Friday, March 29, 2024

Honoring Fire Heroes

A portion of the Memoria wall.

I was given the opportunity to record an oral history for the California Fire Foundation regarding the California Firefighters Memorial. This wonderful organization maintains the memorial wall and surrounding park area in Sacramento, CA. It is a lovely setting that is dedicated to the memory of over 1500 California fire professionals. I wanted to share on my blog what I had to say.



        My name is Judith DeChesere-Boyle. My husband, Rick, and the rest of our family feel honored that my son, Alexander J. Stevenson’s name is engraved on the wall of the California Firefighters Memorial in Sacramento. Whenever we are in the area we feel a presence, one of love and support, just knowing he is honored there.

If Alex had known, he would have said, “Why all the fuss, Ma?” 

We certainly would reply, “Oh, Alex, you are so deserving of this honor.”

Alex's name is here along with his friends, Karen Shubin and Luis Magallanes.

Alex passed away on May 24, 2013, at the age of 39 of occupational-related brain cancer. For nine long years he fought to beat the beast, but in the end, he lost the battle. As a mom, I knew I had to do something to keep his memory alive. So, I wrote a memoir, Tumor Me, The Story of My Firefighter. We talked about it before he passed.


When this is all over,” I told Alex, “no matter what, I’m writing a memoir, a record of all we’ve been through together.”

            He looked at me a bit apprehensively but smiled anyway. He knew there would be no stopping his mom!

            “I’m going to call it Tumor Me,” I told him decisively.

“I think that title might get lost on a few people,” he answered glibly.

“Maybe, but I think it’s perfect. You’re always so upbeat, so funny, even with all you’ve faced. When I feel like crying, you make me laugh. Every day you have me chuckling. It’s a paradox, really. I don’t know how you do it.”

He grinned again, his azure eyes twinkling, an uncanny wisdom lying behind them.


I recall that conversation vividly, and in retrospect I suppose he was right. Some folks might be offended by the title, but I hope would humor me a bit. I had a story to tell, one with a beginning, a middle, and an end. 

Ours was a tale of trials, fears, unknowns, and desperation. Yet it was countered with hope, determination, bravery, and unparalleled optimism that only my son could have mustered.

And who was my son? He was a CAL FIRE firefighter, a Fire Apparatus Engineer, a Fire Inspector, a fighter, a friend, a confidant; he was responsible, trustworthy, funny, respected, and loved. He listened, he contributed, and he worked hard. Laughter was his sidekick, and everyone knew it. 

Who was Alex? He was a man, who, when the chips were down, had 4,482 hours of leave donated to him by his co-workers through CAL FIRE’s Catastrophic Leave Bank. It was an unequaled gesture of love and support from his “fire family”.

The words between the covers of my memoir tell our story. It’s a mom’s perspective and every bit is true.

It’s on Amazon and kindle. I would love to send a copy to your office as a way of thanking “the fire family” for always being by our side. And thank you for so beautifully maintaining the California Firefighters Memorial that respects the lives of so many heroes. It keeps their memories alive. And that means everything.



Receiving the flag with my son, Justin.
The memorial







Tuesday, May 9, 2023

 Two Grandmas and A Mother

Addie, Honey, and me holding Alex

My grandmother Teresa was born in Italy and immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s. She didn’t have much time to enjoy her new adopted country because she passed away a year or so after giving birth to my dad in New Jersey. It was tuberculosis that took her life. I have no idea how old she was when she died, and I have only one grainy photo of her. I have been told I resemble her though, and that is a nice thought. I wish I had met her (and my grandfather Carmine too) but since I did not, I can only imagine what their lives were like in a place where they did not speak the language and at times were not treated with the respect they deserved. Immigration never has been easy.


My grandmother Addie was born in Kentucky, the bluegrass state, and lived there her entire life. She seldom traveled and if so, it was not far from home. That suited her just fine and I must say I take after her. I am a homebody at heart, too.

Addie never wore a bra. She did not own a girdle either as many women in the early and mid-1900s did. She scoffed at the damned things determined to be unconsticted by such contraptions. Instead, her undergarments were loose one-piece affairs that she stepped into, sliding the upper straps over her shoulders. And that was that! Her anatomy adapted as only one’s body will, and that worked for her. Still, she took pride in looking nice, wearing lovely dresses, hats, and gloves – garment mainstays throughout the forties, fifties, and sixties in the South.

            Sadly, Addie lost her first child to hydrocephalus, a condition that way back then had few treatment options. The baby was named Paul, and in all the years I knew my grandmother, Addie, she never ceased to mention him from time to time. The love and grief were that deep.

