22 months

It’s been nearly two years since Dad died, a lot longer since Mom died, and a lifetime since my little sister died.  A couple of therapists and a few grief groups later I’ve finally sorted through all of the charts that describe the cycle of grief, the poems that are supposed to help, and the stories that other people took the time to write down.  I have 4 pieces of paper left that didn’t end up in the recycle bin.  The second one was something that Dad gave me shortly after Mom died.  I can’t truly let these pieces of my grief go, so I’m putting them here….

Death is Nothing
Henry Scott Holland, Oxford, 19th century

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away into the next room.

I am me.
You are you.
Whatever we were for each other…
we still are.

Call me by the name you’ve always called me.
Speak to me as you always have.
Do not use a different tone;
Do not take on a solemn or sad air.

Life means all that it has always meant.
Everything is the same as it was.
The string has not been cut.

Smile.  Think of me.

Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you.
I am not far;
Just around the corner.

All is well.  Nothing is lost.
All will be as it was before.

Gone From My Sight
Henry van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts out for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come together to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says, “There, she is gone.”
“Gone where?”

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at that moment when someone says: “There, she is gone,” there are other eyes watching her arrival and other voices ready to take up the glad shout,

“Here she comes.”

And that is dying.

Gifts from your mother…..
Write a letter to your mother and talk with her about the gifts she gave to you during her lifetime. You might consider:

What you treasured about her
What you admired in her
How did she enrich your emotional or spiritual life
What talents or interests did she spark or encourage in you
What are you most proud of in your mom
What traits of her would you like to have for yourself
In what ways are you like her

If you could choose one thing which embodies your mother’s essence, what would you choose to keep her close to you?

Who am I now?  What do I want?

What I want is my parents back.  But I’m not sure why (exactly).  I love them both deeply in very different ways, and relied on them to help me to see clearly what wasn’t/isn’t always so clear.  They loved me in a way that only a parent can love a child~and this I now understand as a parent.  I don’t need them the way I did when I was young.  I can make decisions and live my life without them.  But I want them.  I want their level heads, their courage to look me in the eye and disagree with me without ever feeling their love of me was in danger, I want to hear my name on their lips, I want to talk about ‘our family’ in the way Dad always did~ with Dad~ as if we had the secret to happy family, I want to see Mom’s love in her eyes and hear it in her voice, I want to get Oreos from their cookie jar, I want to ask questions and hear answers.  I want.


26 days, 9-1/2 hours

For over a decade my people have been dying. Getting sick and dying. The last 26 days are the first in over a decade that I have not scheduled my days around doctor appointments, hospital visits, caregiving. It’s a paradigm shift for me and I don’t know how to be this Leslie yet. I don’t really want to be this Leslie.

So today I’ll sit on Dad’s grave and enjoy his newly planted lawn, the just dropped camellias I found on the walk up, and the beautiful February sunshine. I’m glad Dad’s at least in my neighborhood now.

XO forever Dad. I miss you every moment.


so much to do

There are so many things I should be doing right now, but I’m not.  Dad is in my head and in my heart.  It’s been two weeks this morning.  Two weeks of mourning.  Some of the raw pain is gone or going.  Now the deep hurt sits in the pit of my stomach and sometimes up in the crown of my head.  I re-decorated the living room and put up pictures from long ago.  Dad’s high school trip to DC.  The picture of Mom and Dad that hung over the stairs in Cupertino (that’s the one Emily and I keep posting).  It helps to walk over and stare at the pictures sometimes.  Sometimes that just makes me cry.

My friend Joanne says this is normal.  She lost her whole family over the course of just a few years as well.  She says it’s normal to feel sad and to have trouble concentrating.  Normal.  Yippee.

I’m planning a memorial service, but I don’t really know what that means.  Maybe divine intervention will prevail and step in to direct things.  Maybe divine intervention will send over some deli platters.  Maybe divine intervention isn’t paying attention or Dad would still be here, listening and loving and telling me I’m doing okay.  Cause right now I’m definitely not doing okay.

Gone at 5:30 am

Dad quietly stopped breathing this morning after a day and a half of gulping breaths with violent effort. I had just dipped a swabbing sponge in fresh water and put it to his lips. When I swabbed his mouth I talked to him because sometimes even through closed eyes people can hear. If he couldn’t hear my words over the sound of his breath he could certainly hear my love through the touch of my hands. I put the swab to his lips and he stopped for a moment. Then he took a gentler inhale as I rubbed the sponge around his mouth. And he didn’t take another breath. I waited, but he never took another breath.

So I laid my head on his arm and I cried. His pain was finished. I know that mine has barely begun.

Ten years


Every year I plant sunflower seeds on my sister’s birthday. They bloom around the anniversary of the day she died. This year, ten years later, they’ve given me a beautiful display.

XO Carol Lee.

Gone but never forgotten

Happy Mother’s Day to Mom and Carol Lee, my two greatest teachers.  If I am a good mother it is because of the two of you.  When I’m not a good mother it’s because I didn’t learn well enough the lessons that you taught me.  I cherish the time we had together and my family is blessed because of it.  You taught me not only how to parent, but more importantly, how to love.  Best mother, best sister, best friends….I love you.


a day off

I had the day off today.  It was so lovely yesterday, Sunday, to know that I’d have today off.  No stress about finishing the laundry or getting ready for Monday morning.  I enjoyed Sunday all the way until the end.

I didn’t even have to think the thought.  It was just there, like the sun behind the clouds.  Except there was no sun.  An unexpected day off means a visit with Mom.  And my blissful evening turned dark and sad.  It’s so easy to forget the things I can’t bear to know.

That’s how the days go now.  play play play cry play play play cry.  Lots of playing until I fall and scratch my knee and she isn’t there to put on the bandaid.  I can put on my own bandaid, but sometimes I just don’t want to.

A half century does not mean I’m a grown-up.  It just means I’m a really old motherless child.