Life is Terminal

Racing into the train terminal, I know time is of the essence, I see them clear as day, they’re holding hands, but appear lost?

After running the space of a tennis court, I greet my very deceased, but surprisingly present Mom and Dad.

The next thing I know I’m standing next to Dad, he’s older than I remember, but just as robust.

I realize I only have a few minutes, he’s holding a long narrow ticket, but I can’t identify the destination.

Where he’s going doesn’t matter because he’s come to give me a message.

I sense it’s important.

He leans in, whispers into my ear, I strain to catch every word.

He has always had this ability to change my narrative, the one I carry around with me, the one I hold up to everything else. This is his talent. As a kid he could turn me in a new direction faster than you can whip cream into butter.

One minute I’m harping about being victimized by the neighborhood bully, when he reminds me of my genius in the kitchen, he might only be hankering for chocolate cookies, but just like that I’m the new celebrity chef.

Swedish fathers are also exceptionally protective, he carried our burdens on his broad shoulders, and nary did I hear a complaint.

I’m beginning to realize this truth does not change because he’s resting in an urn up at the lake house.

It’s time, a gigantic locomotive pulls up to the platform, I reach for him, desperate for a hug before he returns from whence he came.

As I wake, the dream quickly fades, replaced by the stark reality – life is terminal.

This is the reality under which we all live.

I glance at the clock on the nightstand.

It’s 6:05 am.

December 16, 2019.

Nine years to the minute since my Dad passed away.

I lay there trying to remember what he said but deep down I know.

He’s worried.

And he wants me to remember who I am.

I lean back in bed, across the room my ghostly reflection wavers on the french doors that frame the courtyard, the light is shifting from inky darkness to a muted gray.

With the dawning of day comes the realization that my Dad has indeed shifted my narrative from the grave.

I remember that flight to Washington (almost a decade ago) as if it were yesterday, it was early morning on the 16th of December, when Nancy called to alert me of Dad’s death.

He died hours before I was to arrive in the Northwest.

With tears streaming down my face the entire flight, I think everyone around me was relieved when the plane landed, and they no longer had to endure the howling woman in seat 22b.

I grab my bag and race to the arrival gate OJ Simpson style.

Frantically searching the cars lining the street for her familiar face.

I finally see her rounding the bend, weaving through the traffic, as if Moses parting the Red Sea.

She pulls up to the curb and jumps out of the car with the engine still running.

I’m in her arms, hysterical, holding tight, and for a moment my world stops spinning.

My sister has always been my anchor especially in times of need.

She’s my rock.

Our hearts are not functioning properly but together breathing seems plausible.

She finally steps away, hands me a tissue, and the keys.

“You’re driving.”

That’s sort of our modus operandi.

She navigates, I drive, and this is how we’ve managed life thus far.

We gathered up our Mama that very same day and brought her home.

It was the trail of tears as we drove 753 miles down Interstate 5 from Chehalis to Campbell.

We stopped for coffee and tissues speaking almost no words.

Mom was shattered, empty, the word bereft is not adequate to describe her state of being.

This is how death scars ones soul because how is it possible to restore a vessel once it is so completely broken?

Bandaids hold it together but as if a stigmata it continues to bleed.

It felt much the same, early morning the 25th of January 2019, racing to Nancy’s house, devastated by the news my beloved brother-in-law had passed away.

It was still dark outside, we sat huddled around the fire, tears flowing, sipping stale coffee, watching the sunrise.

Surreal is one word that comes to mind.

What alarmed me most was the vacantness in her eyes as if being present was too much to bear.

I thought I knew grief but this was different.

This is why he came.

He doesn’t want her navigating this barren space alone, and in his absence, would I be so kind as to provide transport.

I’m here sweet sister, I’m right here.

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn’t speak
You were my eyes when I couldn’t see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach
You gave me faith ’cause you believed
I’m everything I am
Because you loved me
Diane Warren



I’m Living in the Gap, drop by anytime, if necessary I’ll drive.

By means of all created things

without exception,

the deceased assails us,

penetrates us,

and molds us. 

We imagined it as distant and inaccessible,

when in fact we live steeped in its 

burning layers. 

Pierre Teilhard De Chardin



Dedicated to: Mom, Nancy, Susan, Ana Maria, Elaine, Maryanne, Ervie, and Claire.

