in memoriam

Day 2520: Girding and preparing for the day ahead

A few weeks ago, after girding and preparing myself for the day ahead,  I gave a speech at my 45th college reunion where I mentioned this daily  blog, as follows:

Also, seven years ago I expanded my network of friends by starting a daily blog. Every morning, including today, I’ve written about my heart, my son, my passion for the healing power of groups, my song-writing, my cats, my hopes, my fears, this speech — whatever helps gird me and prepare me for the day ahead.

Girding and preparing for the day ahead includes

  • getting in touch with my priorities,
  • observing what is,
  • relentlessly celebrating the small things,
  • awareness of loved ones who have passed,
  • connecting with humans and other creatures, and
  • sharing my photos from the day before.

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Here’s the obituary of Debora Carmichael, past President of the Northeastern Society of Group Psychotherapy, who was such an inspiration and support to me and so many others.

I am girding and preparing myself for a day without the earthly presence of Deb,  friends, family members, and other shining lights who have passed.

Girding and preparing myself includes listening to music I love. Yesterday, when I was walking amongst the creatures and environs around me, I was reminded of a musician I loved when I was young — Jacques Loussier, who played jazz versions of Bach pieces, like this one:

As always, girding and preparing includes sharing my gratitude to all, including YOU.

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Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Day 2494: Sometimes life sucks

Sometimes life sucks, like when you lose an old friend to a terrible brain cancer that has killed another friend of yours.

Sometimes you see a card that perfectly captures your experience.

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Sometimes you listen to the same damn song over and over again to comfort yourself, like when you’re driving to say goodbye to an old friend.

 

Hajanga

by Jacob Collier

Everybody, near and far
Come together as you are
To the ocean, to the sky
Sing that cosmic lullaby
Sing the hajanga

Sing your pleasure sing your pain
Like you’ll never sing again
Let it echo, loud and clear
Across the ancient stratosphere
Even when the sun refuse to shine
There’s a song of love that never dies

Even when the good days pass you by
Lift your voices to the sky singin’
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la…

As the words go round and round
Let the tears roll down and down
Sing the way you wish to be
Let that singing set you free

Even when those dark clouds bring you down
There’s a spark of joy that can be found
Even when things break and fall apart
Lift your hands up from your heart, singing
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la…

Said every morning
Every night
Through the darkness
To the light
Like a beacon
Shining bright
Sing the hajanga you’ll be alright

From the winter
Comes the spring
It don’t matter
What life will bring
You can do most anything
So give your hajanga
A song to sing

So tell your mama
Tell your pa
Sing it near and sing it far
Be exactly the way you are
See the hajanga
It’s your guiding star

To every woman
To every man
In every nation
In every land
I said please you’ve gotta understand
Now sing the hajanga
And take my hand, sing it!

Then one day your life is through
Nothing more that you can do
So give away the things you know
And tell your friends you love them so
Tell them hajanga

I let the tears roll down and down, yesterday, as I told Tony‘s friends and family that I loved him so.

Sometimes life sucks and we CAN do a damn thing about it, like telling people we love them so.

Here are all my other damn photos from yesterday:

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Sometimes life sucks and we can feel and express gratitude for what we still have, like this blog and YOU.

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Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Day 2493: Temporary

Yesterday morning, before I drove to the farewell event of my 45th college reunion, I took a photo of this temporary parking permit in my car.

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I have a temporary smile, here and now, thinking that The President and Fellows of Harvard College assumed no responsibility for damages to my little yellow car.

I took a photo of that temporary parking permit because of my “deep sense of mortality” (described in my speech at my reunion the day before), which makes me realize that everything is temporary.

On my way to the reunion brunch, I noticed a temporary phenomenon that I had never seen before, so I temporarily parked my car so I could capture it on my phone.

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I loved that temporary gathering of more snowy egrets than I had ever seen together before.

Then, I got back in my car, which I had temporarily parked at the Kennedy Center.

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I wonder if you had a temporary assumption about what Kennedy Center that was.

Then, my classmates and I met for some temporary conversation at a beautiful home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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I spent most of that temporary time there hanging out with people I love, because there’s no telling when we’ll see each other again.

On my ride home, I received news that another beloved friend of mine had died in the month of September. I wrote about my dear and long-time friend  Tony in this post from May, 2016 — Day 1219: Tone.

As I said in my temporary speech at my college reunion, “Life is too precious to spend on things I don’t love.”  I’m glad that when I heard that Tony had the same cancer that killed Senator John McCain and my friend Michelle last year,  I bought one of his books and sent him a card telling him I was reading it and how much I loved him.

