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.

Why It’s Important For Me to Talk About My Loss (And Why I Need You to Hear Me)


I admit I’m full of words.
  When my mama came to pick me up when her best friend was babysitting for awhile, she said, “You can’t have her yet, she’s telling me all kinds of things!”

More than once my mouth got me in trouble.

It’s still the source of most of my problems.

But for a time after Dominic left I found that the only words I could muster beyond what was absolutely necessary were written in my journal.  Because the words I wanted to say were bitter and harsh and tasted bad as they came up my throat and threatened to roll off my tongue.

Read the rest here: Why I Have To Talk It Out

Thanksgiving Plan Modified, Again.

We were pretty sure Thanksgiving was nailed down this year.

Several of us have spent months doing work down at Papa’s place creating the perfect space for the whole family to gather. Food was ordered, menu planned and travel coordinated.

But no one can plan for the unpredictable.

So when Covid cases skyrocketed and we did the math, it became too risky for four separate households to spend five days eating, sleeping and playing together under one roof.

We called it off.

It was and is heartbreaking.

But not as heartbreaking as adding another empty chair around the table or missing another face in our family circle.

Perhaps you’re faced with some equally hard choices this year, this season.

I’m so sorry.

It seems especially unfair to those whose hearts are already lonely from loss to be forced to give up the chance for fellowship and encouragement in company of family and friends!

I wish there were some magic to make it all better.

There isn’t.

And one thing I’ve learned in this life I didn’t choose is this: you have to make the best of what you have left.

Thanksgiving with the family before loss. ❤

So I pray no matter how small, how unusual, how disappointing your own Thanksgiving may feel this year that you find space in your heart for hope.

We are not doing what we planned, but we are doing something.

It won’t be what we wished for, but we will still have a day.

I’ll take it.

Learning To Be Yielded And Still

I first shared this four years ago when I was still in the early days of mourning Dominic. Our family was facing the third set of holidays with an empty chair at the table.

Life since then has been full of additional challenges and loss.

I still rebel sometimes at the road I’m asked to walk.

But I am more convinced than ever that when I yield my life and heart to the Master Potter, He will mold me and make me into the likeness of Jesus.

And that’s really who I want to be-even if it hurts.

I can’t claim to be satisfied with this life I’m living.  

do not like this path I am forced to walk, this darkness that hides the light, this pain that burrows deep in my bones.

But I can say I’m learning not to fight it.  

Sometimes I still pitch a fit.  

Read the rest here: Yielded and Still

I’m Sorry

My son’s death is a point in time for people outside my immediate grief circle. It’s a date on a calendar. There is a period after his name.

But it is an ongoing experience for me and my family.

We don’t only remember on birthdays, holidays and anniversary days, we can never forget.

Yet often others do.

We are not the only ones living a life not of our own choosing. We are not the only ones that feel isolated in our grief.

You do too.

And I’m sorry that when you risk sharing your pain you are shut down by those who just don’t understand.

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.

dsc_0343

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.

boys

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

Truest Friends

I totally get why some folks feel the need to pull back when a friend’s life gets hard.

They may be struggling themselves and the idea of even hanging around the edges of another disaster is utterly overwhelming.

But the truest friends bring their broken to our mutual table where we can talk, cry and work on it together.

I’m oh, so thankful for friends like this!

“Just Think About The Memories” Doesn’t Comfort My Heart

It has taken me a lot of time and a lot of energy to do the work grief requires. There’s no short-circuiting the process. No way to rush through the painful and necessary steps.

For years I struggled with why, “Just think about the memories” didn’t comfort my heart. I treasured them. I tried hard to hold onto them. But that wasn’t enough.

And then I realized that a mother’s heart is not prepared to go on without the company of her child. I never, ever expected that it would be ME reminiscing about Dominic. I was sure it would be HIM thinking about me.

I pull out the memories like treasures from a locked strongbox.

“Handle With Care” because they are all I have left.

But they are not enough.

They will never be enough to satisfy this mama’s heart.

We are supposed to have to remember our elders, our grandparents, even, maybe our spouse at some point-but not our children.

Read the rest here: Why, “Just Think About All The Good Memories,” Doesn’t Comfort My Heart

Thanks And Giving

The world can make a heart panic, scrambling to pile up extra lest “the worst” befalls us and suddenly there’s not enough.

That’s what happened back in the spring when, for some unknown reason, toilet paper became the currency of security.

But no matter how deep or full the pantry, stuff can’t keep us truly safe.

Ask me how I know.

Dominic ran ahead to Heaven April 12, 2014.

Only faith and trust in the ever-faithful, never-lying Almighty God guides our hearts Home.

So in this season of thanksgiving, when gratitude is in style, I want to choose a bold strategy to challenge the world’s wrong direction and misapplied “wisdom”.

It’s not enough to pray thanksgiving over my family, my home, my safety net stockpile.

I want my life to be full of thanks AND of giving.

Because when I give I’m boldly declaring that I trust the Lord to give more. I’m leaning into the True Source of provision and leading other hearts to do the same.

A heart of gratitude is beautiful.

It’s what God wants from His children. But that’s only the half of it. A grateful heart that freely gives to others what has been freely given to it is even more beautiful.

God’s economy is one of bounty. I am unconcerned that my Heavenly Father may run out of blessing.

Everything I have, He has placed in my hands.

I am most like Jesus when I open my fists and share the gifts God entrusts to me with others.

My true treasure can’t be counted in dollars and cents.

My real reserve is love poured out and love returned.

Laughter Lubricates Life

I’m sure retirement is an adjustment for everyone. One or both partners ending long-time work and coming home to unlimited hours of schedule-less days is HUGE.

For my husband and me it’s been perhaps even a bit more tricky.

The past eight years he’s worked out of town-WAY out of town-2000 miles from our little redneck hermit home in the woods of Alabama. So when he hauled his accumulated stuff across six states and showed up at the door it felt a little bit like an invasion.

I know, I know, my traditional friends are cringing that this Jesus-loving, (mostly!) submissive wife would say that aloud.

But let’s be honest.

I’ve been a stay-at-home wife/mother/educator for thirty-six years. These walls are my castle (such as it is) and this land is my kingdom. I’ve had to learn to do lots of things on my own because I was (pretty much) on my own. I couldn’t call hubby to come home and fix the drainpipe or chase off a fox or dog threatening the livestock.

Of course, our youngest son has always made himself available (since he lives close) but I try not to burden him too much with anything less than a true emergency.

Do the math.

Thirty-six years of marriage divided by eight years away. Yep. Nearly a full quarter of our years have been spent largely apart.

So there’s a little adjusting to do.

We’ve had some out and out fights (not going to sugar coat it ) but we’ve also had some beautiful moments when we look at one another and recognize afresh what drew us together in the first place.

Laughter has ALWAYS been the glue in our relationship.

And let me just tell you that the combination of aging minds, bodies and an aging house has provided plenty of hilarious moments.

Woke up to this the other morning…Needless to say, I didn’t lift the lid!

We’ve searched for days looking for important documents only to find them barely hidden under some random sales ad on the kitchen table. We forget why we walk from one room to the next. We repeat the same question to one another at least two or three times a day and depending on how sassy we feel either answer again or question the other’s mental status.

Laughter lubricates life.

It makes otherwise frustrating and fear-inducing moments bearable.

We lose our glasses. We lose our phones.

But we try hard not to lose our sense of humor.