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Kila mtu atabeba msalaba wake by Mercy Adhiambo

{~~This gorgeous  essay won a prestigious award in Kenya.  I am proud to say that the author is my friend, daughter, and  sister whom I love, love, love (Yes, More than Chocolate) I love you, Mercia.}

mercy3.jpgMercy Adhiambo. Kisumu, Kenya

Kila mtu atabeba msalaba wake

~~No quote beats my grandma’s mantra as we grew up – Kila mtu atabeba msalaba wake… every person shall carry her own cross. Her words like blowing wind would go…nothing more, nothing less. Just that quote that she used when addressing all situations. Like the instance when she declared my favorite garlic a banned substance in our home saying that the onion fueled sexual libidos. Girls who ate garlic ended up getting pregnant when young- either a girl had her clitoris chopped off, or stopped eating garlic. Not in so many words when I pushed her, but true to tradition she would say  Kila mtu atabeba msalaba wake…” The words stuck with me and I would always remember them later in life when in catch 22 situations. Imprinted in my mind. In her subtle yet gentle voice, she would talk about crosses and consequences.

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But from this earth, this grave, this dust,
My God shall raise me up, I trust.  –Walter Raleigh

~I awake at 1:30, at 3:00, at 4:15. I twist and turn like a revolving door, like a discontented cat who can’t find her place. I can’t dream.  I can’t make it through a night without crying.

But the mornings are the worst when you lose your soul mate. The mornings are hell, hell, hell…

when you remember the reality of your new life; your new and reduced life.

Nothing remains.  Don’t hold on too tight.

A heart beats and then it doesn’t.  The phone rings every Saturday morning with a voice that announces “I Love You,” and then it’s silenced. The pink lips that once kissed your cheeks are now covered with soil.


Nothing remains. Don’t hold on too tight.

I drive to the Oneonta cemetery after work. I lay on the ground next to my sister. I play Lady Antebellum and Mercy Me at full volume from the car stereo. I pray, and then just as quickly, forget what I’m praying about.

Words even disappear.

I haven’t thanked God for much recently, but I thank Him for the large tree next to my sister’s grave.

Two months ago that tree was brimming with blood-red, mustard-yellow, and fire-orange leaves, but the colors dulled too soon, shriveled up, and fell to the ground next to the stones.


Why does everything go away?

We’ve hung shimmering ornaments on the bare branches, scattered  Kay’s pearl necklaces, another  silver pisces necklace and dangling earrings on the lower twigs. If you happen to visit one day, look for the tree that is dazzling with jewels just as she did in her lifetime.

Yesterday Duluth had a  mild snowstorm. I sat at the gravesite observing the snowflakes dance and descend softly on Kay’s grave.

I thought about how temporary moments are– how nothing remains the same– how I can’t smell her perfume anymore when I open the closet door.

I thought about the way life can reinvent itself instantly, become something entirely unfamiliar and frightening; how our days blaze and bloom with brilliant colors one minute, and then quite suddenly, shrivel up and fall to the earth the next.

I thought about the way the leaves would resurrect again,  dress Kay’s tree with one hundred shades of jade again…

arise from the roots like green gods,..

bud by bud, blossom by blossom, bloom by bloom.

I still can’t let go. I still can’t release her.

I watched the white flakes soften on sapphire granite covering Kay’s radiant face. I watched her pearls swing from side to side like the hands of an impetuous clock that never stops.

Melting, Melting, Melting…

Until the pulse begins again, beats again, ceaselessly, endlessly,

Like a benediction awaiting my arrival.


Never Shall You be Released, My Dear Sister. I Love You. I love you. 2009/ Kim & Kay



~~These are a few of my ALL TIME favorite things.    When I fall in love with something,  I fall HARD. 

 I am addicted to beauty, weirdness,  witty dialouge, love, and flowing vocabulary.  When I love you, I LOVE YOU!       Forever.  Forever.   Forever.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ohhh, I love this song!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



~~~I play this everyday in my car on the way to work.  This CD was in my sister’s player.  We love this song sooooooo much.  I also play it at the cemetery when I go to visit her.


BEST MINI SERIES OF ALL TIME:  “I Claudius” will blow your skirt off.  A four star Masterpiece.


