Just Write {81}

April 15, 2013

We entertained them in the car with stories from our lives before they came. They asked questions about the most exciting parts. Daddy, do you think the eyes in the dark by your tent were a bear or a cougar? Mommy, when you got lost in Canada, where were you supposed to be? Why did you move to Michigan and then move back one week later?

We laughed and laughed, dramatizing parts of our true stories for effect, their eyes wide.

Back home, we shushed them and rushed them to bed. Miles came to the kitchen for “one more” drink of water and looked at me with big blue eyes over the top of his small glass.

He took a big breath after a big gulp and sighed out, Mommy?

Yes, Stall-y Stallerton? 

Has anything bad ever happened to you?

He says this softly and I feel my heart in my throat…

Yes, I told him, looking right back at him, our eyes connected.

I thought, Please don’t let him ask what the bad things are. Please don’t let him ask what the bad things are...

He took a step and stopped, turned around and then turned back and half ran to his room, quietly.

Yes, I’ve been hurt. And I’d take every one of your future hurts on myself if I could, my Miles-y. 

I thought this as I watched him skip into his room and I meant it.


I flew to Phoenix for BBC and the speaking went fine, maybe even well. I had a great time with friends to meet and meeting up with old friends. For me, going is exhausting and revitalizing all at once. We are always “on” and going from one thing to the next and introducing and being introduced. We are rapid-fire questions and input, helpful advice, story-telling and heated discussions. These women are brilliant and informed and they have such wisdom from experience. They pass it on.

I told my friend and roommate, Gigi, that I have to stop myself from thinking of home very much while I’m away. Because this is what my work is, and I don’t go away that often, but if I’m being honest I am capable of growing terribly sad due to the pull I feel toward home. Ryan and I don’t talk much in the few days I’m away because I’m afraid of hearing the details of the day, that I will grow so homesick, I won’t be able to stay away. He is kind enough to understand this and truth be told, he has little energy for the phone either after long days solo parenting. Of course, I can relate after all these years of his travels. So we text. He keeps it simple. I keep it simple. I call him on the way home, when I’m almost there and we talk a long time.

Gigi was sitting next to her suitcase on the floor and looking up at me on the corner of my bed, her eyes wide and understanding. We talked about how strange it is to feel so much vulnerability in being away, despite how badly we need and want to go, to grow ourselves and our endeavors and to miss home so we can come back ready for more. Maybe it’s simple–that the constant socializing is intimidating and speaking is a risk, but maybe we mostly feel vulnerable to potential tragedy. To the idea of unspeakable things that creep into our crowded minds and tease us into thinking something horrible will happen to us or our children while we’re miles and miles away.

Obviously, this time, I returned home to find my children in one piece and happy to see me, or I wouldn’t be writing this. It turns out it was good for everyone, even if my quick-to-over-thinking mind tried to make that seem impossible while I was away. My positive and hopeful thinking made its way back to my heart this morning after a night of catching up on lost conference sleep. We are well and it is well and we are home.


Today it’s back to work. I am catching up on email and writing assignments and Listen To Your Mother things. I am catching up on laundry and life, cleaning things up and setting up another showing of our house. I feel good about how the speaking gig went even though it never goes exactly as the perfectionist in me would like.

The news about the Boston marathon came up one feed or thread or another. I looked at it for a few seconds and hoped it wasn’t real, but of course by now I know it is. It gets worse and worse and isn’t this exactly why we look at each other with big eyes like saucers? Isn’t this why we cling to denial and isn’t this where fear comes from?

Isn’t that the point of such an act–to bring us into more fear, to control us, to have the power. To laugh at limbs blown off and the dead. To laugh at how we stand around aghast and then explode with information. To treat us like puppets instead of people. Isn’t that the point everywhere and always, when violence crops up in any place?

Maybe I’m shutting down and maybe I feel so sad and hopeless to honor the pain, the agony, the grief.

Maybe tomorrow hope will win again.

For right now, a thick sadness hovers over us again and all I can do is know that you feel it too. This way, at least we’re still connected through these feelings, like two mothers making eye contact in a hotel room, away from their precious people, and seeing it,

we say without having to say anything at all, Me too.

I get it. I really get it. It’s horrible. Please hide my babies. Please hide yours. What are we to do?

I don’t even know how hope ever comes back. It’s magic, I suppose and magical undeniable and inexplicable grace and hope are what ignite my faith. The very fact that good exists at all in the face of tragedies like this one and Sandy Hook and Aurora Africa and India and Haiti and tsunamis and hurricanes and tornadoes and kidnapping and missing persons and rape and all of it….well, it’s impossible. Impossible that good can Be, right?

Hope. Here? Ever?


