I wrote the following on November 1st, but could never finish it or get it quite right, so I never published it.

. . .

Today I was sweeping and washing and taking off Alice's shoes and folding and putting away and sweeping and washing and putting Alice's shoes back on, all day, without even stopping to sit down for a moment, for ten hours.  Ten hours.  I washed off the chalkboard in the kitchen, the calendarish one where we always write out the month and the things that will be happening.  October is gone.  I wrote NOVEMBER in capital letters but the word looked and felt all wrong, so I erased it again. 

November means our house will get warmer and warmer as the outside gets colder and colder.  Thanksgiving happens.  When I was a little girl I kinda disliked the Thanksgiving activities at my grade school, mostly because they always made us go around in a circle and say the things we were thankful for, one at a time, and it filled me with anxiety.  I hate going around in a circle and saying things one at a time, even now.  I panic and say dumb awkward statements too quiet or too fast or both and bite the inside of my cheek while I wait for my turn, eyes frozen wide.  Even though I always knew that it would be an okay free-pass answer to say that I was thankful for my family and held onto it as a backup plan, it seemed generic and dumb to me, so I would instead think really really hard trying to come up with something interesting and unexpected but still true.
(You could probably psycho analyze me and my personality based on that last part, but anyway.)

As I was doing all of the washing and shoe-tying and chalkboard-writing this afternoon, I thought long and hard about many subjects.  Out of nowhere I was nearly knocked over thinking about Thanksgiving -- all the Thanksgivings I have had and all the ones I will have.  How thankful I am for my family.  Oh, wow.  I am.  I am thankful I am thankful I am thankful. For the family and cozy house of my childhood.  For the family of tiny kids I have today. For the house full bigger kids and adults in my future and Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving.  I can't wait to have them all.  This is my life, these are my years.  No one gets many.  I can't wait for my house to get even louder and for my kids to have conversations with each other and with me and for us to all love each other and eat a bunch of salty sweet food and maybe fight but that's okay, because you know, it's family.



I cannot believe I wrote that this month.  I cannot believe my Grandma is gone.  I cannot believe that we spent Thanksgiving in mourning. The family of my childhood will never be the same.  The house of my childhood is empty.  November, you kicked my ass.



  1. i'm mourning with you, because i feel like you felt the way about your grandparents like i felt about mine. they were an integral part of your life. i know how you feel, and it hurts so much.

    it gets better. it does, but it's still not easy for me. i miss them every day, but their spirit is here. i read this today (in an obit of a friend that also lost her grandma) and thought you might like it:

    Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there, I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glints on snow. I am the sunlight On the ripened grain. I am the gentle Autumn's rain. When you awaken in the morning hush, I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there. I did not die. My Spirit is still alive.

    love you, erin.

  2. I still haven't experienced grief on such a personal level (I am absurdly lucky and blessed, but maybe not, because I'm afraid it will blow me away when the time comes) but my mom said what hurt her the most when she lost her mother (at 19! can you imagine!) was that the world kept turning. Losing someone we love is so big and difficult and it seems that everything should stop.

    I'm really sorry, Erin. For those of us lucky to have our grandparents so long, it just makes it so hard to imagine them not being here. I don't get along with my grandfather, in fact, I barely spoke to him at Thanksgiving. This makes me sad. (But at least he didn't say something horrible to me to ruin Thanksgiving.) And it makes that my husband's grandpa is so sweet and loving and kind even more dear, because I feel like I got a bonus grandpa that I need badly.

  3. what a heart-wrenching post, erin. i can hear the DEEP DEEP love you have for your family in your post ... and i am so sorry that you had to spend thanksgiving mourning the loss of the matriarch of your family.

    i haven't posted about this b/c my grandmother reads my blog, and she hasn't fully accepted what is happening ... but we are slowly losing my grandfather to alzheimer's. he was the smartest man i knew. he worked his way up from working in a paint & body shop to being the account executive at disney world. he was SO smart. he could figure out anything. he gutted and rebuilt their house flawlessly. he rebuilt cars for fun. he traveled all over the world.

    and now, he's just a shell of his former self. he loses his temper. he forgets. he gets lost. he can't figure out simple things. it is so hard to see him like this.

    all of that to say, the thought of losing him takes my breath away. i can only imagine what you are going through right now. my heart hurts for you, erin. i wish i could be there to hug you, let you cry, wipe away the tears and listen.

    i love you.

  4. I am so sorry. I wish I could make it better and I hope with the coming snow it will be like a washing away white...


    you are loved.


  5. I'm sorry, again, about your lovely grandmother. She looks beautiful in the pictures you posted; I can see her light radiating all around the room!
    Things are going to get better for you, I can feel it. You're a stupendous person and you deserve a turn around from the less-than-nice November.

