Thursday, November 10, 2016

End Result versus Process

        Donald Trump was elected as the next president of the United States of America earlier this week, and in the past two days, I have seen many reactions ranging anywhere from fear and shock to delight to sadness. From mourning to gloating to protesting. More than ever, Americans are divided and the extreme ends appear to be pulling even further apart. I, too, have had many emotions this week, and underneath it all, something kept nagging at me. I mean I was both stunned yet not when Trump won the election because I have feared that our country was headed towards something like this. After all, it was a rough election year, and too many people expressed frustration and hatred towards the political world to which Clinton belongs. Furthermore, more and more people popped up with racist and sexist rhetoric or actions this year. A country controlled by a police state and/or a religious right, that is what I have worried about. And, I’m not talking about being concerned about a country that loves God, but about a country that hates God or that abuses His name. For instance, check out these novels: It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, 1984 by George Orwell, or The Hunger Game series. And read this entire essay along with all of its links. 
          In the past two days, many of those on the “winning” side have been telling the country to get over it and move on, despite those who threw temper tantrums (and even spouted racist rhetoric over the past eight years). We just need some time to mourn. Also, we ask that those who voted for Trump attempt to understand our concerns (see above paragraph for some of mine). I know people who voted for Trump, and I understand why they thought they needed to even if I don’t agree with them; I ask for the same consideration from them. 
In the past two days, I have seen those on the “losing” side split into two camps. One camp consists of those who are protesting and/or throwing a fit. Peaceful protest is a right in this country and taking positive action is something that should be happening; however, violent protests, riots, destruction of property, and hateful words are not acceptable. For instance, check out this list of organizationsFind a positive way to create action and change through civic engagement and responsible citizenship. The other camp is inspiring, and many of my friends are in this camp. They are mourning, yes, but they are also calling for positive action, calling for our country to come together, calling for us to use our talents/words/creativity to express ourselves. I applaud them and am proud to call them friend.
Donald Trump is the president elect, and as Americans, we must either honor this fact or find non-violent ways to protest it. Either way, something else has been bothering me for the past two days. What concerns me is this: What lesson have we taught our children from this election? What lesson are we saying is just fine and dandy for our country, for America, and thus, for the world?
First let’s consider the absolute best scenario in the situation we have in front of us. In fact, many have called for everyone to come together and work with Donald Trump, so let’s say we do so. Trump was elected as the next president, and let’s say he takes office with everyone’s support and in the end our fears are unfounded. Trump becomes a wonderful president and does amazing things and in reality Makes America Great Again. Let’s say that happens. Yes, you say. I’d be happy with that, you think. Wait a minute…you are forgetting a very important point. Even if that happens, Trump should not have been elected because of his actions and words!!!!
If I ranted and raved and publicly spouted racist and sexist comments for months, mocked a disabled person, dishonored a veteran, and so on, I would never be hired by a college in the United States again. I just wouldn’t. In fact, I would lose whatever teaching jobs I currently hold. What about you?! Imagine that you did and said the same things that Trump has done and said over the past year. How would your work life be looking?!
A lesson this election result teaches is that the end justifies the means.
Might makes right.
In fact, I have heard people say that Trump was doing those things in order to get attention in order to market himself and win votes. Whether he did so because that’s what he believes or as a publicity stunt doesn’t matter. The fact is that he did them.
And, as I have been reminded recently, many believe that Clinton has done some terrible things too, but that misses my point. It’s true that no human being is perfect, but this goes beyond that and into reprehensible words and actions in full view of the public. Maybe we need a complete overhaul of the process of running for, voting for, becoming president (though we should carefully consider that and research why our Founding Fathers set up the electoral college the way they did before we move to revamp it)? Or perhaps what we need is better options to choose from?
Regardless, let's consider these questions:
Do we teach our children that the end result is all that matters?! That it’s okay to cheat as long as they get an A in the class or win the game? That it’s okay to plagiarize someone else’s work as long as they get a good grade? That it’s okay to make fun of someone if it will help them be class president? That it’s okay to kick the kitten or puppy or to bully others if it will help them be popular in school? 
To the contrary. I have watched friends and family raise their kids, and I know that many of you teach your children similar ideas that I teach my daughters: to work hard, to do their best, to take responsibility for their words and actions, to be compassionate and kind, to support/build rather than compete/tear down, and to be the change they want to see in this world. 
Furthermore, I teach process in college composition classes, and the students hate it. They hate that we spend weeks writing and revising and editing the same essay, but it’s that process that teaches them so much and that helps them end up with not only a stronger paper but also pride in the fact that they did it!
It’s process and practice that helps anyone be good at anything.
I don’t want the world I live in to be one where might makes right and where the end result is all that matters. And that is one of the reasons that I have been upset about the results of this election.

