when i came to kiss you goodnight

When i came to kiss you goodnight,
you were sleeping.

Eyes jumping around behind their curtain,
like children bouncing on the bed when no one’s looking.

Face still soft and round,
even in your dreams you are smiling.

Breaths in {pause} and {pause} out {pause}
long and sinewy as your legs.

In the light of day you struggle to find out who you are,
but in the dimness of dark,
your Self is there, waiting for you.

One day you will find Self
and you will settle in
and know that you are home.

But in the mean time, enjoy the journey…
and know that
in life
in your dreams
I will always come to kiss you goodnight.


Conscientious Objection

So when Trump first announced his candidacy, my initial thought was “WTH? Are you serious?” and after that passed, it went immediately to, “Okay, so what’s really going on?” I genuinely wondered if maybe Hillary’s campaign was paying him off to take the focus off the other Republican candidates, some of which made more sense than others. My logic was that their logic might be that if the Democrats could get people to focus on Trump and not the (more viable, in my opinion) candidates, then they would have more of a chance to win. Convoluted? Yes. Out of the realm of possibility? Absolutely not.

So we puttered along, with Trump continuing to say more and more outlandish things. Was he trying to see how far he could push it? To see what he could say and still get away with it? I think the likelihood of that is more probable than him being serious about some of the shocking things he said. (Am I providing evidence of these things of which I speak? No. But the statements are out there to find if you need them). But as time went on, I think he began to like the attention. He began to think, “Ya know, this ain’t so bad. I could actually do this.” And then the real campaigning began.

So now here we sit with Trump as the probable GOP candidate, but with many other Republicans considering the idea of “conscientious objection” (which makes me think of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martins’ “conscious uncoupling” every time I hear it), and my skepticism of the system rears its head again. Is it possible – even remotely possible – that this has all been a game? All a little dance for the people? A distraction from things that both parties want the public to not see? Could it be that someone within the GOP has been playing it the whole time? Someone’s crazy idea that maybe this could work, and a new candidate could step into the arena when least expected? Maybe it’s just me. Maybe these ideas are just ridiculous. Maybe it’s just another one of those crazy ideas that my brain comes up with. That happens a lot. But. But what if it isn’t? What if there’s more fact than fantasy to my cockeyed idea?

I’m under no illusions that any current candidate or party isn’t self-serving or self-preserving. I am not blind to the fact that our government is really all a big cluster with little chance of anything productive happening any time soon. I believe that the candidates are run by their party which is run by its donors which are (often) only concerned with what is best for them and/or their business.

Is Trump the answer? Is Hillary? Probably not. What is the answer? I don’t know. But I do know that it’s not just about the president. It’s not just about our representatives. It’s not just about which party or person you vote for. It’s not just about the things that you see on the news. (Heavens to Betsy! That’s a whole other can of worms.) It’s about seeking answers and making informed decisions with the information you have. Not just the information that’s presented to you. Not just the stuff that you see on the news or hear from other people or see in a meme on Facebook. The answers can be more easily discovered through respectful discussion amongst people with varying views. The answers are in helping others get the services they need in order for them to also make informed decisions. The answers are in people like you and like me working together to make the world a better place. Wait. I just went all utopian on ya. 😉 But seriously, the answers are going to take less division and more unity, less arguing and more discussion, less bitterness and more compassion. From everyone. I didn’t mean for this to turn into a patriotic pep talk, but this is how my mind wanders. I still think the system is broken and that the public is being used as pawns in a very dangerous game, and I still think that – in many ways – we’re screwed no matter what happens. But I also still think that the answers are out there and us throwing up our hands in disgust and giving up isn’t the way that we’re going to see things change. This is our country. This is your country. Let your voice be heard. That is what the Declaration of Independence and Constitution and Bill of Rights with all those Amendments are talking about. Be a conscientious objector. Call your representatives. Get out and vote. Speak up, but play nice.

oh, my loves…

I thought I was going to throw up.
I’m still shaking.

I pulled them in close around me,
all except the biggest one.
He wanted to sit where he could see me.

They knew something was wrong.

Sometimes really sad things happen, I said.
And I have something really sad to tell you.
And you will have big feelings when I tell you,
And it’s okay to feel those feelings, whatever they may be.

Oh, my loves…
I wish I could spare you from this moment.
I wish I could wrap you in my arms and hide you
from pain and tears and heartbreak.

As the words slipped from my lips,
one cried,
one wept,
and one held back tears.

She asked questions.
He sat, stunned.

She sobbed and sobbed until she choked on her tears.
Big, fat tears cascaded down his cheeks.

