Two Years

This weekend will be the 2nd anniversary of Matt's suicide.

I feel as though I should have something important to say about it all-- as though I should have some gems of wisdoms- or if not gems, at least easter eggs, or silver linings-- something to say Yes, this is terrible but this is why things are okay! A terrible thing happened and look, everything is fine, put a pretty bow on it!

That would feel both true and disingenuous.

We-- my and my three little girls (the youngest 2 now, her age marking the years of separation between us and her daddy alive) really are fine. At this exact moment we are watching Miyazaki films and eating chocolate bars and salty seaweed (not at the same time) while the girls snuggle their dolls and practice backbends on the couch. I have 25 tabs open on my laptop-- chapters of the fantasy novels I'm writing and esoteric research topics (How did stone age people make tattoo ink? What are the parts of a medieval wagon? Can you restart a batch of hard …

Travel Thinky Thoughts

10,000 miles in three weeks. Am I crazy? Possibly. 

I just took myself and my three kids, 11, 8, and 2, on a wee bit of travel. I have thoughts about it. Early morning, groggily jetlagged, got back last night and the toddler needed pizza at 4am, unpacked just enough to find the toothbrushes, thoughts about it.

This was our itinerary:
One day driving to Las Vegas
One day driving to Los Angelos
One day (?? extended weird warp travel time) traveling to Copenhagen
One week in Copenhagen
One day traveling to Edinburgh
Four days in Edinburgh
One day traveling to Fort William via the slow train
Two days in Fort William
Two days on the Isle of Skye
Two days in Oban, one on the Isle of Mull
One day traveling to Copenhagen
One day in Copenhagen
One (horrifying extended nightmare) day traveling to LA
One day traveling to St. George Utah
And one day driving home to Utah Valley.
It was a lot.

It was every mode of transportation, every style of travel. Long drives, chugging steam trains, sleek city metros, gaspi…

Fresh Grief: How to Help When People are Grieving

The other night I got a text at 2:30 am.
"Jeff just passed away."
I couldn't believe it. I still can't. My friend Bridget -- the one who carried me through the worst work of dismantling our lives in Kauai, who has been there for me for nearly a decade of raising babies, nursing, potty training, parenting, homeschooling, working-- her husband Jeff died suddenly of the flu. He was a beautiful man. A hard and lean Portuguese Hawaiian Paniolo-- soft spoken, bright eyes, long white ponytail. Thick pidgin, soft voice, gentle with all the babies, gathering the children into his lap. How can he be gone? He wouldn't show up to a party, but he'd show up to build you a fence or move your house or brand your cattle. He'd work harder and longer than anybody. Life is a little surreal-- the last time I saw him was when he and Bridget had packed up my container with our whole battered dusty lives inside after my own crusty Hawaiian cowboy died, leaving his stunned and br…

My Aging Grandma

I've stumbled into the life of being my grandmother's caretaker.

I got here, to Orem Utah, in April of 2016, with the intention to stay for about a month, maybe a summer, as she recovered from treatment for leukemia, and some of the weird ailments that were caught up in that knot of disease-symtom-treatment-side-effect. Weeping legs, wounds, swelling, rattly boxes of medications to be halved, powdered, gagged down, remembered. And then admonitions to get enough fiber, to get enough vitamin D; to make sure the sleep apnea wasn't becoming a problem, to have distilled water on hand-- don't forget the probiotics!

I've always loved this grandma, so much. She's so positive and kind. This is where I'd come as a teenager in tumultuous Washington DC, wrestling with being a round peg in a square religion, to detox and feel loved. She was a sacred place, a living sacrament.

So when the specter of her mortality reared up, I felt urgently that I wanted to come and help …

Settling in: Utah Edition

For ten years, my project was to understand Hawaii, my life in Hawaii. I lived in small communities where one person has a big impact. You know everybody-- or they know you. Or their auntie does. You can't step on too many toes. It keeps people polite.

As a white American, I had a lot of learning to do. I thought I was pretty cosmopolitan, anti-racist, and politically correct. But lots of Nice White Americans (tm) think that about themselves for only as long as they live in all-white liberal enclaves. I had to confront the fact that things I thought were universal values actually weren't. When I taught sex-ed, I received training from the Planned Parenthood-co-created Pono Choices program. It was designed to be culturally sensitive-- to be inclusive of all kinds of families, and use metaphors about hoewa'a (paddling canoe) navigation to explain the importance of healthy community. But the script used the words, "unwanted pregnancy" over and over. And my teenage s…

My birthday plus sad hard things plus good wonderful things

Today is my 37th birthday. It is also the one year anniversary of the last day we spent with Matt. It was a beautiful day-- he made me breakfast in bed with the girls, with my favorite strawberry short cake, and he spoiled me with a beautiful leather journal and a tiny gold triangle necklace. We had a wonderful talk about the future, lying next to each other while the baby nurse and napped between us. I was going to be in Utah for the summer, taking care of grandma, while he took the space at home to finish his PhD and start a cattle herd to join his flock of goats. We talked about replacing our wedding rings-- his had been lost on a fishing trip, and all the stones had fallen out of mine. That night he had me braid his hair and cut off the long braid. "It's time for a change," he said.

He had to leave early the next morning to catch his plane-- he tried to leave without saying goodbye but I stopped him, told him I loved him; he said he loved me too.

Months later, I foun…

The First Year of Suicide Grief: Some Advice for Pain

The year is kareening around, we're hurtling through space on our tiny blue rocket ship called earth, and the one year mark to Matt's suicide is coming at my face.

We're doing amazing. I love my kids, they love me, I take care of grandma, she takes care of me, I've started a garden, we've got new little chicks, I've written half a novel, made new friends, the girls have learned to read and write English, and I'm learning to crochet.

And it's been bloody brutal. Since the middle of the night when I got the call from the police, my heart has had an ice-metal stake through it. It was a nuclear detonation and although we survived there are hugely echoing after-affects, radiation poisoning that will poison us for years and generations.

But there have been things that have helped. And I think they would help anyone, in any kind of trauma or pain. And I'm going to make a note of them in case I'm floudering, for me to come back to, and add to. And if th…