Ohana – Means Family

Do you recall the first movie that you saw in the theater? When I was about four years-old, my grandmother was taking my aunts (who were nine and ten) to the movies. I don’t remember actually going to the movie, but I clearly recall getting ready for the movie. We went through my grandmother’s house collecting bedknobs and broomsticks. Can you guess the film? With a 63% on the “Tomatometer,” I present to you – Bedknobs and Broomsticks.I’m not one hundred percent certain why the collection was warranted except that going to the movies wasn’t common for us growing up and there was likely some sort of discount to be had for dismantling ones’ bedrooms and cleaning closets. Read more

Heal or Be Healed

In case I’ve given the impression that I’ve got this grief thing all under control – I want to set the record straight. Not every day is sunshine and roses. There are moments when the wind is literally sucked right out of me as my mind settles on the reality that Brooke is gone. But is it even real? Isn’t she just away at school? Did my phone really ring? I know it did but somehow the mind doesn’t always process it. Just the other day, as part of a litany of routine questions at the doctor’s office, I was asked, “How many living children do you have?” Two. No, wait. That’s not right. That’s NOT right. Read more

The Sting of Unanswered Prayers

No.

Sometimes, the answer is simply “no.”

Every school has that one professor who is renowned for the breadth and depth of their knowledge. Sharp minds and sharp tongues frequently travel in packs. My second year of law school, I voluntarily subjected myself to such a professor, Professor George Pugh.

On the first day of class, I chose a seat toward the edge of the classroom – tucked safely out of the line of fire. So, I thought. By this time, Professor Pugh was later in his years and was losing his eyesight. Unbeknownst to me, his central vision was declining, but his peripheral vision was as sharp as his mind – and his tongue; and, I found myself in his line of vision and his line of fire. Read more

How to Live Life Out of Order During the Holidays

How many times have you set a schedule to have it squashed when the time arrived? Meticulous plans marked in ink, only to be crossed out? Appointments abolished because someone or something didn’t cooperate with your carefully choreographed calendar? Sometimes when timing is off, we say “good miss.” Or something better supplants our plans and we enjoy the unexpected change.

Other times, it just feels out of order.

Today marks 38 weeks since we lost Brooke on a back road in rural Mississippi. Read more

Who wants to be the “King of Pain”?

There’s a little black spot on the sun today, that’s my soul up there
It’s the same old thing as yesterday, that’s my soul up there
There’s a black hat caught in a high tree top, that’s my soul up there
There’s a flag pole rag and the wind won’t stop, that’s my soul up there
I have stood here before inside the pouring rain
With the world turning circles running ’round my brain
I guess I’m always hoping that you’ll end this reign
But it’s my destiny to be the king of pain – 
The Police

“I’ll see your despair and raise you two gloom.” Doesn’t it always seem in this game of life that we are constantly “sweetening” the pot of suffering. A never-ending round of one upping our fellow players. Who wants to be the big “winner” anyway? Who wants to walk away from the table with a wad of woe – peeling each one back like a crisp hundred-dollar bill to spend on future rounds of “Who Has it Worse”? Read more

How to Fill the Empty Seat at the Thanksgiving Table

When tragedy strikes, it becomes a line of demarcation. Like the rings in the trunk of a tree, each misfortune leaves a permanent mark on our souls. There is “before” and “after.” Time marches to a different cadence in the Land of After. The calendar ticks off “should have beens,” “could have beens,” and “would have beens.” The calendar in the Land of After chronicles time with “milestones” and “firsts” nonexistent in the Land of Before. Read more

When you’ve lost so much – how do you manage to be grateful?

My daddy was an ironic mash-up of 70’s flower child and Sicilian Catholic. In the 70’s and 80’s he had an annoying habit of preaching the gospel of “PMA.” For those of you who might have been subjected to this particular brand of torture in your own lives, you will recognize “PMA” as standing for “Positive Mental Attitude.” For every negative comment that Daddy caught us uttering, he would literally make us repeat the opposing positive statement out loud ten – TEN – times. You recognize the formula. It takes ten – TEN- positive thoughts/actions/comments to erase the energy created by just one negative thought/action/comment.

How does this look when applied? Quick example – I might say something to my little brother like “I hate you.” Read more