~~~~~OMG, I am just wild about “Terms of Endearment”  This is a 5 star classic, brilliant, unforgettable  piece of work.  I can never get enough of it…and I know the dialouge by heart.  Everything.  Everyone.  By the way, this film and its actors won it all at the Academy Awards in 1983.


The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath “The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath”

I looooooooooove Sylvia Plath.  You have not read a journal until you’ve read this one. 

Please let him come, and give me the resilience & guts to make him respect me, be interested, and not to throw myself at him with loudness or hysterical yelling; calmly, gently, easy baby easy. He is probably strutting the backs among crocuses now with seven Scandinavian mistresses. And I sit, spiderlike, waiting, here, home; Penelope weaving webs of Webster, turning spindles of Tourneur. Oh, he is here; my black marauder; oh hungry hungry. I am so hungry for a big smashing creative burgeoning burdened love: I am here; I wait; and he plays on the banks of the river Cam like a casual faun.“Plath

Hot.  Autentic.  Raw. Gorgeous.  Delectable vocabulary.  Sexy.  Uncensored.  This book will burn inside your hands.  OUCH.


“`I wore this song out.  My son finally  hid the cd. 

 Love, love, love this song by Amy Winehouse.  I dance around the house and drive my family CRAaaaaaZY.


Li- Young Lee’s words flow off the page like sun and moon and  stars all at the same time.  Oh, I can never get enough of his deliciousness.

Early in the Morning

While the long grain is softening
in the water, gurgling
over a low stove flame, before
the salted Winter Vegetable is sliced
for breakfast, before the birds,
my mother glides an ivory comb
through her hair, heavy
and black as calligrapher’s ink.
She sits at the foot of the bed.
My father watches, listens for
the music of comb
against hair.
My mother combs,
pulls her hair back
tight, rolls it
around two fingers, pins it
in a bun to the back of her head.
For half a hundred years she has done this.
My father likes to see it like this.
He says it is kempt.
But I know
it is because of the way
my mother’s hair falls
when he pulls the pins out.
Easily, like the curtains
when they untie them in the evening.

— Li-Young Lee, ©1986. Reproduced from Rose with the kind permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.


iiiiiiiii’m IN LOVE with John & Gravity



Originally Pubished in
Back to Black (Dreaming in Verse)
by Kim Sisto Robinson

The last thing I remember about last
Night was dancing on a tarnished table
To Amy Winehouse’s, Black on Black.
Everything else was uneven like shattered
Glass, a Picasso painting, a gaping eye staring
Presumably at my preposterous behavior
After drinking five, or was it six Margaritas?

A hand here, a foot there, a decapitated face,
A breast dangling on white canvas like a sort of
Hot air balloon balanced. But I recall a man
Standing in the corner, a dark shadow, a penumbra
Penetrating, a chiseled piece of marble. His voice,
A deep cave of endlessness causing my ovaries
To jump up and down like two girlfriends sharing
Secrets. I couldn’t figure out if he were a Poet
Or a God, but I decided on Poet since words have
Perpetually seduced me, undressed me, brought
Me to my knees with their powerful tongues and
Textures, and anyway, poetry is the only reason
I’m still living today.

I think he recited Donne or Byron, not that it mattered
A damn. I was already in love, already unfastening my
Buttons, already wrapping my silk stockings around
His thick neck and licking the syllables dripping from
His delectable jaw.

I don’t know how I ended up on the table, or how I encountered
This beautiful Poet. I don’t know why I was kissing Allegory
And Alliteration off another man’s mouth while my husband
lay curled next to me. I don’t know anything about anything.
But this is what poetry does to me; this is how metaphor changes me.
My apologies, Mr. Poet, Mr. Donne, Mr. Byron, it really has nothing to
Do with you, it’s what you do, it’s the verse, it’s how it immerses
Me with sound and sensuality at the same time, it’s the way the salt
From the strawberry margaritas still sticks to my lips…

  • This poem by Neruda seeps and soaks through my ENTIRE skeleton (read by Andy Garcia) , My!  How lovely!  My bones ache.
  • LISTEN HERE:    tonight i can write the saddest lines – pablo neruda


    Eva Markvoort’s Blog:  65 Red Roses will change your life.


    My Favorite Poet, Sylvia Plath 

    Her words & imagery will blow your skirt off.



     My favorite scene of all time.  I cry. I cry.  I feel Empowered.  Stunning scene. OH, CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN!


