I wanted to go steal some roses from the chapel wall this morning for Alice’s birthday, but I’m a little sick with a bug so thievery will have to wait. Today she would have been 101, an age she, possessor of a monumental life force, had no desire to reach.

A year ago today I sat on her bed in Northwest Portland reading her cards and letters from many of you – gorgeous cards, such tender messages, even poems written for her – and from her best friend of sixty some years, Lorraine, and the few scattered relatives in our tribe who knew Alice and are still around.

Hard as it is some days to face the loss of her, I believe this last year would have been unbearable for Alice if she’d continued on. I’m troubled whenever I think of the people who try so desperately to keep going by one measure or another because of fear or because those who love them can’t let them go.

My friend Dee sent me an email today addressed to Alice: “Happy birthday! You have arrived where you wanted to be at 101 – not here!” Absolutely true. She went on to describe where Alice might be after this year-long passage:…maybe after floating in the great Ocean (of light) you have become a wave again.

May it be. One of my happiest memories of Alice is watching her roll up her pant legs, kick away her shoes, and, at age 67, step into the warm Pacific for the first time.

It’s been a beautiful day, starting with cards and messages, and now drifting along into late afternoon light. The sight of a neighbor’s new puppy in the parking lot a while ago and then watching a baby otter scurry along a log in front of my houseboat brought me back to the reality of how reliably new life comes along. I like new life. Also, I miss old life when it’s gone. Earlier today, I thought I would not be able to stop crying, but the crying came heaving to an end finally. It will start again and it will end again. That much I know for sure.

Tonight Meg arrives and we’ll find a way to commemorate Alice’s dying day, which is on Friday. I might snatch a few of the roses over in the alley behind The Place, after all.

In one of her notebooks, the author Katherine Mansfield wrote, “Dear Friend, From my life, I write to you in your life…” That’s how it feels for me with this blog. I’m writing to you in your life and I hope this message finds you well.


P.S. Meg and I visited the chapel wall on Sunday and found this perfect rose waiting for us. Rose_One Year Later

58 thoughts on “A Year Later

  1. Happy Birthday, Alice! And to you, Andrea, much love and light. Hang on tight on Friday.
    Thanks so much for reaching out to your readers.

  2. I was so happy to open my email and see your post. I am sorry that you are under the weather and hope that tomorrow will find you good as new. Happy 101st to Alice, who I suspect is frolicking happily with her departed friends and family somewhere we can only imagine. I know she wouldn’t want you to be so sad on this day. Do take care of yourself dear Andrea.

  3. No wonder i have been thinking of you and alice the last few days….and how nice to hear from you girls again. Many blessings and much love…

  4. Wow. A year? It’s been a year?
    Crying/not crying. Laughing/letting go/seeing that which is new…
    Sounds like you’re doing it right. If there even is such a thing.
    Get better, woman. Go steal those roses.
    Love you.

  5. Oh my gosh. I was just so thrilled to see your site pop up at the top of my blogroll, and in the same instant I remembered what day this was! I’ve missed you — and Alice — but I’m filled with gratitude for having “known” her in some way for so many years. Be well, Andrea. You are a gem.

  6. Thank you for your email. Although we don’t know one another ( I’m cousin to Bev Hendricks Skiles), I have so enjoyed your writings. Thank you.

  7. we journey forward, following in our mothers footsteps directly or crossways, or in a circle. We miss them and we mourn them and then we keep following life.

  8. Dear Andrea, It was so good to hear from you. I know this will be a hard week for you but please remember how many people cared for Alice and care for you still. Get the roses! Take care and keep letting us hear from you. We miss you!

  9. Oh Andrea … I wish you peace my friend. I know that Alice is so very proud of you and is shining down her Grace and Blessings upon you. We are all a little bit wiser because of your relationship with Alice! I will never forget.

