On Time & Resurrection


This year was such a rollercoaster. Really high highs, and very low lows. Several plot twists—a few we were prepared for, a few we weren’t. I’m disoriented, grateful, sad, hopeful, tired, restless.

When I started this year, I was really struggling at work. I had just been tossed into a new role, and was trying to find my way without much guidance or support. Somewhere in the middle of the year I felt like I found a rhythm, albeit a high-tempo, can’t stop no matter how tired or unsure you are, rhythm. It was a huge challenge that helped me grow in my professional life.

And then, plot twist, I got laid off.

We made big financial goals this year and succeeded at several of them – we PAID OFF a student loan, and we saved up for a REAL EUROPEAN VACATION that we always wanted to take and never thought we’d be able to. We faced a major medical emergency (Matt’s seizure in March) and we were able to take it in stride, financially speaking.

Oh yeah—MATT HAD A SEIZURE for the first time in nearly 20 years, and for a few heart-wrenching seconds I thought he was going to die, but he didn’t, and we slowly found a new normal. My goofy, kind, handsome, loving husband is still with me. To say I’m grateful would be the understatement of a lifetime. For nearly six months between March and September our schedule was a monster because he wasn’t allowed to drive, which meant that I drove us everywhere—physical therapy and doctors appointments, work, errands—but I can honestly say that all of the time stuck in a car in rush hour traffic strengthened our bond. The fact that we survived such an unexpected obstacle made our Europe trip all the sweeter when we finally got to go.

My favorite moment of this whole year was sitting in a tiny, closet-sized bar in Hamburg, Germany, while my husband talked to the locals about how his father’s family emigrated to America from Hamburg in the ’50s. We got tipsy and walked backed to our hotel room full of joy, high on life.

And then we tried to unsuccessfully to get pregnant this fall. I know most people don’t talk openly about this stuff and I normally don’t either, but I need to today. Because not talking about it has somehow made the gaping hole in my heart feel even bigger than it is. I finally felt ready for the adventure of parenthood, after years of processing my mother’s death and learning how to take care of myself and be an adult. I dared to name what I wanted out loud, dared to hope that it was finally time. And then everything fell apart. There was this week, around the end of October and beginning of November, where I thought I was pregnant. And then I took a test, and realized I wasn’t. My body was just faking me out, I guess. And then a couple weeks later, I lost my job.

The end of this year felt like a cruel joke.

And it has felt like a return to a truth that I wrestle with: time is a circle. Life is a series of seasons, some harder than others. Nature, even time itself, is a rollercoaster. The bad and the good both come around, again and again.

I started this decade camped out on my mother’s deathbed. In the intervening years, other parts of myself died. Some were reborn. I grew and I changed and I learned how to hope again. 

A resurrection that fundamentally shifted my understanding of resurrection itself.

I always thought of it as a return to a previous state: the dead thing becomes undead.

But that’s not exactly it, is it?

Something dies, decomposes, and eventually something new may emerge. 

It’s not the same flower coming back over and over again.

It’s the same plant, but a new bud every time.

A descendant of what was, a fruit born from seasons and soil.

Familiar but different.

An ordinary miracle, if such a thing exists.

It’s a painful process, and I feel like I’m going through it again—a death of a plan. A hard winter that I know how to weather, because I’m from Michigan, but right now I resent it. I don’t want to be good at this part. I don’t want to slow down. I don’t want to wait. I don’t want to start over.

But if I’m being truthful, and today I am, I don’t want to be the person I used to be, either. I don’t want to return to who I was a decade ago. The process hurts, but it’s vital part of growing as a person. There are no shortcuts.

And so I’m in the midst of an excruciating season, but I know that another one is on its way.

Someday, a resurrection.

Maybe the same hope, but a new plan.

Going Home.


