Monday, August 17, 2015


There are some dates that pierce the soul. August 17th is one of those for me. On August 17th, 1981 I had just gotten out of the shower.  I heard the front door open. I heard hushed voices. It was eight o'clock Monday morning.
There at the end of the hall were my brother and  Peggy.
Peggy lunged toward me. Arms open.
"Oh Amy, your father...."
With those words, everything changed forever.
I was twenty-two. He was sixty-four.

Today, thirty-four years later, the memory of that shocking day still has the power to pierce me. Every detail as vivid as if it were yesterday.

August 17th has hung over me today like a shroud.
I am not sure why I felt grief again so many years later except for the fact that so many people I know and love are facing terrible health challenges and loss. The specter of death is all around me.
Breast Cancer.
Pancreatic Cancer.

Terrible suffering.

My father's sudden death thirty-four years ago seems like a blessing.
No suffering. No hospital bed. No chemo. No radiation. No dementia.
Just a tanned, trim, sixty-four year-old body with clogged arteries that dropped dead after jogging to work that Monday morning.
 What a way to go.
On August 17th, 1981, my father's heart stopped.
And mine broke.

Perhaps my grief today was not really about my father.
August 17th simply reminded me of my friends and family whose hearts will break like mine did thirty-four years ago on a date that will pierce their soul.

My friend who tragically lost her fifteen-year-old son when he was struck in a crosswalk on his scooter on the way to gym said it best when she said,
"You never know what you're gonna get."

For all the cancer patients
For all the wheel-chair bound
For all those with memory loss
For all those confined to a bed
For all the hospice workers
For all the caregivers
For all who suffer
For all the broken hearted

I bind my heart to yours on August 17th.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Art Lesson

The other night, the sunset was magnificent. With each passing moment, the color of the sky changed as I  stood transfixed watching an invisible artist's brush sweep across a vast canvas. The palette transformed from a bluish, shimmering gray with a bright shining sun sinking behind the silhouette of the rolling hills to a solid orange popsicle sky. Then, with swirling strokes, a  pattern of clouds appeared. The sunlight, reflecting the bottom edge of the clouds, highlighted them against a darkening backdrop.  As the painted sky continued to transform, patches of bright blue appeared looking like deep pools of clear water. The picture was disorienting at times. I was gazing heavenward but  I felt as if I was looking out across a landscape of mountains or prairie. The sky, the land, the water merged into one endless and dazzling masterpiece. Suddenly, I felt as if I understood the elements of design.  Color, light, contrast, line, pattern, composition, form were all visible and I imagined the earliest painters using nature as the ultimate art teacher, imitating the sun's varying degrees of intensity with the passing moments - painting the sky, the ocean, the mountains, the trees, the desert in awe of their beauty with each stroke.

 In order to create, one must pause long enough to look up and see.  It requires a patient stillness.  I was captivated, watching, waiting, studying  the sky in prayerful meditation. It enveloped me and I was in union with God and nature and mankind. I was connected through all of time before books were written or classes were taught on color or light or theory. I was part of the painting. In those moments of splendor, everything, everything had meaning. I touched eternity.