Momma's Day

It's Mother's Day... my second one without her. I'm in Wasilla right now, relaxing on the couch with a cup of coffee and bacon sizzling in the oven.

Last night at the grocery store, I fought back the tears when I saw people walking up and down the aisles with their Mother's Day bouquets. For a split second, I had made the mental note that I needed to be sure to call Momma for Mother's Day.

This morning, I awoke to this thoughtful comment from a sweet stranger in Florida who found my "Memories of Momma" photo tribute on Instagram. My Mom loved angels, so it was especially touching that this woman referred to Momma in that way. Her words are a gift!


I can't speak for others' experiences dealing with grief, but for me, getting past the "firsts" has been the toughest. This year, my head is a little clearer now that I'm further from the fog of grief. And these little surprise comments — from strangers and from friends — sure help too.

Today, we baked a big peach cobbler, in honor of my Momma. Piping hot from the oven and smothered with ice cream, my heart was warmed with memories of her. 

Love and miss you everyday, Momma.  


The Day of All Saints

Since losing my Mom in March, I have appreciated the gentle guidance of a page-a-day journal called "Healing After Loss." Today's meditation was on the topic of the "communion of saints" — the fellowship between the living and the departed. It was a fitting subject because today, the 1st of November, also happens to be All Saints' Day.

Admittedly, I never really paid much attention to this day of remembrance when I was growing up in the Deep South. It seems I was always recovering from the sugar high of Halloween or more focused on trading candy with my parents and my friends.

I'm thankful that today, my lovely friends, Jenny and Chelsea, introduced me to the tradition of All Saints' Day when they hosted a potluck in honor of the occasion.

Their invitation simply stated, "You are invited to bring anything to share which reminds you of those {saints} you love." I knew instantly what to contribute. That's right, you guessed it: Momma's peach cobbler. Other than that, I wasn't sure what else to expect for the evening.

As folks gathered together in the cozy space of my friends' home, we had a smorgasbord of memorial dishes laid before us — lasagna from a WWII recipe, mashed potatoes with a secret ingredient, broccoli and mayo, white chicken enchiladas, kielbasa in pumpkin porter, grandpa's pecan pie, grandma's peanut brittle, decadent chocolate sauce, and saucy finger lickin' good barbecue ribs.

We sat around eating and sharing our cherished memories and celebrating our Loved Ones. It was a deeply touching evening, one I hope to take part in again next year.

Here's to the blessing of shared memories, warm hugs, and the comforting presence of dear friends. May the memory of your Loved Ones be eternal.


A New Tradition

I love annual traditions. Like cooking a standing rib roast for Christmas or wearing a special birthday necklace on March 10 or lighting a small candle in honor of my Dad every November 19. 

But this year brings the opportunity to create a new tradition, a way to remember — and celebrate — my dear sweet Momma on her birthday, August 24. 

This first year, I wanted to choose a beautiful tribute for Mom that I could continue from year to year, something to look forward to annually in celebration of the blessing of Mom’s 66 years of life. 

Last summer, Mom and I went berry picking together when she visited me here in Juneau.  We had so much fun seeing who had picked the most berries and teasing each other about wildlife in the woods.  Mom was terrified of bears (caterpillars, too), and I was so proud of her for stretching outside her comfort zone and hanging out in the bushes with me.  We had a blast last summer, and those are some of the memories that sustain me during these dark times.

After much contemplation, I decided that berry picking would be a simple yet poignant way to stay in remembrance of my very Best Friend.  Berry picking is the summer-time stress reliever that sustains the soul and distracts the mind.  Plus, there’s nothing quite like the small pleasure of a blueberry smoothie during the depths of winter, once the snow has fallen and the days are short.  I love berry picking, partly for this reason, and partly because it’s an experience I never had growing up as a city girl in Alabama.  Now, I have another reason to appreciate it more. 

My friend, Lisa, lives “out the road” in prime berry picking territory, and this was the perfect spot to focus on this new tradition and be reminded of quality time with Mom.  This was the same spot where we had picked berries in 2015, so it was even more meaningful of a location.

My dear friend, Sarena, joined us and naturally livened the sombre mood.  Lisa prepared an amazing meal, topped off with carrots, herbs, and garlic from her garden. And I brought Momma’s peach cobbler, always a hit.  It was a wonderful evening with good friends, and Mom's presence was definitely felt — and missed.

With a full stomach, a warmed heart, and a bucket of blueberries in tow, I journeyed home, but not without stopping first at a picturesque roadside lookout.  It was time to put into motion the second part of this newly planned tradition — sending off a sky lantern. 

After pausing to pray, I lit the sky lantern and sent it off while singing “Happy Birthday” to Mom.  It was that one of the hardest things I've ever chosen to do. But I made the choice, the choice to take a moment to remember her and celebrate her and to know without a doubt that she was watching.

The night sky was starless, blanketed by thick clouds, an opaque backdrop as the lantern floated up to the heavens.  That paper sky lantern, fragile as it was, brightened up my dimmed horizon. And I finally felt at peace, for the first time in a very long time.


Happy Alaska Wild Salmon Day!

Happy Alaska Wild Salmon Day! Alaskans couldn't be prouder of their fish, especially Alaska wild salmon. And what's not to love? It's decadently delicious, superbly succulent, and downright in demand!

Here's a throwback photo to my first time doing field work for Fish and Game. This was a chum salmon tagging project at Douglas Island's Fish Creek. I had never in my life been so up close and personal with a fish!