Last night, when Michael and I were doing our temporary Sunday shopping routine at our local supermarket, I deliberately took photos of sympathy cards to comfort myself.

I now get comfort from sharing all these contemporary photos with you:

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Even though life on this earth is temporary, certain things linger, like the distinct laughs of my late friends Hillel and Tony, who both passed away this September. I can easily imagine both of their wonderful laughs, here and now.

In honor of Tony, who played guitar and loved music, I’m posting a tune I associate with him:

 

I’m hoping I can get temporary coverage today at work so I can attend one of the memorial events for my late, great friend Tony today.

Thanks to all those who helped me temporarily forget my grief by creating this post and — of course! — thanks to you.

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Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Day 2472: What do we want to remember?

When I search my old posts for “What do we want to remember?” the only thing that comes up is Day 454: My brain is like a sieve. This might be a bad sign, since what’s on my brain today is how to memorize and remember the words of my 5-minute “Ted Talk” for my college reunion in three weeks.

I want to remember that …

  • I don’t have to be perfect delivering my speech, even though I sometimes felt like I had to be perfect to keep up with the other people at my Ivy League school.
  • perfect is the enemy of good.
  • I can look at my notes during my speech.
  • I have been able to memorize the words of all my original songs, forgetting the lyrics only once.
  • I will be talking about traumatic memories in my speech, so I need to be extra kind to myself about this.
  • I will be finishing my speech by talking about this blog and my wonderful readers.
  • I am the only one who can put unrealistic pressure on myself.
  • nobody hearing my speech will be wanting me to fail.
  • I will be returning, after my speech, to people who will not love me any less if my talk does not go well.

Do you want to remember any of the photos I took yesterday?

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If you want to remember songs that have the word “Remember” in the title, see here and here.

Here and now, while I was searching for a song I wanted to remember for this post, I just heard  that an old friend, whom I was wanting to see at our school reunion, died yesterday. 

I will always remember Hillel, my very good friend. He and I shared many memories, starting in 7th grade.

What do we want to remember?  Those we love.

In the midst of pain and loss, I want to remember to always express my gratitude to you.

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Day 2451: In memory of my mother

Today is the 11th anniversary of my late mother’s passing, according to the lunar Hebrew calendar AND the solar Gregorian calendar. To honor her memory, I lit a Yahrzeit candle:

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This is the obituary of my mother that’s still online:

Louise (Sulkin) Koplow

Entered into rest August 12 at the age of 90 years, of Peabody, formerly of Lynn & Swampscott. Beloved wife of the late Aaron Koplow. Devoted mother of Ellen Koplow of Medford & Ann Koplow of Brighton. Cherished grandmother of Aaron David Fairbanks of Brighton. Loving sister of the late Emma Gordon, Elizabeth Rich, Esther Sulkin, Beatrice Plane, Ernest & Louis Sulkin. Dear aunt of many nieces, nephews, grand nieces, grand nephews & their families. She also leaves a large group of friends that she has known for decades. Services at Stanetsky-Hymanson Memorial Chapel, 10 Vinnin Street, SALEM/SWAMPSCOTT line on Thursday, Aug. 14 at 1:00 p.m. Interment at Cong. Ahabat Shalom Memorial Park, Danvers. Memorial week through Tuesday, August 19, daily from 2-5pm and 7-9pm at Woodbridge Assisted Living, 240 Lynnfield St, Peabody. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made in her memory to the American Heart Assoc., 20 Speen St., Framingham, MA 01701.

I miss my mother, who had a huge influence on me, every day.  As the years go by, I have more “conversations” with her in my head. I can still hear her voice, saying my name, with a mixture of love, concern, worry, and anticipation.  Here are other things I can hear her say, in her special voice:

Everything worth doing is worth doing well.

There’s a place for everything and everything in its place.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

I can also hear her infectious laugh and see her dancing and clapping at holidays and celebrations.  She loved my father’s sense of humor  but she would kick him under the table when she thought he had gone too far with a teasing joke.  She was thoughtful, kind, and welcoming to all.  She didn’t like surprises, but she appreciated the wedding anniversary surprise party my sister organized for our parents. My mother loved living near the ocean and she spent a lot of time in the sun on the beach.

My mother was very clean and neat and she did not want a pet in our house.  However, after my first heart surgery at age 10, she let me get my heart’s desire — a kitty.  She loved that cat, too, and after Tuffy died at age 13, my mother told me she saw a bird in the yard  she thought was Tuffy reincarnated.  Although reincarnation didn’t really fit in with the Orthodox Jewish beliefs my mother adopted after she married my father, I think that reflected how she chose to grieve — to believe that a beloved spirit still existed.  Like my mother did with Tuffy,  I see my mother in other beings, everywhere.

