Dear Dad,

I wish I had thanked you for the butterscotch candies on the desk;

the dance parties (the ones where my feet on top of yours made indentations in the living room carpet);

the long car rides ending with ice cream in a baseball cap;

for the nights spent in the garage checking tire pressure and oil levels;

for conversations over cups of coffee and

for that time when we fought and you apologized by returning home from Kmart with a pair of black boots that made me feel like Debbie Gibson.

I wish I had thanked you for your belief in the beauty of that permed and pimpley faced eleven year old.

I know there were hard years.

Times in the blue chair when you wondered why your opinion once important now meant so little. Days when you wished a few laps around the high school track, your girl keeping pace, could bridge the divide.

Thank you for never waivering.

Your confidence would bring you through the dry spell until once again your words held weight.

I found you in the birth of my daughters.

Your smile in Audrey. Your hard-headedness in Sid.

I wish I could thank you for helping me to navigate those first sleepless night,

for the phone calls,

the long runs,

the days at the beach while I rested tired eyes and you wrangled little girls.

If you were here now I’d thank you for Ellery Jane. Her tough exterior, booming voice and tender heart is the physical reminder of your presence.

The places I found solace after you left us; your library and it’s books with your handwritten notations in the margins, they provided great comfort. I wish I could thank you for guiding me back to God.

Recovering from your loss is what brought me here.

Your death informed.

I want to thank you for Matt and Sydney and Molly and Zoey, for this life that longs to live in service to others.

Thank you for those thirty years of loving me on earth and the twelve spent guiding from above.

I hope I make you proud.

Forever your girl,

Heather Ann
























3,285 sun rises ago on a rainy, October morning he soared.

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The rest of us left with lingering memories of the booming voice, bear hugs and weekend runs.

I love to dream of him. When I wake up, for a brief second, I am granted a reprieve from my grief, as I forget he has died.

Most days though, while his passing is a part of my life, the scar is covered by the realities of this world. We all just move forward, nine years into our journey.

What do I want to leave you with?

I want you to know, in ways I cannot articulate, how wonderful my daddy was.

And, I want you to understand that others walk this path and feel the loss too, year after year, day after day.

Our fast paced world seeks to rush past it. We speak less and less of those whose passing was momentous to our lives.

How about instead we recognize that we are all always recovering?

That loss does not occur in a moment.

There is no time limit on grief.

Let’s give each other the grace to dance with the pain in public long after its perceived expiration date.








70 and 8

Today she is 70.

We celebrate the beautiful soul that is my mother.


As a young girl I remember her dancing with me while the Mandrel sisters sang on TV.

She taught me how to make chocolate chip cookies and let me eat the raw dough.

She edited my stories and woke up in the middle of the night to listen to my latest musings.

And now she parents another generation.



My girls have dance parties in her living room and bake cakes in her kitchen.

She teaches them about Jesus and loves them like only a grandmother can.

And while I always knew she was strong, it was on this day 8 years ago that her strength became our foundation.

Her birthday marks the anniversary of my father’s passing.

Their love story spanned 37 of the 70.

She still wears his wedding ring, keeping his memory alive for the grandchildren (three of whom were born after his death).

She loves him, breathes him, carries him; long after the world around her has let his image fade.

But, she is not stuck in the past. These 8 years have taught us that past and present can coexist.

She will not let his death be the end and speaks of a day when they will be reunited.

Her life is the greatest teacher.

Happy Birthday Mom.

Dad is proud.








Grief and Joy

My father passed away 7 years ago today.

He was powerful, confident, loving and complicated.

For 30 years he filled up my world.

For the last 2,555 days I have walked this road without him physically present.

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Grief is a strange thing.

I liken it to a wound that scabs over but never completely heals.

You never know when the scab will break open and the contents its covering well to the surface.

Experience has taught me that the marking of the days and years since his passing does not lessen the grief  but rather shifted how close it sits to the surface.

I know this day is coming so I can center my focus- away from the pain and towards the joy.

I will attend a work event tonight and channel him. The man who loved the art of connecting with people.

Reaching out a hand for the greeting, I will think of  the feel of his well-worn hands.

His eyes will glimmer in mine this evening as conversations are unfolded. The dance of one topic to the next and I will be reminded of his boundless energy for words.

And his smile;

I will think of it a million different times tonight. I will remember how it would take over his face. How you couldn’t help but feel accepted when he turned your way. I will pray my smile reflects the same openness.

I know there will be days ahead that take me by surprise.

Days where I unexpectedly ache from his absence.

But today

because of how he taught me,

because of the way he lived his life,

I can find the joy.