Places I Remember

Places I Remember

The lyrics to the Beatles’ song “In My Life” paint an accurate picture of so many people and places that I recall; that shaped me; places and people that I loved and still love.

I grew up in Santa Cruz, California, a sleepy/hippy beach town in the 70s and 80s. People will ask, “So, where did you go to high school?”

My answer is often long and involved and begins with, “You know that elementary school behind St. Joseph’s Shrine off of West Cliff Drive? That used to be a high school…” and so the conversation begins.

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That bench

That bench

You know the proverbial saying, “If walls could talk…”

On a breezy spring day last week, I walked along East Cliff Drive, another gorgeous stretch along the Pacific Coast. I marveled at the number of surfers catching wave after wave. The poppies dotting the cliffs burst through the aged wooden fence, their orange blossoms like tiny flames. People waved, smiled, and greeted one another. “What a day!” Indeed, what a day.

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Author Dr. Virginia A. Simpson's memoir The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother Daughter Love At the End of Life

Author Dr. Virginia A. Simpson's memoir The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother Daughter Love At the End of Life

The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother Daughter Love At the End of Life is a touching, honest, raw, and moving memoir by Dr. Virginia A. Simpson. In it she shares not only the time in which she cared for her mother as she passed from life to death, but also how the past was brought to the present during this process. Fellow bereavement colleague and friend, Barbara Rubel, introduced Virginia to me via email. We discovered that we live less than 15 miles away from one another. Since that time, Virginia and I have had an opportunity to visit, share, and support one another’s recent books. The following is a snippet of one of our times together. Virginia, did you always dream of writing?

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December reflections of my father

December reflections of my father

This December, I have done something different. I have said, “No, thank you.” “Sounds lovely, let me see how I feel.” “I think I’ll pass.” I have delighted in solitude, quiet, time alone. Reflection has been my companion. The perfect day involves writing, a walk in the crisp air with the bird’s song replacing my iPhone, a bit of conversation with a family member or friend. My camera has been my sidekick…my memory-keeper to such moments. It has been a delicious December.

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GriefINK: Tattoo as the Language of Grief

GriefINK: Tattoo as the Language of Grief

The life of a writer is often at odds with the amount of self-promotion, marketing, and “look what I wrote!” that accompanies the job. Let’s face it: we writers can write lovely words that are filled with humility, but unless we spread the word, no one will read it, and the sound of crickets in the night will be our feedback. This complicated balance of writing something of weight and meaning, and “getting the word out” haunts me again as my second book, GriefINK, will be published in the next few weeks by RSBooks (Rod Serling Books). Perhaps more now than ever, I am struck with a sense of not wanting to promote myself, the writer, as much as I want to reach the bereaved with comforting words, break the stigma of tattoo, and offer GriefINK as a companioning tool in grief.

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Interview with poet Bri Bruce

Interview with poet Bri Bruce

While writing my second book, GriefINK, Tattoo as the Language of Grief, I searched for a poem about mourning. I stumbled across many that were familiar, but wanted that something special that will speak to the reader’s soul. A friend recommended that I contact a young female poet in Santa Cruz, California by the name Bri Bruce. Her book of poems, The Weight of Snow, riveted me. The depth and cadence of her poetry set against the backdrop of nature solidified my choice of a poem for GriefINK. I wanted to know more about this young woman, and how her writing life has taken shape. Through the following interview, Bri shares not only her writing life, but also how her passions embody her work, creating poetry that whispers into the delicate corners of one’s heart.

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Hope for Hayden: Reflections and a community's reaction

 Hope for Hayden: Reflections and a community's reaction

There are some people who grab our attention; pull us into their presence with their laugh, wit, peace, pain, or circumstance. As I perused through my Facebook timeline—catching up on dog videos, inspirational quotes, and updates from friends—the photo of a boy with striking blue eyes grabbed my attention. His face, his innocence, the softness of expression pulled me into his presence. And then I read the accompanying post: Hayden Jilka, age 7, undergoing cancer treatment. My heart plummeted to my toes, as though I’d nearly collided with another car on the road. It’s been a strange several months for my family and me. We’ve seen a lot of illness, diagnosis, and death. We’ve delivered meals, prayed, grieved, felt a malaise hovering over an all-too-sunny winter. But this face, this boy—Hayden—I can’t explain it…I was so moved.

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