I can’t even…

You know when you have a really important piece of paper, like, really important. You don’t want to accidentally put your tea cup on it or sit on it or loose it or have someone pick it up with potato chip grease on their hands. So, you put it in an envelope, and you lick the seal shut, (they use cyanide in that glue) and then you put tape over the seal. You push really really really hard on that tape, sealing it shut from everyone. Sealing it shut so not a single person can get it open. Not. One.

Oh wait. What did it say again?? I know it was important, and perhaps I will recognize it when I see it somewhere else, maybe in a book, or a magazine, or maybe someone will mention it and I will say, “Oh! Right! That is what it said!” Only that only lasts a few seconds, then you have to keep seeking out what it said, that piece of paper sitting snug inside the cyanide glue and tape. If you open it the envelope will be unrecognizable, all shredded and tattered and the paper, well, the paper will be just smudged to smithereens.

The day comes though, when you open it, you tear off the tape with layers of envelope paper stuck to it, and you pick open the seal, or at least you try and finally you just rip it open. There it is. The. Paper. The one that is imprinted on your heart, all crisp and clean and, well, what does it say?

old envelope




I have a friend, well more of an acquaintance now but she had been a friend when we were in high school, and if she said, “Jump” I am pretty sure I would reply with, “How high?” She is one of those girls who exude coolness. She drove a cool old Volvo and listened to David Bowie. She walked with a stride and laughed like she meant it. I ran into her recently, in the grocery store of course. It was Christmas Eve and I was grabbing last minute necessities and we ended up at the cash registers together. We were laughing about the fact that she had bought her daughter a automatic car starter. Something highly coveted here in Maine, and something she herself had yet to have. “The things we do for our children!” We laughed. And now she is headed to New York to her son’s funeral. He was 21 yrs old and got into a car accident. She got the call and…. well.

I too am a Mom who has lost a child, my 9 1/2 yr old son died of cancer. So I guess I have a glimmer of what she may experience although I do feel it differs for everyone. I do find when a friend or acquaintance looses a child I have a strong desire to reach out. Not completely altruistic I must say, it is healing for me. It somehow eases the pain I have, the hole I sometimes feel in the loss of my son.

‘Why?’ I wonder. Is it a perspective change? Like not focusing on the pain? Or (and this feels true) is it more that I know can find a smidgen of a reason for what my child and I went through. I now have something to do with it. I want to be a life raft. I am good at it, and by that I mean I know when to not answer the phone and just take care of myself. It may sound cruel but being empathetic and a witness to someone’s pain has the potential to exhaust you…. but back to my not so altruistic yearnings to be a beacon in hell….

I feel it is human nature to want to know, “Why?”, I also feel it is futile. So why do we search for the clue? What makes us want to blame, rationale, find the thread? For me it is fear. Then I can see what is coming and hey it is so much nicer knowing the wrecking ball is about to swing in my direction. Fear. Now that is a good reason.Clue pieces

Misery Enjoys Company

My dear sweet friend’s son died recently. It was sudden, unexpected and he was way too young. I called her one day following his death and said, “I feel so heartbroken for you.” She replied, “Good. I want you to feel it too.” Then we both laughed. The truth is, I get it. I wanted the superpower of touching someone and having them feel the agonizing, knee buckling grief I felt when my son died. Just a second of the pain so people understood how hard it was to still voluntarily get out of bed and be an adult. Yes, I wanted their hearts to break too. She said her friend who is very religious, she has bible verses roll off her tongue like water, called her and simply said, “I have no words.” This shows honoring of that which one can not fathom. There are no words for this loss. There is keening, and falling to the ground and blinding pain. Even that does not do it justice.

She said, “I will keep on for anything but living would be shameful.” And in the shadow of this loss, while the earth still trembles under your feet and you feel so completely un-tethered you don’t trust that you can still get through the day without floating right up into the atmosphere or losing your mind. When every single emotion opens up the path to wracking sobbing pain so you just try to stay asleep and disconnected. You keep waking yourself up, pulling yourself back into life.

Maybe the wanting to have others empath the heartache and is so your vulnerability is insulated by people who can be gentle and patient with you as you reconstruct reality without your child. Regardless, we can not always have the knowledge or experience the pain others endure, we can just be kind, listen, and perhaps honor the struggle of living some of us experience.

Dear heart

You who are so young, still expecting the taller ones around you to be gate keepers. Now you see, there are no gate keepers, they are still waiting for someone too, to protect them. How un-tethered you must feel, how ungrounded and vulnerable. You, a small fragile bird, you wings not yet filled in, your bones so tiny and hollow. The slightest wind and you topple and roll, sore and frightened.

