Photos by Rachel.

On the veranda in vintage orange belted coat – gifted, vintage brown hat that’s received a lot of play lately – Manhattan vintage show, vintage brown suede gloves and brown turtleneck tunic – estate sales, vintage tall suede wedge Pucci boots – consignment store, brown leggings – retail.

This vintage brooch was gifted by a friend who discovered it at an estate sale.  It has a special place amidst my collection.  On November 21st I’m linking up with ‘Une femme d’un certain age’ in response to Pse’s call out to share our favorite beauties HERE, as we celebrate the day before Thanksgiving with a brooch party!

Boot close-up.

Under the coat and layered over the turtleneck tunic I wore the Zone Bleue knitwear and cotton cardigan dress that I purchased at the Manhattan Vintage Show, which was discovered two seconds after the brown hat above was placed on The SC’s head, as though they were destined to be together.

The thick tassel on the hat creates the movement that I love in accessories.

Back view of the structured hat and details of the cardigan dress.

Cuff created by Debra Rapoport.

The approaching holidays hold the reality of my second year of loss.  My grief is no longer raw and gut wrenching.  Grief bursts no longer linger around every corner, triggered by numerous visuals in my surroundings, in my home, driving around the city, going to certain restaurants, gazing at our daughter’s countenance. It is an intermittent sadness that is felt in the area of my heart.  I can remove Nelson’s hats from their boxes and not sob at the sight of his possessions.  I feel a different sensation now.  An appreciation of what we had and an increasing acceptance of my loss.  But sadness does not just disappear after one and one half years following profound loss. It springs forth at the most unusual of times.

I’m in a new phase now, and feel as though I’m hovering over my life, searching for my place. Where do I fit?  What does it mean to fit?  At times unsure of where I’m going, but moving forward despite hesitation.  Going out to dinner or to an event by myself is empowering and energizing. I can have fun and get caught up in new experiences.  I no longer flinch as I return home and feel the peace within my space that I now create of my own intention, without my partner’s contributions.

I wish that I could say that I have everything tied up in a bow and that I could put it on a hat for all to see.  But that would be untrue and only fantasy.  But at least I have the ribbon in hand and it’s easy to find a hat in my home waiting for a trim.

The other day Camille said that she fears she’s forgetting her father.  I assured her that would never happen, just that now every moment is not filled with pain and disorientation.  Maybe we can see him even more clearly and lovingly from this distance that death has created.  But for today, as Thanksgiving approaches, I feel an unexpected heaviness and a slowing of motion.  Why did I think that our favorite holiday would so easily pass without powerful impact and memories of Thanksgivings past?

I’m linking up with the gorgeous crew at Patti’s Visible Monday HERE.



  1. Oh Judith, you write so movingly about such devastation. The heart heals, but the heart also remembers. How could it be otherwise? Grief has no timetable, and as you say, sometimes the strangest things set it off. I cannot imagine what you go through each day. I suppose only another widow would be able to do that. But your strength makes us, your readers, admire you so much. May the coming season bring you some delights, as well as the memories.

    Much love always,
    Rosemary from

  2. Judith,
    If I may be so bold to say, you never forget or really stop mourning someone you have loved greatly. I am using the example of my beloved father, Sam. Sam had a wonderful collection of hats: a bowler, straw boaters, a homburg and a red fez. He and my mother used to cut the rug at Mitchell’s, a restaurant in Greenport Long Island. They would sit in the bar area, which had a Tiffany bar, with their friends, have lobster salad sandwiches and have fun. Sometimes Sam would put on an ape mask, put a cigar in his mouth and the red fez with a tassle. Life of the party!
    Love, Carol

  3. Judith,

    I am sure there will be moments of intense joy and sadness this holiday, but I hope much more joy than sadness. Grief has a way of dulling and softening, and I agree with you–as grief lifts you often see the real love more clearly and start to enjoy your memories more fully.

    Life in middle age is full of change, which should not surprise me but somehow still does. In September my mother, now 86 and a life-long bon vivant, hostess and merry maker, admitted that although she had invited all of my own immediate family for Thanksgiving (seven of us), she couldn’t handle the noise and confusion–admitting that with her hearing loss, increasing memory loss, and anxiety, it was just too much.

