February 9, 2012

Today is the second anniversary of Mom’s death. Even though she was an impossible diva for most of her 92 years, she came around in the end. During her very last days, she was even remarkably loving. And because she changed, I truly miss her.

I will always be glad that Mom died while holding hands with my daughter and I.  We sat by her bed in the nursing home, one of us on each side. Writing this brings me back to the feeling of clutching her frail little fingers…..

Last year, thinking about her death was still too new, too raw. But right now, everything is softer and more tender, especially because of a poem by Mary Oliver.

I recently found this lovely piece on Facebook, where it was posted by my friend Vivien Orbach-Smith. The words form a lovely, lacey wedding veil that I’m offering now to my mom. In the end, she found her way to becoming “a bride married to amazement.”

When Death Comes

When death comes 

like the hungry bear in autumn;

when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;

when death comes

like the measle-pox

when death comes

like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:

what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything

as a brotherhood and sisterhood,

and I look upon time as no more than an idea,

and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common 

as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,

tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something

precious to the earth. 

When it’s over, I want to say all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. 

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder

if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,

or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.


Vivien Orbach-Smith

I also appreciated the comments that were added on Facebook by Viv, who I met ages ago when we were both NYU journalism department adjuncts. Viv told her friends that the poem is her “personal reminder to live every day. Since this is probably our only go-round, why not spend it as “a bride married to amazement!”

Amen, Sister!

Doesn’t Viv give great Facebook?


My mother spent a bitter lifetime in a miserable marriage (she and my dad BOTH take responsibility for that one). So I like the image of her as a tiny, ancient bride. And I’ve added one of my floral paintings here to serve as her bouquet.

If you’d like to read more about my mother’s last days, here’s what I blogged two years ago. Love you, Mom!

Flowers are a pain to paint. But this one turned out ok.