“What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” Helen Keller

This is my first attempt at a poem, so I am well aware I should keep my job, but I wanted to share it here on Lindsey’s 40th birthday. It’s just a love thing💜from my heart to hers.


Another day, another sky,

Another leaf, just floating by.

Another season, another sigh,

Another year of asking why.

The question still “why me” you ask,

“Why not” the answer, the ultimate task.

Figure it out, this “new normal” they say,

I know you didn’t choose it, but it won’t go away.

It follows you around like a very needy child.

It begs for your attention,

Sometimes harsh and sometimes mild.

It can be painful, it can be sad,

It can be exhausting and it can be bad.

Grief, they say, is necessary.

Grief, they say, will make you weary.

Grief, they say, will become your friend.

Grief, they say, really has no end.

So how to carry this heavy load,

On your back, in your heart,

Like bags of seed to be sowed.

Who are “they” you ask as you read these words.

They are the world you knew, filled with rainbows and birds.

See, the world didn’t change, just “your” life fell apart.

Now you must find glue to mend it and get a new start.

It’s a lot to expect from such a fragile one,

It’s a lot on your plate when you’d rather just run.

Run from the world with its laughter and joy.

Run from the people, the ones who annoy.

Hide your tears in the shower and sometimes the car.

Hide your feelings to protect them from your sadness and scars.

You must be strong for everyone else, don’t ruin their day,

Don’t bring up the subject because many won’t stay.

How do you carry it, this burden of loss?

You carry the memories of love like a boss.

You thrust out your chest,

You scream out their name.

You keep them alive between the tears and the pain.

The love is so worth it, it lightens the load,

The sound of their name makes you want to explode.

Saying “Look at my daughter”, “Look at my son”,

How could God trust me with this precious one?

If I was given a choice I’d do it again,

And suffer the pain and the hurt at the end.

You were so worth it, the love was so deep.

The memories we made were like harvest you reap.

The grief that I’m feeling, the sadness, the fear,

Is, in the end, the reason I’m here.

You made me tough, you made me strong,

You made me want to carry on.

Life can be hard and life can be great,

The journeys not over, it’s never too late.

Find the joy in the memories and the love that you had,

Find the peace and the hope and life won’t be that bad.

Forever in my Heart, Forever in my mind,

My daughter, my angel, Forever twenty-nine💜

Amanda, Lindsey, & Tiffany’s Mom

Sea World 2009
The Love of her Life
The Happiest Time in the Happiest Place on Earth❤️


Today is a day with different meaning for many people. It is Mother’s Day 2020 and, of course, this year is very different. There will be flowers, cards, candy, gifts, and missing this year will be large gatherings. No restaurants, no cook outs, no normal. What does motherhood really mean and what are we really celebrating and how will we celebrate this year?

Mothers, in most cases, are the glue that binds the family together, but there are many different types of mothers. The first of these is in the traditional sense, one who has her baby and spends her life caring for and nurturing that child until they reach a time they can make their own decisions.

However motherhood is not defined by everything going perfectly according to plan. There is the mother who chooses to adopt children or adoption finds its way to her door. She chooses to be a mom in every sense of the word, to a child that doesn’t have one. Sometimes these children have special needs and she chooses them anyway and becomes a lifeline for these children. How special is she?

Another mom is the often criticized stepmom. Parenting a child in these situations can be challenging even in the best scenario. I have heard many talk about the difficulties of being a stepparent and the emotional roller coaster they ride.

One of the mom’s I want to recognize is the one who, regardless of circumstance, raises a child with health problems, special needs or any physical or mental health challenge. These moms live a life others cannot relate to. Everyday they face challenges and situations the rest of the world isn’t privy to. It may be something as simple as a child brushing their teeth or as complicated as getting them to chemo treatments in hopes of a miracle. Children with mental and emotional health concerns are a unique challenge and sometimes this mother is just hoping her child will make it through the day.

Along these same lines is the mom whose child struggles with addiction. The stories from these moms are stories of undying, unconditional love that is challenged at every possible level. They share stories of families torn apart and sometimes splintered forever while she tries to balance supporting that child and nurturing the others at the same time. To me, it looks like a balancing act on the High Wire at the circus. Any wrong step in any direction and it could be a disaster. These moms should be commended for hanging on tight and continuing to try. Sometimes “tough love” becomes the answer and she is left wondering if she did enough.

Then there is the one who can’t become a mom, no matter what she does. She can’t have a baby for reasons we don’t understand. Some try and try and it just doesn’t happen and some have multiple losses on this same journey. She feels like a mom in her heart, she wants to be a mom, she doesn’t understand. She may be a second mom to nieces and nephews, children of friends, anyone who needs someone to care. She may find solace in her pets and care for them in ways that give her a chance to love and nurture and have purpose. Let’s remember her today.

