Tag Archives: loss

Dear Aunt Ruth

“And in the end, the love you take 

Is equal to the love 

You make.”  The Beatles, Abbey Road

Dear Aunt Ruth:

Not that I am counting, but it has been nearly fifteen months since you died. Most days, that feels like a new normal to me; I have become accustomed to life continuing on without your physical presence in it. And, I say and feel that with no guilt or shame whatever. I am understand death, and dying, more deeply than ever before, and understand that only your physical body experienced death, yet you are always and forever all around me.


Yet tonight, after my yoga class and as I was driving home, I lost my breath as I thought of you not being here physically anymore. The cry felt like a choke in my throat, and some tears came. The quote above was playing as I was driving, and my mind and heart went immediately to you.


Now, it had been building for the last several days. Maybe it was when I would think about my book, and how exciting it is that I am going to be published, one of my dreams come true. I want you to be here at my launch party. Maybe it was because I finally got the ring sized, the one that you are wearing in this very picture, the only item that I cared to have that belonged to you. Maybe it was because I was wearing one of your Oak Island tee shirts, the only destination in your later years that we could ever get you to leave home for; you never missed a year in ten years at the beach. Or, maybe it was listening to Abbey Road in my new, blue Hug Bug, belting out Oh, Darling!, just like I did for you at the beach, pretending I was playing a piano, and you watching me with tears in your eyes. Or, that line: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”


Whatever the reason, I am missing you fiercely. I hear your voice in my head, but won’t talk to you on the telephone again. I see your face, but won’t ever touch it again. I feel your touch, yet these moments are never again. Of course, I am not being present, not staying in the now when I have these longings; I am remembering times that have gone by, never to return, only a mere memory trace and nothing more.

Still, I crave having you with me again. We had no unfinished business, no ugly history that needed to be sorted out in order to be at peace. I just wanted to be with you as often as I could. I loved your humor, your honesty, your humility, your love and your care. I loved that you loved me as deeply and courageously as you did, and I felt it, every minute of my life. 

So, I am missing you. And, in another moment, I will feel your presence deep, full and eternal, and the missing will pass. Until that time, I will shed tears, stay with my heart, and remember all that you are and forever will be to me.

I love you always.

Nessa xoxo


The House of Ruth.


Dear Ruthie:

Today, I miss you so much. I am thinking of so many things that I long for about you; and the parts that I love in you the most.  So many things. So many beautiful, warm memories. 

I miss your laugh. When you would laugh really hard, you would close your eyes, throw your head back just a bit, and open your mouth up. It was a soft, hearty laugh and it always made me smile.

I miss your voice. Your voice, the way that I would hear it, would be soft in its volume and tone, yet firm in its intention. I always knew us to be honest with one another, which has been a great blessing to me in my life. 

I miss our talks, for hours and hours when I would visit you. Sometimes, I would be going through something really big in my life, and you would listen to me talk on the porch, or at the dining room table. Other times, you would tell me your thoughts about life, and things going on with me, and celebrate with me the joys in my world. You always understood me, and stood for me. I will never forget that.


I miss your generosity. You would send off a surprise card, a present, a thought of me whenever it struck you. And, it would always be an unexpected joy that never stopped delighting me. The turtle lamp that you gave to Brenda and I lights up our room each night. I think of you always when looking at that.

I miss our Dunkin’ Donuts runs when I would visit you. For you, DD was such a special treat, and you would treat whoever was with you as well, to the fare of their choice. Pumpkin spice coffee, with two sugars and cream, and a breakfast sandwich of one sort or another, with hash browns. I had a cup of DD pumpkin spice coffee yesterday and thought of you the whole time.

I miss your hands. Your hands were always so beautiful to me. They looked so soft, and pure, and untouched, yet they were strong and capable. I loved holding your hands in mine no matter what the circumstance or occasion. They felt like home to me.

I miss being in your house with you, in the morning quiet before you would get up, in the evening while we would talk or you would watch baseball, during the day as you would take Josh out for yard time. I miss every little and and big thing about you. Some days, it really hits me that you have died and I can’t be in your arms again. Not now, anyway. I cry a bit, I think of you as I look at your picture, and then, it passes by and I feel at peace once more. No matter how close the pain feels, you have changed my life in such a way that I will never forget it. 


I love you. xo  Nessa 



I have spent the last several days experiencing and thinking about grief. About what it is, and what it is not. About my own grief and how I express it, now in my life, and in the past. I am amazed and at peace at what I seem to be discovering.


When I was in college, my grandmother, my father’s mother, died after being ill for a long time with cancer. I had spent school vacations at her home for years, kept her secrets of eating forbidden foods at lunch, and laughed with her. I was so sad, and hurt, and lost when she died. I didn’t want it to be true. I didn’t want to care about college classes anymore, for months. I thought about her all of the time and couldn’t envision a life without her physical presence in it. 


Ten years later, my older brother died, after a long illness. He lived on the west coast, so he was far away and I hadn’t seen him in years. Our relationship had been very close for a period of time in my life, but his last few months had been strained between us. I was the person that he had his caretakers call to report his death. It was surreal and a deep hurt. I grieved in many ways when he died. I cried, a lot at first. I felt guilt at our being somewhat estranged. I felt anger that he had me be the one that had to tell my parents that he had died. And, I felt like a martyr, in a way. I wore my grief like a shroud, feeling very embedded in it. That lasted for a long time. 


