Life in a Week

I went to a funeral this week. Grandma Shuga was 95. Her 40-something grandson, the same once-little boy I chased on the beach when I was 30-something, spoke loving words about her, his eyes red with memories.

I spent one morning with veterans—Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq—and we talked and laughed and wrote together. Damaged bodies. Beautiful souls. We read aloud the poem, Heavy, by Mary Oliver, who so clearly captures the weight of grief we all carry in one form or another. The time spent with these amazing people surprises and inspires.

I spent eight hours one day with thirteen fabulous women, most of whom I didn’t even know. We gathered around a table loaded with magazines. We searched for words, pictures, letters that might capture our personal vision for the new year. Part bucket list, part mining of the heart. We helped each other find just the right letter or word or example for what we think we need to move through another year. We were fierce. We were connected. We were supportive. We laughed and loved ourselves, each in her own way.

I continued to nurse my aging cat, eyes and hips barely enough to see and move now. But her spirit prevails, her instincts are strong as ever, and every day she purrs and persists.

I walked and talked with my daughter, I wrote bad and not-so-bad poems, I cooked good and not-so-good food, I cursed the universe for the suffering of so many people now in our upside-down country. And every evening I drink wine with my husband, a quiet celebration of our life together. Also, I bought myself a “Life is Good” t-shirt, just in case I might forget.

Marsha lives and writes in Richmond VA. Her favorite activity is learning. It keeps the gray matter working!