Category Archives: Letting Go

Mazama Retreat, Day 5

Deeply personal writing, especially about suffering, challenges  the best writers. Other people played roles and even the most objective reporting can’t fully capture all points of view. I’m far from the best writer, and I have enough journalism experience to know how hard it is to get a simple news story right. In the past […]

Mazama Retreat, Day 3

Today marks the 15th anniversary of my son Andrew’s death. Once it was clear the end was near, I made it my mission to help him prepare. Very quickly he let me know there wasn’t much I could tell him. I figured out I should turn myself around, and walk beside him. I don’t know […]

Mazama Retreat, Day 2

Yesterday, I mentioned sleep. This particular week, I need lots of it. I fell into bed last night around 10:30 and woke up just after 8. The first thing I did (after taking care of Jessie), I sat down to write. Just whatever. I opened my journal, picked up a pen, and started writing. About […]

Mazama Retreat Day 1, Part 2

With some improvisation, my Pappardelle al Ragu di Cinghiale came together and proved delicious. All natural, hormone- and antibiotic-free pork; organic carrots, onion, celery and Italian parsley; house-grown organic garlic, rosemary and thyme; organic whole wheat flour and tomato paste; Scarpetta’s Fricco Rosso Tuscan blend; Costco’s pecorino romano, and fresh pappardelle. I think I’m going […]

Mazama Retreat, Day 1

Ever since my son died, in 2001, I’ve gone on retreat the last week of October. The 26th marks the anniversary of Andrew’s death. Cancer. He was 16. I come to Mazama, just outside North Cascades National Park, at the head of the beautiful Methow Valley. Just me and my lab, Jessie. We get easy […]

Andrew Visits

Andrew provided the fourth miracle at St. Leo. The day of remembrance for bereaved parents fell during my week there. At 7 pm, I borrowed a votive candle from the church and took out my photo of Andrew. I lit the candle and once again a crazy idea grabbed me and I, well, I started […]

One Man to Another

At St. Leo Abbey, Father David showed me the way to the third miracle. I resisted letting go, equating it with abandonment. The moment my firstborn landed in my hands, I vowed I would never leave him. My father abandoned me, and I can imagine nothing more shameful. When I finished my story, Father David […]

Miracle No. 2

The church organ provided the second miracle. Wednesday, I found the organist tuning up for a concert. We chatted. Something moved me: “If you were asked to use your music to drive the Holy Spirit into a man’s soul, what would you play?” He studied me, then directed me to the acoustic apex: Eight pews […]

Miracle No. 1

The first miracle came from a reading from St. Augustine. Two messages resonated. First, he said that if you want to impart something to someone, you need to know who they are and speak in a manner they will understand. The intended recipient must be willing to listen. You have to wait until they are […]

A WEEK OF SILENCE

The Benedictine monks of St. Leo, in central Florida, welcomed me with warmth and respectful silence. I read Augustine, Merton, and Thich Nhat Hahn. I re-read Alain de Botton’s “The Consolations of Philosophy.” David Brooks’ book, “The Road to Character,” shed light into how others had confronted deep tragedy and life-altering difficulties. I sat in […]