Posted - 02/09/2010 09:39pm
3 Comments | Add Comment


February 2010

Sonoma, California


It is 4 months to the day that Vera Ushakova died on the eve of my birthday, at 4:45 pm on 09 October, 2009.  There are no words, there are no words, there are no words, no words, no words, no words, no words, no words, no words....


I return to my breath to remind me of life.


At this moment I want to be at a cafĂ© in Paris, smoking a Dunhill Red cigarette, drinking French champagne and toasting Mama.  In my mind's eye I see her reaching for a glass of French champagne, too.  She was asked what she wanted to drink in the week before she died and she replied  "French champagne." 


She knew how to live, how to love and how to die.  She did it all and said it all, lived it all and then left it all behind.  She was a sultan of soul.



From a poet whose wisdom I cherish as if it were my own. 

His words on loss, love, grace...



....You know the sore edges in your heart

where loss has taken from you.  You stand now

on the stepping stone of the present moment.

In a minute it will be gone, never to return.

With each breath you are losing time....



....Absence is the longing for something that is gone. 

Loss is the hole that it leaves.  The sense of loss confers

a great poignancy on your longing....In a certain sense,

there can be no true belonging without the embrace

of loss. 



Belonging can never be a fixed thing. 

It is always quietly changing.  At its core, belonging is

growth.  When belonging is alive, it always brings

new transitions.  The old shelter collapses; we lose

what it held; now we have to cross over into the

beginnings of a new shelter of belonging that only

gathers itself slowly around us. 

To be honest

and generous in belonging to the awkward and

unpredictable transition is very difficult....



The beauty of loss is the room it makes for

something new....

The constant flow of loss allows

us to experience and enjoy new things. 

It makes vital clearance in the soul.

Loss is the sister of discovery; it is vital to openness;

though it certainly brings pain. 

There are some areas of loss in your life which

you may never get over.

There are some things you lose and, after the pain


you begin to see that they were never yours in the

first place.

As the proverb says:  What you never had you never


Holding on desperately cannot in any way

guarantee belonging....



True belonging has a trust and ease; it is not driven

by desperation to lose yourself in it

or the fear that you will lose it.

The loneliest wave of loss is the one that carries a

loved one away towards death....



....When you lose someone, you lose a part of

yourself that you loved, because when you love,

it is the part that you love most that always

loves the other....



Grief is the experience of finding yourself standing

alone in the vacant space with all this torn

emotional tissue protruding.  In the rhythm of

grieving, you learn to gather your given heart

back to yourself again.  This sore gathering

takes time.  You need great patience with your

slow heart.

It takes the heart a long time to unlearn and

transfer its old affections....



The bright moment in grief is when the sore of

absence gradually changes into a well of


You become aware of the subtle companionship of

the departed one.

You know that when you are in trouble, you can turn

to this presence beside you and draw on it for

encouragement and blessing.

The departed one is now no longer restricted to any one

place and can be with you anyplace

you are.

It is good to know the blessings of this presence....



....Your grief shows that you have risked

opening up your life and giving your heart to


Your heart is broken with grief, because

you have loved.  When you love, you always risk

pain.  The more deeply you love, the greater the

risk that you will be hurt.

Yet to live your life without loving is not to have lived

at all.

As deeply as you open to life, so deeply will life

open up to you. 



So there is lovely symmetry and proportion

between grief and love.

Conamara is a dark landscape full of lakes and

framed with majestic mountains.

If you ask any person here how deep a lake is,

they say that they often heard the

ancestors say that the lake is always as deep as

the mountain near it is high.

The invisible breakage of grief has the same




....Let us not look for you only in memory,

where we would grow lonely without you.

You would want us to find you in presence,

beside us when beauty brightens,

when kindness glows

and music echoes eternal tones.



When orchids brighten the earth,

darkest winter has turned to spring;

may this dark grief flower with hope

in every heart that loves you.



May you continue to inspire us;

to enter each day with a generous heart.

To serve the call of courage and love

until we see your beautiful face again

in that land where there is no more separation,

where all tears will be wiped from our mind,

and where we will never lose you again.



John O'Donahue

Irish Poet and Teacher







Add a Comment
Comment posted by Chad on 02/18/2010


Hey Anya, I am very much looking forward to seeing you Sunday and exploring with the group. Chad

(note: reference to "Remind Me Of What I Loved" Retreat Writing Workshop on 02/21/10)

Comment posted by Joanna on 02/18/2010


Dear Anya,  I'm so glad that I made the time to visit. As always, your writing is an inspiration. I'm really looking forward to the workshop.  Love, Joanna

(note: reference to "Remind Me Of What I Loved" Retreat Writing Workshop on 02/21/10)

Comment posted by Donna Colfer on 02/19/2010

Dear Anya,

I wish I could have met your mother. Though knowing you and your writings, I feel I have. She is so alive in you and it is a pleasure to experience her in this way.  Blessings, Donna