a list

last week was my mother’s yahrzeit
one year (by the hebrew date) since she died
my brother and I made a list of mom-things:

we had a lot of fun adding to it
and I think of that list as a secret guidebook to reclaiming
the process of [mourning]

lists and list-making are on the list of course
so it is also a list about lists

it brings ease

that way I didn’t have to think about what to do
on this hard day
just look at the list
as if it were a tray of delicious colorful amuse-bouche
pick whichever appeals most in the moment

for example: immersing

immersing myself in creative process
writing, drawing, garden, cooking
because those were things she loved
and watching a movie (but only the happy parts!)
because that was how she watched movies
and, the ultimate Ruth-pursuit,
listening to Roy Orbison full blast top volume

maybe only for a few minutes though
since my capacity to listen to Roy Orbison is somewhat smaller than hers

full blast

this makes me laugh since she was such a quiet sensitive person
who didn’t like noise at all and never blasted anything
but get some Roy Orbison on the radio
and suddenly it had to be FULL VOLUME
and if you were in a car with her
then it was windows down bass thumping
like she was suddenly the rowdiest teenager

she really loved Roy Orbison
it was weird
but also sweet

so that was how I spent the day

doing Ruth-like things
that is to say: sitting on the couch and reading
with tea and apple slices

she liked sleeping in
and puttering
her painting classes in the evening
working on a secret art project or
reading as many books as possible on a topic that interested her
or just sitting and thinking
wrapped up in a blanket or three


I didn’t want to go to a synagogue on yom kipur
I didn’t want to be one of the mourners
I didn’t want to do anything other than
get quiet, turn inward
and call in qualities for the new year

tuning into my own internal sense of the essence of absolution
undoing and dissolving connections to any
lingering distortions
connecting instead to the wisdom in my lineage
releasing the rest

and when my jewish friends
said “hey forgive me for my transgressions please”
I translated that in my head to mean:
“I love you so much and want to be reminded that you love me too”

here is a red balloon of releasing filled with the
superpowers of absolution and always-loved

more lists

my plan that night was to sit quietly and name things
(yes, a list!)
to call in what I want to feel, remember and experience
in this new year

my friend Natanya was unexpectedly in town
and I asked her to join me
we sat in a quiet neighborhood place
with a small glass of ginger-infused whiskey
and it was lovely
really really lovely
exactly what I needed


there was this moment: we were pausing in reflection
in our list-making
and I wondered-thought
okay so probably mom wouldn’t think this was the best thing
but I bet soul-Ruth approves whole-heartedly!
and just then
as I thought this

the song Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison came on
and they turned the volume all the way up

all the way up

until this moment there had only been
soft quiet background music
and suddenly, out of nowhere, ROY ORBISON! TOP VOLUME!

until the end of the song
and then back to the quiet music of the style that had been playing before
and no one commented on this

it just was

so thanks, soul-Ruth
for that
and for the sweetness

sweet mercy

I love how it was not any song of his but this song
which has the word MERCY
like a musical pun
on the yom kipur essence of true forgiveness in quality form

no one could look as good as you, mercy
you look so good to me, mercy
you are beautiful, mercy
this is my love song to you, mercy

no one could look as good as you, Mercy

what if the song is speaking directly to MERCY!
what if mercy is what I want to meet
what if mercy turns around and comes back for me

that is the funniest thing I have ever thought of
and I think on some level it is also true
in the way that things are true

and this definitely fits mom’s sense of humor

so she wasn’t just dropping by

in song form
to say goodbye
but to make a joke about forgiveness
so that I would smile

the song also has the line “won’t you pardon me”
another hidden pun
thank you, mom who loved words and wordplay and layered-meanings
and had so much to say about everything
in her own inimitable way


I am burning a beeswax candle for my mother today
inside of one of Elissa Bromberg‘s stunning ceramic pieces

bees as in bee as in be as in being
(being, not doing)
and bees as in honey: sweetness
and honeycomb which is the prettiest pattern
tiny interlocking compasses

sweet is the word everyone uses to describe my mom
she was so much more than that
but yes, also sweet

a list for a new year

beautiful well-timed exits
finding/revealing the treasure
a wonderful lightening

the superpower of seeing only beauty
in all things

unapologetically taking up space

choosing towards freedom
joyful liberations
because what is releasing
if not to liberate and be liberated

sustenance and sustainability
safety and support
absolution and always-loved

trust in my wise instincts
insist on supportive environments always
turn up the volume on things that
require volume

like Roy Orbison, but also other things


today is the unveiling of my mother’s gravestone
my dad told me they put a bar code on it
apparently that’s a thing now
they do it automatically

so you can scan it with your phone and go online and
be interactive or whatever
share your grave-selfies (double-meaning!)

though apparently
if you give the gravestone people the death-stare (sorry)
and tell them they have two days to get rid of it or heads will roll (sorry)
they will remove it for you

mom would of course be incensed
(I’m seeding a delayed-reaction pun here, so you’ll have to wait for it)
at the idea of bar-codes on gravestones
but soul-Ruth with her tambourine and laughter sees the absurd humor in it
and says “oh, life!”

and both of these things can co-exist,
and knowing this is treasure

treasure and grace

I think a lot about what she would like
sometimes what I’m pretty sure she would have liked and what soul-Ruth likes
are not the same

life is finite and qualities are not and
I am here now and
my yes is to be in a state of grace with
to wish her peacefulness-always and honor her essence
enjoy things she enjoyed that I also enjoy

and it seems funny now that we don’t all do this with each other all the time
because of course we can share this soul-level sweetness and peace
whenever we want


Roy Orbison says:

give me room to travel on my way to a place where dreams all fade away

and an old friend who (I hope) will one day be my friend again used to say,
let’s light a stick of incense to burn away all karmic residue

let’s do that
mom didn’t like incense (there it is)
and she would raise an eyebrow about the phrasing
but she’d find the idea interesting
and soul-Ruth appreciates ritual and sweetness in all forms
so let’s do that

and wish for


easing & releasing
everything dissolving into love
because that’s what absolution is

no one could look as good as you, mercy
you look so good to me, mercy

quiet sweetness
at full volume

pebbles and stones

in jewish tradition you leave pebbles and stones
on the gravestone
so if you feel moved to respond and don’t know what to say
you can always leave a pebble here
or a heart or love
or a favorite roy orbison song
and of course you are welcome to share anything sparked for you

thank you for being here with me
and making spaces of sweetness together
it means so much to me

The Fluent Self