“What I want is to leap out of this personality

And then sit apart from that leaping

I’ve lived too long where I can be reached.”


Driving for hours at a time, we have no words between us. We have grown quieter this eighth year.

Measuring years from September to September, we acknowledge not the start of a fresh new year on January first, but from the date of Justin’s death, September 27th, 2010. This eighth year is hollow, like a forgotten well slicked with moss, I try to find my footing and cannot get a foothold. The eighth year is a tunnel, lives of those around me have moved on, and I find my feet on a marshy bank thick with cattails and see a car submerged, the tires facing the sky, dripping with grass and mud.

I had caught my breath, or so I thought, but I can’t seem to get to the bottom of my lungs. I thought the descent into the death of child could not get lower, that the bottom was finite, but each year reveals that there is no end to the drop. The bottom dropped out of my life the day that state trooper came to our front door.

I grieve for those families whose nightmare is only starting. I seethe with anger at how their children’s death become political and self-righteous agendas by people who don’t get it. Who will sit with those parents three months from now, a year from now, six years from now?

I have become commitment phobic. Invitations to any event sit on the counter to be pondered. I shuffle them back into the stack of mail putting off any reply.

I read a meditation on sabbatical and sabbath, the words of Rumi resonated with me. I am peeling back the layers of those words and applying them. I closed my Etsy shop. I closed my business banking account. I switched Instagram back to a personal account and deleted my North Wind Photos Facebook page. I realized I can’t keep up with two websites. Photography which had become a source of joy, became a source of contention and stress. Writing became a worry of publication and writing to please, instead of writing my heart.

How does one take a sabbatical in modern times? We have not had a day away in months. The demands of life, even the happy demands of life, make time to “sit apart from that leaping” seem impossible.

The death of a child ages our body. I met a new doctor, a dear soul, he has a German Shepherd puppy, so I knew we were kindred spirits. He asked about children, I shared in crisp sentences about Justin. He paused, and then this man whom I had just met said one of the most poignant things to me. He said the loss of a child is chronic for mothers. He said this in no way denigrating the experience of child loss on fathers. He touched my heart like no other doctor I have spoken with in the seven years since losing Justin. Most doctors want to medicate, patronize, or put a termination date on grief, none have ever acknowledged that it is a chronic condition. A condition that must be factored in to my life. Grief is a partner, not an enemy, a partner that requires energy and accommodations.

Justin would be thirty-three in a month, March 26th. His eighth birthday since his death. I would sell my soul to speak to him, just for one moment to have that emptiness filled. I dreamed of him. We were going to visit him in the hospital and I could not wait, and then I woke up. So cruel a joke of my brain.  Justin was wise and kind and I miss his smile. You know that ease that some people have, you could be around him and leave the better for having spent time with him.

Garden beds that are exhausted cannot sustain life, the plants bear less and less fruit. You can pour chemicals on the soil, but it is not the same as letting the earth rest in silence and stillness with no expectations.

No expectations. No commitments. The patient rest of a butterfly moth orchid, sometimes two years in-between setting buds, and then it sends forth a shoot with multiple buds and blossoms that will last for months, speaks of a deep wisdom. That is the wisdom of sabbatical.

I thank you if you have continued reading to the end. I do not write because I understand, I write to find understanding, writing informs me of my grief. Writing reveals what I cannot speak. Writing brings clarity and peace.

I wish you peace of the day and hope that you find some sabbath moments to “sit apart from that leaping.”

“What I want is to leap out of this personality

And then sit apart from that leaping

I’ve lived too long where I can be reached.”






15 thoughts on ““I Have Lived Too Long Where I Can Be Reached.”

  1. I love how you can share your heart and how it resonates so much with me. Thank you Terri. I hope we can see each other again soon. It’s been too long.

    • Thank you Katy, I miss seeing you! Maybe a walk in the park if this weather ever breaks. I would love to see you.

  2. Today in ‘the fruits and vegetables’ I ran into a woman I met a couple of times at Compassionate Friends meetings. We couldn’t remember each others’ names but we hugged anyway. (But, like you, I’m a commitment-phobe and hardly ever go to the meetings whereas she is a devoted CF attendee.) Such is the sisterhood of bereaved mothers; chronic is a remarkably accurate term. Love to you on Justin’s upcoming birthday, Terri.

  3. Dearest Terri,
    Thank you, once again, for sharing so much. I treasure our friendship. Much love, Laura

  4. Terri,

    This is achingly beautiful. Thank you for writing it, and thank you even more for sharing it.

    ” Garden beds that are exhausted cannot sustain life, the plants bear less and less fruit. You can pour chemicals on the soil, but it is not the same as letting the earth rest in silence and stillness with no expectations.” This is something to sit with.

    • Thank you so much Melinda for your faithful companionship and taking the time to both read and comment, you touch my heart.

  5. Terri,
    Thank you for writing this latest post. I so understand and sympathize with what you have written here as I move into my ninth year without my daughter. That doctor is correct when he says that the grief is chronic – I hadn’t realized until I read those words how true that is. May the time out that you are taking bring you a gentle time of rest.

    • Dear Kate,
      Thank you for the gift of your time to read and write a beautiful note. I am reminded of what Andrea wrote, we are a sisterhood of bereaved mothers. Thank you for affirming this part of the journey, these years after the fifth year. I am so sorry for your loss, nine years – I say it in my head and it is so hard for my brain to comprehend. We are warriors are we not, fighting every day to survive. I am listening to my body and trying to give it what it needs. Thank you for your kind words, gentle is the perfect word. We need to be so gentle with ourselves. Wishing you some gentle moments as well as we move into the season of spring. Love, Terri

    • Beautiful. I will share your words with a new friend, who lost her daughter to a car accident.

      • Dear Rene,

        Thank you so much for your kind words and the gift of your time to read and comment. I will keep your friend close in thought. Please let her know she can reach out to me if she would like to. Wishing you a peace filled spring.

        • And you dear Terri! Thank you for your generosity. Your words hit home for so many; straight to the heart. Peace on your day.

  6. Dear Terri,
    I’m grateful to read the writings that reveal what you cannot speak. May you have peace this day, my dear sister.
    Love, Angie

    • Dear Angie,
      Thank you so much. Wishing you peace as well as we enter into the season of spring.
      Love, Terri

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