Photo by Diana

Black/fuchsia fur felt fedora by Guy HERE, estate sale black wool sweater with large covered buttons, estate sale vintage fuchsia gloves and silver jewelry on black background.

The sorting of Nelson’s belongings is complete, and The SC decided that inviting a few friends over during the weekend to choose items in his honor would be more meaningful and personal than donating.  At least as a first step. What happened in the process was memorable, as each person selected a prize from the many items that were displayed. Everything except the special pieces that Camille and The SC had tenderly chosen for safe keeping. The dining room was filled with clothing, hats, shoes and a limited amount of books. The hats were the most popular item; someone proposed the idea of a ‘Nelson Hat Party’ where all could gather wearing hats that he had sported over the years.  There were two sizes available; one category from his afro days and another from the times of short hair or shaved head. This allowed for almost everyone to explore the joy of hats from a precious collection.  The SC found herself unready to let go of several items as they came close to walking out the front door.

I felt engaged and appreciated the laughter and stories from the past along with expressions of personal grief.  However, after the departure of the last guest I was overwhelmed with a new sense of loss as though pieces of myself had left, even though in the hands or on the head of a dear friend.  A personal excavation.  I also felt pleasure to know that each item would have a new life  and I could admire Nelson’s hats on familiar heads in the future.  And as I donate the remaining items to an organization that advocates for the chronically mentally ill, a vulnerable population that was dear to us during our life together, a deep sadness lingers.  But I am also trusting that the the heart knows when to ‘let go.’ Another element of this long and seemingly endless process has been completed.

I made the decision to reread Joan Didion’s  ‘The Year of Magical Thinking.’  I needed to remind myself that grieving takes time.  Shouldn’t I be closer to a sense of healing and a new definition of self?  I have become impatient with feelings of vulnerability, the inability to focus and make a decision with confidence, the cognitive disruption.  As I opened the book seven months after the first reading,  I noticed that the author began writing her story nine months after her husband’s death.  I am at the same point in my transformation. What she had to say provided reassurance and comfort, putting turmoil into perspective.   She spoke directly to my every fear.  As time goes by, and I become more awake, the realization of what I’ve lost becomes increasingly stark but remains evasive, unclear, unfinished, ever changing.  I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, although I know it will provide hope in the form of an outfit adorned with a hat.


  1. Ah, such hard work, and sadness mixed with a celebration. No one tells us what loss will really feel like. We can’t even describe it ourselves, although your beautifully crafted writing makes it more comprehensible to me. You look stunning in your black-with-silver, with a touch of pink for hope!

  2. I’m beginning to understand that grieving is a kind of work. You write about your loss so openly and eloquenly, and it’s always so moving. Wishing you peace in your memories, and joy in the life lived and the days yet to come.

  3. My dearest Judith, you write like a ballerina dances: full of grace and it appears so effortless and smooth. But what hard work, what depths it comes from. We are so priviledged to get a glimpse into your life and your grieving process.

    What a beautiful idea to give Nelson’s possessions to people who are dear to you. Also a brave one, as you have written that it was like watching pieces of yourself leave. Quite so.

    May your path unfold in beautiful and restorative ways in the future. The beauty of your soul is a great example to us all.

    Much love from England,

  4. What a wonderful way to honor Nelson…and you look amazing as always…I love this jacket so much. I know you have helped so many sharing your path to healing after losing a part of you…thank you for your strength and courage.

  5. Oh gosh – that is a wonderful book and really helped me through a period of bereavement myself. Good luck to you. It sounds like you’re working really hard to make this process your own and to allow it to take place. It’s a privilege to be allowed to share in it. Best wishes. x

  6. I love your hat style. I am sure that this process was difficult, liberating, overwhelming. I also started this comment a few times but deleted them. My pain is too new, at times crippling. For some reason, mornings are very difficult. Sharing Nelson’s personal items with those you know is very generous. Take care.

  7. Thinking of you. I have not read that book but from your description, it sounds like a must-read.
    Continue to take care and thank you for your post. Your outfit, pose, and location are beautiful. I’m glad you are among friends who can support you.

    Sending love,


  8. Judith, I agree with Pseu, grieving sounds like a lot of work, sometimes reading your posts that what hits me first, the sheer exhaustion of it all. I love the idea of a Nelson Hat Party, maybe in time. Meanwhile, I am glad you’re re-reading Didion’s book and that her experience resonates with you, what you are going through. I remember reading it and being moved by her writing, her experience. I think of you often.

