Monday, May 7, 2007


I’ve been struggling with how much of my personal life to reveal here, on this blog (as I do in every interaction I have, actually).

Even in the rare instances when I’m able to premeditate the sharing (instead of just spewing forth), I still find myself erring on the side of over-revealing because I feel so strongly about being authentic and true to who I am, even/especially in my “work-self”. And who I am, across all my selves, is a slightly over-revealing person who hasn’t had much success to date with attempts at strict compartmentalization.

What I can’t compartmentalize this week is the sudden passing away of my husband’s beloved aunt Caroline McHardy Elliot. As I write this, I am on a plane flying back from being at her beautiful Quaker memorial service yesterday in Greensboro, North Carolina.

It doesn’t seem appropriate to try to tell you about who she was, for those of you who didn’t have the great privilge of knowing her (although I’m not sure how many of you out there fall into this category since I suspect that a huge part of the readership of this blog at this point comes from my in-laws in North Carolina). But I wanted to write about my heartache and grief – for myself, and for her loving and lovely family.

Aside from figuring out child care issues (my wonderful, job-sharing nannies offered before I even had to ask), it didn’t occur to me not to fly out to North Carolina to be with my husband, who had lost his aunt, and my mother-in-law, who had lost her little sister and best friend. And to be there for myself, to connect to the broader sadness that was felt so deeply by those who knew, and therefore adored, Caroline.

There are many times in my life when I’ve made the wrong decision about putting work priorities ahead of personal needs. I’m really glad, for myself, anyway, that I made the right decision this time.

In a sympathy note to another family member, Caroline once wrote that she hoped that the mourner would still find a way to “find enrichment, even through all the pain.”

I hope that we’ll all help each other to find our way to the enrichment that must lie at the other side of the rage and bewilderment. In the days ahead, I also hope to find my own small ways to honor Caroline, in my thoughts, actions, and especially in the way I love.