Chilmark: Linda Fischer, Solstice Celebration, and Community Church

—MV Times

’Tis the season to greet one another with good tidings. To notice those we cherish.

It is time to wrap friends in a warm hello and smile.

It is time to write emails, send messages and pictures.

It is time to allow ourselves to be amazed.

The news that my beloved friend, Susan Markwica’s daughter, Anna, gave birth to Sophia Francis Owen on Nov. 16 is glorious. Dominic and Anna, Sophia is as beautiful as each of you. Welcome to parenthood. My heart bursts with joy, sorrow, and anger that Susan isn’t here and at the same time, a sense that she is.

My get-up-and-start thinking about the day alarm is set for 6 am, and labeled Susan. We used to talk every morning. I don’t want to change it. I naturally stir around 5, and enjoy watching the trees, stone wall, and grass outside my window. I like to listen while night flows into day.

I am shocked by the impossibly sad news that Linda Fischer died. I cried and begged that it was just an awful rumor, and reached out to multiple friends. How could it be true?

When grief brings you to your knees with the mixture of deepest love and yearning for the chance of more moments, my heart pulls them into focus — their smile, their advice, their jokes, their eye rolls, their laughter, their voice, their myriad of expressions that convey, “I know of what you speak, feel the same way, and walk next to you,” resonate more powerfully than words. Their calming breath. Their love and delight for their beloved family and friends. The way she moved radiated strength, competence, and comfort.

I will never forget April 1 is her birthday.

I will never forget her kindness.

I will never forget her advice to say yes when someone offers to help.

I will never forget her voice reminding me that no is a complete sentence.

I will never forget her wisdom — ideas don’t have to be invitations for comment.

I will never forget how around the edges of the practical, we can allow ourselves to anticipate amazement and joy.

I will never forget to laugh.

Albert, Lydia, Molly, Chris, and Andrew, I am so so sorry for your loss, and hold you in the light.

We are invited to help decorate a tree and commit to doing something kind or helpful for someone else. Every year sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Pam Glavin puts up a Blessing Promise Tree in memory of her husband, Carl Widdiss, at his gravesite in Aquinnah. The cemetery is off Rose Meadow Way, which is off State Road, after the town hall and library and before you get to the lighthouse. Let’s all help decorate it with ornaments and a promise.

Riley, Whalen, and Yossi were kind and helpful souls. Maybe this year, we will also be doing it in their memory. Let’s not forget their families and friends.

On Dec. 6, Priscilla Warner posted on her Instagram account a long and comforting sound bath. It helps.

Pathways M.V. truly keeps the light on in Chilmark during the winter. Dec. 21, at 5 pm, is its annual Solstice Celebration, dedicated to Marianne Goldberg. It is a thanks for all she and her family have done for the Martha’s Vineyard community.

It is a casual evening of camaraderie. Dinner: Feel free to bring a dish, if you like. Music: We are invited to come play the grand piano, and bring any instrument. Spoken word: All are invited to read or recount a memory of Marianne.

The Chilmark Community Church has seceded, and is no longer affiliated with a denomination. Sunday is Christmas Eve, and the church will have its morning service at 9 am. And at 5 pm, there will be a traditional Christmas Eve service with lessons of joy and hope, and the singing of carols. They hope to see you there.

Share hugs and tell someone you care. Somehow, together, we will find a way to carry on and bring joy into the world. This week I want to honor grief, give hugs, and learn some jokes and hear laughter.

If you have any Chilmark Town Column suggestions, email Claire Ganz,



  1. Thank you for the simply beautiful words about my sister Linda. She loved her Vineyard community with all her heart. May all of you remember her always.

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