Friday, February 18, 2011

In Awe Of Providence

Dear Family and Friends,

I got a telephone call on Monday from Laura Kwerel the producer of Interfaith Radio in Washington DC who told me that Maureen Fiedler, a Sister of Loretto and host of Interfaith Radio has chosen Carolyn Barnwell’s radio story, “Sing and I Will Hear You” to be broadcast on 76 Interfaith Radio stations in the US beginning today until February 24.

If you want to View Interfaith Voices stations in a larger map, go here first -- then click the link at the head of the list.

If you used this direct link I already sent you on February 6 you already heard the 8 minute story.

But if you want to hear Sr. Maureen Fiedler introduce and conclude the same story with a follow-up, use this link:

Laura explains: “To listen to your piece, fast-forward to 41 min 16 sec by clicking on the blue "play show" button at the top. (The fast-forwarding is tricky. I had to drag the little button to the right over and over, but it finally came.)

Because the first SALT story about Francis’ and me 15 years ago was done with visuals instead of with radio, it stayed in the archives. As a result I didn’t expect the wide dissemination that is developing with this radio story. So while it makes me feel a bit shy to have my grieving process aired so publicly, I can’t help but be in awe at how Providence works.

Since Francis’ death (Jan 3, 2010,) I’ve felt a progressively clearer call to write our story. Now my resolve is being supported in specific ways, -- not only with this unexpected “advance” radio story, but on the writing front itself.

I got a telephone call last week from Peg, the teacher of a one day workshop “From Memories to Memoir” for which I had signed up. (Even though my book will not really be a “memoir,” I thought I’d learn something.) Anyway, Peg called to say it was being postponed. But after a few conversations she proposed we become writing partners: In exchange for my giving her feedback as she writes her next book, she would give me feedback for mine. Of course I said yes. What an opportunity! We will meet every Saturday for two hours, beginning tomorrow. Although I’ve been journaling for weeks, even months, I’m ready for more direct, disciplined work. The timing now is ripe.

My reasons for writing? 1) Because I want to honor Francis. 2) It’ll be healing for me. 3) I’ve discovered my writing helps some people. Perhaps what I have to say will give voice to something that is not talked about much these days but which many experience. My 89 year old sister-in-law, Mary McGillicuddy Dever, told me at least twice during our telephone conversations after Francis’ death and before her own last month at 89, that -- this grieving period “is a very special time.” Her obituary puts it well: “Following Jim's passing, Mary said she felt there was only a veil separating them.”

The radio story and the writing offer seem to me clear signs I’m not only on the right track, -- the Universe, or Providence is even nudging me to do what I have to do.

Loving gratitude,


PS My anatomy teacher told me after his workshop this afternoon over dinner that it’s good I’m letting go of my hesitancy in coming out publicly with what I have to say. Otherwise, he said, I’d be depriving people like my new friend Joanna in Washington state who lost her husband in August of the support Francis’ story and mine can give her. Joanna urges me to share with you this short poem I wrote on February 10:

The Sweetest Yet

The fruits of this love

we nurtured together

are ripe for the picking.

Their sweetness this season

of our seeming separation

exceed any flavor we savored before.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Link for 8 minute interview with Elaine on grieving process

Link for 8 minute radio interview with Elaine on grieving process

Dear Family and Friends,

In 1998 Francis I were subjects for a graduate student’s project for the SALT Center for Documentary Studies in Portland. So when Carolyn Barnwell asked me in late September to do the same on the topic of the grieving process, I agreed. She interviewed me many times at home, even staying overnight once to record my morning prayer-chants. She also came to my yoga class and to the little Chinese Restaurant afterwards where Francis and I used to go, a tradition I keep up.

For the title of her radio story on grieving, it was Carolyn’s idea to use Francis’ words. Explaining that the sense of hearing is the last to go, Francis told me, -- when he was near death -- “Sing And I Will Hear You.”

If you would like to hear this 8 minute radio story, use this link where you can immediately hear it without having to create an account:

It is also archived at the Public Radio Exchange where you would need to sign in:

A follow-up: Carolyn emailed this morning (January 21) to say that Public Radio in Seattle, station KUOW, aired it. As a result a woman from Washington state whose husband died last August emailed telling me: “Since his passing, I have mainly wanted to celebrate his continued presence in my life. Your story was the first to validate my way of grieving…..So much of your path with Francis reminds me of ours. Thank you for sharing.”