Summer Solace

Boston Common, July 2014

I’ve been spending a lot of time as a visitor in That Hospital.  You know the one.

But I have slipped outside the room, outside over-chilled hospital passages so wide that patients can be wheeled past each other on bulky stretchers, with room to spare for anxious, fast-moving throngs of family and friends.

Outside is the city I still love in summer: an architectural melange, families on the Common (I stop for several and offer to relieve the dad of his camera so the entire family will be preserved in their pictures), the light and color of ever-changing flowers broken into pieces by sharp shadow, animals in bronze and in life.

Summer solace.



Seeking Solstice Solace

Half-Staff (c) SMG December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice fell on a Friday.  A church bell, its percussive cut-off left to linger to its unmuffled end, pealed in remembrance of twenty children and six educators who were alive and beginning their elementary school day just a week ago.

Twenty-six knells.

When the bell began to ring it was snow-free but stormy, winds so high that a “wind warning” endured through early afternoon.  (No more practical guidance was dispensed to we travellers than has been available when a “terrorism alert” turns from sunny yellow to clementine.)

Then, as if there had been a sudden change of mind in the heavens, the sky became  brilliantly lit not long before sundown.  It remained that way–fully out of darkness (not merely halfway, as Dr. Who’s view of Christmas might have it) for the rest of daylight on a solstice far more than halfway to black.


At the time I happened to be surrounded by places of healing, filled with people like my husband Jim, who spend years of intense and difficult training in order to dedicate their  lives to professional service.

These are the kinds of skilled, compassionate people who stood at the ready at Connecticut hospitals last week, awaiting patients in fleets of ambulances which did not come.   Continue reading “Seeking Solstice Solace”

Three Seasons in Hell

The view from one of my husband's hospital room windows on a snowy March evening almost could have passed for a tropical sunset.

In upcoming weeks I will be speaking at several different hospitals about my husband’s and our family’s wildly varying experiences with hospitals and treating physicians during the course of his terminal illness.

I have been told no one remembers hearing from a patient’s family at hospital rounds.  This does not surprise me.  Who, after all, would want to continue revisiting and answering questions about such dark days?  I do it in honor of my husband, a physician who dedicated his professional life to trying to  deliver better health care to everyone.

While I am a great believer in telling people what they have done well, I think in this realm there is little room for improvement if one hears only the good stories.

It remains within my wheelhouse to recount the good and the bad in excruciating detail.  As for my own style of delivery, which could not be more different than my husband’s gentle diplomacy; let’s just say my father-in-law never laughed so hard as he did when I once described myself as a wallflower.      Continue reading “Three Seasons in Hell”

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