In January of 2020, my brother chose to end his life. In the wake of his death, I began writing for the first time in a long time. It was a season of deep introspection and of lament. Old wounds resurfaced. Things long buried came to light. Unexpected healing began. (un)tethered is a collection writings from that time. I suggest starting at the beginning!

27. In Conclusion

When I was 19, most of my friends were alcoholics and addicts. None of us had futures plotted out. None of us believed our lives merited such worth. We tended bars and waited tables and partied hard in between. We were surviving, scraping up affection wherever we could get it- often through one-night stands andContinue reading “27. In Conclusion”

26. Head and Heart

I know. I’m behind. I’ve avoided writing the last few weeks… because I want to write only good things. Because I get tired of the saga.  I have realized something. For eighteen months I have been waiting for my life to return to what it used to be… for myself to return to who itContinue reading “26. Head and Heart”

25. All Things Made New

It’s my 25th post. It has been nearly a year since I began this blog. The title of it… (un)tethered… was shaped by the profound sense of disconnection I had from my own life after my brother’s death. Not just his death but the abandonment of my vocation and, consequently, home. I had the sensationContinue reading “25. All Things Made New”

24. The Work of the Living

Well, I had intended to post this weeks ago but, as I was still working through much of this content, it took me a little time to be fully ready.  The rollercoaster of life continues to swing from big highs to deep lows (I’ll give an update on grad school at the end, for thoseContinue reading “24. The Work of the Living”

22. The Horizon

For those who follow me on social media, this will come as repeat news. It has taken me a few days to make it over to the blog for an update.  The very excellent news is that I have been admitted to VCU’s Ph.D. in Education Leadership, Policy, and Justice. It is one of twoContinue reading “22. The Horizon”

21. January 27, 2020

The question I am asked most often is, “what happened?” What could have possibly led someone as outgoing, generous, and gregarious as my brother to take his own life?  I think I understand that answer a lot more now than I did a year ago, though no one will ever be able to say exactlyContinue reading “21. January 27, 2020”

20. Time

I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately, mostly because I’m in a place to observe how I spend it. That is probably true for most of us lately. I’ve been asked a few times recently how I’m spending my days. It’s a tough question to answer. Last week was slightly derailed by the third semi-moveContinue reading “20. Time”

19. 2021

Hi. Me again. I wish I could say I woke up this morning hungover from the revelries of New Year’s Eve celebrations, but I was in bed by 10 last night. Instead, I woke up with what Brene Brown refers to as a “vulnerability hangover.” Last night was the first time, perhaps since I wasContinue reading “19. 2021”

18. The Bleak Midwinter

December 25. Christmas Morning.  I get up early to start breakfast. I make my daughter her favorite hot chocolate- lactose-free milk topped with fresh-made whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. I want it to look picturesque and abundant, as though I might cram all my best intentions and care-worn love into thatContinue reading “18. The Bleak Midwinter”

17. Home

When I was nearly four, our home burned to the ground. It is one of my earliest memories. We were at church when my uncle appeared to tell us the news. Red-faced and sweaty in his denim overalls, he made his way up the aisle, a stark contrast to the congregants clad in their SundayContinue reading “17. Home”

16. Joy

We returned to Charlottesville last week. I stayed with friends and my daughter returned to my mom’s, where she is better set up and equipped to do virtual schooling. A dear friend of ours got married, which offered a welcome break from some of the stressors of life. I got to do maid-of-honor-ish sorts ofContinue reading “16. Joy”

15. Life Can Be Beautiful

PART I Because a storm sweeps across the island on the day I am meant to leave, my departure is delayed. I spend two days perched on the edge of whatever must come next. Two days of bluster and white-capped seas and the whole world holding its breath to the count of electoral votes. OnContinue reading “15. Life Can Be Beautiful”

14. Winter

I would like to know the deep of the island winter. I would like to see the frost cold stars unyielding to the light of the land, the wild boughs of blood-red bittersweet caught in the fury of verglas. I would like to see the coruscating mustard of the goldenrod dim, the whorled aster and jewelweed laid to rest. But it is not my time.

13. Bended Knee

My earliest memories used to be close to me, the jumble of them kept around like a lucky coin I could touch when I needed to know the truth of things. But then my head became full of more important things, like keeping another human alive or not ending up in the news for sayingContinue reading “13. Bended Knee”

12. Waffles

As a teenager, I loved to sleep in on Saturday mornings. Invariably, I would be woken by the loud and disjointed sounds of my mother in the kitchen, by her laughter as she spoke on the phone, by drawers closing, and cupboards slamming, and pans banging. I. Hated. It. I would lie in bed fumingContinue reading “12. Waffles”

11. Monhegan Island

Ok… Maine is beautiful. I’m not sure why I’ve never traveled here before, but I will definitely travel here again. I was a bit of a mess in the days leading up to my departure. There were so many moving pieces to coordinate. But mostly, it was the idea of leaving my girl for fourContinue reading “11. Monhegan Island”

10. Healing

“Healing does not mean forgiveness either, though it is a result of it. Healing is knowing our woundedness; it is developing an intimacy with the ways in which we suffer.” -Lama Rod Owens I always believed that forgiveness was the first step toward healing. I was wrong. When we were young, we were made toContinue reading “10. Healing”

9. Heart

Heart. One word. An organ expanding and contracting beneath 24 ribs. Muscle, fiber, flesh. The feeling place.   i carry your heart with me When my daughter was born, that organ tasked with the vital role of maintaining life exploded into a thousand pieces. And yet, I did not die. Or perhaps I did, because everyContinue reading “9. Heart”

8. It’s Happening

Guys. I am going to Monhegan Island. I heard back from the loveliest of people yesterday, a kindred spirit for sure. Her name is Melanie and, this year, she opened a sweet little spot on Monhegan Island called The Cracked Mug. She named one of the beautiful seaside rooms after he son Alexander. A friendContinue reading “8. It’s Happening”

7. Faith

I’m always reticent to talk about my personal faith, mostly because my past experiences have led to some deep skepticism, which I generally assume others share, but also because it feels deeply and immensely private. Most of the time I’m still trying to figure it out for myself. But, as this is the space IContinue reading “7. Faith”

6. The Answer

I was seven when my mom bought me my first journal and I discovered what it felt like to put pen to paper. To see one’s innermost thoughts take tangible shape and form seemed a sort of magic, like spinning gold out of air. To create something where nothing once existed surely must be theContinue reading “6. The Answer”

5. The Question

What is it that you want to know? And if I answer, will you turn away? To be seen is fascinatingly frightening. Who can bear up under such a thing? Still, I have carried this inside of me for so long. It has carved pieces out of my soul, like water shaping stone. What haveContinue reading “5. The Question”

4. Atonement

The following post contains language and imagery that refers to suicide. Please take care in reading. If you need support at any time, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. I am not sure if the voice I hear in my head belongs to my brother or just my memory of him. IContinue reading “4. Atonement”

2. The Only Woman Alive

Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here came on the radio the other day. It opens with a long and sparse guitar intro, in which a cough can be heard across one of the tracks. The sound is startling, as though someone unexpected was suddenly discovered to be in the room. More than once I’ve looked over my shoulder when hearing it. It’s what I love about the song, a reminder that this moment has been and will continue to be shared across distance and time.

1. The Tether

The tether. That thing that binds us to our families of origin, not by any desire of our own, but through the mere act of existence. We spend our lives exploring the roots of this connection, be it to an unending wellspring of love or the heavy, unshakeable burden of pain.