25 10 2017

Did you ever read some little something that made you nod in agreement, only to find yourself feeling a little bit ill-at-ease about it in the next moment?  Happened to me this morning.

This quote appeared in my morning reading:

Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go ~ Jamie Anderson

At first, I thought, “Yep, that’s it, exactly!”

Almost as quickly as I read and responded favorably in my head, my heart cried out, “What is WRONG with you???”

Well, let me tell you, I was taken aback.  I am one who usually relies on the voices in my head, not my heart, but she was insistent. She was also right.

This quote, attributed to Jamie Anderson (there are many folks with that name, so I was not able to verify), is only partly correct.

Grief is not love with no place to go; grief is love pining to be shared.

When I fall into the darkness of missing my beautiful daughter – when my heart aches and my throat constricts and I feel the despair about to splash down my cheeks – I remind myself that the love I can no longer give to her is perfectly useful to give to others, so I do.  Whether it’s extra treats for our diva guinea pig, paying someone a sincere compliment, or laughing with my sister, I release some of that love and I feel better.

Grief remains a part of life for anyone who has lost someone they love.  Love is like that, too – there’s no expiration date. It never gets too old to be given as the valuable gift it is.  I think that when we hold in our grief, it’s like holding our breath – it hurts, but we have the power to relieve it.

Every day, I take a deep breath, remember all the joys of my life, and open my heart to release that painful pressure of all that “unspent” love. It is not always easy, but it is always right.

Peace to every grieving heart. Open yours. You’ll feel better. I know I do.





Of Lions and Lambs

11 03 2015

March is a month of emotional highs and lows for me.

My mother, who is strong and healthy and happy and funny, celebrated her eighty-fifth birthday yesterday.

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My sweet daughter would have been twenty-five on the first, but she’s been gone for almost five years.

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To honor my Jessica, I am sharing this (just ignore the commercial lead-in) video of another child with challenges she does not deserve to have (Jessica was autistic) and let you in on some lessons I am so fortunate to have learned from the experience of mothering one of these special children.


The lessons are:

  1. Special needs kids get to do some awesome things “regular” kids don’t, but never forget all the things our special kids will NEVER be able to do, and don’t ever begrudge them a single gleeful moment.
  2. Special needs kids are capable of great joy, so never assume that “they don’t understand,” or that their feelings can’t be hurt. Every kid deserves our attention, respect, and kindness. Don’t dismiss any of them as “less than.”
  3. There are a lot of really great people in the world. Some of them are professional athletes; some are doctors; and many are the folks who work at the grocery store, live next door, or drive the trash truck.

Be nice to everyone.

Chances are most of us deserve it and, without a doubt,

ALL of us need it.

A Different Christmas Song

10 12 2014

Ho! Ho! Hum.

Everywhere I look, there is someone bemoaning the season.  Folks are out of sorts because they’re out of work, out of money, out of energy . . .

For many, just plain out of gratitude.

This will be the fifth Christmas without my beautiful Jessica. She was only twenty when she left us. She still believed in Santa Claus.

When I think of that enormous loss, the un-healable wound, I think I need a different Christmas song: Everything I Own https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q1kB0R4Ijs  sounds about right. Then I remember what a magnificent gift it was to have had such a wonder-filled twenty short years.  I also remind myself that there is no going back, only going on, and that to accept the sadness but refuse all the goodness that still surrounds me is just wrong.

It stinks not to be able to fill your child’s Christmas stocking. It is lousy that you can’t get off work to visit your friends.  Things were better before you lost your job.  I don’t dismiss ANY of these kinds of problems.  I must, though, take exception to the idea that you let your holidays be defined by what you can’t do or don’t have.  In spite of the hardships, which visit every one of us, I wish you a happy season, filled with the celebration of what we DO have.

Don’t find yourself singing a different Christmas song.  Sing FA-LA-LA-LA-LA at the top of your lungs, even if your gay apparel is a few years old and your holly’s a bit wilted! Consider the people in your life who make you smile and warm your heart. Tell them.

Joy to the world.

The Next Laugh

5 11 2014

I am a lucky woman. I am happily married.

Here’s a little episode, a real conversation from a few weeks ago, between my dear husband and me that illustrates a key to said happy marriage. We’d both been out of sorts for a few days. We’d both been just a little bit cranky, a little bit blue, and were just a little bit tired of the other’s foul mood .  .  .

Dear Husband, half-smile:   Wish you weren’t so grouchy.

Damn Fine Wife, sideways glance:   It’s your fault. You started it.

Dear Husband, deadpan delivery:     Yes, but that was the 80’s.

We both knew we had not been easy to live with for a few days. Both of us were responsible for our own little thunderclouds and each of us had reason to complain about the other’s behavior. We could have had an argument – picked a fight over something unimportant, just to vent our mutual frustration with life at the moment. Lots of folks do that. (Dear Husband is a divorce lawyer, so we’re not just guessing about this behavior.)  We do not enjoy arguing, except about Jeopardy or sporting events, so we made a joke. We laughed.

