The Only Things I’m Certain About

I’m certain about death and taxes, love and life, rainbow sprinkles and mashed potatoes.

I’m certain about death and taxes, love and life, rainbow sprinkles and mashed potatoes, and that I was handmade and homemade and home-grown to be a mama, writer, photographer. And I’m certain I’m even-tempered, but only as even-tempered as someone who is HIGHLY sensitive to the changes and the shifts, the tastes and the smells, the FEELS… oh, the FEELS – like fingernails lightly down your back, or staring into space for five minutes after an evocative episode of This is Us.

Ok, they’re ALL evocative. For me, it’s the doctor character. And William. Sweet, sweet William.

I’m certain about legacies.

Sometimes I feel it coming – these changing tides – even while they’re still being born and unfolding, and I have to type fast before they implode. Or I have to race to a computer or phone before I explode. Today is a mix, like sun and clouds.

I’m certain about loss and grief, but not about the paths they take. I’m certain we have to rise up to move through paths and waves, and probably not as seamlessly as we’d like. Life’s greatest challenge. I once wrote a piece about grief that has since disappeared, but I think of it every now and then. Since I can’t get it back, I can rewrite it and give it to you right here and now. So let’s ride the waves together. FTSF Topic: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes ..”


I once wrote that grief is like “the princess is in another castle” theme from Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. games.


Just when you have confronted demons, fought valiantly, been sucked through warp zones, and fought on in endless pursuit of fireballs, feathers, mushrooms, and frog suits, you arrive at the castle level to fight the next big bad buy. And you do it, and you do it in style. You fight so hard and so well, only to be rewarded with a simple message printed across the screen.

Super Mario Brothers

So then you leave to enter a brand new world – full of brand new demons, and one brand new big bad guy at the end of the castle at the end of this world. You defeat the brand new bad guy, only to be greeted with the same disappointing message.

When does it end? Where is your reward? Where is your princess?

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Eventually in the game, you get to the real end, you defeat the final bad guy, and you get your princess. For keeps, this time. It doesn’t work that way in real life, although we certainly do have our rewards – like learning to unlock new layers and worlds within your own heart and mind. And finding yourself to be stronger and smarter than you ever thought possible.

The problem is that grief doesn’t have a set endpoint – there is no final big bad guy you can defeat, and then expect to never be challenged again. You will most likely continue to unlock new levels and worlds – through warp zones and not – collecting gold coins and stars, new weapons and new rewards, only to find yourself once again at the doors of a gated fortress.

It’s disorienting, isn’t it?


My life has been full of such fortresses. After my father passed away suddenly from a heart attack when I was just about four-years-old, there was that first night without him. And then there were subsequent nights of resisting but having to let my sister and my mom out of my sight during day to day life. There were the weekdays that I waited for him to come home from work. There was the year following his death which I have mostly blacked out from memory. Therapy. A fear of loud noises.

A new home, a new dad and new siblings. A new school – the start of kindergarten.

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When I thought I was past a lot of my anxiety and grief, there were new challenges in young adulthood – going to college and falling in love. Moving several times. Becoming a mom to a girl who looked like me. And to a boy who reminded me of me.

A challenging time for me was being pregnant with Des – a baby due right around my father’s birthday. It wasn’t until Scarlet approached her fourth birthday that I began a new grieving process. My father had passed away three weeks before my fourth birthday, so I breathed a huge sigh of relief when that day passed, and we sailed through her fourth birthday party happily and whole. I then had a calmness I hadn’t thought possible, until a new trigger revealed itself – signing her up for kindergarten. I showed up on the first day of registration, as the first parent there, and my heart was pounding in my throat and my chest was constricting. How could I be back here – so far and so grown, but still shaking at the thoughts of change?

We defeated that bad guy, and now it’s Des’ turn for kindergarten.

Where is my next castle/challenge/bad guy? I don’t know what it will be and how it will hit me. I know I will probably live my life with challenges, but hopefully with gaining new skills, weapons and tools too. Moving through, as I also move on.

I’ll live my life fully and effectively, until I get the next message – “Great job, but your princess is still in another castle, and probably always will be.” And then I’ll stop, reassess my tool belt, add new weapons, and learn to move through.

This brand new world, until the next one comes along.

This week’s Finish the Sentence Friday topic is “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.

