A New Paradigm

What follows are short pieces that I wrote at various times on the grieving path. They were attempts to understand the world in which I now lived and a life I could no longer recognize.


We have become citizens of a new world. One night, during our sleep, we were evicted from the world that we knew and loved and had lived in all our lives. We found ourselves in a land where nothing was familiar. 

Soul survivor

It wasn’t that long ago when I would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and think it couldn’t have happened. My son couldn’t have died, it’s not possible, it’s all been a terrible mistake. Please, tell me it’s not real. 

Then and now

Mason and Taylor were married on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean just south of Big Sur. Steve and I stayed at Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn, which sits on a canyon below a mountain that threatens to slide and take the inn with it. It’s one of our favorite places in the world, primitive and evolved at the same time. 

Seeing the light

Mason was in the hospital for 3 weeks. His condition was critical from day one and each subsequent day brought another life-threatening crisis to bear: liver failure, kidney failure, gram negative sepsis, endocarditis, internal bleeding, acute respiratory distress syndrome, three pneumothoraces, hypoxia, and stroke. Each one of these on its own was serious and potentially fatal, but together, they proved insurmountable.

Parallel worlds

My world was whole. I was fortunate, whether I always realized it or not. Good days dominated. In fact, I didn’t know what a bad day was. I thought I did, but I didn’t. When my son died, my world imploded. As one world faded, another one took its place, and in this newly emerging world, I was indifferent to or incapable of remembering life as it had existed before.

But tonight, I cry

Whenever emotions threaten to overwhelm me, once the crying has finally subsided, I’m able to remember that I’m in good company.

I pray for the mothers who have come before me who have lost a child and I cry for the mothers who are unaware that this kind of suffering awaits them, patiently.


A few months after Mason died, I received an email from a close friend asking for our prayers. Her father had been fighting cancer for several years and was going through a particularly rough patch. When we heard back from her a few days later, her dad was greatly improved and she wanted to thank us for our prayers. As she put it, “Your prayers worked.”