            Addie had a canary named Peachy. She treasured that little bird that blessed her life with song. She loved to garden (as do I) and was happy simply digging in the dirt. She never had a great deal of money, and with an unambitious husband, was left to fend for herself financially. She was a seamstress and had a large home with room enough to take in boarders. Random folks stayed and paid, and she fed them until it was time for them to move on.

            I cannot remember Addie’s hair not being gray. It was long, thick, and she wore it in a conservative bun . . . that was until I came along. Addie loved to have her hair combed and brushed out and who better to do it than her little curly, red-haired granddaughter. She allowed me to pull and comb for too many minutes to count, letting me tie her strands into pigtails or ponytails that I adorned with artificial flowers and bows. I can almost imagine standing behind her right now with a comb in my hand, she tolerant and kind to a little girl who wanted to show her love. It’s a sweet memory.

            Addie was devout, a churchgoer and a believer. When she lived with our family for a short time when she was older, I remember hearing her say her prayers at the breakfast table before drinking her coffee and munching on toast spread with apple butter. “Thank you, God, for another day.” I heard those words over and over and feel blessed to have heard them. And I won’t lie. I’ve been known to repeat the same sentence, even to this day.

            Though her Christianity was solid to her core, Addie was a woman to be reckoned with if a game of cards were played. Rook was her favorite and she played with a passion though she’d happily take on an opponent in Rummy or Canasta too. She also loved croquet and was a shark if there ever was one. She could beat pretty much any player who challenged her as she knocked wooden balls through wickets across the lawn. I have a photograph of Addie playing croquet. She is bent over, mallet in hand with a facial expression of grit and determination. Winning was important; besides it was fun.

            When I was a little girl we moved to England for a few years. When the movers came I was terrified that they would snatch up my doll and take her away. Addie saved the day. She, my dolly, and I sat on a rock in the far corner of the lawn and watched carefully until the moving truck was gone. The coast was clear. Addie, the protector, saved the day. Even today, if something goes wrong, I think about my grandmother and wonder, “What would Addie say? What would she do?” She’s still wired in somehow, and likely would appreciate knowing that. Maybe she does.

            Oh, and by the way, my brother and I always called Addie by her first name – not grandma or grandmother or nana – just Addie. I believe my brother, Jay, was the culprit who labeled her Addie, and I followed suit. We never missed a beat and I know she liked it that way.

            Addie had two children besides baby Paul as she called him – my mother, Nola Jean and my uncle, Alton, in that order. Both are gone now, but remembered with love, especially, my mom.


            My mother’s life was challenging at times, but my brother and I could not have had a more loving, caring, doting mother. She taught us to appreciate the beauty in nature – the trees, the clouds, the falling leaves, and the flowers. “Just look at that little face,” she’d say, peering down at a tiny pansy that she imagined was smiling back at her. She loved daffodils, marigolds, roses, and clematis; she admired maples and willows, the sun, and the snow. She fancied lady bugs – so sweet and adorable. She pampered our pets, particularly our German Shepherd, Star, and her overly fluffy kitty named Patty. Mother had a heart so big, so warm, so full of love that our house became a place for friends to hang out, sometimes to see my brother and me, sometimes simply to chat with Mother. My friends called her Mama Jean. She embraced the title and would puff up when she heard her nickname. (Later in life, when her grandchildren named her Honey, she was equally as pleased. The name Honey stuck until the day she died.)

            My mother, and my dad too, though not college-educated were avid readers who valued education and made sure we did too. Both Jay and I were good students (usually) who eventually graduated each from a different university and had good careers – he an architect, and me, a teacher. Our parents were proud, particularly our mother.

            Nola Jean had pluck! Though she was pious at times, and hell bent on doing what was right, she could surprise us. She adored her grandchildren – two on the west coast and three on the east coast, but it was the west coast duo (my children) that provided the setting for a most memorable moment. On a visit to California, the children and Honey were discussing the use of the “F” word. She had heard it once too often, it seems, and deemed it absolutely inappropriate. However, even with that, she surprised us. One day the family was ready to watch a movie, but Honey had made a pie that was still in the oven. 

“Hurry, Honey, the movie is starting,” one of the boys called.

            “Just a second, boys. I just have to get this fucking pie out before it burns!”

            The reaction was hilarious! The laughter at my mother’s comment lasted for some time . . . and her point was made. I will never forget it.

