This Dazzling World


The stirring sun’s strands seem to gather into an outsized hand.  A finger pokes the lighthouse from offstage, an entreaty to shake off that opaque midnight black and join the horizon’s color riot.

Given the weather, this sunrise had not seemed at all promising.  But I was up, the beagles were fed and walked, traffic on the way to work was unlikely to have yet ensnarled  . . . and so I hauled myself the extra few miles to look out at the Atlantic before dawn.

Today is Jim’s birthday.  He’s not here to grow older, so I have to figure out how to celebrate it for him.

I’ve already marked this day by having philosophical discussions with a 4.6 pound beagle puppy, and by contemplating the nature of beauty in the form of a blurry picture of a bird.

This time I decided to simply honor Jim’s love of being outside.

Jim wanted us to get outside every day, to flex our muscles and feel the air.  He was always ready for whatever was out there.


To my perpetual amazement, it seems that the skies and oceans and mountains and woods which beckoned him are out there still.

Jim always knew when “tomorrow it would be raining.” Strangely, his attention to future probabilities has made me less timid, more willing to venture into the new and uncertain. Since his death, on occasion this has taken me fairly far out of my wheelhouse (not to mention outside the evident comfort zone of international security forces at the G8 summit).  On most days the adventures are not so dramatic, and I find myself on a solitary hike that I never would have taken alone when he was here.

My own attention to (and preparation for) predicted weather is at best inexact.  From day to day I’m not sure I really want to know what the landscape will look like.

Or maybe it’s that I don’t like to get my hopes up any more.  I allowed myself to do so once, not long ago, when meteorologists buzzed about a dropping Hunter’s Moon about to coalesce with sunrise.  I hiked out long before dawn, but it was a bust.  I was drenched and lost in unseasonably cold, drab woods.  The miraculous moon proved invisible, a bloodless blue indistinguishable from the misty morning sky.

I’d suppose I’d rather have my expectations default to “low” and possibly be pleasantly surprised.

And often I am.  I’ve seen impossibly beautiful sunrises, in classic fall hues and in glassy neon pink and orange.  I’ve stumbled across a tiny strip of beach when the cloud cover was, just that once, so perfectly apportioned that it encased the rising sun with a diaphanous curtain.  Ta-da!


The more I push myself to get out, the more I feel it’s not just that Jim wanted us to linger before these gorgeous panoramas, but also to take in whatever we see along the way–even the wreckage, each season’s natural and man-made flotsam, complicated creations collapsed into a rich mash.  So much lost and so much left behind.

A novel of a post-pandemic world described a version of this paradox: “In the morning light there was beauty in the decrepitude, sunlight catching in the flowers that had sprung up through the gravel of long-overgrown driveways, mossy front porches turned brilliant green, a white blossoming bush alive with butterflies.  This dazzling world.”

Still spinning.

Still standing.

About Stephanie

In her spare time, Stephanie works full-time, and then some, as an attorney. She has published articles and delivered talks in arcane fields like forensic evidentiary issues, jury instructions, and expert scientific witness preparation. She also is an adjunct professor at a law school on the banks of the Charles and loves that dirty water, as she will always think of Boston as her home. You are welcome to take a look at her Facebook author page, or follow @SMartinGlennon on Twitter. All content on this blog, unless otherwise attributed, is (c) 2012-2020 by Stephanie M. Glennon and should not be reproduced (in any form other than re-blogging in accordance with Wordpress protocol and the numerous other wee buttons at the bottom of each post) without the express permission of the domain holder.
This entry was posted in Love and Loss and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to This Dazzling World

  1. scillagrace says:

    Yes, you are, Stephanie…still spinning, still standing. And someday soon, DANCING! 🙂

  2. roamingpursuits says:

    Awesome sunset photos, especially the first one. The sunset colour combination of almost purple and pink with a tinge of orange-y yellow is fab.

  3. jenny says:

    Stephanie, this post is just so beautiful. And I love that final quote there, it is just perfect.

