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Honesty…is such a lonely word

You will often hear me talk about being in “darkness,” and almost always those posts happily wrap up with a light at the end of the tunnel, a glimmer of hope, a shimmer of the Spirit. Something. Anything. But lately, to be perfectly honest, it’s just been darkness. I know that from the outside — and even from the inside — I clearly have nothing in the world to feel dark about. But there it is. Enveloping. Suffocating. Punishing. Frightening. Read more

Miscarriage: loss and love 15 years later

My annual post in remembrance of the baby I never got to meet:

For the past few days I’ve been looking at the numbers on the calendar, growing more and more introspective as we inched closer to August 6. It was 15 years ago today that I learned the baby I was carrying, my second baby, had died 11 weeks into my pregnancy. Read more

“Recipe for Joy” will leave you satisfied and smiling

I really didn’t think I’d be able to read all the way through Recipe for Joy: A Stepmom’s Story of Finding Faith, Following Love, and Feeding a Family by Robin Davis (Loyola Press) in time for today’s blog tour. I figured, at best, I’d sit down with the prologue, peruse a few pages, and make a stab at saying something. But this book pulled me in from the very first paragraph and kept me reading long past the time I had allotted myself. In fact, I’m still reading, slowly, happily, hungrily. I’m about three-quarters of the way through, but I don’t want to rush it because there is so much to savor — beautiful writing, a surprising and heartfelt and faith-filled story, recipes, humor, family, motherhood. Everything you could ask for, really. Read more

Celebrating the life and love of my first best friend

Earlier this week I wrote about missing my mother, who died 25 years ago today at the age of 47. Today I would like to celebrate her life with a few old photos. I realized, as I pulled photos for this, that I have lots of photos from my earliest days with my mother and a few from the end, but hardly anything in between. I’ll try to remember that the next time I want to avoid being in a photo with my kids because I don’t think I look good enough. Read more

‘Why, God?’ A priest offers an honest answer

In these days of dark and light, suffering and joy, this recent New York Times op-ed by a priest via Maureen Dowd is definitely worth the read:

How does one celebrate Christmas with the fresh memory of 20 children and 7 adults ruthlessly murdered in Newtown; with the searing image from Webster of firemen rushing to save lives ensnared in a burning house by a maniac who wrote that his favorite activity was “killing people”? How can we celebrate the love of a God become flesh when God doesn’t seem to do the loving thing? If we believe, as we do, that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, why doesn’t He use this knowledge and power for good in the face of the evils that touch our lives? Read more

Remembering the power of one small life

My annual post in remembrance of the baby I never got to meet:

For the past few days I’ve been looking at the numbers on the calendar, growing more and more introspective as we inched closer to August 6. It was 14 years ago today that I learned the baby I was carrying, my second baby, had died 11 weeks into my pregnancy.

With a mother’s intuition, I had known something was wrong during that pregnancy from a couple of weeks before. The day Dennis and I — with Noah in tow — went to the midwife for my regular check up, I didn’t even take the little tape recorder with me to capture the sound of baby’s heartbeat, so convinced was I that I would hear only silence. I went back for the recorder only after Dennis insisted. But somehow I knew. Because when you are a mother sometimes you just know things about your children, even when there is no logical reason you should, even when they are still growing inside you.

When we went for the ultrasound to confirm the miscarriage, we saw the perfect form of our baby up on the screen. I remember Dennis looking so happy, thinking everything was OK after all, and me pointing out that the heart was still. No blinking blip. No more life.

With that same mother’s intuition, no matter how busy or stressed I am, no matter how many other things I seem to forget as I drive my other three children to and fro, I never forget this anniversary. It is imprinted on my heart. As the date nears, I feel a stillness settling in, a quiet place amid the chaos reserved just for this baby, the one I never to got hold, the one I call Grace.

Four years ago, when I posted about this day, I talked about how Grace had shaped our family by her absence rather than her presence.  I am very much aware of the fact that life would be very different had she lived. She managed to leave her mark on us, even without taking a breath. She lingers here, not only in my heart but around the edges of our lives — especially the lives of our two girls who followed her. I know them because I did not know Grace. What a sorrowful and yet beautiful impact she had on us.

So thank you, baby, for all that you were and all that you have given us without ever setting foot on this earth. The power of one small life.