I wrote the above and left to go to meet my family to watch my nieces and nephews sing in their Fall Program. And, I returned home feeling better because I was reminded of unity and community in our daily lives. I saw a town come together: we stood and sang the national anthem with the children, and we applauded veterans from all branches for their service. At the end, the children sang lyrics that brought tears to my eyes and that reminded me of what’s important now. First graders of Houston, Missouri sang, “United we stand, divided we fall,” and they poured their hearts into it. Tonight reminds me of the importance of discourse and community and of the significance of the things we are doing in our daily lives such as how we raise our children and the values we instill in them. Tonight leaves me with hope for our families, hope for our communities, hope for our country.
God bless America, land that I love.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Dear UD,

So many stories I long to share, to call you up and tell you about. So many brainstorming sessions that I yearn to have with you. So many questions I want to process with you. So many experiences I crave to express to you.

For example, another creative genius died this month. Prince is gone, and it seems like too many greats are being called home, leaving this earth mourning and lost and headed for some sort of apocalypse.

As another illustration, I am reading this book by Brené Brown called Rising Strong about being vulnerable, compassionate, authentic people who set boundaries, and I wish I could talk to you about it.

Plus, she understands love and loss. Brown says, “Yes, I agree with Tennyson, who wrote, “ ’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” But heartbreak knocks the wind out of you, and the feelings of loss and longing can make getting out of bed a monumental task. Learning to trust and lean in to love again can feel impossible.” And she writes that “C. S. Lewis captured this so beautifully in one of my favorite quotes of all time: To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” She captures the risk, the reward, and the problems that arise if we don’t take the risk.

In another instance, I want to tell you about Lexi and Laina, about all of the amazing things that they are doing and about the challenges they are facing and about the crazy, fun, couchsurfing adventure we had last week. And about how we all three miss you.

And of course I want to tell you this… I was selected as the Outstanding Adjunct for 2016 for the Eastern Florida State College Palm Bay Campus, and when I told Mom, the first thing she said was that you, Uncle David, would be so proud of me. I know that, and it warms my heart. I still wish I could call and tell you about it. Let you know how you helped me become the best teacher and person that I could be, and I am grateful for every phone call, email, visit, minute that you spent with me, showing me that you valued me, teaching me that my interests and desires are important, shaping my philosophies and morals. There are no words to describe what that means to my life.

Ironically, the ceremony where I will receive my award is on the very day that we lost you last April. Or is it apropos…a way to honor your help on my path to this moment.

The year anniversary of your death is here, and I still miss you so much. As time goes on, it doesn’t get easier, navigating this world without you, missing you, yet the ache of the loss does lessen overall, though sometimes it still strikes as sharp and painful as ever because the hole left in a world without you will never be completely filled.

But, I am mooring, pulling in everything you did for me, everything you taught me, everything beautiful and right and good about you. And I am holding it all inside me, not heavy like the weight of grief but shaped like the feather of an angel or a phoenix, light and loving. Shielding. Freeing.

At your funeral, they played “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and you were that for me and for so many of your family members.

In countless ways, you showed us too much to put into words—how one person can love another, how actions and words can run parallel, how taking time for others matters, how to listen, share, give, how to process this crazy world, how to care for all of God’s creatures, how to be respectful/courteous/kind, how to be centered in the midst of anything.