  4. Marie Keates says:

    I’ve just found your blog while in bed with flu, or similar. I’m so glad I did. A little back reading has told me part of Jim’s story and I think I know a little of your pain. My lovely Father In Law lost a very short battle against pancreatic cancer this year and we are all in shock and grief. He was in his eighties not young like Jim. He was glad to go to be with his beloved wife of fifty years. I’m glad you are getting out and enjoying the bounty of nature. Walking alone is not so bad when you get used to it.

    • Stephanie says:

      I am going back to past posts and realizing I have an awful lot of comments which I have been grossly, impolitely late in responding to–you are so good to take the time to read. I’m sorry about your loss, and that it came to such an awful disease as this one is–and the swift and shocking decline it almost always brings. It’s so hard to convey the nature of that particular beast to anyone who hasn’t seen it first-hand. Still trying to get used to walking alone–though not entirely alone, as you’ve seen.

  5. Catherine says:

    This is a lovely way to honor Jim on his birthday. We all struggle with his absence, and I really like you dedicating time to the outdoors in his honor. It is perfect. And, we all get to benefit from these amazing photos. Thanks, Steph, this is really lovely.

  6. Allan G. Smorra says:

    This really hit home with me—I share Jim’s birthday—and you have honored his memory beautifully with your words and actions.

  7. DeniseGlennon says:

    You touch my heart with your blog, but this one is extra special. So, thank you. Steph, I see you in the most powerful, creative, emotionally risk-taking (brave) light. Your ability to search for and find beauty in the midst of great heartache is incredible, and inspiring. Looking up I see the sky too, and I always think of Jim. Our family has had a profound,deeply profound, loss that I cannot find any possible way to write about. Yet you do, and you do so beautifully. Your writing helps me with my own grief. Lots of love.

  8. I have been scrolling through your blog. I think I’m mostly touched by the fact that, aside from the date stamps, I couldn’t tell it had been years since Jim’s passing. It seems like the distance between the days never gets longer.

    “Love is so short. Forgetting is so long.”

    I hope somehow you keep a collection of these posts for your children. Despite the technology of today and what it will become tomorrow, memories deserve to be in a book. When that gloomy but highly needed feeling of missing someone erupts inside, a person needs to be able to pull a book out from underneath his or her bed and relinquish inside of it. Your blog is like a diary, and your children and grandchildren, eventually, would have no greater treasure than this. It is the story of you and the story of Jim, intertwined into one memory.

    • Stephanie says:

      Your comment means so much to me. You’ve given me the gift of recognizing that I may have unwittingly succeeded in something I didn’t know I was doing….I’ve always known that writing was therapeutic, but didn’t really understand that I’ve been trying to do what you describe: keeping that thin space from growing.
      We’re told that time dulls grief, which it does to an extent, but I’ve never wanted the space between us and the person we loved so much when he was with us (and love still) to grow, and feared that that’s price one pays for a lessening of the rawest grief.
      Three birthdays now that he should have had, and I truly don’t feel a greater distance between us than I did the day he died– and I don’t want to. And more than anything I want to help make sure that the someday-grandchildren and others who will never have a chance to meet him will still know him through pictures and words…..and funny that you should mention collecting these–you’re absolutely right, and I discovered my mother is way ahead of me on that and has printed out all the blog posts, to lessen the chance of them disappearing.

      • My mother died when I was 14. I thought that memories of someone whom I loved so much could never dissipate from my memory. I thought every detail was sweetly burned into my memories. I was wrong. I wish I would have been old enough to know that I needed to document her life. Now I look forward dreams, because dreams reintroduce me to memories I’ve long forgotten.

  9. marifee64 says:

    Reblogged this on colouryourlifeandlive and commented:
    Wonderful…were you made the picture? Warm and amazing colours…and your words are perfect…love it! Wish you all the best for the new year….best wishes Marifee

    • Stephanie says:

      Thank you very much. All of those pictures were taken from different vantage points in the same small seaside park on the Atlantic near the northern Massachusetts border.

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