Somehow the light gets in: cancerversary number 6

Six years ago today I did’t know that I had cancer. The world looked different then. It’s hard to explain just how. I suppose my field of vision was wider, more encompassing. The future stretched comfortably forward. The world looked familiar. Of course, even then, I knew something was wrong. I had massive amounts of... Read more »

Natural Woman and the power of love

Natural Woman and the power of love
Aretha Franklin’s death from pancreatic cancer last Thursday triggered in many of us the desire to hear her sing. I don’t listen to her regularly, although I love her voice. Because I couldn’t find my Aretha CD and have never uploaded it to my computer, I went in search of the best album to download. I... Read more »

Catching sight of the view outside the window

No one is indispensable, they say. It’s probably true. Life certainly goes on when we leave and when we are left. It’s one of the hard lessons that grief teaches. For those left behind, the problem is what to do with the empty space. After my mom died, a grief counselor told me that a... Read more »
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This is what it feels like to have a panic attack

I am in Florida with friends right now. They are friends who are “chosen family.” Being here feels safe and warm and nurturing. I’m helping my friend’s daughter learn to sew. I am not an ideal choice for the role, but I’d throw myself in front of a bus for this kid, so I’m doing my... Read more »

Why I'm glad Rachel Maddow cried on air last night

Why I'm glad Rachel Maddow cried on air last night
  I’m a member of an online support group. I wrote the other day that I’d been crying off and on for much of the day. I wrote it as a confession infused with shame. The first person to respond, a 25-year-old guy, said, “Why are you apologizing? Crying is healing. Added bonus, you’ll sleep... Read more »

Finding a middle way

ChicagoNow has started inserting videos, ads, and paid posts into our blogs. Please know that this isn’t my decision and that I do not approve any of these products or services.  Today I helped a guy jumpstart his car. He was standing outside the grocery store, in the middle of the road asking, “Am I... Read more »
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13 reasons why: the media need to learn how to report on suicide

This has been a terrible week. So terrible that it’s hard to think about our world or to focus on any particular problem. However, the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have risen above the roar for me. I don’t watch a lot of television, especially in the daytime. But this has been my... Read more »

Growing old gracefully (and other things that are a lot harder to do than you expected)

Growing old gracefully (and other things that are a lot harder to do than you expected)
You know who grows old gracefully? Movie stars who were better looking from the beginning than you ever were (and by “you,” I mean me), such as Emma Thompson and Meryl Streep. They use their reading glasses to read acceptance speeches for their umpteenth award. How brave to use reading glasses in public. How gracious... Read more »

Those who grieve can also smile

I’ve been thinking a lot about grief lately. From bombings and school shootings to the relentless beat of people around me dying, it is a season of loss. If grief were a color—somewhere between black and white—then I would be seeing the world in grayscale. We tend to be gapers at other people’s tragedies. We... Read more »
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This is what an addict looks like

It’s a strange sadness to lose a student. After 25 years I’ve lost a few. One to cancer and one to a heart attack, one to suicide and another to the flu. On Friday I got word that a former student died from an overdose. He was addicted to opioids. I didn’t know he was... Read more »