            When Nola Jean Baird DeChesere passed away in 2010, I was heartbroken. Not a day passes by that I don’t think of her and remember her kindness, her goodness, her resilience, her spunk. As with my grandmother, Addie, if ever I am floundering within the context of life itself, I think of my mother. “What would Honey say about this? What would she advise me to do?” And, if I don’t resist, an answer usually comes to me, as if we had just finished one of our heart-to-hearts so many years ago. Ah, how I wish I could have one today.


            With Mother’s Day coming soon, I felt compelled to write a bit about my grandmothers and my beloved mother. I have tried to be a decent mother myself, even having a few former students call me Mom a time or two. That always led to a chuckle. In the end, to my way of thinking, motherhood is a gift, a challenge, and at times has caused deep sorrow. I know other women can relate. And to all of them, Happy Mother’s Day. Enjoy your day.






Tuesday, May 2, 2023

 The Potter’s Wheel 

Hannah might as well have been hit in the face with a brick. The feeling jarred her. It hurt. But it knocked some sense into her. About time! Get your ass in gear, Hannah. Rebuild your life.

At the ripe old age of fifty-seven, she finally realized that love sucked. She had adored her husband, Roger, who seemingly, just to spite her, had kicked the bucket a year prior. He had been fishing down by the bay with his buddy, Earl, the two side by side in the hot sun, butts planted on rocks that had been smoothed slick by relentless waves that had lapped the shoreline for. . . for forever. While the water glistened in the bright sunlight, while an unrelenting wind buffed them, while silence between the two lent an odd comfort, Roger up and died. One second he was breathing in the salt air; the next he wasn’t breathing at all. He had fallen backward, his bald head crashing hard into packed sand that took his breath away . . . literally. Earl had been unable to revive Roger, and he had lain like a beached whale for hours until paramedics were notified and could haul him away. 

Hannah had been informed of her husband’s demise on her front porch by a young police officer who had spit out the news with forced certainty – with not an ounce of kindness – all business. Though her heart had cracked in half at that moment, Hannah had simply said, “Thank you.” Of all things to say, for heaven’s sake, Hannah. Absurd though it was, that’s what she had managed to articulate however, before reality set it. The moment the oak door had closed behind her, she had slipped to her knees and sobbed. 

For the better part of the year, Hannah had cried at some point every day, She had cried for Roger, of course, but she also had cried for herself . . .  for the part of her that in the years she had doted on Roger, she had forgotten existed. 

She had been a potter years before, happiest with her hands slick and wet with clay as she formed bowls and vases, seldom mishandling the mass that a few times, with inanimate spite, had rebelled against her touch and spindled into a sodden blob. Even with those mishaps, though, she had carried on, becoming lost in the warmth of her creativity. What happened there? Why did I give up what I loved?

It had taken a year since Roger’s death for Hannah to realize what had been missing. With no children and no pets, she had wandered from room to room in the sprawling two-story clapboard she and Roger had called home. Every corner of the place had their imprint – a painting, a portrait, a vase, a knickknack they had brought home from their trips . . . for they had traveled, not far, not across oceans, but throughout the country, coast to coast, searching for utopia. At least that is what she felt Roger had been looking to find. Eventually, the two always came home though where daily routines formed their lifestyle – he always fishing, hiking, or tinkering in the garage; she reading, gardening, or house cleaning – chasing dust that settled and resettled almost as soon as she wiped it away. And she cooked; he barbequed. They ate, probably more than they should have; they read voraciously, never enough time; they fiddled with their iPhones, and then they slept. They never had owned a television. Thank goodness for that. Now, however, with Roger gone and the routine decimated, Hannah actually considered buying one. Only for the company. She bargained with her conscience for she never had been a fan.

On the anniversary of Roger’s passing, a blunt marker that colored her mood to gray, she wandered into the garage. In the far corner she spied her potter’s wheel, the contraption covered with a tarpaulin and a hefty layer of dirt and dust. When she pulled the tarp away, powdery debris billowed into the air. It settled where it landed, including on Hannah who waved her hands in the air – as if that would do any damned good – and coughed. It was a beginning though, a tiny step toward the rebuilding of a life left empty by the loss of a love.


Author’s note: I write pieces like the one above for practice. Perhaps this will become a longer story or even a novel. Where will Hannah take this moment? What will she make of the rest of her life?






Saturday, April 8, 2023

 March Madness In Martha’s World 


Blogger Note: I observe people all the time . . . and I wonder about them. On my daily walks, from time to time, I have seen a woman whose demeanor interests me. I do not know her. I know nothing about her. However, I am using my memory of her forlorn face to create a simple characterization. Perhaps someone may relate although the piece below is pure fiction. 



