Sunday, October 30, 2016

#SOL16: Turn on the Light

The Lightbulb (M.A. Reilly: paper collage, handmade papers, found papers, digital remix, 2016)

Imagine a very long chain suspended from a ceiling fixture. Get that imagine fixed in your mind. Now, look up and see that the fixture has no globe.  It had been lost along the way. Or perhaps it broke one afternoon. These details matter, but not today.

There's just a single bulb.

To turn the light on, to illuminate the room you know too well and night beyond the windows, you must reach up and tug the chain. Tug it hard.


About 9 days ago I began to wonder about what remains after the initial shock of grief passes. I realized then that I had stopped crying daily. I could think of Rob and not cry. I had just stopped and in the space where tears fell there was now this cavern, a hollowed out place. And I wondered what fills this body of mine now that the daily tears have stopped?  What new room have I made?


An idea began to formulate so bold that at first I turned away--shielded that part of me that has known such deep wounds. Could the easing of grief be as simple as deciding to actually live--not simply exist?  Could it be a matter of deciding?

Back in February when Rob told me to live brilliantly, he first warned me, no not warned for that is too tame a word for it. Rather he commanded me to not hide away.

"Don't you hide away," he told me.

What I could not know last February was that sometimes it feels necessary to hide in the dark--to pull the proverbial covers over my head--to rest what feels ladened with sorrow.


"It's heavier than I thought," I said to my brother.

Last night when my brothers came over, Brendan brought Rob's ashes with him.  I had asked him to do so. When he handed me the bag containing Rob's ashes, my first thought was how heavy it all is.  I had not expected my husband's remains to carry such weight.

Later after my brothers had left and I had placed the bag on a book shelf downstairs, I went to tell Devon. We hugged as touch is often more important than words and we each cried just a bit.

"It's not Dad," he told me.

"I know. We'll figure out what to do with the ashes," I told him. "At some point what we do will make sense."


I don't know where the idea of choosing life over grief developed. I imagine if I reread what I have written these last 15 months, I might find a thread to tug and follow that would help me to better understand the evolution of this thought.

For now, I am less inclined to do so. For reasons I cannot explain, I have reached up and tugged that chain and light
               falls warm over me--lightens the darkened, heavy spaces I have known.

It's a matter of choice. When the body and the soul are ready--it's always a matter of choice.  I had forgotten. 


  1. Seems like we are both choosing life. My letters are getting lighter. One day I just stopped waking up in tears. What a thrill to watch a movie and enjoy it.
    My best to you on your journey to living brilliantly MaryAnn

    1. A strange and necessary journey for sure. Perhaps we might meet?


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