The After

Someday –

I will find you here, in the place where
you now stay and will remain forever.

The after, and the before.
the accessible and the invisible.
You appear to me
and I am reminded that you
are a figment of my heart
willing your presence to be
as tangible as you always were.

This is the after.
I’ve yet to become acquainted with it,
still feeling the vacancy
of the before.
The place I can never again visit.
I will not find you there
no matter how desperately I long to.

I would like to stay awhile in
the memory of you.
So that I might take with me
all we once were able to see
in that place.
You’re here now,
but I think I choose not to see you.

My heart breaks a thousand times
in just one moment spent
here – in the after.
You have moved on.
I am struggling to join you.
You have departed this world,
and yet it is me who feels like a ghost
unable to embrace
the reality
of a life that goes on
after you.


To Know You

Your eyes sweep impatiently
across my face,
as if you are searching
for me in my features –
hoping that the curve
of my cheek will open a
door into the past, telling
of pain I have endured.
The pink in my lips may
betray me, showing you
all the words I dare not
speak, but wish to hear
out loud. Studying shadows
that linger beneath my
eyes – eyes that are
staring straight back to
you, working tirelessly to
not be found out, by a
swift blink or downward
I feel you not speaking –
fearful, perhaps, of
missing a moment when
the light may fall upon
my lashes, communicating
all the ways the world
has left them damp or
rubbed raw.
I do not ask you what
you are thinking
I too am searching –
waiting. For any sign
that you want me to
know you,
the way you are endeavoring
to know me.
Faces turned inward,
cascades of silence
flow through gazes
speaking volumes of love;
deafeningly loud and impossibly

Soaked in Sorrow

Moments encroach upon us in which the peace slips away. Just as swiftly as the quiet engulfed the senses – like a rush of fresh, crisp air – it escapes our consciousness, leaving behind the stale shadows that follow us around so adamantly.

These bouts of lament are not welcome, yet are ever so comfortable to sit with – like a loyal old friend. As if this is the state in which we were born; aching to the core, soaked in sorrow, drifting in and out of contentment like a dream we are unsure we have woken from.

Moments pass, and we are again consumed by a sense of serenity as the calm returns and the sorrow sleeps for a spell. We can only hope the darkness will keep away for just one moment more than it chose to stay. Standing still, we watch as the moments swirl around us, the coming and going of shadows and peace – passing before our sleepy eyes.


Something That’s Got to Be Remembered

November 1, 2017

Dear Papa,

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I want to be remembered. Not just after death, but most importantly in life.

I miss Auntie Julia more than my heart will ever be able to comprehend. But I am comforted knowing how deeply I loved her, and the way in which she loved me back. Her spirit was with her, out in the world for all to see each and every day of her life. What I remember of her in passing is what I remember of her in her days on this earth. Her legacy was a living one.

There is a quote I wrote down years ago and recently came across: “Inside each and every one of us is one true authentic swing. Something we were born with. Something that’s ours and ours alone. Something that can’t be taught to you or learned. Something that’s got to be remembered.”

How are you remembered, Papa? What is it you were born with that is your truth, that you live everyday? I’m thinking it is important to reflect on this about ourselves but also those we share our lives with. What is the point in waiting until someone is gone to start remembering them? I want to be remembered always, and I think we all do.

I remember you almost everyday. I think of you, and my love for you and all the wonderful things you’ve experienced in your journey. Your stories breathe life of travel, family, love, bravery, loss. These stories are the narratives of our lives, they shape us along the way, molding the clay of the “something” we came into this world carrying in our hearts.

Loss has shown me a lot about the world, and the world has shown me a lot of loss. Grief can be both overwhelming and clarifying. It forces you to let everything else fade and fall away, to see what is in front of you and toss aside the crap that is nothing more than distraction. If only we could experience our lives this way without having to stare into the face of loss. But then we would not be human. Time will take its course soon enough, and our hearts will not forget, but they will heal. My heart is forever changed, but I carry with me the clarity and love and the something special I came into my life with – whatever that may be.

As always, you are so very loved and thought of – missed and remembered.

I love you.


A Rekindled Movement

The way the breeze makes the willow dance fills me with a kind of peace I wish I could bottle up for a time I know I’ll need it – when the chaos consumes me and I can’t escape the panic. I don’t know how to hold onto these moments. Perhaps they are not meant to be captured or controlled; the beauty lingering no matter how evanescent.

