A Long Bout of Rain

I am delighted to be joining a remarkable group of international writers and bloggers. Once a month, a topic is selected, and by invitation we are asked to address it.

My thanks to Marsha of Splenderosa, Tish of A Femme d’un Certain Age, and the others who have welcomed me. The subject is “our greatest challenge and the lessons we have learned from it.”

Please read and enjoy.

Be sure to link to all at this delectable party. You will find their links at Marsha’s place.

A Long Bout of Rain

These are my challenges: the abandonment of a husband by choice, a brother by choice, a mother by choice. My father is taken, but I am no less abandoned.

The mother’s departure is the worst to process. She is not merciful, and exits in pieces.

But this is my morning’s vantage point: the long bout of rain that leaves a pitted gully outside my window, and the spread of mossy cover, a lush if imperfect replacement. Erosion is inevitable, but not immune to transformation.


I am taking my first coffee in a different room, in a different part of the house, in a different state of mind than usual though I couldn’t quite put my finger on what that means. I am seated where the morning arrives airy and refreshing.

This is the domain given over to the boys and so, left vacant when they are away at school. It is a small home, and while I am only paces from where I usually sit and welcome the day, it is here that the sun’s journey begins. In its ardor, my red chairs are brighter. In its confidence, light pours through slatted blinds. In its impudence, stripes decorate the plaster walls and though I see the dust and the clutter I hardly mind; I’m happily distracted by paintings and books, by the miracles of the human hand and spirit, by the illumination of a clear collection of hours.

There are always gifts: stories and resilience.


They say that it takes time after a husband dies or leaves before you stretch your limbs across the bed and make it your own. But he was gone before the body moved on; a dozen years later I still sleep on the edge. I fill the open space with books.

We all know losses, sooner or later. I have not known the worst of them, and I count myself among the fortunate. So I will teach with what I possess – lessons of absence, lessons of presence, and all the structures in between.


He speaks in a flurry of terminology I cannot quite understand, a situation I’m accustomed to with his brother who, at twenty-one, persists (devilishly) in trying to school me in particle physics. But my younger son’s universe is more comprehensible: horizon lines, chiaroscuro, psychological experiments mapped to design and film and performance art.

I smile recalling his trip home only weeks ago, and the intensity with which he scanned the eerie artworks of a surrealist master. We paged through a reference book and his eyes hovered over the fine, cellular markings. He offered his own pocket sketchbook for my perusal, sharing the shapes and discipline of his drawings.


There are days I am certain I cannot continue. Two years and eight to go, three years and seven to go, four years and six to go.

Why is it I’m not remarried? Why am I still carrying this alone?

There is no point to conventional questions. There are five years down and five to go, so I do the math: 1600 days and nights remaining. Dear God, please keep us going.

Each day is a struggle for money or patience, each day is a struggle for wisdom or wisecracks, each day is a struggle against loneliness and bewilderment and admittedly, prideful silence. I focus to listen attentively to one as the other disappears into his imagination. I check my watch and wait for the younger, as I have no inkling of the whereabouts of the elder, wandering Europe on his own.

There are baby steps and milestones. There are calendars set aside and new years begun. There are long bouts of rain, and while the stormy season lasts beyond what we can imagine, I tell myself there will eventually be a break in the sky and a period of calm.


This morning brings the shadows of a dogwood shifting across the pocked lawn, a mound of violet blossoms crawling their way through a neighbor’s rock garden, light flaring blindingly across my computer screen as I catch my breath in its beauty, and without warning, panic pokes its nose into my business.

I wag my finger. I take deep breaths. I expel the emotions as ruthlessly as possible. I order the culprit to get the hell out of my house.


A distant cousin posts a picture I’ve never seen. 1902, Kiev. A tiny face is my grandfather as a three-year old, with his parents and his baby sister who is known for marrying a Matzoh King. They are both legend in the family, for their tall tales and once glamorous lives in the twenties and thirties, their personal risks and their bodily ones, their insistence on living each moment fully.

She is legend for her marriages and signature style; he is legend for his passion and his music and later in life, for giving back.

In the photograph I note the white skin of my great-grandmother, her black hair, her high collar. There is the roundness of her bustle, and the corseted, cinched waist. I see the serious scowl of my great-grandfather and the darkened circles beneath his eyes. I marvel at the uncertain future they were dealt, and nonetheless transformed into a life – driven from their homes, abandoning their possessions, arriving in a new country without language or history, but with babies and dreams firmly in hand.


I will not abandon my sons to smallness. I will not abandon my sons to depression. I will not abandon my sons to closed doors.

I will battle every damn day if I must to make their future as strong as possible. As they grow older and wiser, we will fight through the days as a team. They, too, will learn when to stand firm and when to move forward.


The coffee is dark and rich; I am reminded of the pleasures of taste.

The sunlight is playful; it relocates tenderly behind the house.

There are framed photographs of my sons at four and five, at eight and nine, at fourteen and fifteen. From this place on the sofa, I can see and I can remember.


