Coffee and Conversation: The Gift of Grief


Grab a cuppa and a comfy seat, and let’s chat a while.

It’s Monday again – time for Coffee and Conversation.

When I was six, my family was driving on a highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living lives as important to them as mine was to me.

I wanted to know what those lives were, and to share my own..

Are there times of year that you find emotionally charged? Where your feelings are tumultuous and close to the surface? Where small things can lead to huge inner shifts?

As I mentioned in my posts throughout this past week, July is an emotionally complicated month for me – turbulent, surging up in joy, plunging into sorrow, lifting again…

Alive and silly, ten years after birth!


Earlier in the month, my daughter celebrated her birthday. She was born in July of 2004.

July of 2003 was a very different matter.

After a textbook pregnancy, our secondborn, Elijah James, decided it was time to be born, four days before his due date. Things didn’t go as expected. Eventually, forceps were used – and our baby boy, healthy only a few minutes before, was born not breathing.

Things got a little blurry for me, after that. My blood pressure tends to be low; it dropped precipitously. I remember asking the nurses what was wrong with my baby, and the nurse answering, “He’s fine, he’s fine,” as I watched them attempting to resuscitate him.

After what seemed an eternity, they got enough response to whisk him away and intubate him – I’m not sure about the order of those events, only that both happened in the four hours I spent recovering before the maternity staff allowed me to use a wheelchair to go to the NICU.

My husband went to be with the baby, and my emotionally volatile mother stayed with me. She had been with us through Elijah’s birth, and I know she was feeling protective and helpless – but she became embroiled in a power struggle with my nurse, and the conflict had me trying to play diplomat, and feeling not only raw and terrified, but also like I was the non-sentient tug of war rope in their battle of wills. All I wanted was to see my baby, and for him to be okay.

I am lucky. Elijah was awake when I met him; we regarded each other. I wrote about that meeting in my poem, “Soul to Soul”. Here’s an excerpt…

Elijah lived twelve days, and died on Friday, July 25, 2003.

I turned thirty-four 4 days later.

I’ve learned not to try to hold a balance during this month. I live a life that is peaceful, chaotic, often laughter-filled, inspiring, sometimes frustrating. I have a tremendous deal to be thankful for. I have a marriage that survived a loss that 85% of marriages don’t, and that has grown stronger, deeper, and richer. I have two living children, and they are happy, strong, curious, kind, affectionate, bright, funny, confident, independent, and many other wonderful things – the chiefest among them being that magical word – LIVING!

I have a child who lived and died in less than two weeks. He never cried, never nursed. I never held him without tubes and sensors attached to him.

His death is the most shattering thing I have ever known. And it was the catalyst for deep healing. His donated heart valves made a little girl’s life easier. His brief life made me take a long hard look at the way I was raised, and what I wanted for my own children, my marriage, and, maybe most importantly, for myself. It led me to make massive changes, as a mother, and as a human being. He is my most precious and painful gift.

I don’t know how to balance between the extremes of this month. Instead, I go for blendings- allowing the emotions and memories to weave in and around and through the life I live now, the love I share, not only with those who are here, but also for the small life so quickly ended, and whose presence has been a part of me, ever since…

It’s July 14, 2014. I’m home alone, remembering, writing, hometending, and planning a weekend camping trip. Life goes on, and I remember, and make memories, all at once…

I ask you to take a few moments, today, to look at your life, at your loves. What would life be like without them? How can you show them how very cherished they are? How can you do that for yourself? Most importantly, what are you waiting for? I’ve got a fresh cuppa something hot and sweet. Won’t you drop by and chat a bit?

Sitting up front and looking mighty grown at twelve.




The Huntress Stretches….INDIE-kissing Blogfest, Feb. 14

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The Huntress Stretches


Rose – tinted clouds

Two silhouettes ripple

Long, slow grapple of

A kiss

Tasting, testing

Predator and prey

In the same instant.

The Huntress stretches

New light caresses

Sinew and soul

Leaving her mate

Asleep in her furs

Slips into forest

Death stalks on



Second Anniversary smooch, 1999….still kissin’ and still lovin’ it! ;D

 This is a BLOGFEST!

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Laughter – Thankvember Twenty-Fifth

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Laughter – Thankvember Twenty-Fifth

Today, I am paying tribute to our family’s secret superpower – laughter!

