Death Star Warning

A beautiful pinwheel in space might one day blast Earth with death rays.

Unlike the moon-sized Death Star from Star Wars, which has to get close to a planet to blast it, this blazing spiral has the potential to burn worlds from thousands of light-years away.

“I used to appreciate this spiral just for its beautiful form, but now I can’t help a twinge of feeling that it is uncannily like looking down a rifle barrel,” said researcher Peter Tuthill, an astronomer at the University of Sydney.


Today I am reeling. The humane veterinarian who came to our home today has diagnosed our Lab Retriever with throat cancer.

Vada, my son’s Staffordshire was run over by a truck, in a freak accident, in front of me in August 2006. Monty, my dear old man Cavalier died from cancer in November 2006. My husband Darryl lost his battle with cancer on January 19th 2007.

Ash came to us from a shelter in April 2007. For about four months he has been trying to tell everyone that he is not well. We listened and heard but back in January the local veterinarian, after doing extensive blood tests, implied that we were just imagining things. The small lump that they detected then is now the size of an orange and more tumors have filled his throat. All we can do is palliate with cortisone.

Some would tell me that Ash came to sponge up all the remnants of the disease that lingered in the energy fields here, to act as a kind of protector. Well, if that is the case I may as well put up a sign on the front door saying ‘In Path of Death Star – Enter at Your Own Risk’. I will not accept that Ash is some kind of human sacrifice, given to protect those who love his gentle, loving soul.

But there is no doubt that the Death Star has had us in its gaze for a little too long. Of course, there is always a positive about living in the path of a Death Star. You learn to live and value all life. In this death denying society, where some veterinarians prey on human emotions and subject animals to a barrage of chemotherapy and other painful treatments, it is a tonic to meet someone who is not in to death denial, who will not try to tell you that if you stay positive and consume kilos of broccoli seeds you will live forever. We all live in the gaze of the dreaded death star. Facing death, accepting that all living organisms have a finite time, has forced me to live, love and make considered choices.

We are going the My Best Friend path and while I am very unhappy I feel like a safety net has just been put around me, that forces stronger than any horrid death star are being gathered to make sure that, whatever time Ash has left, is filled with love.

Sparrow Girl Meeting Death

People die. People we know and love eventually leave our lives forever. As a child my naivete was often abruptly brought to an end and death was no exception. Old people were going to die, life came to an end in the aquarium, then my cat died, but people, well that was much harder to accept.

The first death of a person in my life came when I was near four years of age. Maya was a beautiful woman, tall, elegant with long black hair and exotic green eyes. She was my mother’s friend. Once before I was born my mother had been a nanny to her young sons. The youngest son, Robert was about six when I was three and whenever Maya came to visit she would bring Robert. He would politely play with me, because that is what his mother expected of him, but he did it with great sweetness and I adored him.

Maya was in my young eyes the ideal of what I one day hoped to be. She sat on those occasions, perfectly dressed in the latest of haute couture suits, silk stockings and Italian pumps. To watch her cross her legs, sit back and tilt her head to one side while her clack hair cascaded over the edge of the chair was an all out performance, you could hear the music that should accompany such a perfectly choreographed movement. No surprise, Maya was after all, a very well known and highly paid fashion model. She would come to visit after the shows and Paris and Milan on her way back to her flat in London. Her sons attended school in England where their pianist father lived. She was not married. I am not sure why my mother impressed that detail on me when I was so young, I don’t think it had anything to do with the morality. It had more to do with a level of envy my mother felt, I think my mother would have been happier had she been single, but she lacked inner strength to say no to my father’s proposal.

A letter with a black rim came to the door by courier, and my mother without opening the letter sunk to the floor in our vestibule. I sat by her, feeling oh so terribly clumsy, not knowing if I should hug her. All I could do was sit, when mams was upset hugging could be exactly the wrong thing to do. I’d been shoved away a few times and barked at. I loved my mother as we all do, so I sat by her gingerly, just barely touching her dress, her dark blue dress. She bit her lower lip and cradled her face with her free hand, her short curled hair stuck to the tears rolling down her face.

We sat for some time on the floor. Mams became quiet the moment suspended until the tearing open of the envelope. She hesitated to pull out the card. Mams had lost so many people in her life, more of her friends and family had died during the last year of the war and still more afterward to disease neglected medically during wartime. In my brief lifetime I had lost no-one I knew. Until now.

She moaned it, and screamed it, sobbed it, gasped it. Mams is dead, over and over. Later mams took me and had tea with a neighbour, and there I heard the story of Mams, her brief twenty eight year old life. The eldest son was fathered by a pianist in England, the other son the product of an anonymous affair, with a shady character according to mams. She was a fashion model from the age of eighteen and lived a glamorous lifestyle afforded her by being one of the most desirable ramp models for various haute couture houses. She lived hard, loved many times and was heartbroken every time a relationship ended. I remembered the many crying times during her visits to our house.

The mams I’d known was glamorous and kind, loved her children and was very generous with considered gifts on important occasions. She was a good and supportive friend to my mother and helped her set her singing career on course. Often they were like schoolgirls all gossip and trying on each other’s clothes. I think I felt superior to all that nonsense and was slightly embarrassed by it as was her Robert. She hugged me when she came and left. I could not imagine her never again dropping by.

This same woman at twenty eight lacked the support in her life to deal with a profession that was less than accepting of advancing age. She’d already had cosmetic procedures and worked very hard at maintaining the perfect figure. She’d had dangerous silicone injections. She’d become depressed when she felt she was losing her status in the fashion community. she needed the income to raise her sons and could not transition to another profession, all she knew and all that mattered was modeling and being the most desirable arm-piece receiving the most extravagant gifts from the most wealthy men in Europe. It was ending and she had no idea how to deal with it. Maya had tried to land a position and a chance at a new life in Australia, but when it fell apart for reasons I don’t know she “stuck her head in the oven” as my mother put it.

Sticking your head in the oven was not something I could picture or understand. For one thing we never had an oven, and I’d no idea what that would look like. We had a wood burning stove in our apartment, it had one spot to put a pot on, but no oven. I knew bakers had ovens.

I did not understand how an over would kill you or why you’d put your head in there. Surely that would hurt, it would burn. Clearly this was not accidental, something had been very wrong here.

Suicide was not understandable to me. What I could understand is that Mams was depressed and desperate with too many responsibilities and not one person willing to help her with the boys and a new career. I did know even at that age, the very importance of people in your life who love you unconditionally. I was so incredibly sad that no-one, not the father of her children, not her employers, and for that matter not my mother, could keep her from being so sad that she died.

It affected my mother. Mams became more focused on her marriage and home and perhaps a little negligent of her singing career. I think she was scared that if she lost my father, she too would end up with her head in the oven. What also happened was that my mother felt, as Maya must have, trapped in her own life, unable to decide on the basis of what she wanted and thus settling for the safest choices. Maya’s death was one of the pivotal experiences in my mother’s life and she kept it all inside. Sadly, rather than recognizing that Maya’s not calling out for help led to her death more than anything, my mother often in great psychic pain shut others out and herself in. These were beautiful and talented women, delightful company and I cannot think that no-one would have stepped in to help, and oh, how different life could have been.

So at age four I had learned you could die, young and beautiful, loved by her children and friends of misery. The oven was not important, that no-one helped when she needed it was important. My mother being sadder than before mattered. The death of a person affect everyone profoundly. It matters that they die, also how they die, how young, how much promise. All lost. All gone. Life even when it seemed to be most perfect, was not. How horrifying that no one could just sense what was going on, because she did have friends and she was loved, and she left a sea of tears behind. I doubt she knew just how much I admired her and wanted to be like her, her independent spirit, her talents. she was not just a runway model, she was a mother, an accomplished pianist in her own right. It is beyond belief that no one noticed the pain she was in.

In The Spring


Every Spring, for the past ten years my cat, Wolfgang, would go outside during the late hours of the night and sit on the porch and wait.

Sometime during the evening his friend, a huge racoon,  would cross the street and run up the hill to our front porch

and they would sit out there together and after awhile they would eat.

Wolfie died in October and last night his friend came back.

And in a a way I guess Wolfie did too.


The Weeping of a Disappointed Womb



hiatus in the weeping

of a disappointed womb


this womb embraced

wonderous babes  

My womb was pleased

and so was I

we both reveled

in the ease of pregnancy

the joy of birth             

Long ago

a nurse said

“the weeping of a disappointed womb”

was a uterine function;

it stuck over the years

as I pondered

its accuracy and intent.                       

