My Journey Through Overwhelming Grief

by | Jun 22, 2023 | My Wild and Precious Life

The following story is taken from a chapter in my book, My Wild and Precious Life: A Memoir of Joy, Grief & Adventure. This story describes my son’s dying process from cancer, the grief journey of a complex family and the aftermath of this powerful experience. Each person’s encounter with death and grief is unique to that individual. However, I hope this story of my journey with grief will give you, dear reader, a bit of comfort and hope.

Grief is the reminder of the depth of our love. Without love, there is no grief.

So when we feel our grief, uncomfortable and aching as it may be,

it is actually a reminder of the beauty of that love, now lost. —Dalai Lama


My son, Rick Rocker, was a charming, smart and fun-loving guy. Even though he didn’t enjoy studying, he always earned top grades in school. He loved going with me to pick strawberries from the local patch when we lived in Kingsburg and then he would help me make the most delicious strawberry freezer jam. We had a very special connection. Rick made it a point to take over as “man of the house” whenever his father would be gone on his many trips. One time, as I stood at the kitchen sink washing our dinner dishes, Rick came up and stood behind me and put his arms around my waist because he had often seen his father do that. He was about twelve years old. This is a very sweet memory.

Rick always said his only goal in life was to follow in his father’s footsteps. So Rick went to work for his dad at his insurance office as soon as he graduated from high school rather than attend college. He was so happy to be working so closely with his dad and his father was proud to have him as a junior partner.

The next thing Rick wanted was to marry his high school sweetheart, Peggy. They had dated for most of their high school years and were very much in love. We put together an elaborate wedding ceremony and reception for them, with over 300 guests attending. It was a joyous event shared by friends, family members and his father’s co-workers.

Rick moved out of our home and he and Peggy moved into their own apartment nearby to start their new life together. I was sad to lose him from my daily life, but very glad that he and Peggy were so happy. I remember trying very hard to be a good mother-in-law by not bothering them too much or offering a lot of suggestions.


Rick and Peggy’s first child, Stephanie Ann, was born a little over a year after they were married. I began to take care of Stephanie on weekdays and often overnight since they were both working full-time. Our youngest son, Matt, was only three years older than Stephanie and they eventually became good play mates. I remember holding Stephanie in my lap many times as I sat on our antique oak rocking chair, trying to comfort her as she sobbed, crying, “I want my mommy and daddy.” She eventually began to enjoy all of the animals and fun activities on our expansive ranch. Over the next several years three more children were born to Rick and Peggy—Ashleigh, Richard and Jarod.

I have enjoyed these darling grandchildren very much over the years.  Each one continues to impress me with their intelligence, strong work ethic, empathy and joyful spirit. As I write this in 2023, they have given me six beautiful great-grandchildren to cherish. They have all graduated from college and have excellent jobs, contributing to the well-being of their communities. I am so proud of them all.


Unfortunately, at some point Rick and Peggy began to use drugs. Years later I discovered that they eventually squandered everything, became homeless and began to take advantage of the good nature of their children, who were quickly becoming young adults. I was consumed with the duties of my new job as CEO for Girl Scouts of the central coast and didn’t visit Fresno often during this time. They always made an effort to cover up evidence of their deteriorating lifestyle whenever I would come for a visit. Rick was a smooth talker, just like his father, so he was able to easily explain away any concerns I had from time to time.

Thankfully as I write this, Peggy has pulled her life together beautifully. She married a really nice man, is a wonderful mother to her children and a doting grandmother to her grandchildren. I am thrilled to see the whole family so healthy and happy.



All of my children, grandchildren and great children share bloodlines with the Peoria Indian tribe, which is part of the Cherokee Nation, through their father’s genetics. They have enjoyed many benefits over the years such as funding for higher education, healthcare and other living expenses.  Rick and Peggy had moved to Oklahoma, living on the Peoria Indian reservation, when he became very sick just after he turned 50 years old. They decided to move back to Kingsburg to be near friends and family. I soon realized that Rick was much sicker than anyone had expected.

I was at a board meeting for Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics when Rick’s doctor called me. I excused myself and walked out into the hallway to take the call. The doctor said Rick had an advanced case of liver cancer. I asked about the process and the prognosis and he said Rick would receive regular treatments of chemotherapy but that he probably wouldn’t live longer than six months. I asked if Rick’s long-term use of methamphetamine likely contributed to his cancer and the doctor said he couldn’t know for sure but that meth damages all of a person’s organs.

