Seven Lessons I’m Learning on the Grief Journey

Six years ago today. Rhiannon's 24th birthday, May 19, 2009.

Today would have been my daughter Rhiannon's 30th birthday. We're calling it her "first birthday in heaven."If you haven't been following the story, here it is in a nutshell: Rhiannon was born (5/19/1985) with polycystic kidney disease which led to other issues, including liver disease, an enlarged spleen, and paralysis following a stroke at age 3. Faced with a short life expectancy, in 2011 she began to experience falling blood counts that led to repeated hospitalizations as her caregivers … [Read more...]

Completing the Hospice Journey

Mid 1990s. Rhiannon asks her dad to be her escort at homecoming. He has no idea how this picture will make him sob 20 years later.

Back in May, I wrote a post about my daughter's decision to enter in-home hospice care. Rhiannon struggled with health issues, related to polycistic kidney disease, her entire life, and spent 26 of her 29 years in a wheelchair. I first blogged about her challenges back in 2010. Today's post is the inevitable conclusion to her story. Rhiannon passed away on August 30. Here's a link to her obituary. Maybe the easiest way to write this post is to begin with the message we sent out to the 175 fa … [Read more...]

Concerning Sheep, Goats, and the Unconditional Love of God

I received this email today. Thought it might be worth exploring here on the blog.Hi Carl.Just listened to your two interviews and was blessed ... You said in your interview that you didn't like the, what I would call, the "us and them" attitude in evangelical circles like "I'm saved and you're not." And though I agree that we should not look down on others and be proud for we can't claim any credit for being a follower of Christ, yet does not the Bible make a distinction between the "sheep … [Read more...]

John D McColman: Obituary and Reminiscence

First, the obituary...Retired Major John D McColman, USAF, 89, passed from this life in High Shoals, Georgia, on January 15, 2013. A lifelong sportsman and devoted family man, John touched many lives through his quiet but warm personality, dry sense of humor, and compassionate character.John D McColman (his birth certificate simply reads the initial “D” for his middle name, which was intended to be the name of his uncle, Dee) was born on June 15, 1923 in Avoca, Michigan. He entered pilot … [Read more...]

Of Death, Dementia, and Dear Old Friends

I learned yesterday that an old friend of mine — someone I haven't seen since the late 1980s, and haven't even spoken with since 1997 — is alive but in advanced dementia. I had lost touch with her, and someone had told me, erroneously, a few years back that she had died. I'm happy to learn that my friend lives, even if under the cruel sentence of the loss of memory and reason. I'm going to write her a letter and basically introduce myself to her and say that her friendship meant a lot to me. Eve … [Read more...]

As Old as John of the Cross When He Died

Here's a bit of useless information. Today, to the day, I am as old as John of the Cross was when he died.I figured this out earlier this week. I was thinking about John, and realized he was 49 when he died, and I'm 49 now. So I looked at his dates, and figured his age at death (49 years, 5 months, 20 days) and compared it to me (today I'm 49 years, 5 months, 22 days, but the slight discrepancy is because I have a February in there). So to the day, I'm as old as he was when he died.Aside … [Read more...]

The Lion in Winter

My eldest cat, China, is well over 20 years old. She was a rescue kitty — she came to me when I managed the bookstore in Sewanee, and a fraternity boy at the college found her, a stray kitten, and took her to the local vet; the same vet who on the very next day I asked “Do you have any kittens up for adoption?” He brought China out to me, and it was love at first sight. The frat boy, who was a true animal lover, came and talked to me to make sure I would be a good “daddy” for the kitten; I must h … [Read more...]