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Meeting My Dad for the First Time

Growing up, I avoided my dad whenever I could. I'd slink around corners and sit quietly in rooms wanting nothing more than to stay undetected. I'd avoid looking him in the eyes or speaking directly to him, preferring someone else to do the talking while I observed from a safe distance.

I was scared of my dad. Deathly afraid at whatever outburst was about to erupt. My dad was impatient, short-tempered, angry. He saved his best self for his friends. I got the just stay out of his way and don't make him mad. 

The most common words from my Dad were shut up, be quiet, and don't make me come up there. I could relax when my Dad wasn't home. My stomach would turn into a tight ball of nerves the second I heard the sound of gravel crunching under tires coming up the drive.

I was fourteen years old when I learned my father was an alcoholic. I knew he always had a can of beer in his hand while mowing the lawn, but alcohol was not kept in our home. (Except for a bottle of peac…
Recent posts

When Break Up Behavior Isn't Normal

I once met a young man and we got to talking. He made me laugh. We exchanged phone numbers and started getting to know each other. We were out to lunch when I realized this wasn't someone I was interested in moving forward in a relationship with. He had stated his goals and what he wanted out of life, as did I. What we wanted was too different. It was as simple as that. I thanked him for lunch, he wished me well.

I tried to end a different relationship when it was obvious that one wasn't working. He got angry. Felt disrespected. Called me selfish. Called me a lot of other names, too. It was about as opposite a reaction I ever could have imagined.

He stood across the street from my house on the sidewalk. Just staring. I closed the curtains. I called the police.

What is he doing? Standing there.

Is he threatening you? No, he's just standing there staring at my house.

Is he yelling? No. He is standing across the street. On the sidewalk. Staring at my house. Where he has been fo…

Ticket for One, Please.

I started doing something after Avery died that, when I tell people what I'm doing, they look at me with very sad eyes. But they don't need to.

I started going to the movies by myself.

I like it. I need it. I mean, I really need it.

There are obvious benefits: no one steals your popcorn or asks what just happened because they were totally not paying attention; and there are the obvious disadvantages: no one to go get you a refill because they're annoying you by asking plot questions they should already know the answers to, had they been paying attention.

But that's not why I do it.

It started as a necessity. A holiday without when my oldest daughter was out of the country on a much-deserved escape from reality and my youngest was with his father celebrating with his family. I was very alone on Christmas and the thought was destroying me. I felt frantic. That's a very common emotion felt after the death of a child: franticness.

It pops up whenever it feels like it.…

When the Day is Hard

It is such a beautiful place, the cemetery. Peaceful, full of reminders that I'm certainly not the only one.

Days like this, they haunt me. Blue skies, unseasonable warm, leaves of gold glittering in the breeze. I remember this weather. The same as six years ago. How unfair is it that loved ones must die? How unbelievably cruel when the day is picture perfect? Shouldn't the skies mimic the complete and utter despair? Shouldn't the earth darken when the heart does, too?

Today is Halloween and everyone is giddy with excitement. My son carefully coordinated his "nerd costume" and made sure his candy bag had no holes in it. I passed the duties of trick or treating off to Matt.

I just can't do it. I cannot keep it together a moment longer.


October is so very hard for me to navigate. Avery's birthday starts it off, we end with her death. In between is a balancing act - one that I'm getting better at, but I'm still such a novice. Some people want to ta…

To the Very Last Person to Ever Touch My Daughter on Earth

You were the very last person to ever touch my daughter on earth. You took her stilled, silent body and you washed her. You changed her into the clothes I had brought over in a brown paper bag. Her favorite blue jeans, a bright blue t-shirt with a tank top underneath. Years later, I'd panic, convinced I had forgotten to bring fresh, clean underwear. I contacted the people at the funeral home - can you believe we've become such good friends? I was told that when a family forgets something like that, they simply discretely provide it.

You helped me to understand that it was okay to put fuzzy socks on her feet. You patiently slipped them on her.

You took the down comforter I passed to your hands and listened as I explained through choppy breaths and a stream of tears that she'd need to be wrapped up in it - like a burrito. Because that's how she watched TV. Burrito wrapped in her blanket.

You wrapped her up tightly. And you laid her down gently for the very last time.

I …

Just Pray

During a football game, when a serious injury occurs, all play stops. Players on the field and lining the sidelines immediately kneel. The stadium falls silent. I'm told, although there isn't a specific rule governing bystander protocol during an injury, being still keeps others from gathering around the injured player and getting in the way of people responding to the injury. It is also a sign of great respect. Somewhere in those stands is a mama whose heart just sank to her stomach and she's trying to breathe but nothing's coming. Her child is lying there, not moving, and she has no idea what's wrong.

When Avery died, it was as if the entire stadium of my world went silent. People had heard about the accident, word spread, whispering through phone calls and hushed run-in's at the grocery stores. It wasn't until I pressed publish on my first blog post that the stadium community let out a collective breath and began that slow clap as I began to slowly rise…

When Your Imagined Life is Nothing Like This One

There were so many ways I imagined my adult life would be....THIS is not one of them.
I posted that on my Facebook wall last night. It might have been seen as funny except my choice of hashtags gave me away:
treading water getting nowhere piles of disappointment not many successes worn out and exhausted out of options

I always imagined my life would be thrilling. Full of exciting adventures and people from all over the world. I would dine at Ethiopian, Thai, and Indian restaurants. I would write books, teach English, coach forensics and direct the play. My husband would be charming and funny and not care about gender roles when it came to household chores. He would beg for at least six kids and I would fall in love with him all over again each time I caught him giving good life advice.
I would take photographs and travel the world documenting the people I came across. I would adopt a sibling group of three or maybe four and work on foster care policies because the ones we have aren't work…