Tuesday, May 31, 2016

#SOL16: Out Rowing

from my art journal, 5.30.16 (gesso, archival ink, acrylic paint, stabilo pencil)


I could not know how difficult the change of season would be. Summer arrived in the Northeast last week--calendars be damned--and it found me gathering all of Rob's clothing, save the few pieces I simply could not bear to part with, and donating the lot. Next week I may pack some boxes of books and find a place to donate these too. The first part of acting is thinking.

Throughout the spring, I have relentlessly planted and today I noticed how brilliantly red the geraniums that grace the front stoop are and how lush the lavender and cilantro have grown. Since Rob's death, I have kept an art journal. I paint most days and I find it eases a restlessness I find hard to name.

Yesterday, my brother replaced the railings on the back deck that had warped this last winter and every day for the last 90, rain or not, I have walked. All this setting to rights, all this order-making is a slim attempt to tidy this mess.

Each morning, I collect the New York Times from the driveway. Each evening I sweep the front stoop and with it--bits of my heart.


The things we accumulate across an abbreviated life are mostly just things--they are rarely stories. Stories are what happen between and among people.

I once had a man I loved and he died. He did so unexpectedly. He did so early. 

Stories happen when the weight of loss grows so heavy that we unmoor what anchors us most and finally find the breath we need to speak.

This is me speaking. Can you hear me? I once had a man I loved.

Grief is the repetition of loss.


Some mornings as I walk I watch the men steer their rowboats to the best places on the lake for fishing. I watch as they row each day. Unperturbed by measures of success, they row.

I walk by the shore and I find myself thinking of Anne Sexton who years ago before she took her very life wrote about the awful rowing to God--the blisters on the hands that heal and break. And I think, Yes, that's how I feel many days: Healed and broken. Healed and broken. 

To bear this loss against the current is to know that grief has a weight that cannot be calculated. To bear this loss with grace is to know that weight and to still keep rowing.


  1. Laughter in summer
    I once had a man I loved
    Lease expired

  2. Heal and break, heal and break, heal and break. Repeat.
    Keeping yourself immersed in your art and your planting has enabled you to observe and express.

  3. I can not identify lines in this piece of writing that seem more profound than others. The last lines remind me of how I figured out to go on after my mother died. In her last three years she lost four important people. Although she was heart broken, she just kept on putting one foot in front of the other and kept on going. I think that's what we all do. I just wish it wasn't so hard.

  4. Mary Ann, your heart seems so heavy today. I am touched by your words but know that there are no words that I can give back to you that will quiet the mind. Your artwork seems to be filled with radiant spots. Are they the light that is breaking through? Peace.

    1. it's a mix bag. there is heaviness and lots more. just as it is.

  5. Lots of powerful here. "Grief is the repetition of loss." Time. time. time. So much time and reliving, re-feeling the pain. Thinking of you.

    1. thank you Carrie. Thinking of you too as you make your move.