Elizabeth would have been 29 today.  So many people have written and texted, and this blog seems hopelessly outdated, but it is what I have to carry on the tradition of remembering her, her humor, her sensitivity, her love of reading.  Her photography.  She was studying Latin, her notes all over the walls of her room so that she could study them.  I wish to learn a bit of Latin too, or to read Cicero, or to understand the philosophy of the stoics and I wonder if it would help me to carry on, and to remember to enjoy life without Elizabeth. 

Washington Market Park, 1989

 I wanted to say how much I (and I know Bill, too) miss her, ten years on. Here are the last few lines of Millay's "Dirge Without Music" which say what I feel.

Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know.  But I do not approve.  And I am not resigned.

We're thinking of you both today.

Love, Liza

This Morning, Tonight, Always

This morning I have your blue dinosaur in my pocket at work.
Tonight, I’ll go home and listen to the album “Either/Or” By Elliott Smith.
You introduced him to me when I was 15. Every year on the second of December, 
I sit with a glass of whiskey and the hauntingly sad yet beautiful voice of Mr. Smith. 
Every year I’m still sad, but celebrate the things you taught me.
I love you, Lizzie.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

LarryMcMurtry LonesomeDove.jpg

When I finished the novel, I  knew why it was one of Elizabeth's favorites.  There is the range of characters: good, bad, ugly, beautiful, dim, bright, brave, cowardly, and every shade in between.  There is the sweep of the geography, from south Texas to northern Montana, each region with its own terrible weather.  There is the story, a saga of two men driving cattle and wondering why after a while they got sucked into such an episode.

 But mostly there are the two men themselves, Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call, ex-Texas Rangers who are more used to enforcing the law, but know how to break it expertly when it comes to stealing horses and cattle.  They are an odd couple. Gus is charming, lazy, funny, and almost educated.  Call  is grumpy, taciturn, a workaholic, and true to his word. 

After spending time with everyone in this book, I missed them when I was finished.  I have never cried so hard when people died in a book.  Not only did I get attached to all the people, but also the horses, bulls, bears, and even two pigs linger still in my mind.

This is a book mostly about courageous men who settled the west, and Indians who were chased off their land, and Buffalo driven to extinction.  The women are also important, even though it takes several hundred pages to introduce any kind of female who does not make her living selling her body.  The chief three whores advance the plot in major ways, and have excellent things to say about freedom and love.  When one civilized woman appears, it turns out it is Gus McCrae's one true love, and she is a titan of feminist independence.

I am very glad to have finally read something that mattered to Elizabeth, and salute her English teacher, Celeste Tramontin, who I suspect recommended the book to her.

The miniseries with Robert Duvall (as Gus McCrae) and Tommy Lee Jones (as Woodrow Call) is pretty perfect as well, but stripped of all the fine detail of the novel.     

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth G.

With the birth of Elizabeth came many unexpected pleasures. All humans have the capacity to love unerringly their offspring, and a tiny explosion occurs at birth, filling up the mother with love and joy and sorrow and presence for the new baby. So it was on June 23, 1988. A hot day. Mayor Koch still in office. St. Vincent's Hospital still in business. Ronald Reagan finishing up his second term. Many others being born that day. But only one Elizabeth G. Aakre. She was two weeks early, and weighed a little over six pounds. My mother came to see her, held her in her arms, seemed very pleased to be carrying a newborn around the room.

When I got home, my sister Cindy came to visit. Soon we were off to northern Minnesota to spend the hot summer on Lake Pokegama with Richard's family.
Richard's father held her in his arms, and sang the Hi Diddly Didey Didey Do song.

It was an altogether blessed event.

