Birthdays Are…Complicated

Today is my birthday.

And while I am truly grateful for another trip around the sun, since Dominic left us it’s not a simple celebration of life lived and the hope of years to come.

The last birthday I had with an unbroken family circle was a lovely surprise party for my fiftieth held in Dom’s apartment.

My fiftieth birthday! ❤

Seven years later and it seems a lifetime ago.

So when I wake up to another sunrise and take inventory (as those of us who reach a certain age are wont to do) on the anniversary of my birth, I count losses as well as gains.

And I wish, wish, wish that old wives’ tale about blowing out candles in a single breath were true.

Because other than the continued health of my surviving children, there’s only one wish worth the air I take in and out of my lungs-something Dominic can never do again-and that is for him to have the privilege of blowing out the candles once more.

It’s not only HIS birthday that makes my heart ache.

It’s mine.

I would have gladly traded my life for his.

But I wasn’t given that choice.

Gratitude Doesn’t Undo Grief

One of the hard lessons I’ve learned in child loss is that while gratitude is important, and helps my heart hold on, it does not undo grief.

I truly look for and rejoice in every good thing, every tender moment, every smile, hug and bit of laughter shared with those I love.

But I can never stop looking for Dominic’s face around the table or longing to hear HIS voice in the chorus of chatter from the other room.

Oh, how I wish it were different!

The odd bits that break my heart-

The  moment my three living children are in the family room, joking and laughing-but his voice is so obviously missing.

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The moment I say to one son, “Have you texted your brother?” and don’t have to give a name, because there is only one brother left to text.

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Read the rest here: The Odd Bits That Break My Heart

Please Let Me Know You Remember

As families gather around tables and in backyards to celebrate fall birthdays, Thanksgiving and (soon!) Christmas, my heart longs even harder to hear Dominic’s name.  

Of course I remember him-he’s my son-and of course others do too. 

But it is especially helpful this time of year to have friends and family speak of him aloud. 

Read the rest here: Let Me Know You Remember

Say What You Need To Say. You Might Not Get Another Chance.


Just a couple of days before Dominic left us, I and another one of my kids had a fuss.

He was frustrated and stressed and I was vulnerable and stressed and a few stray words ended up hurting my feelings.

I said, “I can’t talk anymore now”,  and hung up the phone in tears.

He was sorry and I was sorry and we immediately exchanged texts and let the feelings cool so we could resume our conversation the next day.

He sent me flowers.

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They were still beautiful when he came home to bury his brother.

Read the rest here: Speak Your Peace-You May Not Get Another Chance

Oh, How I Miss His Voice! Silent Echoes Haunt My Heart.

I try to limit the time I spend perusing old photos and old social media posts of my missing son.

I’ve learned that while they remind me of sweet memories and happy times they also prick my heart in ways nothing else can.

I was looking for something specific the other day and had to scroll through Dominic’s Facebook page to find it. As I did, I began reading some of the back and forth comments under the posts and pictures.

This time it wasn’t what was said or where the photos were taken that hurt my heart.

Instead it was the tiny little time stamp underneath the words that took my breath away.

Nothing more recent than five years ago was recorded.

Because that’s when his voice went silent.

Read the rest here: I Miss Your Voice: Silent Echoes Haunt My Heart

Trying To Remember In a World That Forgets-The Gap Grows

I’ve written before about how I choose to leave some things just as Dominic left them-even over six years later.

It’s my way of maintaining physical space in our home that represents the space in my heart where only he can fit.

It’s also more than that.

As time progresses, nearly every other tangible evidence that Dominic existed is being worn away.

Read the rest here: And The Gap Grows: Trying To Remember In a World That Forgets

The Stories I Never Knew

I spent long hours with Mama in the last years of her life.

That gave me plenty of time to mine her memory for details of stories I’d heard for years but never took time to really listen to closely.

I knew (although I had no idea how soon it might happen!) that I wouldn’t have her forever. I wanted to gather all the bits and pieces I could hold that would remind me who she was, who she loved and what made her unique so I could always, always remember.

Mama loved to get her hair done every week!

When she left us last September I felt like I had a treasure chest of tales and precious mementos.

It wasn’t that way with Dominic.

I never imagined I’d need such a thing.

I never thought I would be the one left behind with questions about what motivated him to this or that, go here or there, what brought him particular delight or made him stay awake at night.

Time was on my side.

He was young and vibrant.

No need to dig for bits to tuck away in case he wasn’t here to ask.

I was wrong.

Heavy Lifting

Like many families in the United States ours has entirely too much stuff.

Homeschooling four children over twenty years and living in the same house for longer than that added to the pile of memories and tokens tucked in boxes and corners.

This week I decided (along with my youngest son) to tackle a couple of storage buildings we have. It was definitely time to clean out, throw out and pare down the piles.

So together we opened the doors and dug in.

Boxes that hadn’t been opened for years spilled out souvenirs from childhood, teen years and early adulthood. It was tempting to get lost in remembering but the heat of summer spurred us on.

More than once tears threatened and I had to take a deep breath to keep going.

Cleaning out is especially hard on my heart.

Just a couple months before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven I had gone through a ton of homeschooling papers, memorabilia and odds and ends, gleefully culling them down to a few representative bits I thought I’d box or scrapbook into a keepsake for each child.

I filled my truck bed with boxes and boxes and took it to the dump. I enjoyed tossing them on the pile and relished the now organized space left at home.

What felt like freedom then, feels like regret and longing now.

Because what I have left of the physical presence of my son is represented in the scraps I have kept-the clothes, the notes, the scribbled comments in the margins of his notebooks and college texts.

So I’m careful about what gets tossed and what I keep.

And regardless how many bins and boxes I sort through on a given day, I’m exhausted by the end of it.

It’s ALL heavy lifting for my heart even when it’s light in my arms.

Missing Him Is Background Music To My Days


Another bereaved mom wrote that she was better able to cope now than she had been a year ago.

And thanks to Facebook memories she had proof.

Several comments down a second mom wrote something that got me thinking-when, exactly, did Dominic’s loss move from the forefront to the background?

I’m not sure I can pinpoint a day or moment when I realized that sorrow was no longer ALL I feel and Dominic’s absence no longer ALL I see.

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2019/03/07/background-music/

How To Survive Grief Anniversaries


I know I’m not the only one who carries a calendar in my head that threatens to explode like a ticking timebomb.
  Days that mean nothing to anyone else loom large as they approach.

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The date of his death.

The date of his funeral.

His birthday.

My birthday.

The day he should have graduated from law school

On and on and on.

How can I survive these oppressive reminders of what I thought my life would look like? How can I grab hold of somethinganything that will keep my heart and mind from falling down the rabbit hole of grief into a topsy-turvy land where nothing makes sense and it’s full of unfriendly creatures that threaten to gobble me whole?

Read the rest here: Surviving Grief Anniversaries