Saturday, December 25, 2021

One Year Has Now Passed

On the Anniversary of Your Death
365 days have passed 365 days from when i laid you down my dear Sabine closed your beautiful loving devoted eyes you told me to stay don’t run downsize sell the other property you stayed blessed supported me my recovery remained brought me a living loving physical companion no words exist nor can anyone understand your influence on my life my gratitude 40 years you gave me cancer finally having its way you nudged Christine into my life to carry me on to give me care support love respect commitment trust honesty vulnerability and openness you were and are (and always will be) wind beneath my wings yes until we all meet again. 12/24/2021

Thursday, November 18, 2021

My Modern Love (this should have made the New York Times!)

I was a few years into my eighties when my wife of forty years died. I wanted to die with her. We had lived a wonderful life and had no regrets. I thought this as I lay next to her lifeless body that evening. Now we’ve all heard stories about near-death experiences: the light, hovering over the lifeless body, meeting deceased relatives, and then coming back “home.” But what about a near-death experience which prolongs itself for months not just after an accident? That happened to me. While I had suffered the loss of parents, two best friends, a son, granddaughter, and consoled others, I was not prepared for the loss of my wife of 40 years. Sabine, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and kidney failure at age 54 shortly after her retirement from a 20-year policing career. At the time, and because we both were active runners and skiers, most physicians thought her problem with blood pressure spikes and headaches were caused by ibuprofen — a drug of choice among most long distance athletes. As the saying goes in the medical community, when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras. These hoofbeats were zebras. She was hospitalized, given a cancer diagnosis and went through 13 years of chemotherapy and home hemodialysis. Through competent and caring medical practitioners and state-of-the art cancer therapies, we prolonged her life for two decades beyond her expected expiration date. We both knew she was going to die and, perhaps, soon. But we never gave up. We travelled with an 80 pound dialysis machine in campers, trains and boats, and continued an active life until the very end. Last year, 2020, was a particularly bad year — her declining health, the presidential campaign, and Covid-19; a deadly trifecta. I knew somehow her end was coming. The election and the quarantine didn’t help. Sabine was not only a partner-wife and mother to our children, she was a colleague, muse, and co-pilot in our many adventures and world-travels with our children in tow. We were cops. For a while I was her boss. Then we had to decide who was going to leave the department. She chose to leave. A most difficult decision for a young woman experiencing the personal growth of being a female police officer. She ended up working across the street from my office protecting the state capitol building where she served for twenty years, and retired as a commando officer. I retired earlier, went back to school, and was ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church. She died in my arms on Christmas Eve. While this may sound tragic and remorseful, it is, however, about to become a miracle story about life beyond death. While we planned for and talked about death, when it finally came, my grief sucked the life out of me. I would cry out and weep for days on end. I couldn’t talk with well-wishers. I kept asking myself, “How can I live without her?” I kept her body with me until morning. I promised her that I would be with her when she died and that she could die at home with hospice supporting us. Yet I thought, how could the rest of my life ever compare with the magnificent, beautiful life I shared with her? But my faith won out. I could not take my life. And I vowed to engage in the struggle which I knew was before me. Every plan we made as to how I was going to survive her death involved running away. But when it happened, I felt this strange feeling that I must stay in our old farmhouse; the place in which we had lived for most of our life together. I could not leave. This led to a series of decisions that saved my life. I put half of our property up for sale which included a newer second house, a pool, outbuildings,and wooded hiking trails. I decided to live in the adjacent property and farmhouse. During the process of selling my adjacent property, my real estate agent said that if I was going to stay