Tag Archives: family grief


DonkeysMy daughter brought her mother home on Thanksgiving Day. They flew in on a gusty day to Portland, Oregon. She had flown cross-country to be with her father before his breath left him. They didn’t expect him to go but he did and now there was no turning back. She would take care of her mother now.

I had been informed by text on my phone, “On my way to the airport, my dad in the hospital”

That was more than a month ago. When Cathy’s husband called to inform me an hour after Pete died, I sent flowers to her dear mother and prayed for Pete on his journey, and then for all the rest behind him … my daughter and her kids. Losing Pete was our grandkids’ first shake with death. We were all affected.

It was my part to step back into the familiar quiet of the unseen and fade to nothing in the face of their grief. Turning my volume to zero made room for Cathy to be in her family. She loved her father. They had been close; the way my father and I are close, the way – when they’re lucky – daughters and fathers are close. Now he was gone. My daughter wasn’t in a place that could hold any more that this.

I put on the silver ring with the amber stone that she gave me years ago and said a prayer, picturing it from my heart to hers until it was filled with love in the noisy silence; they same way I used to do before we met again.

To read my daughter’s counterblog, visit ReunionEyes.


Forty Years Later Letter

Dear brothers and sisters – Stephen Joseph, Michael Francis, Brian Frederick, Mary Ellen, Kevin John, Deborah Marie & Regina Marie,

I am writing you today as your sister. I need to tell you some things and share a part of myself that got sideswiped when we were all still together – a part I never really recovered with you. It affected Mom and Dad, too but that’s a different letter that needs to be written another day. They did the best they could.

I want to tell you some things – complicated things – but before I do, I want to tell you that I love each one of you for being my brothers and sisters. Even Johnny, who left us by accident before most of us were born, is counted – the one who took on the mantle as the family guardian angel as our first brother and was the first one of us. Even though he was gone, Johnny was always there as part of my first memory – I was the next one born after he left. He was a part of the family fabric as first son, as though he was standing right there. He was looking after us from heaven, as Mom always said. No matter what we were doing, where we were or how we needed him, he was there – checking in. I felt his oversight when I came out of brain surgery. I knew it was him and that he was there with me – guiding the doctor’s hands, making sure I was okay when I woke up. Dad was there by my bed, my head all wrapped in gauze. I think he felt him too.

I just wanted to let you know that I’m sorry I couldn’t share Cathy’s birth with you. I know now that she, like Johnny, was a presence in our family – invisibly but palpably – not only for me, who grew, felt and watched her grow from my secret belly, but for you, too – each of you, who knew without saying or telling that news of Cathy was missing from the table.

If Mom and Dad had folded the indiscretion and Cathy’s existence into our unfolding cast of characters in the family story, chances are that none of us,  and least of all me, would have been able to let her go.

I’m sorry for the loss of Cathy in your lives right from the beginning. Gaining these past twenty-two years between Cathy and me since she turned eighteen has been a gift beyond hope. Thank you for loving her now, even in the limited ways to be found – and for loving me anyway, besides and always. I love you too. I feel you inside the beat of my heart when I say “my brothers and sisters.” We learned love as a family. I do love you.

Your sister,

Kathleen Mary

To read my daughter’s counterblog, please visit ReunionEyes.