The grief I ball up like a stone, what’s left of it after all the tears that have bled out of me, and I hold it in my hands. I reach my arm back and launch it forward, away from me, releasing it into the ocean, back into the physical world.

As you would want for me, encourage me to do, I let go and look inside. Draw in courage from all that you shared, from all of the memories. Find hope for the future.

Time to choose, time to decide, time to stand strong.


I choose me, I choose life, authenticity.

I am a powerful, passionate, blessed, and beautiful, beloved daughter of God.

UD, I love you so much. And I miss you still. Forever, I carry you in my heart, and with all that you taught me, with God’s help, with trusting and believing in myself, with living my contract, and with the support of family and friends, I mend. We mend each other. Never the same, but new. A new tapestry woven from the past and present, the future up to us. As Ram Dass said, “We're all just walking each other home.”

With the memories and love of you written on our very cells, we merge our old lives and stories into something new that can move us forward into this future without you. While it wouldn’t be what we would choose if given the choice, it is what is, and so we press on.

Moored by the foundations laid by past generations, by all I learned from them, from you.
Moored by my faith and belief in God, by my God.

We remember the stories of old and carry them with us into the newness of our lives. Now, we have a new story to tell. One that leans on the foundation you helped set. Thank you, UD.

Goodbye, Uncle David. For now. Someday, when we meet again, I will tell you the rest of my story, and I will make you proud. Until then, I hold your love close, smile, and step forward into the future.


PS: With this post and the year of letters to you, I commemorate you and your influence on so many lives. We love you. xo

Thursday, April 14, 2016

How Do I Miss Thee, Let Me Count the Ways

Dear UD,

This month, everything reminds me of you, and every day feels like a countdown to the day my foundation was shaken.

For instance, Facebook reminded me that one year ago, I tagged you in a photo of Mom’s flower garden, the one that you helped her create by buying her so many bulbs over the years. Yellow daffodils, pretty tulips, purple irises, and so many more.

One year ago today, you were on this earth, and I could tag you in a photo that you would see.

One year ago today, you were at home where I could call and talk to you almost any time of day.

Tonight, I’m drinking tea that I finally dug out of the cabinets, an herbal brand that I took from your home on the day of your funeral. You had so many boxes that you would never have a chance to use so I took one. I didn’t drink any tea for almost a year; opening the box was an acknowledgement that you were gone, but when I came down with a bad cold this spring, I remembered the box of tea, and now I sip the minty brew and think of you. When I drink tea, I will always think of you.

One year ago today, you were drinking iced tea, and I had the hope of another family meal at your place.

This month is a minefield and every day a reminder that the day the earthquake struck is approaching. I take a step to the right, and I remember an email conversation last April where you helped me revise a prompt for my Creative Writing class. I asked how you were, if you were writing, what you thought of the prompt, and if it made sense, and you replied:

               Hey, Rach,

               1)      Okay, not great. 
               2)      Not really. 
               3)      I think it is clear but a bit overwhelming. 
               4)      Yes, it makes sense.

          Grammar—parallel tense:  How did what you learn in Creative Writing . . .

          I would consider selecting 6 to 8 quotes for the assignment and then giving out the rest of them as an appendix for             further consideration.

          Love, UD

I love how you always, always started with a salutation and ended with love. What I would give for another email conversation with you.

A step to the left, and I think about how you coached and supported Lexi as she developed as a performer. Now, she has her first professional dance job, and I am so proud of her. We always thought you would be here to see her blossoming into an adult and professional dancer, and we want to call and tell you all about it. But we're grateful that Lexi had that chance to learn from you on her journey here.

A step to back, and I remember the day before, the day when I talked to you on the phone and wrote my last journal entry. I talked to you about wanting to visit in May, and I said that I loved you. I’m so grateful that I spoke to you that day, but I wish so much that I could talk to you again. That night, I wrote in my journal about my day, and then I ended it with a positive narrative about what my ideal life would be, something I’d wanted to do for years. The next day, I lost you, and I haven’t journaled since.

