Listen to Your Art

“Listen to Your Art”

In April I said goodbye to my friend of 25+ years – she left earth exhausted and without words.

The last 7 months I’ve heard and seen the realities of grief – of my own, of those who also love my friend, and of those who have lost a love I didn’t know but have shared their grief with me – Grief and reconciliation and the need for healing are rampant in our world.

Less than a month ago, my daughter asked if I’d travel to Amsterdam with her since no one else had the same work time-off. I texted my German penpal, asking if she’d meet us there, too.

An ocean away yet my penpal responded within minutes, “I’m in.”

Today I went all over Amsterdam with my daughter and lifelong penpal – we went to the Banksy exhibit @mocomuseum , and later in the day, I biked Amsterdam’s streets with my daughter who I taught how to ride a bike; chasing her down a golf course fairway holding onto her bicycle seat, yelling, pedal! go! and with my penpal who as children, we were introduced by our parents – a gazillion letters ago –

Life is fleeting yet friendship is like the light that decided to show up on this #Banksy work of art right while I was taking a closer look –

Present yet sometimes flickering and sometimes seemingly out of reach – True friendship is a two-party contract that stands up to the tests of time; showing up when least expected and in ways, more moving than I, pre-grief, could’ve imagined “I’m in and here to stay. I’m tucked safely within you; securely fastened within your heart right exactly where the real magic lives.”

And listen here – pinkie swear –

We’re taking care of each other’s hearts and art forevermore.


I know deep within my heart that she would’ve liked this if she were alive to “like” my art.

I was listening then, and I’m listening now.

That has not changed.

From This Point Forward

Relaxed joyfulness is found at the point

when we have everything we could ever need,

and we know it.

“Welcome to the Party, Let’s Celebrate”
“Repeat After Me”
“From This Point Forward”


Rest in relaxed joyfulness, J⁴

07.27.1954 – 04.05.2018

I’ll see you in the Light

and honor your grace

all the livelong day.



Privacy, Please

She kept her personal life close to her heart; for if she revealed too much, she might be exposed to scrutiny, or worse yet,  feel vulnerable and out of control.  These discomforts only added to her pain, so she opted to shut out friends who tried to get too close. We wanted to help, but we knew that knocking repeatedly would only cause her more grief.

The few allowed in are weeping

now that she’s died too young and is permanently sleeping.

We, on the outside, wish we could’ve done more, but respecting her wishes,

we find comfort, trusting that giving space to people who prefer privacy is often granting peace.

And isn’t the gift – to rest in peace – what we desire to give to

those who’re in immeasurable pain?

Not everyone has an open-door policy, and that’s ok.

Respecting others’ wishes –

IMG_4162“Privacy, Please”

Let her rest in peace.

Last Stand

Have you ever wondered who or what would be your last vision on earth?

On a brisk late October Saturday morning, Jack left his wife’s side in their warm bed and headed up the hill above their home to deer hunt.  He left a note on the kitchen floor so his wife would stumble upon it when she awoke.


He had an agreement with his friend, Butch – they both tell each other their whereabouts when leaving for the woods.  He told Butch he’d be at the 365. Jack wore his orange hat and vest.

Around 8 am, a stranger, but fellow hunter noticed the orange of Jack’s hat and vest through the woods.  Hunters etiquette is unspoken but universal – give your fellow hunters space and silence – don’t disrupt another’s shot and keep hunters safe from bullets.  About 10 am, the fellow hunter again passed by Jack’s stand. Jack’s orange hat and vest outlined Jack’s sitting position – Jack was slumped over.  The fellow hunter called the sheriff.

Meanwhile, at home, Jack’s wife had gotten his note and worried why he hadn’t returned.  She called Butch. Knowing Jack’s location in the woods, Butch went to find him.  Approaching the stand, Butch was stopped by the sheriff, “stay back! we have a deceased person.” Butch convinced the sheriff, “I think I can identify the deceased for you.”

And he did.

Jack, slumped over his rifle that was resting on his knees, had one hand in his sweatshirt’s pocket.

It had been instant. It was a massive heart attack. Jack died, doing what he loved where he loved.


Returning 3 weeks later for Jack’s memorial, we made our way through the forest to Jack’s Last Stand.

I sat down on the stump where Jack had sat – I wondered if the trek up that hill had been tough – was he out of breath? was he cold? Did he think about his warm bed that he’d deserted that morning? Did he hear deer hooves crushing the pine cones and tree debris that was scattered on the forest’s floor? Was he hungry?

And then all my questions were silenced when I looked out from Jack’s Last Stand.

This view

and then lights out.

No time for questioning.


His heart stopped beating, but not before it led him Home, to a perfectly fitting place where he could enter the Kingdom in his orange hat and vest with silence and space, leaving behind a beautiful stand where we may now feel His Grace.

Larger Than Life

I received a Facebook message from my friend’s father – call me at this number – in all CAPS. I knew it was urgent.  I tried to get a line out, but I couldn’t.  I went down to the Mexico City hotel’s front desk, asking if they could connect me to the States.  Finally, I got a line, but it was breaking in and out – barely audible, a faraway voice said, “Mark killed himself today.”IMG_9429

Parish of San Juan Bautista


My friend, a personal trainer, with a larger-than-life personality, who calls me, “Peterson” and who’s taught me so much about strength, about hunger, about desperation, about human nature, and about pain, is gone.

“universal commonalities are everyone wants to be loved, no one wants to be the butt of the joke and everyone wants to get the joke.”

“Slow down!  1-2-3 HOLD 1-2-3 release”

“The byproduct of pain is compassion.”

“You’re the only girl I’ve ever been friends with, Peterson.”

“If you can’t afford a speeding ticket, then don’t speed.”

He nitpicked me about my posture – “chest up, shoulders back and down, hands beside not in front of your hips – stand as if you’re being pulled upward by the breastbone,” and by listening and retraining the muscles, we healed my back pain.

He told me I was a pusher, not a puller.

He taught me about tapping out.

He hit my hand one day during training, hoping to motivate me to duck walk around the gym’s indoor track, yet it did the opposite. He pointed out that he never expected me to get silent and distant after hitting my arm. He kept apologizing, but it was fine – he’d pointed out a way I cope with pain. So often, he, to me, was a hand-held mirror, showing me what’s really going on inside myself.

And here I am, the day after the news of his death, standing in this church in Coyoacán, Mexico City, with the best posture I’m able to muster and trying to cope with the pain of his death. I picture him critiquing my spine alignment, and in the silence of this empty parish, I wonder if whomever put the gladiolus in the church aisles today is aware the erect flowers seem to have been delivered directly to me from my friend, Mark – celebrating our loyal, respectful friendship.

I’m able to embrace the beauty of his existence, not solely, the sadness of the tragic ending to his larger-than- life presence in my life.

Pain builds compassion –

pushing out the bad and pulling in the good.


August 6, 1970 – July 21, 2016