Tag Archives: death


I hoped he was dead when I woke the next morning,  eight hours after I left him holding the hand of the next hospice volunteer. We call it “vigil:”  a bearing witness and keeping company with the actively dying. We do it for them and their loved ones —  exhausted, grieving families and friends — who are desperate […]

Briefly through

  Timmy Wind blows briefly through his parents’ helpless arms less a child than an element that could not bear the heavy head the veiled light the damp and dimpled fingers the constraint of flesh where once was space the intolerable capture of his formless beauty Timmy Wind blows briefly through the life he did […]

x-ray xray of hand


Here alone am I the most vital thing if you don’t count the birds a hummingbird’s wings beat every .02 seconds that live in the canopy of trees above the headstones. I sit on a bench near the cemetery’s edge to meditate but my mind wanders neurons mediate thought in the span of a hummingbird’s […]

Food chain

If you feed wild birds long enough,  you begin to feel as if you are doing something important. Especially during the winter, when the mercury flirts with zero and every natural food source  is blanketed in snow,  the birds come to depend on your largesse. In return, they reliably offer pleasures only sporadically available in the realm […]

That dog won’t hunt

As the news cycle surrounding George H.W. Bush’s death slowly petered out last week, I encountered stories about the late president’s service dog, and images described touchingly as the yellow lab paying his last respects. Prepared to get weepy, I opened a photo of the dog one news organization described as “guarding” his dead master’s […]


  Pray; tell: What do you keep out? And what, in?

If you could

  The ghosts of fawns haunt roadways where countless, careless cars ruined their immaculate forms, where does stood vigil, bewildered by their sudden stillness. The ghosts of fawns are prey in secret gulches, they are tufts of coarse fur, they are bleached bones, they are perfect cloven hooves small as your thumb. Your hand, your […]


  I saw you there the night before, a leggy black pearl against the glossy white tub, and made a note: Spider. Remove before showering. And the next morning remembered too late, and bore your sodden body to the sunny deck rail where I had meant to leave you, alive. And lay you there gently, […]

A last request

  I read recently that certain cells go on without us, that 30 minutes postmortem, or 48 hours, or 96, genes transcript, activity commences, continues, increases. Stem cells repair themselves for days. Weeks. All this time I thought it enough to run the living numbers: three years since the skin you last touched regenerated, two […]

Reading lists

The other evening I was on the phone with my best friend Chele, who lives in Michigan’s wild, wintry Upper Peninsula.  I was sharing with her a meditation from Being With Dying,   Zen priest Joan Halifax’s reflections from decades of helping the dying and the living consider the inevitability of their own deaths. Chele […]