  10. I had a dream about you last night, Andrea. We were in some room with all kinds of artists who seemed younger than we were! Someone was making a film. There was a sweet little puppy and I had to take care of him while the film was being made. And yesterday, when I looked at my email, there was a notice to remember to send a card to your mother..from one of the email card companies. I thought of all our communications..Alice!
    Thank you for writing this and for sharing it with everyone.

    1. I remembered our rose caper when Meg and I went to The Place the other day. She mentioned my niece stealing a rose with her when Alice was very close to dying, and I remembered you and me and our stealth. I think, aside from Meg and my niece, you are the only accessory to this business of church wall rose theft.

  11. A……….what a fast year! How many more do WE have? Every place I go lately, I find myself saying, “Is this the last time I’ll be in Minneapolis?” Don’t read the longevity tables. Any more news on the book? Love, Mike

  12. Andrea, I was happy to see your email, and like everyone else, I send you love and best wishes for feeling better soon. You gave us all such a gift by creating and writing this blog as you spent those last years with Alice. May your life be filled with yellow roses.

  13. Happy Birthday dear Alice, you made a huge impact through how you lived your life and through Andrea’s writings. I think that perhaps you now see all of that and are smiling.

    Thank you Andrea for your beautiful words on this day, you are in my heart always, I love you

  14. Andrea,Thanks for writing during these hard times. You and Alice created a community amongst us all, and it’s wonderful to touch base and mark Alice’s birthday together, once again.
    Peace and love.

  15. My father 3 months after Alice . I still have many days where I cannot seem to keep my nose above the ever rising waters of grief. I’m coming to terms with how much losing him has become a part of who I am, and that I will always carry this loss. Yet there are other days that are busy with life’s distractions, and sweet with soft remembrance of him. I wish you one of those kinds of easier days today.

    1. You put it very well, Dawn – that the loss becomes part of us and, like all parts of us, it’s sometimes very much felt and sometimes recedes into the background. I sent you an email, by the way. Thank you for writing.

  16. I have been wanting to write ever since I received this Andrea. What an adventure you gave Alice, and maybe she you! But I know it wouldn’t have been possible without you revving up the engine that carried you both. I so look forward to the book, to hold it in my hand – a little piece of Alice and of you, to warm us on the sometimes-humorless dark nights of winter or cool us in summer – those pesky publishers are never quite on time! Love, M

    1. Yes, I guess the adventure was mutual, although my life didn’t involve moving to a strange new land. Still, she surprised me so often and in so many different ways that it felt like I was living a new life, too. Today I was listening to recordings that she and I made when we sat together now and then by the fountain at The Place over the course of two summers, and I found more surprises. Even the smallest moments with her always brought gifts.

  17. I thought of you both on Alice’s 101 birthday. It’s so hard watching these markers come and go but as the years click by they remain important for us. Sending you a big hug from Pariis

    1. Thank you and a big hug back to you, Nancy or, as you were known by Alice, “The Lady from Paris.” Remember when she asked what she should wear right before you came to visit? She loved her time with you so much.

  18. I was so happy to find this post. I am sorry you are under the weather. Alice was a remarkable woman who raised a wonderful daughter in you. It is a delight to remember her, a woman I may never have known but for you sharing her here. Thank you and be well.

    1. Thank you for these kind words and good wishes. I’m feeling much better. I was pleased to share Alice with this crowd because you all appreciated her quirks and sensibilities so much. Thanks for stopping by.

  19. Hello, dear Andrea. I still have your blog on my iPad screen. Want to say that I hope all is well with you. Have a Merry Christmas. I will always remember Alice and you. The epitome of a devoted daughter.

    1. Hey, Rose! I am glad we’re still on your screen. Still working on the book and will announce here when it’s ready to go out. Merry Christmas back to you, and thanks so much for being in touch.

  20. Hi, Andrea! I am feeling a bit dismayed. My good friend’s mom is going into assisted living next week, I was going to have her read your blog. Thought she would find some support from it. But, alas, it seems the archives don’t work any more. So I guess you took it away? What happened about your book? Oh, for some way to read it again!
    Hope all is well with you. Fondly, Rose.

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