Thursday, April 17, 2014


Today we went to the beach. The morning was slightly blue, slightly overcast. The surf was relentless. Dylan and I bounded into the waves, getting pushed and pulled and generally thrown about. Those waves were boss today.

If ever in life you think you are really in charge of anything, just head to the beach. Those waves will teach you otherwise.

I was thinking about this, and how relaxing it really was to be knocked about out there once I actually surrendered control. It is funny how much we exhaust ourselves in life trying to set the pace, control our schedules, relationships, outcomes, feelings. Once in a while it is quite a relief to just let go, to let life take you where it does.

And so it is that this week I’m missing my mom. I’m not sure what it is that has got my heart stuck in this place. Maybe it is the time of year when everything is blooming, or that I’m coming up on the anniversary of her death. Maybe it’s that Hope is beginning to really change from a newborn to this enchanting baby that I just desperately want to share with her. Either way, that missing ache is upon me.

It’s funny, all that missing. It’s really such a double edged sword. On the one hand, it just hurts, like hole in your heart carved by a butter knife kind of hurt. On the other hand, it’s kind of great which sounds weird, but it’s pretty awesome to know that you loved and were loved enough to leave such a gaping butter knife type wound in your heart.

So I’m deciding to be like that girl in the waves and just give in to the missing, and let myself get all knocked about by those feelings rather than dismiss it, cover it.  It’s oddly quite a relief. This week we’re in Florida, one of the last places where she was truly happy. When I am here, I feel closer to her and that happiness. I picture her laughing with my father and the friends she loved, golfing, smiling, filling her house with carefully chosen knickknacks and fun toys for the grandchildren she hoped would one day fill it. It makes me feel calm.

At night, I sit out on the back porch. It is my favorite spot in the house. It is quiet and screened so you can smell and feel fresh air without being devoured by Florida’s evening bugs. I sit there after another long chaotic day with the kids and carefully sip my coffee, staring at the water and listening to the relaxing whir of the dishwasher as it cleans the baby’s bottles. My gaze shifts to the empty seat next to me. I know what comes next.

Not so secretly and every once in a while when there is an empty seat next to me, I let my mind play a little trick on me. I let my mother fill that seat. And I let myself imagine just for a short moment what it would be like to have her there, quietly rehashing the day with me, reassuring me in a way no one else really can that I’m doing a good job as their mother, or at least doing her best to make me believe that whatever I’m doing is enough. I picture her smiling at me. I know if I blink, she’ll be gone. I do, and she is.

That missing ache starts to well up in my chest again. I feel hot tears behind my eyes and try to picture something absurd or mundane to shift my attention. But then I remember this morning and my pledge to give in. Suddenly, I’m back on the beach. And the missing crashes over me, loud, crashing missing waves.

A few determined tears make their way down my cheek. I feel completely relaxed, the way you often do at the end of a long day well spent being pounded by sun and surf.


  1. Great article Jenn. As is always the case, you have a way to bring memories and feelings to the surface.

  2. Such a honest, straight-forward portrayal of loss and how it never really leaves us. You have such a good insight on the double-edged sword in this case and other cases like it. Beautiful piece.

  3. Thanks so much Nina. So appreciate your kind words.

  4. This was so beautiful. The way that you are able to see the missing as a symbol of having been loved. I'm humbled.

    1. Thank you Amanda. Grateful for your kind words.