Mary in my garden– June 11th, 2009

Three butterflies flitted and danced as I followed them along the garden path. Everything was sundrenched and blooming—voluptuous peonies, scented roses, buttercups, lily-of-the-valley—warmth poured over my head and dripped down my shoulders.

And there, in a garden chair, with a sun hat crooked over her blue eyes sat my mother.

“Mom!” I rushed to her, “You’re here! But you died. I saw you die.” My mind flashed to those dark early morning hours where she gasped and writhed and finally lay still.

She looked at me with some confusion. “I was really sick. But I didn’t die. Look–“ she stretched out her strong arms and kicked the sandals off her slim tanned feet, “I’m healthier than I’ve been in years. And I have so much planned for today. We’re going to swim and sew a dress for Mary and eat dinner in the garden.”

“But Mom,” I dropped to my knees and put my head in her lap. “I don’t think this is real. We buried you Mom. I dressed you myself. I stood by your coffin.”

“Oh honey,” she stroked my hair, “you’ve always been prone to nightmares. Remember how often you crawled into my bed as a little girl? I’m so sorry. What a terrible, terrible nightmare.”

And then I woke up and found the nightmare was truth.

Shortly after my mother’s death, Jill (who I have yet to meet) left a comment saying, “It’s been 8 months since my father died. I wish I could tell you it gets easier…”

I thought then, “It has to get easier!” And it does. But harder too. I am happy every day. I am sad every day.

I fear I am wearying people with my grief. The world has moved on; I haven’t. Not completely. I see other tragedies—the loss of a spouse, a child, a marriage, a country—and know those must be so much worse. But I’m still aching, still grieving (still talking about it on Segullah today).

Some nights I dream of the end of time— a bright flash and my mother standing beside me healthy and whole, Zaila with her baby, little Trevor on his father’s shoulder.

I’m not wishing this life away. My home is full of goodness and promise. But I look forward to that bright perfect day when our sorrows fade like a half-remembered nightmare in the morning light.

January 25, 2010
January 30, 2010



  1. martha corinna

    January 28, 2010

    Your post is beautiful, your photos are beautiful, and you are beautiful.

    I am grateful to read your thoughts on grief and your journey through it, I’m hoping it makes me a better person. Selfish I know, but it is all around and sometimes in us so I hope by knowing you and listening (reading), I will be better equipped.

  2. Michelle

    January 28, 2010

    Who was it who said that we are never really home in time? There is so much about this life to cherish, but it’s not really home.

  3. katieo

    January 29, 2010

    My heart, it hurts for you.

    Thanks for sharing. I *honestly* don’t ever get sick of hearing about your grieving process.

  4. Rachelle

    January 29, 2010

    Okay, now I truly know why Sellabit Mum loves your blog so much. Not only are these photos breathtaking and need framing immediately, but your writing is fantabulous. Seriously. Whoa. Thank you for sharing with us. And, I am sorry for the passing of your Mom. My Dad died early at age 56 and I shall never truly get over it.

  5. Tracy

    January 29, 2010

    Thank you for sharing your heart and grief with us. This life is so very fragile. I am glad we are friends in this very life.

  6. Countryside Portraits

    January 29, 2010

    I love reading your blog and I recently told my hubby that I want him to read your posts about your mother….you are able to put into words how I feel and I’m grateful to know that I’m not the only one out there who feels this way…my mom died of cancer 5 years ago December….it does get a bit better -sort of. Sort of like there is longet periods of time between times that I break down in tears…

    Thank you soo much for sharing your feelings and please know that there are other people out there feeling with you. (((hugs)))

  7. Denise

    January 29, 2010

    And it will come…

  8. Sue

    January 29, 2010

    I agree with Martha Corinna. Beautiful (post), beautiful (photos) and beautiful (you).

    And cut yourself some slack, Michelle. You are still in the middle of grieving your mother! There’s no time limit for that.


    PS. One more thing. You should never apologize for sharing yourself so generously. We are the beneficiaries.

  9. Travelin'Oma

    January 30, 2010

    About a year after my mom died I dreamed I was in bed between my mom and dad (like I sometimes was in the early morning of childhood.) They were laughing and talking and I said, “Mom, we thought you died,” and she said, “No. We’re right here.” And I said, “I feel so bad, because we gave away all your stuff.” She said, “I have everything I need and everything I want.” And then I woke up. I loved that dream.

  10. Selwyn

    January 31, 2010

    So beautiful. Your last line is still melting on my tongue.

    Love you.

  11. Jill

    January 31, 2010

    Michelle, lovely post. It’s been fifteen months now and I’m back to say it does get easier. That’s not to say I miss him any less. I suppose I’ve just grown accustomed to his absence. It is still a hollow place deep in my heart, but the shock of getting through the first year, the first holidays, the first times “without”, the first anniversaries of his illness and death have worn off. I now know how to survive all of those special days without him. Now it is the day to day, the missing of the simple and the sublime. I don’t think I will every grow accustom to that. But like your mention in your Segullah post, when I am really desperate in my mourning, I remember how he loved me and let it envelope me, and heal me.

    Really we should do lunch. With Brooke and Chelle?

  12. Jenny

    February 1, 2010

    My sweet Mom past away almost 3 years ago.. I am getting ready to have my 4th baby and feel so sad she will not be here for me to see the happiness in her eyes at seeing another baby come into this life. I am so sorry for your loss, I also watched as my moms spirit left this world it was so awful. I love reading your blog I appreciate your honesty!! I always feel that people get sick of hearing about my grief, but it is so healing to talk about it so I hope you keep writing about your feelings and that you are able to heal in some way!!

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