Posts Tagged With: SOLSC 2012

Last Slice for this March SOLCS 2012 But It’s Day 5 for CWE

Morning my Friend and Slicers,

I am up later than usual but then last night, after a showing of The Hunger Games, which I enjoyed, as did Tuvia(surprise for both of us) we came home and I collapsed into bed and remained there until a hour ago with chills. And after hours of sweating and sleeping they could be gone.  So far, so good.

I did what I needed to do yesterday.  I picked up the phone and punched in your numbers and spent the next 20 minutes in a wonderful conversation with Andy, catching up with him and sharing our first week without you.

I loved hearing about the way he got up early on the day after the funeral, took along your brother and with a few folding chairs thrown into his truck made his way to your grave site and sat down, campfire style and chatted and sat quietly.  I love that and I will join him one day soon.  Of course I will have my camera with me to capture moments I want to remember and share here.

Over this past year I have been visiting you and Andy and anyone else who has been at the house.  But Andy has been your right hand and I have gotten to know him better and better and while I wondered how I might continue to stay connected to you, I know now that our bonds are firm.

And I am so happy that you know that a new baby will arrive sometime in November.  What a gift!

Anyway, this morning it feels hard to write this slice, maybe because it’s the last one for the March 2012 marathon and tomorrow when I click publish I won’t be linking my Slice to the Two Writing Teachers blog but I will keep writing until your stone will appear at your grave in the tradition that I have revised with this commitment to writing daily.

I am running low now on energy so I will say bye for now…


Categories: Conversations with Eileen, SOLSC 2012 | Tags: , | 7 Comments

Conversations with Eileen Day 4: SOLSC #29

Morning Friend,

It wasn’t looking good just 15 minutes ago for a clear sunrise, but naysayers, take another look:

Ah, now that’s a much better way to begin Day 4.

I don’t know that I ever called you at 7:15.  Way too early for an in-depth conversation about anything.  No, I was  usually up writing into the day and listening to Morning Joe instead of  morning music.  Right now Senator Tom Coburn is expressing his opposition to Health Care Reform and it’s probably better that you didn’t hear anything about the hearings at the Supreme Court for the last three days.  You’d be shaking your head.

I’d pick up the phone after 8…8:30 to be comfortable and let the conversations begin.

One conversation that was very hard for you was the one that I might begin that focused on tech: some new gadget I was dreaming about, some issue I might be having on a project… You could listen for just so long and then I would know just by a short silence that you were ready to move on.

Well here’s the latest, ready?

I have the new iPad and my buddy Christine is the proud owner of my hand-me down original.  Now I didn’t know this when the plans were made between us, but lots of family members and some friends would have loved to take the iPad 1 off my hands, not without cost of course.  But somehow, I love it when I can pass tech on to Christine.  She loves tech as much as I do but she is young and just beginning her teaching career and life in general,  with her husband and it warms my heart to share with her.

So last night she took me out as part of her iPad cost to dine at my favorite restaurant : Restaurant X.   She loved it  and because it was restaurant week, got off a bit cheaper, which is all good.

Now can we talk tech without eyes glazing over?  So I know you would not be able to tolerate much of this upcoming conversation but I need to share just a bit about what I like about  the new iPad .

If you remember (probably not).  I did not adjust well to my first iPhone.  I lined up on the first day and with widespread Apple glitches, sat on that line for hours and hours…and ultimately, after the first two years, I turned off the phone and opted for a small old style that was ONLY a phone. it was okay and in the process, I started  salivating for the coming iPAD…salivating!

And I had to wait for the best Apple could offer: iPad 3G, 64GS.  (Glazing over yet?)   I ran to my Apple store when the call came that it had arrived for me and in minutes I was a happy new iPad owner.  I loved it and took it everywhere for the email and internet I could have wherever there was a phone connection.

I loved it through the coming of the iPad 2, but by then I did reconsider my old iPhone.  I missed experimenting with texting so I took it out of moth balls and then I had duplicating service. So when the iPad 3 was unveiled and it was clear it would offer more than the 1 had, I opted for the version that was just Wi-Fi 64GS.

And I am not looking back.  Christine loves my ipAd 1.  Her husband can use my  old white Macbook to his heart’s content as she checks Facebook, emails etc. on my retired iPad.