UD, a friend recently told me that I’d been searching for something outside myself. At one time, yes. Sometimes, yes. I am human, fallible, imperfect, yearning for love and belonging.

If I try to search for answers outside myself, that’s not good. If I’m looking for someone or something to make me okay or to fix or save me, that won’t work.

However, all humans need positive male role models in their lives.

Someone remarked that I am different, unique because of how deeply the loss of an uncle has impacted me, but it’s not just me who is feeling so unmoored in our extended family. Plus, you were one of those special people who impacted so many around you. Not to mention the fact that your loss was near the end of a long, hard set of traumas dealt all within a fairly short amount of time, and like a domino effect, one by one, they crashed down, leaving a scattered mess in my life.

And grief is the same yet different for everyone….it’s the same because, whether we’ve lost a beloved aunt/uncle, parent, grandparent, child, sibling, friend, there is now a hole in our heart, and our life will never be the same; we will never again be the same. Yet, it’s different because those relationships are different and because we are all different people with different personalities, needs, desires. Ultimately, loss is difficult, demanding, arduous, and the grief that follows is something that can take time because it shakes us up and spits us out alone and altered.  

And the thing is…you were one of the very few people on this earth with whom I felt completely safe. One of the few people who saw and accepted all of me. Nothing can replace that.

Safe….I realized recently, that there are only a handful of people I feel completely emotionally safe with and that I do not speak up as much as I need to around those I don’t feel emotionally safe with. It’s time to change that. Though difficult, it’s healthiest for me as well as those around me. I wish I could talk to you about this and process it, but I know you would be proud of me. I hold onto that as I attempt to navigate a new way of interacting and of being true to myself and others.

I feel like I am waking up from a long, hard nightmare…so much to handle in the past few years that I have been overwhelmed, numb, depressed, anxious. January 2013, the girls’ dad dropped a bomb in our lives that we are still processing. October 2013, Lexi moved to NYC for performing arts school, and, while natural and normal for her to go off to college, I grieved. May 2014, Grandpa Crawford died, and a few months later, Dad was diagnosed with cancer and put on hospice. December 2014, Laina and I sold what we could, packed what we could, gave away the rest, and moved back to the farm to be with my Dad and help the family. January 2015, he died. April 2015, you, Uncle David, died suddenly. May 2015, we moved back to Florida so Laina could go to high school with her friends. December 2015, we lost Charlie from Florida (my writing friend and the reason we moved to this area near the ocean), and I fell and broke my right wrist in three places. January 2016, I had surgery on my arm and was virtually helpless for a couple of months. Too much in too short of time, too difficult to process all of this, especially without you.

But this month, this month, every day, I remember you…

Love, Rach

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A Year without Words

Dear UD,

April is the month of spring renewal and poetry, a mix of greens/reds/yellows/purples, of budding limbs and of word play. And now also of a sword that strikes suddenly, swirling death into the pretty mixture. Everywhere we turn grief rises up to greet us—suicide bombings in Belgium and Africa, the protagonist of a post-apocalyptic series sacrificed, movie or rock stars like Alan Rickman and David Bowie falling, a supreme court seat emptied in an election year, and on and on it goes.

And you, gone with no goodbyes.

The one-year marker of your death approaches, and I am still numb, hurting. Sad. Tears still fall so often.

Soon it will be…

365 days since a dam broke inside from too much to mourn in too little time (Grandpa, then Dad, then you).

365 days since my body’s visceral keening. All of the pain flowing up and out of my throat, leaving me voiceless, wordless. And now, almost a year later, I am starting this month of April with no voice, literally, from a cold virus.

365 days with no words. Journal pages blank. Empty.

For a year, I’ve written letters to you but nothing else. No diary entries, no stories, no essays, no poems.

Empty pages, empty landscape, empty love tank.

I feel so alone.

Uncle David, I still miss you. I wonder how I will endure this, how the heavy grief that has taken up residence in my body will ever leave.