The news hit me hard but I walked back into the board meeting and quietly took my seat until it was over.

I made a visit to Hospice of Santa Barbara the next day. I remembered how helpful their grief counseling had been after my dad died, and I knew they could give me some guidance about how to support my family through this crisis. Jim Hill, a Hospice counselor, met me at the door and invited me inside. I explained the situation and asked if I could have some of their booklets to distribute to my family members. He asked, “What about you?” I said I would deal with my own grief after the fact because I needed to give my energy to my children and grandchildren. He responded, “I’ll give you plenty of booklets if you agree to come meet with me every Wednesday at 4:00.” I quickly agreed and gratefully took several of his pamphlets. I read through them and decided which one to give to which person.


Rick and Peggy eventually moved into a small studio behind our son Baird’s house and I began to make regular visits to Kingsburg to check on Rick’s progress. Thankfully I kept a journal to record many of these visits. Of course all of Rick’s siblings, children and his wife were devastated by the news. I knew right away that I would play a key support role throughout his journey over the coming months. I felt honored to be able to provide this encouragement.

I tried hard to be completely present to each person during my visits. I felt so privileged to have been able to walk beside these dear ones in their journey through grief, confusion, and sadness—especially since I was a fellow traveler along that road. The next few pages are taken from the journal I kept during my visits.


I arrived in Kingsburg at Baird’s house on a Friday evening in mid-May, 2012 to find Rick and Baird sitting on the couch located on the patio beside the house. I sat with them while they bantered about where to eat and what to wear. Peggy came in wearing a pretty blue blouse and got caught up on the where-to-eat banter.

Finally, at about 7:30 the big dinner decision was made and we all loaded into my car and off we went on the long, but beautiful drive to Reedley where we planned to eat at the Schoolhouse Restaurant (previously Sherwood Inn).

It was a little unnerving driving at my usual fast pace on the country roads where you never know when a fruit-laden truck or slow moving car might appear out of nowhere. I used to drive these roads with ease when I was raising the kids—even in dense fog. But now I was used to driving on city roads and freeways, not country roads, so I felt very vulnerable.

 We arrived at the restaurant around 8:00. It was a place that held years of memories for each of us. The hostess seated us at a booth and we settled in to read the menu and discuss favorite dishes and engage in long-forgotten reminiscing of how the place used to look years ago. Finally our dinners arrived; we were all hungry and dove in with gusto. I looked at Rick, who had taken three bites of his dinner, and his hands were covering his face and he looked like he was going to get sick or cry. Immediately Baird got up to take him outside to the car.

While they were outside, Peggy and I had a rare few minutes to talk. This time could not have been orchestrated if we tried. I expressed my sorrow for her pain and acknowledged her rough journey. She cried and seemed to appreciate my concern for her. I urged her to take advantage of Ashleigh’s offer to take her on a tour of the local Hospice facility so she could become familiar with their services. I explained a bit of the difference between the goals of a medical professional versus that of a hospice worker—the former tries to heal the patient, while the latter works to make the last weeks and months as comfortable and rewarding as possible.

Soon Baird was back and we asked the waitress to box up all our dinners, and then we left the restaurant. Rick lay down in the back seat, feeling sick. Evidently he was supposed to eat frequently to keep from feeling nauseated, but because he knew we were going out to eat, he had not eaten for too long a period of time. So, after taking just a few bites of his dinner he felt nauseated. I arrived back at my hotel around 9:30 after taking everyone home and fell into an exhausted sleep.

The next morning, I did a few exercises in the Kingsburg Hotel gym, had a bit of coffee, answered a few emails and then packed up and drove the 30 minutes to Fresno to visit with my son, Matt, and his youngest daughter, Mellissa. After that I left to drive to my granddaughter Ashleigh’s apartment where I met all Rick’s children—Stephanie, Ashleigh, Richard, and Jarod—who were just finishing up helping with a summer church day camp for low income kids in the neighborhood. All sizes and shapes of kids filled the large park-like setting, playing games, eating hot dogs, and just hanging out. After cleaning everything up and putting away all the tables, chairs and equipment, we loaded up and drove to the Chinese restaurant in Kingsburg to meet Baird for lunch.


Once we were seated, I gave each of them a booklet from Hospice about how to have meaningful conversations with someone who is dying. I talked a bit about what I had learned from my Hospice grief counselor and urged them to go to Hospice counseling themselves. I told them I learned about how we all die in the same way we have lived and, therefore, they should not expect their dad to change his ways just because he is dying.

