Monday, April 4, 2011

Grace Notes

"I do not want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace." - Helen Keller

Fantasy Bust of a Veiled Woman (Margeurite Bellanger?)
Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, c. 1865-1870, terracotta
Chester Dale Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
The last two weeks have been extraordinary, profound, and healing.

Just days after my mother's passing, I traveled to Maine to meet a dear friend and see my daughter perform in a ballet there, and then with only one full day in between trips (barely enough to unpack and pack again), I traveled east again, this time to spend a few days with two friends in D.C.

I struggled mightily with the decision to continue with my plans for these two trips. I had just suffered a significant loss. I was in pain. I wanted to curl up and hide under the covers. I was wrapped in grief.

In fact, when I saw the bust pictured above at the National Gallery a few days ago, I was covered with chills and thought to myself, "That's just how it feels." Veiled. Swathed in yards of heavy sadness. Grief, thy name is Margeurite.

Two weeks ago, I thought these two trips might be inappropriate or ill-adivised. I wasn't sure I could physically go. Could I even find the energy to pack one suitcase? Two seemed impossible. I wondered if I could make it emotionally. Tears come at unexpected times when we're grieving. Would I completely embarrass myself? What if I burst into tears in the middle of the airport? Or worse, in the midst of happy friends?

What I understand now is that there are no accidents. These trips that were planned well in advance of my mother's death had been scheduled at the perfect time with the perfect people in the perfect settings for the purpose of healing. I am in awe, and I am so very grateful for having decided to make these two trips. 

They were grace notes in grief's symphony.

[Grace notes are extra notes 'suggested' by the composer (they are indicated in classical works by printing a note that is much smaller than a regular note, sometimes with a slash through the note stem) for extra embellishment, but not necessary for the harmony or melody of a composition.]

They aren't necessary...just rather special and really appreciated.

As I progressed through the last two weeks, the layers of weighty sadness fell away slowly and gently, removed tenderly by family and friends who care for me.  The heavy veil was lovingly replaced by a weightless armor of understanding and peace.

If you offered a word of comfort, a hug, an act of kindness, or a smile to me in the last few weeks, know that I heard and saw and felt it. Each act is a grace-filled note in the poignant symphony of grief.

It isn't exactly necessary to the process, but very special and deeply appreciated.

I will share more about these trips, but for today, I want to leave it grace.

May you have added grace notes to your symphony today.

Music today is Mischa Maisky playing the Prelude to Bach's Cello Suite No. 1. Enjoy.


  1. What a cool setting for the cello.

    As for your trip here, all I can say is: wow. All of us were healed by the proximity. You know you could have burst into tears anywhere; no one would have judged you, for heaven's sake.

    Angel wings lifted you gently up and out of the veils of grief to see the Graceful One and then here. I am so grateful.

  2. BEAUTIFUL analogy with grace notes!! Life without grace notes would just be plain vanilla. Jo you are Golden! Thank you for describing grief - I KNOW that feeling, and its unpredictable timing - and how it TAKES its own time.

    Take lots of hug breaks - take care of yourself and let the process unfold Even scheduling many times during the day to concentrate on sad feelings does help with the unexpected attacks of grief. Oh how I wish all of us could have been together - just know that You are loved!!

  3. Jo, a perfect post. You, my friend, are a grace note in my life. Jan

  4. Whar a beautiful healing and lovely post. I am blessed too to have you in my life! Love the music today too.

    Sending love and healing mojo to you JoJo...

  5. Reya, I would have much preferred to post Bach's Prelude with viola rather than cello, but alas, my favorite violist, Don Ehrlich, could not be found. :-)

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being one of the angels who lifted me up. ♥

  6. Nancy, thanks so much for your kind comments. Friends like you remind me how much I have to be grateful for.

    I promise you I'm trying to take care of myself...keep reminding me, though! xoxo

  7. Jan, your comments always choke me up. We need to get together soon. Fair warning: I might cry! ♥

  8. Thanks for the visit and the smile today, Vicki. Mojo for Jojo just might be the best thing ever sent my way! xoxo

  9. The Universe is a strange and wonderful thing. I'm so glad you took the trips. For you and for those you visited.

  10. We continue to grieve with you Jo at the passing of your mother, but we celebrate with you too, for the happiness which came by the subsequent travels!

  11. Thank you Delana...strange and wonderful is right! It continues to surprise me every day! ♥

  12. I know you're with me, Dubby, through it all. Thank you. xoxo

  13. jo without a doubt - it was a graceful confluence that brought you and your essence sisters together. steven

  14. After my mom passed, the most immediate feeling was emptiness. I had been running over to her home and the hospital, between work and Barry finding out he had cancer. When she died, the running around, the "to do" list got way smaller and the stress of it lessened. There was this empty space. Traveling and visiting with friends sort of filled that space for me. Keep busy. Love and hugs. xoxo Happy Birthday to your 8 year old. He looks very sweet in the picture you posted. =D

  15. Oh, Steven, it was such a graceful confluence. It was PERFECT. Essence that term. Thank you for giving it to me. ♥

  16. Thank you for the sage advice, Linda. Empty space...yes, I feel it, too. I still have family and friends I can see in Kansas City, but the main purpose of my travels was always to see my mother. It's still all so strange.

    Thanks for the birthday wishes for my little scholar. He IS very sweet...and VERY talkative!

  17. The longer I live, the more strongly I believe that there are few accidents. I'm so glad to read that there was some soothing and some healing for you on your trips, and that you were able to depend on your friends to understand just where you were in your grief.

  18. When my mother died on new year's eve, I had a date planned with a nice man. I could not leave until the morning of the 1st to go to her home (1500 miles away) and I wondered would it be disrespectful for me to keep my date? Will I burst out in tears? Will he understand?
    This man (the G-man) became my husband 2 years later. It was the right thing to do to keep that date. He was respectful & concerned and we kept in touch the two weeks that I was away from home.

  19. Oh, yes, Pondie. My daughter and my friends honored exactly where I was every moment of every day. I could not have asked for more sensitive understanding.

    There were many fun moments, but my overall feeling was one of comfort, peace, and healing.

    I am so lucky.

  20. Oh, Lizzy...what a wonderful story. I never heard that before. At times like this, we see the true nature of people, don't we?

    I'm sure your mother was pleased that you kept that date on New Year's Eve!


  21. Grief is to be embrassed, it's natures path to healing. We need those times too let our hearts heal, not that they really ever do. The warmth of your friends love Jo will help you through. Your trip photos show the wonderful friendships you have built ... obviously you have earned them! God Bless!

  22. Thanks so much for adding your kind words to this post, Donna. I'm very grateful for the blessings from all my friends, including you. ♥


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