Love All Around

This weekend we traveled to Connecticut for a book signing event in Mystic (thanks to Bank Square Books and Sift Bake Shop). It also was a time to reconnect with family, see someone who grew up with our oldest son and to visit beloved landmarks.

In May of 1992, we honeymooned in Mystic. Several years ago, we returned to Mystic to stay while our youngest participated in the New England Drama Festival. Both of those times, we wandered through Mystic Seaport, loving the old buildings and ships.

This year we returned for the book event, knowing we also wanted to visit the Seaport again but also hoped that we could get together with family, and see the owner of Sift, who grew up just down the road from us. By the end of the day today, we had seen family (one cousin who Paul hasn’t seen since 1991!), shared hugs, laughs and tears, great meals, hung out at Sift and visited with Adam, and just felt the love all around us. I met new readers and made some new friends. Sitting at the Seaport, we met someone who is related to one of my favorite teachers from high school. What a small world!

A little sunburned, a little tired, a little over-emotional, it has been a wonderful trip full of love, love, love.


Gratitude? Yes, gratitude.

Today I was struck again by the amazing people in our lives, who bring us love and support every single day. It made me reflect on how fortunate we are.

I am thankful for the gorgeous sunshine. For grown (young) men who still give hugs. For sheep who love to cuddle. For glasses/contacts that allow me to see. For the garden growing. For friends who send text messages to check on us. For friends who ask the hard questions. For friends who come bearing french fries. For people who openly say, “I love you.” For friends who will simultaneously laugh and cry with us. For the smell of the freshly cut hay. For my husband who protects me and comforts me. For our grandchildren thinking we are funny. For love. I am thankful for love.

5 Weeks

It has been just over 5 weeks since we got the ALS diagnosis, and I have to admit, other than Sam’s death, this has been the hardest 5 weeks of my life. We still are exhausted, scared and frustrated. We also are completely and totally surrounded by love and support, which we so appreciate.

We have made a point to “stop and smell the flowers” as much as we can during this time, trying to focus on the positives, the love, the time together, the laughter. We’ve taken more walks, spent time with people we love, and pushed ourselves out of comfort zones.

What have we learned? We have learned to advocate for ourselves when systems don’t work for us. We have learned it is okay to say when we are not okay. We have learned how to admit that some topics are terrifying to broach. We have learned anew that love is all that matters.


Ellsy has a purpose (again)

Many of you know that we lost one of our alpacas during the winter. After his death, Ellsy (our remaining alpaca) went into a deep sadness. Clearly he was missing his friend, but also just was lonely and didn’t really have a reason to get up each morning.

Then Lana and Hila came to live with us, and when they got big enough, they moved in with him. Within a day, Ellsy had his purpose again — to protect his little buddies. They go in the pasture? He goes. They go into the barn to sleep? He will stand watch in the barn door, keeping them safe. New people come by the house and want to see the lambs? They better not get too close to his buddies! This sweet, docile, timid alpaca has turned into a fiercely protective guardian of our two sheep.

Last week, we had a friend come take some pictures for us, and some were taken with the sheep, or in the barn area. Every moment, Ellsy watched her, making sure she wasn’t going to bother his lambs.


All of us need a purpose in life! In protecting those lambs, Ellsy has found his purpose again.

The Envelope

This morning, I received an envelope in my work mailbox. That’s nothing new, I always have mail in that box. The envelope was addressed to me, handwritten, and I didn’t really think about the sender’s name. It was vaguely familiar, but I was in full work mode, and it didn’t fully click.

Ten minutes later, in my office, I opened that manila envelope and pulled the pages from inside, and felt like someone had reached into my rib cage and ripped my heart right out of my chest… And I started to cry.

The pages had picture after picture of Sam, in first grade, taken by the sender who was student teaching then. The pictures are beautiful, full of life, laughter, curiosity. They show Sam measuring, poking, talking and thinking. They are spectacular. And they broke my heart anew. To be clear, it was an incredibly sweet and kind thing the person did in sending them to me, it was a gesture of love, but it still kicked me really hard.

I love pictures of Sam, you all know that. But, I think it was that I was so unprepared for them — at home, in my safe zone, maybe they wouldn’t have hurt so much. In my work zone, it was like being skinned alive. There he was, so beautiful, so full of life — and so not here in person any more.

After getting myself back together the best I could, I thought a lot about the envelope. Was it because it was at work that it hit me so hard? Because I am so raw emotionally right now anyway? Because they were so unexpected? Because I miss him so much? Why did it hit so hard?

The simple answer is love. Grief is love that can’t be shared with the recipient in person any more. I saw those pictures, and the rush of love was so strong, it almost broke me. Now, hours and hours later, I am so thankful for those pictures, and someday, I will be ready to open that envelope again.