“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go”–Jamie Anderson
It has been said that the best ghost stories are the ones written with psychological twists and unexpected turns. I suppose that means the ghost story I am going to share isn’t a good one. In fact, it seems more of a love story than a ghost story at all. And yet, despite that, it is the most tangible evidence that I have ever experienced of there being proof of afterlife. More so than anything else I’ve witnessed on this earth, and I say that having previously lived in a very psychically active house. Perhaps this is why it has taken me over two years to finally share this story. As odd as it is, it is every bit the truth of what happened that night, and for that reason I have struggled with how to write it. There is much justice that I must serve to this ghost story in its first retelling since it happened.
So no, this tale won’t be full of eerie moans and footsteps. There will be no things that go bump in the night. Instead, this is a story of life and death, of love and grief. Of the people left behind, and those who didn’t want to leave. The proof of love everlasting and how we never truly leave the ones we love. And I can’t believe that I am saying this, but I believe that Marvel’s Vision said it best when he stated: “What is grief, if not love persevering?”
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What a strange thing it
is to mourn an ending that
never once began.
“If eternal existence is altered, then it must become more beautiful; and if it disappears, it must return with more sublime image; and if it sleeps, it must dream of a better awakening, for it is ever greater upon its rebirth.”–Khalil Gibran
Life has been busy, a pell-mell dash through seasons as summer is now fall, and I have neglected my writing for over 2 months somehow. My full-time career asked much of me over the last few months, and a breakdown of leadership above me lead to some very stressful moments and tense situations. We overcame, but it was touch and go for a moment. On the positive, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to write and design for something truly special, and to meet some wondrously creative folks. I only hope it’s something I can continue with as it’s a true passion for me. All the while, I’ve balanced the regular needs that go into motherhood of both human and furry children.
I’ve been a little blocked, too, to be honest. A little gun shy on writing, and feeling unworthy. But I’m finally determined to break that spell as my friend Edwin told me a few days ago: “if you’re a writer you’re never blocked, you just need to write through it”. So I suppose I have no more excuses, and better out than in. This dream came to me weeks ago and I have waffled on posting it, but for the spirit of writing, I present it, warts and all.
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“He who has not been bitten by the serpents of light and snapped at by the wolves of darkness, will always be deceived by the days and the nights.”–Khalil Gibran, The Broken Wings
Wild dreams, dark dreams, bright dreams. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? There’s so much to say, so much to write about, and yet I find nothing in words that can truly describe what has happened over the last few months. Some of it I can’t write about as it’s not mine to tell just yet, though perhaps one day I will. Lovely moments, wondrous and bright, and then heartbreaking ones, too. For a long time, I felt like I was holding onto threads and praying they wouldn’t fray too soon. Just a little longer, to hold onto so much. But good news has come now, and we’re taking it all day by day, driving miles and miles while the world seems to unravel around us. In the end, it will all have been worth it, if dreams can be believed. That’s why I even began writing this blog to begin with: because someone believed in my dreams.
So tonight, as I sit on my porch surrounded by beautiful strands of hammered-copper lights, I write of a few dreams I’ve had lately. Though they were all dreamt on different nights, they seemed to blur together over days into one message.
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“The cemetery is an open space among the ruins, covered in winter with violets and daisies. It might make one in love with death, to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place.”–Percy Bysshe Shelley
Founded in 1852, Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington was the first planned, rural cemetery in North Carolina. Much like its sister cemeteries of Magnolia in Charleston, and Bonaventure in Savannah, Oakdale is a winding necropolis full of Spanish moss, alluring angels, and gorgeous flowering trees and shrubs that just begs to be explored and adored. Meant to be both garden and graveyard, this large, rural cemetery mixes the beauty of life with that of death and mourning. In the era of its conception, Victorian North Carolinians often spent many an afternoon relaxing in Oakdale with loved ones living and long gone, picnicking and reminiscing, and the cemetery became so popular that families paid to have their long-deceased loved ones relocated to its beautiful grounds.
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“When he shall die,–William Shakespeare
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.”
