4. Dear Mom,

The sun was out today, but it was still chilly. Lately, I just can’t get warm – even by the fire. That happens when I’m really sad.

I missed our visits here this past year. Know that you loathed being tethered to the oxygen compressor, and hated that you couldn’t pass the test for something more portable. Practicing for your breathing test in hopes of qualifying for freedom, you would purposefully march around the house, and to the mailbox – until you just couldn’t anymore. “My legs go, but I run out of puff.”

Made a copy of your death certificate today. Stupid things companies need to turn off cable.

I really miss talking to you, hearing about the ladies at the new digs, how Aunt MG is doing, and all the goofy stuff.

Adulting sucks.

Love ya.

2.Dear Mom,

It’s Monday, and I didn’t see you this weekend. Somehow, that makes everything harder. I thought about driving by your grave, but couldn’t. Not yet.

I don’t know who to talk to about just stuff. People offer to listen, but you never know if they really mean it. “You can talk to me” loses its meaning when every little thing becomes a point of contention. And all of the hurts, the slights, the ugly things from others are amplified right now. I wonder if this is how it will always be, or a time-limited response to grief. Am probably best off away from people.

I want to smile back at those who act kindly, show my gratitude for their efforts, but apparently am falling short. And those who repeatedly ask “Are you alright?” Just. Stop. No, I’m not alright. No, I’m not going to smile with enthusiasm so you feel comfortable. Right now, all of my energy is in trying to keep my head above water. How many times do I need to use my words?

“Checking in” – that works for me as I feel no expectations. Texts and phone calls are good for can opt out if falling apart. Face to face suffocates me. I know intentions are good, but isn’t the anxiety obvious? And why is it assumed that things are better with people right there? Clearly, I am no good communicating.

So, here I sit, grateful for the relative quiet and peace of work. Earlier, kiddos were running and playing outside. Before me stacks of work demand attention, but I’m thinking about the day and what I would tell you on the way home – the card from one of my old schools, how M was so proud she made a star on her own, the huge smile and hug from T when he saw me, and pictures the littles made for me.

I know that your son has always been your #1, and you said that to me just a few months ago. The words spoken aloud hurt; I won’t lie. So yes, I definitely understand that I am less important, and am oh-so familiar with that role. However, think you loved me despite my failures to meet your expectations. Think our conversations were usually a welcome interruption of your day. Who knows.

All over the place emotionally. Just feel the feels and keep swimming, Dory. Dreading the drive home.

Love ya.

Dear Mom,

Walking into the ER, as the nurse took us to the conference room, I knew this wasn’t your usual ER visit. The doctor explained what we would see. Your boy put on a brave face, but his hands were shaking. He knew because the ER nurse called and asked our ETA. I had to be strong – for him, for you – but it was hard, just in case you wondered.

The machine was doing compressions on your chest, the tube was in your throat, the monitor lines flat, and the people stood so helpless. I knew this wasn’t your usual ER visit.

I promised you I would trip on the cord. Remember how we would laugh about it before you got really sick? Then, over the past few months, you were more earnest as you reminded me, “You promised. You have the papers.” You always said I would have to do it because your son could not. Innumerable were the times that you stated how different I was from him, how I was harder, I could cope.

Do you have any idea the price I pay for coping? The price of saying aloud, “Stop. Let her go.”

Someone put a chair behind me, “You can sit down.” But I couldn’t, I had to touch your hand, your face, to know that it really was you who I had abandoned on this plane. No, not the usual ER visit.

We were never “Best Friends” like some mothers and daughters. We struggled with our beliefs and opinions – arguing, finding common ground, forging acceptable terms of engagement, doing our best. Sometimes it was good enough, often it wasn’t. But still, we tried.

Yesterday I went to work. What was I thinking? Hmm, maybe that I needed to remove myself from role of grieving daughter? Anyway, you know how you kept me company driving home all these years? Well, the new normal – no phone calls. I miss you already. Most days you were the only person I talked to who wasn’t associated with work. Guess I need to get some friends like yours, eh?

I’m still trying to do right on your behalf. Honor your wishes. Take care of things as you wanted. I’m tired of adulting. I just want to cry someplace safe.

But not tonight. Tonight there is still work to do. And I’m alone, again. Love you, Mom.





Two breasts – gone.


Two brain tumors – surgically removed.


Three children.


Three siblings.


One husband.


One friend counting.


Three days.


Fifty -two weeks.


Twenty years.


Right now, praying for thirty-eight.

The Other 364

Feel the warmth of sun,love, and laughter.

Coffee hot, milk from the local dairy.

Toodle through the woods with the pups. Tis the season for them to disappear into great mounds of leaves only to pop out and galavanting onward.(Little dogs, one blends into the scenery a bit too well!)

Snuggle in with a book – after finishing some work. And yes, so grateful that it’s work that is mostly fun for me.

Maybe a fire later.

The other 364 celebrated.

Two Years: Message to My Father

It could’ve been just hours ago. Sitting vigil, waiting with you so you need not die alone. Your time.

The brother and I wished you peace. 

That little girl who lost her daddy so many years ago, she leaned in whispering wishes of joy wherever you travel.

Now? Struggling. Striving. And sometimes surrendering  – to the anger, mistrust, loneliness, hurt, and sorrow. Self-reflection painful and disheartening: your child most certainly.

I want to be free of the fears infecting these scars. No thank you, I do not want to “sit with” the pain. It has been fifty years of never being enough. No, I can’t take care of my mother and brother I like you made me promise decades ago. Can’t repair their roads, or mine, though have tried. They neither seek nor heed my counsel. My value appears to exist only in usefulness to their needs. A painful, oft silenced truth. Always the pragmatic clan.

Here. Never enough, never worthy. Lesson learned: unconditional love is not.

Two years, it could’ve been tonight.

Sneaky Knave

Grief is a sneaky, nefarious knave. Insinuating himself as nostalgia then assaulting full-force as one’s protective garb rattles to the ground.

Evicted after a vicious, exhausting battle, he retreated into the morning’s sunlight.

Must fortify protections, plan well, and deter future attacks. Unspoken mourning alerts him to vulnerability. Words shared and actions taken mitigate the risks. Unconscious tears call for him; awareness repels his attack. 

Mourning for what was and wasn’t on another Hallmark holiday. Aching, but aware and moving. No longer battered by Grief, for now.