House of Mourning

Time Keeps On Slipping

Jul 5, 2011 by

This is a house of mourning, even if you can’t see it among the brightly colored ceramic lizards or hear it in the laughter.

I have woven mourning into every house I’ve lived in since the death of my husband in 2008.  It flickers like dappled sunlight, casting shadows with the death of each cat who was part of our home, with every new chicken in the yard or farm skill learned, with the introduction of every potential long term boyfriend.

Our old life slips away like hands reluctantly unclasping.  Like the sun at the summer solstice, an era sets slowly.

Sometimes, I sit outside at the most recent grave and talk to Spot.  I tell him things I never told him when he skulked around the house, catching mice and stealing Snowball’s food.  I tell him how I scolded the vet for the failure to help me provide palliative care, in the way I should have scolded Dave’s doctors for the invasive treatments past the point of diminishing returns.  I apologize for not being able to arrange an easier death for him.  I talk about how sometimes I feel as if I could lie down in the dirt next to his grave and simply turn to dust.

It hasn’t happened yet.  Even though when I’m still I feel as if I could simply fade into the universe, I don’t turn to dust.  A friend gives me a hard time about doing what I “have” to do instead of what I “want” to do, but these days the two words merge together.  My house, my business and my animals provide the skin that keeps me together.  I bustle around; constantly moving, building, feeding and caring.  The day begins and ends with the sun, and I fall asleep at night, exhausted and solid.

Time is like a strong wind and sometimes we need to march right into it, eyes straight ahead and jaw set, just to prove we have weight and heft in the world.  We need to show what is inside on our outsides, like a tattoo. Inside, I have become the solitary and determined pioneer woman with her shotgun, guarding her homestead.  Outside, I learn to keep rain, predators and creditors at bay by myself.  Inside, I grit my teeth, stand my ground and hold the line against an unpredictable world.  Outside, I compete with the strongest women at the gym, conquer my distaste for marketing and learn to tactfully say no to attractive men who aren’t good for me.

We can’t stop time by denying its passing.  We can’t stop loss by denying we ever cared.  We can accept the changes or we can turn to dust.

The sun shines through the elm leaves onto Spot’s grave in my backyard, just as it shines through the maple leaves on Dave’s grave some 1500 miles away.  The young chickens and elderly cats playfully stalk each other.  The pea plants soften into white flowered tendrils, shading the nascent lettuce.  I test a riot of recipes in the kitchen and friends come and go; sampling the food, drinking all the wine and laughing.  The ceramic lizards hold still, the only ones truly frozen in time.

Graphic credit: Best Steam Punk Art

About the Author

Bonnie Simon Has Written 35 Articles For Us!

I am an urban homesteader in Colorado Springs, CO where I raise chickens, make my own yogurt and am learning to grow some food, all within sight of downtown in a 1950s era neighborhood. I am starting a small business designed to fill the gap between local farms and local dinner tables.
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  1. Bill Flarsheim

    This is a tremendous essay. The last three years have taught you and the rest of the world that Bonnie Simon is a very powerful person.

  2. What do you do when your "best friend pet" dies? 2 amazing posts frm @marketingprofs Gf Bonnie

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