Somewhere along my journey I misplaced my movement. It left me for a little while, went dormant because I stopped feeding it. I forgot how to care for it, that it needed to be nurtured. That was my fault. Nevertheless it came back to me, waking slowly the more that I took the time to sit down with it and ask what it desired. Are you ready to come out now?  Do you have what it is you once thrived on?  Can you forgive me for allowing you to drift so far away?

I am discovering that despite how much I have changed, the things that once moved me remain recognizable. There’s an uncomfortable adjustment to getting acquainted with yourself. I am reminded of the depth in which I love and feel affected by temporary happiness. I had forgotten how easily I get consumed by the euphoria, mania, fast climb to the top of paradise. I had forgotten this because each time I am met with the fall, spiraling to the bottom of a high, I go looking for it in other things, other people. In myself – in my movement. And so comes the necessity to seek balance – the tightrope widens to make room for exploration. Somewhere new, something unknown, someone magnificent.

In a time when I became settled; unaffected and unintended – my movement slept. I became even. No highs, no lows, no need to find balance or walk a fine line of uncertainty. Without the drive to venture into unchartered lands or weigh out emotions, my world flattened. One note. One tone. Even.

As my movement surfaces, I become aware of the things I know for certain; I want to always climb up, walk across, dive to the bottom and look for doors to new places. To be moved, to be fleeting, to be like a willow dancing in the breeze.


An Evolving Journey

“No one has ever described the place where I have just arrived: this is the emotion that makes me want to travel. It is one of the greatest reasons to go anywhere.”

My experience of travel started right in my backyard. Like many New Englanders, it was trips to the Cape, Plymouth, and Gloucester that paint the picture of my childhood. Crossing over the Bourne or Sagamore Bridge, excited nerves pulsing through me in the cramped backseat. Mesmerized by the deafening music reverberating through my headphones and enthralled in dragging contoured lines that buzzed on the pages of my sketchbook, the feuding shrieks of my siblings did nothing to deter my fervent anticipation. Dissolved into my own sanctuary and cocooned in the warmth of my shaggy aged blanket, I succumbed to the soothing comfort of the bumps and turns in the road.

The broad and expansive facets of travel are unsurpassed by the journey itself. Eagerness inspired by murky possibility awakens an inner desire for spontaneous exploration. As consistent as the evoked excitement of the unknown is the stimulating thrill of returning to a place that is familiar, a comforting light in the pitch dark of a room. We often consider this a uniqueness primarily prevalent in children.

To this day, I cannot crack into a blushing red lobster without remembering my summers at the Cape. The shrill noise that hissed from the scolding pot, the slimy feeling of butter that coated my fingers and dripped from my lips fashioned a connection embedded within my memories of Cape Cod summers.

As a child, trips to the Cape were flushed with seemingly endless stretches of cavalier activities. Back then, hour after hour passed simply sitting on the shore, letting the waves sweep over my legs; each carrying with it rocks that had been corroded by the sand, smooth and unscathed to the touch and uniquely different than the last. I am reminded of my time there when I smell any hint of cocoanut, the tropical aroma that takes me back to the feeling of my mothers hands lathering me head to toe in creamy sunscreen.

During an era of my experience on the cape when all things were possible, this place – so full of magic – was an oasis of ventures. The translucent morning light that bounced off the water dancing along the crests of the waves was fantastical. Thinking back on long walks up and down the beach with my mom as she showed me the subtle differences in each shard of sea glass, I can recall the weightlessness of the chipped and eroded shards in my pockets. These are the associations of my childhood travels to the coast. A special place that instilled tender memories I will carry with me and provide for my family someday, in the essence of tradition and values. As I grew up a little more, it became a place of social escape.

My childhood retreat transformed into a place of flight. Anticipation was now bound by secret weekend excursions to friends’ beach houses. I discovered adventure in new places; camped out on damp logs on the beach late at night in front of glowing bond-fires that tainted our clothes with the smoky scent of burning wood and ash. Endless hours spent digging for rocks on the shore were now exchanged for seemingly eternal hours holding hands under restaurant tables with summer romances, and late night talks with girlfriends about our dreams and hopes. This was the same place it had always been, nothing about it had changed; the tide still rolled slowly in and out as it always did, caking the air with salt, and there were still families building castles together in the sand. Only now, I found myself head to toe in slick oil that smelled of cocoa butter instead of sunscreen, and biting into cheap cheeseburgers and greasy fries instead of cracking open buttery red shells at sit down lobster dinners with my family. I had suddenly found myself in a place where the orange and pink shades that filled the evening skies had become marks of a long night ahead rather than the end of a long summer day.