Martha had been floundering on a sea of sadness for days. She wasn’t depressed. She wasn’t unhappy. She was simply sad. Does that make sense? The question was one she asked herself often. No answer was forthcoming, however; no resolution to her emotional quandary seemed in the offing. As a result, she moved through her days, relying on routine to see her through. The truth was that weeks, months even, had passed, and not once had she mentioned her silent suffering to anyone. She kept it all inside. Just how long have you been melancholy, Martha? Forever. She asked and answered without so much as a blink of an eye. Guess I was born this way. And I’ll die someday in the far distant future carrying this wretched feeling with me, the damned thing attached like a second skin.

It was odd, really, that Martha could feel so despondent. She had everything – a loving husband, successful kids, a furry fat cat, two slobbery boxers, a career, no financial worries, and a house filled with “stuff” – things brought home from vacations, from shopping sprees, from God only knew where. She lacked for nothing. And she was grateful. She was. Life is good. She reminded herself every day. She even wore the phrase on a t-shirt – Life is Good, the words scrawled in cursive and decorated with hearts and flowers. So why such sadness? Am I mad? Am I a fool for acknowledging this feeling? Am I making it up? What’s missing?Questions bombarded her. And she didn’t have one damned answer for any of them. Was it old age? She was sixty-two, the grey showing, the gait slowing. Is this what happens when people grow older? Do they suddenly look back on life as a one drawn-out loser? But life’s been good. She reminded herself with emphatic certainty. 

She remembered turning forty. “I’m over the proverbial, damned hill,” she had told herself. “I have wrinkles, undereye bags. Shit! And my midsection. What happened there?” Babies. That was the excuse. And now, twenty years later, it still was the reason why she no longer fit into a size two. 

As for her relationships, she had few – her husband, John, who didn’t listen anymore, her lifelong friends, four of them, all drifting along on streams and currents different from hers, her daughters who married well and had lives of their own. Communication was sparce with her girls. The kids are busy, she told herself. Kids. They’re not frickin’ kids. They should know better. Her internal dialogue was a constant battle. They hurt her feelings, but she’d never say so. She had vowed early on not to interfere with their life choices, though some, she confessed made her blood boil. But such is life. It is what it is. Martha hated that phrase but found herself using it more and more as the years slid by. What else could she do?

She quit her job at the height of the Covid crisis. It was simply too much work in every sense of the word. Besides, she liked being home. She walked the neighborhood sometimes, avoiding other people at all costs. She didn’t feel like smiling and detested small talk with folks she didn’t know. Hello. Good morning. Lovely day isn’t it? Have a good one. Such gibberish made her want to puke. The silent spaces were enjoyable though. She listened to nature’s melodies and allowed random thoughts to siphon through her weary mind. Not one notion ever stuck for long. In and out, around and through. By the time she was home she’d forgotten what she had thought about at all.

The evening routine saw her through to the next day. Dinner, dishes, TV, wine, a book, and finally sleep that exhausted her. Either it escaped her altogether or she found herself lost in bizarre dreams with unfamiliar people who – guess what? – wanted to talk, wanted to go places, wanted to know who she was. Enough of this shit. She would rather lie awake and stare at the ceiling, or she would roll into a fetal position and cocoon in her blankets until the sun rose and she could get up without John asking if she was okay. “Did you sleep well, honey?” he always asked. How sweet it was that he still cared. How annoying. 

Without fail, tired and grumpy Martha would stumble into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. While she stared out the window, John stared at the newspaper, never the two looking in the same direction with the same intent as they had done when they were younger. It was all right though, wasn’t it?  They were comfortable and loved still in a relaxed, contented way that was effortless, easy. Life is good. She remined herself again and touched John’s hand. He smirked, a non-smile, but it was enough at least for a while . . . a little while . . . until she’d need to fend off that creature sadness that so badly wanted to creep back in and sully her soul.


Sunday, March 26, 2023

 Idiom Madness

         Or Don’t Give Me The Cold Shoulder – It Would Break My Heart


Jack was dead tired and clearly feeling under the weather. It had been raining cats and dogs for a month of Sundays, his boss, fat cat that he was, had given him the ax, his wife was about to kick him to the curb, and he was beside himself, fit to be tied, ready for the loony bin. It wasn’t his fault. Sure, he was over the hill, fat as a pig, and was known to fly off the handle more often than not, but until recently, he had felt fit as a fiddle and in his mind’s eye was killing it. But the tides had turned. 


