The ball & the box

The ball and the box metaphor is a beautiful one that I stumbled onto today. Draw a box and inside it draw a large ball. On one wall of the box draw a button inside. This is your pain button. When grief is new, the ball that is inside the box is quite large. It takes up so much space, it almost feels like the box itself. Thus it is constantly rubbing against the button that brings up your pain.

This weekend, my pain button kept being tapped. Life naturally moves this box around, like a wooden labyrinth. So often, the pain button is just avoided. Other times, you keep slamming into that same darn spot.

This weekend that. A work experience where I wanted advice *pain button*  I wish I could ask Dad for help. Seeing my sweet friend’s 2-year-old sit with her “Papa” * pain button* “Dad, I wish you’d get this for yourself”. Driving home, thinking about Easter  *pain button* “I wish you both were here and we were having Easter dinner at the house”. Our house. Life *pain button* loss of parents stirred up. Over and over again.

I can go days, weeks even, without the pain button being touched. But man, did I make up for lost time it seemed.

And I’m ok. This is human. I can still feel, breathe, cry and an hour later, smack a tennis ball so hard, laugh with a cashier or honk at the drive that cuts me off.  Because life goes on, even if its hard. Even if I miss you more than I can express.

Oh, and pain button, you are welcome to take a vacation this week. You’ve been present enough. 🙂



What we cannot share

No one knows, I realize. This game of loss is just me &…. No. It’s just me. 

Tonight I watched the latest episode of “This is Us”. If you’ve not gotten hooked, beware. If you ever need a jolt into tears, this script will do it for ya.

Two siblings, as close as can be, start to remember their Dad’s death from years ago. The sister has processed it recently. The brother still hasn’t. Their father died while they were in high school and are about 35+ now.

What moved me was the the last scene, the brother admitting to his sis, yes I have a really hard time thinking about Dad and his death. But. But, but, but. It’s on the phone, they just made up from after a fight, there is distance. So while he starts to cry, he shuts the conversation down.

This is grief.

Yes, there are moments when you are in it with someone- a friend, relative, partner, sister. But more often that not, you are in this journey alone. No matter how deeply connected you might be to another, who is missing that same person, who lived through the same timeline, it is not the same experience. To each, their own.

This is human.

For all the times I have heard, “You are not alone”, the one phrase I want to retort is “Yes, but I am. We all are”.

Hear me out. I am quite a gregarious person, who loves connection and meeting others. But nothing feels more true than the wisdom of I walk in this world in my shoes, my mind, my heart alone. It does not mean I am not in community with another, it does not mean I am forever lonely or lost. We enter this world alone, as unique, individual selves. And we leave it, changed I am sure, but alone and unique as well.

I will not say the alone-ness is “all ok” and “fully beautiful”.

But when grief wells up within me, there is no one who knows the pain better than myself. While I can share with words, no one else can live inside me- know what I am thinking when I cannot express it, know what physical changes I feel within my body, and no one can truly know what it feels like within my soul.

In that truth, there is liberation. There is the freedom that stops me from seeking someone, or something, ‘get it’ or ‘take it away’.

So even a sister to a brother who seem to have experienced so much the same in their life, their grief, their journey, their process will never be the same.

This is us. Human. Alone. Liberated. And maybe somewhat ok.

the hit of loss

I miss you both so much. And I don’t know how to miss you.

What, you say? Keep reading.

This time last year, my life was radically different. Mom was still here, but slipping more away after we lost Dad.


Today, I see that I am still in my winter.


I can’t wrap my head around that our first Christmas with neither parents, immediately follows the one without Dad. I just want those old days back. Where family gathered in our living room- giftwrap, or comics as we all used, was flying! My older cousins would happily play with sis and I. Mom would pass out presents and greet each family member as she would make her way around the room, cleaning paper, and smiling the whole time. I remember warmth, love, some much happy noise.

Truly, I’d give so much to have those days back. Sure, maybe it would teach me that I have romatizced them a bit. But, one more holiday with you both?


I’d ask for that day to never end.



Is there a rhythm to grief? I do not know. It is too close, too sacred, too of the now to surmise that there is rationality to this pain. What I know- is it lingers. It creeps around my world and my life, begging for more space. And that is how I don’t know how to miss you.

One year later, another parental death later, and I still don’t know how to do this, grieve.

I know there is no right way. But there is also no familiar landscape, some comfort of how I did this before. These losses are so large, and yet different. Together, it’s often too much.

I miss you both so deeply, so intensely, and live my daily life. Somehow, they are not in contradiction to each other.


