Thursday, June 2, 2016

#SOL16: Your House Stands

Dust of Snow (M.A. Reilly 2014)


The death of my husband unseated a sense of sureness that once framed the place I know as home. Now home feels less permanent, less safe. Where I live now, sorrow grows like trees, deep rooted with leaves that silver as if rain might be expected. Sometimes I'm filled with expectations about the new life I am making, but these moments are inconsistent. Rather, pain anchors me and just when I think I've given name to this sorrow it shows up donned in some new garb. 

Yesterday, it was the unexpected Yes song, "And You and I" that came on the radio. It wasn't just the song that stirred a deep unease. It was also the memory of hearing Rob talk about the purity of Jon Anderson's voice and as I remembered I was transported back to the townhouse we shared in Fort Lee nearly 30 years ago and I could still feel the warmth of sunlight which filtered each morning through the windows in the room where we each wrote. There, we could see the very tip to the George Washington Bridge and what I see mostly is how impossibly young we were. 

Two days ago, I was at home when the phone rang. On the other end of the line was an art therapist I had met when Rob was in Morristown Hospital. She was phoning to return art work Rob had made in January and she asked to speak with him. Whereas I can now write that Rob died without erasing it, getting my voice to utter the same phrase destroys me. My breath gives out.  It is these types of surprises that trigger the understanding of what absence feels like. My Rob is no longer here. Today it was an unmarked envelope that came addressed to me in the mail.  I opened it and found Rob's art that he had made while on the oncology floor of the hospital that the art therapist had returned.


Profound sorrow is bone deep and terribly known.  Earlier this morning I was reading Bonnie's latest letter to her husband, Tuvia and her words helped me to realize that it is the familiar that is so difficult to contend with when the one you love is gone so permanently. The familiar foregrounds the absence, the tragedy. The field shifts. And most everything is unsteady. And here's the thing: there's no place to hide.  There's no way out of this.  There is only living each day, each moment. Trying to make sense of the the senseless.


Tonight I'm thinking about safety and pain and desire and the way sunlight moves across carpet when I come across the Rilke poem, "Entrance."  He writes:

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Whovever you are: step out in to the evening  
out of your living room, where everything is so known; 
your house stands as the last thing before great space: 
Whoever you are. 
With your eyes, which in their fatigue can just barely  
free themselves from the worn-out thresholds, 
very slowly, lift a single black tree  
and place it against the sky, slender and alone.  
With this you have made the world. And it is large  
and like a word that is still ripening in silence.  
And, just as your will grasps their meaning,  
they in turn will let go, delicately, of your eyes . . .

Rilke's words remind me of the tenuousness of safety and how in many ways my house--this home I made with Rob "stands as the last thing before great space."  Rob told me to live brilliantly after his death and I suspect doing so will require me to walk out beyond the borders of home into unmarked, unnamed space. 

I'll get there. Just not tonight.  For now, the weight of the wedding band Rob placed on my finger so many years ago, feels right. Necessary. 


  1. This is just beautiful.Love the your artwork and the poem.

    Thank you !