This brings me to the bereaved mother, who often find this particular holiday to be very painful. She may have lost a child at any age, her only child or all her children. These moms, of course, hold a special place because I am one. There are times they never see their child take a breath and there are times that they sit vigilant while awaiting their last breath. There are those who get many years of life with their child and those that get no time at all. I’ve learned none of that matters because love is what matters and love is what mothering is all about. Its taking a chance on a journey that will come with many ups and downs. Sometimes that journey is short and sometimes the road is bumpy. Sometimes things are good and sometimes they aren’t, but overall the journey is worth it because loving and being loved is worth it.

One of the biggest struggles for bereaved mothers is how to be happy without their child and continue to live a full life with any surviving children. Thus, Mothers Day. I have come to realize, with a ton of work and lots of conversations with surviving siblings, that this makes their life very difficult. They, too, lost their brother or sister and they also lost their parents. Their grief is not like ours. It changes the course of their life forever. One sibling said that his life ended the day his brothers died. I never., ever want my children to feel that way. Some things we can’t help and we can’t always help how we feel. What we can do it try, try to find meaning in our new life and try to find happiness, although not an easy task, it, I believe is worth it.

Today, I am thankful for my two daughters, Amanda and Tiffany. They care for me, they make me laugh, they make me roll my eyes at times and above all, they make me want to be the best version of myself. Yes the road has been bumpy, yes I miss those I’ve lost, yes I will always think about and miss Lindsey, but I vow to try to help them. I never want them to feel like their life with me ended the day their sister died. It has been a journey for sure, but we are strong and we are resilient. My goal is this, when I enter Heaven and I see Lindsey, arms open and smiling, I want her to say “Mom you did good. I’m proud of you”. That means taking good care of myself and her sisters and finding a different way to be happy.

I am happy as I walk the maze today. My most recent loss of my sweet Rick certainly set me back, but he too, would want me to be ok. There are days that aren’t ok, but there are more times that are. I love my family, those in Heaven and those here with me. Aren’t I a lucky girl to have had so much love.? I miss you Mom, the one who taught me how to be a mom. I miss you Rick, the one who traveled this journey with me. I miss you Lindsey, my beautiful and treasured second child. I love you Amanda and Tiffany for being who you are, my girls. ❤️❤️❤️😇😇


There is a parable of the long spoons that I think is amazing. A man visits Hell and what he sees there is more than disturbing. In front of him is a long table full of delicious looking food that makes his mouth water. The air is filled with the aromas of the food and around the table he sees people gathered. Strapped to their arms are long wooden spoons, making them unable to bend their arms, so while they continue to try, they are unable to bring the food to their mouths. They are lean and emaciated without the capacity to nourish themselves. They are literally starving.

The man is disturbed and leaves confused about what he saw. Next step on his journey is Heaven and there before him is the same long table with the same delicious, aromatic food. Also, there before him sits the a group of people with the same spoons strapped to their arms, unable to bring the food to their mouths. He is shocked and disturbed and then he looks closer. The people are using their spoons to feed each other and they are healthy and well nourished.

As time passes, day after day, I realize how different life is for the average American. We are used to so much and have a freedom many don’t. This virus we are fighting has changed everything about us, who we are, where we go, what we eat as well as what will our future looks like. It reminds me in many ways of the grief experience.

The similarities are pretty obvious. All of a sudden, there is a catastrophic event and your life is changed forever. It is like a bomb dropped and destroyed everything you knew. It affects everything about you and those around you. It’s tentacles are far reaching affecting every aspect of your life. It causes anxiety, fear, apprehension, sadness, confusion and almost every other emotion you can mention. For some it is difficult to eat, for others food is comfort. For some being busy is helpful, for others it’s exhausting. For some there has been a firm foundation and for others their house is built on sand. We are the same and we are different.

Losing someone you love is like the virus. In this case it’s tentacles reach around the world. Everywhere people are losing loved ones, losing jobs, losing businesses, losing their freedoms and everywhere there is change. The change came suddenly and knocked us to the ground. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

I mentioned that some have a strong foundation and they will survive this physically and mentally, but those who don’t will not, at least not going back to the way it was. Isn’t it important for us to recognize the differences? Shouldn’t we keep our eyes peeled for the ones that are struggling in ways we may have never experienced? Shouldn’t we be like the people who fed each other like in the parable?

Stories of unimaginable loss are everywhere, but stories of helpers and healers are everywhere too. People supporting each other, getting someone groceries, making cards for Healthcare workers, thanking the Postal Worker who comes in contact with thousands of people everyday, There are people that are still working and trying to provide us the services we need and are used to. Our very freedom has been affected by this monster we call the “Virus”.

We will survive this, but much like grief, we will never be the same.We can’t be, can we? Shouldn’t we be better? Let’s be like the people with the long spoons. Let’s continue to feed each other until this monster is slain.

I’m starting to see a light at the end of the maze. I know it’s there, a bright sunny day full of hope, full of happiness and freedom to pursue the future. As we all try to leave the maze the virus created, let’s remember to look around us and when needed, offer our neighbors our spoon.


It has been 366 days since you left us. What is different…everything. What do I miss…everything.