September 7, 2014

Out my window the moon is rising, the air is from the northwest, the wind bringing with it a breath of coolness
after three or four days of scorching and humid damp. The moon when it rises in the east always makes me think of the nights when I would put Elizabeth to bed and look out her bedroom window facing east and see it and tell her to look too.
I put the pictures back up today, the ones that had been in the closet for the summer, the pictures of her when she was ten, then fourteen, then when she and I were laughing in France and she was sixteen. We both knew something about life and about each other and were happy about the whole thing, or if not happy at least resigned to it with all of its imperfections. There were many moments like that, and I want to think that those moments outnumbered the times we were unhappy with each other, or were resenting each other, and just waiting for later when we would have gotten past all of that adolescent longing and rejecting not knowing that later would not come.
The wind blew hard today as I was coming home from the grocery store. Richard had said earlier, only Elizabeth knew how to teach him how to use the computer. She was slow, and patient, and understood how much time he needed. She was also spirited and she loved the wind. Tonight I felt the wind go right through me, and I thought it might be her reminding me to pay attention.

September 21,2013

Approaching the seventh anniversary of Elizabeth's death, it is hard to understand that she never heard Adele sing, or saw Julia Louis Dreyfus in the Veep, or watched a single episode of Girls.  Popular culture is something we shared, and I relied on Elizabeth, as much as a mother could rely on her teen daughter without being able to follow everything of her taste, to understand what was going on.  Now I listen to students at school discuss things, to navigate what is current.  I always find myself asking, what would Elizabeth think?  Most recently I wonder about Lake Bell, (what a name!) and how E would have liked In a World.  There is something about Bell's writing talent and offhand beauty that reminds me of her.

Back to School

The routines are familiar, but it is still rough terrain, this land without Elizabeth.
She would have done something for her father's birthday, she would have been working somewhere, or in graduate school. In her eighteen years, she was always a student, with her notebooks neatly labelled, and her array of pens. On her laptop were stickers.

 Since I work as a teaching librarian, I keep walking, keep going to school. Most days it is all right, just a slight hitch in my step. Children keep getting born, learning to walk, going to school, looking forward to those early days of making new friends, cementing the old ones.
Elizabeth Kester and Elizabeth Aakre

The way she held a bat

ready for gravity
or for hurtling orbs
when she swung
the ball went straight at me
I had to dodge it
or it might hit me
straight in the heart.

Every day I say her name

At the Salvation Army in Honesdale, at Lisa's Not Just Antiques, channeling Elizabeth's looking for something that would suit her style, I say her name over and over again, remembering the times we were there together, remembering how lost we would get looking at objects for the meaning they could bring to you, there, that antique pin in the shape of an airplane, or there, a rhinestone necklace that has three loops in concentric circles.  Those were keepers.  I still have them.

Sometimes she would try on dresses, and come out of the dressing room looking fabulous.  She could turn heads with her beauty.  It wasn't just physical.  She had something else, a spirit that was warm, and witty, and you wanted to know her better.

Elizabeth. Elizabeth. Elizabeth.

December 26, 2012

Every place I encounter for the first time since Lizzy died—places we were together when she was alive—has a feeling of fresh mourning or grief to it. Today it was the Captiva library.

I try so hard to live in the moment, but how can I forget the joy of finding this place away from home that gave her a feeling of familiarity and friendship? The library world is our world, something she was raised to from the beginning of life.

Captiva Library is just off the beach, behind the cemetery, adjacent to the church, three blocks from Jensens where we stayed. The library shares a building with the community Center, not unlike the Arts Alliance in Narrowsburg, frequently given over to arts exhibits and cultural events.

Today I was happy after settling in with the ghosts of former lives—missing her keen intelligence, friendly way with strangers, and instinct for the best things to be had in a library—to find a table and chair for sitting and scribbling in my note book.

Captiva Cemetery markers

Tree in cemetery adjacent to library

Elizabeth's writing

Instead of writing about Elizabeth, here are some pages written by Elizabeth. She had legible handwriting, and wrote in those Mead ruled writing tablets. I think this must date from when she was 17 or 18.

A Memory

Elizabeth and I were in the theater, watching Little Women, the version with Susan Sarandon and Winona Ryder.

