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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted to Medium. So long I had to ask for a login email. So long that my last new follower was from May. And that’s ok, I’ve been working on other things — my memoir, an online handbook for grief, my coaching and direct sales business, mothering my 2 year old, navigating the pandemic.

But it’s October, and I find myself feeling deep and lonely feelings that I haven’t felt in a long time. Feelings that take my breath away.

Just now, I’m sitting in my backyard with my laptop in an Adirondack chair. The sun is soft and warm. We are enjoying an Indian Summer in the Pacific Northwest. Our fire pit, made of random bricks, rocks and stone is filled with fresh ash. Last night we burned a fire in honor of my father. Yesterday, he would have celebrated his 72nd birthday.

It was our 2nd birthday without him. I woke up yesterday to a family text message from my big sister: “Thinking of our sweet Daddy today on his birthday.” She attached a picture that I’d taken 6 years ago when my parents were visiting me in Seattle.

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It smacked me. I’d forgotten. It wasn’t on my radar. I felt awful. How could I have forgotten? I think of Daddy every day. I talk to him. I pray for his spirit.

But I’ve been preoccupied with something else, remembering Poppy. She would be 5 on October 26th. The day she was born was the day she died.

I didn’t expect this grief but here it is. Seems no matter how much healing I’ve done, there’s more there. It surprises me every time.

When Eli and I went to our first Parent’s Support Group the week after Poppy died I listened to a young mother reminisce about her son. It was the anniversary month of his death. He would have been 5.

I sat there holding Eli’s hand thinking to myself, “please don’t let me still hurt that bad in 5 years.” I couldn’t fathom it. Why wasn’t she better? And now here I am, the mother in her shoes. And Poppy would be 5.

I’m holding a lot right now. Moxie, my living child, will be 3 on Friday. I’ve been counting down for the last 3 weeks. We are excited and have lots of surprises planned. She’s getting a Jessie costume from Toy Story 2, as well as a Woody, Rex the dinosaur, Buzz Lightyear, Bullseye the horse, and Jessie doll. Yes, she’s spoiled. I can’t wait to see the joy on her face!

Moxie shares a birthday with her “PopPop”, my husband’s father. John will be 80. We are celebrating together down in Oregon. One child lives. One grandfather lives. One child is gone. One grandfather is gone. And I am here, embracing it all. The love, the pain, the memories, the joy. The longing, the gratitude, the hope.

As I gaze over at the fire pit again, I think of my father and my Poppy together. Both cremated. Ashes to ashes. I wonder where they are. Somewhere fabulous with the ancestors?

Life is fleeting.

I don’t need to remind you how difficult this year has been. The pandemic has isolated us. So many lives lost. The grief immense. I’ve been lonely, but safe. The election is looming. What kind of future will we American’s vote for?

When I reflect on the last 5 years, I almost don’t recognize myself. October 2015, I was practicing disability law, adding finishing touches to Poppy’s nursery, deciding on her middle name. My father’s cancer was in remission and he was strong. My marriage was brand new and romantic. I never saw what was coming — the loss, the heartbreak, the reinvention, the rebirth.

I will never forget. I am who I am today because of where I’ve been. But more important, it’s where I’m going. Now that Autumn is setting in and we approach the season of thanksgiving, generosity and love, I will look forward. My vision for health, happiness, and love pulls me into the present moment. Into the breeze brushing across my skin. Into the waning light of the sunset. Into the chirps of chickadees and buzz of hummingbirds. Into the silvery rays of light streaming through the spiderwebs.

Nothing is perfect and I don’t have it all together. In fact, I’m kind of a mess. But I know I’m not alone and that’s really all that matters. Thanks for reading. I’m here if you ever want to chat.

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