Traversing the Shadowy Lands of Grief

I have spent months in a shadowy land between life and death, Here and There. Walking between worlds. I have come to believe that those who grieve are only partly in this world for a while. A part of them continually longing for their loved one on the other side. We are not sure how to live in a world without them or even if we really want to. We see eternity and the other side differently now, and going there looks so much better than before. As most of us get older we start having to say more goodbyes. As we grieve we exist only half alive, in a fog, surviving until we find the will to be fully present in this life again.

I understand grief more fully now. Nothing in life could have prepared me for losing my mother. Not my counseling degree, not the devastating loss of my sweet baby I never got to meet face-to-face, and not the ten long years of slowly saying goodbye to my mother while watching her diminish, and not the pain of the first time she didn’t know me anymore. I see clearly now why there were grief observances throughout history for those who mourned. We live in such a hurried culture that wants everything to be glossed over and things to move as quickly as possible. Grief cannot be hurried, but mourners are expected to behave as though it can.

Read More

The WordPlayers Present: Little Women

For the fourth year in a row, The WordPlayers are bringing a musical production to the historic Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville. Louisa May Alcott’s beloved story about the adventures of the four March sisters will be brought to life this weekend in Little Women: The Broadway Musical.

It’s fitting that this particular production, being based on a novel that’s all about family, is in many ways a family affair. The show is being directed by veteran WordPlayer Terri Lloyd, and her husband Matthew is the Stage Manager. Lloyd also has four children and a niece involved in the musical, which premieres this Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

“We’re not a regular family,” says Lloyd. “Regular families go to soccer practice. We take broadsword lessons.” Lessons that came in handy when choreographing a fight scene written by the headstrong Jo March, the second of the four siblings.

Read More

Pruning Tomatoes and Hearts

I remember chasing after my grandmother into the garden when I was a young girl. I would kick off my shoes in the grass at the edge of the garden, just so my feet could sink into the soft, powdery dirt my grandfather had just tilled. I would follow at the hem of my grandmother’s skirt watching it swoosh in her shadow at the tips of my bare toes.

I wanted to play in the dirt. I wanted to sift the soil through my fingers and watch the dust cloud burst up, transparent, toward the sunbeams streaming down.  But the garden wasn’t a place to play and I knew the etiquette. If you ventured inside the square half acre of strategically designed dirt rows you better be prepared to sweat. What grew inside that square fed three families and a handful of neighbors that feasted off the extra. That bounty fed us well into the winter.

Read More