• death,  Featured,  Love,  Poems

    Winter’s Song

    Winter comes in quiet, stage left, light focused elsewhere, and waits. She knows her line is coming, her nerves tumble around inside her She is a subtle addition to a lovely scene of oranges and browns and dark green As the players fall back after Autumn’s brilliant number, she moves on shaky feet When she steps into the spotlight everyone gasps – she is stunning Her homemade gown flings sequins in an orb around her as she finds her mark Standing now on solid feet, knees bent so she won’t faint, she listens for her cue Which is up to her: a break in silence whenever she senses we are…

  • death,  Grief,  life,  Love,  Motherhood

    Good Grief

    Every now and then some spirit of orderliness descends upon me and I tear up some corner or cranny of our house to take an inventory and reorganize it. Today the boxes of old notes and new stationary lured me in so I pulled them out from under my bed to sort. Before long I found myself scanning through the cards and letters for her familiar marks. My mom used a heart to end exclamation points and she mixed in cursive with her rounded print. She didn’t write a ton so what I have is essentially unicorn hair. The truth is some part of me is always searching for her…

  • death,  Grief

    The Fear of Feeling Okay

    A little more than a year ago, in the weeks and months just after my mom died, I remember feeling desperately afraid. Not of death, not of never coming out of the darkness, but of someday feeling fine. I was scared to feel normal again. I’ve read that grief is an extreme form of separation anxiety and I buy it. Our dog had separation anxiety and when we left the house he would freak-the-eff out. He broke dishes, he peed, he threw his body against the door. He lost all sense of reality, all he could see was our absence. That’s grief. The world has become a place you’re not…

  • Cancer,  death,  Grief,  life

    Why May is Grey

    May is Brain Cancer Awareness Month. It’s probably also some other awareness month and there is probably a Donut Day or something wonderfully absurd in it’s mix. These things are arbitrary. May is no more or less affected by Brain Cancer than November, but somebody wanted it to get attention so they picked this month. I wonder why. May is an otherwise beautiful month – it’s the month of blooming flowers and occasional rainstorms. May brings the end of winter, the beginning of tank top season. May means visits to the greenhouse, the sound of dirt scraping a metal shovel as you plant hope in the form of seeds or…

  • Birth,  Cancer,  death,  Grief,  life,  Love,  Worship

    And Own that Love is Heaven

    This time last year we knew. Another tumor had presented and Mom’s doctor just told us that the treatment wasn’t working. Mom realized without trying to that she would not be with us much longer and she made peace with it, mostly. She was ready for her pain to end, she was ready to be done fighting, she was ready to “be with Jesus.” She wasn’t ready to say goodbye; really, for us to mourn her. She didn’t want to be the cause of our grief. So as she laid down to get through another headache and imagined at any point she may not wake up, she made us promise her that this…

  • Cancer,  death,  Grief,  life

    My Dirty (water) Thirty

    For 29 years, February 4 started with breakfast in bed, a candle on pancakes, a few cards and presents, and a softly sung “Happy Birthday.” When I moved away Mom sent a box full of streamers and pancake mix to my new husband with careful instructions. She showed up in my apartment bedroom on my 23rd birthday when I lived alone so that I didn’t wake up by myself. My parents had balloons delivered to my elementary desk so I stood out all day. My dad took me out of school every year to have lunch at Marie Callender’s (he always offered to take me anywhere, it just didn’t feel…

  • death,  God,  Grief,  life,  Love

    Blowing Out the Candle

    So the lights go out. And whatever was said before it or during it, you can’t escape that the lights are off and the candles are warm. Every year we go to that Lutheran sanctuary – with the steps Mom was confirmed on, the cobbled aisle she walked down as a bride, the altar where they sprinkled water on my head in holy hope. We all┬ápile into cars and minivans and occupy a pew or two to sing the hymns, speak the liturgies. We listen to the message about gifts or a virgin birth or good tidings and then we do the most honest, beautiful thing we could do: we…

  • death,  God,  Grief,  life

    Evil, Chaos, and Seashells

    I don’t remember what brought us there. I don’t remember if we’d had a fight or something had happened to her at work or something else, but I remember arriving to seagulls and salty air and watching her make her way across the sand. Usually the beach was recreational: we brought blankets and snacks and sand toys and tanning oil (don’t judge). This time was different. No beach bag, just us and a purpose. Mom had business here. My memory is imperfect, but what’s in here is her teaching me, showing me her way, introducing her ritual. She got out a journal and sat in the sand and told me,…

  • Beauty,  death,  Grief,  life,  Love,  Politics

    Election Day 2016

    Something will happen tomorrow. You’ll get up. You’ll do your thing. You’ll work or play or study. And the world will get herself around that sun. We’ll survive. And in America, we’ll have a new president. I went to a memorial service tonight put on by the incredibly caring people at Hospice of Spokane. They offered tips for getting through the holidays and sang folk music and let us cry our tired little eyes out together with strangers. They gave us candles to light and food for our bellies; a great reminder that in the midst of the grief and the pain, you still eat and you enjoy the cookie…