Sensational Sunrise


Already in this young calendar year, I have become irrationally upset at having missed a sunrise.  This dazzling world‘s irreproducible morning display.

I voiced my sadness to a colleague later that day, telling her how extraordinary the color had been, white-gold waves seeping into bright pink and variegated plum.  It was, I told her, similarly as saturated as the Valentine’s Day sunset I had chased into her west-facing office (from my windowless one) last year, sliding her vertical blinds aside and pointing to the enormous bruised purple heart cloud floating on a wavering sea of yellow-orange crepuscular rays.  (Mmmhuh, she nodded politely.  Evidently I was the only one to see it that way.  It was another particularly tough February 14th.)

Quite rationally, she wondered how I could so vividly describe a sunrise that I had missed.

It took me more than a few beats to realize I hadn’t missed sunrise at all.  I had seen it at its glorious peak as I exited the highway just as the sun was about to emerge on the horizon.

What I had missed was the chance to take a picture, to commemorate a part of it–to be able to share it, to pass it along to someone who had indeed missed it.

I collect sunrises, but do so very imperfectly, and without the overwhelming synesthesia of solitude.  My photographs don’t dance with the glittering indigo diamonds of cross-wakes as fishing boats glide out to sea.  Living things become one-dimensional shadows–a viewer can see only the  most recent vogue pose struck by a silent cormorant atop a mast.  Looking at a picture, you cannot taste the sea air or feel the crunch of underwater barnacles or hear the morning light lyrically unfold.

And in my friend’s observation I may have discovered a key to my writer’s block.

All I can ever capture of loss, of my husband and all other missing beings who have become some part of me, is what I can put into the language of words and pictures.  I want to tell their stories, but the tools I have are, in the supremely elegant words of Primo Levi in A Tranquil Star, “inadequate and [seem] laughable, as if someone were trying to plow with a feather.”  That language “that was born with us, [is] suitable for describing objects more or less as large and long-lasting as we are. It doesn’t go beyond what our senses tell us.”

Perhaps it has become difficult to write because I feel I should have moved forward–that I have nothing useful to say now that I am somehow on the cusp of a second decade of living with this never-ending grief, now augmented by the half-life of the additional losses we all accrue.

All I can ever capture of a sunrise is what it looked like, but maybe that is–or should be–enough.  Maybe that dollop of beauty, which I am almost always the only person in sight to behold, is enough to share.  And maybe it’s enough to be able to write about what you know of the people you love and have loved, especially those who can no longer tell their stories.

I did not, after all, miss that sunrise.

Let me tell you about it.

I have known people who live and have lived lives filled with kindness, humor, wisdom, and grace.

Please allow me to tell you about them…





Author: 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 attended law school on the banks lso is an adjunct professor at a law school near the banks of the Charles River 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 and @schnitzelpond on Instagram. Bonus points for anyone who understands the Instagram handle. All content on this blog, unless otherwise attributed, is (c) 2012-2023 by Stephanie M. Glennon and should not be reproduced (in any form other than re-blogging in accordance with the wee Wordpress buttons at the bottom of each post) without the express permission of the domain holder.

11 thoughts on “Sensational Sunrise”

  1. I am mesmerized with your use of language.You write, in my opinion, with great descriptive beauty – and it resonates. I lost my parents in a three month period, so I get how lost one can become in loss. Mine was a different kind of loss (although I got divorced, which is perhaps a more similar type of loss, loss of a life and dream that was ‘supposed’ to be) and I am quite convinced there is no timeline to loss’ end. I gave myself a hard time about that too. We all go through our pain in our own way, and we all have particular challenges to journey. I have learned a great deal through loss, having gone through grief I was not sure if I could/would exit. I did, although missing and loving my parents shall be with me forever. I go on to experience the joys of weddings, and growing family with grandchildren, and new relationships, and heightened conviction. Life is paradoxical, and as I’ve been told we wouldn’t appreciate the highs without the lows. I believe this to be true, and I wish you compassion, love and kindness, from you – to you.
    And please continue writing.

    1. Thank you so much. It is such an inseparable bundle, this cycling trove of love and loss. When my father passed away I mused, with not a little bit of guilt, about how different it was to have lost a parent–years later–than a spouse. It stopped me cold when a colleague observed, I think accurately, that “it’s much harder to lose your future than your past.” I haven’t quite given up on the hope for joy, and still believe love never dies.

  2. If this is writer’s block, then, by all means, do continue. These black symbols – also called letters (as if that is at all helpful) – that your eyes are scanning, and that your brain is assembling into both concrete and abstract realities, are only standing in front of a universe of cries… dreams… woes… melodies… memories… sunrises… loves… pain, etc., are, at one time, wings for all that we want to release…for all that we need to say, and shackles… for all that we want to release…. for all that we need to say.

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