Its all good.

Just a bit more… hang on…

iPad 3 offers better cameras and opportunities to make content and the screen is gorgeous and even without 4g it’s really fast.

I like… I like… I just wish that I had bought some Apple stock when I wanted to 4 years ago just because I was happy to be the Apple community.  But I listened to my brothers, both more experienced at the market.  Even they agree THEY WERE WRONG!

Oh well.

ANd I just shared this with someone who lived for years with a iMac keyboard without a T. 🙂

Enough tech for one conversation, right?

Categories: Conversations with Eileen, SOLSC 2012 | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Conversations with Eileen Day 3: SOLSC #28


Afternoon Friend,

It’s been another long one and even though I froze for most of my visit in Eville, the sun is back out here with lots of heat to make up the last 24 hours of a more normal end-of-March.

On my way to visit with your family and friends yesterday my stomach was doing some usual jumping and as I sat just across the road, I caught the house complete with burbling brook.

Just outside, capturing the moment, breathing deeply and finally out and  pushing open your  door, everything inside was about you.

Andy, Jenny, Meryl, Madlyn, Mark…. more…friends everywhere… thinking, talking, tearing up to you.

Soon I could relax and enjoy the opportunity to catch up with Madlyn in your living room.

I’m just trying to adjust to this world without you just a phone call away.

This is all new for me, this territory of loss.  This first week I just feel vulnerable and often exhausted.  I just want to sleep.


Categories: Conversations with Eileen, SOLSC 2012 | Tags: , | 9 Comments

Conversations with Eileen: Day 2, SOLSC #27

As one challenge comes to an end a new one arrives!

Day #27 for March Slices, Day 2 for Conversations with Eileen and the world.

Dear Eileen,

Yesterday I had that important conversation with my friend Sharon who like you, knows me, worts and all.  Recently, Sharon lost one of her very close friends and in a few days she will be traveling to Mexico, to be with some of  Diane’s other close friends as they find some closure.  A well known photographer, Sharon’s poems and photos will be included in a tribute book to her.

As I think about it, you and Sharon have a lot in common.  Friends before I had Tuvia, gave me years to establish friendships without the time restrictions sometimes placed on friendships outside that central relationship.  We talked for hours on the phone, sat across from each other drinking coffee, even played hours of tennis in the heat of July and we were passionate about the same things.

With you Eileen, we talked family, politics, books, tech (when you let me), what we hoped for.  With Sharon, our bond centered around our teaching at Pearl River High School and how we could merge art and writing and theater.  On the same wave length, kids often called us by the other’s name. Now that we are both retired, our lives move in very different directions,but there is always time for a walk in a Rockland park with or without cameras in hand.  Our passions intersect differently but Sharon both of you  offered me a different mirror for reflection.

And now my question is how do I hold on to you?  

I’m sitting in the darkness of Tuesday, up 4 hours too soon, but then I expired yesterday at 9:00, leaving Tuvia to read in the kitchen. But tonight was a surprise night to be together. Usually we are on our own on Monday nights but when our weekly schedule changes we are very flexible. Today we will be on our own.  Tuvia will dine with his family before they leave on Spring Vacation and I’m off to visit your family as they invite friends to stop by and support them through the first days without you.

I’ll be sitting in your living room, at your dining room table, in your living room and everyone will be there, except you, of course. I wonder how often I will be back at that table, that’s what I’ve been thinking about.  How do I keep up with the family I know from your eyes, that holds you still?

Good thing that I’ve made plans to take the ride up to my town, see my parents, spend time with your family and then spend the night with my brother and sister-in-law. A good opportunity to hear more about their upcoming trip to New Orleans for the Final 4 and share more details about their daughter’s wedding plans.  A good life balance: rejoicing in the past and  planning for the future.

It’s almost the end of this month of Slices and I’m going to miss the daily comments and the rich Slices to read.  I couldn’t read Slices every day but some days I could read with wild abandon. And I have my writing mojo back.


Categories: Conversations with Eileen, SOLSC 2012 | Tags: , | 9 Comments

Conversations with Eileen and the World Begins Today: SOLSC #26

Thanks everyone, for you kind words yesterday.  As the day moved along I was able to check in with the world and read your supportive comments.  I’m so sorry that I am not yet back reading and responding to  your Slices. I will… 4 days left.


