This is a long time family recipe. So what I learned making this cold soup is don’t snack on it or sample it until it’s had time to sit in the fridge for several hours. It was way too vinegary when I sampled it, but after the flavors had a chance to blend, it was much better. Cool and refreshing on a hot summer day.

6 to 8 small servings

  • 4 large ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely minced
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and finely minced
  • 1 cup tomato juice or V8
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, stir ingredients together.
Chill soup until icy cold (several hours or overnight).
Serve cold.

a murder

you want to commit a murder
the Grief inside you has grown a body
it breathes
it eats
it shits
it bites
Grief is so alive now
its name is capitalized
this Grief that is alive
this living hellish Grief must die
you want to smother Grief in its bed at night
you want to smother Grief with your favorite pillow
when the dreams come to haunt you
and Grief stirs awake
you want to shove Grief off the freeway overpass
watch Grief splatter in the oncoming traffic
while your favorite song comes on the radio
goodbye Grief
you want to see Grief jump off the tallest building
you want to feed Grief to the wolves at the zoo
you want to starve Grief in a box at Christmas
you want to choke Grief with a child’s hair ribbon
you want to commit a murder

– from Grief Song

Overwhelming emotions

One of the things I experienced, especially in the early days of grief, was being overwhelmed with emotions. The pain was so real and so strong, it would frequently keep me from functioning in my day-to-day life. Gut-wrenching crying. Breath-taking horror. I felt like all of my emotional responses were turned up ten-fold. Or maybe 100-fold. I tried to get my emotions under control, but nothing seemed to work. I would just end up bottling them up, only for them to explode out later, even stronger. I was a mess, and in so much pain.

A friend who’s a professional therapist, suggested I try a technique she’d been teaching for many years. Mindfulness. I thought she was asking me to meditate or to somehow focus on the pain. It sounded too simplistic to actually be effective. But as I came to understand Mindfulness as she intended, I found it helped tremendously. Your mileage may vary, but I thought I’d share in case it may be helpful to someone else.

Every time I felt overwhelmed with emotion, I would take a deep slow breath, and then focus on the current moment. If I was feeling afraid, I’d ask myself if there was something in that moment that was threatening to me. No? Then breathe. I would sit quietly, close my eyes, and focus on my breathing. One breath. Another. What did breathing feel like? Was the air cold or warm? I would keep my eyes closed and focus on my skin. Could I feel a breeze? Or the soft touch of my socks? I would breathe quietly and listen silently for sounds in the room. The whir of an air-conditioner. The sounds of a cat. Then I’d focus on the sounds outside the room or outside the house. A lawnmower. The birds at the feeder. Children playing. Then I’d come back to my breathing and find that I was calmer and more centered. Less apt to feel overwhelmed. And the next time the overwhelm happened, I’d go through the process again.

Focusing on the present moment can help turn our thinking away from the what-ifs of the past and the future. The present, this very moment, is what matters right now. When you feel overwhelmed by past hurts, losses, or future imaginings, try focusing fully on the present moment. Take a breath. Take another. Feel your body. Hear the birds. Actively and gently turn your thoughts from the past and future, while you look at the realities of right now.

Breathe. Just breathe. I still practice Mindfulness and it still helps, even in these times when my emotions aren’t as overwhelming. Give it a try. It can’t hurt, and it may prove to be a gentle, helpful lifeline that can bring a little peace in the midst of the turmoil.

find the magic

find the magic
that will only come
through telling your story
the one you’re afraid to tell
you’re afraid to open that box
because you may never stop crying
sit in the sunshine
and write the story
in bits
and batches
prose and poetry
when the tears well up
close your eyes
let the sun warm your eyelids
and then try
to sing

– from Grief Song

the fabric of my soul

inside the fabric of my feelings
in the warp and weave of my existence
you wove yourself into my life and
more than my heart broke that day

you took more than my hopes and dreams
you took more than life itself
as I doubled in agony the tears poured
drowning in the blood-tinged grief

my heart rendered into pieces
unfixable, surrounded in death and pain
did you rejoice in the torment you brought?
were you aware of the devastation?

I lost track of the hours days months years
one empty day weighing as much as another
the days were long the nights were longer

on those days when I gave up on life
were you pleased to have such an effect?
did you feel even the smallest regret?

as my heart kidneys organs failed
did you know you held the power of life?
did you know you held the power of death?

you don’t hold that power now
now I can count the days again
there may be joy missing
but there’s no longer torment

there may still be empty spaces
but there are new loves and joys
I gave you the power of life and death
but I have now taken that power back

I will never again give someone
the power to destroy me
even if you still rejoice in my pain
I refuse to let your joy torment me

I will always miss the you I used to know
the truest love and deepest friend
but I will never miss the you who you’ve become
the you who attempted to murder
the very fabric of my soul