Yesterday, consciously or unconsciously, I took many photos to fit today’s post.

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Here’s a favorite photo of my mother:

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Here‘s a song that my father sang to my mother on another anniversary celebration:

Thanks to my mother, to all who loved her, and to you — of course! — for reading this post, today.

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Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Day 2016: How to be more awesome

Yesterday, as I was on my way to pick up my new and more awesome laptop, I saw this:

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How can we be more awesome, besides by buying new things?  There are two sides to my awesome suggestion:

  1. Realize you are awesome to begin with.
  2. Treat everyone you meet as if they were awesome too.

There are probably more ways to be more awesome, but I need to share my latest awesome photos so I can get to my awesome job in awesome time.

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Those awesome people are Mark (the genius at the Apple Store who made my new laptop be more awesome with a total data transfer two days ahead of schedule), Megan, Corinne, and our late friend Michelle — whose awesome birthday is today and who helped everybody she met be more awesome.  At the awesome memorial/celebration party for Michelle yesterday,  we heard the song she thought was more awesome than any other song:

Being alive is more awesome with all the awesome people in the world.

More awesome thanks to all who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — to awesome YOU.

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Day 1992: Michelle

Yesterday, my good friend Michelle passed away.

Last month, I wrote and shared this limerick with Michelle:

A wonderful person Michelle,

Treats all whom she meets very well.

I’m consistently crying

’cause I know that she’s dying

Though I know she’s not going to Hell.

Michelle smiled and said, “Maybe I am going to Hell.”  I replied, “With everything I know about you and Hell, there’s no way you’re going there.”

I don’t know where Michelle went yesterday but I do know she’s no longer here where I and many others have known and loved her for so long.

Michelle’s husband Joe wrote yesterday about how she had spent her last day on this earth. He told us she heard her favorite Irish blessing.

“May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields and, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.”

He wrote that she felt held and that she died at home at peace with grace and dignity. He signed his email to us “With profound sadness.”

With profound sadness, here are all the photos captured on my iPhone yesterday.

 

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Many years ago, when I was in the hospital recovering from a heart-related illness, Michelle loaned me her DVD of “Rent.”  Today, I include this song from that musical in honor of her.

Thank you, Michelle, for all the seasons of love.  And thanks to all of you for visiting here, now.

Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

Day 1610: Enter here

Enter here, dear readers.

As I enter another blog post here, I wonder why I entered this image onto my iPhone yesterday.

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I shall enter here my best guesses:

  • It’s good to know where you should enter.
  • No matter where we are or where we’ve been, we still need to enter different places.
  • Soon I shall enter a new home.
  • Next year, I shall enter a new position of responsibility.
  • Yesterday, after I entered the place where I saw the “Enter Here” sign, I ran into somebody who had previously held that position of responsibility.  When I asked him if he thought I had what it took to enter into that position successfully, he entered a vote of confidence.
  • I have entered many blog posts here and hope to enter many more.
  • Today is Memorial Day in the USA, where we honor those who entered battle, never to return.

I shall now enter here, with gratitude, my other photos from yesterday.

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Categories: gratitude, in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Day 1487: What is your greatest strength?

What is your greatest strength?

One of my greatest strengths is asking questions.

Earlier this week, I asked people in a therapy group what their greatest strengths were.  When somebody replied, “I don’t have any strength,” I changed my question to “What are your positive qualities?”

One of my greatest strengths is noticing interesting things around me and taking pictures of them.

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It looks like Siri’s greatest strengths include answering questions but NOT driving a car.

A lot of women in the 1970s, including me, saw great strengths in the late Mary Tyler Moore.

Another one of my greatest strengths is expressing appreciation for others.  Thanks to all who helped me create this post and to you — of course! — for all your strengths (even if you don’t feel strong).

Categories: group therapy, in memoriam, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Day 1458: We’re still alive

Yesterday, in a therapy group, somebody said, “We’re still alive.”  Since that phrase felt very alive to me, I wrote it on my white board, where it still is.

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I heard and wrote that shortly  before I found out that Carrie Fisher was no longer alive, when I  read this on Facebook: “We lost a Jedi.”

I still believe it’s important,  every day, to remember we’re still alive, because eventually every one of us will be still.

Here‘s the best song for this post —  Stephen Sondheim’s “I’m Still Here” from Carrie Fisher’s Postcards from the Edge:

 

I often sing that song when I walk around, still alive,  and see scenes like this:

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Which images are still alive, for you?

I’m very grateful we’re still alive as I thank all  who helped me create this post and you — of course —  for still being here.

Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

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