Gifts Given and Received

I’m not sure how I would have responded

or what I would have thought

or felt

had someone suggested

that there were gifts 


and to be received,

following their deaths.

Not at first.

But now

when life has softened

and I have become more comfortable

in this skin

I can say with such certainty

and gratitude



there have been gifts


and received.

When my daughter Erin died

I did not think I’d survive.

There was no light.


At the end of the long, 

dark tunnel

that twisted and turned and seemed to go nowhere.

But I did discovered

that a gift was there

many, in fact.

She made me feel whole.

For the first time.

When I held her in my arms.

When I  stared into her eyes.

She made me feel whole,

finding that piece

of me

I’d been missing

for all of those years.

And I was grateful.

That she had been born.

In the first place.

That she lived.

And that I was her daddy.


And I discovered that gratitude opened the door

to healing

to love

to life.


Trici’s death was such an explosively catastrophic, 

inexplicably paralyzing

out-of-body experience

that even though I knew I would survive

(I had done it before.

I knew I could do it again.

That long, dark, twisting-turning-to-nowhere tunnel,

this time,

had a light at it’s end

calling me/pulling me towards it.)

I wondered, though,

would there be gifts?


Could there be?

Could I find them?

And in time, 

like before,

I discovered there were.


She loved me.




As unconditionally as is humanly possible.

And after 13 years of marriage

I was finally able to grasp



She loved me.




She loved me.

And I loved being a dad.

And in her absence

a mom.

I loved, loved, loved

parenting our two children.

Rory and Sean.

I told them our lives would be different,

following mommy’s death.

But different was not bad,

or less than.

Different was different.

And when Rory died

my fear was not for him.


I knew he would be fine.

As his adventure continued.

My fear was for me.

I knew I would survive.

But was not sure I wanted to.

Not again.  Not again.

And I was surprised to discover


that the tunnel

the long, dark, twisting, turning tunnel

was lit.

From the inside.

This time the tunnel was lit.

So I could observe

and participate.

And that made all the difference.

And the gift,

one of them,

that I discovered

was that I was capable of loving

my most amazing son



and louder

and stronger

with more fierceness

and tenderness

and understanding

and power

and gentleness

and completeness

than I had ever imagined possible.

I was able to love, big time.

And I did it.

And that made me so proud.

And grateful.

I’m not sure how I would have responded

or what I would have thought

or felt

had someone suggested

that there were gifts given,

and to be received

following their deaths.

But now

from the chair I sit in today

Oh, have their been gifts.

And I am so very, very grateful.

Leave a comment

Name .
Message .

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published