I miss your smile. I miss your laugh. I miss the way you looked at me and that sheepish grin you had. I miss the life we built together and everything we put into building it. I miss you telling me you loved me and feeling that love. I miss how you paid attention to every story I told, no matter how boring. I miss the smell of your cologne. I miss when we accidentally dressed alike. I miss your cooking for me. I miss always having you to come home to. I miss waking up with you by my side. I miss feeling I was the most important person in your life. I miss having “ my person”.

The following is what I wrote for Rick’s service and I wanted to share it because it is the inspiration for this blog.

He remembers her as the girl in the light blue dress with a white belt. She remembers him as that cute little football player in the #26 jersey. They met in the halls of George Wythe High School. He told her he loved her on the third date. She told him he had partied too much.

He gave her his class ring the week he got it and they attended 4 proms together. He had this special talent of being able to form small bubbles on his tongue and while she was paying attention in Algebra a tiny bubble would float through the air and land on her desk. They only broke up for 24 hours…it was mutual. She stayed home with her sick grandmother, he, she found out later, went to the Hullabaloo club with his friends. She loved all things school, he loved all things fun. He came to cheerleading practice the next day and wanted to change his mind. Five years later they married.

This is Us

Rick and I planned our wedding on 3/3/73 during Spring Break. That Monday in the wee hours, I had an emergency appendectomy. I told the doctors we had to do it because the cake was baked. I got out of the hospital Pediatric unit (I was 18) on Thursday. On Friday we went to city hall and they came down to our car to sit and do our marriage license. We married that Saturday at Pinehurst Baptist Church as the rain came down. I dropped my going away dress in the mud. We spent our honeymoon night at the Petersburg Howard Johnson’s and watched Hee haw and the Grammy awards.

After the wedding, we got my sutures removed on Monday. I went back to nursing school and he went back to work at Philip Morris. We moved to a second apartment and then bought our first house on a promise of a gift from my mother. I was waiting for my board scores and if they were early we couldn’t get the house. I would be moving from 5.25 to 5.50 per hour and we wouldn’t qualify. It came on time and we moved to Huntingcreek Hills. We met countless neighbors there that may be here today and this is where we started our family.

We decided to have a child in 1978 and Amanda bursts onto the scene. Oh how happy we were to be parents. It was a learn as you go and we did just that. In 1980, Lindsey followed and we became a family of four. I worked part time and taught Lamaze classes and Rick worked at Proctor and Gamble. I would be at Chippenham Labor and Delivery and he would bring the one nursing at the time to me. It was sometimes in the wee hours, but if the swing didn’t do and they wouldn’t take a bottle, he snapped them in the car seat and headed to Chip. Tiffany followed 2 years later and our family was complete. We tried to be the best parents we could be as we learned on the job. I think we did well. I asked Rick the last day in the hospital what was his biggest accomplishment. He never hesitated but stated “my girls”

Rick always loved a grill, any kind of grill. He began to dabble in cooking and smoking meats. On Sunday nights, he would be in the kitchen for hours inventing and reinventing his BBQ sauce. For years I would return from teaching Lamaze to be the taste tester of his new creation. There was a bbq stain on the ceiling above the stove for years. This passion culminated in opening Perrins BBQ in 1995. The rest is history. The work was hard, but the countless friendships formed there through staff, customers, and the community itself was immeasurable. Many of you may have been drawn in by that smile and ended up catered. You may have gotten paid or you may have taken home a bunch of food or you may have taken home nothing at all except a big hug, a thank you, and clothes that smelled like smoke. Someone asked me once “How does he get people to work like that?” and sometimes for nothing. All I could say “It’s Rick”.

Rick loved the water and anything boating. If you asked him what he loved to do most it would be on the water. He has always dabbled in boats and boat motors since a very young man. He would buy and sell and fix up. Rick loved to fish and in the early days, we spent time on the Rappahannock and the Bay catching 2 at a time at his parents cottage in Whitestone. The love for his family was instant and we made wonderful memories eating crabs and enjoying the river with his siblings and their families. He would take us out, fix the rods, bait the hooks and take the fish off only to start over again. I don’t know how much he fished but he sure did take care of his girls. His most recent boat was his retirement dream and we named it the Linzi-Lu after our daughter and my mom. We didn’t get to do what we planned but we made the best of the time we did have, usually culminating our trip at Stevie’s the local ice cream shop. Our girls say some of their best childhood memories were on the river with him.

Rick worked for Hunt Wesson and won many sales awards. These culminated in multiple trips and gifts. We went on our first cruise with the company on the Carnival Holiday. We were in awe and loved every minute. This was followed by a cruise to Bermuda. And VIP tickets to Super Bowl 27. We were guests at the Biltmore in Hollywood, all expenses paid, had tickets to the tailgate party and attended the players party the night before. Hanging with Joe Nemuth and listening to the Four Tops, it just couldn’t get better. This followed with an addiction to cruising and we took 24 cruises together, Caribbean, Alaska, Mediterranean and Panama Canal. What a blessing to see the world together.