The last time I went to visit your grave was two years ago. That Michigan summer was cool and rainy, the evening overcast and humid. I drove alone to the cemetery with a potted plant to place beside your headstone. But when I got out of the car I was greeted by a thick cloud of mosquitoes. Even through my jacket and leggings I could feel their stings. Frustrated, I turned around and dashed back into the car. I stared at the plot from my window for a few minutes before I turned the key in the ignition and drove away slowly.

Dad got married that summer. Jacob got married later that fall. We went home at Christmas but I didn’t come back to your graveside then either. It was a long time before I went home again. I said it was because we were trying to save money, and because we had too many other obligations. It’s not untrue, it’s just not the only truth.

The truth is you can never go home again.


It’s a breezy morning in April when I finally come back. The Monday after Easter. It’s my first trip home in a long time. We don’t stay in the house where I grew up. We don’t have the same big family gathering for holidays anymore. There are different places and new people and a whole life that we never imagined living when you left us, most of it good but all of it bittersweet.

I plant a tulip beside you.

The tears I thought weren’t there are on my cheeks suddenly, as if they never left me.

I am not fine.

I am fine.

The thing I thought would eat me alive has not, but I feel every tiny sting.

I come to you a version of myself that I’m not sure either of us recognize, but I’m all me just the same.

Hi, Mom. I missed you.

An Iris in Remembrance.


There’s a bed of purple irises in our backyard. A single blossom has unfurled, and it evokes warm memories of my mother, all those late spring days when she would weed the flower beds at the front of the house, and the irises seemed to multiply by hundreds every year, their heavy heads bowing in the May sun.

In many ways, I feel like I’m not in a place right now to be grateful for what happened to us. Time presses on, and the weight of meaning-making feels impossibly hard to bear.

And yet, these memories sprout up anyway. They both anchor and undo me, all at once. They are the leaves I grow and shed, over and over again, that feed the soul-soil of who I am. It’s an ongoing existence of death and rebirth. That’s what grief is to me – death and rebirth, death and rebirth. Some seasons are uglier and harder than others, and I’m sure I can never recover these winters. And some seasons I turn toward the sun, arms outstretched, like all those irises my mother planted, growing by the years.

So today, yes, I bow my head. Thank you, thank you.

Your Own Brand of Magic

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“Perfection Wasted” by John Updike

And another regrettable thing about death
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,
which took a whole life to develop and market —
the quips, the witticisms, the slant
adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest
the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched
in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,
their tears confused with their diamond earrings,
their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,
their response and your performance twinned.
The jokes over the phone. The memories packed
in the rapid-access file. The whole act.
Who will do it again? That’s it: no one;
imitators and descendants aren’t the same.


My husband’s grandfather passed away on Tuesday morning. He took with him his own brand of magic that no one else will ever possess. Dirty jokes and toy trains and fishing trips. Card games and cigarettes. Raucous laughter and deep affection for his grandkids.

I sat on my porch after we heard the news and could almost hear his own disbelief that he died. I suspect he thought he’d live forever, or at least a hundred years more, sitting on his porch no matter the weather with his smokes and sudoku puzzles, fishing at Lake Shelbyville with Matt and Dad every spring. He and Matt talked about going down for a trip in May, when we saw him a month ago, the weekend we came home because we knew it was our last chance to see him. We knew it was a charade of nostalgia and grief and love for all of us.

This, though painful, is what we do at the end, because we hope that death is just a prolonged absence. We plan the fishing trip, and hope that when we too cross over to the other shore one day, that Grandpa will be standing there with his pole in hand, saying, “What took ya so long?”

I loved you dearly, you beautiful old man. Enjoy the fresh air.

Three Years.


This morning I looked through a stack of photos. It’s a ritual of remembering I set aside for this day every year, to honor you. I pause and let myself feel fully the weight of your absence. I come to grips with the reality, searching through this stack of photos, that I’ll never find what I’m searching for: you, present tense. You, with me as I am now. A picture of you, age 53, and me, age 27, arms around each other, smiling. The stack of photos in my hand feels so finite. I’m holding a window of time, a fixed frame, a chapter in a book.

I miss you, mom. I always will.