“How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again.”
— Henry Scott Holland
The light is different here. If you saw how this place shines, I think you’d stop worrying about me. The light connects the landscape to every part of itself. It moves. It sparkles.
It links the souls together like pearls knotted in an endless strand. You know how pearls hold iridescence inside all those layers of shell? Well, if you look into the center of a pearl, you’ll get a taste of the light that surrounds me. Go do that now…
According to the American Cancer Society, about 600 adolescents, aged 15 to 19, die from cancer each year.
In 2017, my daughter, Ana, was one of them.
Ana was sick for four and a half years. During most of that time, even as her cancer progressed, I didn’t think that she was going to die from her disease.
I thought that she would beat it. I thought that her tenacious will to live would help her overcome the odds, and that scientists or doctors would invent something miraculous to shrink her tumors and restore her health.
I was at work on the morning of September 11, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 11 hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I was sitting in my office in Kingston, New York, a town located about 90 miles north of Manhattan, when a colleague told me about it. I’d initially assumed it was a small plane that had flown into the building by mistake.
Eighteen minutes later a second plane, United Airlines Flight 175, crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. …
It took me 19 years to love my house and now I may lose it.
I don’t know when the ash trees died. By my estimate, it was at least eight years ago, maybe longer. That means we let them stand, dead, for nearly a decade because we could not afford to remove them.
This past spring, I finally called the town to see if there was anything they could do. Two of the trees were precariously balanced near the road. I could scarcely afford to have them both removed, but luckily I didn’t have to come up with the…
An email from my daughter’s school arrived in my inbox at 1:19 pm on October 1st that took my breath away. It was an unsigned announcement notifying parents that, due to severe budget cuts, all students in the district must resume in-person classes on November 9th.
This contradicted what we’d been told (repeatedly) since September. Namely, that her high school would remain completely virtual for the entirety of the 2020–2021 school year.
I’d tried to process the information without panicking and, after reading the email several times, found a link at the very bottom that read, simply, “Remote Instruction Continuation.”…
I have many personal stories about healthcare deferred, issues postponed, obvious problems sidelined until they (hopefully) resolve themselves, but the lump in my neck couldn’t be ignored.
I noticed it about a year ago, right before the pandemic was picking up steam — a small pea-sized bump on the right side of my neck, right near my jaw.
I mentioned it to my doctor at my annual physical in December. She probed it and declared that it was superficial, nothing to worry about.
“It’s been there for a while,” I said. …
Hope, by its very nature, is never false.
We admitted my daughter to a hospice program eight months before she died even though she looked strong and healthy. But she’d been fighting a rare form of pediatric cancer for four years. Her lungs, abdomen, and bowel were filled with tumors and her oncologist was out of ideas.
“There’s nothing more we can do,” he’d said on what would be one of my daughter’s final visits with him. “Do you have any questions?”
“Will dying hurt?” Ana asked. She’d just turned 15.
In response to this question, the oncologist directed us…
First, scope out a quiet neighborhood where she can practice driving with minimal distractions. The roads should be wide enough that she doesn’t feel squeezed by oncoming traffic. Make a mental note of potential obstacles like pedestrians, cyclists, off-leash dogs, and trash cans.
Quiet locales with meandering cross streets are perfect. They’ll remind her of where she grew up which may help calm her fragile nerves. It also ensures that she’ll begin to make a positive association with leaving you forever.
Once you’ve settled on the perfect neighborhood, pull over and take a deep slow breath. Gaze at a worn…
I noticed the first Northern Cardinal a few months after my daughter died. It was shockingly red. It landed in one of our dead ash trees (a tree that fell, with an explosive crash, last September).
When I saw the bird, I thought, Ana is sending me a sign.
Death came with me everywhere that year. It lingered at the threshold of all the doorways in this house where Ana had grown up. I lingered too. I wandered through the house, feeling barely alive, looking for signs of her — feathers, coins, heart-shaped stones. …
I started my first blog in 2004 when I was 8 months pregnant with my second child. It was a bit of a blogging Renaissance back then. Google had recently purchased Blogger, one of the first platforms that made blogging accessible to the masses.
(Side note: I was today years old when I learned that Ev Williams not only founded Blogger, but is the person who popularized the term “blog.”)
Blogs gave rise to a form of independent writing (and content sharing) that set the stage for the social media and content platforms that dominate today’s digital ecosystem. It democratized…
Occasional poet. Writer of sad essays. Novelist. Birder and amateur photographer. I enjoy trees.