Remembering the power of one small life


For the past few days I’ve been looking at the numbers on the calendar, growing more and more introspective as we inched closer to August 6. It was 13 years ago today that I learned that the baby I was carrying, my second baby, had died 11 weeks into my pregnancy.

With a mother’s intuition, I had known something was wrong during that pregnancy from a couple of weeks before. The day Dennis and I — with Noah in tow — went to the midwife for my regular check up, I didn’t even take the little tape recorder with me to capture the sound of baby’s heartbeat, so convinced was I that I would hear only silence. I went back for the recorder only after Dennis insisted. But somehow I knew. Because when you are a mother sometimes you just know things about your children, even when there is no logical reason you should, even when they are still growing inside you.

When we went for the ultrasound to confirm the miscarriage, we saw the perfect form of our baby up on the screen. I remember Dennis looking so happy, thinking everything was OK after all, and me pointing out that the heart was still. No blinking blip. No more life.

With that same mother’s intuition, no matter how busy or stressed I am, no matter how many other things I seem to forget as I drive my other three children to and fro, I never forget this anniversary. It is imprinted on my heart. As the date nears, I feel a stillness settling in, a quiet place amid the chaos reserved just for this baby, the one I never to got hold, the one I call Grace.

Three years ago, when I posted about this day, I talked about how Grace had shaped our family by her absence rather than her presence. I am very much aware of the fact that life would be very different had she lived. She managed to leave her mark on us, even without taking a breath. She lingers here, not only in my heart but around the edges of our lives — especially the lives of our two girls who followed her. I know them because I did not know Grace. What a sorrowful and yet beautiful impact she had on us.
So thank you, baby, for all that you were and all that you have given us without ever setting foot on this earth. The power of one small life.

‘Every day is a gift.’ Do we believe that?

My latest “Life Lines” column is now up at Catholic New York. I’ll start you off here:

When I went to my local YMCA this week, I ran into a man from my parish, a deacon who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. His wife recently insisted on a Y membership for him in hopes that the physical exercise would help his mental state, but he is quick to admit that his memory is fading fast.

A deacon for 30 years, he can no longer assist at Mass without a cheat sheet. At home, if his wife asks him to get something from upstairs, he has to write it down. Although he keeps his mind active by reading and doing crossword puzzles, he knows that this is just the beginning of what is likely to be a long decline into a place none of us wants to imagine we might go, a place where we can’t find our way home, don’t know our own child’s name.

And yet, as we stood talking, this man was smiling and complimenting the trainers at the gym for being willing to re-train him every time he comes in since he can’t remember their instructions from one day to the next. He talked about the seniors he visits at a local nursing home, and praised his wife for being his “angel.” Not one negative word came out of his mouth; no fear or self-pity flickered in his eyes.

As our conversation wrapped up, he smiled at me and said, “God is good.” I walked away amazed at the way some people are able to meet life’s greatest challenges with grace and trust. Instead of asking, “Why me?” people like this understand at their core that the real question is “Why not me?”

Continue reading HERE.

In memory of my mom

Twenty years ago today my mother, Irene DeTurris, died of colon cancer. That reality still blows me away, even two decades after the fact. It has been the longest, fastest 20 years, and if you have ever lost anyone special, you know exactly what I mean.

On the one hand, I think of the 20 years that have gone by and it seems as if my mom’s death happened a lifetime ago. I was only 25 at the time. So much has happened in the interim, so much that my mother should have shared. On the other hand, those 20 years went by in the blink of an eye. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were talking and laughing and sitting on the family room couch together eating ice cream and watching M*A*S*H? How is it possible that it has been 20 years since I’ve heard my mother’s voice? I hate to admit it, but it’s hard for me to remember what she sounded like. Even her singing voice, which was fantastic, has faded away, with only a few short, fuzzy cassette tapes to remind me of her favorite past time.

My mother was my best friend, and I don’t say that in some cloying, aren’t-we-special sort of way. I say it because it was the absolute truth. Don’t get me wrong. She was my mother first and foremost, and a strict mom at that, especially with me, her first-born. But I lived at home through college and until she died, so in my young adulthood our relationship deepened into a friendship that gave me strength and joy and courage. Read more