Oh, my loves…
I wish I could give you answers.
I wish I could know what to say to make it better,
to take away the sting of death.

But it is here.
And it is real.
And we will all feel things.
And I want you to know, my loves,
that your feelings will go in and out like the ocean,
and they will catch you when you least expect it,
and sometimes they will squeeze you so hard that you can’t breathe.

But always, always know that your feelings are your feelings
And you are free to feel them.

And if you cry,
it’s okay.
And if you sit quietly,
it’s okay.
If you want to scream,
it’s okay.

But if you want to laugh, that’s okay, too.
Or if you want to smile, that’s okay.
Or if you want to sing, oh my little loves…

Music says words that we don’t know how to say.

And I truly believe she’ll hear your song.


All About Mommy

Remember when your kids were little and somewhere around Mother’s Day they’d fill out a little questionnaire about you and the teacher would write it up and you’d save it because it was just so darn adorable? Well, we haven’t done that in a long time so when I saw these 14 questions floating around on Facebook, I decided to ask all of my children individually. None of them heard the others’ answers.


T, age 11  •  E, age 9  •  L, age 7   •  LJ, age 5


1. What is something I always say to you?

T – I love you!
E – I love you!
L – I love you!
LJ – That you love me


2. What makes me happy?

T – When I make a meal
E – Daddy and us and my class, even though sometimes they make you mad
L – Hugs and kisses
LJ – Sharing love and sharing toys with other people (even people you didn’t know for a long time) and cleaning the house and brooming the house


3. What makes me sad?

T – When the house is dirty
E – Maggie being gone
L – That’s really hard
LJ – When we are sick


4. How do I make you laugh?

T – With jokes
E – Tickle me
L – Tickle
LJ – Doing funny things like telling jokes


5. What was I like when I was your age?

T – (big eyes) Umm…creative
E – Funny
L – Hmmm…happy?
LJ – Your mother was my Gramama. You didn’t have as many freckles


6. How old am I?

T – 36
E – 36
L – 33
LJ – 25

7. How tall am I?

T – 5’3″
E – How far can you stand in the pool? 5 feet?
L – 12 feet
LJ – 12 inches


8. What is my favorite thing to do?

T – Play games with us
E – Read
L – Help people
LJ – Stay with us


9. What do I do when you’re not around?

T – Watch shows that we’re not allowed to see
E – Read and sleep
L – Watch TV
LJ – Love on daddy and eat snacks while daddy plays his iPad


10. What am I really good at?

T – Subbing. No! I want to change my answer! Can I change my answer? Farting.
E – Teaching
L – Taking pictures
LJ – Driving


11. What is something I’m not good at?

T – Wanting to get in the lake
E – (nervous laughter) That’s too hard.
L – Doing laundry
LJ – I don’t know what to say


12. What do I do for a job?

T – Sub
E – Substitute
L – I don’t know
LJ – School subbing


13. What is my favorite food?

T – Spaghetti
E – Not fish. Not seafood. Um…chicken
L – Pizza
LJ – Rice, grits, and mashed potatoes


14. What do you enjoy doing with me?

T – Play games
E – Cuddle
L – Play
LJ – Have a meeting with snacks and go to store

everything and nothing

There are days when everything and nothing is just wrong
in an Alexander kind of way.
And the little things feel like big things
and the big things feel like giant things.
And all those things seem to weigh too much
and be too bulky
and too awkward
And it leaves you struggling along,
just trying to do your thing.

And you just can’t.

The depths of the day settle in
and pull you under.
And a blanket of quiet ache drapes over you,
and there’s nothing to do but wait for the clock to keep ticking
until you’ve reached a new day.
Every morning brings new mercies, right?


p.s. Adulting is hard.
p.p.s. The puppy is great and wonderful and perfect for us, but I really miss my dog.
p.p.p.s. I’m fine. I really am. Just some days seem heavier than others.

a life well lived and well loved








soul searching.

We’re more like animals than we like to believe.
Feelings we can’t quite explain,
Urges that unsettle our soul.

Thousands of years of separate us from our nomadic ancestors,
And while there have been so many changes,
There have also been so few.


Maybe I knew.
Looking back, maybe I did.
She seemed fine.
And yet, maybe not.

She went out and did what she needed to do.
And then she came in
and stood by the door,
just looking out.


A sound just barely perceptible,
It didn’t catch me in the moment.
A sound so natural
That is slipped past me
As so many things do in this whirlwind life of mine.

But I let her out again.
She looked, sniffed, and came back in.

