Thursday, March 29, 2012

 What follows are a few thoughts I wrote three years ago. I shared them with a friend, who cried and said, “This is sad. How do you answer these thoughts? How do escape?” I have let them sit unanswered until now. First read below and then I will share the antidote to the dance.

Beware what you allow to define you ---I have a habit, a habit I call “My daily dance with my demons.” It goes like this: my thoughts are drawn to every mistake I can remember. I relive sins of omission as well commission I parade every one of them out; every mean word; every harsh look each mistake stands together and condemns me—reminding me of my dark side— Each is still as potent as the day I made the choice. Like a firing squad, each takes aim and empties its contents. After their ammunition is spent, the triplets enter: Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda: My efforts to overcome the triplets’ accusations are futile. They pummel my defense in short order. “ You could have been a better, Mother, you should have finished college sooner. Their condemnation is crisp, concise and complete.  At this point, the weight of self-loathing and judgment are more than I can bear. My feet cannot keep up with my partner. I crawl into a corner for relief; only I have unwittingly trapped myself to face the full measure of the final player in this demonic dance,                                                 
“If Only” strolls out in all its maniacal majesty. A cold breath delivers accusations with poisoned precision­---If only you were a better person, if only you were skinner, younger, smarter, and kinder—the list is endless. “If only” never runs out of words.
I lay defeated, exhausted and self-absorbed, trying to come up with an answer.
I think I have---at least it makes sense to my thinking.
Even if everything my “Dance partner” whispers in my ear as tango across the floor, it is not the whole story and it no longer my lead foot. I take control of the direction of the dance and remind myself.
I am human
Not everyday is a five star day
Worry is a waste of time
Looking for a job is scary, but I trust I will secure employment.
The sun comes up and with it hope.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


It was a beautiful day today in Washington. The kind us Washingtonians wait for all winter long. I went out in my small eclectic garden to see which perennials might be emerging. I shifted some pots containing tulips and daffodils. I moved them where they will have longer sun exposure with the hope that they will bloom sooner. As I enjoyed my time a thought about grief and healing---as I often do.  Like my little garden---healing happens in increments. There is no rushing healing. Time does not heal. Time grows what people allow to grow internally. Like the perennials in the garden the growth is imperceptible until spring. I say this knowing some may disagree, and that’s OK. My experience has taught me and is still teaching me to be deliberate on a daily basis as I walk the precarious path of grief. Some days all I know is I miss my sons sometimes, it is difficult to know what to do, where to put my energies and resources. Choosing the right. I stumble often. I get up regroup knowing something healing will transpire. Something beautiful will emerge. I have become comfortable with the words, “I don’t know and living with an uncertain future.  I took this photo today of my favorite peony---in a few months it will produce the most beautiful coral flowers. I will remember to take a photo. 

Monday, March 19, 2012


 I cleaned off the dock where I live and noticed a few lily pads beginning to grow under the water. By mid June, the small lake will be covered with blooming lily pads. Lilies have enjoyed a long history of symbolism. To many they represent renewal and resurrection, which is fitting with the celebration of Easter approaching. For me I like the way lilies grow. While their beauty sits on the surface of the water, the roots are connected to the mud. In Buddhism, the emphasis is on enlightenment with the beauty rising through and connected to the mud. Grief keeps me connected to the mud. As I have said many times, grief gives me seeing eyes. whether I am looking at a sunset or the snow falling, I seem to experience life with more intensity; more appreciation for the moments--each moment.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Thoughts on Motherhood

 On Monday, I  had the privilege to be the guest speaker in my friend's eight grade class. The topic of my talk was victim/offender mediation, which is a topic for another blog post. What prompted my thoughts today were the words that my friend of twenty years introduced me to her class with. She said, " Class meet my friend, Kathleen. When I young and single , Kathleen was the first mother I saw have fun with her children. When married and had children, she became my Mom mentor." Her words made me smile with humble pride and I reminisced about my early years in Motherhood. Truth be told, as a mother, I had no idea what I was doing. I had little to go on. I remember holding Gunnar in the hospital and saying out loud, "What do I do now?" Life did not go smoothly. I was terrified, I mean really who thought it was a good idea to put me in charge of a baby, another human life? There is a well known saying, "The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world." If that adage is accurate, those are some big shoes to fill. I did not want to rock the world, as an overwhelmed  scared twenty-six year old sleep deprived new mom, all I wanted at the time was a nap! Slowly I got my "mom rhythm" and this is what I did---I hand another baby. My two son's were unique. They came from the same gene pool, but sometimes I wondered. Gunnar was the most kinetic, rather high strung child I ever saw and Hayden was as mellow easy going as they come. As a mom, I had a conviction that part of my "job" was to know my children as individuals and nurture them, not change them. In the daily routine of diapers, feedings and laundry. I learned to appreciate Gunnar and Hayden. At this point, I feel like I am bragging. Keep in mind how afraid I was---What if I messed up?--what if I stunk at being a mom?---too late now! What  I remember from the early days of motherhood are feelings of intimidation. I did not have all the answers and not much of a plan. What I could do is "learn" my sons and play with them.  each day in the mist of the mess, the three of us played and laughed and discovered the joys of just being together. Thanks Julie, for letting me speak to your class and for reminding me of how fun motherhood can be.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Far Too Long