here, I needed to think about who would be the best neighbor, not who was going to pay the highest price. I had eleven great offers on the property. A few had letters explaining why they would be good neighbors. One of the letters came from a young couple from a city nearby. They told me they had always wanted to live in this area of woods, hiking trails, and rolling hills. They told me they had a cat, two dogs, five chickens, and a baby. They enclosed a picture which included the couple and a second picture with the woman’s mother holding her grandchild. They explained that the grandmother would be coming to live with them. They seemed like such a nice family and I chose them. When I sent a copy of the letter and pictures to two of my daughters, they both remarked, “Dad, the woman’s mother could be your friend.” Interesting, I thought, but I could never find a woman like Sabine, I could not, would not, ever fall in love again. Shortly after the house and property closed in March, I asked the new owners if they wanted to pick through some things I was going to donate to charity. That’s when I met Christine, the grandmother. After introductions, we found ourselves sweeping out one of the outbuildings together. I have to admit I was quite forward when I asked her, “Are you interested in an adventure?” To this day, she doesn’t know why she responded affirmatively this wise crack, in the past it would have received a quick rebuff! So, we took friendly hikes on our joint properties and started exploring towns and parks in our region. This often resulted in 4-hour road trips. After a couple of these trips, I remembered an article I had saved from the January 9, 2015 issue of the New York Times called “The 36 Questions.” [] The researchers believed unfamiliar couples will fall in love if they honestly answer the 36 questions. I had saved the article to use in marriage counseling. Inspired, I made two copies. (Disclosure: I did not tell Christine that the objective of the questions was to fall in love. Instead, I introduced them as a way for us to become “better friends.”) For three weeks we went through the 36 questions in 12-question blocks as we drove around the countryside. I don’t recall them immediately igniting the flames of love, but I did come to know Christine better and respected her opinions and the core values they tended to reveal in both of us. I remember thinking we could become even better friends. Shortly afterwards, I took a road trip to visit some of my children in Florida. On the road, I Facetimed Christine one or two times a day sharing what I was doing, and asking how her life was going. As I drove west not knowing my next destination, I recalled music from Carousel, one of my favorite musicals. I played the love duet, “If I Loved You.” And I played it again and again, often with flowing tears. I thought, could I learn to love again? Could I love Christine? I wanted to find out, Suddenly, I turned north and drove non-stop home. This resulted in a whirlwind courtship, a proposal and acceptance. Three months later, we were married in a small ceremony of friends and family on our farm. I was able to deeply love once again. To this day, I am amazed how these events and decisions aligned for us. It was a miracle. If I didn’t stay in the farm house. If I hadn’t sold the property next door to who I did. If I hadn’t felt the need to clean out my outbuildings and spent time with Christine. If I hadn’t been so forward asking her about taking an “adventure.” If I hadn’t saved those 36 questions and boldly worked through them with Christine. If I hadn’t had the courage to propose marriage. If Christine hadn’t said yes. Months later, a friend of mine from Japan called me. He had heard about Sabine’s death and wanted to come and show his respect. He was a graduate student at our university when Sabine and I first met him. When he showed up, gave me a lovely orchid. He said that in his religious tradition, my marriage to Christine was definitely karma.“You took care of Sabine’s parents and was her caregiver for 13 years. That’s why you have Christine. Sabine sent her. It is karma!” While that may not be my understanding of grace, it sure made sense. Yes, I was a good husband and caregiver and I accept the gift of Christine, this beautiful, caring, wonderful woman to whom I am now married. Christine came into my life and resuscitated me. In her past, she had served as a paramedic and RN. She offered me a new life. She unequivocally answered my question. “If I loved you, what would our life would be like?” Another near-death experience that found its way home.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

