"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Monday, May 28, 2012


Crevé - French for broken
My brother Jonathan's tattoo for Julie. 
Two years.  731 days.  17, 544 hours.  That's how long it's been since Julie decided to end her life and broke the hearts of so many.  Back then I didn't know how I'd be able to live with such constant heartbreak.  Mercifully, I've learned that broken hearts heal and life goes on.  Today I'll think of Julie with sorrow, along with joy, love and laughter. I'm certain I'll also cry floods of great big, burning tears.  I know many others will also cry for her today because she truly was a delight.  

I love and miss you sis.  

"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight." ~ Kahlil Gibran

Mason and Aunt Julie

Julie and Phoenix

Hangin' at Amy's

Julie planking before it was cool

Julie poolside - July 4, 2008

Julie and Jason

Sister Time

Dad and Julie

Running the Boulder Backroads Marathon with Amy

Julie and Amy celebrating their Moab 1/2 Marathon finish

Too cool for school

Joni, Homer Simpson and Julie


Who doesn't remember this look?  

Julie and Hannah

Jon and Julie

Julie and Cristy

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hour of Lead

Two weeks ago I went to my first suicide survivors support group.  I left the meeting intending never to return, completely traumatized and convinced there was nothing for me to gain by attending.  The couple of days before were very stressful and I was feeling more than a little resentful about having to drive nearly an hour each way on a weeknight, right after work to "deal" with my sister's suicide. On my ride down I ranted to my sister Amy.  "Here I am once again cleaning up her mess! How convenient that she just died and left the rest of us to try to figure out how to pick up the pieces and go on.  How easy to just escape by suicide.  Now I get to spend a full evening a week for the next seven weeks going to this stupid group because of what she did.  As if I don't have 100 other things I'd rather be doing!"  I was angry, resentful and bitter.

Things didn't get better once I arrived (twenty minutes late after getting lost on the sprawling University of Utah campus and trying to find parking).  Because it was the first night, people were introducing themselves and telling why they were there.  Four of the seven in attendance had experienced their loss within the last six months, with several having lost their loved ones less than three months ago.  Their grief was still raw. Their shell-shocked looks were all too familiar. After listening to a few of them talk I wanted to run from the room.  Being confronted with their shock and fresh, palpable grief opened barely closed wounds in my own mind and soul.  It was overwhelming.  "How on earth can this be good for me?" I wondered to myself.  Even though I recognized exactly where they were and very much related to their feelings, mercifully I've progressed beyond the immediate shock and have come to terms as best I can with many of the issues that lead to Julie's suicide.  The facilitator's comments were repetitive.  She quoted a book I've already read, talked about statistics and facts I now know by heart.  

During the drive home I mentally replayed the meeting, recalling what I shared with the group.  I thought about the emotions I'd shared, the things I'm still struggling to accept, to come to terms with, and I cried and cried.  

The next day I was again thinking about the meeting and wondering if there was anything to really be gained by going back.  Then it occurred to me how glad I was that I was almost two years out from the worst day of my life.  Seeing others experiencing such fresh trauma reminded me that I have made some progress.  It's given me a very different perspective.  As horrible as my experience is and was, there are others who have faced the same, or much worse. I also realized that by being there I could perhaps offer some hope for those dealing with such recent losses.  I can show them someone that has survived two years, someone whose life has gone on, who still laughs, hopes, dreams and enjoys life.  It wasn't just about me!  It's about all of us--surviving and supporting each other.  

Last week I returned with a much better attitude.  This week I'm actually looking forward to going. Instead of focusing on my anger and resentment on the cause behind my being there, I'm trying very hard to focus on how far I've come.  A few nights ago I came across this stanza from the poem After great pain, a formal feeling comes by Emily Dickinson. 

This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –

Reading it made me realize how far I've come.  I've lived through the hour of lead. I'm past it and at long last I'm starting to let go.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Year of the Fork

On Thursday evening I had the honor of being installed as the Sustaining Advisor for the Junior League of Ogden's 2012-13 leadership team.  For the non Junior Leaguers out there, there are three categories of League membership, Active, Sustainer and Emeritus.  Active members pay dues, attend monthly meetings, are expected to serve a minimum number of volunteer hours during the year supporting League projects, and are assigned to one or more committees.  After 10 years of active membership, members can "go sustaining".  Sustainers pay dues but don't have to attend meetings or hold an official job.  Basically, they get to show up to all the fun social events and mingle with past and current members! They can also serve in an ad-hoc capacity on active committees if they choose.  At age 80, members that have maintained sustainer status become Emeritus status members.  

