On discovering Stew’s old poems

An extreme storm is predicted for tonite and tomorrow. High winds, rain and blackouts. Or so the weather people say.  I’m not surprised, the Weather people always were extremists. Just in case, I dug into my back closet to retrieve the  hurricane lamp Stew and I bought for just such an emergency during Catskill Mountain winters. Along with its glass base and chimney, a white cotton wick and lamp oil, I found five of Stew’s old poems, three written to me and two to Jessica, with wildflowers dried golden brown pressed and preserved inside their wooden frames.

My grief for David is still raw.  To comfort me, more than one person has said it’s a gift to have had two such incredible husbands. I rejected this at first: how could it be gift to go through the pain of not one but two such deaths? I’ve changed my mind, but can’t articulate exactly why as yet.  Some day I want to write about both David and Stew,  focussing not so much on them as men but on the process of their dying.  I’ll keep you posted.

In his later years, Stew would always write a poem for me on my birthday.  Stew must have written this one in June of 2004, when he was going through treatment for Hepatitis C, a year and a half  before he died. It applies equally to David.

The Judy Flag

Crawling upstairs out of breath

like drowning in sad streams

but with high purpose in my stumbling

knowing that

in a room at the top

we are celebrating Judy’s 61st birthday.

I need to give a speech

of appreciation, hope and celebration

proclaiming limitless love.

We are half way through hell

holding up to its flame.


Judy keeps going

with fullest inspiration

Her flag of kavanah

proclaiming the struggle continues forever

and so, boldly,

does she.


Judy’s flag

is why I bother to get out of bed

doing battle in countless wars,

her proud banner

of one more noble year

her great gift

to the stumblers up the stairs.

Let her quiet tears be dried in joy and love.


Right now my Judy flag flies at half-staff, but I hope  to raise it up the flagpole some time in the future; I can’t say when.






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