Artist. Writer. Creative Mentor.

Soaring Spirits has had an enormously positive impact on my own life as a widow as well as the lives of so many friends and others. This organization is doing incredible work to help people not only to cope with widowhood, but to learn how to rebuild themselves beautifully... with love, laughter, tears, and authenticity. Most of all, Soaring Spirits gives us hope. Hope that life can still be amazing even after we have lost the most important person in our world. Hope that a beautiful life - one that our partner is always a part of - can be created. 


"Me Too"

I’ve felt abnormal my whole life. Ever since I became aware of how my own childhood with a single father who was an alcoholic was far different from the seemingly idyllic 2 parent households of all the other kids at my private school. I’ve never fit in. I’ve never felt like I fit in. Largely, because of death and grief.

When my mom died, I became consumed by death. I thought about people dying all the time. I obsessed over my dad dying and not knowing what would happen to me then. I was nine. No one talked about it, we just pretended it didn’t happen and tried to keep going. That’s how things were done back then.

That feeling of not being normal was further enforced in my teen years. Without a mom, I didn’t know how to be like other girls. I had no one teaching me how to do makeup or shave my legs or to talk to about boys. I just had to learn a lot of things on my own… and often painfully and embarrassingly failed at it. Those were the years my dad started drinking again too. So while other kids were busy being worried about tests at school or winning the big game or how their hair looked that day, I was walking beside them to class wondering if my dad would be too drunk to pick me up from school. Or if he would die in a car wreck because he was drinking and then I’d be totally alone and what the hell would happen then?

The only place I didn’t feel all those things, was when I was making art or spending time with the few close friends I did have. It was the only time I didn’t have to live in that reality. When I was making art especially… I could create a whole other world for myself that had nothing to do with my reality.

It’s ironic as I sit here now, looking back at those difficult early years. At my relationship to death and how it has changed over time. Death has altered my life so drastically since such a young age. For so long, I was alone with death. I never met other kids who had lost a parent. Literally, not a single kid I knew growing up had also lost a parent. I think that’s what made it worse. Even though I have siblings they were all grown and out of the house… so I just felt very alone with death.

Then, I lost my fiance in 2012 suddenly, and death showed up again to alter my entire world. This time though, death did something a little bit different. I still felt very alone in the world of my pain and my grief. We all do in some way. But now, I was an adult, and I could make my own choices about death. There were certain things I learned that I can control. And one of those turned out to be community.

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  • commented on A New Beginning 2016-06-05 06:07:43 -0700
    This was such a good post – boy oh boy have I been there, and still find myself in that same panic from time to time even a year and a half into things with Mike. It’s such a difference from how we were when we entered into relationships before meeting death. Now, we have a knowing, a very deep knowing, as you said. Good for you for leaning into the love and taking the chance to be deeply vulnerable with your new guy. Proud of you!

  • commented on Just Do Something 2016-04-26 11:51:16 -0700
    Thank you for continuing to teach me more about you. It is an honest, vulnerable, brave post… Just saying it again!

  • commented on Dreams Coming True 2016-04-24 05:52:50 -0700
    I loved this post, and it’s so inspiring to see you stepping into this dream and making it reality! I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds. Keep on keeping on!!

  • commented on Growing Me Up 2016-04-18 19:56:39 -0700
    Diane, thank you so much for writing to share… it really made my day. What a beautiful memory with your dad. Having walked beside Drew’s mom in her grief these past 4 years, my heart truly hurts for the loss you have felt as well. I’ve in fact met many mother’s who’ve lost children since Drew’s death, and the depth of that loss is about as deep into one’s soul as any could be… of course, because the love is that deep. Like you, Drew’s mom has chosen to continue to build a relationship with him in spirit… I know it has helped her so much (and me!).

    Jonathan died only a few months before Drew, and was only a few years younger. Wow. I’ll never understand why we lose the good ones so young. Sending much love to you, and Jonathan, and your dad! Thank you so much for reading all this time! I am so glad my words could help you, and that yours have helped me today too. :) All my best <3

  • commented on "It Isn't Just Me" 2016-03-18 11:15:08 -0700
    Thank you all for the comments. I am so glad others understand, even if I wish you weren’t going through the same thing as me right now. At least we’re not alone!

  • commented on Free To Be Me 2016-03-18 11:03:36 -0700
    Loved this. I felt exactly the same way. I am in such a different place this time than the last few times, and I got totally new and different things from it. But every single time, it proves to feel like home <3

  • commented on Home, Heart and Facing Fears 2016-01-07 11:05:16 -0800
    Thank you all for these wonderful comments. You each warmed my heart… sometimes it can be weeks without comments on here – and it feels really good to know that people are listening, and caring. My love to you ladies.

    Kelley, a special thank you to you, as someone who was on the other end of the phone those days a year ago when all that happened! Love you so much.

  • commented on Into the Woods 2015-12-20 13:54:18 -0800
    Thank you so much Cathy. We just returned and i have to say it gave me a deeper appreciation for the little comforts and relaxed me so much. I hope you got out for a good hike yourself!

