Stumbling Toward the Light

"We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly" -- Madeleine L'Engle

A collection of thoughts and messages I wrote after my daughter died May 17, 2000. Primarily this blog is concerned with grief, bereavement, the death of a child, hope, courage and a tough faith journey.

Location: Kansas, United States

Husband, father of four, friend, dog owner, owned by a cat, Episcopalian, last liberal Republican left in the U.S.

Monday, May 14, 2007


(originally written to the DayByDay Bereavement Email List on Mother's Day, May 9, 2004)

This morning at church we had a Gospel reading that struck me and has had me thinking of Love and mothers. I'm quoting here from the ending of the text..."I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyonewill know that you are mine, if you have love for one another."

Love says... "We belong to each other, you and I, and the wholeworld can see it is so."

Some of Love's outward signs are hugs, kisses, sitting in bed readinga bedtime story, sitting up late at night waiting for teenagers to get home, stretching your brain to figure out your kid's math with her, and finding every ounce of strength in you for weeks, months and even years on end working for a cure.

Love is not always warm and comforting. It is also the deepest pain... the hardest sorrow. It is also symbolized in the soul searing pain when the cure does not come... the tears, decorated graves, participation in cancer walks, volunteer work in hospitals and reaching out to other parents who have lost a child, the anger that more children have to die leaving other parents in sorrow, the determined spirit that works to save other children and give comfort to the afflicted and bereaved. This is also a symbol of that Love...

"We belong to each other you and I, and the whole world can see it still in how I live my life."

There is a slip of paper on top of our entertainment center in our living room with the careful lettering of a seven year old child on it. Misspelled words and grammatical errors just add to the beauty of this statement. My mind went back to them as I listened to the words above from the Bible this morning....

"I love my mom because she's so special and I just can't stop thinking about her so I just love her. ---Rachel"

Today I know, amidst the celebration, the cards, and the meal, my wife, Diana, will find time to get away to the cemetery. In joy, in pain, in life, in death and beyond.... we belong to each other, you and I.... and the whole world can see it is so.

My best Mother's Day greetings to Diana and every other Mother on this list.



May 17th will mark seven years since the night Rachel died.

I have been thinking of her more lately and how Diana and I are moving away in time from the days when she was with us here. Often when she comes to mind I see her dancing through the sprinkler in the front yard singing a song at the top of her voice, calling to me to come out and have a water fight.

In these memories I am always inside the house, looking at her through the glass storm door, smiling while she moves alone through the front yard bathed in the light of a bright summer day. We have several trees in the front ofthe house and they provide a greenish filter for anything seen from the storm door. It gives a softer tone to the memory of her leaping through the "fountains" of water. She is healthy in these visions and separate from me.... She dances in the light and I stand on the other side of the glass door watching.

Recently Diana and I got a CD by the singer, Norah Jones. On this CD is a song, "Seven Years." I don't know how but Norah Jones knew my seven year old daughter because this song is the perfect descriptionof my memories of watching her.

I listen to it and I wish we could have one more water fight. Some days it's really hard standing on the other side of the glass door watching the memories of the little girl dancing all alone. Here are the words to the song:


Spinning, laughing, dancing to
her favorite song
A little girl with nothing wrong
Is all alone

Eyes wide open
Always hoping for the sun
And she'll sing her song to anyone
that comes along

Fragile as a leaf in autumn
Just fallen to the ground
Without a sound

Crooked little smile on her face
Tells a tale of grace
That's all her own

Spinning, laughing, dancing to her
favorite song
A little girl with nothing wrong
and she's all alone"
---Norah Jones