Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Morning Fog

Before dawn, fog moves up from the river and drifts through the forest, filling the woods behind my house. It’s a bit gloomy, but also mysterious. Yesterday we had sunshine, and the brightness brought a surge of energy. Today, not so much. I want to put on a sweater, sit in a soft chair by the window, drink hot tea, and remember how life used to be.

This happens when you’ve battled grief and you’re years down the road and have moved on with your life. Some days you want to wonder about the what ifs. You want to think about how you’ve changed, and what you’ve learned from grief’s journey.

As the sun rises slowly, white particles of mist float and turn on the whims of the breeze. At first glance, it looks like fine snow drifting down.

Then I see it.
The three closest trees are in sharp focus, like an Ansel Adams’ photograph. I can see the different patterns of their bark. I notice the way one tree bends slightly to the left before straightening, and the tree with a branch that broke off during the ice storm last winter. How did I not notice these details before? Normally there are hundreds of trees and a thousand feet of woods behind my house. Now I see only three trees and twenty feet. The rest of the forest has disappeared in the fog.

The three trees are magnificent and stand silently like sentinels protecting the woods. Or like Don Quixote, Sancho Panza and Rosinante battling injustice and illusions. Maybe they are witnesses to surviving life’s battles.

Sometimes I need a fogged-in day to see what is in front of me.

Most of the time, I take in everything all at once in my constant rush to get work done. Specificity becomes an opaque blur. It’s the difference between chatting with everyone at a party, or sitting on the side with one person, deep in conversation.

We listen to the spaces between the words we share with each other.

We think that we want to understand everything. We want to believe that more knowledge will bring more happiness. But we know that knowledge is not understanding, wisdom, or compassion. Grief exposed the hollowness of many of our illusions. We know that many people are lonely, many are depressed, and many are grieving.

What we want is to experience a moment each day that is utterly real, a moment that gives us a taste of the transcendent. We want to feel compassion for those who are suffering. We want to be in loving relationships. We want to feel part of something mysterious, something greater than our lives.

We have experienced the rawness of death, now we want to connect to something specific, something honest and true, like what the trees are doing this morning. Soon the fog will dissipate on the breeze, but I will remember.

If we do not slow down and pause for moments like this, we will never see the trees, the dancing of the fog, or each other.


  1. Loved it! "... we know that knowledge is not understanding..., We want to have compassion for those who are suffering. We want to be in loving relationships." ... So i went to the beach early Monday morning, no bathers, no book, nothing to do but look out ... and the words formed in my mind of what i had to say to break the ice i wanted to break. Said the words and it worked. We usually have all the knowledge we need to act, but since we are afraid, we read and read. Thanks for the push and the strength.

    1. We have wisdom within us, Nati, yet we are don't always take the time to listen. What you did on the beach sounds perfect.