• sunrise from a moving car window
    Life,  Truth

    When Death Comes Calling

    You think you’ll know how you’ll feel when a parent dies. You can assume or make guesses based on your relationship. But really, that’s you convincing yourself you’ve got it under control. Turns out, that headspace control? It’s a farce… a lie you’re telling yourself to get through your days. Truth is, you have no effing idea how you’ll feel ’til you get the call. And how you’ll feel all the minutes after…. Here I am. Tuesday. 8:48 PM. Call. Received. For the record, I feel overwhelmingly sad and guilty. Not the relief I expected. Anticipated. Hoped for. Mom, I hope you find peace. I hope you know how much…

  • Life,  Quotes,  Writing

    It Happened that Thursday

    Thursday, October 19, 2017.  3:22 PM. The cheery jingle of an arriving text message caused no alarm. Just another afternoon heading home from campus. Youngest sister checking in. I glance at the phone while the car cools down. Falling below 80 degrees in October is always the hope by Floridians, but jack-o-lanterns turning mushy in Florida heat and humidity is the reality. Ready to head home, I begin steering the car out of its space  and head toward the main road. Her words stop me:  “Mom just called. You guys need to call me now.” I dial the phone. Her shaky voice does not hide her concern. I can feel…

  • Art,  Great Reads,  Humor,  Life,  Process,  Writing

    Polish, Postmortem?

      Who thinks about toenails, and more specifically, toenail polish, postmortem? Admittedly (0ddly!), I do. What?!? I can see your face, that quizzical look taking over. Let me explain…. About twenty-five years ago, while taking an A & P class in college, I was invited to participate in a visit to the local chiropractic college, where we’d have the opportunity to examine cadavers. First thought: Ugh!  Second thought: Fascinating! Count me in. Entering tentatively, I remember the smells of preservatives (formaldehyde?) filling my nose as draped bodies lay lifeless, an experience that stays sharp in my mind, in my otherwise sketchy memories. It was, at once, fascinating and unnerving.     As we examined the cadavers, I remember noticing small things that stuck with…

  • Life,  Process,  Students' Words,  Writing

    Helping Teens Handle Life. And Death.

    Being a high school teacher affords me many opportunities to help teens handle life. And loss.  It is at once:  enlightening, encouraging, painful, and honest. Emotions are raw, understanding often limited, and nearly all experiences are ‘firsts.’ Sadly, some, like birth and death, become second- and third-time experiences for a few.  Being there, with a shoulder, a safe place to cry, or a place to celebrate, makes my job a special one. This year, like many, has seen our share of experiences, but this year, we’ve lost more classmates than a typical year – to car accidents, cancer, and other tragedies.  Each is felt deeply.  Each teaches lessons.  Each helps our teens grow into the people they become. Peyton, an old soul…

  • Instruction,  Life

    If Only I Knew

    Death. A dreadful event. “Why did it happen?” they asked yesterday. If only I knew. Navigating daily twists and turns with teens broadens my perspective, tickles my funny bone, sharpens details often overlooked in a chaotic adult world, but in the never-ending ‘tragedies’ teens create, death – a real tragedy – brings pause. And confusion. “Why did it happen?” they ask. And in that brief pause, the air heavy with sorrow, I have no answers for these young people who’ve come to expect reasonable reasons and enlightened explanations. If only I knew ….  is all I can muster. Death. A dreadful event. R.I.P.  Axel and Cameron.