The question arises in me sharply, from a place of never-known grief. And like falling backwards into dark waters, I am unaware of its depth and temperature. When I hear the simple lyrics to a children’s song, I wonder if they ever crossed her ears in the days following his passing. I wonder if they may have struck her as they did me. And this imagined memory of her paused mid-sorrow, the stirrings of renewal washing over her, brings me selfish comfort and connectedness.

every day brings more
than the day before
open any door
and say hello hello hello

it’s the same bright sun
shines on everyone
and though the clouds may come
just say hello hello hello

These words, made harmonious through a gaggle of friends and a mandolin that speaks, sat on the stoop of my heart and knocked. “Let us in, won’t you?”, they inquired as they rapped on the worn and loved parts of me.


A question.

An invitation.

An invocation.

A yearning.

An echo.

A remembrance.

A primal awareness.

A salutation to the world.

A call to the wild.

A greeting that can part those murky waters within.

A realization that you are most definitely not alone.

A muttering, meek and silent, that resounds with healing.

A recognition of life beyond tense shoulders and regrets and heaviness.

And an acceptance that this, too, is life.


On the video, he plucks his mandolin in a yellow suit, grinning as if reading a love letter soaked with memories. Lifting a leg here and there to the beat, he resembles a giraffe attempting to dance. A very friendly, happy sort of giraffe, busting a move in the setting sun of the savannah. I stare at the shock of graying bed-head hair that waves in cadence to the strum of the upright bass. The wrinkles along his laughing jaw are authentically blissful. As his cheeks puff in an out with the notes drawn from his harmonica, I suddenly realize I am seriously getting old. Because this man – 17 years my senior – is kinda rocking my world. I notice the children in the audience oblivious to his rugged, folksy looks. But I see it in the mama’s eyes, in the way they sway with the song, keeping one eye on Dan and maintaining a perma-smile in the event he glances their way. Oh yeah.

And there I am in my living room with Indi perched like a joey on my jiggly belly, whirling along to another one of Mr. Zane’s syncopated ditties. It seemed a fitting segue after Hello.

jump up clouds are passing
look up the sky is laughing
i know we’ll be laughing too
jump up i want to dance with you

jump up you know i love you
that’s right i love love love you
a new day is shining down
jump up and we’ll dance around


Later, with sliced strawberries in hand, I suck in and stroll salsa style across my kitchen to the summons of Hello. Again.

Hello to the mess on my floor

Hello to laundry piled like pyramids

Hello to the poopy stains on my carpet

Hello to dirty diapers overflowing the cans

Hello to grapes wilting on the counter

Hello to not taking action, leaving unresolved

Hello to jumping up and jumping down

Hello to my girl unbathed and red with drips of berry juice

Hello to my other girl giggling with dribbles of milk on her cheek

Hello to my sagging boobs and happy heart

Hello to my authentic self and the one wearing masks

Hello to never measuring up and then ditching the measurements

Hello to scars and wounds

Hello to the waning days and the singing quails

Hello to the copper sun and platinum moon

Hello to denial clinging to my gut

Hello to the surrendering of parting ways

Hello to tension and release

Hello to words of anguish and hope

Hello to grief that takes its time

Hello to the unknown and uncharted

Hello to the familiar and mapped

Hello to this life and the next


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Dad says:

    RE: End of Summer


    I stand at the edge of the forrest
    and watch the dying glow of dust

    A pale pink and orange band of light
    Where minutes before a blazing orb of red
    had rested

    My soul screams for the fire to return
    I yearn for the warmth of the summer

    A cold stillness settles upon my neck
    It is nearly November….the leaves have fallen
    Summer voices are stilled

    As a middle aged man longs for the vigor of youth
    I yearn for the brightness to return

    For the long sunny days of summer

    But only yesterday it seems….I was a boy
    Unable to wait for the tomorrow

    Now….I cling to the edge of the forrest
    Pleading with the warmth to linger

    Mourning the brevity of the day

    A silver moon rises fast over my shoulder
    It looks cold…………..I am cold

    What happened to the warmth of my summer?

    Bob Ritchie
    October 22, 2000

  2. Joanna says:

    When my husband and I were in high school and we were in between dating (you know, amidst a horrible teenage break up), I would look out my bedroom window and see the moon, yellow and full, in the night black sky. It would comfort me, knowing that he was out there, somewhere, probably seeing it too. Today, when he is away for work or whatever, I still take comfort in our moon, how it blankets us, keeps us together even when we are apart.

  3. Yes, sweet sister-leigh… I crush more today on Dan Zanes than I ever did on Simon Le Bon. 🙂

    I’m so happy that you liked it. I can’t see how anyone wouldn’t. I listen to him by myself, for chrissakes. He gives me happy-tears almost every time.

    Actually, interesting that you imagined his music during more potent times. As the boys were born and then small and sick and then as Liam left us and as we took Ben home, I could only listen to two kinds of music, ever:

    1) the live version of Bob Marley’s ‘War’, over and over and over again, really loud. I think I needed my own grief to feel dwarfed, by thinking of grief and catastrophe and injustice on a much larger scale. I know, I know… weird.

    2) Anything by Dan Zanes – particularly the mellow stuff, the quiet and the sweet. He was such a light for me, I can’t explain it. For a few weeks now I’ve been trying to work up the courage to write to him or his cheerful minions, and I haven’t yet. I feel like I need him to know how much it meant to me to be able to decompress (or swim in bittersweet, whatever was required) to his sounds.

    We’ll have to talk about your upcoming musical investment. It’s like a fantastic, engrossing book that you never forget – I’m jealous you’re just at the beginning of discovering the love and joy and good vibrations that eminate from this happy giraffe.

    (pats self on back for getting you hooked)
    xoxoxoxo Kate

  4. Sarah says:

    We have a similar infatuation over here but you’ve definitely brought in into a different, more profound light. I’ve got to get my hands on this video. YouTube just isn’t cutting it anymore… 🙂

  5. isabel says:

    Hello to you sweet one.

  6. Can’t wait to say ‘hello’ in person!

    I love how at the very end, as the song is fading away, Dan faintly says hello in Korean (yuh-bo-say-yo).

    If you like Dan, you’d probably like his friend Elizabeth Mitchell.

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