This womb, my womb,

provided good service

Symbolized the part of me,

hidden from incursions

of others

in use and abuse;


within my body


unconsciously by me,

until I could learn

to speak for myself. 

As I apply this wisdom

the uterus is taken from me

endometrial cancer

hysterectomy needed

just enough time

for quick words, thoughts

gratitude, love, appreciation

for all its gentle weeping

all its being there with me 

My womb is gone – and now I weep!                                             

                     (published in Releasing Times)

ALLOW Yourself to Grieve

ALLOW Yourself to Grieve:

honoring your personal grief journey*

*When I speak of grief/grieving I am not talking only about losing a loved one. We grieve many and varied losses in our lives and can often use the same methods to assist ourselves.

If you are grieving you’ve probably heard at least one of these:

“Keep busy, it’ll take your mind off things.”
“It’s time to get on with your life!”
“He (she) is better off now.”

None of these honor your particular experience or expression of loss. They are designed to get you to push your feelings away, to ignore your personal grief timetable, and to “assist” you in getting back to the way things were (to who YOU were) before your loss. But, the strong – deep feelings of grief – the loss that has occurred, cannot be easily (or healthfully) ignored.

Many times the people saying these things are uncomfortable with strong emotion or they don’t know how to offer support to someone who is experiencing loss.The direct opposite of these non-supportive statements, and the most important principle of self-care (particularly during times of mourning), is: ALLOW!
Allow yourself to:

AND their opposites: don’t feel, don’t think, don’t socialize, don’t rest, don’t talk.

Just ALLOW. Value – honor – your unique process of feeling, thinking, and experiencing life and loss.

Because grief often feels like the rug has been pulled out from under you – you lose your equilibrium, your sense of how to BE in the world – some examples of incorporating the principle of ALLOW into your self-care work may be useful:

Allow yourself to feel. This can run from anger to sadness to numbness (a kind of not-feeling) and everything in between. Your emotions will probably fluctuate a lot.

Try to feel without judging, allowing your feelings to be whatever they are. You don’t have to act on your feelings. It’s helpful to remember that YOU are not your feelings. In other words, you can feel very nasty toward a person – even hateful – and that does not make you a nasty or hateful person, just a person who is having a nasty or hateful feeling.

When you want to allow yourself not to feel you can do something physical – work in the garden, or do the dishes.

Allow yourself to think about your loss – about your loved one, your future or past. Perhaps you wish to plan some type of long term memorial – a garden, a grouping of pictures, a piece of art or letter/story that describes your loved one. When this becomes too overwhelming, or you feel that you need or desire a break from thinking – move your body. Take a walk, clean or organize, do a craft. Or, “move” your mind by placing it somewhere else – read or watch TV.

Allow yourself to socialize or not depending on how you feel. People will often attempt to convince you that getting out – going to social gatherings – will help you. Only you know if this is true at each particular moment. If you feel awkward turning down a number of socializing requests, it might be helpful to remind yourself (and assure the people who are wishing to spend time with you) that you have not decided to become a hermit – you are just honoring your need for alone time now.

Allow yourself to talk about the person who died. Don’t be afraid of the negative – sometimes we have a tendency to make saints out of everyone we’ve lost. This doesn’t honor the person they really were.

When my paternal grandmother died my cousins and I sat around uncomfortably reminiscing over funny and sweet things about her. At one point someone spoke about how she had been a strict disciplinarian. We all laughed and the tension broke. It seemed that the comment brought us closer as we could talk honestly and did not have to pretend that our grandmother was perfect.

Again, allow yourself not to talk about the person who has died when you do not wish to – even if someone else thinks it is a good idea.

More often you will probably find that people shy away from talking to you about your loss or your loved one. People can misguidedly assume that if they bring up your loss they will make you uncomfortable – as if in not mentioning your grief you will be spared feeling it. If you wish to talk about your loved one and/or your feelings of loss, honor your desire to do so.

Allow yourself to rest. Grief is hard work and you will probably need more rest than usual. You can think of rest time as refueling. Rest will mean different things to different people. For you it could be a nap, a time to sit and read or daydream. It could mean time to zone out in front of the TV, or to meditate or pray.

Also allow yourself not to rest – if you wish to keep busy, honor that.

There are many ways to nurture and support yourself during times of grief. Please know that there is NO right way to grieve. No self-care methods are better than others. Honor YOUR own ever-changing way!