Tuesday, February 16, 2016

#SOL16: The Familiar Falling Away

The Familiar Falling Away (M.A. Reilly. Devon in Ringwood, 2011)

Today the wind is fierce: a howling menace whose wildness is oddly attractive. It says anything can happen. 

The weekend's frigid weather has turned unseasonably warm and today finds a balmy 60 degrees beyond our front door. It's mid-February and rain falls at first intermittently and then steadily all day. The three front steps were partially covered with a thin veneer of ice this morning. I used the ice scraper Rob always keeps by the door to break it up so that the Hospice delivery could occur.

My life these days is mostly filled with attending to small details. Taking Dev to school. Arranging for friends who are coming in to stay. Figuring out when to go to the hospital. Figuring out how best to get Rob's mom to and from the hospital. Remembering to eat dinner. Doing the laundry. Vacuuming.

The one steady pulse that runs through all of these sometimes banal duties is the hope Rob will be home tomorrow.


Rob Painting. 2.15.16
My home which has always been such a solace feels more like an enemy these last few days. Everywhere I turn is a reminder of what I am losing, what is slipping from my fingers, my heart.

Ours is a house of books. A house of art. A house of play. Yesterday Rob began to feel anxious when the doctor explained how he would be titrated off the high flow oxygen and placed on a nasal cannula. As he waited for Xanax, I suggested to Rob he might want to paint. I had brought watercolor pencils, paper and brushes the day earlier. He agreed. A friend had left lavender essential oil (thanks Liz) that I applied to his temples and within thirty minutes he was calm.

In a 2011 study (Toward A Brain Based Study of Beauty), researchers Tomohiro Ishizu and Semir Zeki found that there was a 10 percent increase in blood flow to the part of the brain where joy is expressed when viewing a beautiful painting. I wondered if joy doesn't increase even more when art is being made, not only viewed.  Rob was calm and pleased by the time he finished painting.


One sure thing Dev and I have learned is that we cannot know the future--be it ten minutes from now or a week. Tomorrow, we hope Rob will be home.  It will mark day 50 since he was last here.  50 days have passed and the house, like us, is unsteady.

Today the wind is fierce: a howling menace whose wildness remains attractive. It says anything can happen. 


Anything at all.


  1. Mary Ann, the thought of coming home should be an energy booster to all. There is something about home that signifies warmth. May Rob's return bring a sense of peace to him. I assume that there will be plenty of lavender oil around for a calming effect. I hope your writing is bringing a sense of calm to you.

    1. Thanks Carol. The writing feels essential. Rob sent me a box of essential oils. Lavender is included. Thanks.

  2. I wish I had the right words to say. Your writing is beautiful and heartbreaking, too. I've been following the story of the country singers Joey + Rory. Joey, the wife in the group, has terminal cancer. At 40, she had her whole life ahead of her, including an adorable little girl just turning 2 who has Downs Syndrome. I read the updates and marvel at the faith and hope her husband shows and the acceptance and faith they have. It all seems so unfair to me. I'm so very sorry that your husband Rob is facing this battle but it sounds like you are being very courageous and doing all you can possibly do in this impossible situation. Prayers for you and Rob and your family.

    1. Thank you Kathleen for taking time to read and comment on the post. I'm just putting one foot in front of the other. Thanks for your prayers. We need them.

  3. I just brought two tiny cedar trees I dug up and put in pots out on the front stoop, walking through the back door with muddy feet, out through the front, to gather the lengthening February light, and I see this.

    "Ours is a house of books. A house of art. A house of play." And of love.

    Thinking of you and your clan.

  4. Wow. Just wow. I don't know anything else about your story other than this post, but I want to thank you for writing with such bravery.

  5. Beautifully brave words. Thank you.

  6. “Art is a line around your thoughts.” ~ Gustav Klimt
    Mary Ann, I did not know. I understand. My father spent all but 30 days of the last year and a half of his life in the hospital. I was his primary caretaker during that time. It was a long time ago, but I remember.

  7. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Again my prayers are with you and the family

  8. Thank you for sharing this - I am holding you and your family in the light during this hard time.

  9. Oh those last few sentences. I am coming daily to your blog. Your writing is so beautiful, so painful - I feel the necessary here.

  10. Your words so perfectly capture this journey you are walking. I wish you strength and peace…