    So I am here from Abu Dhabi, my daughter will arrive tonight from DC, and the three of us will celebrate alone. It is heart wrenchingly sad, although it shouldn’t be; this is part of life. I am having a very tough time accepting the change.

    My other six sisters will take over during other holidays and as planned, I will be bringing mother to Denver on the first of December. Will be in touch.

    Love from Montana!

  4. Thank you for sharing these thoughts, so beautifully expressed as always, about the path of grief. I am sorry Thanksgiving is going to be difficult for you, like holidays without our beloved ones frequently are.

    Your treasures from Manhattan are spectacular! I adore the brown hat and the uniquely-cut dress. Warmest holiday thoughts sent to you and Camille.

  5. You write so beautifully, Judith. I hope it helps to frame your thoughts and feelings in a post for us to understand. Grief and loss involve making adjustments and having to find new ways to be in this world, and that is hard. You’ll find your place, you are far too bright, beautiful and talented to live on the sidelines! I know you and Camille could never forget Nelson, he is part of who you both are.
    You look just amazing in your new hat and that tunic is the most incredible shape on you. You are right – destined to be together! xxxx

  6. You look stunning as always, Judith. Many of the things you struggle with I also struggle with and have not been through a loss as you have. I think it comes with the age and with changes all around me. I still would love to see you write a book about your love story with Nelson. You are such a talented writer and your posts just captivated during his illness. I think you can touch many hearts. Your pen is powerful!

  7. You look like beautiful fall trees as they turn colors. What an amazing cardigan dress and hat that go together as if made together. It seems so much better to feel than not, as I often do – I just become numb rather than face the abyss of loss. I appreciate your writing the truth about life and living and loss and living. Knowing and doing are such completely different things. I’m grateful for knowing you, dear Judith. Thank you.

  8. I know you mentioned you were trained as a nurse but I think your true calling is writing. You really have a way with words.
    My father died over 40 years ago and I still can recall his face vividly. You are correct to tell your daughter she will never forget him. Initially I remember feeling like you did “hovering” is how I remember it too. I think that the human mind is incredible because with time you will process this all and ‘find’ yourself again.
    I am so pleased to see all of your new adventures they help allot even if at the moment they don’t. Judith have a blessed holiday and know that people care about you even if you don’t know them personally.

  9. Judith, it seems natural that you would feel heavy at this time of giving thanks – it is a tall order, isn’t it? to be thankful for what you had, when it is so painful to adapt to the loss.

    You do look beautiful – just stunningly beautiful in your creative sartorial expressions.
    yay for beauty, it lifts us up.

  10. Beautiful and regal. Eloquent and inspiring. We are nurtured by your artistry, and uplifted by your courage. I love the colors you’ve chosen for this post, autumnal and warm, complimenting your hair and nail color.

    Sending love to you and Camille, and your friends, as you prepare the Thanksgiving table. You remind me to count my blessings along with you.

  11. Your words touch. I hope you will find peace. The memories will always be there.
    I love your orange coat and brown accessories. Very exciting design your dress – Beautiful

  12. Judith, I would love to be able to give you a hug! When you have lost someone who was an integral part of your life, you never forget them, so you can reassure Camille that Nelson will always be there in her heart. The edges of grief become blunted so that the pain isn’t so sharp, but it’s still there, especially during holidays and special dates. You are finding your own way in the world as a unit of one, and have discovered you can have adventures and feel joy. You’re on the right path, have faith in yourself!

    Can I just say how much I adore that outfit on you, as I did from the moment I saw in on you at the Vintage Show. That truly is one of the best hats, ever.

  13. Hi Judith

    You are on the right path Judith –
    Tell Camille that she will never forget her dad he will stay with her – My grandmother that i loved dearly passed away 27 years ago the year my son was born – I never never forgot her beautiful face – When hard times hit or confusion, or interrogation i always seek her advice and she always answers back or she sends me a sign – a little over the top what i just said but true –

    It will be the same for her –

    Ariane xxx

  14. Light shines more brightly when it is a counterpoint to darkness. True for sunshine, diamonds, and memories.

    Be well.