Since the movie came out in 1994, that means that Elizabeth was six, barely old enough to sit through a feature length movie.   Perhaps we had read Little Women together by then, or I had forgotten how sad it was that Beth dies young.  The costumes and the sets and the family feeling, and Kirsten Dunst as a silly vain sister were all winning us over.  Claire Danes played a saintly Beth, pure of heart.  Kindly Mr. Lawrence surprises her with the gift of his piano, and Beth comes down from her sickbed to receive it on Christmas day.  She plays and everyone gathered around the piano sings "Deck the Halls."   It is a very moving scene in the movie.  Mr. Lawrence reveals that the piano belonged to his little girl who died.  We know those of us who have read the novel, that Beth is not long for this world.  Tears stream down my face just thinking of it.

As I sat in the dark theater, moved to tears, I heard the sound of Elizabeth's voice joining those on screen as she sang Deck the Halls.  She showed no self consciousness as she sang out the words so recently learned.  She had become part of the movie by singing along, and I felt proud of her. 

After a Death by Tomas Transtromer

After a Death
by Tomas Transtr├Âmer
translated by Robert Bly

Once there was a shock
that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy.
It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires.

One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun
through brush where a few leaves hang on.
They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories.
Names swallowed by the cold.

It is still beautiful to hear the heart beat
but often the shadow seems more real than the body.
The samurai looks insignificant
beside his armor of black dragon scales.

Ruth Orkin

In honor of the summer days when reading was all Elizabeth did, here is a photo by Ruth Orkin.
i carry your heart with me (e.e. cummings)

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

I just received this poem from Claire who is always remembering me and how hard it is sometimes to face each day.
Thank you, Claire. You are very kind.

Mother's Day

When Elizabeth was born, my heart burst open to take her in.  Amazing how this happens to new mothers.  Where there was no one before, suddenly, there was a baby deserving of all of your love and care and future planning.  As she grew she was independent from the beginning, wanting to do things on her own, yet coming back home to the safe embrace of her parents. 

I still have cards that say: Good for three free hugs.

It is an honor to be her mother.
I miss you.

I sit and I wonder when the next time I can see you will be. It won't be during the summer with lazy days on the Delaware or at Leonard's house for a barbeque we both used to feel too cool to be at. It won't be in the winter upstate in Syracuse sledding down treacherous terrain, shopping for bargain lotion at Target, playing video games until our thumbs hurt. Although it won't happen anytime soon, I see you everyday. Mostly through little things, the sparkle on a river, a kind old man, a book, my camera, a warm and gentle breeze. Sometimes the signs are goose bump causing incredible. The world keeps moving and so do you. You were too fascinated with it to stop. Instead of moving on, I am moving with... With your spirit and inspiration and love. I love you always and you will be forever with me.

Sorry for the improper sentence structures. Thoughts from my head to paper.


Even when she was inside of me, she kicked and squirmed and made her presence felt as a person who needed to be moving.

When she was six months old, we got her a walker, one of those bumper cars for infants which allowed her restless feet to move her about the floor.  Back then the walkers didn't have any toys attached, and the wheels were big.  Because it made so much noise, R. put down a layer of foamcore on the floor hoping to reduce the racket to the downstairs neighbors.  She would rattle around and visit us in the kitchen, the bedroom, pushing off with her strong feet and legs.

Next came the Johnny Jump up which we hung from the sprinkler pipes.  This let her have the joy of flight,  bouncing straight up toward the ceiling. 

The minute she could walk she could run. The minute she could run, she wanted to learn how to roller skate, how to roller blade, how to jump rope.  The skip it toy let her skip before she learned how to hold the handles of the rope to loop over her head.

She was an expert at tag.  Her friends loved to run with her in the park.  She loved to swing on the swings in the park.

Later, she would walk everywhere in the city in her beat up sneakers.  Her feet took her places I could not follow.

Complete set of Shakespeare

The Narrowsburg Library has purchased a complete set of Shakespeare with funds in Elizabeth's name. They will display it in the library as the "Elizabeth Aakre Shakespeare Collection."