I've written previously about my League membership Learning and Leading by Example and the many great friends and mentors I've gained because of it.  Even though I only sustained a year ago, I already missed my association with the many women in the League.  So when I was approached earlier this year by the President-Elect, Shalae Larsen, and asked to serve as her Sustaining Advisor, I didn't need much time to  think about it.  Shalae is an amazing woman with many talents.  She's going to be such a great leader for the League and already has very clear goals for what she'd like to accomplish.  I'm so excited to be part of her board for the year.  She's put together a great team of ladies, all of whom are go-getters and don't hesitate to jump right in and get things done!  

At Thursday's Annual Dinner she proclaimed that this League year will be known as the Year of the Fork.  Below are her remarks from that evening.  

"Since its inception, the Junior League of Ogden has continually adapted its work to meet the changing needs of the community, all while training women as volunteers and leaders, which in turn has generated a lasting impact in our community and our world.

Over the past several years, the Junior League of Ogden has identified a new need in our community.  While initially focused on childhood obesity, our work with the Oasis Community Garden has made us aware of a much larger issue, one that most modern families, especially low income and inner-city residents face.  How can we ask individuals to make healthy eating decisions when quickie-marts are the only option approaching a grocery store that many families have access too?  Meanwhile, shrinking time and pocketbooks have fast food replacing sit down family meals.  The traditions of food, family, and community have been replaced with processed, assembly-line, food-like substances that are unhealthy at best; and socially, economically and environmentally detrimental at worst.

I propose that this year be the Year of the Fork.  The fork symbolizes slow food: healthy meals eaten while sitting down with friends and family; food that is respectful of our environment, and the people who work to bring it to our plates, and in an understanding of the basic human right to nourishment.

In years past we've worked to identify a need in our community; clear the land; till the soil; and plant a garden. Now, it’s time to harvest the fruits of our efforts, and call the community to gather.  This means reaching out to bring everyone in our community together around the issue of food.  Our work has come full circle...Together we, the Junior League of Ogden, will cultivate our community and nourish our neighbors."

See why I'm excited to work with Shalae and her team? Watch out Ogden! We're on a mission and we're going to accomplish some great things this year.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Grieving In Front of the World

I haven’t watched the video of Junior Seau’s mother crying, lamenting the loss of her son shortly after learning of his suicide.  I don’t need to.  Just seeing the still image of her face in a news story was too much for me to bear.  It hits too close to home.  Simply glancing at her picture stirred up memories for me that I try not to think about.  It obviously unsettled my mind, because last night I dreamt of his mother crying, wailing, and grieving for her son.  In my dream I tried to comfort her.  Somehow I wanted her to know I understand what she’s feeling. 
I know that kind of psychic, gut-wrenching pain, the animalistic wailing that doesn’t seem like it’s coming from your own body, the feeling  of having a piece of your very soul forcefully ripped from your body.  There weren’t cameras around to document the moment the bottom dropped out of my world.  Not that there needed to be, because I can replay that moment in my mind like it’s a movie, as if I’m watching someone other than me experience it.  It really did feel like an out-of-body experience.  I know what it feels like to temporarily lose your mind with grief. 
It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday in May.  I was walking out of the grocery store where I’d just stocked up on essentials for the Memorial Day weekend.  I was sitting alone inside my car when Jason found my sister and confirmed to me what I most feared.  I’m sure my screaming and wailing could be heard outside my car.  I’ve always wondered why nobody stopped to make sure I was okay. Certainly I looked and sounded like a crazed, raving lunatic.  I remember hanging up the phone and numbly watching people walk into the grocery store, amazed that life’s mundane tasks continued for others, when my world as I knew it was collapsing. 
Then I called my dad.  I didn’t even try to break the news gently.  I blurted the words out.  Even though he was clear across the country in Minnesota, his screams sounded like he was right next to me.  I felt his pain through the phone.  Having to tell my dad that his daughter was dead isn’t something I’ll ever get over.  It’s why I don’t need to hear Junior Seau’s mom to know exactly what her grief sounds and feels like.  George Schroeder, a writer for the Register-Guard captured the feeling well in this thoughtful column published today, as he talked about Luisa Seau crying out “I don’t understand.  I don’t know anything.”  Sadly,  she now joins the legions of other suicide survivors in this country left wondering, trying to understand, seeking an answer to the unanswerable question of why.