Rick knew things were changing and we had some hard conversations, but when I asked him what he wanted to do in the time we had left, he looked at me and said ”you know, we’ve done everything we wanted with our kids, I’m really ok. Maybe I can get to Nags Head. We planned to be in Nags Head for Mother’s Day weekend. I knew that wouldn’t happen.

Rick had this thing called “the high road”. No matter what anyone did or said to him he would seldom get upset or if he did, they would never know it. He would say he was taking the high road. He always thought the best of everyone and went the extra mile. This was in his personal life as well as business. He took care of his employees when he didn’t have it, he always made sure they got what they needed.

There are certain facts about Rick that if you knew him at all you were aware of.

2. He always had chapstick and eye drops

1. He always had a smile

3. He always had mints.

4. He used a lot of spices

5. He always made a huge mess when he cooked.

6. He loved ice cream

7. He had a tad of road rage

8. He was patriotic and loved his country.

9. He disliked most talk show hosts and all news except Fox.

10. He was a trivia nut and loved Westerns. He knew everything about the characters and would share with you whether you were interested or not.

11. He adored his family and friends more than anything.

The outpouring of love over the last six weeks has proven he had a life well lived. Rick was special and treated everyone with respect. I believe his work was done here and although I miss him with every ounce of my being, I think he had ribs to cook in heaven. I miss you more than words can say, but I know you are hanging out with Lindsey and that is a beautiful visual. I know your parents are by your side as well as Barbara and Tim and my mom. I would love to have seen your mom’s eyes when she saw you the first time.

When I told Rick his diagnosis, he said to me “Aren’t I lucky to be able to tell everyone what they mean to me, not everyone gets to do that.” What a legacy he left behind through the eyes of so many. So although I will miss him every single minute for the rest of my life, I treasure those 51 years we had, the girl in the blue dress and #26, always and forever.

Loving and being loved by Rick is how I find my way through the maze.


Today is an unusual day, to say the least. Normally families would be gathering to celebrate the greatest event of all time, the resurrection. They would start with church. In my younger days this meant new clothes. Girls wore beautiful Easter dresses and bonnets and in those days even little white gloves. Boys would sport their bow ties and sport coats, like it or not. Church pews would fill to overflowing, many who didn’t attend any other time of the year would pack in, many times having to pull out the metal chairs. It was a joyous day filled with hope and excitement and celebration. Dinner would often follow with many traditional dishes being served. Following would be Easter Egg hunts and dying of eggs and family and friends gathered together in homes around the world. Sounds almost like a Hallmark movie or a Norman Rockwell painting doesn’t it?

This year, the year of 2020, will be different, not only in America, but around the world. I’ve never felt closer to people I’ve never met or countries I’ve never visited until now. I received a comment on my blog post “I Cried Today” from someone in another country. She reached out to me to thank me for the post and several emails followed. She is a mom a wife, a friend, an amazing artist and a very talented writer. She is also a believer in something bigger than us. We connected in a way I can’t explain. She and her country are battling the war with the virus too. We talked about that and in her words “we are on different continents, yet feel the same pain.” Isn’t that profound when it is just that simple? Through her I have experienced the love of a family and her very talented children’s videos and small intimate worship service. It has been a blessing I can’t explain. How do people come into our lives at just the right moment and say just the right things? How do we comfort each other on different continents? I, as I’ve said before, do not think it’s by chance. I am beyond blessed by this encounter and maybe someday the two of us will meet. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Blessings come in all forms. Right now, we are blessed by all those battling the “monster”, from front line to those listening and doing the right thing. I have never been more proud of the nursing profession than I am today, but I’ve never appreciated every single other person who makes my life what is is, more than I do today.

As I entered my hospital today, I looked around and everywhere people were wearing masks. I spoke to all I passed, just like I always do, but it was different. I realized I couldn’t see their expression, I couldn’t see them smile. They couldn’t see me smile. This left me sad and empty in a way I can’t explain. I couldn’t shake it. I felt an overwhelming group of emotions, sadness, fear, and uncertainty. Life without smiles is like a bin of broken toys. At one time they brought great joy, but now the box is different and the joy is missing. Can the toys be fixed and the smiles return. Isn’t that really what this weekend is really all about, the promise of a better tomorrow. What are we willing to give up to have that better tomorrow?

Our current situation is tough, regardless of circumstances. In some respect, every single person around the world is suffering and sacrificing. Some have their lives on the line, some are wondering if they’ll survive, some are giving up things they’ve never been without, and some are losing their lives. Is this the box of broken toys? Will it be ok? The resurrection is the guarantee that it will. It may not look the same, it may not feel the same, it may be a mere shadow of former life, but like grief, the sun will rise and shine bright, the masks will slowly come off, the fear will subside and the joy will return.

I genuinely believe we will be ok because the stone will roll away and we will emerge triumphant, better, more appreciative, more caring people, a kinder, gentler, more patient society. The stone will roll over the “monster” and everyone will breathe again, long, deep, cleansing breaths, and we will begin again, rebuilding, helping and supporting each other and never forgetting.

