Tag Archives: in memory

Grief: My Uninvited Guest

9 Jul

I’m not going to lie to you, friends. As fun as Szaba’s 2-year birthday was, it was also … hard.

At year 1, we didn’t have Sue. At year 2, we didn’t have Shirley.

Perhaps unwisely, I hadn’t accounted for an appearance by Grief, my uninvited guest. I guess I was so deep in planning mode I hadn’t allowed myself the time and space to acknowledge the full bouquet of emotions this confluence of events might entail.

Then on the morning of Szaba’s party, I was blindsided on my way to pick up icing tips for the cake (particularly for a special mini cake that I would decorate in the tradition of Sue and Sue’s father).

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Reach Out

18 Jun

Besides my sister Robin, there’s no one in the world I’ve been friends with longer than Amber. And yet, even I had no idea what to say to her when I found out her younger brother had died in a car crash.

Four years later, this Castle Heart project finally gave me the nerve to reach out beyond the surface sentiments commonly accepted in our society. I asked her about how she is feeling now and what she’d taken away from that fateful night. I offered her this blog as a platform to open up, share, and say anything left unsaid.

This is the result, and it’s a message that—heartbreakingly—needs to be heard.

Thank you, Amber. I’m honored not only that you went to the trouble, but also that you bared your soul so honestly, so imploringly. I can’t help but think there’s someone out there that needs to read this today. And if they do, you and your brother will make a life-changing difference in that person’s life. Know that. Take comfort in that.

If Amber’s story reaches out to you, please let her know in the comments below.

FROM AMBER:

I can see the episode play out before me as if I was a third party watching it unfold. It’s been engrained in my mind. It was a cold Sunday morning in February 2008. The phone rang. My heart started to race a little as I said hello for the third time; the silence on the other end was deafening.

Through the sobs, I was told disturbing news as I paced the bedroom floor. I remained strong on the outside, pushing awake panic for what seemed an eternity. When my parents hung up, it I felt like I was coming up for air after being submerged in water. I collapsed to my knees, trying to make sense of what I just heard.

Cory was gone. How could this be?

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Arroz Con Pollo

4 Jun
Jennifer Pasinosky, Angela Hylland, Angela Taylor, kayaking, Lummi island

Jen and I, before embarking on the uncharted waters of motherhood.

As most of you know, since my mother-in-law’s death I’ve been on a mission to find ways to keep the memory of Sue alive for my baby girl. That desire, in turn, sparked a passion to help other families in the same situation.

Unfortunately, I have many close friends mourning the loss of a parent, right at the time when we’re figuring out how to be parents ourselves. The idea that our little ones won’t know those special people—people who would’ve been such integral parts of their lives, our lives—is simply unfathomable.

That’s why I was intrigued when my friend Jen told me about her continued connection to her mother through food, particularly the native Colombian dish, arroz con pollo. I asked her to write about it, so I could share it with all of you. The result is this beautiful guest post.

Thank you, Jen, for your support, understanding, inspiration, and willingness to share. You, like your mother, make this world a better place. I’m so glad I know you, and through you, her.

Without further ado …

FROM JEN:

Nothing brings back memories of my mom better than food. It’s been nine years since she passed away, and I can still taste her arroz con pollo.

As early as I can remember, I loved spending time with my mom in the kitchen.

She taught me how to make patacones, papas choriadas, pan de yuca, arepas, ajiaco, and on one ambitious day, empanadas. We would sing along to Colombian music playing from the family room. Yo me llamo cumbia, yo soy la reina por donde voy… Or of course, to Julio Iglesias.

She would tell funny stories of learning to cook in the early days of her marriage to my dad, an American. Here’s one of my favorites:

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Confession

7 May

Yes, I was raised Catholic, but that doesn’t have anything to do with this.

It’s a realization I had when I read a stirring essay by April Perry. (Thank you, April, for writing it.)

And here is that realization:

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Word Art

1 May

Last month I offer several fun ideas for Poetry Month. But words can be much more than a carefully crafted phrase, poem, script, or story. They can be visual art as well.

Here are 3 easy “Word Art” projects for execs, parents, bloggers, teachers, kids, crafters, photographers, and anyone else I’m forgetting.

1. The “Wordle”

I discovered www.Wordle.net the other day and quickly became addicted.

  • Bloggers: Simply paste a link to your site, and Wordle.net will create a Wordle for you, sizing words according to frequency. Quite enlightening.
  • Business Types: You might be creating a lot more message “static” than you think. Plug in your text and see what you get. It could help you pair down that site or presentation to what you really want to say.
  • Scrapbookers: Type in words or phrases that remind you of the person or place you’re featuring. I had fun creating this Wordle from words my daughter was saying at the 20-month mark.

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Bereavement

24 Apr

What has helped you through grief or a particularly challenging time? For me, it’s writing.

Very few people have ever read my poetry. It’s my great intimacy. But right now, I can find no other way to express the events and emotions of the last few days. Shirley’s death clings to my soul in a cloud of words and fractured details. And it is Poetry Month, after all, so I’m going to face my fears and let the words escape the page.

I’ve been on this bereavement roller coaster before, and I know there will be many dips and turns in the days to come, but this is my current state of mind (and grief), as only my heart can tell it.

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Meaning of Dreams

23 Apr

Oh, to write again! Today I’ll be pouring words onto the page and trying to organize them in some meaningful sense for me and for you. In the meantime, I wrote this (rather eerie now) piece last week, before the shock of Shirley’s death, and I feel I must share it now.

The holiday apparently stirred up my subconscious more than I realized. It’s been awhile since I’ve dreamed of Sue. Until the other night.

It’s led me on a scavenger hunt down weird corridors of the Internet, searching for viable scientific information behind the meaning of dreams.

In this recent dream, Ryan and I were enjoying some relaxing one-on-one time with Sue. She had cancer and was resting, but we were confident that, with a little R&R, she’d be back on her feet again soon.

To my shock and horror, the doctor called and informed me that I had to tell Sue she was going to die within a few days. Could she have been talking about Shirley instead?

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