God’s Golden Eyes

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March 22, 2018


Dear Jim,

I was awake long before you would have hoped for me.  It snowed yet again, though a far less fearsome Nor’easter than this month’s past three.  This morning I was in one of my favorite places, just beyond ocean dunes only miles from home.  Somehow we never stopped there together, although we brought our children just north and south of this stretch of the Atlantic.

The sun broke through bruised clouds like a lighthouse beacon, unveiling in a vast murky marsh a single gold-eyed snowy owl who turned to look straight at me before promptly closing his eyes to resume napping.

Subtlety still is not my strong suit.  A few years ago I picked up a novel because of the lacuna embraced by its title, The Inheritance of Loss, and discovered an author I wish I’d found in time to pass along to you.  She described a mother whose son had left only for another continent, who “was weeping because she had not estimated the imbalance between the finality of good-bye and the briefness of the last moment.”

We thought it was some devil
Who put the crying in goodbyes
Until we found ourselves staring in God’s golden eyes….


Seven years since the hospice nurse came into our home to check signs she knew would be absent.  “Dr. Glennon, I’m just going to check your pulse now….”  I can still hear her  speaking in the same gentle cadence she would have used with a living patient.

Of course, I’ve seen you quite a bit since then.  I saw you at our children’s graduations, at Jazz’s wedding, at my father’s bedside.  I see you wherever I wander alone taking photographs.  I listen to the music you left me and to music you didn’t have a chance to hear in the traditional way.

In the middle of the night, I may watch you go
There’ll be no value in the strength of walls that I have grown
There’ll be no comfort in the shade of the shadows thrown
But I’d be yours if you’d be mine
Stretch out my life and pick the seams out
Take what you like, but close my ears and eyes
Watch me stumble over and over


I’ve taken your place as best I could for all you would have spared me.  I’ve learned, if sporadically, to do the less backbreaking chores you did.  Finances still give me agita, but I muddle through.  I’ve raced to emergency rooms with our kids–and our dogs.   I had the conversations you would have had with my dying father.  I stroked sweet Brady’s caramel fur as you would have done with much steadier hands while he peacefully breathed his  last breaths and I told him he’d get to run off leash with you.  I see you doing that right now: my mind is treating me to a full-color view of you two in what seem to be the fields of Northern Ireland just short of Giant’s Causeway.

After work last night I found tangible evidence (easily capable of definitive forensic testing) that Rufus had been a very imperfect boy during my absence.  (You might have noticed the new return address, the scene of that recent crime.  After I’d moved, your sister told me you knew I’d need to.)  This morning he looked dolefully at me–though I recognize that’s a fine line away from the “are you sure you haven’t forgotten my mom-is-going-to-work treat?” face.

I told him, “Be good.  Be the beagle master would want you to be.”

I’m sorry I didn’t work harder on being the person I should have been when you were here.  I’m sorry I was such a blubbering mess from the moment you were diagnosed.  I’m sorry I didn’t find your photographs for you.  I’m sorry for everything I didn’t adequately treasure.

But of course you didn’t think there was anything to forgive, because that’s the stuff of which you were made.

We did the best we could; no matter how hard, we tried….
Like babes we come whining for some forgotten sin
Surprised to be shining just like diamonds in the wind
Every facet so perfect, every cut the proper size
When we find ourselves staring in God’s golden eyes


That day you came home  for the last time I told you I’d miss you every second of every day.  I caught the micro-wince flashing across your eyes.

I think I understand now: it’s not that you thought I was exaggerating; it’s that you knew I wasn’t.

You didn’t want the yawning space of the rest of my life to be defined by the constant undercurrent of missing, the pull of dark negative space.

You hoped I’d find a way to understand you’d still be with me, keeping me imperfectly afloat.

Love always and always,










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.
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12 Responses to God’s Golden Eyes

  1. rutakintome says:

    Dear Dr. Notsoh Suttle, Powerful words, images and song. Keep treading…

  2. Allan G. Smorra says:

    Beautiful sentiments, Stephanie. Thanks for sharing your experience with us and providing such a powerful example of life, love and loss.

  3. Denise M Glennon says:

    I remember you in those last few days, dressed in a red velvet skirt (or dress – but I think a skirt), clean hair, up early, with a smile on your face. Getting your youngest to dance practice, then back to see her dad when he woke up, working with your other children to make sure they were OK. Managing Dr., friends, family, sound proofing because we were so loud. Even mashing up potatoes for gnocchi. You were a heroine – not a blubbering mess. That’s what I remember.

    Much love to you – anniversaries are so hard. But they also bring positive memories of our own strength and light and love. And the strength is what you had then, and have now.

    • Stephanie says:

      I can’t believe you remember the red velvet (I did try to contain the blubbering, with extremely limited success, when others were around)….It’s hard not to dwell on the things we feel we’ve done wrong, or inadequately, but some heroic kids turned into heroic young adults these past several years.

  4. It is so valuable for all of us that you choose to share your achingly beautiful insights into love and loss. As a widow myself, who lost my Randy far too soon, I draw the unique matter of strength that comes from shared personal experience. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. May those Golden Eyes find you whenever possible.

  5. Pingback: Favorite Place – Klinkenbergerplas – What's (in) the picture?

  6. Stephanie says:

    Reblogged this on Love in the Spaces and commented:

    It’s the third Tuesday in March, the day, though not the date, when Jim died. Its essence is off-kilter, like Father’s Day (whatever date it occupies), when I lost my father five forever years later.

    After little more than an hour’s sleep and a related cluster of dreams I need to process to write about, I am revisiting last year’s letter, which I hope Jim saved.

    Eight years.

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