Faces on Paper 

The thing about feelings are they ebb and flow like the tides. One moment I’m ok. Having a good day. Doing fun things. The next I’m just something else. 

I wrote the post below in one sitting. After the purge I felt better went out had a great day with my family. We are down on the shore at our new cottage. I Sat on the calm bay during an eclipse that was anti-climatic here on our longitude and latitude but the serenity in the bay was medicinal as always. 

I’m trying to piece my way through these shift that I am experiencing. During the “normal” times where things feel more I balance I wonder if I am being over sensitive to the feelings I’m having.  But that’s the point my senses feel what they feel when they feel it. Body and soul. We have to honor what we are feeling. It’s so easy to push it away. I want to. But I’m also aware that this is a season of change and I will have to navigate it and face it   .  

So below is what I wrote two days ago and there has been an ebb and a flow again and again.  At some point maybe I will feel on a more even keel again. It been a long four years.


I sat crying in the shower -it’s a good place to cry. Hopefully nobody hears you. 

My sense of a numbness and a loneliness began about four weeks ago. It had be creeping up before that but it reared its ugly head in mid-July. A sense I wasn’t living my life, like I am living outside it it sometimes – a sense things have changed. I felt everything  is off kilter. Would it right itself? Will it? 

In the shower I felt the need to write. My words always form in the shower. Then I have to jump out dripping wet and run to type it all out. My words are never as eloquent as they are in the shower. The shower breaks me open sometimes. A cleaning of the body and opening up the soul. 

I think I am having a battle of body and soul. My body is trying to push my feelings down and my soul which usually wins is trying to push them up. The soul is protective and honest at the same time. 

I have experienced huge losses in the last two years. My father-in-law, then my dad -which was very sudden- and four weeks ago my mother-in-law. Add in the four years of dealing with the aftermaths of cancer and two major surgeries for that aftermath in six months and more to come and three teens that keep being -well , teens – my mom moving in – I guess I shouldn’t be surprised I feel the way I do.

I stood in the shower and drew a big heart on the wall and put my hand in it as I cried. Maybe I wanted to feel something familiar as I touched that wet or maybe I wanted it to heat up as a sign from someone who I loved that has crossed into the realm. I just wanted to feel something. And I felt sad so maybe that was ok. 

 I wanted something bc so many things seem shifted. 

Am I depressed? Shell shocked? Is it the meds I have to take?  Or am I just feeling the pangs of so much grief that I am holding in? 

My mother-in- law -Doris Sweeney- whom I called mom was one of my very best friends. She died July 18. She deserves a blog of her own and I will write about her when I can. I’m not ready but  I do miss her terribly. Sometimes I think maybe it’s wrong for me to grieve this loss so much bc this wasn’t my mom this was Kevin’s mom. Doesn’t he deserve to have this huge chasm of loss to himself? I feel like I am stealing his mom or the loss of her somehow. I know that’s not rational. But bc I must feel that way somewhere deep in my brain -my body is like a dam only letting bits of grief sink in. 

I think this and the fact that three people that I considered parents to me – even if two weren’t – have left this world. And crap do I miss them. 

My soul will win and require me to feel what I need to feel. It’s pushing me to deal with it all. I hope that it will get me off this rocking boat and help me to feel like I’m on dry sound land again. 

It’s lonely here. I have felt this loneliness before many years ago before I married Kevin. The alone feeling even when in a room of people. 

Kevin and his family brought so much light and balance  into my life. They have no idea. 

The other day at the memorial lunch I think I hoped it would feel like a reunion of family. That i would feel that warm feeling – like the room gets a bit warmer bc people love eachother and are happy to be together. But I just felt lonely. Nobody did anything wrong. It’s just that each of us was so sad and the part of our soul that touches each other was curled up hugging our own selves – protecting us. Or maybe it was just my soul was curled up and I couldn’t reach out. But everything was off. Sadness prevailed and was visible under the laughter and greeting of friends. Because the humans whose lives we were celebrating should have been there. 

It was a beautiful place and so many words of love were shared.  The gathering of friends was beautiful and I wanted to see my inlaws faces but all I had to look at were the many family photos we shared in collages that we all put together. 

Faces on paper were all that was left. 

I know I looked at the collages but I hardly recall any of the pictures. I even made three of the collages myself. Pinning the photos onto the framed boards one by one. I cried some. But I stealed away the feelings as best I could because other wise I couldn’t have done it. 

Faces on paper. And love and memories. I know this. But I’m not there yet. I know this is what life should be. Parents going before their children. 

Rationally I get all that. But I’m not there yet.  I’m off kilter, I feel this hole, too much has happened. 

I will begin counseling again but right now it seems too exhausting to tell someone everything that has happened.  Maybe I should give the therapist this blog post:) 

I just need a little time to see how this all processes. Writing helps. It does. It’s something that is familiar and balances me. Thank God for it. 

And God. I have written many times about my faith. I would admit  my faith has been tested sometimes in the last year especially. But in the last four I have had so many questions and some have been answered as best as they can be answered and others still flutter waiting for understanding that I might not get. But I think sitting in a church of any sort could help bc I feel a connection to God – but definitely not to a religion. I like bits and pieces of many but dislike bits and pieces too. But sometimes just sitting in a church worshipping and singing can help the soul heal. 

I sat on my horse yesterday. I longed for it. Needed it. For those few moments working with my horse some balance was in my life and that post horse buzz haloed around me for a good while.  But today that sense of unbalance of doing life but it really being part of it is back. 

