With the hundreds of tweets, emails, and thoughts I feel in the air regarding my Mom’s passing, I am more that “lifted” by my net. As Mom would say, “I am blown away”.

I was asked to edit the audio part of her “Stories on ds106 radio” where she talks about butterflies. I’d heard her say this many times since my Dad passed away, that whenever you see a butterfly it represents the spirit of someone who passed. Now its easy to pass this off as not scientific, but I know it gave her a lot of comfort, and I found myself seeing a butterfly when I was doing my camping practice for this trip. And it makes me smile just thinking about her saying it.

The photo above I took in Mom’s honor last August when I visited the London Natural History Museum, and it was there I picked up a postcard for her that described the story she told me (it was what she read here).

Listen to the CookieLady:

Alyce on Butterflies

One of the sweetest and also powerful messages came– from someone I have never met before but have known online for years, Claudia in Buenos Aires (@fceblog), who shared a dream she had, and added this poetic bit:

Maybe I just dreamt of you, kind of trying to be in your shoes. But hey, technically speaking, I do not know you. I first met you in 2007. We’re strangers. And yet, my dreams hyperlink to your news and I hear a strong wake up call, just as when a close friend of your f2f life loses a loved one. Such is the mysterious story of the social web, I guess.

A Spanish poet, explaining what dreams were to him, said: “I only know I know a lot of people I have never met”.

The Internet is like a dream. A real one.

Read that again- I know a lot of people I have never yet. And we don’t have to wait for these dreams to happen to our subconscious, the internet is where we can experience them all day long.

With my heart racing, I replied my thanks, and asked for more info about the poet- she said it was Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, and the source for the words she had paraphrased:

Pero sé que conozco à muchas gentes
Á quienes no conozco!

which has a footnote of explanation:

‘I am acquainted with many people (because I have met them in thought or in dreams) whom I do not know (have never met in the flesh, nor heard of).’ Having met other souls while wandering in dreams (line 8) or in some way equally difficult of rational explanation, I have a circle of acquaintances that transcends the list of those of whom I have knowledge in any recognized way. The thought is thus identical with that of Kipling’s story “The Brushwood Boy.”]

This so has been the experience of my trip so far! “I have a circle of acquaintances that transcends the list of those of whom I have knowledge in any recognized way.”

And this circle came out full force with the #ds106radio show people contributed to Monday when I drove from Canada down here to Baltimore where I will go through my Mom’s funeral on Thursday. I missed chunks of people in the hillier parts of Pennsylvania, but was happy I got to hear the opening of Gardner Campbell’s hand selected set of poems and music.

Most of you know, that every item in a playlist Gardner assemble is soaked in rich thought and context, it’s not just because the title fits. His passion for music, when he talks to it, comes directly from his soul to you. I’m more than touched, more than blessed, I am struck by lightning lucky to have a friend like Gardner Campbell.

I have a full transcription but will pull the key parts (well, it might be the whole things after all).

Gardo to CogDog Set

He had me from the opening:

I’d like to say hello to everybody
Got the really devastating news
from friends on twitter, in ds106radio land
glad it took awhile to get on the stream
because I needed a moment
with my door carefuly closed
and I sat crying
i’ve never met this woman
but anyone of us who have met Alan
we HAVE met this woman
and we will continue to meet her
or anyone in his network which spans the globe
knows that his mother lives on for the rest of our lives
I made a little playlist that i want to send out
for my friend and brother
stick with that auto-pilot, it will get you through
we’re still going to be here
and we’re going to be getting you through that part too
not say much of anything
tried to put this together
with stuff in my itunes
it’s reasonable line up
if i had my entire library
it’s heartfelt

once you’ve got poetry & rock & roll
I think you’ve got some good stuff on your side

Yeah, I do have good stuff on my side- I have Gardner Campbell reaching into his soul to tell me so. Damn.

You should know that in May 2010, when Gardner and I got to spend a marvelous day exploring Manhattan and Brooklyn, I put him on the phone to talk to my Mom (he needed to know the correct pronunciation of my last name, apparently I am not consistent):

Is That True, Alan's Mom?
Is That True, Alan’s Mom? flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

Alan, this is for you and that great cookie lady too that I so enjoyed speaking with in line for the pizza, down there in Brooklyn

The first one was not even a song, but the poem Dirge without Music by Edna St. Vincent Millay that was read by one of Gardner’s mentors, Elizabeth Phillips

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.”¨Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust. “¨A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew, “¨A formula, a phrase remains, — but the best is lost.

The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,Ӭ They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curledӬIs the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.Ӭ More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the graveӬGently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind; ҬQuietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave. ҬI know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Yeah, I do not approve. I might feel resigned, but I think that is more shock. The body may go into the ground, but not the spirt (c.f. butterflies?)

I missed the rest of the set as AT&T failed miserably to give me signal. I am eager to hear all the songs in the set, and smile seeing Fountains of Wayne in there- a band introduced me to on visiting his house in Waco a few years back, and songs I keep in my rotation.

And now I am reading the words Gardner ended with, and now emotion is seeping out from where it has been been kept contained, and will likely crash out over the next few days. Bring it on, I got my people out there.

[Gardo Listing what we heard] expresses both love and the sense of bewilderment that something as beautiful as life, can end and yet, in a way, it doesn’t. And that’s the struggle that’s ahead. Life that’s still here even though the life is not here how to make sense of that something I’ve been trying to make sense of for 22 years since i lost my first parent.

I can’t claim to have gotten anywhere with that except that I know that love doesn’t go away. Love is still there. The thing is still there taught me love is not gone either

So, think about that personal life network personal love network, my dear friend, my brother think about those that are here for you to whom you have given so much from whom you must draw strength in those days and weeks ahead you must go on.

You don’t get over it but that’s the task ahead. That’s the road we are on together

I have just a few more things for that journey 3 more pieces on the playlist, my friend, my brother (sorry no Who). Just know we are with you, Alan and your mother is with you and with us what an amazing set of lives that we get to live, together.

Bags of gold indeed, Gardo, indeed. You and many others make up this personal life/love network, the dream of people I know that I do and dont know. I love you all and would do, in a heartbeat, for what you have done for me.

And just because this is a long emotional post, it is appropriate to close with cookies. D’Arcy posted tonight a photo of the cookies his wife made in Mom’s honor. And I want to thank D’Arcy especially extra because minutes after I shared by twitter the news I got Sunday night, he called me on the phone to express his sorrow and offer help. That is a living dream.

In fact, it was on D’Arcy’s deck 2 weeks ago that I had called Mom. For fun, I asked her to say hi to D’Arcy. The report back was that Mom asked him to tell em to “cut that long hair and shave that scruffy beard” (an ongoing joke between me and Mom).

So yeah, make some cookies in honor of my Mom. Put them into bags like she did and hand them out to strangers. Just see how that dream life wakes you up. Here is Mom, talking about her cookie routine:

Mom talks about cookies
We Got Cookies
We Got Cookies flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Featured Image:

Butterflied flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Touched. Moved. Tears to go with it.

    A huge thank you for this, for your words, which echo something I heard your Mom say when you showed her a tweet of mine.

    I am going to keep this post for re-reading until I know bits by heart.

  2. Although it is some time ago that your Mom has passed away, I share your sadness about this.
    I myself don’t have very good connections to my parents, this way your post represents a completely different world from the one I do live in.
    Yet, I share what you are saying about people you’ve never met physically or do not met anymore, for they’ve gone away. I also have a story behind this idea and I may also blog about it some day.

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