There is something that I have not yet addressed on this blog.  Addressing this topic has come, still comes, with much anticipation.  However, I believe now is the time…

Hmmm, how does one write this sort of thing…

How does one start this…

... I don't want to write a eulogy.

I don't want to post photos of Her or Her and I together…

Well, I left and came back to the laptop for a few moments and the best idea I have is to share the photographs that I took, in her garden, of the floral arrangements I made for her memorial.

Yes, I like this idea.

Sounds like sigur ros agrees too… {actually, maybe before reading on you should put some sigur ros on to play in the background…}

You see, she died on thursday, june 26th.

That day was the most horrific day of my life.

And that, that is all I will say about that.

We wanted to celebrate her life through a memorialization to be held a few weeks later.  In the interim of that time passing, I came into possession, rather purposefully, if you get my drift {'meant-to-be' if you will} of a hasselblad 501.  I'd wanted one of my own for a very long time, and that long time finally came to an end.

The first, and until last week in sweden, only rolls I've shot on it were the photographs that I took, in her garden, of the floral arrangements I made for her memorial.

The memorial day too was, how should I say, well, I don't honestly think I can say how it was for me in a very concise way.  Rather, maybe I don't want to admit how that was for me.

So, I will not try, other then that day was very, very bizarre.  It did not feel real.  It was so odd.  Everything about it was odd.  And while I know much of that day was as right as it could be, it still all felt wrong.

Ridiculously wrong in a maddening way.

The photographs in this post were taken the day after the memorial.

The day after the second most hard day of my life.

9 months.

The same amount of time it takes to create, and bring into the world, a life… that's how long we had with her.  From diagnosis to the final, haunting silence.

9. months.

As difficult as those nine months were, caring for her, observing destruction, the inexplicable adaptations to life no one can ever really be prepared for… she was still there. Her hands were there… to hold, to caress, to run through my hair, to be held in my own…

Her hands were still there.

Fingers bearing that one, gold band, her hands were still there.

And now, now they are not.

Now, my fingers bear that one, gold band.

Now, everything is hard.

If it was hard before, it is harder now.

Now, I can not send her a text message.

Now, I can't sit in the sun with her. Or drink tea with her. Or laugh with her. Or cry with her.

Now, I see her name on my 'favorites' page in my phonebook on my iphone and now, now I can't look forward to 'ma mere' calling or messaging me.

Now, I just miss her oh so much.

In every way believable, I miss her.

The road from thursday, june 26th to now has been, well, three distinct descriptions come to mind: enlightening, challenging, horrifying.

Enlightening: I officially know who I am.  Very clearly.  I know what has made me, what makes me and what will continue to form me.  For the facets of factors that will war against me, I am trying to prepare and battle those the best I can.  For the facets of factors that I would like to have more of, well, I'm striving to coddle as many genuine, good things into my life that I can.  I do consider this bit of seeming enlightenment a privilege.  A curse, and a privilege.  I've seen the power of the human body on multiple facets.  Personal power and the power of others, both in positive and negative forms.  All of it, it is enlightening.

Challenging and horrifying: I'll admit, I have been diagnosed with severe post traumatic stress disorder.  I see two therapists.  I have full flashbacks, I have nightmares, I have anxiety attacks, I've had I think it's at four panic attacks.  I have insomnia.  And as the season changes I've found myself reliving moment for moment these similar days I had with her at this same time last year.  This time last year she was losing her hair.  I have paranoia.  I startle at an embarrassing rate.  I often have a skewed sense of taste.  I now have an inability to concentrate at an alarming rate.  My patience feels nearly vanished.  My temper flares.  And I shake.  I shake a lot.  And I am battling depression.  I think of my dad nearly as much as I think of her.  I can not yet replace the bad memories with the good.

This part of this journey... this part that nobody tells you about, the part when they are gone and you are left without them... and what you are left with is utterly baleful...

this part is crazy.

The human body is clearly not meant to experience pain and death or the effects of such.

