The Power of [Context]

This picture was taken for a story in UAB Magazine featuring my husband and oldest son who graduated together in December 2009. You can read the original article here: Like Father, Like Son

It is one of my very favorites. I was surrounded by my family, filled with pride and promise.

This is how I like to think of us-together and strong.

Our circle is broken now-it is a continuing struggle to figure out how to navigate life in the wake of our loss.

And some of the greatest challenges present themselves in unexpected ways.

Read the rest here: [Context]

Safe? What Does That Really Mean?

I remember as a  young mother of four working hard to keep my kids safe. 

dominic and siblings little children at nannys

Next to fed and dry (two still in diapers!) that was each day’s goal:  No one got hurt.  

It never occurred to me THEN to add:  No one got killed. 

Read the rest here: What is Safe?

LOVE Is The Reason I Grieve

If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them.
—James O’Barr

I grieve because I love.

My tears are a gift to the son I miss.  My sorrow honors his memory.  My broken heart gives evidence to the ones walking with me that my love is fierce and timeless.

Read the rest here: Love: The Reason I Grieve

An Open Letter To My Living Children *

I shared this for the first time four years ago.

Before my mother’s illness and death, before the frighteningly early arrival of our little Captain, before an overseas deployment, a destructive hurricane, Covid19, and too many other stressful events to list.

I have watched my kids meet every challenge-sometimes with grace, sometimes with grit, sometimes with both.

They are different people than they would have been if Dominic still walked beside us. They know things their peers can’t even guess.

We all lost so much when we lost Dom. But we still have each other.

And that’s a treasure.

I never thought it possible to love you more than I already did.

But I do.

photo (20)

Your brother’s untimely departure has opened my heart in a whole new way to the glory that is your presence.  It has made me drink you in like water in the desert.

Read the rest here: A Letter To My Living Children*

*I am absolutely convinced that Dominic is very much ALIVE today in the presence of Jesus.  But for now, I’m denied his daily companionship.

Fainter and Fainter Still

Each year that passes brings new challenges. I’m never prepared for the period I call my “season of sorrow” regardless of how many times I’ve lived through it and survived.

We cleaned out our garage the other day and found traces of Dominic in so many random places. Each little thing had to be evaluated and put either in the “keep” pile or in the “toss” pile.

What hurt my mama heart almost more than the bits of Dom we found were the bits of my earthbound children tucked in long-forgotten corners. Because I found myself thinking, “What if something happens to THEM? What if I regret tossing that out?”

Things a nonbereaved parent never has to consider.

Yet something I ask myself every time I clean out a drawer or closet or even a random pile of old school papers.

It’s absolutely normal that the space Dominic once occupied in the hearts and minds of his peers gets smaller over time.

He was only a part of their lives-lives blooming and bursting in the spring of their years. 

They are moving and marrying and having children and building careers.  If he were still living it may very well be they would have lost touch by now anyway.

I know all this and yet it still hurts.

Read the rest here: Disappearing in the Distance

You Are STILL A Parent. You Will ALWAYS Be A Parent.

There are all kinds of ways child loss plays with your head.

One of the most common and often repeated questions among bereaved parents (especially those who have lost their only child , all their children or a child before or at birth) is this: Am I still a mama (or daddy)?

Short answer: YES. Absolutely!

The fact that your child has taken up residence in Heaven and is no longer here to hold and love and parent on earth changes NOTHING about your status.

Being an almost mother isn’t a thing. 

Brittany C. Cherry

Read the rest here: You Will ALWAYS Be A Mama (or Daddy)!

There’s No Substitute For My Missing Child. Which of Your Children Could You Live Without?

Bereaved parents hear lots of things from folks who truly do wish to bring comfort but often miss the mark by a mile.

One of them goes something like this, “Well, at least you have your other children (and/or grandchildren) and they need you!”

Now, if they gave it a bit of thought, they would know right away that’s at best an uninformed remark and at worst, a very painful one.

Read the rest here: No Substitute for My Missing Child

Crazy Busy

Life has been crazy busy lately. Mostly in a good way.

But any way that shakes up my routine is hard for me to take.

Some folks live for the next adventure, the next exciting social opportunity or the next chance to get out of the house and do something different.

Not me.

I’m a rut lover. Like cows walking to water I’ll follow that same trail morning til night and never feel like I’m deprived of a single thing.

Life is changing on my little piece of ground. And some of the changes are here to stay. My husband is retired now and home all day.

Quiet space I used to command from morning until night is no longer mine alone. I rarely turn on the TV or listen to music. He loves background noise. I take phone calls the old-fashioned way. He always uses the speaker phone.

It’s an adjustment I haven’t yet figured out how to deal with. But I will.

And there are some good things too!

We don’t have to schedule visits with our children around his work schedule.

We can come and go when we want and stay as long as they will tolerate us.

I have help with heavy lifting.

When I want or need to talk, he’s available and willing to listen.

But writing requires a certain amount of solitude and a huge amount of free headspace to allow ideas to float around, merge, solidify and ultimately flow out onto the page.

All the busy-ness of the past weeks and months have robbed me of the daily rituals of quiet hours to read, to walk and simply think.

And as my faithful readers have noticed, I’ve been sharing old posts more frequently these past weeks. I could simply stop posting each day but I don’t want to do that. As long as I maintain the habit (even by the seat of my pants!) of queuing up something I am fighting to keep my creative juices flowing.

I’m sure that eventually all these new ways of being will work themselves into a routine that allows me time for writing again.

Until then, I appreciate your patience my friends.

Thanks for showing up.

❤ Melanie

Can I Feel Joy Again?

In case you’re wondering if joy will ever return, I want to assure you that it most certainly can.

It will take a lot longer than you wish it might, but it is there, waiting for you to welcome it.

At first it just felt WRONG to have a moment of happiness because if the pain of missing Dominic somehow didn’t fill my heart I was afraid it meant my love for him was fading. If the broken pieces were knitted back together then maybe one day they’d mend so well I couldn’t find the spot where he fit in.

But I’ve learned no amount of present joy will squeeze out that space where Dominic lives.

I can love him, miss him, sorrow over his absence and still revel in the beautiful blessings the Lord brings into my life.

Just this week I had the privilege of watching my grandson while his mother and father had a little time away. It was so much fun (and hard work!). I had forgotten how exciting it is to view the world through a young child’s eyes. Everything is new, everything is wonderful, everything is worthy of exploration and comment.

The little fellow walked down the hall my great-grandmother walked, my grandmother walked and my mother walked pointing a finger and asking, “This?” as he passed photos and paintings, doo dads and doorways.

The sixth generation to hear the creaking hardwood and learn about life.

What joy!

We showed him family photos and talked about Uncle Dominic. It raised a lump in my throat each time but it also helped me place Dom in his story-helped me learn how to talk about the uncle he will never know except for what we share.

I’m not going to lie.

More than a few times tears threatened to make their way down my cheek as I held his little hand and remembered holding another one just like it decades ago. Nostalgia can be hard to swallow when it’s all you have left of someone you love.

But I reminded my heart that it is big enough for both.

I can miss what I once had AND delight in what I have now.

Both are gifts I cherish and hold dear.

joy and sorrow | Poetry Joy

Repost: Mind The Gap

My youngest son worked hard to retrieve some precious digital photos from an old laptop.

Being very kind, he didn’t tell me that we might have lost them until he was certain he had figured out a way to get them back.

So he and I had a trip down memory lane the other evening.

It was a bumpy ride.

Read the rest here: Mind the Gap