Remember as we search for our way out of the maze, we need to look out for each other. Some will stumble and some will fall. We need to be there to catch each other, even if we are separated by miles, oceans or continents, we are one. We are walking the same path this time and we are all afraid. I choose to look forward today and keep my eyes peeled for the promise of a new tomorrow. I can’t wait to see the masks come off and the smiles return on the faces of our world.

Happy Easter everyone.


I decided on this tenth anniversary that I would write you a letter. Simply said, I miss you. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you first thing in the morning and last thing at night and much of the time in between. The life of a grieving mom is one of wondering, wondering what you would be doing now, wondering how you’d wear your hair, wondering if you would have had more children, just wondering. It’s like being on a very long trip, looking out the car window, but with no destination or time of arrival. You just ride and ride and ride. Everyday is a challenge for me now, trying to make a difference somewhere.

After you died, I got involved in a group called The Compassionate Friends. There I met some of the most courageous people I’ve ever known. They live much like I do on an unending road trip. We are all the same, doesn’t matter the age of your child, the reason they died, the complicated circumstances, it just matters that it was someone you loved with all your heart. The eyes of a grieving parent are very similar, there is a sadness in them, regardless of what is going on in their life.

I’ve learned a lot, from others, from reading, from conference speakers and from endless conversations with grieving parents. I am humbled to be in the company of this inspirational group of people. I have seen people climb to incredible heights after being what I believe to be the lowest point in a parents life. I have seen someone who could hardly form a sentence fighting back the tears to eventually being the “go to” person for newly bereaved. It truly is a miracle to watch this growth and a gift to be a part of it.

I’ve learned so much about grief and grieving. I learned that people will come and go in your life. I have always had a tough time with change, but now I know people are in your life for a reason. There are some that will be there forever maybe only surfacing in difficult times. Some will remain in your everyday life and some will come into your life at just the right time. It may be to help you or it may be for you to help them. I do know that you are much more aware of those around you and I do believe it makes you a more compassionate and caring person.

I’ve learned that so many things we worry about really aren’t worth it. Life is like a fast paced carnival ride. You get on with great anticipation of what’s to come, and you experience the twists and turns and ups and downs and eventually the ride comes to a halt. You enjoyed the ride, but the parts that’s were scary, were really scary. Surviving the twists and turns, not knowing what’s coming next, presents challenges you weren’t prepared for. Sometimes the ride is so frightening, you really don’t want to take the chance again. May you never take that chance again in the hopes of having a good time, being happy, feeling that exuberance of what’s to come. Then you look back and remember how the ride made you feel. You remember the overall joy you felt when the ride began and the laughter and the screaming and the anticipation of what’s in front of you. I realized after you died, that I was afraid of the unknown. This, as you know, is not my norm, but fear of living without you was like not being able to catch your breath. I just didn’t know if I could do it.

At that point, I looked back and remembered how the ride made me feel. I remember everything from the news we were having you, to the day of your birth, to all the milestones that we, as a family, were blessed to enjoy for 29 years. We did it all, my precious girl, making the most of the ride. You taught me that the ride was worth it. Those moments are treasures for me, as they are for your sisters.

You taught me as much in death as you did in life. One of the last times you were in the hospital, you and I discussed writing a book. It was a goal we set. I tried to start many times, but it just didn’t feel right. After dad died, I started this blog to share my journey of grieving with others, hoping to help just one person. Surprisingly, I am close to 10,000 views reaching people all over the world. Who would think anyone would care what I wrote? It isn’t because I’m a great writer, but more because I am writing it with pure love in my heart.

I’ve had many more twists and turns since you left ten years ago with loss after loss. I thought I had seen the worst life had to offer, but the world is a mess right now. The Pandemic has taken over our lives in an unprecedented way. I think of all the families facing the challenges of loss in the weeks to come. My heart breaks for them because I know they are scared. I’m scared too, just like I was when you died, scared of what’s to come. The one thing I know though is life goes on and it is a personal decision as to what you do with it. Not ever taking the chance to feel the joy of the ride doesn’t seem like a good choice.

Loving you and being your mom was one of the great joys of my life. I was blessed to have you as my daughter. I miss your smile, your laugh, the smell of your cologne, the sound of you coming in the front door, you and dad fighting over the remote, your love for your family, your loyalty, your advice, and finally… I just miss you. What started as an incredible adventure seemed like it ended in tragedy, but did it really or was I so lucky to have had you as my spunky, feisty, outspoken, loving, one of a kind daughter? I believe I am the one who is blessed beyond measure. My three daughters are my greatest accomplishment in life and I thank God for them each and every day.

The maze was less dense for awhile, but with the world situation has become difficult to navigate once again. Thing is, I have lots of memories of the ride to keep me going. I believe when this is over, the sun will be brighter than ever. When things are better, I’m going to get back in line for the ride because my family taught me “it’s all worth it”. I love you my sweet girl, every hour, every minute and every second of every day. Give dad a warm hug from me until we all meet again…

Love you with all my heart today and forever, Mom

Easter Sunday 2010. Our last day together.


