One year ago today, my father said goodnight to my mother as she lay dying in her hospice bed here at home.  

She had stopped talking and walking about three weeks earlier, stopped eating a week later, and had taken no water in the last two days.

When I came downstairs to check on her an hour later, she was gone.


I have had nearly nothing to say about it since then, at least not in writing.

I still don’t.

I have depended on my writing to carry me through the most difficult, stressful, emotionally challenging moments of my life.  Nursing school, being a nurse on the Navajo Nation, my marriage, my divorce, trauma nursing, Ebola nursing, SANE nursing, COVID nursing.

And then my mother’s illness.

I was able to write about all of those things.

But her death has silenced me.


In part, it is because I have nothing to say that hasn’t already been said by someone else, far more articulately than I ever could.

Grief takes its own time, its own space.

We each walk that path differently.

It feels like forever, and it feels like yesterday.

It does ease with time.

But it blindsides you when you least expect it.

What else is there to say?


And everything.

I feel like the last year of her life, as she declined so rapidly into her Alzheimer’s, was nothing but a blur.

But if I stop and think about it, I remember tiny, crystallized details of the time we spent together, trying to care for her, trying to ease her anguish and her suffering.

I feel a great obligation to write out all of these details, to sit in a cabin by the ocean, or deep in the woods, with no reception and no wifi, and write and write and write and purge the memories as they come to me.  I was helped so profoundly by the writing of others, by a select few books I encountered about early-onset Alzheimer’s; I am driven to help others who face this particular hell just as I did.

There is no way to ease the pain and torment of watching someone you love so deeply die this way.

But maybe I can help them brace for it as it comes, this tidal wave of life’s unique cruelty, unrelenting, unstoppable.


I miss my mom.

I have thought of my mother every day for the past 365 days.  

I am quite sure I will think of her, every day, for the rest of my life.

I have seen so many of my friends and acquaintances lose a parent in the past year.  I am astonished that we are all still moving forward, that time has not simply stopped for all of us, and held us in abeyance until the universe gets its shit together and starts to make sense again.


One of my closest friends just had a baby.

He is perfect, beautiful.

I put on an N95 and sterilized my hands and arms and held him for a short time, walking softly, rolling from one foot the other, dancing in the way that we somehow all do when holding a tiny new human.

He never fell asleep, but rather murmured, blinked, open and closed his hands, stretched and curled his legs, opened and closed his mouth.

He looked as though he were still swimming, still safe within his mother’s body, the warm muffled rush of those brief months where we are creatures solely of blood and water.

We are born in water, live in the air, and return to the earth when we die.

And maybe tomorrow morning, when I wake up, and know my family is well, and that we have survived this first year of echoes and memories, maybe, finally, I will be able to breathe again.