Saturday, September 13, 2014

Day 197: To My Sad Self Hereafter Kind

(I'm part of a continued community of writers and mourners in a 30-day writing workshop found here:

TODAY'S PROMPT focuses on kindness.  How would I/do I show myself kindness?
"Let me be to my sad self hereafter kind." -Peter Pouncey, Rules for Old Men Waiting: A Novel


I used to love watching Gareth dart back and forth in the grocery store, gathering ingredients for a planned meal at our apartment. He did it with such precision. No, not this tomato. This one. Here. This onion will be just right. Yes. This. This is the packet of chicken I'll be needing to cook for my sweetheart. He always called me sweetheart. A bottle of wine for him, some sparkling water for me. He always made sure I had a "special drink" without alcohol.

Gareth is not here to do this anymore. Let me be to my sad self hereafter kind.

I will make food for myself, picking out the ingredients with precision. It must be the right tomato. The right onion. I haven't been able to stomach the idea of chicken again, but when I get around to it, I will pick out nothing but the best package. I will cook for myself the way he cooked for me. I will dance in the kitchen while the vegetables sautee. I will turn the music up and drink sparkling water from a wine glass and I will dance in the kitchen. I will look in the mirror and say something like, "Are you kidding me? How did you get to be so beautiful?"

Gareth is not here to do this anymore. Let me be to my sad self hereafter kind.

I will not abandon the art of writing. Countless times we met in coffee houses and tea houses around Korea, falling in love with the writing of others. Falling in love with each other's writing. Falling in love with words spilling from our pen and our pages and our mouths. We always had a book of poems with us to take out and read on a long drive or an unplanned rest in a park. Billy Collins. William Stafford. Shakespeare. Leonard Cohen. Gareth's beautiful voice brought these poets' work to life.

Gareth is not here to do this anymore. Let me be to my sad self hereafter kind.

I will allow myself to continue to fall in love with the craft of writing. The art of words. I will not cut myself off from what I loved before we met. What I loved even more when we were together. And what I know I still love without him here. I will not push myself to open those same books of poems until I'm ready. They're next to me now. Some with inscriptions:

November 2013

To Gareth-

Lucky was the person who inspired so many of the beautiful words in this collection of sonnets.
Lucky am I to have heard them read in your voice, from your mouth. 

I love you.


I will continue to write. I will continue to read. I will open myself up to feedback and listen for the words he would have said if he were here.

What if you wrote it like this, babe?

I love the way you wrote this part, here.

Let's collaborate on something again. I love collaborating with you. It's like nothing I've ever done before. 

Gareth is not here to do this anymore. Let me be to my sad self hereafter kind.

I will open myself up to creative collaboration when I'm ready. I will not shut the door. And until I'm ready to work creatively with another person, I will appreciate the collaborations of others. I will attend plays. I will seek out new music. I will read. Oh, I will read and read and read.

I used to love the way Gareth motivated me. I considered myself in a pretty damned good place when we met- the hard life stuff having already been sifted through. My self-esteem solid. My humility restored. I had achieved a balance of being self-sufficient as well as asking for help when I needed it. I arrived to Gareth whole, not shattered. I had no idea I still needed to be encouraged.

This showed up when training for a half-marathon.

You're amazing, babe! I'm in such awe of your ability to run.

Or when I'd question my own appearance.

You could eat 10 more of those and you'd be the sexiest woman I know. Seriously. Babe. Seriously. Have more. You look incredible.

Or when I'd get a challenging call from a friend in need.

You are so good with people, babe. You have an innate ability to connect with people. To listen to them. I love that about you.

Or when I got hit with large waves of grief after the suicide of my young cousin.

You can do this, babe. You've got this. You are a spiritual warrior. I'm here with you.

Gareth is not here to do this anymore. Let me be to my sad self hereafter kind.

I will tell myself, after a run, that it's pretty f-ing amazing that I'm able to run at all. I will not admonish myself for going days or even weeks without running because I'm too sad to do it. If I run, when I run, I will say these words: You're amazing, Bridget! I'm in awe of your ability to run!

Let me be to my sad self hereafter kind.

When I catch myself wanting to criticize my appearance, knock myself down in any way, I will stop. I will instead remind myself of how beautiful I am. How I'm beautiful exactly as I am. And how I could get way fatter or way skinnier or way out of shape or way in shape and I'd still be just as beautiful. I will remind myself that I am beautiful.

Let me be to my sad self hereafter kind. 

When I spend time listening to a friend- I mean really listening- I will remind myself that this is a particularly great quality. And that I have it. I will acknowledge that I am a great friend and a fantastic listener. And in times when I can't listen- when I'm too stricken with grief to be there for another person, I will not cut myself down for that. I'll remind myself that those qualities haven't disappeared. I'm just taking needed time to recharge.

Let me be to my sad self hereafter kind.

And, finally, when I get hit with the grief, like I did today- when I'm crying in the shower or crying in the middle of my kitchen, when I'm unable to peel myself from the bed or the sofa, pressed under the heaviness of grief, when I'm unable to pick up the phone when a friend is on the other end trying to reach out to me, when I find myself again thinking this is too much- too damned much for me to keep doing day in and day out- when this happens, I will remind myself that I've got this. I am a spiritual warrior. I am incredibly loved. And I can do this thing.


  1. Bridget, may I share this with my friend Smita and with my SOS group. If you are uncomfortable with me sharing the personal relationship between you and Gareth, could I share the prompt and link and the second half after your photo of you standing joyfully in the sun?

  2. Please share, Aunt Mary. Especially if you think it would be helpful to someone. My blog is a public site- there are no privacy settings on it. So you're welcome to share it with anyone.

    I do love that photo. That's the summer before I came to Korea. I'm with my friends Maud and Steve on a farm in Portland, OR. I remember the feeling of the sun on my face.

  3. Thanks, Bridget. I'm thinking of one friend in particular who might find the writing course helpful. Even if she doesn't, many in my group will relate to how we can be kind to ourselves.

  4. In the last couple of days, I've been living out "to my sad self hereafter kind." I loved that you shared this, it's really helps me to be more mindful of taking care of myself.