Dear Elizabeth

It is finally winter today, with the temperature 23 degrees at 8 AM.  The cats are sleeping. Richard is sleeping.  It is Sunday morning, very quiet. 
You should know that the neighborhood has changed a bit.

The empty spaces, including the parking lot around the corner, the old restaurant called Dennises, have been filled in with luxury apartments.  The place above Teddy's is now an 8 floor luxury apartment building.  ON Tuesday nights we can see the poker game that takes place directly across from your bedroom.  We can also see a large picture of a woman's face that is hung in their living room.  I don't know if it is of someone personal to that household, or just a modern picture of a woman looking a bit dazed, a bit too gigantic for comfort in a space closed in, but we get to see her perfectly from 30 yards away.

Every year without you we continue, bereft, humbled, to live.

Wore your boots

Wore your boots today,and your parka. It was our first snow of the winter this year. Sidewalks are slippery, there is slush in the curb cuts.  Your parka has a hood which prevents the wind from slicing into my face flesh.  Your boots are lined, so even though they are rubber they are warm.  Temperature today was in the 20s.  Your dad and I went to see a movie, a documentary about a high class erotic dancing show in Paris called Crazy Horse. 

I thought all of these women who dance in the show are just the age you would be now, or a bit younger. Perfect specimens.  But the women are more like prize animals in a country fair, whose perfect buttocks make them uniformly boring.  How can you distinguish one from the other?

You were unique. You were our one and only.  Thank God for that.



After Five Years

I think more of the  luminous ways that Elizabeth was alive.  How alive she was when she was trying on clothes, and looking for something new to wear.  How alive she was when talking on the phone, and laughing with friends.  How alive she was when reading, or writing, or doing her homework.  All of these things pointed to a normal long life.  How ordinary in some ways she was, growing up with two parents, lots of relatives, lots of friends, a passion for photography and the world of images. She was a discerning reader, and was developing an inordinate fondness for Faulkner.

But she was an ordinary kid, wanting to eat the cookie dough off the spoon when the baking was done.  She loved ice cream, and her dad allowed her a lot of it insisting it would provide her her calcium requirements.   

She loved people.  She went out of her way as a young girl to be friendly.    In early childhood, when she was a student in preschool, she learned how to answer the phone at reception.  (Was this the beginning of her lifelong love of the telephone?)

Dear Elizabeth

Just a note to say that we are having unseasonably warm weather, the cats are restless, I am off work as it is Columbus Day, and thinking, that is what I do when I have time to do it, thinking of what a fine human being you were. You wanted to give money to that homeless man and his dog when you were nine and we passed them on the way to school every day.  You were making things for your friends as soon as you learned how to make things, like pillows.  Your to do lists were full of items that you wanted to give to your friends, or to your boyfriend.

But besides your generosity, and open heart, you were funny, and you loved to laugh, and we had some good times watching movies together.  I wonder what you would have thought of Ryan Gosling's banner year.  I wonder if you would have defended Clooney's dud movie.  It is a little game I play when I think of you.  What you would have made of this and that that has happened since you died.

The tears have not dried.

My bookshelf, pictures of cousins, LP, Alexis, you and I at Thanksgiving dinner at the "kids" table and the two of us in Manlius. I miss you every day.

Duskywing moth on Jerusalem Artichoke

Found the flowers along the railroad tracks on the path up to the mile marker that Elizabeth would swim from.  Found the moth on the flower after cutting a bouquet for our back yard.  It was on the day we buried Scooter's ashes next to Whiskers' grave near the bushes where the catbirds always whined-- just north of the pond on Ackerman Rd.

Many happy swims in the tube on the pond.