When his boss had spilled the beans – that his work was not up to snuff – he had considered doing himself in, but he wouldn’t do that for deep inside he thought he was the cat’s meow. That was his mother’s fault. In her eyes he was the best thing since sliced bread. When he was knee high to a grasshopper she had treated him like the golden boy, telling him he was perfect – one snow job after the other. He learned the hard way that flattery like hers would get him nowhere though. Even when he courted his wife way back when (somewhere in the dark ages) and he had whispered sweet nothings into her ear, she had told him in no uncertain terms that he lied like a rug, and she would have none of his bull. She almost blew her top a few times, so clearly he wasn’t earning brownie points by lying through his teeth, even though he really wasn’t. He would never pull her leg about his affection for her. I’m as honest as the day is long. He knew he would love her through thick and thin, come rain or shine, through hell or high water because the fact of the matter was, she took his breath away. 

“I don’t want any more of your monkey business,” she had told him. But he hadn’t been trying to pull the wool over her eyes. He loved her to the moon and back. Theirs was a match made in heaven. And when she finally believed him and was no longer on the fence about marrying him, he was as happy as a dog with two tails. Their togetherness was a right as rain. He was not about to take her with a grain of salt. . . ever. He was smart as a whip and knew if he did she would go through the roof. 


So why, out of thin air had his life suddenly become ass backwards. Why was he taking it in the shorts from everyone? He wasn’t nutty as a fruitcake, he had never been a smart aleck, and was one smart apple. And he was not about to go down in flames. He knew what to do. He would carve out some time and chew the fat with his wife because at the heart of it all, they did see eye to eye. Besides, great minds! They would burn the midnight oil, talk until the cows came home, and she would, without a doubt, tell him the ball was in his court. “Stiff upper lip, Jack,” she would say. “You’ve got this. Jobs for a man like you are a dime a dozen, and you are worth your weight in gold. Break a leg, honey.”

Was she right? 

When finally, he hit the sack, he realized he had made it through this crisis by the skin of his teeth. His moods hit rock bottom only once in a blue moon and thank goodness he had been able to nip this one in the bud. But it was time to jump back on the band wagon and get a new show on the road. He was ready for a clean bill of health, and he had done his homework. I have the world by the tail. Afterall he already knew what he needed backward and forwards. And he slept like a log. In fact, he fell asleep thinking. Nothing is over ‘til the fat lady sings.

When he woke up the next day at the break of dawn, he felt as if he had died and gone to heaven. He was a new man believing to the depth of his soul that when one door closes, another one opens. Time to break new ground, Jack. You’re free as a bird.




Sunday, March 19, 2023

 Rainy Day Musing 

         With a Touch of Truth


Violet was blue that Wednesday, a shade darker than she had been on Tuesday, perhaps less than she would be on Thursday. It had been like this for a while, every day she breathed a bit bleaker than the day before. She might have wondered why the days inside her mind were so grim, for outside the world was beautiful, the sun bright, the grass chartreuse, the sky cerulean, the wind but a mere breeze caressing her. Yet she did not wonder. She knew why her life was off-color. And that perhaps was the problem. . . or possibly a solution. Her intuitive nature had been a gift, she once thought. Maybe not. . . for now, for the first time, she had to live with a truth she understood from the inside out.


Violet had been in love once with a boy. He was funny, curious, and somewhat mischievous, but oh so lovingly so. He made her laugh. He made her cringe; she always was looking after him because he was headstrong. Headstrong! So, she bandaged his knees, bathed his fevers, and comforted him when disappointments set in, heavy weights that crushed him down. She did these things because she had adored the boy from the first day they met, and she was quite sure he had felt the same way for a while, maybe for a good, long while. But that was ages ago.


Now that Violet had reached the ripe old age of eighty-five, she had little left. She lived alone in a small apartment in a luxurious facility for seniors, lots of them, all of them residing in a parallel universe, a million miles away, figuratively if not literally, from those who had arrived after them, those who had been loved, as Violet had loved that little boy. The old folks did not speak of their losses; it likely hurt too much, but Violet knew the others shared heartaches similar to hers. “One need not be dead to be grieved after,” she wanted to shout sometimes, but didn’t, knowing her rant would fall on deaf ears. . .  or no ears at all. Besides, no one was listening. 


