• 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…

  • Family,  Grief,  life,  Love,  Motherhood

    Lipstick Legacy

    I have it now; this little blue mug that says “MOM” on it all uneven like it was mass printed and sold for last minute gift-buyers on Mother’s Day sometime in the 80s. Maybe my Dad got it for her from me, their new baby, between sleep deprived shifts at one of his several jobs and maybe it made her cry the way you do when you’ve earned something that has not been easy. Mornings were quiet in our little cabin. Dad needed to sleep after his swing shift and Mom readied herself in the early, dark hours to join the other commuters on 101 by sunrise. Sometimes she would…

  • Baby Berry,  Family,  Grief,  life,  Motherhood,  Pregnancy

    It's a Boy! (dammit)

    So. I’m pregnant. And full disclosure: I really wanted another girl. I wanted our eldest to have a sister to relate to, I loved the idea of my two boys being bookmarked with a little less testosterone, but mostly? I wanted another little girl to share in the thing my mom and I had. She used to buy this terribly amazing ice cream that had actual Butterfinger swirled into it. It was like our emergency fire extinguisher: we broke the glass for mean girls and stupid boys and post-fight-make-ups and really bad period cramps. Two spoons, one tub, no shame. We’d sit in her bed with our comfort food and…

  • Christian Teaching,  Community,  Grief,  hope,  life

    How to Take Communion (whether or not you're a Christian)

    As my faith has shifted I have become underwhelmed with much of my tradition. I’ve hodge-podged new rituals out of other practices and looked in dusty nooks of this one for meaningful expressions of a spirituality that no longer fits in the boxes I was given. But one ritual has never lost it’s mystery to me. Even when I couldn’t really consider myself a Christian I appreciated communion. Because this is Christianity’s addition to the universal groaning. Not a religious rite for the “in” crowd, but a deeply human, bestial cry. This is our admission that things are not as they should be, that we are broken and bleeding and…

  • Community,  Family,  Grief,  hope,  life,  Love

    On the First Anniversary

    People talk about the first year as though crossing that threshold is a thing. I used to hate it because it felt like there was an expectation that a person would be done grieving after a year. But I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s actually a hope for comfort. As if once you’ve made it a year, you will keep making it. You’ve proven to yourself that you can breathe, you can laugh, you can enjoy being her daughter even when she isn’t here the way she should be. One year ago, on June 19 my mother took her last breath. I waited up with the rest of…

  • 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…