Dearheart, they will not open their eyes. They can  not see you waiting and hoping for protection, some of the scariest culprits are waiting inside you. You can be your own gate-keeper. Just relax, just know this, life will land you were you are supposed to be. You are safe. You will take a step and it will be in the exact moment and in the precise path you are intending to go. One foot, then the other. You look around, waiting to see who is seeing this, ‘look at me taking this step!’, they have their heads down, watching their own feet. You keep walking, trust me. You will get through this all and you will learn so much. Your wings fill in and the gusting wind becomes a joyful exhilarating moment to take your breath away, how wonderful! So much joy!

Take flight, and then land, and smile to yourself. Smile, ease, and joy.

Leap Frog

I didn’t play this much as a child, leaping over the back of one friend to scooch down and let them leap over yours, but life has a way of making you feel like it is an ongoing game. Not that it is a bad thing. I think it is just part of being in life and choosing to participate. It makes me think of what the adversities in our life can offer to those who are around us. Perhaps we can allow the adversity to scooch us down so that another can use our experience to leap ahead. And so on. (pay it forward and all that)

When my son died at 9 1/2 yrs of age fifteen years ago, I had the kind of transformation that great spiritual leaders speak of. An awakening, I could see and even more clearly now,  how his illness and death served me beyond words. I can attest that every breath I take is linked with experience of having a child die and the falling away of all that I thought was real. How none of it mattered, how even time took down it’s mask and I saw the truth. The Truth. I spent a very long time in grief and in awe of his death. I cried at every single love song, every mention of heartache brought back the feeling of pain in my body. I suffered deeply and still have moments that bring me to my knees for longing to have him with me. I can also see the person I was when he died died with him. That person was not an enduring entity but just a collection of ‘should be’ and supposed to’. She was wearing a mask and using a tone of voice that was not really her. Not really me, no enduring.

Now I allow, or maybe even welcome the game, I will scooch down and let life have me to use me for the awakening out of suffering for others. 


It sounds like such a clear and concise word, dichotomy, like it belongs in a mathematics book or muttered repeatedly by someone with OCD. Instead it is the muck of all and the space between the muck and both of those things combined into one. Some would say it is the coin which holds opposites, flip one way and then the other, both are one. God, now I sound like the man with no face.

Here is where I am going with this, life, all of it, the in breath, the surviving, the everything is it’s opposite. I have had a shit day with my buddy anxiety. The m-effer showed up FIRST THING this morning when it is my day off, no one home but me, the cats, and a few episodes of Upstairs/Downstairs. It just barged right in and ruined my ‘me’ party. It started with watching a clip on  the Bob Harper interview on Twitter, (stupid social media), and boom, I went to heart racing, ending up in the ER with needles in my arm and gasping for air with no relief, getting electrocuted and sliced open just to stay perpetually in this feeling of panic. My mind is a master of demise and apocalyptic endings.  So, I got up, took a shower so if I DID end up dying on my kitchen floor I didn’t smell like ass. I thought to myself, ‘self, why is it you have wished yourself dead?’, you have wished the story of this life to be over and yet when I start imagining the end I feel panic. Does that mean I really want to be here? Does it mean I don’t want this story to end?

I am a grain of sand, this named person living this story of my life, I am just a speck on the endless beach of sand. And yet, I still value the feel of warmth from the sun, the taste of tea with honey, the breath of my spouse sleeping beside me. I could go on and on, so many things I cherish and don’t ever want to let go of. And still I get tired, and I want to rest my mind and my heart. I want to lie down and and float into the ether. I want both, together sometimes, two sides, one coin.


I went for a walk today, I do this a lot, often times alone. Today I invited someone very near and dear to my heart, I feel like is a part of my cells. I drove to the ocean, which is not hard to do in my beautiful home state of Maine. I stepped out of my car and onto wet sand of the beach with my partner right on my heels. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and although I did offer the invitation I felt like saying, “oh leave me alone for a minute”. Only there was no one there to say it to, just me and my buddy grief.

I have found over the past fifteen years I have some things that hold true. I may be asked how many years it has been since my son died and my mouth will tell you fifteen years, my heart will tell you it was only a second ago and my mind will say it was a lifetime, no, a million lifetimes. Lifetimes unending of grief since I watched my son, 9 1/2 yrs old, suffer with cancer and die. It does not leave you. I have faith it will never leave.

