Mother’s Day 2021: A Letter From the Child Not Here

I post this around Mother’s Day every year since my daughter, Fiona, wrote it in the voice of her brother who is in Heaven.

It helps my heart sort the mixed emotions that this day stirs up.

I’m not ONLY a bereaved mother. I’m a mother and grandmother of earthbound children too.

I’m grateful for all of them. So very, very grateful.

My daughter, Fiona, wrote this several years ago, in the voice of her brother who ran ahead to heaven.    

I am so thankful for her and so sorry that she has gained this wisdom at great cost.

Some of the bravest, most loving women I know are those who have suffered one of life’s greatest losses. I hope you know how truly beautiful you are. 

Dear Mom,

Read the rest here: From The Child Not Here on Mother’s Day.

Leave Nothing Unsaid

I happened to be traveling recently and saw that Anderson Cooper, son of Gloria Vanderbilt, has filmed a documentary about his mother titled Nothing Left Unsaid.  I don’t know much about him or the film, but the title immediately struck a chord in my heart.

I am learning so much through grieving my son.

I am learning by hard experience that we may not have tomorrow.

And I am learning that what weighs most heavily on my heart is not the things I said or did but the things I didn’t say or didn’t do.  

Read the rest here: Nothing Left Unsaid

Learning to Listen: A Lesson From Loss

I admit it: I’m a fixer. 

But there are some things you just can’t fix.

I knew that before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven but I mostly ignored it.

I can’t do that anymore.

So I’m learning to listen better.  Learning to let others express the hard things that can’t be fixed so that their burden is a bit lighter for the sharing.  

Read the rest here: Lessons in Grief: Learning to Listen

Seven Years. Sigh…

When the numbness wore off (maybe around six months) I remember vaguely wondering what years down the road would feel like.

I tried to project the “me” of that moment into the future and imagine how I might deal with life changes, new circumstances, an empty nest, grandchildren (if there were any) and growing older alongside the heartache of burying a child.

But just as it’s impossible to comprehend how the addition of a child utterly transforms a family, it’s impossible to understand how the subtraction of one changes everything just as much.

We are all so very different than we would have been if Dominic were still here.

Life most likely wouldn’t be any more perfect because we would each grow and change, find common ground and find points of conflict, make new memories and drag up old hurts.

Still, none of us would carry the deep wound and traumatic injury of sudden and out-of-order death.

THAT is impossible to ignore. Even seven years later it’s a red flag, a sticky note, an addendum to every family gathering and holiday.

So we carry on.

Like generations before us who have walked this world dragging loss behind them, we keep going. It shapes us but doesn’t limit us. It informs our views but isn’t the only thing that molds our opinions and frames our choices.

My faith in God’s larger and perfect plan helps me hold onto hope even as I continue to miss my son.

But today is a hard day and I don’t think that’s going to change as long as I live.

I’m getting better at remembering Dominic’s birthday in ways that honor who he is and the man he might have become. I can’t say I’ve figured out any good way to walk through the yearly unavoidable and unwelcome reminder of the day he left us.

I’m learning to allow the grief waves to simply wash over me without resisting them.

Eventually the hours tick away, the day is over and I find I’ve survived yet again.

A Tangible Absence

In two days it will be seven long years since Dominic left for Heaven. It’s hard to wrap my mind around the distance between the last time I hugged him and now.

But I can still feel the shape of where his shoulders would fit in my arms.

I know exactly who I’m missing-and I miss him every bit as much today as the first moment I learned he wasn’t coming home.

When I imagine something I’ve never actually experienced-even when I might say “I miss such and such” it’s not the same as when I’ve had something and it’s been taken away.

I can only miss the imaginary in an ephemeral, insubstantial way.  I miss what I once possessed in a tangible way.

I know exactly the size and shape and sound and substance of the person that SHOULD be here but isn’t.

Read the rest here: Tangible Absence

Why I Don’t Want to Remember My Son

I don’t want to remember my son. 

I want to make memories with him.  

I want him to watch me grow old, to watch him get married and have children and to hear his voice mingled with his siblings at my table.

Read the rest here: I Don’t Want To Remember My Son

I’m Not “Dwelling”, I’m Remembering!

When Dominic ran ahead to heaven, there was a sudden, horrible and unchangeable end to new experiences, to making any more memories, to another conversation, picture or text.

All I have of my son is whatever I had saved up to the moment of his accident.  

And it is not enough. 

It will never be enough to fill up the spaces of what my heart wishes I had.

He lived for nearly 24 years.  But I can’t withdraw those memories like cash and “spend” them, day for day, for the next 24 years.

Read the rest here: “Don’t Dwell on That!”

Maundy Thursday: Loving Service

There are some congregations that still practice “foot washing” in remembrance of Jesus’ humble service to His disciples.

It’s a beautiful tradition but hardly captures the reality of what it was like to wipe dust, dirt and dung from the feet of (probably) sweaty men with unkempt toenails and calloused soles.

Before the cross, before that ultimate defining act of sacrifice and love which required His willing death, Jesus showed us how to LIVE. He could have given a lecture on love and humble service but He didn’t.

He chose the lowliest task to demonstrate that love is DOING something. It’s doing whatever needs to be done for whoever God places in your path.

I’m often guilty of thinking this task or that task is beneath me- hoping someone else will do it and I won’t have to. I need to be reminded often that’s simply not true.

Today is the day on the church calendar when we pause and reflect on the Last Supper, and the last words of Jesus to His disciples.

A year’s worth of sermons is contained in John 13-17 but this week I have been drawn to just one verse:

[Jesus said] “Now I am giving you a new command—love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another. This is how all men will know that you are my disciples, because you have such love for one another.”

John 13:34 PHILLIPS

Read the rest here:  Maundy Thursday

What Love REALLY Looks Like

Fairy tales and favorite movies aside, what does love really look like?

How can I see this feeling that has driven some to distraction, some to destruction and even more to dedication to another in spite of whatever obstacles life has placed in the path?

It’s not often writ large.

In fact, it’s usually tiny stitches in the tapestry of life.

Read the rest here: How Can I See Love?

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?