Amazing Super-Bad Pope of Thought

I am a dark shade of blue today.

I am a tad over-tired, and I will admit to more than the usual angst about work. There have been intermittent, yet ominous, gray clouds passing over my balcony all afternoon, stealing away my sunshine and threatening rain. Even though I returned five days ago, I might still be the victim of a little post-vacation melancholy, as well. Yet today, I think, is just one of those days when missing Mack sits heavier on my shoulders. One of those days when the emptiness of life without her settles deep within my bones, crowding out hope and resilience. One of those days on which my smile is lost, and I am incapable of laughter. One of those days that only Mack herself could make better.

In my electronic files for this blog, I keep a folder labeled “Mack-Funny Faces.” Frequently, on blue days just like this one, when I so desperately need to smile and to hear my own laughter, I look through those photos. These glorious pictures so capture Mack’s spirit that they have become my medicine, of sorts; and that electronic file of Mack-funny faces is a portal for me, connecting my dreary spirit to Mack’s ever cheerful one. On a day like today, I need those photos to find a smile or some laughter tucked down deep under the shades of blue that oppress me.

So today I opened that folder to browse the photos, seeking some solace from the blue. One particular Mack-funny face popped off of the screen. I smiled at the sight of Mack’s face within it, beaming in the thumbnail, and I was laughing out loud by the time it opened and filled my computer screen. There was my silly girl, with her classic head-tilt pose, wearing some kind of hand-made paper hat, bearing the words, in her own hand, “The Amazing Super-bad Pope of thought.” I have no memory at all as to the purpose of that strange, school-project hat or of  the circumstances that may have elicited Mack’s theatrical pose within it. But Mack’s wit and irreverence found in me the smile and the laughter that I needed.

I am still feeling blue today, but the shade is decidedly less dark.


Thank you, Mack. Thank you for being you every single day of your beautiful life. Thank you for making that stupid hat. Thank you for making that silly face beneath it. And thank you for finding me today.


A Tale of Two Days

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was a day of joyous beauty. It was a day of quiet sorrow.

Today at Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, I marveled, wide-eyed, under a big and blue western sky, at the wonders of our Earth. Yet my heart denied the sparkle in my eyes for the glorious landscape and rejected the excitement in my mind for the wonders of our spectacular planet. Two years ago this day, I kissed the freckled face of my Mackenzie for the last time, and my heart has never been the same. Today, my body was in the Black Hills, but my heart was as far away from there as my lost girl is now from me, and a great day was tinged with sadness.

I struggle each day to find joy and beauty in life, and this western journey, this overdue and necessary vacation, has provided an abundance of both. Unfortunately, however, even the magical splendor of the Black Hills cannot completely restore my spirit. While my senses experienced the natural wonders around me, and as I enjoyed the cool wind on my face and delighted in the glittering sunlight reflecting off the haunting tower of stone and across the endless valleys, I was lost in myself. All the day, my tears were just below the surface of my joy in the landscape. 

This state of discord is a common one in my new life, and I understand its challenges. To balance extreme joy and extreme sadness is a mighty task, and today my efforts were insufficient. Mack’s spirit was with me, as it always is, but it could not reach my aching heart. The wind blowing through the ponderosa pines intensified my longing for her presence on this beautiful earth, in this spectacular landscape she will never see. In the shadows of the ancients rocks, I saw the shadows cast upon me. My eyes could see the enchanting environment around me. My mind could appreciate the awesome power of the planet to render me speechless. But my heart was an unwilling traveler.

It was a good day. It was a bad day. It was a day in which I felt the weight of my sorrows juxtaposed with all of the beauty of the world. It was another day in my life without Mack.