  15. My mother died on 5 May this year. She was 93 and three quarters and she had a stroke; she wanted to die. We spent a devastating last week with her, accompanying her on the journey to the end, learning how to die. Now, six months later, I still feel detached from life, your idea of ‘hovering over life’. I don’t know where to land, in which space I fit; I know I can’t continue as before, the change has been too deep. I miss her, and it is the unexpected moments of missing which trip me up – little memories which suddenly pop up, or sights, or scents. I have admired your strength in writing so openly about your feelings, and take strength and comfort from knowing that I am not alone. Thank you for your courage.

  16. Judith, will be thinking of you and your daughter on Thanksgiving. It will undoubtedly be a difficult day, but I know you’ll take deep meaning from the day’s events. Some people never find that they can “fit” alone or in company, and you clearly have the personal confidence to understand how it is done instinctively. Learning to really revel in solitary events is a great skill but only easy if there is no respite from being alone. I imagine that you do not lack for company if you wish it, and I wish you great joy in this new way of doing things, ultimately. If there is comfort to be had from the good wishes of your many admirers, then I hope our wishes for you are realized. Enjoy your daughter and your lovely self on the holiday.

  17. You are positively sculptural in that outfit. Dazzling. Your radiance seems to belie the depth of your thoughts here. Or maybe those depths are being channelled into your radiance… Is this the chicken or egg? Oh, I know, it’s turkey! Seriously, I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving. I’m glad the sharp edges are smoothing, burnished bright maybe, slowly.

  18. Judith, have you thought of writing a book about your experience with Nelson’s loss? You write so beautifully and I think it would be of great value to many of us of a certain age who will face at some point exactly what you have. I hope I don’t upset you with this suggestion, but I do think you have such a gift of expressing your thoughts and feelings.
    You look beautiful in this outfit and the brooch is beautiful. Thank you for sharing it all with us. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  19. My dear Judith your post brought tears …. your honest expression of your journey through loss has been such an inspiration to me this year. I applaud your strength, dignity and honesty traveling through the pain. I especially have been energized by your embracing of life’s wonders along the way. I am so very Thankful that I found you…. wishing you a Thanksgiving filled with gratitude and love.

  20. Judith, this ensemble is amazing! I love the orange coat (that’s such a great color on you) as well as the stunning brooch and incredible dress. Thanks so much for linking up to Show Us The Brooches!

    The holidays can sometimes seem to magnify our losses as well as our joys. We’re still navigating the loss of my dear MIL who passed away over a year ago, and navigating new holiday traditions and gatherings without her.

  21. I feel I only say 3 things to you- that you look gorgeous and that you move me, and inspire. Well, I want to say these 3 things again to you- only differently- you move me in the way you so graciously share your internal movements with us and so elegantly wear not merely your style but your life. Wishing you a good holiday season full of wonderous memories past including Nelsen.

  22. What an entirely spectacular ensemble, Judith! The shape of your hat and dress, the particulars of their gathers, angles, volume and fit are amazing, and the muted colours allow the construction to shine. Even more wholly powerful is your articulation of your place in process. My love to you and Camille this season.

  23. your posts so often move me to tears Judith. Noone can write more powerful about the whole process of loss and grief. Your writing is a true inspiration to me as are, of course as always, your fabulous hats, outfits and style.

  24. I love every bit of this outfit, from the star pin down to those amazing boots. The holidays are always a hard time when it comes to change. The holes left in our lives by loved ones are more open and vulnerable. Holidays are for celebrating, but also a time for missing and wishing. I hope the winter holidays find you with new and different celebration. You never forget your loved ones, but you find a way to move on and change to adapt.

  25. Although the coat is absolutely amazing, it really is the cardigan dress that takes the prize here! I reminds me a bit of one of my favorite dresses, also with the gatherings on the front and in the hemline. The hat is a brilliant finishing touch!

    Having lost a very dear stepfather this spring I recognize what you’re going through – I see my mother battling to come to terms with her loss too.

    With time your daughter will realize that she will never forget her father, but instead be able to face her memories without the all the tears. That doesn’t mean she’s stopped grieving, just that she doing it in another way.

  26. Judith, I am so feeling you on this. And even though I didn’t lose a love like yours, I am questioning and going through many of the emotions that you are right now. Reading your words helped me to acknowledge it.

    Your outfit is spectacular, every inch of it.

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