Sunday, March 20, 2016

#SOL16: Reinvent

Walking the Dog (M.A. Reilly, Teaneck, NJ, 2013)


What hurts so much after Rob's death is that I still desire the life I had with him. I keep seeking it out. I book a trip and mostly what I think about is how lonely I will be without Rob. I order dinner from a favorite restaurant and when the food I arrives I notice I have ordered an extra dish--Rob's favorite.  I see a new book by Walter Benjamin is being published and I buy it--a book Rob would certainly have wanted.

But Rob is dead.
Our life is not traceable. Nor can it be recovered.

Nonetheless,  I attempt to find trails into the familiar, the tender, the known. I so want to be with the man I have loved for what feels like my whole life and anything less leaves me feeling empty.

What I want most, I cannot have.
I cannot have.
Cannot have.

All around me this knowledge presses and in that compressed space where my very breath is labored, I understand I must reinvent my life.
Reinvent my life.
Stop looking for substitutes and live.


Years ago I was in psychotherapy when the therapist offered a bit of advice--something he did only once in a decade. At the time, I kept repeating a behavior that was not only unhelpful, but also potentially harmful. This had gone on for months and I was feeling frustrated, frightened, lost.

How can I change it? I asked in earnest.

The late day light played in the space between us. He stared for a moment before saying, Lift your foot.

I laughed a bit and then I lifted my right foot off the carpet, paused, and then returned it before looking at him.

He waited, looking somewhat pleased before he said quietly, That's how you do it.


After learning he had but a few weeks to love, Rob held my hand, looked me in the eyes and said, Live brilliantly. Don't you dare hide yourself away. Live brilliantly.

Live. Brilliantly.

Just do it.


  1. Hello Mary Ann, I've been following all your posts and have not always commented (I don't have the gift of expressing my thoughts and feelings as you do so movingly). I can't begin to imagine all that you are having to cope with, but I do feel your great loss and am so sorry that you and Rob will not have those future years together, and that he will miss your son's future life. He said "Live brilliantly" , as my father might have said to my mother if he'd had time. He was killed in a terrorist attack at 34 years old, my 2 elder siblings were small and I had yet to be born. My mother lived to be 96, and in her last years and months when she was growing tired, she asked me, "why do you think I am living for so long?" My answer was that as my father had missed meeting me and seeing us all grow up, enjoying numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren, she was living extra for him, and he could enjoy all this through her. She was so pleased with this explanation. All this to say, yes! do live brilliantly for yourself, your son and especially for your husband.
    Hugs from far away, Catharine

    1. Catharine, thank you for sharing the story of your father and your mother. One of my great fears is that I too will die early, laving my son. Your story brings me comfort and that is no small things, especially these days. I am beginning to take actions that feel uncomfortable as fear so dodges my every step. That is what grief is mostly made from I suspect--fear.

  2. Oh, Catharine's comment is wonderful, Mary Ann! That is a beautiful perspective to take and a great way to connect with Rob's words...

  3. Totally agree with Catherine's comment. Just go on living. It is going to be hard but each day take that one step.

    1. I have no other choice. Minute by minute, sometimes hour by hours.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.