Elizabeth Aakre Fund at Narrowsburg Public Library

More donations have been made to the Elizabeth Aakre book fund at the Narrowsburg Public Library.  Thank you to those who have given.  If you are interested in doing so, here is where to send the money:

Tusten-Cochecton Library
198 Bridge St.
Narrowsburg NY 12764

In the meantime, the librarian would like to know what books the library should buy with the money. Do you have any suggestion?  Please write and comment if you do.

And thanks again for the support.

Elizabeth's birthday

One year she wanted to have a party at the pier, before she was seven I would guess, or maybe when she was eight, with several friends and dozens of water balloons.  We filled them in the sink in the kitchen, bombs loaded with water, bombs with their brightly colored skins whose lips were thicker and might snap while wrapped around the tap.

This was in the days when the pier was sort of shabby and had a miniature golf course and a hot dog stand, and just a little play area perfect for exploding water balloons.

The girls and boys came wearing bathing suits.  How relieved we were at the bright sun that June day.  Elizabeth was delighted to throw a balloon at me, but surprised when it didn't burst.  You really had to heave the things, and when all the children were assembled, heave them they did. 

If you haven't seen it, please read the comment under the post for Scooter above.  It is very lovely, and I am grateful to whomever posted it.  It is her first birthday comment today.  What a great day it was the day she was born!

Water Bombs filled with water, from German Wikipedia

Scooter (1998-2011)

Scooter died today.  He was 13 years old, and spent his first eight years as Elizabeth's pet.  Born in Sullivan County and rescued shortly afterward, he was the runt of the litter who managed to march to his own drummer.  The day we drove up to the animal rescue, there were a baby deer, many puppies and other kittens contending for adoption. (Well not the fawn, but she was distracting with loveliness.)  We had been told there was a kitten there whose name should be trouble.  He strayed from the group.  He was a biter.  He got lost, and tumbled down hills.

Scooter with Elizabeth in 1998
Still, we took him home where he soon adjusted to life with the loving Elizabeth.  She let him sleep in her bed.  He was a great companion to all.  His favorite position was flat out on your chest when you were in a reclining position.  He liked to be scratched behind his ears.  Like many other cats of my acquaintance, he did not really approve of reading, and did his best to prevent you from doing it by tearing the newspaper to shreds for instance, or sitting on your book while you had it in your lap and thought you had made it clear it would be better to stop back later after this chapter.

As a hunter, he would bring us shrews and mice he had caught.  He had no use for bats, even though they tempted him and made him take ungainly leaps upward which proved only how difficult it was to capture a bat without a butterfly net.

When Elizabeth died, he seemed to look for her and would sometimes howl with grief. Her last note hanging on our door was "Be nice to Scooter! Play with him!"   We did our best to follow her advice.  His greatest pleasures were lying in bed alongside Richard, and eating fresh chicken Richard had fried. We will miss him most dreadfully.
This picture was taken in 2004 or so when we were in rural Pennsylvania.  Elizabeth complained when I cut my hair.  She said now that you are 50, you don't have to do that thing that 50 year old women do.  You don't have to cut your hair. 

During the summer we had time to spend with each other without looking at the clock.  We would drive and get ice cream and go to the movies in Callicoon, and take long swims.  By now I would be thinking of what to get her for her birthday. 

Listening to Lizzy's laugh

In the process of spring cleaning, I came upon some audiotapes recorded when Elizabeth was four years old.  There is a lot of laughter and fooling around, and some singing.  Besides her dad, I can't think of anyone who liked to laugh more.  She could be very serious, and loved serious books, and did not shy from sad movies, but she had a light hearted side that was lovely to hear on these old tapes.  At one point she was singing Ring around the rosy with her friends Khalila and Jazmyn. 

Photography and Elizabeth

Starting a project in my studio lighting class about you. Projects in digital seems funny, when the subject is you. I hope you aren't too angry that they're digital. We aren't taught how to use film with soft boxes. I love you.

Cousin Nicholas

Ah Elizabeth another year without you

Without your lovely grin, your ability to download photos at the speed of light, without your found images on the walls of the your room, without you carefully groomed fingernails and your ability to be friends with males.  You were  passionate about Harry Potter and the Golden Compass.  When you dove into a book you wouldn't come up for air until you had to eat or starve.  You let the book consume you as you consumed it. 

