That’s not a word I use everyday. What is it, you ask?




  1. very sheer and light; almost completely transparent or translucent.
  2. delicately hazy.

1605-15; < ML diaphanus < Gk diaphan(s) transparent (equiv. to diaphan-, s. of diaphaínein to show through (see dia-, -phane) + -ēs adj. suffix) + -ous Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

Today is one of those incredible days you don’t expect in November in Colorado. It’s like a gift. The skies are cerulean blue striped with ribbons of white clouds across the horizon. The white mountaintops hover in the distance. The autumn sunlight produces filmy shadows.

This morning as I was walking from my car to church, I looked down to see my shadow beside me. Although my skirt is not see-through, the shadow of it was particulary diaphanous. I could see the various layers defined on the ground.

I am not known for being particularly diaphanous. In fact, I am more often than not opaque. Here’s another definition for you:




1. not transparent or translucent; impenetrable to light; not allowing light to pass through.

2. not transmitting radiation, sound, heat, etc.

3. not shining or bright; dark; dull.

4. hard to understand; not clear or lucid; obscure: The problem remains opaque despite explanations.

5. dull, stupid, or unintelligent.

1375-1425; late ME opake < L opācus shaded Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

I come from a long line of actors, both professed and not. Although my father acted on the stage, my mother believes that any sign of weakness is not acceptable. She is a product of her German-American upbringing where strength is only a thin line away from repression. She’ll tell you she has no problems.

I admit I have plenty of problems, but I do a pretty good job of hiding them myself. My name Patrina or Petrine is derived from Peter–the rock. Rocks are both substantial (good) and opaque (not-so-good).

I imagine many people are fooled by the mask I wear, including some who encountered me on Friday as I dropped off Christiana at her museum field trip. If anything, those who saw me probably suspected anger at the base of my rock-hard eyes.

But behind that anger is an incredible sadness that I suspect is becoming more diaphanous to those who truly look in my eyes. When I see people I haven’t seen in a long time, how many believe my answer of “fine” when they ask how I’m doing? My replies are no doubt exposed for the platitudes they are.

When will I tell the truth and ask for the help I need? After all, one often becomes opaque after learning the dangers of being transparent with the wrong people.

On the other hand, isn’t the duality of being simultaneously diaphanous and opaque at the heart of what it means to be whole? Isn’t there balance in knowing when to hide and when to share?

What I wouldn’t give for my heart, at the very minimum, to feel diaphanous for just a day again?