Sincere Condolences

I have known one person who died from the Covid-19 virus. Her name was Doris and she was 86. I regularly visited her with my dog, Bau, through the Caring Paws Animal Therapy Association.

Bau and Doris had a special bond. As a patient who suffered from Alzheimer, Doris had lost much of her ability to verbally communicate. However, with Bau she tended to speak more and became joyful. Her sad mood lifted and Bau was always excited to see her. This is what animal therapy can do.




Millions of people have died from this virus and millions more have had their  souls and hearts ripped apart because of loved ones suddenly gone.

When my mother died I wrote Don’t Bring me Flowers, an essay which is in the Mourning Has Broken collection. In the weeks which followed my sister’s death, an urge to write an essay about her also emerged . It was at page eighty that I realized the essay had flown off on its own and that I’d given myself this mission: for one year I would write about mourning as I went about my life collecting memories as  myriads of emotions assailed me.

Through it all, I explored the meaning of life and the changes of my own beliefs, taking me through a journey of sorrow, guilt, regret, joy and hope.



Available as e-book and as paperback

With sincere condolences to all those who have lost a loved one through Covid-19 or otherwise. May your memories of your loved one comfort you.


Book Cover Design

I’ve changed my book cover for Mourning Has Broken. I’ve kept the stained glass as the front cover because my sister made and gave me the stained glass window as a gift for a new house I had moved into.

You can see the new cover at my home page.

Here’s a re-blogged excerpt from The Stained Glass Window, one of the essays in Mourning Has Broken.

For awhile, I am intrigued with the teachings of Raja Yoga. “The main object of this form of yoga is to balance the energy throughout the brain and body so that the mind becomes very calm,” the very sexy and young Guru says.

We meditate on the kind of life we want to have in our next life.

I imagine living on a beach with him.

Later, I will think that this karma planning is no different that buying a lottery ticket.

You don’t have to win in order to enjoy the fantasy.

These days I want to believe that my particular life on Earth is but one of several journeys I will take. Earth but one stop among many; one of many experiences. And maybe I will get to choose to live another experience at another time in another space.

My niece Debbie asks me if I believe in God.

“I don’t believe but I hope there is something else,” I say.

The Aboriginals living in northern Quebec believe that the spirit of the dead linger on for a while; then they are absent as if they are busy doing something.Getting passports, maybe, or tattooed or having identity chips installed into brand new supersonic bodies or maybe painting dream billboards. Who knows? Then, the great tribal leaders say that the dead come back and we can feel their presence once more.

When she first died last September, I strongly felt my sister’s presence for two or three months.

Then she was gone as if the connection between us had jammed. 

I found her absence unsettling for it put into question my spiritual beliefs about the afterlife.

Maybe after all, there was nothing but a memory that becomes foggier and foggier as time goes on.

In Loving Memory

Four years ago today, my sister, Diana, died.

Diana,jpg Since then I wrote a collection of essays on mourning in great part to deal with my grief. Yet, here I am still feeling the grief. It is not that I want it to go away. It is difficult to separate grief from affection, from missing a person.

On some level, mourning comforts. It tells me how much I loved her. How much I cared for her.

Grief is also, to me, about all the things I didn’t tell her, all the things we won’t get to do together. About how she will always be in my heart.

Mourning Has Broken

Wow. It’s been such  a long time since I’ve been on my blog.

I’m happy to say that my book Mourning Has Broken is available on Amazon and Kindle

For all who are interested I hope that you will enjoy it and if you are going through your own grief process may my book be of some comfort to you.


Excerpt from Retirement and Cocaine

I am in one of those funks over my retirement. I am supposed to be joyous about this situation but I am everything but joyous. Instead of joy it is anxiety and fear that inhabits me these days. Will I be able to make it financially? Will I be too sheltered and see the world close in on me.

It is as if I am dying. Or at least part of me is dying. That part that I so identified with: the teacher. Suddenly she is gone. Or perhaps she is merely shifting classrooms and now her teaching will be somewhere else. Her writing will be her classroom.