*Photo credit Gail Severance (thank you)


Leave a Comment

  1. I do wish I had been able to meet your mother and father in person, and I’m grateful that they brought us together. I hope your parents continue to visit your dreams, and that we can keep getting together in person!
    Love the blog, (and the sweet sister photos😊)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Gail! I had the best parents and they would have loved you! I feel the laughter and joy in heaven overflowing for our friendship, when we get together, they celebrate! Thanks for capturing my sister and I with such a loving eye! Love you Gail 💞

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You are a gift, dear friend. Not only to your sister but to all of us who call you a friend.
    Thank you for sharing your father’s message – which perhaps is meant for all of us.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Awe, thank you Sue! You are so sweet but as you and I know Nancy is the worlds undeserved blessing! And yes, I was unsure about sharing, I discussed it with Nancy, and we both thought it might resonate with others who are grieving loved ones especially during the holidays! I’ve come to believe the veil between this world and heaven is really quite thin! Thank you for the wonderful comment! 💞


    1. Thank you Nilakshi for your kind words, thoughtful comment, and most importantly your love! I just read your amazing post on eagles and how applicable their stages of life are to our own! Any of my readers who want a real treat just pop over to! Fantastic blog.


  3. Thank you for sharing your heart. We often have no idea of the pain others are bearing. You reminded me of the importance of just being there for someone. Even when words fail, someone’s presence can make all the difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lisa, it was my hope that this would bring a little light to not only those who are grieving, but those who accompany them with presence and love. This life we live is so mysterious and finite, living each day to the fullest is all we can do, and loving each other along the way. Thanks so much for your comment! Happy New Year.


    1. Hi Elaine! So good to see your name appear in the comments! I love your words, “we’re living on a thin thread and the ego forgets over and over.” This rings true. I am blessed with an extraordinary sister but I also have many sisters of choice who help stabilize my unpredictable life as I’m sure you do too! Happy New Year Elaine!


    1. So true Kez, “live life to the fullest while we have it.” I suppose that is one of the many lessons we learn along the way. Thank you so much for the comment – Happy New Year to you and yours!


  4. This was heartwarmingly beautiful! You brought tears to my eyes! People wonder why I don’t have children out of wedlock…I never want to choose potential fatherlessness for my children! I love reading/hearing about the father/daughter love. I yearned for it and you’re so blessed to have those memories. I’m thankful that I eventually formed a relationship with my dad, but it’s very superficial. And I love “Because You Loved Me”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sandra, this one seems to be resonating with many, and I’m not sure why except we all seem to be grieving something in this life. I’m so glad you were able to form a relationship with your Dad and it is my hope it becomes more authentic and significant with time. I’ve been lucky to have a supportive family of origin but I’ve also encountered many difficult people during this long journey and sometimes I’ve had to let go of toxic people who offer nothing but division, judgement, and remorse. I say surround yourself with people who celebrate the real you…including all the good, bad, and inconvenient parts! You are amazing Sandra, you deserve the best, blessings on your New Year!


  5. Love the “Life is Terminal” entry. So many bits from it grabbed me while I was reading it.
    I was initially confronted with the title, and had to smile. I have a friend who likes to point out that “Life is a universally fatal sexually transmitted disease.”
    Then I looked at the photos. I saw the big grins, noticed that the pics looked very familiar, and I was magically transplanted back to a happy time and place.
    After I started reading, I began to get a very subtle “The Sixth Sense” vibe. Sort of an “I see dead people” sense. Reading further I was intrigued and drawn into exploring the pull your parents had on you and still do. The pain in your heart (along with gratitude) shines through in your writing. When I read it carefully, trying to connect with your thoughts (especially the part where you dad is trying to guide you in your support for Nancy,) I am moved to tears (sappy I know.)
    I initially could not find words or a song that would adequately convey the depth of feeling expressed by your words. However, it came to me while watching the end of one of my favorite movies. So, I leave you with the words in this song, which I will very loosely interpret to be the equivalent of your dad reaching out to you and Nancy, and accomplishing the goals expressed in this song.

    Wishing you and yours all the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my goodness, I responded to your post last week? I’m not sure what happened but clearly it didn’t post? Thank you Mike for sharing your thoughts on this potent reflection. The dream was one of those really clear and explicit ones, I woke up and had to remind myself that they were both actually gone, and I was still an orphan. I totally understand this parental visit as Nancy has had an extremely difficult time maneuvering during this holiday season. Christmas was David’s favorite time of year. It was such an emotional reflection that I did what I normally never do, I checked in with Nancy before posting, as I didn’t want to create more pain. She is always so supportive, she said, “I trust you.” Only my sister!

      Sorry to have inspired tears Mike but I think you understand the importance of reminding ourselves to be more present for those who are grieving or find the holidays a despairing time of year. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts, your real response, and your lovely song. Warmly, Cheryl

      Liked by 1 person

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