So I tried last night to begin my 11 months of Saying Kaddish for Eileen as a way to stay connected to her.  I had a fresh copy of the prayer, we recited it together, in a large group at the cemetery yesterday, but back home, last in the evening when Tuvia went off to bed, I tried and it just didn’t work for me. Once in the my life that prayer was familiar and homey but now, it’s just ancient words.  I don’t think Eileen would feel any connection to it either, so early this morning, I came up with an alternative that I think will work for me in my modern life.

Conversations with Eileen... I want to keep writing daily, first thing if I can, and what could be better than to direct my morning writing to Eileen.

So, for the next 11 months my phone conversations with Eileen are moving here.




The Funeral: I have this feeling Eileen, that you had a lot to do with the planning of your own send off.  The funeral home  was small for anyone who didn’t speak to my sister-in-law and make sure to get there early for a seat. Lots of people came from all walks of your life and were willing to be patient and accept the discomfort of being squeezed together.

What a diverse crowd.  Sure, I shared a lot of this with you in our conversations but to see and hear so many people sing your praises for your commitment to peace and social justice was just overwhelming. But first Danielle, a Reconstructionist Rabbi, your daughter-in-law, led a lovely service without too many G-d connections.  The family took on the challenge of sharing eulogies: Kevin and Jenn (son and daughter), Jim,(son-in-law), Mark(brother), Jeffery(cousin).  It was hard for each one but beautiful. For me it was a unique experience, different from any funeral I’ve ever attended.

I spent the day walking through the events…from service, the cemetery, to a covered dish luncheon at a local community center…it was just too much for me and as I watched Tuvia eye the food in front of him, on a long table, I knew that this was not a comfortable place for him and I used him as an excuse to leave and rush off to spend time with my parents.


There were more people than anyone would have imagined and while there wasn’t enough room for everyone at the funeral hall, out at the cemetery there were more people than grave stones.  It wasn’t exactly as I remembered it.  I remember when it was more covered in nature but now it’s a bit neater and the tombstones are open to the world.  I visited my grandparents and their families… and then joined the large crowd welcoming the newest member.  A new pine box arrived to be placed on the wooden frame and soon lowered down into the freshly dug hole.

Danielle gave the crowd of friends an opportunity to share their memories and many people did.   I didn’t.  But I listened to the voices and thought about you but I was a fish out of water.

As the silence took us over when the last person shared, and the Mourner’s Prayer was recited together, your casket was lowered and the shoveling began.  The sound of earth hitting the top of the coffin began. Many people joined the line to send you off. I couldn’t.  Even your grandchildren joined in.  It gave them something to do with their pent-up energy. But me, I found my spot for a photo.

It was harder, than I could have ever imagined and I am so glad that tomorrow night I will be spending time with the family back at the house during Shiva time. I love this tradition.

So Eileen… I want to know where you are?  Can you send me a sign?



Categories: Conversations with Eileen | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Saying Good-Bye Today: SOLSC #25

Since Friday morning life for me has been altered. I have been trying not to cancel events on the calendar.

We had dinner on Friday night as usual, with family, I played guitar with Mihael before we left.I met with our writing project tech team yesterday morning. Tuvia and I saw the Israeli film, Footnotes with friends in the evening and it was pleasant.

Everyone knew about my loss and approached me gently.

But I don’t feel the same.  I guess I wonder, what’s next?  When will I feel Eileen’s absence.  I hear her voice in my head, letting me know just last Thursday, that the cancer had spread everywhere and one week later…just one week she was gone.

Is it crazy, but somehow I’d like a photo of something from today.  Is that crazy?  At the cemetery.  I’m not taking my big camera, but I do have my iPhone.

Anyway, I wanted to put something down tho morning but I think the richer slice will be coming tonight when I can digest the reality.

Thanks everyone for sharing poems and  feelings with me.

Categories: SOLSC 2012 | Tags: | 14 Comments

Passing on a Sunrise: SOLSC #23

The battle ended as the sun rose this morning. Eileen, in the arms of Andy watched one last time and gently left us.

I was out early this morning:  to the gym, to breakfast with my book club and as I shared my sorrow with friends Andy called with the news and shared his lost moments with joy.

