Friday, April 29, 2016

#SOL16: Temporary

Bokeh Blue  (M.A Reilly, 2014)


For the first time since Rob's death, I had a memory of him as he was prior to becoming ill. It was so fleeting, yet I could almost smell the way his neck often smelled. Warm. Flannel shirt warmed. I saw him laughing, head tilted, hair tied back, some strands escaping, falling down over a shoulder blade. His hair was still long, thick. His shoulders were wide and he was standing.

Mostly I remember Rob from the last few months of his life. This was such an emotional time for us. We were equally hopeful and terrified. It was early January, shortly after he had been megadosed with steroids. He had spent 9 days in the hospital, moving from intensive care to a surgical floor as he readied for spinal surgery. I was with him in the hospital room when he said to me, "I didn't even recognize myself this morning when I looked in the mirror." And this was true. The steroids had bloated and distorted his face so significantly that he didn't look like himself.

"You will," I told him.  "All of this is temporary."
"I'm a stranger."
"It's temporary."



There are things said that take on new meaning as time passes. Meaning never holds still regardless of what we purport as truth. Meaning is always negotiated. I think of this, how the ideas related to the word, temporary, shift, get crowded, over populated.

C. S. Lewis's  in A Grief Observed writes,

"If the dead are not in time, or not in our sort of time, is there any clear difference, when we speak of them, between was and is and will be?" (p. 24).  

Often when I write, I wonder how I might speak about Rob. How might I characterize his death, his leaving, his not being here anymore? How shall I refer to him?  

Is afterlife as simple as shifts in spacetime? Is death in some ways more of a question of physics than theology?  Will I ever have answers?


None of this lofty talk matters on Friday afternoons when I still arrive home somewhat breathless in anticipation of the weekend with my two favorite guys. For nearly three decades, Friday's arrival signaled the start of extended time with Rob and for the last 17 years--extended time with Rob and Devon. 

Now we are fractured. 

And oddly. Whole. Yearning. Wanting.

The pulse of life beats regardless of my grief. I bought red geraniums this afternoon to put in bright blue pots. I passed the blooms and pots as I head out the door, into late April rain to walk. Since Rob died I have walked every day.  

I have walked when he could not. 

These days I walk mostly to live. 


  1. Hi Mary Ann,

    This idea of time and space and grief reminds me of a piece of Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five:

    "The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever."

    It doesn't make the pain of life on earth any less, I suppose, but I think such a view of space-time encourages the present tense in speaking about Rob. He *is* in all of your moments, and Fridays, and days gone by. He will be, too, if you want to apply the future.

    Your writing makes me ache, Mary Ann, and more. It is such an honest reflection of the pain that comes with living, loving, and sharing so much of ourselves and our hopes and... everything... with those we share our time with. It is so raw to read these details of your days, and thoughts, and how you have processed this most difficult of times. But to know that you are walking through, one step and day at a time, is something: indeed, perhaps it is all there is in the face of the reality of life, which is to be trapped in time as humans.

    Thank you endlessly for your courage and for sharing your heart and your family with us all. May you feel the love we send you always: past, present future. We are with you, and Rob, and Devon. Will be, too ; )

    Sending you peace and May sunshine,

    Bryan (and Megan, and more)

    1. Dear Bryan (and Megan, and more),

      Such kind, caring words. Thank you for bearing witness. It means more than I can say.

      Mary Ann


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