Saturday, December 20, 2008

A message from Penny Harter

Penny Harter has asked me to post the following:

Thank you all so much for your loving support during these months following my loss. From your phone calls, e-mails, and condolence cards, to haiku honoring Bill on various web sites, and the special tributes and poems in the journals--you have been so generous, and your caring has meant much to me. I know he would feel both honored and moved (and perhaps he does). I'm doing reasonably well, considering that it's the holiday season. This past Wednesday would have been Bill's 70th birthday, and he had hoped to really celebrate that day. I ate a simple meal at home, raising a glass of white wine in his honor.

I'll be spending Christmas with my family, then madly packing boxes as I prepare to move during the third week in January to a small condo in Mays Landing, NJ, (a little ways inland from Atlantic City), where I'll be only about fifteen minutes from my daughter and her husband--love those grandkids (Courtney aged 8 and Conor, 5)! Bill's daughter Beth, her husband, and their two boys (ages 15 and 20) live in north-central Pennsylvania but have other family near Philadelphia, so I'll hope to see them fairly often as well. There is an active poetry community down in South Jersey, many of whom I already know, and I'll be near two colleges that are quite active culturally. I'll also be very near the Atlantic County Main Library. I can't yet tell you my new phone number or exact address; however, postal mail will be forwarded from my Summit P. O. box for a while. When I have my specific new contact information, I'll send it to Curtis for posting. Meanwhile, my e-mail will probably stay the same for some time:

In closing, I'm pasting below an account of the first dream I had of Bill since his death. I wrote the introduction to the dream prior to sharing it at a reading I was invited to give at Overlook Hospital--
for the palliative care community, the doctors and nurses who worked with us during Bill's weeks there, and the public. I was grateful for the opportunity to give back to them. I read from my new book of longer poems, The Night Marsh, a few poems I'd written since Bill's death, and a haibun Bill wrote eight days before he died (which will be in Frogpond). I closed that reading by sharing the dream--a pre-dawn gift to me that same morning--and my waking interpretation of it. May it bless you as it did me. I'm not sending Christmas cards this year, but this can kind of be one, perhaps from both Bill and me. I wish you all a very happy holiday season and a fine new year!



Whatever our faith tradition, most of us believe in God, or some kind of caring deity, and in some kind of survival of the spirit. I believe there is something beyond! And there is Love. Toward dawn this morning, I was blessed with the following dream, the first I’ve had of Bill since his death. To close this reading, I want to share it with you:


12/11/08: First Dream of Bill after his death

It is the Christmas season. I am sitting in the dark in the middle of a large church—it looks like Crescent Avenue Church where I used to sing in the choir—and it seems to be a Christmas concert. A choir is on risers on the steps to the chancel, and they and we, the congregation, are singing “Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming.” Though I am in the midst of the congregation, I am not really aware of them visually. Yet we are all singing together. I look up at the choir and there, standing in the top row, is Bill, looking hale and hearty. Our eyes lock, and he smiles at me as I sing directly to him, and he to me, these particular words of the carol:

It came, a floweret bright,
amid the cold of winter,
when half spent was the night.

And I feel love flowing between us.


Given that those words, in particular, were what personally passed between us, I woke up feeling that the message of the dream was that I should be like that rose, blooming amid the cold of this winter of loss, the middle of this night. And since the “night” was already half spent—that I was already beginning to bloom, and should continue to do so. I also felt that the message was that I should celebrate the Christmas season, rather than mourn.

And, perhaps, since the dream came on the eve of this night of my giving back to the Overlook Hospital community, the message affirmed that my reading this evening should especially be an opportunity for me to be that “floweret bright.” Although in the original lyrics the floweret refers to Jesus, in this dream I knew that those words were for and about me as well. So I will continue to celebrate life, to find joy in loving and giving of myself.

And may we all be reminded that both in sorrow and in joy, we should strive to celebrate the blessing of being here on this old planet, and the opportunity to share both the blessings and challenges of our lives with one another.

Penny Harter


John McDonald said...

beautiful and true - God Bless

Annette said...

thank you for sharing this penny, it is just beautiful.
peace be with you this holiday season

Peggy Heinrich said...

Thank you, Penny, for your message and your inspiration of strength and courage in the face of loss. And for sharing the gift of your wonderful dream.

Peggy Heinrich