Dear Mom and Dad,

I knew August 27 was looming. It was not going to not get here.

While walking the dog his morning I looked at the ground.

And there it was.


This blog post is being written on the 26th, scheduled to publish on the 27th, because I will be off camping in the mountains (with friends, do not worry) (you would still worry) (that’s what parents do) (even when their children are adults) where there is no internet.

If five years feels this long a length of time since the last phone call I made to you, Mom, before your heart suddenly stopped running, what kind of double eternity length is it Dad since you finally closed your eyes and slipped away from the pain of cancer’s hunger?

It’s like double infinity.

The calendar tells me so.

double calendar notes

It did not even register when I made these plans to go camping that it would be over THAT 27th.

I write as if you would read. I have no illusion that you are in some fluffy happy land of the past living, sitting on some ethereal construction of the Ocean City beach of the 1970s.


I won’t rule it out, but… it’s what we say to deal with the lost, the sudden erosion of our lives.

I read today of Mary Ann’s writing of her grief, a woman I have never met, but can feel through her written shared words. This phrase jumped out at me:

Grief is part erosion and part growth.

These are forces which work against each other, as if opposites, but still must do this together, in us. We cannot exist long in a state of either extreme.

Of course you would love my new dog Felix. He has these eyes.

Apparently the Furniture Rules Have Been Established
flickr photo shared by cogdogblog under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

I often look up from this table where I tap out words on a computer screen, look over, and see him staring at me. It’s eerily like what I would see when you visited Mom- I’d look up and catch you staring at me.

This is not to see I am off on some idea of re-incarnation. You are both gone from this place. The time feels long, like how could it be this long.

Yet, you had much longer lives, as children, as young adults, before I even came on the scene. It’s hard to image you as kids, but you had to be a child once, teens, of course.



I am hardly the first one to note how odd it is to use a phrase like “length of time”, a unit of distance to measure time. Like days piled up to years, now to piles of decades. It does not seem to add up as neatly as arithmetic in the heart. And then, at eom point, I start to casually wonder how many piles I have left.

The erosion is dealt with by knowing it, seeing it, yet looking to grow forward to. To not forget but not to get caught in that grip of erosion. To look forward and backward at the same time.

I measure time, it measures me, and yet, there is a road ahead still to travel.

Top / Featured Image: CC0 Licensed image from Pixabay

The post "The Time and Length of Length and Time" was originally pushed out of the bottom of a purple jar of Play-Doh at CogDogBlog ( on August 27, 2016.


  • Maha Bali

    I know you won’t see this for a while…just wanted to send tears and hugs and love your way

  • Claudia Ceraso

    Sitting next to my Mom reading you.

    They live in your heart. Both by nature and by choice.
    The latter is, to my intuition, the beautiful part.

    Huge Argentinean style hug your way.

  • Sandy

    Just returned from taking Mom, age 90, to visit my uncles, both in their eighties. We are in eastern Washington far up the Columbia. It always takes a couple of days to get here and a couple more to get back to Oregon, so the inevitable question is, “When will return and for whose funeral?” Mom really feels the poignancy of these last visits, and your thoughts on love and grief through time underscore what is already the theme of the day…

  • Joe Murphy

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece of writing, Alan.

    Through your photos, I think of you as part of the Southwest. And so a deft phrase like “some ethereal construction of the Ocean City beach of the 1970s” catches me off-guard, a sudden tug from home that makes me fall into your writing.

    I don’t really know if I believe in that Ocean City or not… but I can see it, and I know who would be there.

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