Tuesday, October 10, 2017

SOL17: The Play Set

Sing to Me (M.A. Reilly, 2017, acrylic, watercolor, pencil, gesso, digital remix)

It takes a little more than ten minutes to play Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings and it may well be the saddest and most glorious music I have ever heard. It's best reserved for days that are cloudy, threatening rain. I was listening to the piece two weeks ago when my oldest brother showed up, sawzall in hand, and said he would take the play set apart. I had mentioned the previous week wanting to take it down as I readied the house for sale. It took Jack, Devon and I most of that day to take apart the large wooden play set.

Imagine hearing Barber's music and you'd have a fair representation of how I felt after the play set had been sawed apart.


We moved the pieces to a new location on the lawn: the small slide that used to fit Devon's body just right, the two benches and table where we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, the climbing bars Devon would swing from, the two swings Rob and I sat on moving back and forth as Devon commanded his world from the top of the set behind the acrylic bubble. Later that day after Jack left for home and Devon went upstairs I called a junk remover and set a date for these bits and pieces of my life to be taken away.

Now it is gone and the space left behind is large, looming, and mostly just empty.


Rob and I bought that large wooden play set when Devon was four-years-old and money was more scarce then not. One Saturday afternoon we watched from the deck as men assembled the set in the rear yard. We had moved into the new house the previous year and for the last fourteen years it has sat like a sentry in a corner of the rear yard.

Some days, Rob's death hurts in ways hard to name for somehow in the sting of all of that pain, time somehow moved on.


  1. Saying goodbye to the real that's filled with memories sometimes surprises when it's so hard. It isn't only a 'play set' but holds the past in place. Sometimes these things can be saved in what I always called the "baby boxes" like the favorite outfits & special blankies. And sometimes they have to go, to stay only in our minds. Hugs for this journey, Mary Ann.

  2. The playset, "Now it is gone and the space left behind is large, looming, and mostly just empty." - these words illustrate the physical appearance of the pain you are experiencing. Very poignant. Yes, hugs to you for this journey.

  3. Letting go is a journey many of us are taking as we age and/or lose loved ones. I am trying to learn that memories don't have to be attached to objects, so I can undertake this difficult task of disassembling the objects we've acquired over decades. Yet, it does take your breath away sometimes....

  4. Such a heartfelt piece. I still have random things that were my mother's and she died when I was 14, 36 years ago! As Barbara said, letting go is a journey. I would add, so is grieving. Thinking of you.

  5. Deconstructing these physical momentos of our lives, the things we associate with our children, feels like peeling skin. As you say, time moves on, but I still feel guilty when I purge my home of relics from the past. The readying the house for sale is something we're discussing and preparing to do. My granddaughter has reminded me that she has many memories here, so she expects us to stay put.

  6. That last line is so haunting. Yes, time does move on...even in the midst of soul shattering pain.


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