You Know How I Feel…

“I thought about my disconnection to my body, for so long. Disconnected because I wanted to die, disconnection because I didn’t want to feel so I drank. And then I watched breath moving the dead lungs of a dead human being in and out. And it struck me that breath could transcend death, that it lives on, in all of us, far past the point we are dead and even before we are alive. That we don’t die.”

This is a small quote from a post I wrote earlier this year called Just Breathe (here:

While I feel really strange about quoting myself, I felt this captured a lot of what I wanted to say, especially the last bit…the idea that we don’t die. That night in my yoga Teacher Training I was transfixed by those lungs, that idea. Since then I have continued in my studies, just now finishing a new, online course about yoga and asana and auyerveda and still, and always, the bottom line is we breathe. We all do, we all did, that breath lives on.

Last Sunday was November 1, All Soul’s day, Day of the Dead, Samhain…call it what you will culturally, religiously or personally.  I started the day at my Day of the Dead Ancestor altar, meditating, thinking and dreaming about those  I have loved and who are now dead, Tom chief among them. I had been pretty depressed leading up to Halloween, the long holiday season (or Death March, as I prefer to call it) looming ahead of me. I was tired, exhausted really. This year will be 10 years since he died and  as I looked at that fact I just felt the relentlessness of my sadness and the wonder that I had borne it for so many years. 10 years! God! How was I even alive under that weight? Why?

I had a full day planned, which was good. Starting  at my altar, then a friend’s Samhain party, welcoming in the Celtic New Year and acknowledging the fallow season of winter. We cast runes, read tarot, talked about spirituality and witchy ways, she made intuitive scent blends, and I led a guided meditation on death. (Yep….right in my wheelhouse!)

( ASIDE:  sometimes when I hear the things coming out of my mouth, or my fingers in this case, I think about how several  short years ago I would have laughed at these ideas, meditation, runes, spirituality, etc….proof that things can change, and constantly do!)

The meditation felt great. I really enjoyed it, I felt a release and hope the others did too as we named our dead, gave them voice again, a place in our world (reach out, grab their hands, “we are stardust, we are golden”, we don’t die). When I left  I  felt lighter, as if I had released some of that sadness…let out some air.

I went from there to another friend’s home for dinner (well, I invited myself to dinner…they put up with me!). While chatting they said that they had been watching old videos  converted to DVD and right in the middle there was Tom, singing one of the “parody”songs he was famous for  (quickly: big birthdays=party and parody song, full of rude age jokes and lots of laughs that helped us feel better as we aged. Tom wrote and sang most of them). I heard that and mentioned I’d like to see it. I was a little unsure since I haven’t seen any video of him since shortly after he died.  I remember it was hard though. But it was November 1, years later, what better day? And talk about giving my dead a voice, which is what I had been doing.  YOWZA. It felt right.

So we watched. And there is no way I can describe the experience because…because. But I do know that from the second I saw him there onscreen I was transfixed. His voice; that green shirt,  I saw him, I heard him. I cried  the kind of tears you just gradually realize are coming out of your eyes, grateful tears. I kept thinking : “It was real, it was REAL!” Did I forget? Did I question that? I don’t remember questioning but in the moment I guess I had. It was stunning. There he was, Tom in his element…singing, looking handsome as hell, cracking jokes, center of attention and making people laugh. That was his favorite him…and earlier in the day I had named and called him forth.  #WHOA!

Then we went through other DVD’s and found more.  I stopped crying and we all started laughing so hard. But the best moments, for me, were small and personal: brushing past each other in the hall, him calling to me from the kitchen (what did he need? I wish I could remember),  looking at me in the midst of a song, film of our home, our kid…all the things that made US, made our lives. He was real and he loved me. I had that. And I loved him, amidst and despite it all. And even though our lives together were often akin to Rilke’s “beauty and terror”, we did experience and live it all.  Real. Moving and happening. It was real. I called him forth. He was breathing, moving, being. He answered.  It was fantastic

I went home with 2 DVD’s.  I joked when leaving that I would be watching them non-stop every moment from then on. I haven’t though, for now that night was enough, the reminder and the witnessing of my dear friends.

Since then I have shifted….in thinking, in being, in attitude and in emotions. Another layer of fog has lifted, much like it did when I saw that dissection tape,  the air breathing through the dead lungs.

I’ve felt lighter and freer. I have done a number of positive things, asked for things, taken risks.  (Jeez, I haven’t written here in a long-ass time, so I guess actually publishing this counts too!) That relentless sadness has dissipated to a low hum; I feel better than I have in,well, years I guess. That 10 year mark will come, I would still trade anything to have him back, but I’m, what? Better? I don’t really know. Different, in a very good way.

Does this make sense? It does to me. I am experiencing respite. I don’t doubt I’ll be sad again, maybe even  relentlessly, but I’m not now. I’m noticing how I am not sad now. I’ve been noticing this for 10 days now and it hasn’t changed.