I loved reading on the porch with you toe to toe, you and me, lazing in the summertime, lost in our own thoughts, nobody breathing down our backs with some deadline.

You and I would sometimes walk along the railroad track to the one mile marker, then skid down the sooty bank to the river below where its clear shallow waters took us down stream and we could float on our backs and watch the birds.  Sometimes there would be an eagle, or the merganser ducks who swam in packs herding their little ones into the shallows where they could dive for minnows.

You were a great swimmer.  You were good company, funny and bright and stylish. 

Sometimes after the cat has eaten his fill he walks around howling.  I call this his postprandial howl.
I think that he is calling for you.  Can you hear him?  It is a soulful howl, and it says what I feel, left here to navigate without you.

Scooter, August 2010
Thinking of you especially today. Elliott Smith on my I-pod. I miss your hair and smile. I love you forever, Lizzy.
Cousin Nicholas

George Clooney

Lizzy would have liked Clooney in his new movie, The American. It is easy to watch his face, with his minor resemblance to Cary Grant both in masculine handsomeness and appeal to both men and women, for two hours.  He doesn't say much.  He doesn't overact.  He holds our attention because we sense he is thinking when he is silent of something meaningful and important.

Elizabeth loved his ability to play a rogue hero, beginning with his part in the television series, ER.  The doctor who had an uncanny ability to save children in peril had a special place in her heart.  When she was eleven, she spent a night in the Children's ICU at St. Vincent's Hospital with a bit of plastic from her mechanical pencil lodged in her lung.  The doctors and nurses there took great care of her, and she developed a deep respect for medicine and thought about becoming a doctor.

She loved Clooney's ability to perform in comic parts like Oh Brother Where Art Thou.  She liked the way he wore his tuxedo while commandeering the other handsome actors in the Ocean series.

Clooney and Brad Pitt
In The American, he plays a mysterious spy employed to make customized weapons.  He is extremely good at evading the enemy,  and has an eye for a pretty girl.  Pretty girls have eyes for him also. 

As Clooney ages, and goes beyond just being a leading man, he has developed a less kinetic, more still presence on screen.  His hair is now gray.  He is almost fifty, and his good looks are taking on some seasoning.    He reminds me of Paul Newman in The Sting, when everyone stood up and took notice at how his acting became more natural as he aged, and his prettiness hardened into something more like beauty.  When a handsome man is young, he is often taken for granted as just a pretty face.   

Consoling as it is that Elizabeth died at the peak of her beauty, watching someone like Clooney, who she loved, get better and better as he gets older, makes me wish that Elizabeth could have had that chance too. 

George Clooney


Elizabeth would have done something for her dad on his birthday.  The day went by with her in the back of our minds.  The last time she could she made a lovely card with pictures and sent it to R through me so that I could print it out and give it to him.  There were colorful small drawings and her tiny delicate script and a mind at work that let him know she loved him. 

Shadowchild by P.F. Thomese

What a beautiful book this is.  I have only read a few pages but already I want to read more by P.F. Thomese, a Dutch writer whose little girl died when she was a few weeks old.  The book was published in 2005, in a translation from the original published in 2003.  Here is an excerpt:

Does love disappear when the person disappears? Where does the love go when the body is burned to ashes? It flees into similes.  The body has been taken from the earth, but not all the things that remind you of it.

 "Thine eyes are like the ponds in Heshbon, by the gate of Bathrabbim: thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus. Thine head upon thee is like Carmel..."  Like, indeed, like, like. Love looks for an embodiment it can no longer find.


It is a quiet Sunday night in Narrowsburg, NY.  This morning Richard and I saw a scarlet tanager flying from branch to branch eating insects I guess.  All of the birds here seem to dine on insects for their main diet.  We have flycatchers, cedar waxwings, phoebes, kingbirds, catbirds.  There is also a ferocious mother hen wild turkey who doesn't fly or eat insects as far as I can tell; I have yet to see her chicks.