It has been a while, hasn’t it? For months now I’ve battled with writing, battled with dreaming. I feel stuck in slow motion, and in many ways stagnated. Given all that is going on in the world, I’m sure I’m not alone in this feeling. It’s almost like running in a dream or screaming under water; fighting so hard and getting nowhere.
So many nights I lay down and hope to sleep, to dream, only to fall into a fitful darkness that feels like sleep, yet still leaves me exhausted in the morning. Dark flashes of scenes, some good, some bad, dance before my eyes, but it’s nothing like the dreams I’m used to. After my surgery in December, my dreams had gone nearly completely, and I worried that they were gone for good.
But here and there I see breakthroughs. Here and there I see the light on the other side. And that’s enough to keep me pushing forward. And even though this dream wasn’t the happiest? It felt good to truly dream again.
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The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.Augustine of Hippo
Since I was 5 years old, I’ve traveled almost every summer. Most of the summers of my youth were spent in France, but as I got older, I tried to get out into different parts of America as well. In my teens and early twenties, I managed to hit up every state on the East coast from Florida to Maryland, and then westward into Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Colorado, and eventually, Nevada.
And then it all stopped.
I could get into all the whys and hows, the excuses and the arguments. But the end result was the same, regardless of how it happened. For 9 years, travel was not an option, and my house was more cage than home.
Then the tumult and chaos of last year happened, and I was travelling again out of nowhere. Savannah (multiple times), Charleston, New York, Augusta, and, at the end, Oak Island. All were whirl-wind trips of only a couple days here and there, but all were meaningful in some way. A part of me that was suppressed for so long was returning.
This year, with my life officially in restart mode, I was able to pull off some longer trips, both alone and with Liam as my little travel partner.
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Bonaventure is called a graveyard, a town of the dead, but the few graves are powerless in such a depth of life. The rippling of living waters, the song of birds, the joyous confidence of flowers, the calm, undisturbable grandeur of the oaks, mark this place of graves as one of the Lord’s most favored abodes of life and light. –John Muir, Camping Among the Tombs
As of late, I find myself deep within the trappings of my own mind again. Considerations of times past, and the way forward, flash in scenes various as I mull over the meaning and the beat of my life. And most times? I find myself in my mental eye in Bonaventure, wandering its near-endless avenues. In dreams, too, she calls to me with her many residents paying me a visit here and there. It seems I can never quite escape her, as even in sleep, Bonaventure finds me in dreams.
I first came to Bonaventure at the end of March last year, though I had been drawn to her for some time. In fact, an entire trip had been planned months prior just for the pilgrimage of reaching Savannah and Bonaventure’s gates. When planning then, I knew in a vague way that it would be a life-changing experience. As with most of life’s lessons, just how life-changing this visit would be could only be revealed later.
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I cannot say, and I will not say–James Whitcomb Riley, Away
That he is dead- . He is just away!
With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand
He has wandered into an unknown land,
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there.
In late June of 2008, a mere three weeks after I underwent lifesaving surgery, I arrived at the local college campus to meet with someone I had only spoken with on the phone, a man named Jonathan. I was determined to completely derail my career and switch majors from elementary education to veterinary medicine, and he was the last roadblock standing in my way. I had filled out all the forms, dotted my i’s and crossed my t’s, but there was the problem of me being wait listed, as the program only had 64 seats. This “Jonathan” was going to get me into the program whether he wanted to or not.
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There are fathers who do not love their children; there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandchild.–Victor Hugo
After grieving for Sammy throughout most of my childhood, death, at some point, became merely a distant threat again. I thought of him most days, admittedly do even now, but tears had subsided into smiles as painful thoughts became fond memories once more. Plus, going through puberty and then my high school years? I had more than plenty to keep me occupied.
I took death, in, yet again, an abstract sort of way, wrapping myself up in the communities that were Goth and Geek culture in the early aughts. This was not an embrace of death, not fully. More of keeping an enemy at arm’s length. Using the fear as a shield, and then escaping into a digital wonderland when things got too “real.”
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