A Wink and A Smile

My midlife crisis arrived like a midnight locomotive a decade later than expected. I gazed at myself in the mirror and realized it was time to face reality. I looked just like the woman who had given me advice all my life. Make room for Mama!

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Everyone’s Neighbor

 A well-worn path leads straight to the back door of my ninty-eight year old neighbor, Rose. When my family and I were planning a move to the area, she was the first person I met. Earlier that day she had returned from her final visit to the doctor who performed her hip replacement surgery.

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My Lifetime Warriors

“I am Woman.  Hear me roar, in numbers to big to ignore...”

How very blessed I was to be eleven years old when Helen Reddy launched her emphasise anthem, to the world.  With her pageboy haircut, knitted vest and high waisted flared jeans, she was everything I aspired to be.  However, it was the lyrics of her (now iconic) song which captured my imagination the most.  Women across the world were uniting, and Helen’s song became their theme song.

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Your Grief Doesn't Matter

My name doesn’t matter. It’s not as if you’ll remember it anyway. My name could be Finn or Lotte. Kate, Marissa, Matthew, TJ, James, Victoria, Adam, Grace, Ashley, Claire. We are not mothers. We are not fathers. All we are are brothers and sisters. Siblings. We are the forgotten mourners and those left behind in the wake of a child dying from cancer. Our grief does not matter.

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Over It

It was a good thing.

No, in fact, it was the best thing that could’ve happened.

I know that. 

I was in an abusive relationship—eighteen years old—and the stick said positive. 

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GriefJulia NusbaumComment
Help Now, Grieve Later

I am cutting potatoes for my visit to Sunnybrook hospital. I’m making potato and leek soup. It is full of minerals and fits the food restriction list for those undergoing chemotherapy. I hope he likes it, I hope it brings nourishment and love. 

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The Wisdom of Grief

My Facebook feed brings me an Orca carrying her dead baby, her tears spouting upwards, salting the already salty ocean. I am like that Orca, carrying my bundled grief, attached to my heaving chest, refusing to let go. The sudden loss of marriage, child, parent, even as I came back from the brink of death, has become my bundled grief. I clutch it, like that bundle of celebratory baby shaped rice that the Japanese mothers handle with so much care, as it is supposed to hold the child’s future.

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Perfect A

Every now and then old memories appear when you least expect them.

Fastidious footsteps on the pavement leading to Painter Hall on the historic campus of Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Mississippi. You’re late. As you take the brick steps and walk towards the door, your mind falls back to a time when Santa Clause was a real man who slid down chimneys with tons of gifts and life was centered around nursery rhymes, coloring sheets and recess. 

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GriefJulia NusbaumComment
Mixed Marriage

There are great concrete buttresses at my back holding up a lantern of light in the church behind me. I’m sitting on concrete steps, staring at one resilient weed working its way through a crack. Little survivor.

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GriefJulia NusbaumComment
Grief and the Absence of Love

Is grief supposed to feel so much like shame? Mine does. Telling my story seems dangerous. It is something I hold close to my chest; I hesitate to reveal even the smallest details unless I have to. To speak of loss and pain out loud makes me vulnerable.

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Julia NusbaumComment
Grief Without Consolation

I’m an editor for a Christian press. I have two degrees in religion, both with a focus in biblical/textual studies. Most of what I edit is Bible based, and I see a lot of my role as helping my theology-focused authors do good biblical interpretation.

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GriefJulia NusbaumComment
After the Fuss

Yesterday I just so happened to share a picture of my dad and me on Instagram. It's one of about six photos I have with him. This particular one was was taken on May 25, 1997 on the day I made my First Communion.

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GriefJulia NusbaumComment
Time Heals

He called me. Me. He picked up the phone and dialled mynumber. Not the favourite daughter who, admittedly, lives farther away, or the ‘son and hair’ as he was known by his flowing locks in the ‘70s, who lives closer. 

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Dear Beth

Dear Past Me,

It’s been what seems like an eternity since I last thought of you.  The memories of you terrify me to the point of disbelief.  Perhaps, it’s because I’ve told myself it’s nonessential as to how our life started out so why dwell on the past?

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Dear Kim

Dear Girl:

I saw a version of you today. She’s about your age and looks a little like you except she’s skinny and you are a miserable pudge. I bet she’s been living the life you live although you have cut out all the drugs by now. That near arrest scared the fuck out of you so now you have winnowed all your bad habits down to getting drunk every day. This girl slammed her car, going 40 per, into another car because she was high. She was unharmed and got out of the car and stumbled around in the crosswalk like you are about to do and like you, she’s horrified. What you are about to do will be inescapably your fault, but it is also true that you have no more control over your behavior than this girl does.


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Dear Holly

Dear Past Me,

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but those aren’t orgasms. You’ll learn this years down the road when you finally get your medication cocktail right, and you discover that you’re deserving of pleasure. You have a lot of learning to do, and you’ll get there eventually. Trust me, things will start to feel a lot better soon, and you won’t have to fake it anymore, even if in your heart of hearts, you feel like it’s sincere. Those moans aren’t real. Soon you’ll learn what it’s like to laugh during sex, for all the right reasons. We won’t get there without some tears, though.

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Dear Rebecca

Dear Past Self,

 I wish I could’ve told you how much it hurts to have your tonsils removed.

Not as much as your cholesteatoma, chicken pox, shingles or having an IUD inserted, but it would’ve been nice to be prepared to throw up blood constantly for two days.

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Dear Lesley

Dear Past Me,

The one sitting by an incubator in the NICU. I see you- I am you. Today was hard. A doctor with a brash attitude blindsided you in a room full of people. She told you to pull the plug- to abandon hope because even if your sick child does manage to pull through- the burden will be too great. Her words- not yours, not mine. 

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Dear Karen

Dear Past Me,

It’s your first day of college sleeping under crisp new sheets in your bed in your dorm room. You’re listening to your roommates breathing softly in the dark, two complete strangers who have been randomly picked to become your best friends, the people whom you are to navigate through this scary change with. You’re questioning the first big decision your mom has not made for you: college. You’re wondering why you ever decided to attend college three thousand miles away from your family and how you’ll survive until winter break.

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