How many times did she do that?
How did I not notice a pattern?
Or am I imagining it all?


I took her collar off.
I don’t even remember why.
She always wore her collar.
It bugs me that I can’t remember what made me take it off.
If she still had it on, would we have found her?


He’s the one who let her out.
He feels awful about it,
But I know – and he does, too – that it wasn’t his fault.


It could have as easily been me.
Or the children.
And, in all honesty and quite selfishly, I’m glad that it was him.
It would have broken my heart if I’d been the one who let her go without a glance.
And the children (especially one dear child of mine) may well have held that guilt for years to come.

But it’s not his fault.
He turned and she slipped away.
I don’t know that it was planned,
But something within her soul said go,
And she went.

From dust we have come and dust we will return.


Rest well, my Maggie Girl.

my maggie moo

My heart says that she went off,
found a quiet spot,
and died.


But my head still turns
at every rustle in the bushes,
every distant bark,
every knock or click or bump.


For the past few weeks, I’ve been letting her ride in the car with us
like I used to when she was a puppy.
I remember this one time – oh, it brings tears of joy to my eyes even now –
I left the pups in the car when I went in to pay for gas
(Back when you had to – gasp – go inside to pay)
And she put her two front paws on the horn and honked
and honked
and honked
and honked
and honked
until I finally came back out to find
a big dog grin, tongue out and her little nubbin tail wagging as hard as it could.
And her silly sister sitting beside her with that dopey smile on her face.


I remember when she bit Marshall.
He playfully tried to pop my behind.
She never bit another soul.


I remember how it took her approximately 8 hours
to outsmart the dog-proof trashcan.

I remember how she’d crawl under the crib
while the babies were sleeping.

I remember how I bought costumes for the dogs one Halloween
and she ate hers.

I remember how she’d squirm on the ground,
scratch her back and smiling.
And how she’d flop on the floor with at big sigh
and that one back leg tucked under.

I remember the time I was lounging in the hammock
and BOOM she jumped right up into my lap.

I remember how she hated the snow.
All 2″ of it.

I remember the beauty of her when she ran,
all muscle and speed.
And I remember how many times Marshall chased her and lost.
(Especially that one time when he full-body lunged at her and missed.
She and I were both amused.
He was not.)

I remember how she used to chase a light ’round and ’round and ’round
and if you ran the light up the side of the fence,
she’s go right up it, too.

I remember how her breath was always awful
and how she smelled like Doritos when she was wet.
(I never understood that).

I remember how fiercely she loved me and I her.
How, when she was around, I felt safe.

I remember how many tears she caught in those long, long days
of med school, residency, and early motherhood.


Fourteen years is a long time to have a shadow.
And now that the sun has set on her lifetime,
the darkness has stolen it away.

One day I may love another dog.
One day.
But it’ll never be the same.


I miss you, Maggie moo…


encountering eucharist

For over a year we’ve been attending an Episcopal Church.
It’s a far cry from our Baptist background, but it fits in a way that I never expected.
I can’t call one way good and the other bad, nor can I call one way right and one way wrong.
That’s both the mystery and beauty of religion, if we allow it be.

At first, I fumbled to hold this book and that book
and figure out what the S-songs were in the blue book.
Some people knelt in prayer,
some people leaned forward,
some didn’t move at all.
Some did the sign of the cross upon their foreheads,
some on their lips,
some over head and heart,
And some did a little of this and a little of that,
while some didn’t cross at all.
We weren’t sure who to follow or how to cross or when or where to genuflect.
But in this place where everyone was a little bit different,
Different didn’t seem so bad.

And yet, for months I struggled,
trying to follow everyone else’s lead.
Kneeling and standing,
Creeds and collects,
Prayers and Peace.
Which page?
Which prayer?
It was, quite frankly, exhausting to keep up.

But as we travelled around the liturgical calendar,
I found a soothing rhythm in the words and the sounds.
Each season with it’s own tone, one that I’d never quite noticed before.
And the words…they settled down into my heart-gut and ruminated there for months.
Until one day I realized I wasn’t just reading any more. 


We work together in silence.
not an angry silence.
or a resigned silence.
but in a calm, easy, comfortable silence.

Once upon a time, I would have worried
about what he was thinking, what he wasn’t saying.

But our nows are very different from our thens
and quietness has become a language that I’ve learned.
His language, actually.

Years of his lack of words
have taught me to listen to the in-betweens.

Years of his placidity
have taught me to take my thoughts
and slow.them..down…

Years of his quietude
have taught me that sometimes
there’s nothing inside the silence but silence.
And that’s okay.