I can not honestly put into words, now and perhaps maybe ever, the experiences my father and I went through, especially as june 26th drew close.  What my husband… what my own husband experienced with and for a life that was ending.

A life so close.

A life that we loved so much.

A life that as it waned away in ways that we had no inkling of an idea what to do, we just tried.  And prayed.  And tried harder.  Until none of us had to try anymore.

Except for now.  Now there is even more trying.  And this is the trying... this is the trying that is so ghastly that nobody tells you about this part of the process because. they. can't.  There is no fair warning in any of this, but especially this.

No. fair. warning.

Some days I am really marvelous. Some days I am great.  Some days I am okay or alright.  Some days I am neutral.  Some days I am not well.  Some days I am horrid.  The horrid days are terrifying.

Getting help has been a chore, to be frank.

I am, as I've learned, completely 50/50 intro/extravert.  And, a perfectionist.  I set my expectations way too high, in all things.  I am now working on this.  Asking for help, in those/these circumstances, I didn't know how, and it was, and it is, embarrassing.  Crying… it's embarrassing. every. time. And sometimes, I cry a lot.  I am sad inside, a lot.

Not hating others for their joy; their new marriages, their babies, their lovely life progressions… well not hating others is a truly an ugly beast that honestly, and sometimes regularly, rears it's head.  Nobody warns you that you will have to fight becoming a jealous and bitter person because you want so bad everyone else's 'normal' lives.

I've had a few abundantly galling times since june 26th.  The past month has presented itself with a rather large amount of these times, and this has caught me off guard.  Very off guard.

What now?

I am learning to truly rely on friends and family.  Words I think of constantly like "it's okay to struggle" have been, I swear, life-saving.  Or the first time my one friend said "let's celebrate this moment" to something that I considered so minuscule and unimportant.  Now, my friend has said those four words many, many times to me, and each time they feel as sweet as the feeling of Her fingers stroking my head as I lay in her lap.  I remember very vividly the last two times She did that.

Oh, and "be patient with yourself".  That's a good one too.

I try.

Yes, I am back to trying.  We all are.  We have to.

I trust that I will not be allowed to experience more then what He knows I can bare.  I have learned to pray specifically for those fellow sweet sisters of mine around the world that have likewise taken care of, and said adieu to their own beautiful mothers too.  I am not the only one.  Neither are they.  I know He helps us feel each other's pain and too, comfort.

I see an herbalist which is of great benefit.  I run.  Sometimes I run a lot.  I work out more now.  I have learned to eat in a more balanced way, especially after learning to cook for Her.  I will say, I learned some pretty delicious recipes cooking for her.  One friend shared the homeliest of chicken pot-pie recipes.  Oh it is so good and so home and it just wraps you up in goodness inside and out!  Another, another shared a chicken curry recipe that was great for days where we all were feeling a little saucy.

I've thought about writing a book of helpful advice I received, experiences, quotes, recipes, anecdotes, photographs from the past year and all of 'this'.

I used instagram as a means of using a little bit of iphone photography to document the journey honestly and accurately and realistically.  Doing this helped me journal my experiences, both with her and personally for myself.  It helped me see light at very dark times.  It helped me slow down.  It helped me stay connected.  And as a person that has a hard time staying connected, well, I was and am thankful for it's ability to inform in an unobtrusive way.

I keep trying.

I listen.  More-so then I ever have, I listen.

I am quieter.

I value the sunshine in a way I never have or probably would have before.

I take greater solace then I knew existed in traveling and making new memories in new places that I can not associate with her.  That sounds so rude to type out, but it's the honest truth.  Perhaps a bit harsh, but the truth.

I love the soil and the ground and plants and flowers more then I ever expected.  Garden therapy became such a healing process for me and my hand and my mind and my heart.  I can see now why she loved it so.

I planted a small container garden when she got her sickest.

I remember when she could no longer respond… and conversation at times felt so awkward and unbecoming, I would always revert to talking about the garden.  Her garden, my garden, the neighbors garden, gardens near our home, central park…

Even at the very end, when the smallest of movements or sounds or recognitions or expressions were made...

our last conversation was about flowers.  About the garden.