That’s what I got.


That’s what I had.

Integrating those two things has been hard for me, so hard. But, as with anything, it takes what it takes. And, as with anything, it shifts and changes all the time. And also…I have to acknowledge how much work I have been doing to get into this place; hopefully this block has lifted and I can write some more about that, but I  certainly haven’t been lying on the couch eating grapes and watching some crazy housewife shit…

But NOW…I am feeling good







Add yours →

  1. If this is how you come out of “Writer’s Block” then I want some!
    Where do I even start?
    How about how happy and tingly and WOW this makes me feel. I could never imagine, but you wrote it with such clarity, that I almost could. The singing, the dancing, the forgotten moments and how you called him forth. This is magic, babe . And, for what it’s worth…you worked your magic on my own bit of funk creeping around me today 🙂

    Ps: I listened to Nina Simone all morning. Coincidence? I think not!

    • Thank you Michelle….

      I just sat down and spilled it out today, though it’s been roiling around in my head since the 1st.
      It occurs to me that I kinda got my voice back too..hmmm.
      and Nina?
      no, no coincidences.

  2. It fills my heart to know you have shifted to a place of feeling good.
    Where something so hard has suddenly been able to make you smile and laugh and be reassured that those things did happen.


  3. Amazing in many ways, not least of all in knowing you and I are not alone in all the strangeness and enduring disbelief and shifting perceptions which come as we grieve over time. And both of us have a Rilke cameo today!? Maybe there’s something about the season and its dwindling days and the way they celebrate souls which stay with us.

  4. I don’t know. Best post yet? Centerpiece for the book? Blew me away.

  5. The depths of you always touch the depths of me, Mish. I’m glad you had these recent experiences and thank you for sharing.

  6. I love this post so much. Integrating the NOW and THEN has been such an evolving understanding for me. As soon as I think I’ve got it figured out, I have a new memory or am presented with a different way to see my past and I’m integrating all over again. I guess that means we constantly evolve. Thank God for that because the worst feeling in the world for me is feeling stuck. xxoo

    • yes..
      that constant shift.
      grateful for that, the good and bad, because if not, well..
      i guess we’re dead, right? LOL
      I have no illusions thinks won’t change again, and again and again…
      hopefully my attitude will stay constant amidst it all

  7. Such a sense of healing in this post, to say nothing of the shivers from those gifts from beyond on day of the dead. 10 years sounds like a long time, but it’s nothing. So glad you are seeking and finding what you need. I love reading about it.

  8. Wow. That’s really all I have Mished. Just wow.

    And how blessed you were and are. Then and now.


  9. Michelle, what an incredible journey, what brilliant expression of grief and … growth, enlightenment. There is so much I relate to in what you wrote, so much I am incredibly inspired by. You make me want to crawl back, over dirt and twigs and rocks, to witchy and wise moments like the one you experienced. You called him forth. You called him forth.

    Your healing is literally breathtaking.

    I haven’t lost a spouse, so I won’t pretend to compare, but I have lost a lot over the last 9 years: my 2 closest brothers, my father, my mother (lost to me but still alive), my sister in law, my husband’s father. My brother Scott has been gone for 9 years now, and I would cherish some video of him. He used to visit me regularly in my dreams, and does still, though less often. I miss him so much. I think sometimes of all the things he could have helped me through…how he would have gently led me in the right direction so many times.

    Thank you for your powerful, powerful words. I’m so blown away by your victories, by the lightness you feel. Bravo. ❤

  10. Oh I can see all of the thinks you were thinking…I remember you wrote about hearing Tom singing while you were at the wedding, but how cathartic (and what a gift) to see and hear him on video. This was a beautiful post. and I’m glad you’re getting your voice back. They say the only way out is through.

    Your thoughts on breath and life and breath living on, reminded me of a Mark Strand poem. I think you’ll like it:

    “Breath” by Mark Strand

    When you see them
    tell them I am still here,
    that I stand on one leg while the other one dreams,
    that this is the only way,

    that the lies I tell them are different
    from the lies I tell myself,
    that by being both here and beyond
    I am becoming a horizon,

    that as the sun rises and sets I know my place,
    that breath is what saves me,
    that even the forced syllables of decline are breath,
    that if the body is a coffin it is also a closet of breath,

    that breath is a mirror clouded by words,
    that breath is all that survives the cry for help
    as it enters the stranger’s ear
    and stays long after the world is gone,

    that breath is the beginning again, that from it
    all resistance falls away, as meaning falls
    away from life, or darkness fall from light,
    that breath is what I give them when I send my love.

    • “I think you’ll like it”..
      HAH! I LOVE it!
      But then you knew that!
      Such a gorgeous poem, I love Mark Strand and this is so beautiful.
      and it completely fits, with all of it, all of it.
      thanks for your constant support!

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