I cried today because I felt alone and I missed Rick. I cried today because I miss Lindsey and she died 10 years ago next Tuesday. I cried today because I needed my mom to talk to. I cried today because there is a monster taking over our world and we feel out of control. I cried today because I miss my family and friends. I cried today for a young mother who lost her husband and the father of her children. I cried today for friends that are facing a similar situation that Rick and I were facing this time last year. I cried today for all the children missing school and missing their teachers and looking at their overwhelmed parents for guidance. I cried today for those on the front lines of this Pandemic. I cried today for those behind the scenes trying to keep the world turning. I cried today for those that have lost hours and jobs and aren’t sure if they will make it. I cried today for the businesses, large and small, that are either closed or struggling trying to deliver to keep from losing everything. I cried today for all our leaders, top to bottom, trying to slay the monster. I cried today because I needed a big fat hug and couldn’t have it. I cried today and then I prayed…

I looked up at the sky and prayed for my world and my leaders and their families. I prayed we could support each other and help each other through this crisis. I prayed for strength as I face this time of year alone. I prayed my family and yours would stay safe and healthy. I prayed the anger and discontent from a few weeks ago would be replaced with grace and compassion for others. I prayed we would be better when this is over. I prayed we would be more appreciative of the little things, like time with family and friends, food in the stores and pantries and simple things like sending our children off to school or having dinner in a restaurant. I prayed we would learn more about ourselves and what’s really important. I prayed we would survive.

I thought life could not get more difficult, but it has and in a way I could have never imagined. We have lost our life as we know it. We have lost our feelings of safety and security. Many have lost loved ones and there are many more to come. Most of these people lost the privilege of being with their loved ones at this crucial time and weren’t able to even say goodbye or hold their hand. Some may lose everything they have worked for, leaving them no choice but to start over. Some may resort to unhealthy ways of dealing with this loss. This, my friends, is what grief is all about. It is the loss of the familiar, the normal, the expected. If you have never had a major loss in your life, you are experiencing one right now. Embrace your feelings and grant yourself grace to feel what you feel. No need to apologize for being overwhelmed, because you are in the company of millions. We are scared and that is the bottom line.

As millions walk the maze in the coming weeks, it will be at a distance, doing the right thing, sending the right message. We are together although we are apart. We can’t leave the maze now anyway, so let’s just try to help each other figure out how we can make the best of a bad situation. Share ideas, check on friends, use it to make connections, old and new, enjoy unhurried time with your kids, look at pictures, change your furniture around, play board games and do it apart together. It is my sincere hope that when all is said and done, we will better understand the importance of connection and truly appreciate our freedom and opportunities. Maybe this is a wake up call.

I cried today…and then I prayed…

UNDER THE CAP…I dedicate this blog to my HCA work family.

I am a Registered Nurse. Throughout my career, I have been asked how I made this decision and why. The answer was simple for me, I wanted to care for people. Sounds cliche I know, but that is the truth, plain and simple. When I was a child, I cared for my dolls and stuffed animals as if they were real. They all had names and birthdays and provided me a little family of my own at a very young age. I would play for hours feeding, bathing, nurturing and of course caring for their illnesses. I had a doll named Marybelle who came complete with crutches, casts, Measles and Chicken Pox stickers and enough gauze to treat any possible injury she may encounter. As I got a little older, I would play outside and drag home any small animal I found in any kind of distress. My mom, who was always there, would help me nurse these little creatures, even though sometimes they were already dead. I know this sounds bizarre, but it is a fact. I think I got this quality from my mom, who until she died seven years ago, was constantly caring for someone else.

Now first I’m sure you are asking “what cap is she referring to?” In the years past, when you went to Nursing School, your rite of passage was earning your cap. Each Nursing School had their own distinct cap design and after you graduated your cap defined you as a graduate of that Nursing program. It was an honor back then to wear the cap and pin of your school, and you wore it with great pride. This, of course, accompanied the white uniforms of that time and again, it was prestigious to don that crisp white uniform, freshly polished white Nursing shoes and the cap and pin of your school. Now I know I’m showing my age, but I am proud to be a descendant of these times, because along with that look came great respect from your patients and their families. When you entered a room, they could not get out of your way fast enough. They knew you were there to care for their loved one and they did not want to be in the way or impede your care. If a doctor or nurse walked in, the visitor would immediately rise to their feet and excuse themselves. Now you may think this is wrong today, but in those days it was a gesture of respect. I believe the way we carried ourselves back then also commanded respect. I remember a patient told me that when I entered his room everyday, he felt I looked like an angel and was there to make him better. I’ll never forget him or how he made me feel. I think I got more from him than he got from me.
Things are very different today. There are no caps, scrubs are the uniform, and freshly polished shoes would be from the dinosaur age.