Actually, as I sit here thinking about that conversation, I believe it was about the garden we will later have again together...


I still remember the last real 'I love you' we exchanged.

I remember every bit.

I see it, even still.

I close my eyes, and I see it.

How funny, today was the first time, just now, that I closed my eyes and was comforted by this scene.  Until now the thought of that memory would make me mad and I would push it out.

Nobody should push out the 'I love yous'.

The 'I love yous' are the best part.


My small container garden went surprisingly splendidly.  Even after long, trying days of taking care of her, coming home and having my faith reassured of how vibrant and gorgeous life is meant to be… well those little green sprouts of tiny stems and leaves made me feel joy and pleasure in the way I think joy and pleasure are truly meant to be felt.  Maybe I would have never learned that if I hadn't had to do all of… this...

One more reason things are especially harder right now, frost and coldness came last week.  And now my container garden is nearly no more...


And I try to talk about all of this… whatever you want to call 'this'… … … experience?

As long as the imperfect human body is in existence on this imperfect earth, this experience will continue to transfer itself amongst all of us.

But we will not be alone.

In so many facets, we will not be alone.

I never, never, never thought this would happen to me, to our family.

Accidents… accidents I understand, or rather, accidents you have an understanding that they could happen randomly and suddenly and unexpected and from factors, factors sometimes utterly ridiculous, in play from an imperfect environment.

For some odd reason I suppose I just never anticipated that my mother, my mother, would be diagnosed and soon thereafter no longer be living, because of cancer.  I just never thought that that would honestly happen.   Wow, I've never let myself say that before.


Why am I sharing any of this?

Because I need to.

For me.

And for you.

In all of this, I exhausted and yet still exhaust myself attempting to find positives, one of the ones that stands clearly in the forefront is:

I can feel more then I ever thought was possible.

In love and in laughter.

In spirit and body.

In mind and soul.

I can feel.

And I can create.  Create differently then ever before.  And now I respect my creating because I know it's real.  Even if I have to do it less.  Even if it comes in a variety of forms that requires learning and changing and adapting.  Even if it comes not in photography necessarily. I know that what I am creating is real.  And it has the true me.

And the true me has a lot of Her.

So, here is to Her.

What was.

What will be.


here is to us.

All of us.

Because we all need each other.


let's be some of the beauty that she was.


Here is to Her.

* photographed on fujichrome provia 400


  1. Thank you for sharing. I appreciate written word, by anyone, comforting. It has always been a channel for me to get whatever it is that I'm feeling, out in a meaningful way. I'm glad you use/share yourself and your gift of writing. You are fortunate to be able to translate your emotions in such a strong manner, and I hope you feel it helps you as much as it seems, to us outsiders looking in. Sending love and thoughts your way. -Erin Lee

    1. thank you for taking the time to read this erin, it was incredibly helpful to do. I come back and re-read it even, which is also of aide.

      never underestimate the power of written word, especially that of our own thoughts and emotions and feelings.

      it's the encouragement of you friends that has lead me to write more, so again, thank you for being willing to share parts of this journey.

  2. The most beautiful words and photos. You are so strong, my friend.

    1. I am strong with the help of my dear friends, sweet karen, thank you.

  3. Hi cozbijean,
    My heart melts as I read your most personal thoughts. I cherish the day we spent with you in Gamla Stan. You are a very refreshing person. You brighten my day. Whenever I think of you it brings smiles to me and now tears for your loss. Your thoughts were laid open for all to read, I know how that must help. You have moved me to move. Loves

    1. I loved dearly reading your comment judy, thank you so much for writing. I cherish all of my time in sweden, and especially the time I got to spend with such beautiful women and mothers. My own may not be here now, but my adoptive collection of mother's is now a very prized and special and very real thing I now cling too, and getting to spend that day with you in gamla stan felt like I was indeed spending the day with my own mom, walking, exploring, laughing, laughing more, walking more… what a treasured time. I look forward to more fun adventures like that with you someday soon. much love.


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