I also reminded them to be gentle with their mother because she was in the process of losing her husband of 34 years. I suggested to Ashleigh that she take Peggy for a tour of the local Hospice so she could get more comfortable with the idea of their eventual help.

After lunch I headed south to Baird’s house in Kingsburg for a final farewell. I sat next to Rick who was sitting on the couch on the side patio. He admired my horseshoe ring that I’d had for so many years, and then touched my hand and teared up saying what a big part of his life I had played for so many years. He pleaded, “Mommy can you take this away?” We just sat there for a long while and I hugged him while we cried together.

After a while I left and Baird walked me out to my car. He said he was able to get Rick to sign the advanced health care directive, which was a big deal. I brought one on my last visit, but Rick was too overwhelmed to sign it or even consider it. I was glad this important detail was taken care of. I asked Baird who was appointed as Rick’s health care agent. He said it was him and started crying. We stood out on the driveway, Baird and I, while I held my 6’ 3” son close and he sobbed and sobbed. He said how hard it was for him to see the life leaving Rick’s body each day. I told him how brave and courageous he was to take on this role for Rick and the family. And I acknowledged how hard it must be. We parted with another hug and I drove home.

My next four-hour drive to Kingsburg to visit Rick was mid-June. He looked much worse than the previous month. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised about that, but it was so hard to watch him deteriorate like this. He was skinnier, sadder and more tired. He was declining more rapidly and his distended stomach made him look like he was seven months pregnant. He was scheduled to get his stomach pumped the next week and then go to the oncologist to have the reading of his CT scan. At that time he would decide, once again, whether he would continue with the chemo treatment or not.

We went to the Kingsburg Chinese restaurant, at his request, only to have him get sick after two bites. We boxed it all up and drove home. He and I just sat quietly on the couch outside. He told me that I had provided him with a wonderful childhood and he really appreciated it. He said it was important for me to know this. I thanked him and told him it meant a lot to me that he felt that way.

I took Stephanie, Ashleigh, Matt and his three daughters to a very nice lunch at Red Robin. Stephanie and Ashleigh cried as we talked about Rick in the parking lot. Afterwards I took Matt and his three daughters to the zoo, trying to maintain a certain degree of normalcy for the young ones.

In July I drove to Fresno to visit Rick and to make plans for his funeral. Rick looked worse than ever. He was skinnier, couldn’t talk very much, and couldn’t focus his eyes. He had not eaten for several days. I reminded Baird and Peggy that a loss of appetite was a normal indication of the end stages of the dying process. I reminded them of the booklet I had given them called Journey’s End and encouraged them to read it to prepare themselves for the physical stages of dying.

During this visit I had dinner with my long-time good friends, Helen Cummings and her son, Bill. It was a warm time of connecting with old friends who care about me—just what I needed. After dinner I went to spend the night with my close friends, Mary Roach and her husband, David Burchard, who gave me loving support, like angels ministering to me.


Ashleigh called me the next day to say they put Rick in the hospital because he was bleeding internally. I went to Fresno Community Hospital and stayed with him, along with Peggy, all day for the next two days. I could tell I was getting sick but tried to keep it to myself. I had intended to stay two more days, but I had to leave because I had a terrible sore throat and could hardly talk.

While I was sitting by Rick’s bed patting his arm, he reminded me that this was the third time I had sat at his hospital bed patting his arm. I was curious which three times he was referring to. He said the first was when he had his appendix out in eighth grade; the second was when he was badly burned when trying to incinerate his trash with gasoline; and this was the third. He said, “You’ve always been there for me, Mom, no matter what.” What a precious moment that was.


About a week later, I was having a glass of wine with a friend at a local winery in Santa Barbara when my phone rang. It was Peggy in tears. I could hardly understand her through her sobs, but she seemed to be saying something about having read the booklet I gave her and that she just realized Rick was displaying all the signs of dying. I comforted her the best I could and guaranteed I would be there for her.

Ashleigh called me after I got home to say that Rick was near death. He was still in the hospital but the doctors were meeting at 11:00 the next morning to determine when to send him home to die. She said they had already removed all the IVs and monitors.