Related: Winter Sullen Wonder Days


Lessons from my Mom

Oct 14 2016

This is far from an exhaustive list, but these are moments that I smile and think of Mom. I tried to write them in her voice. 

For you Sunshine-K. 


Always write thank you notes. A well written, well-meaning note can go a long way. If someone took the time to get you a gift, bring food, you take the time to express thanks. Give gratitude.

This too shall pass.
Cliche but utterly true. Even if it is at its worst right now, it won’t always be this way.
When you are young, this can be hard to see, simply because you haven’t experienced this wisdom in its deep form. So I will tell you it’s true. Know that it will pass, and I will be here for you.

If I could take away pain for you I would do so. But I can’t. And I hate that. Yet, I also trust in God and you should too.

Dinner together as a family, time together, forges incredibly strong ties.

Tv is overrated. Grab a book.

Mary Higgins Clark books can only be read two in a row before you get frustrated at the obvious patterns. But I still love them.

Friends and family are incredibly important.

Make new traditions and hold on to the old ones that you can. Our family traditions were my parents could probably not appreciate- like Chinese takeout every Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Without fail! Strange, but they were our traditions.

There is always room for ice cream. And don’t ever remind me if I’ve had it twice in a day.


I love and miss you, Mom. Keep sending wisdom my way. 


New territory, before and after

March 7, 2016

First blog post of the year, and it is March. How time flies while ever so standing still.


The lines are becoming more solidly before and after. No longer “before diagnosis and after” but before Dad’s passing and after. There was so much to do after your death, Dad. It frustrates me, a wordy (ok even though rarely pithy) being, that I can’t articulate every aspect, struggle, fight, and policy we had to overcome to put down the business side of death and move on to the mourning side.


And what infuriates me is that I can never seem to explain all the “what” is- but it’s headache filled bureaucracy most days.

Part of the issue is having to do all this while mourning such a loss as the death of a parent, all while we still want to focus on Mom and her Alzheimer’s. So many friends of my age said “I don’t know how you would have done this WITH a job too”. And I didn’t- it was my job.


Plus, this landscape was so utterly foreign. You were always my guide in the realm of financial and legal. Let alone big changes in life, you and Mom were often steady guides. And now there is none. And now I stand without you both. I stand with myself and my memories of you.


Maybe this is part of the rebirth after death. Not so much that I know a deeper loss in life, but rather it has fully, and rather expediently, christened me in adulthood. In one phone call, one night of you lying on a gurney, our roles swapped at a vibrant 65 and days into 29.


Today, just two years later, I am settling into my new routine, including a new job, a new commute,

All seems new.

Then something may send me back- remembering how acute this loss is- how permanent and still fresh. Tonight’s moment came with a beautiful, simple letter from a friend reminding me that they hold my loss in their heart.


And I’m back. Knowing full well this sorrow and sobbing place. My body could throttle into the continuance of ordinary life, but my soul still needs these remembrances. These releases.


I will always wish for more time, to know what you’re thinking about on this world event or that piece I read, to still have you here. And, I will forever be grateful for the time we did have, for the love you instilled and the memories we all made,


I miss you, Dad. I miss you, now and each tomorrow too.

It’s not a love story


It’s not the two of them.
It’s not the beauty or the partnership that two people have.
It’s not what we all want.

It’s a robbery. It’s not a gift.
It’s ugly destruction of the mind, but never the spirit.

But it’s not love. It’s love in spite of it.

Love in the depths of an ongoing battle. Love whilst losing, forgetting, and regaining. Love through pestilence.

It’s not a love story. It’s a story, woven with commitment, loyalty and love.

But death is not their love story.

Their life together is.

winter sullen wonder days

I ran into my high school history teacher today. Moseying around a Barnes and Noble, I looked up and excitedly said her name.

We chatted for a moment when she asked how my family was holding up. Friends now on Facebook, she knew of my Dad’s passing. I immediately said what was on my mind: “Oh, how I wish I could call him up and say “I ran into Myrna’ “!

My teacher, one I had the pleasure of having for three out of four years, shared beautiful wisdom with me. “Oh Kate, he is there. Talk to him. I lost my father 10 years ago and I still speak to him”. And I agreed. I said, “I know he  laughs at me still!”


Later this evening, I replayed a song I heard live on Monday night: “Winter Song”. I doubt anything could more aptly describe this holiday season for me. It is a mixture of deep sadness but small joy for the season and the future to come.

I will honor your memory, Dad. I will find my way. Love will find a way…I am just not sure how.