    ~~~~~I am obsessed with  The first Queen Elizabeth.  Especially this version with Anne Marie Duff.  Breathtaking.  Breathtaking.  I’ve devoured  this mini series 3 times already.


    ~~~~Just watched “THE FAMILY STONE” for my 8th time on Saturday.  I love the dynamics of the family, and  the stiff, snooty, scary Sarah Jessica Parker is superb in this role.   This movie is fabulous…but has not recieved the attention it so rightly deserves.  I can watch it over and over again…


    I’m completly and utterly addicted to SISTER WIVES.    I can’t stop watching.  I’m amazed.  I’m flabbergasted.  This show is my dirty little secret.


    SONS OF ANARCHY is FABULOUS, addictive, and surprising.  I’m in love with Jax. I’m in love with the entire cast.   I can’t wait until the 3rd season.  HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT as hell.


    ~~These boots were made for walkin’…Isaw these gems at Target & fell in love.  No need to wear tights or nylons, babe.  These thigh length boots are fucking HOT.  I think I shall wear them to bed.

    thigh high boots-womens journee collection velvety thighhigh boot

    Women’s Journee Collection Velvety Thigh-high Boot
    $49.99 – Target

    CHESTER THE CAT: Is famous for following people walking on the WaterFront Trail.  He will jump out unexpectedly from a bush and want to be loved, loved, loved.  Chester’s mom put a statue of him up at Kay’s gravesite to watch over her….and purr his soft, beautiful  purring inside her ears.

    We love you Chester & MaryEllen….Chester The Cat

    {This memory about Kay was written by our dear friend, Diane.  We shall NEVER forget her life on Earth.}

    Remembrances of Live Nativity by Diane:

    One morning, not long ago, I was lost in thought praying for the Sisto family.  As I asked the Lord to divinely intercede in their deep sorrow, a memory came out of nowhere.  It was a cold clear night in December, 2007.  Our church was participating in a community event called “Live Nativity,” where the Gospel account of the Christmas story was enacted outdoors.  The event involved about 100 people and the stars of the show were the live animals.  There were even a couple of camels.  Kay Peterson and I signed on as shepherds.  We were assigned a llama named Celeste and it was our job to lead our llama down the streets of Duluth to the place of the manger.  We were given lanterns to light our path and were told to stay a safe distance from the camel in front of us.  Kay and I had it all figured out, but we didn’t know that our llama had “issues” until we began the procession.  Celeste kicked us, pushed us, tried to run us over, and squash us.  My sweet friend, Kay, is like the dog whisperer, but this was one “alpha” llama, hell-bent on creating a scene.  Finally, Kay and I decided that we had to “press in.”  We literally flanked Celeste and squashed her in between us, with Kay holding the reins and me with a hand on Celeste’s back.  The llama calmed and began to walk with a dignity, a manner befitting the entourage of animals welcoming a heavenly king.  Kay and I shared a good laugh and wondered how we ended up with the rebel, when all the other animals behaved.  As I reflect back on that moment, I think about how Kay’s presence brought out the best and calmed the rebel.  She gently pressed in to other’s lives and walked with them when the path was only lit by a dim light.  I am grateful that she walked my dimly lit path with me and believed in the love of God.  Her kindness will never be forgotten.


    Recipies For Your Ass

    lOVE.  LOVE.   LOVE, KIMLarge Pink Glitter Lips - Glitter Lips

    Classic Coconut Cake & White Dreams

    *Serves 8 to 12


    2 cups sour cream

    2 cups granulated sugar

    2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

    11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    1 box vanilla cake mix (see Note)

    1 teaspoon almond extract

    1 cup heavy (whipping) cream

    1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar


    1. Mix the sour cream, granulated sugar, coconut, and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract together in a bowl. Cover the coconut icing and refrigerate it overnight.

    2. Prepare the cake batter, following the directions on the package, stir in 1/2 teaspoon of the almond extract. Divide the batter between two buttered 8-inch round cake pans, and bake as instructed on the package. Let the cakes cool completely in the pans.

    3. Remove one cake from its pan. Using a large serrated knife, cut the cake in half horizontally. Place the bottom half on a cake plate and frost it with about one fourth of the coconut icing. place the second layer on top. With your knife, carefully slice off the rounded top of the cake to make a flat surface. Frost that with a similar amount of icing.

