Focus on What Really Matters

Dear Friends:

Eleven years ago I was in Toronto to celebrate the birthdays of my mother, Mary, and my sister, Judy. A few days into the visit, I was with my mother in her upstairs bedroom when an inspiration came to ask if she’d like to pick a heart card. “Yes,” she said, her eyes brightening as she reached into the blue glass vase I held out to her. Squinting down at the card, she read “Focus on what really matters,” and reaching down into the vase for my own card, I was surprised to see the same message. Clearly it was important for me to be here at this time. My mother would be turning eight-five in a few days. Six months earlier, with several health conditions, it seemed she wouldn’t make it to this point.

Over the next five years I made many more trips to Toronto to see my mother, whose health challenges were multiplying. It felt important to be part of this stage of her life and help make her transition easier. In the summer of 2014, she died in a west-end retirement home after her second stroke. After her funeral and the closing date of our family home of fifty-two years, I flew back home to Salt Spring Island. My life seemed profoundly changed in many ways. I began writing about what I was going through in my journal and in poems about my mother’s last year, which seemed necessary and critical to my grieving process. With each poem that arrived on the page a bit of the loss I was feeling was released. Finally, after five years, I finished a poem about the arc of light hovering over my mother as she lay in her bed the day before she died (the arc was clearly visible in a photograph I’d taken for my youngest brother’s birthday). The poems felt complete.

As such, it gives me great pleasure to announce that my friend and colleague Diana Hayes has published this suite of twenty poems as the second book in her new publishing venture, Raven Chapbooks. Arc of Light is an exquisite forty-seven page art book, with a stunning cover, innovative design, and unique touches such as endpapers made with bits of Tamarind tree leaves (see the attached press release). As poet and writer Vanessa Shields has said, “Nothing can prepare a daughter’s heart for the loss of her mother, and it feels safe and necessary to remain under the veil of their death. But true love – that undeniable light exchange between souls – transcends time and space as we ‘carry the dead’ into our own precious living. True love is ‘all softness and light’ as Gane so powerfully unfolds into the pages of this beautiful, moving chapbook.”

There are only a hundred copies, which are going quickly, so if you’d like a book you can email me or  click here. I’ll be reading from Arc of Light at a Zoom book launch organized by the Salt Spring Library on November 30 at 7 p.m. (Pacific Time); details are below.

As we navigate the ninth month of Covid lockdowns, the message my mother and I received back in 2009 has never seemed so vital. “Focus on what really matters” is a call to remember what truly sustains and nourishes us during difficult times such as these—the bonds of love we share with our loved ones, our communities, and all beings in the world.

With Love


Zoom Poetry Reading November 30, 7 p.m.

with Lorraine Gane reading from Arc of Light

Join the zoom meeting at:

Meeting ID: 889 4802 3447, or dial by your location +1 647 374 4685 Canada, +1 647 558 0588 Canada, +1 778 907 2071 Canada, +1 204 272 7920 Canada, +1 438 809 7799 Canada, +1 587 328 1099 Canada.