• Cancer,  Family,  Grief,  life,  Love

    The Women

    Their voices are like echoes – one speaks and you wonder which body it belongs to. Their humor coordinates and though each has a slightly different take on the world, they understand each other and laughter comes easy. I was born into a family run mostly by women; strong, sweet, funny, brilliant women. My great grandmother, Betty, had one gorgeous, blue-eyed beauty she called Carole during World War II and then didn’t have any others for almost 20 years. Carole gave birth to her daughter Tracey just a couple years after Betty gave birth to Beth and Becky. And then 25 years later Tracey had me. In and out of crises, The Women get…

  • Friends,  life,  Love,  Marriage

    Valentines

    He brings them home after a long Valentine’s Day full of construction paper and sticky fingers. Like all days now – with three kids in our little house – his arrival is greeted with squealing children and his wife somewhere among the quotidian shouting out a hey, babe! I’m in the laundry area this evening, stuffing too many clothes into the washing machine and trying not to hope for a Valentine because you don’t want to ruin Valentine’s Day by hoping for a Valentine. He walks back, children trailing, with a big smile and these gorgeous peachy/pink/orange roses in one hand, a box of fruit-topped chocolate in the other. “Happy Valentine’s Day,” he…

  • Christian Living,  Christian Teaching,  Family,  God,  Jesus Christ,  Kingdom,  Love

    Not Peace, but a Sword

    Growing up Christian meant toddling into the idea that Jesus is a friend, that God so loved the world, that we are brothers and sisters and children of one Creator. I never had the chance to wonder about humanity’s worth or our place in the universe. We were here to be loved and to love. Christianity, like a mother, brought me into the world and she raised me in what she believed was true. But along with that idea came a lot of weird shit. There was a period I only wore long skirts and could not listen to any music with a drum beat without begging for forgiveness. What…

  • life,  Love

    Thank You

    I started it to coddle my broken heart. It was a way to look outside myself on a day I knew I would be tempted to collapse in. A way to address one of life’s big cruelties because I couldn’t address the one that took her. It was a way for me to put my hand to the plow and put some change in motion, live up to the love a little bit. I had no idea. The first donation floored me. Because they count it in people. So with $60, two people were represented. Two people I will never meet who will be directly affected by my mother –…

  • God,  Grief,  Jesus Christ,  Kingdom,  life,  Love

    Now

    Often beside a cluttered kitchen, overlooking a disaster of a living room, my family sits down to eat dinner (usually later than I’d like to admit). At the table next to a lamp we have a little chalkboard on which I write quotes I want to remember, things I want us to see everyday. Lately we have been memorizing this passage from the Talmud while we eat Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. We say “enormity” round and wide. We say “NOW” loud and…

  • 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 pile 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…

  • 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…

  • Family,  Grief,  life,  Love,  Motherhood

    We Mother

    During the 20 months of her diagnosis, I made several open-ended visits to my hometown about 900 miles from where we live to be with Mom. The last visit started out rough. The whole family had traveled from all over the country to be together. We spent time at a beautiful house near the beach. Then we passed around Strep throat and influenza despite our best efforts at quarantine so we cycled through lethargy and soreness and the fear of passing it along to anyone else. With three small children, visits to the cancer clinic, and no coffee options (because one hundred million Starbucks and a Peet’s do not count as “options”).…

  • Cancer,  death,  Family,  Grief,  life,  Love

    The Best Birthday Party

    A birthday party for a three year old is usually not thrown in between hospice visits and medication reviews. Celebrating birth seems almost vulgar around the dying. But he has given up a lot without his consent and I couldn’t stand the thought of his giving this up, too. Birthdays are a big deal for us; we start talking about them months in advance when we realize that we are “two and a half” years old. He cycled through several themes and set his heart on a Paw Patrol party. He’d tuck his chin and wrinkle his nose and his sweet little mouth curled into a smile when he talked about Chase decorations…