When I lock my grief out and lock the door it waits, for a while, then it plows down the door and knocks the breath out of me. Best to invite it in, make some time for it, hold the door open and take a deep breath. Trying to keep that door locked and held shut will exhaust you and ultimately will not keep it out. I know. Not what you want to hear, trust me. Like I said, even planning this date, executing the finer details of being alone at the ocean and letting myself feel the feels, knowing I had a ‘reward’ planned at the end of the morning, I STILL wanted to run away. 

Emptying out

It is the 5th day of Lent. I grew up Catholic and had no concept of what this time of year meant to me until about 5years ago when I attended the Ash Wednesday service and something connected. I loved it, I loved the idea of this energy of turning in, like a collective time of reflection, slowing down and assessing. It felt like I was a part of something bigger than me, it felt ‘right’ coming at the end of winter, before we gear up for the higher energy of Spring. It feels like the Universe is saying, “Here, take a rest, think about things a bit and then it will be time to wake up and make choices.” I love isolation so this feels like I have a reason to do it. (that’s my confession) I also love the feeling of being part of something bigger than me, starting with Ash Wednesday which is a reminder that it is from ash you came and it is to ashes you return.  The message I get is, “calm down, you are only a blip in time, now, once you realize you are not going to need to carry the weight of the world on you shoulders, think about where you have been, where you would like to go, and what can you do to lighten your load to get there.

In the past, I have given up sugar, given up buying frivolous things, added a meditative reading, this year I am giving up telling my story. (I say this as I am writing this, telling my story to you…) It is harder than I thought but also has revealed something quite wonderful.

I decided to do this when I was reflecting on the many times I would be telling a story about something and before I could even finish someone else would jump in with their story. I felt frustrated so often I thought, Geeze, I must do this too, and felt I wanted to take a look. Good times. I caught myself doing this 3 times on the first morning. So I practice, I listen with more intention and tell my mind we can revisit the story I want to share if it is asked for. Otherwise, I listen and stay quiet, and I have noticed this feeling of Velcro being pulled inside my body, like a physical not wanting to let go when I keep my mouth shut. I have felt like I HAD to share my story lest I completely disappear. Like I was going to turn to ether and float away. Well, I will just have to see if that happens, self, because I REFUSE to share unless asked.

Here is what I have found after 5 days. First of all, I didn’t disappear, yet. Second, it takes A LOT of practice, like pressing reset with every breath, I keep forgetting and then I hear myself blabbing away and can’t figure out how to cut myself off. Finally, and this one feels like, a biggie, I am noticing that without my story to tell, people don’t really notice, they just want to be heard and the ‘you’ they want to share with is whomever they have decided you are and may have absolutely nothing to do with whomMe Au Natural you feel you are.

Chew on that for a minute.

Boiled down, it doesn’t really matter, people have created the story FOR you, you don’t even have to keep the momentum going. You can just be, be a vessel for listening, be a human form breathing in and breathing out. There is a huge energy shift with embodying this. Huge.

How To Love an Angel

That was not my original title… it was, How To Love A Dead Child but I thought it was too harsh.  I thought of it after reading another Mother’s writing on her child and the relationship she has with him after his passing. My son died, he was 9 1/2 yrs old and a very wise, old soul. He had a brain tumor, diagnosed at 3 1/2yrs and I was told when he was 7 yrs old it would kill him. I did not believe them. I never gave up a glimmer of hope that he would be the one exception to the rule. He was not. He died 22 months after I was told there was nothing more to do and to take him home. We had been given a few weeks perhaps a couple of months and he would die. I kept working (I had to) and parenting my other child, and I was newly married so life didn’t stop for his dying. Not then, not now. So, how to love him when I have no physical form to hug, to make treats for, to kiss his head before sleep, to buy new shoes for, to make his bed with clean flannel sheets in winter, for this to me is how I love, and yet, is it?

I have 2 sons here whom I get to do physical acts of affection for, for my son who is not here, it requires nothing of me except the continuation of breathing. I love him by living, and by this I do not mean by not killing myself, which I have considered, but by live-ing. I work, I pull kindness out of the deepest darkest pockets, picking off the lint and dust and bestowing it to whomever I meet, to myself, to my family. I walk away from the desire to be tired, to believe I am worn out, to throw up my flag of surrender to the world. I do not carry a sword in this battle to always be worthy of this love for him, I only take a step and take a step, tedious and relentless, patient and mundane. I pet the cats, I smile at the cashier, I wait behind you at the green light, just wait, I just… I just don’t give up. person-laying-in-field