There are no words.

During this month of spring and poetry, I can only think of elegies I’ve read, so many poems of sorrow, a human experience we all know. These woeful songs of lament and grief leaving me voiceless, wordless.

I am still not ready
to say goodbye.



Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March Birthdays, Take Two

Dear UD,

Today, I have no words.

Today, you would have been 62.

Today, a year ago, we celebrated your 61st birthday all weekend at your place, another family celebration filled with kids playing ball outside (and Little and Aiden jumping cliff to cliff, flying over open space), dogs romping around (except poor O. B. who shadowed your every move, sitting between your feet at every chance), and cousins/siblings/aunts/uncles all playing various games of Scrabble, Bridge, and the new Dragon Joust card game that you created. And you, cooking, grilling, making special meals for all of us even though you were the honored birthday boy. 

Sonny, Mom, and I stayed up until midnight on the night before, playing Bridge with you to ring in the first moments of your birthday. We saluted your birthday, and you jumped to Three No Trump, like always, winning the rubber.

We sang Happy Birthday (something you did for every single one of us on every birthday through a phone call), ate cake, and watched you open presents. Last year, mostly, you received cards, as you requested, where we told you how much you meant to us.

Did you know then, somewhere hidden inside, that it was your last birthday?

Did you know, in a way that we did not until after, how deeply you impacted our lives on so many levels? How very much we loved you? How special you were?

Even as we brought you presents, you gifted us with everything you had, with everything you were. 

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. ~Hamlet (1.5.167-8)

Today, a song comes on the radio, and the lyrics slay me. No longer are you “only one call away.” No longer are you “there to save the day.” No longer can your siblings or 17 nieces and nephews or 30 plus great-nieces and nephews call to share news, get advice, wish you Happy Birthday.

Today, we vote in the primaries, trying to pick the best of the worst, without a viable option. I imagine what you would say and wish we could talk about it.

I’ve heard some people laugh at the idea of Trump, saying he wouldn’t have the power to do anything if elected. I’ve heard others say that Trump is a refreshing choice, someone to bring new life to the political hypocrisy and depravity of this corporation-run government. Both of those are furthest from the truth. This election year has been a debacle of Hunger Game/Nazi proportions. Will we not learn from history or from futuristic literature? George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” but World War II wasn’t that long ago. Surely we haven’t forgotten it already or forgotten where racism, prejudice, and blindly following dictators who use repeated common fallacies in reasoning leads?!

I would remind you of the stories I have read, of Fahrenheit 451, “Harrison Bergeron,The Handmaid’s Tale, The Giver series, the Unwind series, and ask how people cannot see the parallels. How they cannot see our country sliding headfirst into a dystopia.

I have tried to stay out of the political debates this year, but Trump scares me. He should scare all of us. Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, winner of Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, and author of Night, wrote, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

You always wanted to see the best in people, in our country, in our world. I wonder what you would say now, after all of the headlines and horrors of the past year. After the past week when our first amendment right to peaceful protest has been under attack. In the words of Elie Wiesel, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
So, today, I speak up and cast my vote. 

And, today, I’ve heard from various family members who are all thinking of you, honoring you, missing you.

Mom is planting a flower garden with roots and bulbs of perennials such as lilies, irises, wildflowers, and bleeding hearts. Every spring when they shoot up and bloom, she will think of you.

Others will watch a musical or Hitchcock classic or Shakespeare play, and some will reach out to a sibling or cousin and cherish the mundane fact of having a phone conversation with a loved one.

Still others will cook a meal that they learned in your kitchen while most of us will play a board or card game.

Whatever we do, we remember you.

Today is your special day. We love you, Uncle David. Happy birthday!


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March Birthdays

Dear UD,

Today is Dad's birthday, the first day of March and yours, the 15th, halfway through. 2016, the year after we lost you both, the year when March limps in without roars, the year when spring, renewal, rebirth all seem out of reach.