Naturally, there are the usual scares – the accidents, the surgeries, the fear that is companion to every risk, and risk is essential. There will always be the bumpy ride and we cannot predict its penchant for turning. Yet there are nights when the books in bed are placed on the floor, and a good man’s arms pull me into dreaming.

I did my job. I met the challenge.


I am melancholy this morning, but there are no tragedies to sing, and I am grateful.

I have stories of my own, like my great-aunt, like my grandfather, and I am grateful.

I have no doubts there are greater challenges still, just ahead. But there is also a neighboring rock garden with blooms spilling over, and there is soft green moss adorning my damaged grass.

Nature is lovely and brooding and generous, constant in her undulating disposition.



  1. says

    ‘No tragedies to sing’… How wonderful are those few words…
    Incredible piece… so beautifully articulate… I enjoyed every single word… Thank you… xv

  2. says

    What a beautiful piece of writing and such an eloquent and fluid read…….. just perfect for our BIO post this month.
    ……… and, welcome to the BIO family. It’s so good to have you aboard. XXXX

  3. says

    I think you and I have some similar significant experiences. I read this post understanding and living inside of every word. I also have met the challenge…but I also know it is not easy and some days I fight to make sure I sing and soar. I will never stop the fight or succumb to fears…especially where my own children are concerned. I know you will soar as well!!

  4. says

    “But this is my morning’s vantage point: the long bout of rain that leaves a pitted gully outside my window, and the spread of mossy cover, a lush if imperfect replacement. Erosion is inevitable, but not immune to transformation.”

    Might I repeat the most poignantly profound? “Erosion is inevitable, but not immune to transformation.” Beautiful…

    It is what we do with circumstance that creates the measure of our happiness and the quality of our life…

  5. says

    I am in the middle of nowhere–how you would appreciate this particular nowhere–and how grateful I am to have read this, to think about it during the quiet here. Me, I have the luck to know of you, even if I can never keep up with your brilliant offerings, it is true. I never know how you do it, real writer and it has been an honor to be published here. Je suis ravie que tu rentre dans cette equipe car, sur tout, tu le mets le barre tellement plus haut…
    Gros bisous a partir des Alpes du Haut Provence,

  6. says

    I understand why Marsha wanted your thoughts – they are so enlightened, so philosophical, yet so inquisitive and stimulating. A wonderful addition, with so much honesty, to her varied group, and I am delighted, for otherwise I would not know of you or your wickedly fabulous writings. Such joy there is in these discoveries in the blogging world! Thank you for your comment on my own thoughts, and how much I look forward to reading more of yours.

    • BigLittleWolf says

      Thank you for the warm welcome, Glamour Drops. I look forward to getting to know all of you better. Such delicious discoveries! Please make yourself at home at DPOC, and enjoy whatever suits your fancy.

    • BigLittleWolf says

      Lisa, Thank you. You know I don’t always comment, but I so enjoy your site. I’m glad you’re here. (And my boys get around a good deal more than I do these days. College kids seem to manage that, don’t they?)

  7. says

    Nature’s gardens, a source of inspiration and comparison for the two of us.
    What a splendid piece you have given to us today, Wolfie. I absolutely adore you, your words have wrapped completely around me and I am content. We needed you, and now we are so thankful you are with us.

    • BigLittleWolf says

      Marsha, you are dream. Thank you. Yes, your magnificent gardens put me to shame! But how they inspire.

  8. Pauline from Phillip Island says

    What a beautiful piece of writing, BLW. I was mesmerised reading your words. My heart aches for you but at the same time rejoices in your strength and courage. I have not come across your blog before but I look forward to reading many more of your words of beauty and wisdom.

  9. says

    D.A. Wolf, I want to come and sit with you in your morning room,
    and drink your coffee with you. Wow!
    Welcome to the group, I can’t wait to read more of your words. So honest, so amazing!
    Who needs to have the whole bed anyway? xxx Coty

    • BigLittleWolf says

      It’s strong coffee, Coty. (*grin*) You’re welcome any time – if you don’t mind the clutter! (And the books everywhere.)

  10. LAB says

    Thank you for sharing your story. My husband passed on 11 years ago and I continue to meet the challenges and attempt to make sense of not having him with me now. Unsure whether this will ever make any sense.

  11. says

    What a lovely piece this is. Every word, every phrase, poetry. Books can make for good bed companions, as do the nights when a good man’s arms pull you into dreaming.

    I think I especially loved the smallness, depression or closed doors you won’t abandon your sons to.

    Nature, as always, parallels our travels through life. It is my sanctuary – as were your words today, reflecting that. Yum, yum to all of it, BLW.

  12. Leslie in Portland, Oregon says

    Brava, D.A., for what you have accomplished and are accomplishing in the face of abandonment and for your generosity and grace in telling us about the challenges that abandonment set in your path.

  13. says

    Thank you for joining us! Everyone feels the same way, you are an addition we needed and an inspiration for everyone. Sleeping on the edge doesn’t sound too bad anyway…I lived my entire life on the edge. :)’s


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