Wednesday, October 5, 2011

English Breakfast Tea with Some Tears, Please

It was an early morning start, unusually brisk for Phoenix. On my way to the office, I stopped at Starbucks for English Breakfast Tea which I often drink with a dollop of cream when I'm thinking of Elisabeth.

As I was mixing my concoction of stevia and cream, a man came up behind me.

"Nice art," he said. "I've never seen anything like it."

"Hmmm..." I said silently to myself. "What art? Is he talking to me?"

So I looked at him, nonplussed.

Then, I remembered that my hair, pulled back in a ponytail with a racer back, black organic cotton dress, allowed my very large back tattoo to be mostly visible.

"Oh, thanks much," I said.

I smiled and turned back toward the tea which reminded me of my Beloved Elisabeth and our many tea moments together.

As if possessed by a puppeteer, and against my innately shy nature which certainly keeps me less vulnerable to a sometimes cruel and unmindful-of-the-bereaved world, I said to him as he was turning away, "It's an excerpt from Dark Night of the Soul. St John of the Cross."

"Oh," he replied, unmoved by my disclosure.

I smiled. He smiled back. I started to turn again, and for reasons I cannot explain- as this is utterly uncharacteristic of me, and I'd never before disclosed this to a stranger, I actually said, "I got it for my daughter. She died." I waited. Paused. As if surprised by my own utterances.

"The tattoo was done with her ashes."

He looked at me. Straight into my eyes. Neither of us moved for what seemed like many minutes.

And his eyes started to fill with tears. I could see it.

Mine did too.

Then he whispered, "I lost my son."

And in the space between two strangers, a person who I will likely never see again, there was a knowing, an ineffable moment of knowing.

We both walked away from our moment in the Sun together. And my day was transformed.

Some English Breakfast with plenty of room for cream and tears, please?


Maria said...

WOW! now that is something!!!!

thank you for sharing!


Christine said...


Kara Chipoletti Jones of GriefAndCreativity dot com said...


Tara K said...

I bawled as I read this. Our daughter died of Potters Syndrome on May 29th, 2011 after 40 precious minutes of life in our arms. I'm shocked and strangely comforted at the number of people I have met that I never before knew had experienced loss.

Missy said...

Dang, tears all around!

Karin said...

Incredible, Joanne. ((((hugs))))

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

Thank you all for reading and sharing...

((Tara)) I'm so sorry :( Shared tears...

Tears in November said...

Wow, this is so touching. He needed you

KathyMorelli said...


Adell said...

I just took a photo of your back (to send my husband) at New Frontiers in Sedona. It and you are extrodinairily beautiful. When looking for the full text online to send with it, I came across your blog. Thank you so much for posting this. Thank you for allowing me to take your photo and for sharing something so intimate with a stranger who is no longer one now. Much love.

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

Thank you everyone... and wow, Adell, wow. Thank you for visiting the blog. I'm blown away that you found me <3

Stefanie said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing that. It is truly amazing how our children shine through at just the right moments; almost as if they are next to us giving us the nudge.

Paula said...

I stumbled across your blog, I really think I have found you before but somehow I found you again. Sometimes the simplest words bring your emotions to the surface all over again. Even the smallest of connections brings them back to us once more. Knowing that someone else has felt the loss and the pain, a moment of knowledge and understanding. Something that I think we all need.
Your words are beautiful.

Tigerlily said...

I would love to see your tattoo, and hear how your daughters ashes became a part of it. I would love to do that with my daughters ashes.

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

Dear Tigerlily,
I searched for and found a wonderful tattoo artist in Sedona, Arizona who did it. I am not sure all artists would accommodate this request. It was an amazing process!

Mary said...

As usual you trusted and listened to your voice within and because you did two people experienced a sacred moment of healing.

Your post also reminds me of all the incredible people who have come into my life in various ways since Bill died.

Thanks for your own voice...and mine. Mary Friedel-Hunt

Robert D. Stolorow, PhD said...

Your post moved me to tears. I am familiar with Dark Night of the Soul and used the phrase in my "Grief Chronicle" # 6:
Warmly, Bob


The soul still sings in the darkness telling of the beauty she found there; and daring us not to think that because she passed through such tortures of anguish, doubt, dread, and horror, as has been said, she ran any the more danger of being lost in the night. Nay, in the darkness did she, rather, find herself.

--St. John, Dark Night of the Soul

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