The funeral event will be Sunday at noon and after a service that Eileen approved, she will be buried in a forest.  It’s where I had hoped to be buried and years ago I shared my plan with her that she took me up on.

A cemetery  created by a local chapter of the once famous Workman’s Circle, my father’s family rests there and what I love about the place is that it’s nothing like the neat,well-groomed cemeteries most people select. It’s actually hard to find the place, but once you are there you are in wild nature.  The town does cut the grass and clear the brush but there’s no gate, no one guarding.  You pay $100, get yourself a grave digger, put up our gravestone and that’s that.

I was all set to get a spot there until Tuvia came along and bought me a plot near him in the big cemetery just down the road from his house.  There’s no strings attached but it’s nice to have options.

As for Eileen,  she’s an added attraction to join her down the road…

Good thing the sun’s shining today.

Categories: SOLSC 2012 | Tags: | 6 Comments

Sitting with a Teacher: SOLSC #22

No doubt, I am distracted.  It was hard to move through my yesterday routine: on the treadmill at the gym, back home, anchoring my fingers on my guitar’s fretboard,  conversations on the phone, the ride back up the New Paltz. Eileen came along.

And as I walked down the hallway to Rebecca’s kindergarten classroom and entered… the nurturing began.

Rebecca and I have been friends for years, connected through the Hudson Valley Writing Project and even though our paths don’t cross often, when they do, it’s wonderful.

And yesterday, entering her room with my ache, Rebecca welcomed me, took me on a tour, and worked with me to finish up an interview for my next digital project of her work.  Of course we aren’t quite done.  We both agreed that we need student voices for the piece and that will happen, but just being in her world of comfort  was nurturing.

Rebecca shared her own recent loss and I listened and heard.

Thanks Rebecca for a wonderful afternoon, complete with a dinner I could enjoy.

Categories: SOLSC 2012 | Tags: | 4 Comments

Insomnia: SOLSC #21

I am not awake by choice but I finally just gave up.  My mind demands attention and so I’m writing a slice to keep the peace.

It’s darkness all  around me with just the light of my trusty computer screen and the TV to my left that always offers me the sound of human voices and the news for this new day opening the outside world to me, in the background.

I am thinking about my friend Eileen who is probably not thinking about this world anymore.  I wish I could know what she is thinking about. I wonder,  will I see her again?Do I want to see her again?

It was good to be with Tuvia’s grandchildren last night: Mihael(7)playing  his guitar for us, annoyed that I didn’t bring mine along. Mia, at 5 proud to be learning how to read and sharing her new books with us, reading extra loud to make sure we give her all our attention.  I want to!

But back in the car, in the darkness, we are quiet.  Every so often, Tuvia  reaches over for my hand, just to remind me he is with me through this ready to explain what’s happening, the way Mihael might explain the intricacies of his guitar to Tuvia.  I’m not sure I need to know the medical details but even being a patient at Sloan Kettering,  Eileen and Andy were happy to have Tuvia explain in non-medical language, what they needed to know.

I’m so glad I could offer him.  I feel helpless.

We make plans for the next few weeks cautiously.  I stop debating a trip to DC for the National Writing Project to attend our annual conference next week. I know I won’t be going now.

Eileen and Andy and the family are preparing for the end with the support of Hospice.

Hospice.  I don’t remember now when I first learned what that was.  Over the past year, I’ve come to know it well.

Eileen is a hard friend to lose.

Categories: SOLSC 2012 | Tags: | 14 Comments

What I Need for Spring: SOLSC #20

It’s been a very unusual winter in New York and many other places, but I would have been very disappointed if my sign of spring bloomed too soon.  It’s a bit early but the timing is spring’s arrival.

Here it is:

And I rode up to SUNY New Paltz for the official start of our Summer Institute planning for  #12 and joined the leadership team  to interview teachers who will join us. Well most of them will join us.  But it was wonderful to sit around the table and hear about what they are doing with their students even in these tough times.  They spoke with passion and commitment and vulnerability.

I won’t be on the SI leadership team this summer but I will be hovering around when I can.

It’s an honor to be with this organization, an honor I appreciate every day of my life.



Categories: Hudson Valley Writing Project, SOLSC 2012 | Tags: , | 10 Comments

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