It starts in eyes that say they want to hold your feelings very carefully, in the palms of hands, until you are better. And then somehow it keeps going from one to the next, like it did inside the people in Boston when they ran toward the blasts instead of away. Then it moved on to crowds turning to each other with mouths agape and eyes wide, looking into each other. Me too, they said and then it moved through phone lines and TV’s and the Internet and in work places and homes.

We see in each other that thread of love that connects us to hope and we keep going,another mile or maybe a few steps.


This is the 81st installment of Just Write, an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments. {Please see the details here.} I would love to read your freely written words so join me and link up below. You can add the url of your post at any time. Just be sure it’s a link to your Just Write post, not to your main page, and please don’t link to posts that are not freely written in the spirit of capturing moments–you know, don’t link to how-to lists or sponsored posts. Also, please link back to this post in your post so people know where to go if they’d like to join in.

Please take a moment to visit someone else who has linked up! It’s a really good way to meet new writers and get inspired by the meaning behind their moments. Word? Thank you!


gigi April 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm

I wish every single person had a piece of whatever grows in your heart.

That’s all I can say about you, and this.


Heather April 15, 2013 at 9:59 pm

oh lady, you’re good to me.

LOVED sharing time and words with you this weekend. BRAIN.

Adrienne April 15, 2013 at 9:48 pm

My full grown son is just a half hour away …. he works blocks from those blasts. I just want him to be sitting on my couch right now. The vulnerability never leaves us as moms, wives, sisters…friends. I lived pretty closed up for a lot of years – and learning vulnerability…while it makes days like this (and everything, really!) a lot harder, I do also believe it is the nurturing soil for the hope, love and connection we crave. This is a wonderful slice of you. thank you.
Adrienne recently posted..Deeply Rooted

Heather April 15, 2013 at 10:00 pm


Vulnerability as the soil. I love that so much. Truth. Thank you.

Tiffany Romero April 15, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Often I have to use my grandmother’s trick to keep the “what-if” fears at bay… surround my boy in love and light. It’s worked for me since I was 9 and was scared of spooky shadows at bedtime and continues to soothe my soul and quiet by brain each time he plays outside or rides his bike or I board a plane- all of which is happening more and more often these days.

I’m sending that same love and light to every person effected by this senseless tragedy- especially those parents that took their beloved 8 year old boy to watch a finish line a beautiful Boston day and don’t get to bring him home.
Tiffany Romero recently posted..Stories About My Underpants: and other sordid tales

anna see April 15, 2013 at 11:15 pm

I don’t have the words, but I just want you to know I read this and loved it. And you. xo

With Hope, Anna
anna see recently posted..Shall we Gather at the River?

Lady Jennie April 16, 2013 at 8:27 am

I’m with Anna – I don’t know what to say in the face of such beautiful writing. But it was moving – I want to hide my kids too and shelter them from what happened, from what could happen.

Heather, I wanted to know if I can submit my last chapter of the memoir I posted yesterday? It took place in Africa years ago and reads as a separate piece – you don’t have to have read the earlier chapters for it to make sense. I’m not sure if this is acceptable, or if it should be something from my moments in the now.

Lady Jennie recently posted..Life in the Trenches – Chapter 15

Heather April 16, 2013 at 9:56 am

Sure! Go right ahead :) And thank you….

Tiffany April 16, 2013 at 11:27 am

I love that your son asked you that…but I’m glad you didn’t have to share them all with him. I’d like to shelter my kids from future hurts too…but it’s what makes us…us, right? I am reading Brene Brown’s works on vulnerability and it’s very eye-opening…and scary.
Tiffany recently posted..Dear Judy

Lady Jennie April 16, 2013 at 11:57 am

I just wanted to say that I love the posts I’ve read so far- what a community you have here!
Lady Jennie recently posted..Life in the Trenches – Chapter 15

Marta April 16, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Sigh. I don’t know if I can come up with words to say what I have already felt. That’s the trouble with empathy, perhaps. To feel for others even when you have no direct connection. Our strength keeps us going, we have to hope, we have to live, we have continue.
Marta recently posted..Boston Tragedy in the Media.

Julia April 16, 2013 at 9:14 pm

I don’t know that I have words to compose what I would like to say, but I do want you to know that this is beautiful and lovely and I hear you. So very much.
Julia recently posted..Home

Kristie April 19, 2013 at 8:40 am

Hi Heather, I stumbled upon your blog a while back and must say I like how you “Just write”. Boston Marathon is a great tragedy. And reading your blog and your thoughts is helpful for me, even as I process the dangerous events that are happening. it gives me hope that as humankind, we are similar in many ways and capable of great kindness and compassion. Thanks for writing.

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