After the cloudy haziness of high school trips across the bridge faded away, my travels to this familiar place evolved yet again into something foreign to me. After one of the most challenging years of my life as a freshman in college, I returned again to the comforting gleam of lighthouses and reassuring warmth of sun beaten shores that had always been there for me. At a time when all I thought I wanted was the familiarity of home – I made the decision to instead follow the sharp gleam of the light, and left. The summer I spent living on the Cape would be the first of many significant and bittersweet experiences of my travels. Although I had just spent a year away from home living on my own at college, I gained my independence dwelling on the Cape. Going back at this time in my life was like leaping off a cliff into a comfortable abyss; I wasn’t sure what I would find at the bottom, but I trusted the fall wouldn’t hurt me.

This place that I had ventured to more times than I could count, the endless hours spent walking barefoot on warm gritty beaches, skipping effortlessly from rock to rock under the smoldering sun, and blissfully swimming through murky seaweed and ice cold waters– felt unusual to me now. With the highest of expectations that this would be the adventure of a lifetime, I prepared myself for the summer of fun I remembered from high school. I anxiously waited for it all to sink in, the way I once had on the long trips down in the backseat of the car, treasures in tow, expectations high of what was to come. However, I did not know going into it that the tide had dramatically changed, and that the Cape had different plans for me than I’d anticipated. I learned who I was in my travels to the Cape that summer. I had become a part of a community, and began using phrases like “on” or “off” Cape (which I learned only true natives of the area used).

I discovered hidden spots that offered solitude in times of grief, spent quiet days with nothing but the sounds of seagulls and whistling of the wind against the window panes – just getting to know who I was. I was left alone in a place that felt like a foreign deserted island, with nothing but my thoughts and the brisk smell of the ocean to keep me company.

Being away from so many of the important people in my life gave me an unbelievable appreciation for my friends and family. In those 3 months, Cape Cod introduced me to a new part of myself I hadn’t met before. I found a quiet place within me I didn’t know was there.

I learned there are different kinds of homesick, all tainted with a hint of sadness, bitter and difficult to swallow, that I found the courage and confidence within myself to conquer. I discovered what loneliness sounded like, silent and empty, like a void in the air you can’t help but hear. I stood on the beach, watching the tide come in and go out – the same tide I played in as a child on the rocks of Plymouth – and was grateful for all the things this place had given me over the years of my life. This magical place prepared me for so much more than I could have understood at the time; Cape Cod provided the foundation for the unfamiliar, unchartered, and unexpected encounters I would be met with throughout the travels in my life. Most of all, it has been a constant reminder of the excitement that can be found in the journey – no matter how familiar or foreign the destination, it’s the “getting there” that is the most important part.


In Your Arms

The chair in the corner doesn’t have a name. It doesn’t know the bitter taste of betrayal. It cannot feel the bite of regret. It can hold me. It embraces all it cannot have for itself. Supporting all the weight of me. The heavy, the tangible. Its arms are stable, steadfast and strong. When I am curled up in them I feel protected, enclosed by walls of comfort. These arms are soft and assure me that they mean no harm. They lift me up and settle me down. They are a constant supply of everything I need at any moment I might need it. The chair does not have a reason to feel emotion. The chair does not feel but it does feel for me. Absorbing the heat, the strife, the angst and the grime. I shed my skin in the chair, letting it hold me I am bare and naked. The chair sees me as I am. The chair doesn’t know the way I look outside these 4 walls. It only knows what I release. It only knows the heaviness. The burden, the sighs.

The exhale.

The chair knows disappointment. It recognizes defeat and loneliness. Having provided sweet relief from tears and sweat, the relentless world rubbing salt in fresh open wounds. The chair has developed a pallet for savory things. It yearns only for flavors it knows. It yearns truly for nothing, because the chair cannot yearn. It cannot feel. It cannot state opinion or fact or debate matters of the heart and mind. The chair is unmoving. Understated. Understanding. It encourages me to sink deep into its crevasses, the nooks of the cushions, the friction of the fabric against my skin. The chair pulls me in. Wraps its arms around me and says “Stay a while. I will hold you for as long as you need holding.”