  6. I am so sorry for your loss, Erin. I lost my grandmother--whom I was extremely close to--almost 10 years ago. I never gets easy. Things still feel "wrong" without her.

    I wrote a post recently about her. It was the first thing I have written about her in 10 years. I was so glad to have done it.

    This is it if you feel like reading it. But I totally understand if you can't.


  7. I am so sorry for your loss. I have lost all but one grandparent. The one remaining is alive although I feel I lost her a long time ago as she has dementia. It is hard.

    I'm thinking of you this holiday season.

  8. I spent my Thanksgiving mourning the loss of my grandma as well. Even though it's been 7 months I still can't believe she's gone. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  9. I don't think there is much else I can say that hasn't already been said here. I'm so, so sorry.

    You are so loved, Erin. Truly.

  10. I am sorry Erin, and glad that you feel so much love. This is the first baby of mine that my Grandmother will not meet, and I have said that about three times to various people this week, trying to process it. My Ever's middle name if after my Grandma Elizabeth. I understand the connection, the love, the loss. XO

  11. Oh, Erin. Sending you hugs. I am so sorry.

    The 5th anniversary of my Grandma Mary's death is tomorrow. I just wrote about her horrendous popcorn balls, which somehow made me love her and miss her even more. It's all so fresh, still. That's what love can do. It's preservative.

  12. Oh Erin, I wish I could fix it. I wish I could fix it all.

    Hugs. Love to you and yours.

  13. erin, I am so, so, so very sorry. I know it's my own journey, but my grandma died a year ago, on Nov. 9th, my birthday, 11 days before Gage was born. Because of distance and my condition, I didn't even get to go to her funeral. Oy, just typing that makes me tear up.

    Grandparents are so amazing, and I am so sorry.

  14. I'm so sorry, Erin. I can only hope that when I'm a Grandma that I'll have a love with my Granddaughter like she had with you.

    My heart aches for you. Keep writing. We are listening.


  15. What a lovely post, Erin. Your writing is so soulful and real and captivating.

    Again - I am so very sorry for your loss.

    P.S. I always hated it when I had to say what I was thankful for in those circles too.


  16. I'm so sorry, Erin. I hate that you're hurting, and that your beloved Grandma is no longer with you in body. I wish I could do something to help you, help ease a bit of the pain and sadness. Know you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. And let December take over your November and change everything, in a good and healing way.

  17. We would be fast friends in real life...THIS is me and I'm so glad I'm not the only one: "Even though I always knew that it would be an okay free-pass answer to say that I was thankful for my family and held onto it as a backup plan, it seemed generic and dumb to me, so I would instead think really really hard trying to come up with something interesting and unexpected but still true."

  18. Gosh, reading this made me want to cry. Just like the your last blog I commented on.

    My grandma's only wish was to make it through the holidays in 2005 and she passed on January 6th, 2006. It was horrible I cired and cried. I have never seen my strong family so weak. Then when my grnadpa passed 3 years later, it felt like the world was falling apart.

    As Laura said, it does get better, but it seems like it takes forever. Not a day goes by that I don't think about them. I don't cry as much as I did before and I don't get upset as easily. I try to think positively and I know that they have the best seats in the house for all that is going on with our family. Now they won't miss a thing.

    It will take time and it will be hard .. my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    If you need to chat please send me a DM or e-mail me. :)

  19. This is truly beautiful, and I am so so sorry about your grandma.

  20. Oh lady, I'm so sorry about November.

    I'm just getting all caught up here. I love your words and your heart as per usual.

    You are lovely. And I hope December must be nice to you.

    I'm sorry for your loss.

  21. so so sorry for your loss..

    my nana has dementia, she doesnt know who I am (I am named after her) and she has no idea who my daughter is ( who's middle name is named after and her first and only GREAT grandchild)..

    the most important thing is family.. and although she is gone, her spirit lives on in you and your family..

  22. I'm sorry, Erin. :--( I know how you feel about the Family of Your Childhood will never be the same. So much changes when you lose a grandparent.


  23. Aw honey.

    first of all-you are such a great writer. and I hate taking turns talking in circles too. It's not that I'm shy, it's just that how do you sum up the whole of your SELF under that kind of pressure and time limit?

    It's the same reason I hate when somebody asks "what's your favorite movie?" How am I supposed to answer THAT???

    Anyway. I'm thinking of you all the time and wishing you peace.

  24. sometimes november is just as ass.

    i don't have anything to say that will make you feel better.
    i'm just listening.
    and offering warm.
    away from the cold.

  25. Erin - I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother! We would love to hang out one day in December, we can come to you! Let us know.
    Kari 654-0387