Sauna Club Solitude

I was alone today in the sauna.

That never happens.

I mean never.

I am the kind of person who needs a fair amount of alone time. I stay up late if I need to to be by myself

I did not want to be alone today.  Not today

I waited, thinking surely someone would enter at any moment and they did not.

I have spent countless hours over 9 years in this sauna. I know every corner and sitting there is often not unlike siting in a pew.

The silence and warmth and the feel of the cedar under me today felt Sacred;

and that was not necessarily  a good thing

I thought of all the people I have known sitting in this sauna pew; all the men and women, mostly much older than I am with wisdom and pain and joy to share.

I thought of the first time I was here and thought;

“They were all alive then.”

The thing about a sauna is you can cry and it looks like sweat.

Remember that.

My father. My father in law. Two men I loved more than I could ever explain. I learned much from these men; iconoclasts and wicked smart and deeply generous of spirit.

They were alive once and now they are dead.

Oliver and Ed, and then Grandpa George and then Donna and Tom and Marcie and then Bob and then…

The list of the Lost is long.

The cedar of the sauna has born witness to much pain and loss and it holds my sorrow and keeps it safe and warm and alive;  and that is a good thing. It is good to remember and to not forget

I thought of  the ones we have lost; each death its own singular experience with its own way of sitting in my heart.

I also thought of the people who are here

Phil and Hal and Trish and …

You can count your blessings in many ways: loss and gain and aren’t they really the same if we let them be?

I lost them


They are here in my very marrow  and in my heart and in my vocabulary and the way these words fold together,



I am losing my mother. She is not far from here  and I will sit with her and her care team in a few days

to discuss the future.

The future

There is one even if right now it doesn’t feel like it.

The future will be of indeterminate length. What it will contain is anyones guess and up for grabs.

I have thoughts  sitting in this sauna pew inspired in my solitude by the presence of  another community that has grown and bears witness and shares wisdom:   You.

“ You love your mother. It shows in your writing’

“You may be saving a life…’

‘You can be her mother for her.”

“You have the love you need to do this.”

” The Gypsy Queen is right…”

“Grace is not cheap, it is not easy, but I am thankful that Grace is real.”

“Ok,  the beginning is near let’s go…”

The future will be Grace filled; that is the nature of things. Death is not the end and I can feel that now as  remember

Tom saying, “ You must love us very much,’

or Bob saying,’”I say,  love IS enough,”

or Ed saying, “I understand now,”

or Marcie saying, “I can not live with out Tom.’

or Daddy saying, ” I have always loved your mother, I will always love your mother.”

on and on and on it goes.

 I think of the kids playing with wood scraps as swords as we built Dadddy’s Coffin. I think of our Ella Bee and how soon she will be here from across the pond.   My son will take his cousin by the hand and we will walk down the street and into Patsy’s as we have done as a family for 48 years and we will have homemade pasta and we will toast our father;

And we will toast our mother.

48 years. 48 years of love and pasta and toasts to those who have gone and to those who have married

and to those who have been born.

Place counts.

The Sauna,   Patsy’s,   my Heart; all places that count and are in the future; With all the people who are here and all the people who have gone

Place counts and so do I.

I found myself counting the steps to the locker room and then counting the tiles in the shower; first up and then sideways. I added the numbers together and the number was odd. I went to my locker; lock number 9; again odd.

Odd numbers don’t work; even numbers do.

I am counting. Again.

I count hoping to add things up to make some sense; to find patterns; to gain control over what is God’s and not mine.


I count hoping to make sense.

Only this makes sense;

“Accept the things you cannot change.”

That alone makes sense I think as I count the steps to the car

and turn the key….

Grateful to be here and to be alone but to be with you.

Thank you for This.

Peace,  Jen

~ by Step On a Crack on October 31, 2011.

15 Responses to “Sauna Club Solitude”

  1. I certainly love you and care for you. I’m sorry i didn’t see this earlier. I went to bed early. I am now awake … i have no doubt something stirred in me: My sense that my friend needed me to say, “you’re loved … it is unconditional — you’re going to be OK”. You are here, now, and you are loved by all your friends … new ones, writing ones, flesh and bone, those who have moved on! Everyone counts SO much. I am so happy you reached out … and reaching out to all people who know and love the real you. Everyone matters … we are all social … keep the good ones near your heart and squeeze tight … hold on! We are here!!! With love and devotion, my friend. Mel


  2. I am glad to be here with you as you travel this path. Those we love and those who love us add to a sum of who and what we are. You are loved and loving person. I feel it’s a wonderful thing to be sharing this journey with you.


