Saturday, October 30, 2010


I've written no blog post in almost a week.

I've had lots to say but not a lot of time. And, more importantly, not a lot of creative courage.

I've lost grandparents, a cousin, and my mother and father-in law but losing a parent is new. I'm comforted by the long life she lived and reminded by all the comments from former students on the positive impact she had in the classroom. "The best teacher I ever had", written over and over in one form or another. She touched so many. "A beautiful person both inside and out" and remembered for her "beautiful Christmas choirs". I'm overwhelmed by all she accomplished in her life. She touched the lives of so many people in ways that would surprise her. Isn't it strange that when one's  life on earth comes to a finish, the expressions of love, admiration, and gratitude flow like a rushing river?

I miss her. I long for her. Sometimes I feel her presence but the feeling is so subtle that I want to doubt its significance. When I'm driving I'll see a brilliant spray of fall color along the roadside or the misty, barely visible partial rainbow after a downpour and my eyes tear up. Uncontrolled. Before I know what is happening, the tears flow.

Where is she?  Where is she?

Probably 5-6 years ago Mom and I had a discussion about death. Like a small child  in need of reassurance and the eternal presence of my mother, I asked her if she would send me a sign, something we agreed upon in this life on earth, that would mean she arrived to wherever she was going and was safe.  Safe has always been an important word in Mom's vocabulary; she never felt quite at ease until she'd hear from us that we were "home safe" or at our destination safely. Our conversation that day was lighthearted. We didn't weep; we just talked. She told me her sign would come in the form of feathers. Feathers. Mom loved birds of all kinds. I thought this was fitting.But, she wasn't specific and that, of course, leaves me wondering. I guess that's the mystery left to explore.

It occurs to me that the metaphor of feathers fits perfectly with her love of the 91st Psalm which my son, Chris read so beautifully at her memorial service. This passage says it all.

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; 
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." 
Safe. Safety from the storm. 
Mom, I hope you are safe. I'm looking for feathers. 

I haven't seen what I'm looking for yet. Will I? Will I know? The imponderables.

The opposite of life is not death. The opposite of death is birth. Life has no opposite because it is infinite and limitless.


  1. Big hug Kate - grieving is a long process.

  2. Kate,

    I've been reading for a while and empathizing with you through the very difficult time of caring for and witnessing the decline of much-loved parents. I've been there.

    Something I'll pass along about looking for signs is that they usually show up in unlikely places. My mother, who passed before my father, makes her presence known with a bird. One day I was visiting with my dad in his nursing home during an especially stressful time, and there was a little sparrow under his bed.


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