Today, nurses wear scrubs and the most comfortable shoes they can find. They work long shifts, days, nights, holidays, special events and trudge their way through bad weather. All of this to care for your loved ones, mother, father, grandparents, sibling, or friend, whoever needs them. They leave their family behind to help in crisis situations like the one we are experiencing. They, along with first responders, doctors, pharmacists, lab workers, clerks, nursing assistants, and everyone that makes the Healthcare systems run, heed the call.

To be a nurse is to be everything to everybody. As a nurse you provide comfort, physical, emotional, and sometimes spiritual. You serve as a teacher, preacher, counselor, friend, substitute family member, along with nutritionist, mechanic, secretary, housekeeper, security and on and on. You have the ability to affect this patients entire experience. That is a lot to carry some days.

So you ask, how do they balance this load and how can they be everything to everybody? You must accomplish certain tasks each shift, you must document everything you do, you must be accountable and keep your patients safe and you must be your patients advocate. Wow that is a lot of responsibility. Yes, it is, but you were led to this profession for a reason. I’m sure it wasn’t the great hours, easy money or perfect working conditions. What I am sure of is it was for the patients and the ability to help them when they needed it the most.

In the current climate, healthcare professionals are putting themselves at risk merely by going to work everyday, but they are going. They are wearing masks, face shields, gowns, gloves and yes, even trash bags to give someone else’s family a chance. They are working extra shifts and sleeping onsite. They are leaving their family at home to care for others and some are even giving the ultimate sacrifice, their life.

Everyone is affected by the “monster” and everyone will come out different on the other side. People will need to go out to eat, to a movie, take vacation or travel. Economy will get better because we will be excited again and with that excitement will come relief. I believe we will be better people when this is over, a softer, kinder, more tolerant nation. Sometimes when fire scorches the land and only blackness remains, it seems bleak, then the tiniest sprout emerges and we become hopeful again that beauty will return. I believe we will win this war if we keep these things in the forefront, Faith, Hope, and Love. We have faith that this is bigger than us and if you pray, I suggest you pray a lot. I Hope that we will be stronger when this is over. Love shown to each other, to perfect strangers, to other countries will help us prevail. We are stronger than the “monster”.

Please, as you walk the maze of uncertainty, think of your healthcare team, your military, your patients in nursing homes and hospitals, your neighbors and your friends, Stay at home so someday they will be able to go home too.

If you are a nurse, that is special, and what comes from the heart is what is under the cap.


It’s been a while since I wrote my last blog. I’ve had ideas, but nothing that stood out that I thought might create interest or instill hope. The world is in a bit of a mess right now and that alone is causing our brains to shut down or at least mine.

I am finding this new crisis to be a culmination of every grieving experience I’ve ever had. First of all, we have lost our sense of safety and security. The news changes minute to minute and it leaves us feeling more and more vulnerable. The fear for our lives, our future and the wellbeing of our country is palpable. No matter who you talk with or come into contact with, there is the look of fear in their eyes. Their body language is that of discomfort. The inability to touch and to hug is literally pulling the rug from under us. We, as a nation, are used to comforting gestures on a daily basis. The lack of that comfort is making a bad situation worse by the lack of human contact.

We feel the possibility we may lose our health and even die from this invisible monster. Loss of heath is a grieving experience for many Americans. Some have loss of physical health while others may lose their mental health. It is a treacherous road that many trudge each and every day. Some have good medical care and some do not. Some have multiple resources and some sleep outside, hoping for good weather. Some have families and friends and a good support network. Some have nothing and no one to support them. So at times, such as these, we need to look out for each other, because no matter where you fit, we are all feeling the same fear.

We are grieving life as we knew it. We miss our restaurants and theme parks, our schools and our shopping malls. We miss our festivals and family gatherings and just hanging out with our friends. Gyms and coffee shops are closed and graduations and other milestone events have been cancelled. This is a loss we have never felt before, not as a people and not as a nation. How do we process such a loss?

We are grieving for other countries affected by this vicious monster. Hearing news of thousands dying alone and buried alone, quickly, to make room for more. It is heartbreaking to think how lives have been turned upside down by something we can’t see or feel. It is so far out of our realm of thinking that we just can’t process the enormity of the situation. How do we find hope right now?

I think we have to return to the simple things that we often take for granted. A phone call to check in with someone, maybe someone you’ve been away from, estranged from, or maybe someone who lives alone. Just hearing a voice can make someone’s day. I don’t know if sending a card is ok, but if so, it is another wonderful way to reach out. Checking on neighbors, sending emails, ecards or texts if the recipient has this capability. Sharing your excess with those who need it and can’t get to the store or maybe can’t afford extras.

These are the times that show who we really are inside and outside. Most of us haven’t ever had to go without and this is a test of our ability to be resourceful. We will be stronger than this monster. Yes, we will be hurt and we will lose loved ones and we may even lose our ability to live our current lifestyle, but it cannot take away who we are and how we choose to handle this crisis. People are innately good and when faced with adversity, pull out all the stops to help each other make it to the other side. I admire those people the most, the selfless, kind, giving people, the ones who make a difference.

