My heart is broken.
I claim no personal connection with Mary Oliver.
I was never lucky enough to meet her, or even glimpse her from afar.
I can, like many others, attest to a deep connection to her work.
I can, like many others, rejoice in the fact of her words.
I can browse through Facebook posts and catch snippets and phrases from her work.
Snippets that resonate. And urge me to find the full piece from which it came.
And then allow me to rejoice, wallow and indulge myself in her words yet again.
I can walk around our house and reach up to a shelf to pull out a book of her work -- poems, essays, prose poems -- and smile that it's there.
She has helped ease me through some tough times.
She has soothed me into sleep.
She's been there simply for the joy of reading words written in such a way as to cause me to catch my breath and read again - oftentimes aloud.
Mary Oliver could not help but know she was admired, loved, and revered by many.
I wish she had known that I was one of them.
Knowing the possibility of ever catching that brief glimpse has now passed makes me enormously sad.
I know I'll never be able to tell her how much I truly loved her work.
But I celebrate her life by gathering her books, placing them on my nightstand, and knowing she will be here.
Here on my nightstand, and here in my heart.