 Story of a Life

california girl 

dancing in a red dress

not something a minnesota boy 

could resist 

three children one a baby


she ran off never to be seen again

(later dying alone in her 70s)

looking back 

overwhelmed  in his 20s 

what now to do? 

how does one search for a wife

and mother 

with two kids and a baby? 

then she appeared 

a mere teenager

a good catholic girl 

“3 for 3” she said 

and then there were 


but she stayed a teenager

when the older kids were 

out of the house 

he finally divorced her 

now once again

lost and broken 

a domestic failure 

he found his once-in-a-lifetime 


they grew together for 

40 years 

joined at the hip 

they said 

he cared for during her illness

loved her passionately until 

she died 

now in his 80s 

a woman passed by 


they clicked 

each with 

that deep passionate 

soul-mate feeling 

once again 


from death came life 

a mutual resurrection 

it’s true 

what philosophers 

pundits and theologians preach 

love love love 

yes it’s true 

thanks be 

thanks be.


June 1, 2021

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Healing Comes

 In the midst of grief and loss comes healing in the guise of a person... so unexpected... so mystical... so biblical...


seeking renewal


a love once 


he rises and


was it that first day

when her

children bought

the house next 


when they



his heart still


in pieces



a widow

resolved to years


neither expecting the


he at first

meeting quipped

‘hey, neighbor, up for an




he sought a walking


a woman

(how he loved

their presence)

with whom

to talk

both unsuspecting

hearing about his



his daughters write

“dad, maybe she could be

your friend?” 

a seed planted?

everyone knew he would


do well alone

slowly days passed

a small spark

of adventure


a strange feeling 

engulfed captured him

puppy love?

of course

but then they did

“the 36 questions”

(short-cutting months

of dating)

motown played in his


“fooled around and fell

In love”

a song from

“carousel” if I

loved you…”

those who loved them



then they




his friends said

“she’s a keeper”

another said

“she must have

sent her”

don’t you remember 



“take care of him

love and hug him”

they thought they

would never

love again

yet they began to 

feel that 


they laughed 

acted giddy

and so day by


they fell



grandpa and 

grandma on

a kaleidoscopic



to find again that







thing called


much over-used

often inaccurate


divinity enfleshed

better to


so they did

a happiness and


not easily put


possibly their

golden days of


is her name



and his 

beloved of God? 

two lives 

two souls



Sunday, April 4, 2021


We who have suffered great loss have an opportunity to once again seize life; to consider the possibility that “it ain’t over till it’s over!”

Historically, we are surrounded by stories both sacred and profane. It is those sacred stories to which I gravitate. 

Today is Easter Sunday... we know it’s a story about Jesus and his resurrection from the dead. But could it be more? 

Could these ancient stories about Jesus and his friend, Lazarus, help you and I who deeply grieve the death of a loved one, the isolation of this pandemic, and/or our politics?

when you died

i wanted to die with


i lingered like


bound and yes

these last months

i “stinketh”

still bound i 


the sound of 


new and old

the scratchy 

scrapping noise of

the rock

of my tomb being

rolled away

and then your


a sweetness




“unbind him and

set him


yes Lord you

lifted me 

pulled me up 

and out

healed a shattered


pieced it together

as it learned to

touch another 

to love

now i get it 

that story about you


meant for us.

Monday, March 29, 2021



Slowly, ever so slowly, my healing has begun. 

And it began not with isolation or aloneness, but with people. As I return to parish ministry and interact with PEOPLE; first on Ash Wednesday, then with new neighbors, now with Palm Sunday and the rituals of Holy Week ahead of me, I sense a new beginning. 

I know that all this time I have been covered, bathed, in loving thoughts and prayers from you as Sabine requested in her obituary: 

 I hope you who read this and know the man who is the love of my life, the breath of my spirit, and the heart, soul of my very being, David, will care for him. Give him your love, your ear, your time, your hugs, and your uplifting support. I would have stayed here forever (if I could) just to be with him...”

Thanks to all of you who have responded to Sabine’s request, who have given me your love, listened and cared for me, and who have given me your time, hugs and support, You are the balm of my healing.. 

I thank you deeply, very deeply...

Wednesday, March 24, 2021



One of the great dilemmas (and challenges) of widowhood is having to live alone after enjoying the blessings of a lifetime of companionship. Like many men, I enjoy getting together with the guys. But getting together with a woman is another (and I will have to admit) more enjoyable experience — sorry guys! 

Sabine knew me well and knew me deeply. We talked about this. She said that if I died first, she would not be interested in partnering again. In fact, because of her cancer, she said she would simply stop treatment. But as for me, she knew that I needed the friendship of women. So here’s my thoughts on this dilemma as I surf the waves of grief which currently dominate my life.

some say


now must

learn to 



why I cry?   

why must I now

be alone?

should i not

seek a



presence of a 


i have lived with


all my


and now

to be without 

this presence

(vive la difference) 


my aging life


are you serious? 

you impose death

to me


if you 

cared for me

loved me

why would you deny

me this?

why would you?

why sentence me to

that solitary 


the executioner 



(Sotto voce:

would she 



loved him 

without condition


this for for



see him



laughing once


he may be old