Laughter has been much on my mind, these last weeks, and, since I’ve written two pretty nifty poems about it recently, I am going to repost them as today’s gratitude.

May you enjoy, chortle, chuckle, giggle, titter….

Last Night, We Laughed

Last night, we laughed,

Annalise and I, together.

She is 8, and I am 43

And yet we were bound

In that just-right moment

By the sheer hilarity

Of the mental image

Of unicorns…






Annalise as a pink unicorn rider!

And, on a slightly more serious note….



Tonight, I am home alone.

With the television – music and inane advertising,

The pleasant and the irksome, in turns.

The rattlehum of the heater bouncing gently

Up and down the hall.

Predictably warm, and comforting on a chill night.

The rattling ting of the dog’s tags as he moves

The guinea pigs’ deep purrs and high squeaks.

Remind me that this solitude includes them.

The slliiissshhhthump of hot water

hitting a plastic milk jug, and the

so-soft pip-pop of newly born bubbles.

The slightly discordant symphony of

Our motley collection of dishes

clank tinkle sliding into order again.

And, woven through and all around,

The memory echoes of the music

That most defines my life.

It is the music of laughter,

Of giggles, and squeals, and sometimes snorts

Bubbling, exploding, surprising.

It runs through our lives and our souls

Like a flowing river, alive, mutable

Its song burbling mirth.

It is our nourishment and sustenance

The force that connects us one to the rest.

Our not-so-secret superpower.

Jeremiah and I share a laugh after a swim in the lake.

I hope I gave you a chuckle, a guffaw, a snort, or a snicker –


Or maybe all of them, and more!

Laughter, I love you! Thanks for the laughs!

It’s a Blog Hop!

Balance – Thankvember Seventeen

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Balance – Thankvember Seventeen


seek it


Life in balance

is a shifting thing.

Blending energies

focused within

I find my



Public domain image. Click for source.


It’s a BLOG HOP!


Taste – Thankvember Tenth

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Taste – Thankvember Tenth


fills me

with pleasure

or revulsion.

Frozen grapes so sweet

crunching melt on my tongue

more delicious than candy.

That first sip of morning coffee

sweet warm elixir of wakefulness

herald of connecting conversation

before we move on to our own projects.

The savory onion lentil soup

created by my imagination

blending spices, herbs, sauces stirred in

to the onion stock learned from a friend.

I made it so I could play

with taste texture scent food

making something new

something my own

blended from



Annalise at 6, tasting a just-picked strawberry.

Touch – Thankvember Seventh

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Touch – Thankvember Seventh

 What does it mean, to touch or be touched?

Is it a surface thing, skin touching skin,

the soft caress of an edge of lace,

a cat’s fur warmed by the sun,

the perfection of a newborn’s cheek?

Is it the aversions?

For me styrofoam, velvet,

or the feel of socks on a rug

make me cringe.

Is it those moments of intimate connection

between partners of long standing, or new lovers?

Or is it something more…?

Does touch have depth?

Hidden meaning in

The stoking of fingers along skin

Gliding or gripping, embracing or clutching…

Is there a deeper place to know

A touch so deep that there is no need

For any physical touch?

My soul to yours

Your heart to mine

Ideas and emotions carried

In letters you read on the screen

Or the page.

I am touching you

Yes, you

Just now

In this instant

Of reading.

The Infinite Now – OctPoWriMo, Oct. 31

The Infinite Now



This moment.

This single Now

Becomes infinite.

All possibilities

Exist first and only here.

There is no other time for me

No other instant I can act in –

This heartbeat, this breath, and only this one

Holds the magic of thought, impulse, movement.

Waiting as open as the vastness

Of the Grand Canyon in the star-

Pierced near utter dark, open.

Unseen unknown landscapes

Their power soul -sensed

Wide deep fierce true

Only bound by

What I


Grand Canyon 1


Two Lives, Two Rings – OctPoWriMo, Oct. 30



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Two Lives, Two Rings



I lost my ruby ring on my wedding day


For years, I wore it on chain


Where it rested just above my breasts


Warmed y my skin, and warming my soul.






It was my grandmother’s ring, a treasure


From the days before rubies were grown


The deep wine red with tones of pink


That I had worn on my small finger


When I was nine


And attended her funeral.






The day I was married, I wanted to


Wear a necklace that matched my dress


And so removed my grandma’s ring, and


I never saw it again.