Violet’s senior counterparts, like she herself, spent their days remembering, gathering up memories in dried bouquets so fragile, the brittle sprays could disintegrate if one held on too long. So wrinkled hands like dead birds fell to empty laps and eyes blurred, the recollections set aside for another day. Minutes ticked by in a quiet so deep one might drown in it. Had the others, like Violet been hoping that today might be the day their past love would check in, stop by, say hello, give well wishes, flowers, candy, a hug? Or was that yesterday? They had hoped then too. They would tomorrow. Or would they?


How easy it is for the days, weeks, months, years even, to pass, waiting, anticipating, saddened to a depth one does not care anymore. Violet understood. And that is the truth. It took time, clear to the autumn of her life to understand but now she did. Caring, like hope were useless to her – different sides to one tarnished coin. She need not hold it or spend it; it was a throwaway, just like the love for a little boy.



Thursday, March 9, 2023

 A Little Piece About Losing It

I’ve lost it. Have you? Of course, you have. At one point or another all of us have lost our keys, our sunglasses, our reading glasses, our pen, our credit card, our wallet, our cell phone, our pet, or perhaps even our car in a crowded parking lot. The latter actually happened a few years ago. I went with friends to a Warriors game at Oracle in Oakland. Parking was easy. Finding the car in the pouring rain after a win when fans exited the stadium and the parking lot in an ecstatic frenzy with no one paying attention to lane lines or driving protocol, was not. For most drivers, it was one wild dash to the exit, every person out for himself. It is a wonder not one of us car-searchers was not run over and left for dead in a puddle. My companions and I eventually found the car after circling the arena in a concession worker’s golf cart for too many rainy minutes to count . . . looking, searching, wondering how the damn vehicle could just disappear. All five of us (and the kind employee) located the car eventually, swallowed up and obscured as it had been by the swarm of drivers leaving the game. By the time we spotted it, all of us were soaking wet and had long since forgotten our team’s victory. My friends and I tipped the cart driver generously before piling into the minivan for a soggy ride back to Sonoma County. Without a doubt the evening was memorable. And cold.


I suppose losing “stuff” is a part of life. Sometimes we’re too busy, too careless, too distracted, too tired. . . or maybe we’re sick. I understand that some people who have had Covid have lost their sense of taste or smell, maybe both. That could be concerning. Does it come back or is it gone forever? Depends on the person, I suppose, but I wouldn’t like it.


And what about losing one’s way? Who has been lost? Okay, admit it. Unless a person has chosen to enter a maze for entertainment, being lost is never fun and usually frustrating. It may make us late to wherever we’re going, we become flustered, and we use bad words. It’s true. I can remember a few times feeling stumped and alone. Where am I? How the hell do I get out of here? Who has had a similar experience?


Wait! What about positive losses – weight, debt, toxic friends, addictions, compulsions? Loss need not be bad. It often takes enormous effort and makes a person feel proud to lose something that no longer has worth. While the overall concept of loss is usually viewed as negative, it isn’t always. I wanted to add that perspective – a reminder to us all.


Good or bad, losing is a part of life, but, unlike misplacing one’s keys, it is not always easy. Some of us have lost a friend because of an illness such as dementia. How sad is that? Is our loss equivalent to theirs? Do they feel lost in another world? Are they lost at all? One can only speculate. Or, of course, we may lose someone because of a relocation, the simple passage of time, or because of an estrangement – a falling-out, a divorce, an unexplainable loss of connection. Those losses hurt, plain and simple, perhaps because the answer as to why they occur is not discernible. . . or, more to the point, we have chosen not to look closely enough to understand. That’s on us.


Greater than those losses that are seemingly final however, is death – the death of a loved one is the most difficult, heart wrenching loss of all, the one that never goes away no matter how hard some of us try to hide the pain. No matter the circumstances, losing a dear friend or family member torments us deep inside, the loss heavy, an anvil weight that we lug with us wherever we go. We may be able to shift that burden sometimes so that it doesn’t feel quite so onerous, so others can’t see, but it’s there always. We will take it with us to the end when we too die somehow, some way.


I have lost a few friends and family in the past few years, and for that reason I have been contemplating the notion of loss and its multitude of forms. I’ve actually had a mini post-it with the word loss scrawled on it and tacked to my computer to remind me of the insignificance and the significance loss can represent. It’s mind boggling actually how one simple word – loss – embodies so many nuances. But so it is. No need for anyone to lose his or her mind thinking about loss too much. After all, it will keep happening. So, buckle up. At best, loss may be a plus, but more to the point, it is a nagging certainty and more often than not, a damned inconvenience. Best simply to roll with it. Loss isn’t going away.