Wednesday, September 30, 2009


The new year has come and gone and I did nothing for it besides consume an entire cinnamon babka (over the course of a few days). I am not a religious person, nor was Alan - I think we both considered ourselves spiritual but not observant. Respectful of history and culture but that was the extent of our feelings. In fact I remember Alan saying one year that he had nothing to be forgiven for - and he didn't. He was the consummate good person. Flawless, no, but a genuinely fine human being - so as he gracefully handled the constant challenges to his body and spirit, I understood his attitude. As a friend said to me at one point, "it's someone else's turn". And it was. Disease does not discriminate, and when you face such unrelenting onslaught - faith feels pointless and it's promise, dishonest. Alan would say at times that he felt like he was walking into the wind and this month, for me, felt like that as well. A month that at one time celebrated the moment when we first met, and later our wedding, now marks anniversaries we cannot commemorate - so I am happy when certain dates come and go. Every day I reflect on what we had, and thank Alan for Lily, our most beautiful memento. But the grief continues and September felt particularly cruel. The seasons are changing and that means time passing. Time passing without him.

But I know Alan has been looking after us. Over the past few months he has graced us with whispers and music and signs. One day Lily and I watched as a young tattooed dad sat on our bench and played the guitar to his baby girl. Some mornings Lily and I, from our bench, have seen a woman jog by with a T-shirt saying "I (sign) A.R.". In California when I told someone my baby's name was Lily she smiled and said "Oh, that's my name". I said "Oh you're Lily?", she replied, "No, Susan. Its Hebrew translation is Lily." I looked it up and sure enough, it is. Alan chose her name and perhaps he wasn't aware of the connection - but to me it is fatefully serendipitous. And the other day when I was on hold, having a particularly low moment, on came "Midnight Train to Georgia". Many, many afternoons I sat alongside Alan on the bed as he played it on the guitar and cued me in on back-up vocals. It was his one request at our wedding - and oh how he smiled as he sang it with our friends, all crowded behind mics shared with the band. When he was happy I was over the moon, because Alan deserved to let go and relish in unfettered joy. Seeing that was beautiful. Tonight I playfully argued with him over Mardi-Gras beads Lily was chewing on. They typically hang over a portrait he made of his beloved Bulldog, Duncan, and Lily has taken to patting Duncan's photo and going for the beads. I cherish the moment while I worry about plastic, peeling, paint-coated beads made in toxic places. Alan whispered, "Oh Snooze, let her have 'em." We compromised. She gets a few chews and hums, and then they are gently pried from her grip and lovingly returned to Duncan's shrine. And then we tell Duncan to lick Alan for us and tell him we love him and think of him all the time. All the time.

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