  9. Judith, don’t be hard on yourself. You have passed another milestone on your journey and I can imagine what a bittersweet experience that was, watching bits of Nelson leave your home. Your grieving will take whatever shape is meaningful for you, and will take as long as is necessary. I think the Hat party sounds like a wonderful idea. I love that sweater (can I come and shop in your closet sometime??)

  10. What a beautiful post. I say this in a heartfelt manner as I have felt the same about close loved ones that have passed.
    Sending strength your way xx

  11. Take your time grieving, dear Judith. As they say, the loss of a loved one is a wound that never really heals. My widowed friends tell me the pain shoots up so unexpectedly, even years after their loss, as if it just happened yesterday. I remember seeing my mother crying 40 years after my father’s death, during one visit to the cemetery. There must really be no way to fully cover up the void that is created by a spouse going ahead. Except by the belief and the hope that one day you will be reunited in heaven! And for now, that he is truly watching over you daily! Prayers and love across the seas.

  12. I’m so glad to hear that you are re-reading this book. I read it after my father passed, lying to myself that I was seeking to understand what my mother was going through better. I love the idea of a Nelson hat party…when you are ready for it.

    The sweater you are wearing with the huge buttons is just gorgeous.

  13. Love this look on you and glad you’re able to share mementos of Nelson with friends … I sometimes think of which jewelry I’d want people to have!

  14. Judith, you look amazing as ever. Love that hat and the jacket and the accents of pink. Your writing is beautiful and so is your idea to let friends choose items from your beloved husband. You go your journey so consciously, so aware and in touch with your feelings. Wishing you continued strength in your journey of acceptance and pleasure with your amazing collection of hats!

  15. Certainly, your mind needs a rest now, Nelson is proud of you wherever he is, needless to say I’m completely in love with your hat and gloves …

  16. Oh this process! All the ins and outs as it wends its way thru all the corners of our heart…beautiful piece of writing today. Lovely photo. Brava for making the sharing of your beloved’s things such a meaningful ritual. Of course you were not ready, even after that, to let some things go. The things are not our beloved, yet they are precious b/c they connect us to our beloved. Hard to let go of that, when you have already had to let go so much. As they say in the vernacular, I feel you sister!

    Sometimes I think the passage of time teaches us not how to no longer mourn, but to integrate that loss into our life now. Which is a very different thing, and not meant to discourage you. You became a larger person (hard to imagine, since you are so big of heart and spirit and surely always have been so!) by virtue of knowing and loving and building a life with Nelson. That remains. You still carry him, and all that you shared, with you, everywhere you go. So this time is strengthening and remembering and challenging and healing all at once. Much love to you as you continue on this path, without his physical presence, but very much with all he was to you.

    Sending all the support I can muster,

  17. I cannot imagine what it is like to do something like this. But it is wonderful that you are sharing with Nelson’s friends. I am sure the items will be treasures for them to remember him by.
    This is such a beautiful outfit. All the details and the touch of pink. Lovely.

  18. Through Sally, I found your blog last night and as of this morning, I have read every entry. I too, have lost someone I treasured. Not in the same manner, yet still profoundly affecting me. I admire your strength, your weakness, the beautiful life you both shared and your impeccable sense of style that radiates. At first, I felt “my goodness! This woman looks great in everything!” But then I realized, it’s not the adornments, it’s your spirit that’s beautiful.

  19. Hi Judith,

    What a lovely Lady you are – I can’t say much but i know time will make it easier.
    Hat party! What a lovely idea!
    Your coat is amazing, so stylish!
    I love the fuschia on the hat, very pretty

    Take care Judith!

    Ariane xxxxx

  20. A Nelson Hat Party is a wonderful, positive way to celebrate his life and style. And, I’m looking forward to seeing you in another outfit adorned with a hat. Take care and be strong.

  21. It took awhile for me to comment again after so many months… I guess my own way of pushing away reality. You look so beautiful and your writing is always poetry, expressing your feelings and mine in a way I can never do… I should hope to inherit your style and sense of grace going through this process. You are the most caring, loving, beautiful, thoughtful, generous, and gracious person I know. So proud to call you my mother. No wonder dad loved you so much… Who wouldn’t? I can’t wait for the Nelson hat party. I have mine ready and waiting…

  22. Missing you and catching up on some of your posts… I can’t imagine what it must be like, I’ve never lost anyone quite so dear… I hear your milestones and still feel grief in your words… Nelson is still so bright and vibrant in our memories and it refreshes through your posts. Keep it going.
    Oh, and BTW, this outfit is hott. Love it.

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