I started this blog, like many to record and share thoughts. For me,  the subject matter is primarily grief and stories about my two sons. Because I am by myself now, I am the story teller, which I do not mind so much because, like many mom's , I love talking about my children. Obviously I have not written for a very long time. I ask myself, why? After a few lame excuses--I am too busy with school work, chores take up a lot of time. The honest answer is fear. Fear keeps me from writing. Here is the list of fears that shackle me----fear of judgement, rejection, bad grammar, facing difficult emotions, among others. The thing I have notice about fear and this is no revelation, I think it is common knowledge; the more I give into fear the smaller and more disempowered I feel. I use the word feel, but I think it is more of a reality fear does disempower. In the popular and overcrowded world of blogs, mine is a minnow, yet here it is, bad grammar and all. I think of quote from Pablo Picasso,

"I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn to do it."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

July 22 One year later

 I wrote this July 22, 2010 but procrastinated posting it until now...
 It goes without saying that today is an emotional day. In a way, I relive the shock of Gunnar's death. Grief memories and gratitude intertwine and overlap. With that in mind, I wrote this letter to Gunnar.

 Dear Gunnar, I miss you son.  Such a huge part of my world is gone. As I sit and write, I cry and smile at the same time.  I cry because missing you hurts. the grief is understandably fresh, so I cut myself some slack. I hear your reasuring voice, "It's OK Mom, you'll be alright." I smile as I remember all the laughter we shared.  I love our time sitting on the couch watching "B" science fiction movies, making fun of the dialogue and the meager special effects that accompany such endeavors.  I never minded you coming home late at night and stopping by my door and saying, "Mom, guess what happened." It seems your best thoughts came to you between the hours of 12:00AM and 1:30AM.  The list  is endless, son.
 Your friends have shared many stories about you with me this past year. I have listened with a heart full of satisfaction.
I am reminded of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's words,
" Nothing will fill the gap when we are away from those we love, and it would be wrong to try and find anything. We must simply hold out and win through. That sounds very hard at first, but at the same time it is a great consolation, since leaving the gap unfilled preserves the bond between us. It is nonsense to say the God fills the gap: He does not fill it, but keeps it empty so that our communion with another may be kept alive, even at the cost of pain."
 While I live with a "grand canyon size Gunnar and Hayden gap"-----I would not trade. This is what I mean son, if I had the opportunity to live my life again and the choice to have a life free of grief --I would choose to live life just like it was handed to me. I would not opt out of motherhood-- being your  and Hayden's mom is my most cherished privilege. I love you Gunnar. Your life continues to inspire many.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Best Friends

I thought about Gunnar and Hayden's friendship this week. They were devoted to each other. Each approached life differently. Gunnar preferred the "take the bull by the horns." approach while Hayden employed, "Let's negotiate." tactic They were devoted to each other. Gunnar, A highly kinetic individual, enter into Hayden's sedentary world of cancer. They manage to blend the two in a way that left me in awe at times. Part of Hayden's cancer treatment involved receiving daily shots, mind he is four at the time--not excited about needles. He wanted to be brave but ...So big six year old brother step up, "I'll give myself a shot too, Hayden." And he did. The memory makes me smile and cry. There is such a beauty when one person chooses to enter another's pain. At many levels, we are solitary beings, meaning we are unique and experience life on a unique level. That's the beauty of relationship, entering into another's world. I watched my six year old blend his world with Hayden's. For example, there was a period when Gunnar like football and would choreograph his own football games, complete with a sports announcer. Hayden wanted to play football too. He was fragile, his double lumen line was in place and a significant portion of his skull missing, so participating in a high contact sport like football may not be in his best interest. So what solution did Gunnar and Hayden come up with so that both could play football?--- Slow motion football---brilliant!! Together, My boy's forged a beautiful friendship despite hardship. Their beauty inspires me daily--Thank you G and H!