I packed my things and left early the next morning so I could be there for the meeting with the doctors. I’m so glad I was there. Peggy and Ashleigh were present, but they clearly deferred to me to ask questions, remember answers and talk with the clinicians. After that, we all sat vigil at Rick’s bedside every day until they sent him home on Saturday, July 14. Peggy and I drove in my car and they transported Rick in an ambulance to the little studio behind Baird’s house in Kingsburg. Peggy and I stopped by CVS to drop off a prescription for Rick and by the time we got to Baird’s house, Rick was already there. He was sitting on the outside couch—for the last time.

I stayed with Rick and the others for most of the day Saturday and then I drove back to Mary and David’s house for a little personal respite. I had planned to drive home once I was sure Rick was settled into his studio. But something told me to stay. Hospice was coming on Sunday to officially sign him up as a patient, so I decided to stay for that to make sure everything went smoothly and everyone felt good about it. By the end of Sunday, though, I could tell Rick didn’t have long to live, so I decided to just stay. I visited with Rick and the others the next day and did a few funeral errands. I had touching talks with Baird, Matt, Peggy, and all of Rick’s children.

The next day, Tuesday, people began to arrive to tell Rick goodbye. Rick’s brother, Mike, called me to say he would arrive the next day.

I felt an overwhelming need to say just the right thing to everyone and to Rick to ease his transition, but I couldn’t think of what to say. I walked across the other side of the street for privacy and frantically called Hospice in Santa Barbara, hoping to talk to Jim Hill or to get someone to read parts of the booklet, Compassionate Conversations, to me since I had not brought my copy. The lady who answered talked to me, but mostly reiterated the key points I already remembered—except she reminded me that hearing is always the last sense to go.

So, that gave me an idea. I called Mike and told him Rick would probably be dead by the end of the day and if he wanted to, I would hold my cell phone to Rick’s ear and he could say his goodbyes. He liked the idea and it worked perfectly. I held the cell phone to Rick’s ear and, even though Rick was non-responsive, I could tell he knew what was going on and was glad to hear from Mike.

Ashleigh called Pastor Chris, their family minister, who arrived that afternoon. He invited everyone to join him around Rick’s bed for prayer. There were about 15 people there. Pastor Chris stood at the head of the bed, read scripture, prayed for Rick’s perfect healing and then anointed his forehead with oil. A few people said some parting words to Rick and then we all filed out of the room. People went back to mingling and talking in small groups and wandering into Rick’s room from time to time.

Everyone was feeling so bad about the suffering Rick was enduring. He was breathing only because of the oxygen machine, hadn’t eaten for a very long time, couldn’t swallow and couldn’t speak or focus his eyes. About 15 minutes after the prayer, Rick passed. It was so sad but also beautiful!

I had a tough talk with Peggy the day before. I said that her kids and I had all told Rick that it was okay for him to leave, and I had promised Rick I would make sure Peggy and the kids were always okay. But I told Peggy that I thought Rick might be holding on because he knew she wasn’t ready for him to go yet. I urged her to find a time soon to tell him she was ready. She cried and said she wasn’t ready. I told her that she would never feel ready, even ten years from now. She agreed to tell him so he could be relieved of his suffering. I believe that was part of the reason he was able to finally let go.

About an hour after Rick died, Hospice arrived and then called Creighton’s Funeral Home, which sent two transporters to bring his body to the funeral home. They were very kind people. My whole being was riveted on watching Rick’s body as they covered him with a sheet and transferred him to the gurney. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him as they wheeled him toward the waiting hearse. There were only about three or four of us involved in this process. The others were sitting around talking, clearly relieved that Rick’s suffering had ended.  As I stood by the car and they were putting him inside, I cried and cried. My eyes searched for the last sight of his fuzzy beard sticking up from the sheet. Then the door was closed and off they went. Love went riding in the hearse that day.

I decided to stay the next day so I could take Peggy to the funeral home and wrap up the final burial details. Ashleigh and I spent the day together doing funeral errands—headstone design, florist, supplies for the reception and caterer. We picked up Peggy and went to the cemetery to pick out the plot and then to Creighton’s for her to sign the papers and make final arrangements. Finally, I left Kingsburg at 5:00 pm to drive home. I was so tired already and I had almost four hours to drive. But I used the time to call a few people to let them know about Rick’s passing—my mother and brother, some of his father’s long-time friends and a few of my friends.


I arrived in Carpinteria just before 9:00 pm and all I could think of was going to Corktree Cellars (my favorite Carpinteria restaurant at the time) to get a hug from Annie (the manager), get a glass of wine and some of their homemade macaroons. I went there but Ann had already gone home, so I ordered macaroons to go. As I stood at the bar waiting for them, I saw my friend, Jordan, sitting with his parents at one of the tables. I tried to ignore him because I was too tired to talk, but thought better of it. I went over to say hi and he gave me a hug. His father said I looked tired and I explained that I had just driven four hours from Fresno. His father said he hoped I had had a good trip to Fresno. With that, I started crying and told them my son had just died. I felt foolish but couldn’t help myself. I picked up the macaroons and went home to eat them with a glass of wine and watch Ally McBeal, which turned out to be about a guy dying of cancer!

Now it was time to prepare for the funeral. I took a bunch of old photos to Samy’s Camera store to make copies, so I could create a collage of Rick’s life. The sales lady tried to show me how to use the scanner, but it was too complicated and overwhelming and I just started crying, saying I would pay the extra amount for her to do the scanning for me. She was very kind and understanding. I picked up the scanned photos from Samy’s the next day and took them to Aaron Brothers where the people there were very kind, put the collage together and finished it by the next day. It was beautiful and they were very proud of the result.

My friend and co-worker, Bonnie Campbell, took the program I had designed to Boone Graphics in Santa Barbara where they printed it on fancy card stock. They delivered it to me in just a few hours and didn’t charge me anything. It seemed I had angels ministering to me everywhere.

Thursday, July 19, two days after Rick’s death would have been his 52nd birthday. His kids and I agreed that we would all eat chocolate cake with chocolate frosting drenched with milk in his honor because it was his favorite birthday dessert.


Rick’s funeral was on Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 10:00 am. It was everything I had hoped it would be—beautiful guitar and keyboard music by Ashleigh’s friend, a lovely solo by another of her friends, great bagpipe music by Richard’s friend, Tim Greene, and lots of touching stories shared by friends and family. About 150 people crowded into the little chapel with standing room only. Many Kingsburg people came who saw the obituary I had written in the newspaper just the day before—Wayne Larson (our long-time family friend), several members of the Workman family, people from KCAPS (a nonprofit I founded) and many other people we knew when we lived in Kingsburg.


All of our children except Matt attended. Rick’s father did not attend. Both absences were a source of additional sadness to many people there. Wayne wept as he asked me why Rick’s dad wasn’t there. I will probably never understand why my ex-husband and son were not willing to set aside their own discomfort to pay their respects to Rick. It seemed selfish and disrespectful; disrespectful to Rick and also to the family and all the other people who showed up.

I served as the emcee, welcoming everyone in the beginning of the service and then inviting people to share stories. I was delighted that so many people shared such tender stories—even Rick’s long-time friend, Penny Workman, talked a bit about the night her brother, Scott, was killed as he, Rick and another friend, Dave Wells, were celebrating Rick’s 21st birthday. I was afraid that people wouldn’t share, but I was glad that they did. Pam wasn’t sure if she was going to share, but she excitedly called me the day before to say she had thought of some stories to tell. Her stories were particularly moving.


At the end of the service, my grandson Richard’s friend, Tim, played the first verse of Amazing Grace on the bagpipes standing at the front of the chapel. Then he walked down the center aisle playing the next verses while Richard carried the box containing Rick’s cremains, walking behind Tim. A framed drawing of Rick, drawn by my grandson, Jarod, sat at the front of the church surrounded by flowers. Jarod also etched an image of Rick on the cremains box—and it was absolutely beautiful.


After the service, we hung out a bit outside the chapel and then we got in our cars and followed the hearse to the cemetery. My friend, Dee Ptak, rode with me. The interment service at Kingsburg Cemetery was short but very nice. Family members placed a white rose on the cremains box area (Peggy’s rose was red) and I handed out six small red boxes of cremains to those who had requested them. Afterward we gathered at Rick’s good friend Tony George’s house for the reception. Lots of people were there and we had a sweet time visiting, eating together and sharing stories about Rick. I was so glad to see my nieces, Karin and Laurie Rocker, and I was touched that my good friend, Mary Roach, attended and stayed a long time. I left to drive back to Santa Barbara around 4:00 pm, tired but satisfied that Rick had a good send-off.

Rick visited me in my dreams often for the next three months. This was both comforting and disconcerting—comforting because I loved having him so close and disconcerting because each of the dreams was so real. One time we were lying on the living room floor on our backs, touching fingertips, and he said, “You are receiving and I am transforming.” Another time he interlaced his fingers with mine and said, “When I hold your hand I am transformed by your energy.” In another one he said, “Mom, it was so important to me that you were there for me and my family.”

