That woman is me

The prospect of writing the words “me too” on Facebook has filled me with dread each time I’ve gotten close. This morning I read a friend’s post expressing similar feelings and it made me recall this essay. I’ve decided to share it here. 

That woman is me

by Jillian Myrom, Minnesota Women’s Press, July 29, 1992

I’ve never seen a dead body before. I didn’t expect that feeling of numbed comprehension, the awe that comes over me as I stand at the window with the other secretaries looking out at the scene at 8 a.m.

Any other day, we have the best view in the building, looking up a sloping grassy hill with the St. Paul Cathedral looming over the top. Majestic. Idyllic.

Today there are several policemen lining the road at the top of the hill. The body is at a distance from them, lying at the foot of a tree. Behind her is a low wrought-iron gate which scales the hill; behind the gate is a forest. Continue reading

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To be trusted with tears

fith-and-minn

Photo courtesy of Metro Transit

Why the disheveled man approached me rather than someone else I couldn’t say. It was a recent chilly Wednesday evening and I had pulled my beret down over my ears.

The man wanted to know if the 54 would stop at our corner, something I easily confirmed with a glance at the bus departures board. He lingered after I answered; it seemed he wanted something more.

“Name’s Kevin,” he said, offering his hand, which I took.

“Nice to meet you.”

I pulled my bike bag a little closer.

“Know who you remind me of?” Continue reading

The starting line

jillbecky_2015-mn003-286-mediumTwo years to the day after we flew to Berlin for a family sabbatical, I separated from my husband. It wasn’t Berlin’s fault. And maybe it wasn’t M’s either. But things were put into motion during that yearlong hiatus from our so-called real life that a separation had shifted imperceptibly from the category of impossible to damn near inevitable. Continue reading

The healing power of coffee

368028111_0776c55399_zMy dad’s decline was rapid and dizzying: He bounced from a routine chemo visit to an outpatient transfusion to the ER to a hospital room to the ICU in the course of 12 hours on a Thursday a few weeks before Christmas. We’d driven to his oncologist’s office for a morning appointment, telling his wife we’d be back by lunch with plans to catch a matinee of Brooklyn that afternoon, unaware he would not be coming home again. Continue reading

Scene from a hospital

hospcorrAfter my father’s transfusion went haywire, the nurse in the emergency room asked many questions, among them this one:

“Have you ever been a smoker?”

The nurse stood before him, her pen poised to record his response.

I gave him a sidelong glance and thought about the cigars he’d light up in our backyard after dinner, the puff puff sound he’d make to get it lit;  Continue reading