    4. Cut the second cake in half, and place the bottom layer on top of the assembled cake. Spread half of the remaining icing over it. Place the top layer on top of that. Cover and refrigerate the cake and the remaining icing for 2 days.

    5. Whip the cream in a bowl until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, and the confectioners’ sugar, and whip until the peaks are fairly stiff. By hand, gently fold the remaining coconut icing into the whipped cream. Spread this mixture over the top and sides of the assembled cake, and serve.

             Note: Make sure you have all ingredients required for cake mix, such as eggs and vegetable oil.


    ~~~This is my Prayer sung by Francesca Battistelli called… “I’m Letting Go.”

    Yes,  This is my Prayer, my prayer, my new prayer.   I have no words.  These are my words.  These are my new words.   Thank you , Diane xxx


    Warm Chocolate and Caramel Cakes

    From Country Living

    In this variation on our Basic Chocolate Cake, warm caramel sauce spooned into a ramekin’s base results in a cake with an irresistibly gooey surprise.

    chocolate caramel cakeCharles Schiller

    Yields: 6 mini cakes

    Cook Time: 20 min

    Oven Temp: 400


    • Butter, softened
    • 1 jar(s) good-quality caramel sauce
    • 1 1/2 cup(s) sifted cake flour
    • 1/3 cup(s) Dutch-process cocoa
    • 1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
    • 1 cup(s) sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
    • 1 cup(s) strong brewed coffee, warm
    • 1/3 cup(s) light olive oil
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
    • 1 tablespoon(s) aged balsamic vinegar


    1. Generously coat six 6-ounce ramekins with softened butter. Chill in the freezer for about 10 minutes, and brush with a second coat of butter. Pour 3 tablespoons caramel sauce into the bottom of each ramekin and transfer to the freezer for 1 hour.
    2. Whisk the cake flour, cocoa, baking soda, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl and set aside. Stir the coffee, oil, vanilla, and vinegar together and whisk into the flour mixture just until smooth.
    3. Fill each ramekin with 1/3 cup of batter. Bake at 400 degrees F until the cake is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and the caramel has bubbled up the sides, about 20 minutes.

    ~~Your Ass Will Kiss You~~



    Original NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Chocolate Chip Cookies


    • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) real sweet butter, softened
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 large eggs
    • 3 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
    • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

    PREHEAT oven to 375° F.



    Saint Shirley’s Buttermilk Chocolate Cake


    • 2 c flour
    • 1 ¾ c sugar
    • ½ c cocoa
    • ½  t salt
    • 3 t soda
    • 1 egg
    • 2/3 c Mazola oil
    • 1 c butter milk
    • 1 t vanilla
    • 1 cup cooled coffee
    • ½ c chocolate chips (good ones!)

    Mix together … place in 9×13 pan for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean…bake at 350.


    • 1 ½ c sugar
    • 6 T butter
    • 6 T milk

    Place in pan at low heat.  When consistency begin to boil only allow 1 ½ minutes for this. Take off stove.  Add 1 teaspoon of Vanilla and ½ cup of chocolate chips.  Stir until smooth.  This frosting will make you pee your pants!  It is that good.


    Saint Shirley’s Rhubarb Cake


    • 1 ½ c brown sugar
    • ½  c butter
    • 1 egg
    • 1 c buttermilk
    • 2 c flour
    • 1 t vanilla

    Mix with strong mixer…then add 1 cup of diced rhubarb and 1/2  c of strawberries. Fold into batter.


    • 1/3 c sugar
    • 1 t cinnamon

    Mix in bowl and sprinkle over entire cake…  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

    A note:  My mother baked this cake once a week for 4 months after my sister’s murder.  Everybody in Duluth has savored it upon their tongues.   When you bake this, think of Kay.






    • 1/2 cup sweet butter
    • 1/2 cup of butter crisco
    • 3/4 cup white sugar
    • 3/4 c brown sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 t vanilla
    • 1 t salt
    • 1 t baking soda
    • 2 1/2 cup flour
    • 2 bags of GOOD chocolate chips  (NEVER enough chocolate)

    Mix butter, crisco,  white/brown sugar, eggs, vanilla.  Add salt,  baking soda & flour.  Then add Chocolate Chips.