Elizabeth loved the peacefulness of this part of the state, and we miss her when we come here, but we remember how we used to sit together on the big front porch and read or paint, or watch the hummingbirds bomb each other on their way to the feeder.

What I learned from Elizabeth

July 10, 2010

Elizabeth grew more sure of herself as she grew older.  Her beauty was more assured, she knew how to write better, she took more daring photographs, she matured and blossomed and showed great promise as an artist, as a reader, as a student.  Lenesa said she wondered what she would have brought the world.  Something with giving in its nature.

Now I think of all that she gave me as my daughter.  She was loving, and funny, and creative, and thorny and independent from a very early age.  As the years go by, I have grown in my love for her, and I hope that I too am growing more wise and independent and blossoming in some way.  Part of that has to do with being her mother.  Learning from motherhood, learning from her. 

I missed you yesterday. This is the dinosaur that gets me through. I love you forever.


Thoughts on Elizabeth's birthday

When I think of Elizabeth, I think of her head on her cat's head, kissing his nose, her voice coming from the other room, laughing on the phone, her walking miles through the city, in her fringed suede boots, in her sneakers with the holes in them. 

She was raised reading Harry Potter, listening to Harry Potter on tape, going to Harry Potter movies.  She was part of the Harry Potter nation, the Harry Potter generation who are now graduating from college.  She thought of her cafeteria at school as part of Hogwarts, and it did share a certain grandeur, with its open atrium high ceilinged space, with Hogwarts.

Elizabeth wrote notes in a tiny precise hand writing.  She put her long straight hair up in a bun.

Today I went swimming in the Delaware, and did the back stroke so that I could look at the swallows darting for bugs.  I thought of her.

Meditation on a piece of string

A funny thing happened when I went to use the leather strip I had bought years ago to repair my raccoon fur hat. That hat was six inches  high,  lined with red felt, and had ear flaps with a leather thong that tied under your chin. It was really warm. But its last use by Elizabeth was in the Christmas pageant when she was asked to dress as one of the animals in the manger. She didn’t want to be a sheep or a cow. She wanted to wear the hat.

The fur itself piled high on her eight year old head said to the crowd I am a beast, not human, not vegetable or mineral, but animal, present at his birth.

She walked with the other children, four feet high most of them, down the aisles of church to the altar where the manger was set up.

Years after I wore the hat on sub zero days until the thongs broke. I bought some leather string to fix it but could not successfully anchor the piece in the mounded fur. Now the hat and Elizabeth are gone, and I only have the string.

Sorry for the absence, faithful readers

Elizabeth  would have loved Iron Man 2
Robert Downey Jr she referred to as "genius."
We loved to watch movies together.

She would have graduated this month from college

Every Sunday I get a report on who visits the blog.  I see there are people with Smith College addresses  looking ... we are all probably wondering why Elizabeth didn't get to graduate with you all.
All around NYU parties were taking place last week, and young women walking around with graduation gowns.  I try to feel happy for them without feeling sorry that Elizabeth isn't among them. It is just plain impossible.

I saw my next door neighbor, six months older than Lizzy, and she is a grown woman.  She is ready to start out in the world now, like so many of her friends.  Good luck, you all!

A mother of a Smith graduate sent me this picture from the program.

How Dina Aunty relished her memories. Mummy and Daddy were the same, talking about their yesterdays and smiling in that sad-happy way while selecting each picture, each frame from the past, examining it lovingly before it vanished again in the mist. But nobody ever forgot anything, not really, though sometimes they pretended, when it suited them. Memories were permanent. Sorrowful ones remained sad even with the passing of time, yet happy ones could never be re-created—not with the same joy. Remembering bred its own peculiar sorrow. It seemed so unfair: that time should render both sadness and happiness into a source of pain.

> From A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry