6 Years Gone By

March 15, 2021



A voice is sent

To calm our deepest fears


A hearty laugh

Will banish our tears


Words will wing

Our dreaming ever higher

And sometimes

A mind will set

Our imagining afire. 

Reading this poem, I immediately found myself saying, “This is what Philip was for me.”

The poem was written and recited by John Quinn in memorial to his friend, the Irish poet, John O’Donohue. Quinn was one of many who gathered in January 2008 to celebrate the life and mourn the death of O’Donohue–poet, grand human being, and inspiration to many.

I hope Quinn won’t mind my borrowing his poem to mark the sixth anniversary of Philip’s death. In fact, I’m enjoying the image of the three ‘fellas’ (two as Irish as the day is long) sitting together in an Irish sort of Heaven (a pub), enjoying a glass of “the black stuff” (a Guinness) and engaging in ‘fierce’ (good, great, excellent) conversation.

As my envoi, Philip’s voice soothed my heart like warm honey in tea. His laugh tickled and delighted, while his words were a constant inspiration.  His mind never stopped reaching, imagining, and drawing me forward.  I doubt I’d ever have traveled as far or wide or deep (in the world or in myself) without the initial impetus of his longings and creative courage.

We are often called further into experience than we’d like to go, but it is this extra leap that lands us in the vibrant center of what it means to be alive (Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening).  

This, too, Philip did for me. He ‘landed me in my vibrant center’ of meaning and aliveness.

On this sixth anniversary of his death, I turn to the photo I took from my Eastern facing windows the other evening—a magical but fleeting moment of splendor in the sky. The beauty filled my heart with gratitude and sweet sorrow. I still wonder where the spirit goes when it leaves its earthly body. Alongside sitting in a celestial pub having a crack with two Irish poets, I like imagining Philip gently nestled in a couch as light and soft as these clouds, softly chuckling over some good book. I imagine cuddling up with him to share his love and laughter, his pondering and dreaming.  

I’ve learned much in these past six years—six years that have been long, short, and everything in-between; six years I still cannot believe I’ve lived through in the absence of Philip’s physical presence. Perhaps the most reassuring thing I’ve come to understand in these years is that he was, and perhaps, even more so now, has become, an integral part of me. The person I loved is a part of who I am and a big part of who I love in myself. I still live within the sanctuary of the life and the love we created together.

Of course, I’d give everything to hear his laugh or a song right here, coming from his person. I’d even give a lot to have one of our heated conversations in which, in frustration, he’d finally say, “Just listen again. You just don’t understand yet. When you understand, I know you’ll agree with me.” Oh, infuriating man.  

But return in the body … no, that’s not how this story goes.

As so many before me who’ve struggled with the loss of the one they love, I carry on in the life I’ve been given to live. I find John O’Donohue has words for this:

There are journeys we have begun that have brought us great inner riches and refinement; but we had to travel through dark valleys of difficulty and suffering. Had we known at the beginning what the journey would demand of us, we might never have set out. Yet the rewards and gifts became vital to who we are…” (To Bless the Space Between Us).

On this day, I feel compelled to give thanks for the love Philip gave me, and to express gratefulness for his leading me to all that’s vital to who I am and who I am ever becoming. My love flies out (and in), always. And, particularly today, in special heart-aching, heart-warmed grace and gratitude.

This Precious Life

During the last few days, a dear friend’s daughter gave birth to a little girl and another friend’s 97-year-old mother went to sleep and didn’t wake for three days and three nights. Celebrating birth, I received texts and phone calls and adorable newborn baby photos. Contemplating imminent death, my friend, sitting sleepless at her sleeping mother’s bedside, and I texted about letting go. In a 21st century conversation, with words pared down to the minimum and no disturbance to her somnolent mom, we shared fear and love.

In the last few months, I have found much solace in meditations by The Art of Meditation teacher—Burgs. He explains that in the Buddhist tradition, this human incarnation is a rare and precious event, not easily achieved, not to be taken for granted. Certainly not to be wasted. He ponders why we have arrived here now. How long our souls may have waited and longed for this opportunity to be blessed with the extraordinary good fortune of our human birth.

As I listen to him, I imagine a celestial gathering of souls lining up and waiting with saint-like patience for their turn to enter a human body. Like waiting in line to get into the Beetles’ concert at Shea Stadium in 1965? A once in a lifetime opportunity. No, that’s not right …. And not nearly serious enough. A soul achieving this highest of births is an exceptional spiritual happening. A privilege and an opportunity. How do we forget this?

Buddhist or not … I am gifted, reminded by the darling little being who’s just dared to enter the world and by the 97-year-old, who, like Sleeping Beauty, has waked from her three-day sleep. (She’s still here, still wants to participate in her extraordinary life). Both brave beings inspire me to ask what I am doing with my one precious life. Am I treasuring this brief time? Am I choosing Life and Love so that my soul extends and expands to its greatest potential? And if not, hadn’t I best get started?

For Philip’s Birthday

This year, on this day, November 19th, Philip would have turned seventy-three. Seventy-three—an age hard to fathom from where I sit so uncomfortably near to it. How did we get this old? I’m five years younger than Philip and have become accustomed to my sixties. But seventies? Isn’t that an undeniable border-crossing? A first step beyond middle-aged?

In my inner images of Philip, the man I carry gently tucked into the corners of my soul, he is forever young. The vulnerable man-child who, at our first encounter, reached for me, pulled me into his arms, and whispered, “Ahh, it’s you.” The rapscallion charmer who toasted me with a wink at our picnic wedding, acting more like a flirt on a pickup than a bridegroom. The whimsical dreamer, ever walking us into our next adventure.

“We carry within us the wonders we seek without us.” I read this quote from Thomas Brown (in Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening. 2000, 2020) and thought of Philip’s never-ending longing for his place on the planet. Was he mistaking the wonders without for those within? Do we ever find home? Is there some coordinate on a map where we belong, where we finally inhale reflected recognition and exhale a resounding relief? Ahh … here it is. We are home.

 But must we accept that the inward turn is the only way to go (or stay)? Might there be another way or a combination of ways for some to attain the inner life? Would Philip ever have been able to nest, to settle into a physical place? Or was he bound to wander, to seek? He who otherwise spoke and wrote incessantly of the longings of the soul for the inward-facing life. He who chose to walk slowly so to be with a place. He who–rather than explore the tourist sites of a new town, preferred to sit on the city’s riverbank, savoring a ripe peach, and, from a contemplative distance, view an ancient cathedral.

Were his wonders solely within? He was also inclined to pack up his picnic, catch the next train, map out the route to the next destination, hail the next boat-taxi. He sat in the prow of the boats we took on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala like a happy dog with his ears flapping back in the wind, scenting and anticipating what was to come in the next port.

Was this impossibly contradictory soul happiest when he was on his way to the next possibility? A nomad, a gypsy? The one who takes to the road to find himself and his solace. Is it an absolute that salvation lies only in a turning within? Or are some of us destined to traverse a more roving, a more transient path on our way to that inner home?

Perhaps, we should have invested in a gypsy caravan (a small RV? A houseboat?) and spent our years wandering. Maybe it would have been a life of staying only long enough to imbibe the beauty and awe of a place, traveling with John Ruskin’s two aims for art: to find beauty in the particularity of each locale and/or to make sense of pain. Our vagabond life—a work of art.

In our simple rolling or floating home, we might, ironically, have found our ground in movement, in flow. Rather than seeking the one place to settle, perhaps, we were more akin to the traveler, Levison Wood, who feared that “getting stuck in one place meant a loss of momentum and with that the prospect of getting stuck in one narrative…” (An Arabian Journey, 2018). Possibly, had we shifted our narrative, no longer seeking a singular home, we might have found more satisfaction in the unsettled, more fluid way of life we’d unwittingly adopted. Perhaps, a narrative embracing a life on the road or the water would have allowed us to build our inward home, one we would furnish with all the splendors and sorrows of the wide world. In many ways, we’d already done this. Yet, the story of finding our place on the planet may have blinded us to an alternative way to see it. How powerful–these stories we tell ourselves. These tales we live by.

Mark Nepo says, “Seeking in the world has always been a way to mirror … where we need to work inwardly.”  Perhaps, our way home would have been worked in flux, in search. Possibly, it was a multifaceted narrative, one of external change and diversity—mirroring back an interior journey rather than a settled existence.