Today, I honor Dad by remembering his beautiful and eloquent words to me on this day, 16 years ago:

I think all of us tend to look back on our lives on our birthdays, and solitary reflection is good for the soul…summoning tendrils of sadness and regret…but bringing also joy and the quiet contentment that comes with remembrance of things past. On this day I feel doubly blessed to have lived and loved, and I wanted to share an epiphany that intruded forcibly…bringing the greatest birthday gift ineffable sense of wondrous awe. Hovering always at the periphery of conscious thought is the blessed awareness of the people I love, my fellow traveler through this vale of tears. But this morning, in pensive solitude…I felt you all as a powerful presence…as a celestial choir singing the Happy Birthday song…I truly felt you all as if physically present…our hearts thrumming a delicate refrain of indescribable loveliness. And I thought that there is great beauty in this imperfect world…the indescribably sublime wonders of nature…the unutterable beauty of song…Willie Nelson singing “Always on my Mind”…the baroque counterpoint of Bach…The Winged Victory of Samothrace standing in Majestic grace after 23 centuries…fragments of thought from other fellow travelers we have never met, snatches of incredible poetic utterance…”And the women come and go, Talking of Michelangelo”… fictional characters we feel we know, like Yossarion and stately, plump Buck Mulligan. But shining above all of this with effulgent brightness is the blessed assurance that Love is the one thing that makes life worthwhile. I think there is a certain amount of wisdom that comes naturally as we age and mature, and I think walking for a year in the shadow of darkness has helped me see a great light…like Saul on the road to Damascus…I see how we are transported by love to any earthly paradise beyond description…that love for intimates, affection for friends, and good will towards everybody…redeems our tenuous lives and makes our transient pilgrimage significant. For above all else, I am assured that our love is a pearl of great price, a solitary Rose blooming in a wasteland. I love you, Honey. Dad
Flash forward to 2009, the last of his birthdays I celebrated with him in person. A trip to the Crawford farm, snowed in by a blizzard which blanketed the world in white, nestled in with family for cards, movies, music, and birthday cake, and a trudge through the snow with some of the younger kids.

I remember more clearly my last time celebrating anything with Dad. Christmas 2014. During the last week of his life, Dad remarked that he was glad he had moved back to the Ozarks, to the family farm, because it was home.

You, too, moved back to Missouri, near family. Home is where the heart is.
Yesterday, or so it seems, you said I was… and then my girls were… growing up too fast. If only you and Dad were still here to see them (and all 20 plus of the next generation) grow into their talents and careers and lives. Now it's their turn to ask, Do I dare disturb the universe? But I wouldn't want to be there (young adults who have to find their way) in this postmodern society. You, Dad, Eliot, all three of you pondered, probed this extraordinary, harsh, dark, and lovely world. If only both of you were still here to share your wisdom and counsel.

Today, I honor Dad with a movie marathon of some of his favorites. From the hilarious and beyond cool Blues Brothers to Kiss me, Kate to the mysteries of Agatha Christie to the bumbling Colombo played by Peter Faulk to the sharp and witty Sherlock Holmes. At least I will watch as many as possible after work, and I will laugh and cry, but love these classics and the memories they inspire.
Today, I light a candle for Dad, and on the 15th I’ll light one for you. You were both such a blessing in our lives in so many ways, and we are blessed to call you family. So I declare March birthdays a blessing. Happy birthday, Dad. Happy birthday, Uncle David.

We miss you both more than words can say.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Conversations with UD

Dear UD,

I don't know when spring will come again for me.

A year ago, February, we were planning your March birthday party, not knowing it would be the last one we would celebrate with you.

Today, I reached for the phone to call you after work, an automatic response, still, and a piercing jab to the heart reminded me that you're not here anymore, and my whole body aches that loss, mourns the knowledge of the world without you, grieves the ability to dial your number and hear your voice.

Today, the sun is shining and spring is in the air, but I can't seem to feel spring fever this year. Mom said a crocus came up in her yard on Saturday. She sent me a picture of the yellow beauty blooming in the midst of mud and brown. From a bud you gave her last year. She said it reminds her that you are still helping make her life better so we remember that you love us, but I want you here. This is so hard. Still.