  • commented on Falling 2015-11-21 18:29:27 -0800
    God, why are we always going through the same shit in some way at the same time? I have been feeling this EXACT thing the past week…. how long will it take? When will it start to feel like success and not like scrambling? Will I ever get anywhere on this book (the photo book, which came to a halt several months ago and is still sitting there stuck. ugh) Yup, i get it. I also can so imagine how much panic and stress it is creating to feel like this is your shot and you could mess it up if you dont do X, Y, Z… with my photos, i only have roughly 2 years to get them exhibited in galleries before they are then considered “old work” which is total shit. At this point, i still havent snagged a single solo exhibit, and i really badly want this series to be shown in totality somewhere big on the walls. I so get it. And I so get the feelings of being tired of working overtime. We definitely should skype after Thanksgiving. I miss you tons. Moving is shitty, and lonely. Love you!

  • commented on The Big Move 2015-10-30 06:20:55 -0700
    Thank you all. ITs been a rough past week no doubt, but so FULL… full of love, full of joy, full of heartbreak. Very very full. Thank you for reading and the love!

  • commented on What A Man Is 2015-08-30 06:54:10 -0700
    Yeah, you made me cry today. Damn. Even after these years, I still hate all of this shit. For you. For me. For all of us. And even if i have found someone new… I still HATE all of this simultaneously. I still hate that Mike isn’t Drew in some small corner of my heart… and I always will. If that makes any sense (I’m sure in widow terms it does). God this shit is so so accurate. Well written.

  • commented on The Two Faces of Fall 2015-08-25 16:14:25 -0700
    Thank you Karrlin! And Kelley… yes! One of these days!

  • commented on Seeing in Color 2015-08-23 06:06:51 -0700
    I loved this one!! I think you’ve inspired my post for today even a bit. I feel exactly the same way about fall. This year is the first year I have the real excitement back about it… not like it used to be, but in a NEW way. And I feel stupidly over excited just the way you are feeling!! Most of all… because I will get to come up north for some weeks this fall, and get to experience a place where the colors change in full glory – it literally WILL be like seeing it brighter than i’ve ever seen it before!!! Thanks for this one. Now i’m all impatient. Hurry up fall!

  • commented on Food, My Old Friend 2015-08-16 07:15:05 -0700
    I felt the same way last year when I started Crossfit… it felt so good to CARE again. About living. About myself. Yes. I cannot imagine going through what you did, and I can completely understand the logic of how you coped with it. Sitting here with my healthy breakfast and my boring water down south and cheering you on in solidarity! To living and giving a shit again!

  • commented on Widowed... without children 2015-08-16 07:11:23 -0700
    I can relate in a lot of ways. I was not even desiring children at all until I met Drew and was going to have a family with him… sharing the experience together. After he died, that desire dwindled completely. Periodically i have panicked about the time running out crap in case I DID ever want to give birth. And even though I actually would prefer to adopt… society sure does a good job of making the ticking clock thing hard to ignore!

    And then enter Mike and his daughter. No she isn’t my baby and no I didn’t get to raise her from those wee little days or see her walk or talk for the first time… but somehow it fits. In a way I can only describe as my soul knowing that this is the way for me.

    Life is full of surprises… and I think you’ve got the best attitude you can possibly have about all this scary, sad, frustrating shit. All we can do is keep our hearts open and have faith that if we are meant to be mothers – in some way, somehow – we will be. Whether by birth, adoption, or even mentoring other people’s children. And I definitely happen to think you are meant to be one. <3

  • commented on A Big Little First 2015-08-16 06:56:21 -0700
    Thank you both Rebecca and Kelley!!! It really helps to have this place to write about it all, and to know others are listening and supporting all of this. It really really helps on days when I totally lose my mind lol! Love you both!

  • commented on Silver Linings Playbook 2015-07-21 18:35:40 -0700
    It turned out so beautiful… Well done. You inspire me more each day.

  • commented on The Distance Between Us 2015-07-14 13:03:24 -0700
    Thanks Stephanie! It’s definitely just the beginning of a whole new chapter of grieving for sure! But, one with a lot of joy mixed in. And new ways of healing.

    Tricia, I can so relate to what you said. Some times it feels like more loss… but it also feels worth it when we’re together. It had to be so hard to have such a short time with your husband once you did move closer together. Makes me think that perhaps he and I will have to find a way to be near each other even sooner – life is short after all. We never know how long we have. Thank you so much.

  • commented on Pinata 2015-07-10 16:48:38 -0700
    I am SO incredibly proud of you. More than I could even express in words. I won’t even try. This was so beautiful. You made ME cry today. This was exquisite and such an accurate portrayal. It took me back through ALL of it. All the pain, all the crawling, all the fighting, all the confusion, all the anger, all the disbelief, all the sadness. I am so grateful to call you my friend. You inspire me more than I could ever say.

Artist. Writer. Creative Mentor - making meaning from life's challenges through creativity.
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