Monday, July 21, 2008

Gratuitous Child Photos

...Because, damn, I'm a sucker for the hat. And when he asks in years to come why no one clued his parents in to the socially backward nerdiness of aforementioned blue hat, please remind him that his father picked it out. But it was his mother who grabbed it from the lake after Grayson threw it overboard.

The hat, the nerdy hat, was a joint parental effort in eternal geekiness.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


In your leaving
we say peace.
With the last light of you dying
we say peace.
And where there is no peace
we say peace
in the hope it will rest in our bones.

In your going
we say joy.
With the last breath of you leaving
we say joy.
And where there is no joy
we say joy
in the hope it will dwell in our flesh.

In your departing
we say love.
With the earth taking you in
we say love.
And where there is no love
we say love
in the hope it will come to our souls.

--Jan Richardson, In Wisdom's Path


One of the hardest things about grief has to be the monumental leap you make from the bosom of your family as you return to the "real world" of work, daily routine, stopped up drains, and unweeded gardens. As our family moved through the rituals of grief, the memorial service for the family at my uncle's home, the public visitation at the funeral home, the family dinner afterward, there was a sense that we were all moving together, on some sort of boat asea in our emotions. Wholly apart from the shoreline of the real world. Our tribe was questing on their own adventure, a journey very different from the civilized world.

And so, returning home after this sort of mountain-top experience (damn if I'm not just mixing metaphors all over the place), was a bit lonely. Where were the other two babies crawling or toddling around on the floor with Grayson for the past few days? Where did I see blue eyes similar to my own sparkling at me without looking in a mirror? Who else understood the gentleness and simplicity of my grandfather? Who else could understand his prejudices and faults as products of his upbringing, and recognize the man who he became in spite of, or even because of them? Who else laughed at memories of cherry-pit spitting contests and believed in a family which was taught to be "poor but respectable?" Who else learned that "pulling Grandpa's finger" was a recipe for disaster of the most odiferous kind?

There are things I do not share with this tribe. There are ways in which they do not know me. I would imagine that my political beliefs might be deemed suspect, and that my ideas about religion might be deemed heresy by some of my Miller kin. My cousins could probably not tell you my favorite books, nor could they know exactly how to comfort me in the midst of chaos, but somehow the fierce ties of family offer sacred haven to me which continue to undergird my fragile sense of reality as I grieve.

And I know, I know in my bones, that this sense of family will take root in Grayson and his sisters and will, as trite as it sounds, nurture the soil of their being. And this is the legacy which my grandparents offer, far greater than mutual funds or property. An inheritance of shelter, and safety and home.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Goodnight, Sweet Prince

May flights of angels serenade you with an off-key rendering of "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" as they sing you right smack dab into the arms of the woman whose been waiting to welcome you for over two years now.

Herman Anthony Miller
February 8, 1920-July 12, 2008

Sunday, July 06, 2008


As I type this my grandfather lies in a hospital bed in Northern Indiana holding on to life by only the most thin thread. His heart keeps beating, his blood keeps flowing, his eyes shift and seem to rest on something beyond us.

I am a hospice chaplain. But I am a granddaughter first. And while death is no longer unfamiliar, I am still startled by its piercing impartiality when it comes to those we love.

The solace I find today is that if there is another world, if our souls do carry on, then his weary spirit is preparing for one phenomenal reunion with my Grandmother, whose death he never got over. I hope she's hovering in the other side of this thin thread, beckoning him with those blue eyes. And I hope the bluegill are plentiful there, 'cause undoubtedly Herman will be carrying a rod and reel as he crosses over to meet another fisherman.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

I Mean, Really, Can There Ever Be Too Many Mothers in Your Life?!?

...Or "Sharks Ready to Gobble Up the Cuteness of the Boy Gray and his Floppy Tie-Dyed Beach Hat." Or "Fashion Mavens Searching out the Newest Look in Straw Hats as Modeled by Jim the Father."

You choose.

Or, let's play a game, shall we?

Pick what YOU think this caption should be.

Go on, internet. It'll be fun. Maybe I'll even give door prizes...