When we share a laugh with someone we love, wonderful things happen. Trivial problems are put in their place. Unfounded or exaggerated bumps in the road simply cannot survive the sound of laughter. That means far fewer silly arguments and much more happiness.

If all else fails, blame it on the 80’s – they deserve it.


Share and Share A Like, Wait a Love

3 09 2014

It’s the time of the year when being out “in nature” is appealing, even to the normally non-outdoorsy types. (Note: there are some folks, like the man I married, who are militantly anti-outdoor; I’m not talking about his kind.) The gentler angle of the September sun, a bit less heat and humidity, and the fact that the kids have been cooped up in school for a few days conspire to get people out of their houses and into the woods – or the park, at least.

The appearance of these nature novices can be alarming to the true lovers of the forest,  soul mates of the trees, friends of the little creatures of nature;  and they can be startled – and annoyed – by the presence of interlopers who do not properly revere the sanctity of Nature   .  .  .  (Insert derisive snort, here.)

This person summed it up, albeit rather gentler than some:

The field was quiet and empty, the lovely sounds of the babbling creek, birds softly chirping……………Then comes the Loud Family. “Linus stop that, Sissy don’t eat THAT. Come here, come here, come here, now! Where did you drop the ball? Put THAT down, yuck!!!…………………” Ah yes a beautiful day at the creek.

I get it.  I understand the desire for a quiet visit with a favorite brook, tree, or rock.  Yes, there are noises that can take out of the moment, BUT – and this might be shocking news – children are little creatures of nature, too.

It is hard for kids to learn how to appreciate nature, especially if their parents spend most of their energy scolding the exuberance out of them.  While we crave the peace and sanctuary that it offers, we must remember that it is critical for kids to learn to truly love the beauty of nature. If we don’t share nicely – if we jealously guard our “peace and quiet” – when we are gone, so will be the wilderness  .  .  .  because no one will have learned to care. No one will have been raised up to love Nature as we do.

Ooooh . . . listen. Is that the sound of the suburban pre-school warbler   How beautiful to see one in a wild habitat!


Boy, am I Full!

16 07 2014

My heart is broken. That’s surely an odd phrase; what does it mean?

For me, when I lost my sweet Jessica, it meant I needed to wear a cast made from the love of my family and friends and a sling of fond memories until it healed.

My broken heart has mended. There is still a big nasty scar and I find I rely on that sling when it feels particularly heavy, but it works.

My heart works.

When we feel the wound of great loss, for a while, it surely seems as though it could be a mortal blow, but it isn’t. Our hearts are not meant to die with our loved ones; they are meant to rebound with renewed appreciation for what we had, what we have, and what is yet to come.

My heart is full.  This is an equally interesting one.

To me, it means to be so aware of all the love around and within us that, like a toddler with a full glass of juice, we can’t help but slosh some out and get it all over the people around us. That’s why hearts full of love always have the ability to hold more.

Splash that love around.

Jump into it with both feet.

Litter your neighborhood with it like cosmic confetti.

Even if your heart is broken, the exercise will do it good.

My broken-mended heart is full.  If your heart needs some love, I hereby give you some of mine.

purple pavement a 6-24-14

This post is dedicated to a dear friend and his sweet mother.  Love and strength and peace to Big Henry and his family.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

25 06 2014

Tomorrow, my dear husband Ken and I will have been married for twenty-nine years. So far, we have shared lots of laughs, a few very rough patches, and one enormous gaping hole of a wound that will never heal in either of us – the loss of our daughter.

The constant through all these things is that we love each other.

The change over all these years is that we love each other.

“What is she talking about?” you are likely wondering. How can she claim the constant is the change?

Because it is the absolute truth.

I remember the moment I first met my husband. My mouth went suddenly dry, I lost the ability to focus, and I was really sure I did not like him; he made me feel uncomfortable.  I tried desperately to talk myself out of accepting the only reasonable explanation, but, I had to face the fact. It was scary, exciting, dangerous, unpredictable, and tempestuous.  It was not easy, but, there it was.

Yes, I am still glad to hear his car in the garage.  I still smile at the thought of him coming through the kitchen door.  I really do like him; he makes me feel happy.  There is no other explanation for this. Here are the facts.  It is lovely, steadfast, still a little unpredictable, and magnificent. It is easy and it is forever.

So, this is how our love is both the constant and the change:

The love that is the constant is the continuation of the love we had since the beginning.  While fierce and true, it does not compare, though, to the love that’s the result of twenty-nine years of burnishing by mutual respect, shared trials and joys, matching senses of humor, and kindness.

The love that has been the change – that’s the love that outgrew its fears; the love that is confident and strong. If you are fortunate, you will understand, because you will have the same wonderful experience in your life.  I hope you do.