Friday, May 6, 2016

#SOL16: Sometimes I'm Terrified of My Heart


All day I have felt off as if something awful was just around the bend, waiting. And tonight I realized that I have lived with this sense of foreboding since last summer. It gets turned up and lowered by what seems to be mostly whim.

There are pattens I cannot see.


Sometimes I'm Terrified of My Heart (M.A. Reilly, 2016)
I spent the day doing what I needed to do and beneath these daily tasks was the strong ache that comes from missing Rob so completely and I found that catching my breath was hard to do. The tears flowed as I walked this morning, right before I went into the local diner to meet new friends for lunch, while I waited for Devon at school, and after I cleaned up supper. Earlier this evening I placed a basil plant and a rosemary plant outside and realized that Rob will never see these grow or taste their leaves in foods I make. Yesterday, I bought pine nuts in order to make him pesto now that the basil is growing thick, forgetting that he will not be here to taste it. Every single day mail arrives in his name. Even though I know he has died, the millions of memories we made remain and now and then I act on one of these memories as if Rob was still here.  

Rob, whose will to live was so extraordinarily strong will never see another spring come and go. He will never see his son drive. And when Dev goes to the prom later this month, his dad won't make sure his tie is tied correctly.

All this loss is incalculable.


Regardless of how good or bad I am, I will never kiss Rob again. I will never feel the weight of his arm as it settles with such certainty on my shoulder.  Last week I turned the mattress on our bed so I could sleep on top of his side and still I will never sleep with him again, feel his breath against the back of my neck, his lips at my shoulder.

The infinite number of things that comprise ordinary human life are now a list I cannot bear.


Desperation is a synonym for widow.
Making art offers a reprieve from what waits around the bend.
Sometimes, I'm terrified of my heart.


  1. You write so powerfully of the weight of this sorrow:
    "The infinite number of things that comprise ordinary human life are now a list I cannot bear."

    1. I write what I can sometimes name. Figurative language helps me to express what single words cannot. Thank you Tara.

  2. I feel like I'm witnessing you sort of play/move in and out, of all of the felt sense inner experiences in an effort to sort through. Or maybe just to "be with." In this particular post I'm also hearing more of what sounds to me like anxiety of what is to come, what will the future hold. "I'm terrified of my heart" is such a powerful statement and makes me curious to know what that means to you. I choose to surmise, best I can tell being on the outside of your own journey, that it feels like it can be overwhelming, smothering, making it hard to live in this new truth. "...catching my breath was hard to do." And yet you are quite alive exhibited in your planting, creating and sharing with the rest of us. I'm struck by how death can help us really see how different the mind is from the body sensations. "Even though I know he has died, the millions of memories we made remain and now and then I act on one of these memories as if Rob was still here." The fact that he is gone, in body form, is out of your control. How you live without him, will continue, is so much in your control though I suspect it doesn't always feel like it is.

    1. I hadn't thought about a separation between body and mind. Certainly, the walking, the sadness is keeping my body active. I am feeling the loss in the bones and that feels critical. So too does processing what I can through writing. I promised myself I would write even when what I write is so blue. What rests in my hands now is slippery for me to hold, to understand. It is the absence of naming that terrifies me at times. The feelings wash over me.

      I love our group on Wednesdays.

  3. Loss has brought me to tears in a super market aisle. While it has a price, often steep, loss is a gift. Loss is a gift of human experience, and to share it is to deepen the gift. Thanks, Mary Ann.

    1. Loss doesn't feel like a gift right now, but I trust you Bill to tell me truths I simply cannot tell myself at the moment. Thank you so much.

  4. Hard to view loss as a gift, but maybe just feeling so much is the gift. I think of Linda Pastan's 'strict contract between love and grief.' If we hadn't loved, we would not grieve. I am awe-struck by the beauty of your writing, the generosity and courage you bring to it. Thank you for sharing so much.

    1. ...Which would a wise and just creator choose:
      The green hosannas of a budding leaf
      Or the strict contract between love and grief?

      I recently was asked if I would risk loving again given the torment and sadness that had come with Rob's death. I didn't hesitate when I said I would do all of it again. To love in this manner is a gift without measure. Love is always more powerful, more compelling than its absence. And grief is not the opposite of love, but its corollary.

      Thank you Maureen for reminding me of Linda Pastan. I forget more than I think I ever knew.

  5. Mary Ann,

    Grief ebbs but the loss remains always underneath and waiting like a troll to emerge just as you walk across the bridge. I think that grief and the companion sense of loss remind us to keep loving our memories, to cherish our artifacts of life well lived, and the potential in our children who will replace us. We mourn because we feel and continue to live every moment of what was the best and worst of a relationship from regrets to celebrations. What might have been and what was. Your heart is there for all to feel and reminds us to take nothing for granted.

    1. As I read this and got to your comment about the troll I thought, "Trip,Trap." I have spent too much time in primary grade with The Billy Goats Gruff. Humor and laughter remain even? Especially? In the presence of grief. I had not considered the difference btw grief and loss. Now they are twin elements entwined but they will seperate as I move through this. Thank you Pam for helping me to remember.

  6. Mary Ann.

    Thank you for your artful, soulful, brave gifts.

    I don't believe loss is a gift.

    Loss is an absurd nonsense.

    Our attachment to people, place, nature, objects, sounds, smells, touch, sights, taste, movement, words, music, dance, painting, helps us to orientate ourselves in this void.

    The depth of your sorrow is significant as it represents the depth of your love. It is bottomless, it is without a ceiling, it is immeasurable. We might depict it in an instant but in an instant it will be changed. Love, life is fluid, as is death.

    Thank you for your love.


    1. This is the truest expression of what I feel. Rob oriented me in this world and his death leaves me sometimes with a foot on the earth, but often I can't find the ground I took for granted. Every memory cuts and is comfort.

      Thank you Simon for knowing, for saying.