    • I must say that without you and my new friends on this path with me, I am certain to have stopped writing and THAT would have been a big mistake. I am finding the writing cathartic and writing FOR someone is very different than for myself. YOU are a blessing in all this. Really. I mean REALLY I wish you Peace and Joy my friend…


  3. How many gentle voices does it take to drown out a harsh one? If you’re counting, Jen, may their words of love and grace engulf you and steady you as you continue on this unpaved path.


  4. i think it’s so amazing to see how a higher power can act concretely in our daily lives. It would seem yours put you in an empty sauna to sweat some ideas out and purify the mind as well as the body!


    • Yes sir. Toxins are Toxins. out with the yucky in with the HP. I want to thank you very much for reminding me of the Serenity Prayer. That line is my new mantra (followed by the Fibonacci Sequence…) you two…. thank you…


  5. I like how you compared the sauna bench to pews in church. What a beautiful analogy. Yes, that is sacred space for you. Another beautiful post from a woman growing into her beauty.


    • oh Debby You and your Pews in which I sit helped inspire this image and I am very grateful to you for that. My eyes are all puffy from crying off and on all day. No Beauty here… Except… my Heart feels close to my God. Thank you!


  6. Odd numbers don’t work; even numbers do.

    But in the Fibonacci Sequence there are odd numbers and it is one of the most beautiful patterns we can see in nature. Somehow the sequence, which looks a little messy on the face of things, orders the number of petals on a flower or the notes of a musical composition or in the ancestry of honeybees. It’s a weird pattern, but one of a kind of order. There is grace, even in the odd things. I have to believe, with evidence like this, that there is a greater pattern, one I may not see so clearly now, but perhaps will one day. I hope so.

    I don’t know if it will help or not, but I read something remarkable the other day. I still don’t know about how I feel about the man Steve Jobs was (I realize I do not and never will know him except through the eyes and ears of others), but I really appreciated what his sister says here:

    I’m glad there is a community of listeners here, too. 🙂

    Stay strong. Stay centered. You can do it, because there is grace present.


    • Thank you: “Yet, what amazed me, and what I learned from his illness, was how much was still left after so much had been taken away.” What a beautifully written piece and tribute. You were dead on This Helps. AND…

      OK here we go:

      This is ONE of the bumper stickers on my car:

      “If Fibonacci wrote the book the pages would be numbered 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34,..”

      I LOVE the Golden Mean and Ratio and am a teeny bit obsessed about them actually. DaVinci did it to me. I am pretty sure that my flesh talisman will be the diagram of the Golden Ratio in the rectangle thingy. HOW ABOUT THAT Mrs. Small World! I was really OCD as a kid in all the chaos and even numbers did it for me. I just might upend that with the Sequence…the old therapist says to just stay away from counting BUT one must do what one must do.. I am with you I am certain that one day a neurologist and a physicist and a Shaman will all see the sequence on the same day in the same room and the world will spin and peace will reign. I dig physics and Eastern thought and the Sequence. Not often I meet another Fibonacci Head. my, my,

      Grace is Indeed present Grace and Miracles DO abound! Thank you. really really.


  7. Are you real? You seem so much like a dream when you write. Such beauty, such enveloping understanding. Blessings, blessings be upon you. SH


  8. Such a moving post. The part I hope you recall and cling to is GOD not OCD. When it compels you to count, remember to pray as well. I shouldn’t try to advise when I know nothing of the struggles you face, but I know well the joy He gives. It doesn’t seem fair, to me. But that’s life on life’s terms and none of us knows what lies ahead. All I know is that when we get there He will be there, too. I count on it, so to speak. I didn’t mean to be using a pun, but it came out, so I’ll leave it.


    • Heidi funny you should mention this: As a kid I would count before I would pray and I prayed all the time. After a time I started adding God into the counting and I got all confused with counting on God or counting on counting. I know now that is the nature of OCD born of PTSD. I really had a hard hard time getting to the place where I could JUST pray without counting first. I had to stop praying the rosary Too much counting. I am MUCH better now about Just Praying. Anytime. Anywhere in Anyway I need to. I have learned to talk with my God. I still LOVE the Hail Mary and always will but I love my dialog with God too. I love the pun by the way. Makes me smile! thank you!!!


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