I guess what I fear is having nothing to do. I don’t mean literally nothing to do for I could spend my days cleaning my house, cooking, doing yoga , meeting friends for coffee, biking and going for long walks. That would fill up a day, all right. But there would be something missing. Some personal fulfillment not met and this is what I fear the most about my retirement.

I cry a lot these days following my retirement but I associate them more with missing my mother, my father, my sister.

My friend, Sylvie calls and I tell her I can’t stop crying. I am so fragile and sensitive.

Sylvie is a great listener but also a great comforter. She is in a way like a man for when you tell her a problem she has the need to find a solution. Unlike a man though (at least many of the men I have met whose solution is to say not to think about whatever it is I’m thinking about) Sylvie offers solid solutions.
Don’t forget you’ve just retired. You’ve got to mourn that. In all the mourning I’ve been doing this past year and a half mourning a retirement seems so banal. Superficial almost. But maybe she is right. It is another stone on my pile of grief.

The school year has begun and I feel an empty hole in my life. There is lonesomeness for my colleagues and I wonder if I have done the right thing in retiring.

I am truly retired. The fact of being retired is in my face. I am in its early stages and although I am going towards something new and unknown I must go through this passage of grieving my career. I did not think it would leave such an emptiness inside of me. This feeling of loss and being in liminality is how Murray Stein describes this transition between work and retirement.

Liminality refers to “… a threshold between consciousness and unconscious portions of the mind… a person’s sense of identity is hung in suspension. You are no longer fixed to particular mental images and contents of yourself. … the “I” is homeless.”

I love not working. I am so happy that I retired. The greatest gift retirement offers is time. The luxury to do things slowly. To get out of bed when I feel like it. To chart my day as it arises.

My friend, Thelma, friend, writer and life coach sends me an e-mail regarding an update to her website. It’s full of neat ideas for anyone wanting to retire. View her articles here.

Excerpt From Hello, Cowgirl in the Sand

It frightens me when Sophie tells me that she isn’t coming to my sister’s commemorative because she doesn’t believe in the afterlife. What if she’s right and I have been wrong all along? What if this anger that is lodged inside of me forming a cliff around my heart is anger at my own disillusions? Two flautist play Bach’s magnificent Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring while the names of the dead are projected on a large screen. I think about what Sophie said at the hospital as she watched Life fade from her mother’s body: “How am I going to tell Emme that there’s no more Nannie?”

No more. No more.

At the end of the commemorative ceremony my sister’s name is written on the sand of the beach and I think about Neil Young’s Cowgirl in the Sand, how I played not just that song but all Neil Young’s songs over and over in the seventies. I wanted a boyfriend like Neil Young. I was in love with Neil Young. It’s the woman in you that makes you want to play this game.

My attention focuses inward where in the flesh of my memory I am seeing Neil Young on stage. Hello woman of my dreams. (Will I ever be someone’s woman of my dreams?) By the time it was out on the charts my sister had married. At her wedding I was her bridesmaid in a long pink A-line dress, my happiness stained with anger for her abandoning me to marry Richard. And now she is leaving me again. But this time it is for eternity. The song has nothing to do with my sister. If anything I am the cowgirl, the Brown Eyed Girl while she is the Save the Last Dance for Me and Ain’t no Sunshine when She’s Gone. Perhaps this is what the Buddhists mean when they talk about interconnectedness. Past, present, future merge into one. Events are not so random as they seem. Facts. Fiction. Imagination.Thought. The butterfly in Madagascar. Your ancestors. The child not yet born. Timelessness. This is not the way it seems. Continue reading

Excerpt From Essays on Mourning

I think my father would have liked me to date guys like my physics teacher, Mr. Murphy. Mr. Murphy was tall, like my father and had light colored hair. He didn’t wear glasses and he even though his teeth were a bit buck he smiled a lot. Mr. Murphy was the kind of high school teacher you see in the movies. A sort of To Sir with Love kind of teacher. Only white. He was the only one of our teachers who would come outside with us at recess and we would swarm around him. I can’t remember what he talked about only that he made us laugh a lot. He always seemed so happy and you could tell that he loved physics.

