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Three knocks at the front door wake me. Two emergency responders greet me with news that my twin daughter is dead. She is 16 years old; me, just 40. An odd clarity washes over me…

We are all rowing our boat across the river of life; all starting on the same shore, all going to the shore across the way. Some row one way; some row another way. The current runs swift in some areas; in other areas we can glide. Yet, in the end, we all get to the other shore.

Eight years later, this I believe:

  • What matters in the end are the connections we leave behind. Let’s use our time to share ourselves with others. Open up. Smile. Listen. Laugh. It’s not just the quality of time, it’s also the quantity of time shared that matters. Connect with your children, families, friends, communities, and strangers. Connect with Nature and the Universe.Life as we know it will come to an end, sometimes much sooner than we expect. But the love of those who have passed lives on in our hearts. We never walk alone. Connections remain and strengthen us in ways we never dream possible.
  • Remember that respect is the single most powerful ingredient in any relationship. Respect needs to be at the core of each connection. Love spawns from respect.
  • Tragedies are inevitable in our lifetime. How we weave tragedy into our lives is the challenge. Yes, time does heal, if you allow time to heal, if you allow yourself to feel the depth of pain, and return there when unexpectedly summoned. In the process that strength within seeks you out. Absorb it. Take tiny steps. You will survive. And then, when adversity strikes again… you know that you are strong and can survive.
  • It doesn’t matter what you believe, or if you believe, there is power in prayer. Ask, notice, and respond–a three-step process that produces magical results.
  • When we can look at the life of someone who has passed and see more beauty than pain, when the joy of memories is more powerful than the sadness of the person’s absence, when death and gratitude can walk hand-in-hand, then we can realize death not as the end of the journey, but as a beginning. Let yourself celebrate life, our lives expanding in the present, as if the present truly is a present.
  • Those who have passed before us can be our greatest teachers.
  • There is significance to our intuition and the synchronicity in our lives. Note the patterns. Question the coincidences. Trust your gut. I choose to see and feel that which cannot be explained as God’s presence. I believe that there is purpose and reason to my life. Let yourself pause and rest. Soak in the sun’s energy. Meaning in your life will become obvious.

Death dares me to awaken my heart and mind, to live with more compassion and kindness and courage and awareness. I hope my beliefs awaken you.

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Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, I spent my childhood summers at our family cabin in the San Juan Islands watching ferries pass, digging for clams, crafting collages with driftwood and shells, and fishing. I graduated from the University of Washington with an engineering degree. With three children from a first marriage, two from a second, and a business designing and building houses and landscapes, I keep busy.

I released my first story, Heaven’s Child, in July 2012. A memoir surrounding the sudden death of my 16-year-old-twin daughter, I crafted the story from five years of scribbled notes and jottings in journals so that my children could walk beside their mother during this epic period of trauma and growth. Heaven’s Child is a raw and real story that dares you to open your mind and your heart and inspires you to live life a little differently.

Today I live full-time with my family on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in Puget Sound watching the ferries pass to and from downtown Seattle. I claim inspiration from combing the beach for sea glass and treasures, running the island’s trails with my yellow lab, tending my perennial garden, skiing in the Cascade Mountains, reading good literature, traveling, biking and hiking, tennis, and writing. Besides exploring the intersection of religion and science, I have begun work on a second story, part memoir and part fiction based on my high school years at a boarding school in Southern California.

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. I let your words sink in, look deeply at your smiling face and felt an irrepressible desire to reach over and hug you! I hear you, I resonate with your message… Great teaching comes from pain and grief, indeed. A real blessing. Thanks very much for sharing. Namaste!!

  2. This article is about so much more than grief. You encapsulated it well in your story. Thank you for sharing your truth and wisdom.

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