There have been many persons that I have known since then, friends or family, that had died. My responses to each one have been different. Yet, none so different as the deaths of two persons in my life in literally the last three weeks. First, my beloved aunt, my aunt Ruth, who was as close to me as a family member as my own parents. She lived with my grandparents when I was growing up, and I spent those school vacations with her as well, and many happy times after that. I would go up to her house for a weekend, just to spend time and talk with her. Her heart was so open and filled with love. I thought she would be around awhile longer, if not forever. Her death has been hard to bear, although manageable at the same time.


Only a few days after her death, my father in law, my wife’s father, died. I had not had the opportunity to build a longstanding, deep relationship with Ben, but I had felt a deep fondness and love for him, and enjoyed our times together. He gave Brenda away at our wedding. He had many of his own demons, yet I saw the light in him that was love, even though he didn’t see it in himself, it seemed.



What grief represents to me now in my world is much different than I have ever experienced before. Even though we may share grief and the expression of it with others that are close to us, grief feels very personal to me; meaning, my feelings of loss are not going to be like anyone else’s about the person, as no one else’s will be like mine. In essence, I can feel whatever I feel, without any need to compare myself to others. I get to just move through it in the most loving, gentle way that I can. I also don’t feel like I have to express it in any certain way. Whatever seems to help me and bring me comfort and support feels right.


Grief also looks like Peace to me now. I don’t know how to best explain that, except that even when I am sad that my aunt Ruth is gone, or longing to spend another day with Ben, I feel at Peace when I accept things just as they are. Accept that they are absent. Accept that I miss them at times. Accept that life will go on without both of them in this physical realm. Letting Go and Acceptance bring me Peace. Bring me comfort. And are deep expressions of Love for me.


Complacency, cravings and how to stay sober.

So, for the last few weeks, I have not been attending any AA meetings.  Now, I have stayed sober.  I haven’t even had the craving for a drink.  But, I had the notion, that I was doing fine without meetings; that I wasn’t having any trouble maintaining my sobriety; and I could do fine on my own.


That, my friends, is my story.  However, the end of last week changed my perspective quite a bit.


You see, I have been going through this transition, when I want to be able to just give up, or take up, things, activities and rituals that feel good to me, simply because they feel good, not because I NEED to do them.  God forbid, I keep a consistent schedule of doing something, because I have a need to do it to keep me balanced and healthy. 


So, I tried myself at not attending meetings.  I enjoyed the free evenings, or Saturday mornings when I would typically attend.  I enjoyed embracing my sobriety without hearing the stories of others, or telling my own.  And, I felt totally confident that there was nothing that could shake my commitment to staying clean and sober.


And then, Friday happened, that terrible day in Newtown, Connecticut.


No, I don’t know anyone that died that day, or whom even had connections to anyone that died.  But I felt sick inside; sick for a community torn apart; families losing loved ones.


And, the children.  The babies that were taken decades too soon.


After believing that my sobriety was well in hand, and that I had no worries when it came to cravings or triggers, I found one.  In that day, and the days that have followed, I have thought long and hard about how I would most likely respond if a person that I love, and especially, my child, were to have some serious, life threatening event occur.  


I would want to go right away and park my ass on a bar stool.  Or, by a nice sized bottle of anything alcoholic and go to it, to numb away the emotional pain of loss.  Of grief.  Of not wanting to deal with the reality of a bad situation.


Since then, I more deeply understand how delicate my sobriety is.  Not my commitment to it; that is rock solid.  But, in an instant, I can sacrifice it all, to deal with a situation that life may throw at me.  


So, I know that I need to stay humble.  I need to continue to be grateful to my Higher Power, my Source, my Great Spirit, for keeping me sober for today.


And, I need to keep going to meetings.  Yes, I need to.  Because my sober life, my happy, sober life, is too important for me to let go.

I’m not mad at God.

A close friend of mine died this week. I have been friends with his mother for twenty three years, and I have watched him grow up, since he entered her life at less than two years old. This week, he let go and crossed over.

When I first found out, I felt stunned, in shock, numb in a way. For a few minutes, I didn’t know what I felt. I felt everything and nothing at the same time.

After I recovered from the initial impact, I started praying.

This is interesting for me, because I haven’t always turned to my faith when I was seeking answers, or expressing gratitude for my blessings. I have taken for granted that certain situations and persons would be in my life, and that humans were at work for having things be as they were. Not so, as I am finding out.

I am growing as a spiritual being, and in that growth, I have figured out that I don’t have to get mad at God, when things turn out badly. I have a history of getting really mad at God, especially when I believed that God was responsible for taking someone away from me, when a loved one dies. I would scream out, in my mind and my heart, “WHY?” It was always dramatic, and disconcerting. Because, I usually didn’t get an answer with which I was satisfied.

Today, my faith and spiritual self feels different. I feel present to my life. I feel a deep awareness of how small I am, in the whole scheme of things. How no matter what, I have so much to be grateful for, to appreciate in my life, in every, single moment that I am given on this earth.

I don’t like to feel out of control, and admit my powerlessness in my own life. Yesterday, I got really present to that powerlessness. I felt sadness, I felt loss, but I didn’t feel angry. Instead, I expressed my gratitude, for those that are in my life, for having them still with me, for as long as that might be. I expressed thankfulness for knowing my dear friend, and having him in my life for twenty two glorious years.

I felt God with me, watching over me, and comforting me.

And, it brought me great peace.