Sunday, December 23, 2012


I’ve started reading a book called Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief by Martha Whitmore Hickman. Normally I’m not a fan of prescriptive books on grief – books that tell you how to grieve, when to grieve, and give you the ten easy steps for moving past your grief. So I was skeptical at first when I read the title, but pleasantly surprised when I started reading the meditations: they’re short, direct and full of deep truth. Martha lost her 16-year-old daughter in an accident, and she writes out of her own pain. Every day I get to hear from someone who understands what the death of a loved one feels like, and it’s comforting.

Today she quotes from Caitlin Thomas: “Every bone in my body aches individually with a dragging weariness of pain, and the joints cry aloud for a warm balm.”

The minute before I read this, I was thinking, “I’m really tired. I hope I can just sleep in tomorrow and truly rest.” But Caitlin Thomas says it better: “Every bone in my body aches individually with a dragging weariness of pain…”

Some days it’s easy to forget the ache, the weariness. Some days I’m distracted by work, or moving from one thing on my to do list to another. Some days I’m distracted by hangouts with friends, or all the things I want to make (bread, deodorant, a skirt). But when I really pause, when I really stop, I notice the ache. I feel the weariness.

Martha goes on to quote her son, soon after her daughter died. He said, “It’ll take time, but we’ll feel good again.”

In my head I know this. I know that someday the shadow I’ve been living under, the pain that’s been so constant, will almost disappear. Someday I’ll feel good again.

But I can’t imagine when that day will come. I can’t picture what that day will look like. And in my heart I don’t fully believe its true. I’ve been sitting in this shadow for so long, I’ve been so used to this constant pain that I truly can’t remember what life looked like without it, and I’m a little scared to find out. This ache might not be pleasant, but at least it’s reliable!

And yet I hope. I hope for that balm for my aching joints. I hope that I’ll feel better again. And tonight I hope for the simple (and sometimes not so simple) gift of rest.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Each year, I look for new Christmas songs. My favorite of all time is O Come, O Come Emmanuel, but I'm a Christmas music junky, so I've always got to find more.

This year, I found Snow, by Sleeping at Last. 

Snow - Sleeping at Last 
The branches have traded
Their leaves for white sleeves
All warm blooded creatures make ghosts as they breathe
Scarves are wrapped tightly like gifts under trees 
Christmas lights tangle in knots annually
All families huddle closely
Betting warmth against the cold
All the bruises seem to surface
Like mud beneath the snow 
So we sing carols softly
As sweet as we know
A prayer that our burdens will lift as we go
Like young love still waiting under mistletoe
We'll welcome December with tireless hope 
Let our bells keep on ringing
Making angels in the snow
And may the melody disarm us
When the cracks begin to show 
Like the petals in our pockets
May we remember who we are
Unconditionally cared for
By those who share our broken hearts 
The table is set
And all glasses are full
Though pieces go missing
May we still feel whole
We'll build new traditions in place of the old
Cause life without revision will silence our souls

Let the bells keep on ringing
Making angels in the snow
And may the melody surround us
When the cracks begin to show 
Like the petals in our pockets
May we remember who we are
Unconditionally cared for
By those who share our broken hearts 
As gentle as feathers
The snow piles high
Our world gets rewritten and retraced every time
Like fresh plates and clean slates
Our future is white
New Years resolutions are reset tonight

This song is my prayer this Christmas. In the midst of balancing work and play and family and friends, the midst of trying to make this Christmas special and beautiful with my family, in the midst of traveling to a huge conference I'm helping lead the day after Christmas, I need this song. I need these reminders. I need this:

Tireless hope. New traditions. Remembering that we are unconditionally cared for by those who share our broken hearts.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Breathe out

Every two months I hold my breath.

Every two months my mom gets another MRI to find out if the cancer has grown yet. So every two months there’s at least one night I really can’t sleep. One day when I’m either distracting myself with work or so distracted from work it’s amazing I get anything done. One day when I vacillate between wanting to call my dad to get the news and avoiding my phone at all costs.

This month, I got to breathe out a little of that breath I’d been holding. This month my mom’s MRI came back clear, meaning the cancer hasn’t yet grown big enough to show up on the scan. Today I know (as much as anyone can know) that I have another two months with my mom.

Two more months. Two more months to keep laughing with her, telling her I love her, working on a scrapbook with her, sharing meals with her. Two more months where I can go out of town with less of a worry that she won’t be there when I get back. Two more months of plans I can make without having to break them. Two more months of this equilibrium I’ve reached. Two more months without expecting things to fall apart.

Two more months. Another Christmas. Another New Years. Another Valentine’s Day. Maybe even another birthday.

Breathe out, Katye. Two more months.

Two more months of this!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Waves of Grief, Take 2

Sometimes the waves just come. They come in the middle of your first meeting with your new coworkers, as you’re sharing about your lives. They come, unplanned, unexpected, and with such force you can’t breathe. You’re gasping for air, trying to get the words out.

Sometimes they come, and they come less articulately than you planned, with more force, more emotion then you planned. They come, spilling out of you, overwhelming you, and leaving the people around you in stunned silence.

But sometimes as they come, you’re sitting next to a friend who’s been where you’ve been, who knows what it feels like, and who links her arm with yours, holds your hand, leans your head on her shoulder, and breathes for you so you can breathe too.

And then sometimes they just don’t stop. The keep coming, and coming. And they keep coming. You’re on edge, you’re raw, and everything hits the nerve. They come after you talk on the phone with your parents, as you feel that ache of loneliness and homesickness. They come as you wash your face, as you brush your teeth, as you think about the day.

They come, they don’t stop. They come, and you stop trying to hide them, because you know you can’t. They come, and you look like an idiot, and yet, that is your truth. They come, and they show others it okay to cry, it's healthy to mourn, grief doesn’t need to be hidden. They come, and they speak words you can’t express. They come, and they show your vulnerability and trust. They come, and they are your gift, they are what you bring to world. They come, and they speak Jesus out of you.

They come. And you can’t stop them. You can’t stop Him, the Jesus who weeps.