My maze is filled tonight with people who are afraid, afraid of the future. Let’s take each other’s hand as we wind through and help each other if we stumble. Let’s look out for each other, the old, the young and everyone in between. Let’s help each other by reaching out, by listening, by being by each other’s side even if we are apart, until we get this all figured out. The monster will eventually be gone and in its wake will be those helpers, those wonderful people who fought the war together, standing tall, holding hands, hugging and high fiving and knowing that no matter what, we don’t ever give up on each other. It is much easier to ride out a storm if you have others in your boat.

Love and prayers to all affected. May you be comforted knowing we all care about you.


The young couple was excited to get their apartment ready, after all, the wedding was six days away. There wasn’t a lot to move in, because honestly they didn’t have much in the way of furniture. It didn’t matter though because material things were just not that important at this stage of their life. He was 19, she was 18, and they had made the biggest decision they would ever make in their lifetime. As they puttered around the apartment, she began to feel uncomfortable. Her stomach was hurting and finally enough to cause her to lie down on the new mattress that was still covered in plastic. As she lay there, it started to get worse and she asked him to take her home. Probably some virus or something she ate they thought. When she arrived home, her mom was waiting. She took her temperature, feeling her forehead like real moms do and settled her in her bed. It wasn’t long before the pain became unbearable. It turned out the frightened young man’s mom had a friend whose husband was a doctor. She called him and he had them come to the ER right away. In her head all she could think was the wedding was just six days away.

Arriving at the ER, she was quickly checked in, quick for those days, and the doctor was waiting. Within minutes it was revealed that she had appendicitis and it was close to rupturing. As he broke the news to the 18 year old bride to be, the tears flowed and her only words were “but the cake is already ordered”. Pretty unimportant in the situation she was in, but it was what came to mind. Within a short time, she was taken to the OR for a good old fashioned appendectomy.

Waking up hours later, trying to focus, she noticed pigs on her wall alongside a picture of a tiger. To add insult to injury, she was in Pediatrics, because as I mentioned, she was 18 years old. The next few hours were rough, but eventually things got better. Now what to do about the wedding. The doctor’s advice was to rest and go forward with the plans, now 5 days away.

The young girl was determined to be discharged that day. It was now Wednesday and the wedding was still on. She took the hospital bed bath and dressed in her own clothes, placed herself strategically in the chair beside her bed and plastered a smile on her face. Free at last, she returned home at a slow pace, but home nonetheless. What now? The wedding was three days away.

First order of business was to get the marriage license at City Hall downtown. Since she couldn’t do steps, this seemed impossible. There were steps in and out and plenty of them. Walking was still painful and she felt defeated. In one of his first tasks as the couple fought to figure this out, the young man went inside, told his story, and the clerk came to the car and filled out the paperwork sitting beside her in the front seat. Many thank you’s later, they headed home.

The next challenge was to get her waist length hair washed and dried so off to the beauty parlor they went. It was now one day away and still so much to do.

Saturday came and after many tears at the rehearsal dinner and many more that night, the couple walked down the aisle of the local church, and it was there they said “I do”.

Today is our 47th anniversary. It is indeed a culmination of an incredible journey. As you can see, the challenges started in the beginning, but the thing that struck me most while writing this is that no matter what cards we were dealt, we never gave up. Most challenges in a new marriage involve getting to know each other, finances, deciding which way to hang the toilet paper roll and how to balance the holidays with family. We had those and many more. I was finishing my second year at Westhampton College and wanted desperately to attend Nursing School. It was a dream I had my entire life. So, with Ricks help, support from my mom and some loans, I started Johnston-Willis School of Nursing in the fall of 1974.

Rick worked at Philip Morris and I went to school. He supported me in every way. Graduating in 1977, I fulfilled that dream and embarked on a career that I dearly loved then and to present day. Rick worked in Sales most of his early days and as most can attest to, “he could sell ice to an Eskimo”, but something was missing. In 1995, with my blessing, and support of both our families, he opened a BarBQue restaurant in Powhatan. The rest is history, but my point in sharing our life is this.

We met when I was 15 years old and over the next 50 years we had good times and we had tough times. We created a family and we lost family. We lost a daughter in the prime of her life, but we were also blessed with grandchildren and wonderful friends, We had successes and we had failures. We had sickness and we had health and we certainly had richer times and poorer times. Through it all, we persevered and grew and supported each other. I have been grieving for a long, long time now and I have accepted that grief is now part of who I am, but that is not a bad thing. I have experienced true love and I use that like a backpack to carry my grief. It’s sort of a Yin Yang thing with the balance of good and bad.

So tomorrow I am thinning the hedge of the maze. I’m letting light shine in and on my life. Yes I have lost, but I have gained too, in immeasurable ways, from the day I met that football player in the number 26 jersey to the day I had to say goodbye. Nothing will ever take away what we built together, nothing will ever take away the love we shared and nothing will ever be the same, but with my loving and supportive family and friends I’ll figure out how to start this new chapter, because my book is yet to be finished.

March 3, 1973
March 3, 2019