What are you certain about?

Thanks For the Memories – See You Next Year.

Last week, I got added to a Facebook group for my high school graduating class. It made my head spin! It’s been.. 17 years. That’s twice as old as I was then. I can’t help thinking about all the things I thought I’d be, and I can’t help thinking about all the things I am, but haven’t stopped to appreciate. Because they hurt. Because they aren’t what I expected and how I expected. And I’m not really who I expected to be by now, but maybe that’s ok. My 17-year-old self might shake her pretty head at me and ask, “Why didn’t you go big? I always told you to go big by now.” Well hey, maybe I still will. Somehow.

There she is. High school graduation party.


My fourth and fifth grade teachers came to my graduation party. I was so humbled and appreciative for all the things they put into one ear, that stayed in my head and jostled around a bit – and never went out the other ear. My fifth grade teacher told me she’d eat her arm if I didn’t grow up to become a writer. I talk about her sometimes. Do you know what else happened last week? I got to indirectly talk to her (through her daughter and husband on Facebook) and tell her how much I took her words to heart. It was such weird timing – a week of Facebook graduating class groups, and 5th grade teacher conversations.

It’s enough to make your head spin, and I was already head-spinny enough with the end of kindergarten, the end of daycare for the year, Des’ birthday coming up, Scarlet’s birthday coming up, my birthday coming up, and the constant growth I see.

That was so non-specific. We’re all growing!

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It’s the sayings they write on your yearbook – “Thanks for the memories. See you next year.” They get me every time! I’m not entirely sure if other people are as sensitive about the passing of time as I am, but since I’ve only ever been me, I can tell you it’s simultaneously exhilarating/terrifying. I’m talking lump in my throat and pit in my stomach. When they used to change the format of the TV guide, I’d have a panicked moment of missing the old format. Luckily I always adapted pretty fast and I’d get to a point in which I couldn’t remember how it used to be. They changed the Facebook format a lot too. You know it.

TV season finales or worse, series finales. The ends of books. An entire world was contained within the pages of one book. Like most kids, I eagerly awaited the end of the school year because quite frankly, summer rocks. That excitement would always move me over the hump easier than my sensitive heart wanted. I would have little rituals. “This is the last time I’ll sit at this desk. This is the last time I’ll use this locker.” I would read what people wrote in my yearbook. I wouldn’t cry.

I’d ease into summer, because, quite frankly, summer rocks.

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If you’re sensitive about the passing of time, the end of the school year is a bit of a kick to the stomach. It takes so long to grow within the walls of your school or daycare. It takes 9 or 10 months – enough time to grow a whole baby. As much as you learn academically, you also learn emotionally and socially. You self-actualize a bit more than ever before, with any luck.

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I still get that lump in my throat and that pit in my stomach, of the happy and sad variety. It’s no longer my end of the school year. It’s no longer my yearbook to get signed. These lives belong WITH me, but TO someone else. Two someone elses.

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How much will I separate myself and let it flow, just let it flow?

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How will I learn to celebrate the passing of another year into another brilliant summer, and contain the hope of what lies beyond? How will I have my own journeys and let my kids have their own journeys, and let it pair together into a sensitive and sentimental bunch. How will I go on my own adventures, let them go on their own adventures, and also love and appreciate our many years of joint adventures? How will I learn not to count our time as limited, and just count it as beautiful?

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How will I learn to celebrate the successes, get over the setbacks, separate what is what, and learn not to be afraid of pianos falling from the sky, because there certainly a lot of pianos perched to fall out of the sky, aren’t there?

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I think I’ll just ease into this summer, because, quite frankly, summer rocks.

“I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

Remember the good times that we had?
I let them slip away from us when things got bad
How clearly I first saw you smilin’ in the sun
Wanna feel your warmth upon me, I wanna be the one

I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

I’m so tired but I can’t sleep
Standin’ on the edge of something much too deep
It’s funny how we feel so much but we cannot say a word
We are screaming inside, but we can’t be heard

But I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

I’m so afraid to love you, but more afraid to lose
Clinging to a past that doesn’t let me choose
Once there was a darkness, deep and endless night
You gave me everything you had, oh you gave me light

And I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories”

And umm.. as I was finishing this post, “My Old School” came on Pandora on random.