    Bake @ 350 about 7-8 minutes.  Must take out right before brown around the edges.


    DICK CAVETT’S INERVIEW WITH JANIS JOPLIN:::::::The Feathers.  The Raspy, Cigarette Voice.  The Ultimate, Fabulous Hippy desperately  trying to find her way…….


    Oozing Chocolate Lava Cake Recipe

    by Paula Deen


    • 6 (1-ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate
    • 2 (1-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
    • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) butter
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
    • 3 large eggs
    • 3 egg yolks
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur


    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

    Grease 6 (6-ounce) custard cups. Melt the chocolates and butter in the microwave, or in a double boiler. Add the flour and sugar to chocolate mixture. Stir in the eggs and yolks until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and orange liqueur. Divide the batter evenly among the custard cups. Place in the oven and bake for 14 minutes. The edges should be firm but the center will be runny. Run a knife around the edges to loosen and invert onto dessert plates.


    Sweet Susan’s Almond Glazed Shortbread Cookies
    1 cup butter, soft but not too soft
    3/4 cup sugar
    1 teaspoon almond extract
    2 cupsall-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoonsalt
    1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
    1 teaspoon almond extract
    4 to 5 teaspoons water
    Sliced almonds
    Heat oven to 400°F. Combine all cookie ingredients in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy.Roll dough into 1″ ball. Place 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten balls to 1/4 inch thick with bottom of buttered glass dipped in sugar. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are VERY lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets. Cool completely.
    Combine all glaze ingredients except almonds in small bowl with wire whisk. Decorate cooled cookies with glaze and sliced almonds as desired.
    If dough is too thick, add a teaspoon or two of milk.
    I just made this “Cookie Pizza”  and it actually TURNED OUT!  My family is going insane.  Mom made something they loooove.   Make this pizza  and report back to me.  You will make your family VERY HAPPY!  🙂  And your ass will be happy, too.


    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup peanut butter
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
    • 1 cup (6 ounces) HERSHEY’®S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips


    • In a bowl, cream butter, peanut butter and sugars. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour until blended.
    • Spread dough onto a greased 12-in. pizza pan. Bake at 375° for 12 minutes. Sprinkle with marshmallows and chocolate chips. Bake 5-6 minutes longer or until lightly browned. Yield: 10-12 servings.Editor’s Note: This recipe is best eaten the same day it’s prepared.


    Kim's Blogs Uncategorized

    Tyra Can Kiss My Fat Ass

    ~~~~I C-C-Cringe. 

     I get flip-floppy somersaults performing in the pit of my tummy.  I get a slow, steady hot flash. And then I blow, baby….

    This is what Tyra Banks does to me, or should I say Ms. Fricking Know it All, or should I say Ms. Oprah Wannabe, or should I say Ms. Narcissist with a head the size of a Montana?

    First of all she’s screaming “Kiss my big fat ass!!”   But that was only for your benefit, wasn’t it, Ms. Banks?  I mean cuz now you’ve lost that big fat ass and you’re walking around like a skinny bitch with an attitude.  I guess you didn’t really like the curves, did ya? 

    So the other night I’m watching her show for the lone reason that she has my girl on, Blythe Beck; they’re talking about food and how wonderful Tyra is, and Blythe is sort of gaga eyed saying stuff like how lucky Tyra is to possess all of those wonderful enterprises, and rather than focusing on Blythe (whom is taking over the world culinary sector and is her Guest, after all)  Banks says, “Oh, and don’t forget that I have my own talk show!”   All the while she’s stuffing her face with the ribs that Blythe so graciously brought her.

                   I am drowning in the sugary superficially and sticky barbecue sauce.

    I’m thinking, “You’re in the wrong chair, Sister.  Blythe should be in your chair.  You’re an embarrassment. You’re like one of those chicks in high school that all of the girls hung out with, but secretly couldn’t stomach.  Like one of the Mean Cheerleader Chicks that thought she could bat her eyelashes and get anything she wanted out of life because she was pretty.

    Before a taping of her show recently a source tells the publication:

    ~ “You could hear her going on and on because she was standing right behind the stage curtain. She’s talking and talking. Meanwhile, you have the entire audience waiting almost two hours for the taping to start.”