The stone was set in a delicate filigree of gold,


A intriguing braiding of supple metal


That reminds me of the nurse


Who stood behind me as I cried on the bed


And whisperingly braided my hair


As I held my dying fiance in my arms.






I was twenty-five then, and the thought


Of my life without him was a jagged precipice


Like the fifth floor window I had so briefly


Considered trying to leap out of


Before the death-message doctor could stop me.






And then, when I ran out of things to say in


Tear drowned and crumbling words


And you simply relaxed soundlessly into


The undiscovered country where I


Could not follow you.






Because I had promised him that I would live


And accept love if it were offered freely


I went on and accepted the love of


A dear friend, and the gift of our








One little boy, and then a second-


Born not breathing, terror replacing joy


Twelve days of unreal, breathhold living


Traveling the long road to the hospital NICU


Each and every day –


Until he died.






A year later, less five days


Our daughter’s cries wrung out


My tears of relief and joy


Although I would not trust that


She was here to stay


Until after she turned one.






Another ring lost, some years back


A simple sterling claddagh


with a purple glass gem


Meant, perhaps to be amethyst.


It was bought for pocket cash


At a farmer’s market on


The Erie Canal, on a whim.





It slipped off my finger while


I was tending our home, and,


Although I looked and looked


everywhere I thought it might be


It was simply gone, and I


Eventually accepted the fact.






The, two weeks ago,


My daughter came to me


In her sparkling, laughing way.
“Guess which hand, Mommy?”


And she knew I would guess left


Because I always do.






There on her palm, as though conjured


Lay the simple claddagh ring


Symbol of love, loyalty, and friendship


A gift now from my daughter to me


Just as she is a gift given from sorrow.






The ring had fallen into a corner


Back in her closet, and lay


A hidden treasure, unnoticed


For the years until she chose


To make a sleeping nest in there.



Life is the story of loves and losses


Some enormous, some trivial


All bringing feelings and memory


Touchstones for our humanity.






Some loves are seemingly


Torn from our lives without reason


Or regard for our grief and the raggedly


Ripped wound left behind.




And sometimes, another life and love


Our another symbol to cherish and cleave to


Are given to us, if we will be open


And not insist on seeing only


What we think ought to be.



Claddagh ring

Claddagh ring (Photo credit: Eddo Kloosterman)


 It’s a BLOG HOP!







Outside In; Inside Out – OctPoWriMo, Oct. 29, 2012

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Outside In; Inside Out

What do you see when you look at me?

Or is it presumptuous of me to think

That you notice me at all?

I am, after all, what might be called

Past My Prime”

If you are the type to judge others

On such a trivial matter as appearance.

My voluptuous youth has settled,

Fatigued from long years of fighting gravity

Gravity, eventually, will win.

I am becoming what is sometimes called

With polite dismissal,


You might notice that my untamed hair

Tousled and twisting into rampant curls

Is woven and shot through, now

With coarser silver, honestly earned.

I do not wear makeup

And so do nothing to disguise the

age spot lakes and deepening creeks

formed of laugh lines and crow’s feet

Changing the geography of my face

Making it perhaps more interesting

But no longer my culture’s

Perception of beauty.

Ahhh, but,

If you should follow the map of my face

Up to the twin geyser pools of my eyes

Sparkling with light, life and fire

You might get a peek into my soul

And who I am within, in my hidden depths.

Those lines and crow’s feet

Which do not know wrinkle cream

Are the outward sign of a life

Spent more in laughter than in scowls.

This wild hair is a perfect fit

For an untamed, unbound spirit

Symbiotically part of the golden fall grass

The thickening curves and settling plains

Echoing the shape of the rolling hills

I am a being more attached to nature

Than to the the city skyscape

More interested by far in the

depths and breadth of the inner life

Than in how others my see this outer shell

That conceals universes and subatomic

Particles of  my being.

Me, in the backyard on October 18, 2012. Photo by Annalise S. Burton.


Related articles

Wild Origins – OctPoWriMo, Oct. 28, 2012

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Wild Origins


My life

People have

Tried to tame me.

To break my spirit, to

Make me easily led.

Sometimes, there has been fury

Because I remain unbroken

Something within me fiercely resists

Any and all efforts to shape me, mold

Me into something I can never be.

I am as I am, a wild child grown

Into a woman unfettered

By others’ expectations.

Never other than me

Always, only me

Freeborn, vital


As now


The wild child who lives with me…and who is welcome to stay that way….