Tears fall but the pain is still here. I don't know when spring will come again for me.

I want to look beyond this cold, dark winter and spy something better, but all I can see is a bleak, desolate landscape.         

Those who say time heals all wounds don't know a loss like I do. Just aching emptiness, a hole that will never be whole again.

I just want to be able to pick up the phone and then talk to you, my uncle. Conversations with you were precious. People say we don't know what we have until it's gone sometimes. That is so true.

I just want to have a conversation with you again. I miss that. I miss you.

I don't know when spring will come again for me. But I know, if you were here, you would be outside feeding the hummingbirds, walking the dogs, inspecting tree limbs for emergent buds, watching for robins, hunting for crocuses. Searching for signs of spring.

So I, too, will venture out in the fresh air, probing, hoping for a hint that spring will return again for me someday.   

Love, Rach

Friday, February 19, 2016


Dear UD,

One of the worst things I can imagine is the carcass of a charred library. Can you imagine if we lived in Bradbury’s world? All the libraries burned, empty husks. All of that history, knowledge, shared connection throughout time wiped away as if never there.

That's how I feel in this world now.

One by one, you topple, the generations before us, gone of a sudden.

We are not ready to carry on without you. 

I am not ready to be the one who remembers.

I remember the generation before and the one before that and even the one before that.  Four generations, five including the one that comes after me, but I don't remember clearly. I don't know enough.

A kaleidoscope of images flashes through my mind:

Picking strawberries from the patch with Grandma Iva, snuggling on Grandma Bonnie’s lap as she reads Hop on Pop and The Little Red Hen, turning the handle as I make ice cream on the back porch with Grandpa Bruce long before he teaches teenage me to play Bridge, picnicking with Grandma Bessie at the yearly reunion, peeling fresh garden tomatoes at Grandma Juanita’s knee, reeling in big ole catfish from the pond on the family farm with Grandpa Crawford, listening to Dad’s eclectic music while learning everything from vocabulary to tolerance to history from him.

So many memories, so much shared history.

And you, Uncle David, you who could hold me in one of your hands from the day I was born, you knew me, the real me in a way others don't, can't. 

And now that you are gone from this world, I stand alone in the ruins of all of that history, knowledge, shared connection and weep. 

Love, Rach

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year Musings

Dear UD,

It seems unbelievable that we are starting a New Year that you and Dad will never see;
I have been so sad the past few days as 2016 approached.  

2016, just a number, a New Year, a blank slate,
yet it heralds a time in this world where we must go on without you, 
a path on this earth where you cannot follow,  
a journey we must now make alone.

It doesn't seem right.

I made a 2016 family calendar since you are not here to do it anymore,
and there were too many dates I had to leave blank,
no labels but heavy with meaning,
strong with memory.

January 4th—the day we lost Dad,
March 1st—Dad's birthday,
March 15th—your birthday,
April 28th—the day we lost you.
The funeral days are sharp yet blurry,
and every day after pregnant with a grief we do not want to birth.

We stumbled through our first holiday season without you,
and most of us became ill,
vomiting up all of our unspoken words and emotions.
But me, I stepped on the cat's tail, on Christmas Day,
fell and fractured my wrist. A trip to the ER
and I came home with a splint on my right wrist.

Shattered lives, shattered bones.
Broken bones, broken spirits.
Losing you was like losing my right arm, and now I am utterly

We all feel so bereft, unready, lost.
We miss you both so much.
We wish we could rewind to you.

But time waits for no one so
we are marched into 2016,
a year we are not ready to face,
into a world we are not ready to know,
into a time without you.

Out of the remains of our battered world,
we must create a new normal as our new selves emerge.
But we carry your love, your hearts, your memories into 2016, and
will band together, help each other, and
use the knowledge and gifts that you taught us
to move forward, recover, and become more resilient
as we remember to cherish every
moment and memory
with those we love.

Love, Rach