There were some funny dreams, too, and I am grateful that I wrote so many of them down at the time. Looking back to when Rick was starting his family, I treasure the times he would call me out of the blue and thank me for being such a good mother to him. He always wanted me to know how much he appreciated me.


I learned several lessons through Rick’s dying journey. I realized Jim Hill at Hospice had given me a valuable gift when he insisted that I meet with him weekly. I actually had a counseling session with Jim at 4:00 pm every Wednesday for nine months—giving me the support I needed for my family during the months leading up to Rick’s death, helping me through the dying journey itself and working with me for several months after Rick’s passing to process my own grief.

I also learned that we die the way we lived. We shouldn’t expect the one who is dying to behave in any particular way, especially not in a way that is different from the way that person had lived. If that person had been quiet and emotionally unavailable in their life, the same behavior should be expected during the dying process and vice versa. We must be careful not to expect someone to die the way we would die because the way we would die is the way we live.

Our natural tendency as humans is to turn away from any type of pain—physical or emotional. But with the pain of grief (and perhaps other types of pain as well), it’s better if we try to turn into the pain and face it, in fact, embrace it. Only if we do this will we be able to fully experience the blessing of a loved one’s final moments. We must diligently work at being present with the one who is dying and with our own pain and grief simultaneously. If we do this, we will open places deep within ourselves that can’t be opened any other way and may otherwise remain hidden from us.


On the second anniversary of Rick’s passing his children asked if I would create a ceremony for us to commemorate his life. They all came over to Carpinteria for the weekend and we had a precious time together. I designed a ceremony using the four elements: Fire, Water, Air and Earth. We all gathered under an oak tree around a wooden picnic bench on a little sand hill by the ocean for this observance of his life.


As fire cleanses dross; May the flame of passion for life burn away all sorrow.

We passed a lighted candle around while each one shared a memory or a dream.


As water comes to us as the voice of grief, the cry of love, the flowing tear; May all our inner voyaging keep us attuned to God’s love.

We dipped a sprig of fresh rosemary into a bowl of water and I asked each person to anoint the person next to them with the water.


Let us thank the Earth that offers ground for home and holds our feet firm to walk in space open to infinite galaxies.

Each person read a stanza or two of the poem, Trespasses, by David Whyte and then took a red ceramic heart as a souvenir.


Kingdom of spirit where our departed dwells, nearer to us than ever, where God presides.

We lit a sprig of fresh sage and each person passed it over the head of the person next to them saying, “May this spirit of the air bless you and wrap you in a warm cloak of love.”


Some of my favorite poems and quotes about death and grief

Unconditional by Jennifer Wellwood

“Willing to experience aloneness, I discover connection everywhere;

Turning to face my fear, I meet the warrior who lives within;

Opening to my loss, I gain the embrace of the universe;

Surrendering into emptiness, I find fullness without end.

Each condition I flee from pursues me;

Each condition I welcome transforms me, and becomes transformed

Into its radiant jewel-like essence.

I bow to the one who has made it so, who has crafted this Master Game;

To play it is pure delight;

To honor its form—true devotion.”


Prayer by Mary Oliver

“May I never not be frisky,

  may I never not be risqué.

May my ashes, when you have them, friend,

  and give them to the ocean,

  leap in the froth of the waves,

  still loving movement,

  still ready, beyond all else,

  to dance for the world.”


Fluent by John O’Donohue

“I would love to live

Like a river flows,

Carried by the surprise

Of its own unfolding.”


When Death Comes (last three stanzas) by Mary Oliver

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

 When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder

  if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,

  or full of argument.

 I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”


In Blackwater Woods (last two stanzas) by Mary Oliver

To live in this world

you must be able to do three things:

  to love what is mortal;

  to hold it against your bones knowing

  your own life depends on it;

  and, when the times comes to let it go,

  to let it go.”


The Well of Grief by David Whyte

Those who will not slip beneath

            the still surface on the well of grief

 turning downward through its black water

            to the place we cannot breathe

 will never know the source from which we drink,

            the secret water, cold and clear,

 nor find in the darkness glimmering

            the small round coins

            thrown by those who wished for something else.”


From The Lost Hotels of Paris by Jack Gilbert

 “But it’s the having not the keeping that is the treasure.”



“Don’t turn your head away; keep looking at that bandaged place. That’s where the light comes in.”