Friday, August 31

I am looking for self-confidence this morning.

I can't say quite what it is, quite why it is. A pile of fabric scraps on the kitchen floor. Chicken that should be cooked tonight. But there is something wavering about the day, a little breeze of uncertainty.

Maybe it is because I can't really read you. Or that the weed whacker is broken. Or that yesterday's mail sits unopened. I feel like I've been giving too much away.

I still want to open the windows to the morning air.

Saturday, August 25

She was well on Sunday, a ride for coffee and to look at the water.

On Monday a morning visit to give her her pills. She had made coffee herself. After Sam's appointment we went again, this time a ride to Newburyport. Lunch at the diner. A little walk around. A ride to Plum Island.

Tuesday morning, her birthday, a quick get-ready then coffee with her father. A card with a picture of her as a girl holding her baby sister, now dead. She doesn't cry. She didn't sleep well, thunder and all. Has a hard time following conversation.

Wednesday morning and she is tired. She can't sleep without him, where is he? I explain again: He'll be home soon. Coffee with her aunt and uncle. She can't find her words. Stutters. Says the wrong things. Sam, just walking, keeps stumbling into Bernie's paintings. Left out for an agent to look at later. By the time we leave she doesn't make sense but she is comfortable. You can hear it in her voice.

I bring her to her friend's house. Stopping in the art store the man asks how she is, if she's better. He's know her for years. And I tell him no, she's not better. She is not going to get better. I pay for my paper and leave.

That evening I bring her to the hospital to meet her newest grandchild. She manages the crowd, laughs at the wrong times. She is quiet on the way home.

This is how our hearts break. We watch the people we love hurt and nobody can say a thing.

Thursday, August 16

Tonight I am despondent, quiet in the face of it. Days go by and I can ignore the way thngs are, the way they will be.

I thank every one of you who distracts me.

There is a rash on her side, a sore on her face. One is caused by bugs crawling out of her skin. The other is from blood dripping out of her ear. I recommend a bandage and a cotton dress. More time spent looking for heart-shaped rocks, less time wandering around rooms alone.

There is a pit in my stomach, an empty feeling in my head. I'm going to try a drink.

Wednesday, August 15

It's horrible, the waya face looks with all of that makeup. The tokens we put in coffins.

What do you say to a woman standing alone? As alone as she'll ever be?

I wanted to say a lot here, about being back in that place. About Galen and my father and the look of death.

But I can't do it. All I can say is I'm sorry.

Tuesday, August 14

Hard to get up in the morning. Head groggy, noggy groggy, groggy noggin. Morning shower, telephone call, unexpected progress and unexpected bliss.

My mother was resting in the sunlight when I went in to get her. Her dogs were at her feet.

We were wasting time, sunlight on us, driving around and stopping where we could. At the chinese restaurant we waited outside for the food to be done, singing songs together. Oh, don't you cry for me. Little bits of love finding their way in.

Across the parking lot the man I feared for years and years was talking to a ward councilor. He stopped to wave to me. I waved back.

Beautiful hangover day.

Monday, August 13

Funny to see the picture of it in Abigail's little book of pictures. Me dancing with my father, his oxygen against my wedding gown. In the background is Herb Pomeroy. Herb blowing his horn.

It was just over ten years ago. Even though they said rain the sun was shining. After an argument with a superstitious minister about Wagner Herb had an idea. We agreed. A little bit later we walked up the brick-path aisle to Making Whoopie, played as a dirge. My Catholic inlaws weren't offended. They didn't know jazz. My godless family loved it.

Twelve years ago I was sitting in a jazz class atEmerson when I misheard the teacher say that Herb Pomeroy was dead. I left quickly to call my family. A chain of phone calls later we found that no, Herb was alive. It was the gig that was dead. The joke was on me for misunderstanding my crippled teacher's slur.

Today we are not so lucky. Goodbye, Herb.

Friday, August 10

I am trying hard not to be in a bad mood right now. I came home from a few days away to find my computer broken. It won't start. Won't turn on. I think it is a problem of power but who the hell knows. Oddly enough there is an extra computer here, slower and messier, lacking all content the broken one has.

It makes me sad, this losing things.

Picking raspberries in Lancaster I was thinking about my grandmother. I wanted to sing a song for her. I sang the song that made me sad after she died. I sang the song I sang at her service. Neither worked. As raspberries fell off the bushes into my hands I tried to think of a song she loved as much as she loved her raspberries. Nothing came. I started to sing the song I sang when my grandfather remarried. I felt like a traitor.

This keyboard makes different mistakes than my own. When does a house take over? Their house was always filled with his music. Even what she liked was his. I know she loved Bergman films and watching tennis and seeing schoolchildren when they were abroad. I can't thinkof one song sthat was hers.

I am in a sour mood and it is hard to explain. Even to myself. Sam has climbed the stairs and will cry when I get him. Maybe if I do something good I will feel better. Bake muffins for the neighbors. All the stories in my new book were sad about love. I'm beginning tothink that's all the Irish write about: sad love.

Maybe I'll do something bad. Bake little unzippered gingermen. Serve them with whiskey and fuck it all.

Sunday, August 5

Tonight I am killing flies. They have taken over the kitchen. Little fruit flies landing on the sink and the cabinets and the mirror my grandfather's uncle made. I have cleaned everything: the sink, the dish drain, the pitcher from on top of my grandmother's piano. I have set glasses of wine all over the kitchen. Quarter-full of old white wine, a drop of dish soap in each. Poisoned wine for unwanted guests.

There is so much to go through. Satin ribbon, rickrack, embroidery floss and piping all jumbled together. Rayon seam binding. Hundreds of zippers. I try my best to sort it out, untangle the ends. I will never use all these zippers. It is impossible to know which ones I will.

In the back of the car is a trash bag full of jingle bells. Hundreds and thousands of jingle bells. You should hear the sound they make.

She came back from California and spent the next day in bed not eating or drinking. When we saw her she looked thin. She was shaking. Even the kids couldn't make her smile.

By the next day she was fine.

Wednesday, August 1

;/. There are so many people to think of in a day. Looking through her things, trying to get them in some order. Piecing together her story.

In a plastic bag her silver beads are held together by white acrylic paint, the tube left open. And the earrings I bought her in Cobh. A tin painted with enamels, black with green dots and a white dove. An olive branch. Old bank statements and lots of socks, covered in dog hair, never matching. Glittery gold tights.

A closet full of raw silk scraps. Each color in its own bags, each bag used before for something else. Rusts and browns bagged together. A bag of black the size of a laundry basket, baby blue the size of a loaf of bread. For years her palette, somebody else's scraps. Hours spent cutting and ironing and piecing together. I pack the bags in plastic bins to be put in storage and probably never seen again.

I couldn't take it home.

Pictures from my freshman year of high school, hair long and blonde, next to a boy who loved me. He spent hours sunbathing in my driveway, talking to the neighbors, waiting for me to come home. Brought me to watch the sun rise. Waited for me for hours.

Anne Marie across the street sees me and calls me in. She has had a dress in her hallway closet for twenty years. Purple gingham, made by my mother, worn by my sister, then me, then her daughter. She gives it to me for Abby. The finishing is perfect.

Today Sam took four steps. It should be noted.