    “She leaves us waiting, and everyone is sitting there complaining, and then she comes out and doesn’t say a word about it. She didn’t even say hello, she got right into her script. She acted so cold towards everyone. She’s a phony. She had the audience prance down the street and then release black balloons. –Celebrity News

    Kind of reminds me of “The Office.”  You know, where the cameras are filming all the time and the characters know it, so they act all phony and counterfeit, and annoying as hell.  Banks has no substance or softness…. sort of like running your fingers over a cat in the wrong direction. And I’m wondering why American women are so transfixed on her inarticulate words, which she gives us ceaselessly in large doses.

                   Emptiness.    Substanceless.   Black Balloons floating in air…

    I Do. Not. Identify with this woman.  I already met her  back in high school and I didn’t like her.

    ….Oh, and one more thing, Ms. Banks—

    You aren’t, or never shall be—an Oprah Winfrey—whom continually speaks from her mouth, her heart, and the wisdom of her soul….

    Yeah, her soul…

    …Opposed to one who verbalizes directly from her ass.

    In Memory of Kay Uncategorized


    ~~~~Our yearning for God is so great. We’re always pursuing this elusive fragrance.”—Beryl Singleton Bissel

    ~~Since my sister’s murder in May I’ve received several phone calls, emails, and comforting letters from the most unexpected people.  I find it absolutely astounding women I’ve never met face to face, have been consoling me with reflective words, cyber hugs, breathtaking poetry, and surprising phone calls.

    One such woman is author, Beryl Singleton Bissell. For one thing, I was stunned that she actually read my blogs to begin with.

    Here’s what she wrote to me on June 28th:

    “Dearest Kim,

    I just posted a comment on your blog post.  I am writing personally to remind you that I am here for you and not that far away that we couldn’t meet her or in Duluth should you wish.  Loss like yours needs a listening, compassionate, understanding heart.  I hope you have many such listening, loving hearts to help hold and perhaps ease your sorrow.  My phone number is —-.


    Love, Beryl Singleton Bissell”



    My heart leapt after reading Beryl’s email. I knew immediately that I wanted to meet with her, talk with her, and ask her one question in particular: “When your 24-year old daughter, Francesca, was murdered, how did you survive? How did you go on LIVING?”

    Our book club had already read her memoir, “The Scent of God: A Memoir,” which was about her cloistered life as a nun in Italy, her desire to become a Saint, and her passionate love affair with the beloved, beautiful priest, Padre Vittorio.

    I knew this woman.  And I already loved her.

    I arrived at Beryl’s home on the North-Shore about noon on July 23rd.  She opened the door with a radiant, angelic smile.  We hugged for a long time. She led me into her cozy kitchen where she was preparing our lunch: grilled salmon, string beans, small red tomatoes, warm (was is cardamom bread?) and homemade ice tea.

    O’, sometimes the simple things in life are like a kind of healing.

    We ate our lunch outside upon her lovely deck overlooking Lake Superior.  The soft waves and Beryl’s voice gently massaged my weary soul.  We talked about writing, her daughter, Francesca, my sister, Kay, life, God.  We discussed “centering prayer,” a practice Beryl studied with the Benedictine nuns.

    “I’ve found my home in this kind of prayer,” she said.

    We walked around her magnificent grounds and swung on her massive, magical swing. She guided me to Francesca’s grave site, which was blanketed with shells, flowers, love, love, love. 

    “Will you bring me to your writing studio,” I asked.

    And there we sat inside her quaint little studio. Me, asking a million questions about the “writing life.”  Me, skimming my fingers over volumes of books, her wooden desk, her computer, her manuscripts. Me, flabbergasted that the great Ann Patchett believed in her book enough that she sent Beryl’s query letter to her own agent.

    For a while, life seemed to come back to me in tiny fragments.

    My mother baked Beryl a rhubarb cake, so we savored a slice before I left with coffee. We talked more about moving forward, living our lives without our Francesca, our Kay, our soul mates, our loves, our loves.



      The loss.  The void.  The darkness.  


    When I think of Beryl, I remember her voice: calming, comforting, caring… like warm waves pressing against my ears, like a prayer, like pieces of pleasure slowly, slowly returning.

    ~~~A Note to Beryl: Your famous Salmon Salad should be on the menu at “The Angry Trout.” Also, please kiss Candy for me. (Sweet-Sweet Beryl)