Smiling in a Tree

I finished the science-fair-trifold-board display for mom’s burial service in the morning.

I added and added to it, until finally I knew it was done.

And then I realized it was done.

Everyone else was asleep.

And I slid down the wall to floor and cried and cried and cried.

I could not think of words, not to process by blogging or write about her or even say to her.

Then, with hot tears still staining my face, a letter poured out of me to her best friend, which I share here:


Sorry to bother you.

Tomorrow we finally bury mom’s ashes. We didn’t even get to vote on ashes. It just happened because the wreck was so bad. It has taken this long for Kirk to pick a weekend and get mom’s family gathered so we could do the burial part.

I just wanted to thank you. You loved my mom well, and were a friend to her through the best and worst, the hardest and celebratory. I am glad you were there for her. I am glad she found you, and that you made her smile.

I miss her everyday.

I still check my email constantly, confused as to why I don’t have a hundred messages from her waiting.

Except of course I know.

Remember when her keyboard didn’t have all the letters, and she typed anyway, and it was like secret code to figure out what she was trying to type?

She was crazy! I made her crazy.

But she believed in me. She believed in me when no one else did. She believed in me until I did.

Then she was gone, just like that.

And sometimes it’s still hard to breathe.

Not everybody understands. Not everybody understands how big her presence was, how generously she loved, or how much of herself she gave away to make sure me and Kirk (Kirk and I) made good lives for ourselves. Not everybody understands she was so very hard on us because she knew we could do it, and that we bucked against her because she gave us strength to fight for our dreams – even when we made a mess along the way, trying to figure out how exactly to accomplish those dreams.

She loved me when I was a mess.

She believed in me when I was a mess.

She believed in me right through the mess, until every single dream I had came true, every single one.

I don’t know if anyone will ever believe in me like that again, and it is terrifying and lonely, and feeling that makes me as selfish as I ever was.

I have a husband. She adored him. I think she was as surprised as I was that I did something right, that I chose so well, even if our courtship was as much of a crazy story as any other adventure in my life.

After that car accident in Ohio, the one that should have killed her but didn’t, she always told us that the only reason she survived was because me and Kirk (Kirk and I) still needed her.

I don’t understand why we didn’t get to vote on still needing her or not, or why she didn’t get to stay for the part of life when everything is so perfect and amazing.

Our last months, with the frenzy of the wedding, my first pregnancies (miscarriages), having her over to banter with Nathan – these were the best of our entire lives. It was… exponential on the awesome scale.

We were happy.

She was happy.

She was smiling.


And then she was gone.

And I cry and cry and cry.

I don’t mean to complain, and I am sorry to bother you. Some days I feel I am making such progress in grief, but other days I seen to still be in shock.

Some bit of every day is raw as it ever was and my heart just hurts.

And tomorrow we bury her ashes, right between her parents.

She always said that heaven was a place where her dad could fish and her mom could run through roses without sneezing and she could sit in a tree and watch them both.

I know heaven is a place where she smiles, a place where she is loved, and a place where she is loved and believes it.

Really, seriously, with all my heart, thank you for being her friend.








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About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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