Nepo quotes Saint Francis as saying, “You are that which you are seeking.” Maybe Philip was a seeker mistakenly looking for a place to settle. What he was seeking was the beauty that would ease his pain. Perhaps, a beauty that could not be held still or planted in one spot.

So, my wanderer, my gypsy soulmate, on your Birthday, wherever you roam and wherever you rest, I wish you love. I send you all the love I have found to furnish my inmost home in this time when I’m still here … and you have gone on.

A Beautiful Book

Dear Friends and Readers,

HamnetI am delighted to have published a response to this captivating novel in which I’ve recently been deliciously immersed. The author, Maggie O’Farrell, transported me into a captivating world far from our time and place (Elizabethan England) yet reflecting so much that matters here and now, inwardly and out. The novel I read and loved is called Hamnet. For anyone who enjoys historical fiction, please, don’t miss this book. I won’t say anymore so that you will, I hope, read about it in my review on Christine Christman’s website, Goodwords Inc.

Here’s the review

Christine’s website provides a rich and bountiful resource for readers. Take a wander around it at your readerly leisure:  https://www.goodwordsinc.net/

The book reviews give you more than a good summary and taste of what the books are about. To focus my review, she asked me to respond to the following questions:

  1. What did I learn about myself?
  2. What did I learn about my world?
  3. What new possibilities did this book help me imagine?

Attempting to respond to these points gave me an opportunity to reflect more deeply about the book than I otherwise would have. I hope you enjoy the review enough that it makes you want to read the book. It would be a great book club book.

Wishing all and each of you well and staying relatively sane in these challenging times.

Posted with love,


Announcing … Audiobook Version of Life with an Impossible Person

At 5:35 a.m., a single ray of sunlight sneaked through the crack in the curtains. It sent just enough light into the room to rouse me from the tail-end of a dream in which a locomotive crashed through and devastated my dream-home.20200524_055336

Waking, I lay still, catching my breath, finding the morning, re-claiming the day-world. Eyes still closed, the light beyond my eyelids gratefully transformed the strange train-wrecked dream-world back into the golden peace of familiarity and a summer morning.

Breathing myself into the break-of-day, I opened my eyes.

Across the room, the ray of light landed with precision on the photograph of Philip that sits above my desk. A sunbeam spotlight lit his face while everything else remained in dusky darkness. Good morning, my love.

The words to an old song stirred in the cave of my memory.

But all I have is a photograph. And I realize you’re not coming back anymore.

What song was that? If Philip were here, he’d sing it instantly, no problem retrieving words or tune. His inner storeroom of old songs was remarkable.

I opened the curtains. Sunlight filled the room with light, dissipated sorrow. More and more, I learn to let the emotions of grief ebb and flow. The sorrow has mostly taken on a sweetness that’s gentler, easier to live with.

Later in the morning, thanks to the Internet, I found Ringo Starr and George Harrison singing the song, “Photograph.” I cried and sang along. Cried for Philip not coming back anymore, cried with the nostalgia of the music and those familiar voices.

I can’t get used to living here, while my heart is broke, my tears I cry for you. /I want you here to have and hold, as the years go by and we grow old and grey. /Now you’re expecting me to live without you, but that’s not something that I’m looking forward to.

Here’s the link to the song if you want to travel back to wherever that tune and those beautiful zany boys take you.


And here’s my good news. The audiobook version of Life with an Impossible Person is now available on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. Or you can use this link. Please, go there and listen to the Free Audible Sample.


The narrator, Katya Jadwick, is an actress with an exceptional ability to place herself fully inside the characters and the story. We have collaborated throughout this last year as she worked on the recording. The result is a reading that has the power to move me to tears, laugh out loud, and ache with longing. Her performance lifts the words off the pages and gently carries the listener into the scenes and emotions of the book.

Katya also happens to be the grownup version of the little girl I met when she was three years old.  Philip carried her on his shoulders, sang, and recited poetry to her. We had the great good fortune to be close to her through her childhood, her teens, and into her young womanhood. She has infused her love for Philip and the depths of her soul into the reading, and, hence, touches the heart over and over again. This performance is a beautiful gift to me, and I believe to all who will listen. Katya’s reading is a spoken-word sunbeam sneaking through the curtains, lovingly illuminating Life with an Impossible Person. Heartfelt thanks, Katya.