My boyfriend, David took private physics lessons from Mr. Murphy. Because I was from this generation who venerated mathematical abilities and I was among its ranks I judged David’s lack of mathematical talent and interpreted it as his not being smart enough. Never mind that years later he became a multi-millionaire from running his own business. But how was my narrow mind capable of foretelling that? And that wasn’t the only obstacle in my relationship with him. That he came from a family of lawyers and that his father was a judge didn’t help. My father’s dislike of lawyers was not only in the soft way people might make jokes about lawyers being so materialistic and callous but whenever he spoke about lawyers his teeth would clench up, his Polish complexion redden more than it already was and his body would become crisp. I never knew what had made him hate lawyers so except that to him they were a bunch of crooks and my liking David felt somewhat like a betrayal towards my father.

Excerpt From I’m Going To Miss You, Caramel

My father’s garage was a special garage because he parked his French Fry truck in it. When I think of myself standing as a child of three or four next to his truck I am filled with the sentiments of awe and wonder which is pretty much, except for certain exceptions, as how I saw my father throughout his life. Now that he has been dead for over six years this wonderment and pride seems to increase with time although I do not quite know how to explain it for the simple reason that I don’t understand how this happens or why or what to make of it all. It seems such a private thing, in one way. And in another way so universal.

I guess this is what grief is about. The ups and downs. The anger. The sorrow. The bringing up of old wounds and the creation of new ones. Grief is about honour: Of the dead. The living. And oneself. And grief, I have learnt can turn into wonderment. My father is now stronger than ever alive in my heart.

Of course, the past is unattainable but if we’re lucky we can use the past as our guides as Gail Caldwell in her Pulitzer Prize Winning memoir A Strong West Wind proposes. “You can’t go back: to unboarded trains, to pristine battlefields before the dawn, to love that ended yesterday in Texas. Instead we have this stupid, lovely chaos, this burden and blessing called experience, the high beam of the past that is supposed to throw light on the future.” (p.216).

Excerpt From Essay on Mourning

In 1950 Ray Brown, in search of a baseball team which would not discriminate against blacks, found one in the Sherbrooke Athlétiques, a provincial minor team which already had an impressive lineup of outstanding players. There was Silvio Garcia from Cuba , Claro Duany, who in 1997 was inducted in the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame and their manager, Roland Gladu, who had played in the US major leagues.

Because of restrictions about blacks playing in the major leagues they were picked up by the minor leagues. These great baseball players came to Quebec and in particular Sherbrooke where they found no discriminatory restrictions. And for this Sherbrooke was rewarded. It got a team worthy of major league talent. And thus baseball became the game that everyone talked about. The stadium on Park Avenue was always packed and you could hear the roar of cheer for miles away.

My father would tell stories about how the black baseball players would come to his restaurant and he would talk to them about the game and cars. But it was Ray Brown, once pitcher for the Pittsburg Homestead Greys, a professional team that played in the Negro leagues in the United States, that my father most often spoke of.

I was only an infant when Ray Brown came to Sherbrooke to pitch for the Athlétiques but the story of how he brought the team to a championship in 1951 were legendary in my father’s memory. Years later, after the Sherbrooke stadium had burnt down and Brown had gone to play for a senior team in Thetford Mines, Quebec, there was still the spirit of championship that lingered in the fields of little leaguers.

When in February, 1965 Ray Brown died my father grieved over him as if he were his brother. It comforted me to know that my father could have such feelings for a black man for I knew that his prejudices were but a façade that could easily crumble.

I regret that my father didn’t live to see Ray Brown being inducted in the Baseball National Hall of Fame in 2006. He would have been proud and I would have heard all over again how the black baseball players would come to his restaurant and he would joke with them. Then he’d come home and talk about them and I would hear the wonderful sound of admiration in his voice.