I’m going out to paint some shutters for our cottage I’m hoping brush to wood will lighten this load o me at least for a while. 

There is a path that I must walk to get to a place of balance even if it is a new familiarity of my life. It’s changed the patriarchy and matriarchy that was once there is now mostly gone. What a gaping hole -albeit wound – it leaves. 

Lonely souls that have to learn to ride the rivers without a beacon ship. 

So much has happened my body and soul are trying to protect me I guess. Trying to keep the dam from breaking. In the meantime I’m floating down the river without a beacon ship  to lead me. Because now I -we- kevin and I and all my sweeney family -we- we are the new beacons  and I’m not ready to lead quite yet. 

Forgotten friends: rediscovering my love of the physical book. 

When the digital age of books began, I got a kindle and then a kindle app on my iPad then on my phone. I loved it. I could read in the dark of night. I could read anywhere and I had a load of books with me all the time. In a small device. It was marvelous. 

I was never going to get a print book again unless it was signed by the author or I got a gift. Or if I needed a coffee table ornament. But you get the drift. 

But books had always had an allure to me. On my birthdays before the digital age of books I would request two things on my birthday to go ride my horse and to go to the bookstore.  That for we was the epitome of a perfect day.

I’d be nice and zen from a good ride and then I’d grab a coffee at the bookstore coffee shop and I would browse the books. I’d leave with a bag full. Do these big stores even exist anywhere? I know a few places where small independent bookstores still stand. Those stores are awesome. Strong and steady -a beacon for those who still read real books. 

My book fetish began by having a book loving momma.  She began reading to me when I was just an infant. And I did the same for my little’s. I remember my mother and I sitting down to read Babar and Mother Goose. First she to me then later I told her. Oh how I loved Babar. 

Out of that was born a reader. I read voraciously as a child. If we had a book list for summer break I doubled the amount required. 

We went to the library and that smell of the books became as important to me as the words that were in them. I loved getting new books because of how they felt in my hands. I would be the first to dog ear a page (I always lost my book marks and hated losing my place.). I felt something stir inside me when I got a book to read. 

My love for the real thing – a solid book really hasn’t left me. It just got put away on the back burner as I read and read on my reading apps. But every once in a while I stepped inside a bookstore.  And the feelings of book love returned. 

We have a small independent bookstore in Bethany Beach. I stopped in there a few weeks ago to browse. The kids and I all left with books. It’s much easier to read a real book on the beach. An electronic device and sun do not mix. Light is my friend when reading a real book.  I can see the print when I am on the beach but not so much at home these days. Which is why the switch to a reading app went so well for me.  I could make the print big. I didn’t need readers. 

My mother isn’t just a reader she’s a super reader. She has read thousands of books. I think she should have been a librarian, and a decorator, and a doctor. She did work at the Library of Congress for a stint. She’s pretty darn smart. 

My mother had hundreds of books on her shelves in her home. She loves them. Each book. They are not just words on a page. The books are her friends. They gave her joy.  There are some she didn’t keep over the years but that’s because they weren’t worthy of her shelves. A Bad book. There aren’t too many but there were some. Thank goodness or the books very well may have taken over. 

My mom was forced to move out of her last home and in with us last November. She had lost her husband -my stepfather- the year before and I was worried about her being alone in PA. But she stoically stayed the course and lived alone until one illness and a trip to the ER -a call to 911 she doesn’t remember making – and a ten day stay in the hospital -made her realize it was time to leave that home and go to Maryland to live with her daughter. 

It was a change for all of us. She basically left the hospital and never returned to that home. We handled the move from Maryland and Kevin and the boys got most of her belongs out and sorted. Some came here and some to our beach cottage in Delaware.  Her housekeeper packed up much of her stuff including hundreds of books. 

I hadn’t seen the extent of the move because I was sick and readying for more surgery. Most of her boxes went to storage then after many things moved to the beach cottage her many boxes of books and other personal things went into our garage. So much stuff! So many books. We didn’t need all those books. We had digital books now didn’t we? It seemed such a no brainer. We will sift through the books and keep just what mom absolutely wanted. We would donate the rest – no biggie. 

It was taking a while for us to get to the book sorting job. We had sorted through many boxes of her other things but the books remained. I had no idea where to put them. We have a small rancher and it was already full. So I kept putting that job off. But my mom asked often about the books. 

So in a frenzy of wanting to get rid of stuff because I could now physically handle the task and because I just love to purge – I made room in a bookcase in our dining area that I had used to hold dishes we never used much -if ever.  

So the task of unpacking boxes of books began one day recently. It was unplanned but my momma was feeling pretty good that day. I think I thought that many of the books would be going in the give away boxes. But I could see how much each book meant to my mom. She would pull one out and say how it was a good book or that my daughter might like it. We began to make a pile  for my daughter and one for the boys. I found a few that I wanted to read. We began a pile to be taken to the beach house. 

Pretty soon I realized something. 

I still loved the physical book. 

The whole thing words and paper and smells and covers. 

We found another bookcase that wasn’t really being used in the basement. We cleaned it off and the boys hauled it up to the dining area which was looking more like a library. We began adding more books. We did have a good number of books that went to be donated. When we were done I felt happy at a task done but more than that something felt so good about seeing those books on those shelves.

And better yet I sometimes see my mom perusing the shelves or just staring at her books. I can tell now why she asked about them so much. She has lost a lot in the last few years so those books are a connection to the past. 

Do we need all these books taking up space? A few weeks ago I would have said heck no! But now I smack that me. Heck yes we need those books! 

Sometimes. I just don’t get it until I get it.