 12-step group I checked out. First you identify the vision and goals you have for your life, in several broad categories: relationships, service, work, creativity, health. Then you look at how you’re actually spending your time. Suddenly I understood: Time is a warm, living substance you can shape in your hands, to serve the values you hold most dear. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Man He Is Meant To Be


I have to give up trying to impose a shape on Max’s life—the shape that makes sense to me. He may not go to college at all. He may just get any old job, and rent a house with his friends, those who are just as aimless. His only passion right now is to build his own PC—some kind of set-up for streaming and pro-level gaming. A thousand-dollars-worth of equipment. This is the hardest thing, to let him make what seem to me colossal mistakes. The heartbreak he will have to endure, the threats to his self-esteem, the extra obstacles presented by ADHD and learning disabilities. I will have to trust in Max’s internal guidance system (intuition, Higher Power, Holy Spirit, whatever) and trust that the world—the craziest, scariest world I’ve seen in my lifetime--will respond kindly enough. I can only be patient with Max and myself as we fight it out–what is his to decide, what is mine? Where I cede ground, he steps up and grows, becoming the man he is meant to be. 

Where I cede ground, he steps up and grows, becoming the man he is meant to be.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Status Update: Covid in Minnesota

Minnesota now has one of the highest covid infection rates in the country.  The thought of two or three or even more months in almost total isolation is overwhelming. Most of all, I‘m terrified for my son’s future--how can he launch into a world that seems to be collapsing?

All I can do is put down my head and cry.

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Forging the Second Self: A memoir in progress.

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