I brought you a zucchini.

I was on my way to see you. Just before the hill a rainbow shown before us under a single cloud, the darkest of clouds, in a sky of sunshine and big fluffy white clouds. img_3075 Just then, out of nowhere came a quick flash of lightening. I pointed out the rainbow to the kids. And I stopped before going up the hill. I knew that you were saying hi. You have a good habit of dropping signs from time to time when they’re most needed.

Just as quickly as the rainbow appeared it began to fade.

I dropped the kids off with Mom before coming to visit. Mya talks about you often. She misses Great Papa. But today I needed to be alone with you. And I believe Mom needed them more.

There’s a chill here, a gentle breeze with quick blasts of cold. Enough to make the evergreen branches tremble and the blades of grass wiggle back and forth. The sun sitting warmly on my back. I can hear the bugs around us, and one cricket who’s looking for way too much attention.

You’ve already been graced today with some fresh clippings from my Mom’s gorgeous flower gardens. Large off-white hydrangeas, a few wild flowers, and complete with a small yellow rose. img_3079There’s also an artificial bunch of red, white, and blue carnations with white daisies that weren’t here a couples days ago.

I brought you a zucchini.

It only seemed fitting. Grandma grew it, or you did. It’s hard to know. I’m rather certain you sprinkled magic zucchini seeds all over the farm and they just pop up at random. There’s never a short supply, even without you physically present to reap the rewards. Maybe it’s your funny way of reminding Grandma (and me) that you are never far away. This particular zucchini is huge, but I’m sure you knew that.

I imagine Heaven is filled with zucchini patches behind every shed as well. Endless carrots that don’t need to be cleaned off in cow tubs. And kohlrabi that peel right quick even with a dull pocket knife. I picture apple trees that don’t shake off apples. So you can eat fresh picked ones instead of the bruisers off the ground.

There’s pastures of cows and horses, fed by endless bales of hay that you didn’t have to bale. Or maybe you did just for fun, with a baler that doesn’t need constant adjusting and a wagon that doesn’t have holes in the boards. And there’s a classic John Deere for you to drive at your leisure.

The skies are always sunny. The river is just the right height and the fish bite year round. And maybe once in a while you mow the lawn, not because it needs it, but just for fun. And there’s countless sloughs and ditches you can check out with your four wheeler. I’d imagine you spend hours creating flawless wooden items, perfectly pieced together.

But you know what I most picture? What brings me the most joy to picture? Breakfast with Jesus. Oddly enough I picture you sitting at your kitchen table on the farm, as I’ve seen so many times in my life. You’re having toast and jelly and a half cup of coffee. You’re dressed in your plaid shirt and blue dickies. Instead of getting ready for chores though, you chat with Jesus about us. You talk about how to look out for us and what we need. You discuss when the right moments are to send signs so we know you’re watching. Jesus gives you direction on when to let Charlie fight on his own and when it’s time to help him. Jesus always giving you the instructions you need to be our angel. What an amazing job, to have God as your boss!

Truly, whatever Heaven is like for you, I find comfort in knowing you are happy. Even if I don’t enjoy sitting on hard clumps of grass to talk to you. Not that I always come here to talk. Ironically, you can hear me better now then before, so I can talk to you anywhere.

I’m not sure how one year can already have passed. I remember the message I wrote the day of your funeral. I remember all of the tears, the sobbing, the hyperventilating at the very thought of what was happening- I had a full blown anxiety attack right there in the front pew of church. I’ve never felt so unprepared for something in my life. Goodbyes are never easy, but the pain I felt to lose you felt unbearable. Dad had to pry me from the cemetery ground. It’s one of those moments that you can picture detail by detail and it doesn’t seem to fade. At least not yet.

I left the hospital with Charlie the day prior, only to come home long enough to say goodbye. And that was it. You were gone. And later that day we were back to the hospital. You always did wait for me.


The clouds have started to cover the last rays of sunshine that were keeping me warm. And that cricket hasn’t died.

I should go soon. It’s probably much past your dinner time (it’s already an hour past five). I trust you have endless supplies of meat and potatoes.

One last thing before I go- thank you for being My Papa. For making me stubborn-it’s my best and my worst feature. But I’m learning better how to navigate it. For loving me without saying. And for continuing to show up when I need you.

Enjoy your zucchini.

And as always, Me too, Papa. Me too.






What a 4-Year Old Shouldn’t Know

A couple of months ago a fellow heart mom friend of mine’s heart warrior was admitted into the hospital unexpectedly. We are close friends and our children are friends (well actually the oldest have arranged to be married) so I offered to take her older son over night. 

This little man, is absolutely sweet as punch and so respectful. He has the most curious of minds and he pairs wonderfully with my inquisitive daughter, Mya. He also includes and plays gently with Charlie. We were most happy to have him spend the night. 

The night went great as the kids played well and they all slept soundly. All awakening by 6 a.m.!

While the kids were eating breakfast, I gave Charlie his meds and inhaler. This was a new device to our friend, so he asked what it was for. To which Mya replied quickly, “It helps him breathe so he doesn’t die.” I stopped about dead in my motions. 

What was even more painful was his nonchalant response, “I don’t want my brother to die.” 

And more gut wrenching to me was Mya’s equally nonchalant response, “I don’t want my brother to die either.” 

They proceeded to converse about their siblings and being sick. And they didn’t flinch. They spoke about hospitals and medications and recited anatomy like it was common language. A normal part of everyday life and they knew nothing else. 

They are 4 (well Mya turned 5 that day)! It was painful, troubling, astonishing, and enlightening. They grasped so much, so quickly. They’ve lived with it daily. They feel it always. They understand the real and raw reality of Congenital Heart Disease. 

A 4-year old should not know that. They should not face those fears. 

Too often a sibling gets pushed aside to care for the “sick” child , to attend his appointments, to get his meds, to you name it. Too often their lives are turned upside down and sideways while spinning in circles off of a cliff. And yet they love. They love through never ending appointments. They love through fear of heartbreak. They love through the disappointments. They just love. 

They grow without judgement. They understand differences. They are kind, caring, and unique. 

They are brave beyond their years. They hold Jesus close to their hearts. Their prayers are developed and often involve their siblings and their siblings heart warrior friends. They breathe compassion and hope. They live by Faith, better than most adults. 

That day I was blown away by their conversation. It took me a couple of months to process it. I can now appreciate it for what it truly is. These two innocent children are connected. They are not connected by common interest, common friends, sports, church, or age. They are connected because they know what a 4-year old shouldn’t know!

They are connected by heart. They are connected because they understand each other. They don’t have to explain their brothers. They don’t have to hide their feelings. They don’t have to put on their brave faces. They can be themselves.

They can just be.