Nitty Gritty Dirty Grief


Sometimes the simplest things worked wonders for Samantha.

We spent thousands of dollars for high-tech seating equipment but her favorite spot was her ‘throne’.

It should come as no surprise because she is a princess.

Samantha’s seat consisted of pieces of furniture foam carved out to fit her little body perfectly. The pieces were glued together to provide head, back and hip support. It was soft, cuddly, light, a perfect throne for a princess.

Unfortunately Samantha was getting too big for her royal seat so we were going to have to give it away.

And I knew the perfect little princess to have it….Cici and her mom Jenny have been fabulous friends to us and like any good member of royalty needed a throne of her own. Cici is also going in for an extensive surgery in September. Hopefully the throne will provide the repositioning and hip support she needs.

Last night we had an exchange of the throne.

She looks so great in her new seat….it is just what she needs. And I was very excited to pass it along.

But (and I hate to admit it) it’s a little bittersweet to see her things moving on. I even got a bit emotional about a pack of swim diapers the other night but I can’t think of anything better than to give her things to her friends who need them….

It gives me joy to give them to her people who need them…

Joy and a little twinge of ick….

Sweet and a little taste of bitter….

Samantha outgrew her chair.
Nitty Gritty Dirty Grief

What has yet to happen?

I went to writer’s group today. Our prompt was to write about what is yet to happen….here’s what I came up with.

What has yet to happen….

By Me.

When the worst has come to fruition…when the Katrina of your life has passed, you stand knee deep in the murky water, you look at the ruin of your life and you say….

well f*%&

But then the sky clears. And the birds start to sing.

And you realize you can either be a participant or you can continue to stand in the murky water.

The murky water has snakes, and alligators and your feet have become all pruny.

So you drag yourself out of the water and think I survived, now what? Maybe I’ll just dry my feet, maybe I’ll let the sun warm my face, maybe I’ll cry, maybe I’ll praise the heavens that I survived, maybe I’ll curse the heavens…..

When you lose so much, it leaves little more to lose.

Perhaps it makes you fearless.

Perhaps it makes you reckless.

Perhaps it makes you dangerous.

Perhaps it makes you dream…dream big because their is nothing left to lose.

So who knows what is yet to happen.
Nitty Gritty Dirty Grief

Life is Fish

My lovely friend Alissa treated me to all-you-can-eat sushi last night.

Alissa is an angel from heaven.

For those of you who have not witnessed a Heather Schichtel sushi event…..I can eat sushi…

Like a killer whale on a binge…

Like a great white shark on a feeding frenzy….

All you can eat sushi is nirvana to me.

Bring it.

Our waiter was lovely and told us the only way to take advantage of all-you-can-eat sushi night was if 1) you were really hungry

No problem

And 2) that you had a lot of time to enjoy all-you-can-eat sushi night

At that my heart stopped a bit. I’m not used to having an unlimited amount of time. I am used to a schedule. A schedule of meds, tube feedings, oxygen monitoring, ear cleaning, diaper changing etc.

I am not used to time….

But now I have it. I have more time than I know what to do with. Bart was traveling for work. I had nothing to rush home to. It was just me…I could sit in the sushi restaurant until the tuna came home.

And so we did. Alissa’s husband was with the kiddos (thank you Jerry). And so we sat and talked and cried and laughed and ate and drank for three hours.

Lovely. I waddled out of the restaurant like a happy Poppa Walrus, rubbing my little tusk, twitching my whiskers.

Time…..time to be with good people, to not look a the watch, that time might just be alright.

I got home only to find my grief sitting in The Void wearing my life is good hat and eating my Milano cookies.

Thank God I took my own time.

And thank goodness that I decided to have that rainbow roll for dessert.

I looked into the depth of The Void, flipped my grief the double bird and went to bed.

Yeah, life is fish….sometimes really tasty spicy tuna….
Nitty Gritty Dirty Grief

Beach Love

My friend Cora sent this to me…..

Along with this message….

I’ve included as an attachment a picture of something we made at the beach in memory of your beautiful daughter. Made with some of the many shells at the beach, it struck me that even the broken shells and the simplest shells at the shore are creations of exquisite beauty, with their own stories to tell…..

Lil’ Miss has left a ginormous void in our world. But these thoughts and messages of love are little sprinklings of life…

we might just be okay….because of you all, we might just be okay.
Nitty Gritty Dirty Grief


El Santuario de Chimayo receives almost 300,000 visitors a year and has been called “no doubt the most important Catholic pilgrimage center in the United States.”

During holy week alone, 30,000 people make the pilgrimage… many walk from Albuquerque; 90 miles away.

We chose to drive from Taos but that didn’t make the journey any less exciting.

We started out journey at 3:30 giving us two hours before our dinner reservations.

But we got lost…..

quite lost.

I think it might be a requirement that any place worthy of a pilgrimage must be out of the way, difficult to find and on several curvy mountain roads leaving one quite green and slightly nauseated upon arrival.

It was a beautiful drive…..I know this because I was very focused on the horizon in order to prevent a pre-pilgrimage bout of car sickness.

At 5:30 we were still in car. We were on the right road but stuck in construction traffic.

Our dinner reservations were at 5:30 and the sanctuary closed at 6:00.

I was cranky, nauseous and my mother was driving.

“Forget it,” I said. “We don’t need to go to the church. Let’s just go to dinner. I need a margarita.”

“You need to go to the church. We need holy dirt.”

My mother is not Catholic. My mother is Lutheran…..and not a very good one at that. BUT my mother is a very spiritual person and the Chimayo Sanctuary is a very spiritual place and the dirt at Chimayo is known for it’s healing, miraculous properties.

My mother is also very determined.

We bounced up the dirt road and into the sanctuary at 5:45. I ran up to the doors, stopped at the entrance and took a deep breath….we made it.

Inside are photos, prayers, crutches and pictures of those healed by the Chimayo earth. Candles lit the parameter. I picked up a candle for Samantha and sat down to say a prayer.

Odd, I don’t quite know what to pray for anymore.

And so I sat there….waiting for something inspirational to hit me….perhaps waiting for a miracle.

And then the lights went out.

Perhaps I should pray that I do not get locked in for the night.

Apparently El Santuario de Chimayo closes at 5:55, not 6:00.

I found Mom in the holy dirt room. Holy dirt room is an adobe room with a hole in the floor where you can scoop out the blessed dirt. The church replaces 30 tons of blessed dirt a year.

Some people eat the dirt. Some people rub themselves in it. Some people take it home and place it in their blessing bowl for good juju.

Mom was in the dark of the room, filling a baggie with holy dirt.

“Mom,” I said. “I think we have plenty.”

“You have friends who might need this.”

Why yes, yes we do.

We made it out of the dark of the room to find the front door locked from the outside. For as lovely as the sanctuary is, I really didn’t want to spend the night. Fortunately a very nice watchman let us out.

We joined the rest of our ladies for a much needed margarita.