It’s the day we buried you …

… and on its second anniversary, here’s a poem the boys and I have read and love in Cynthia Rylant’s book God got a dog. God Went to India To see the elephants. God adores elephants. He thinks they are the best thing He ever made. They do everything He hoped for: They love their […]

On examining deaths, stealing souls & creating ghosts

Today five years ago, Michael Jackson had made his transition from a living man to a dead man. He’d died. He’d passed. He’d finished his business on earth. He’d not finished seeing his children into adulthood. If he was aware of dying, I’m quite sure leaving them hurt him the most. Business was enough of […]

Words don’t fail me now!

What do you do — with a kangaroo? No, not with a kangaroo — though we’ve loved that story of accommodating trespassing beasts. My real question is: What do you do with your intense need to talk to someone who is no longer around? In the early days after Mama’s death I used to do […]

Brother’s Day

A week ago Micah and I flew to London. The occasion was the premiere of a choral piece my brother had composed. It was commissioned to be about the four seasons, and my brother wrote it in the year after our mother’s death, which was also the second year of his son’s life. What better […]

Nowhere to send a birthday card, so here’s a story

74 years ago, at 5 p.m., she heard the serious noise of labor rising in the upstairs bedroom of their small semi-detached house not far from Berlin. Her mother Hedwig was close to giving birth. A mid-wife tended to her. Her mother’s mother had traveled the 150 miles from Thuringia to help with household and […]

Going there – yes, I’m going there

Two years ago, this wasn’t a Saturday, but a Thursday. Around 5:30 p.m. on that Thursday I took my leave from Mama sleeping in her hospice bed. Thinking how pale she looked. How small. I whispered good-bye. Not see-you-soon. I walked through the dark city, stopping in a new-agey store where I bought a little […]


Two years ago tomorrow, I scanned revolving racks of cards at the train station shops. Very half-heartedly I was looking for a birthday card for Mama who was dying at the hospice. Mama’s 72nd birthday was a week away. One card ended my search. “A single day of life is worth more than a mountain […]