The young son came to his father…not long after his Grandpa had died…with tears still lingering in his eyes…eyes that were open wide.


“I know that Grandpa’s gone,” he said, “and at the funeral we said goodbye…but is there anyway to visit him in heaven…or do I have to wait until I die?”


“There are always visiting hours in heaven.” Dad said. “But to heaven you don’t have to climb…because heaven has made it easy to visit Grandpa…any place…at any time.”


“If you close your eyes and think about Grandpa…quickly you will see…you can visit him anytime you want…where he lives…in your memory.”


“And if you ever have a question for him…here’s what you need to do…ask your question…close your eyes…listen…Grandpa will answer you.”


“You see, heaven is not just the place people go when from this world they depart…I believe each of us has a little piece of heaven…right here…inside our heart.”


“It’s the way we were created…the way we were designed…it’s where those we love, before they go, leave a piece of themselves behind.”


“And when we want to visit them…this moment…or long after they have died…we only need to close our eyes…think about them…and take a look inside…”


“Look inside your heart…right now…that’s what I’m going to do…that’s where you’ll find your Grandpa…waiting patiently for you.”


Dad held his son’s hand in his…said, “lose your eyes”…and with their fingers interlaced…

“Hi Dad!”

“Hi Grandpa!”

You could hear them whisper…

as a smile lit up each face.

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Today…a little good news…news that, hopefully, makes you glad…

even though this good news…originated from the bad.

This story begins five years ago…it takes its initial breath inside a women’s sadness…grieving her son’s death.


Move ahead five years…her son’s birthday is today…

and her grief resurfaces as it always does…for it will never go away.


She wanted a way to deal with her grief…in the best way that she could…

Hoping from her sadness…she could create something good.


She thought and thought searching for an idea…and when her thinking was done…

She decided to find a way to give…to another mother and her son.


Move now to a mother picking up her son’s birthday cake…tears of joy and sorrow she cried when she opened up the cake box and read the note inside.


It was from the mother of the son who died…Tyler was his name…written to the mother of the son who lives…whose birthdays are the same.


She paid for the cake in honor of her son…to keep his memory bright…

The note said…enjoy the day…make special memories and hug your children and loved ones tight.


She chose this way to commemorate her son..to help keep his memory awake…

Because as a mother she loved birthdays…while her son loved birthday cakes.


The words were written lovingly…they were compassionate and kind…

Love, Toni, Tylers mom…is how the note was signed


I like to think it was the best birthday…and best birthday cake…that family ever had

As one woman found a way for something good…

to come out of something bad.



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Dear Grandpa,


Mommy said you went to heaven…she said it’s not like going to the store…she said, once you go to heaven…we won’t be seeing you no more.


She said whenever I am sad and missing you…there is something I can do…she said to send my thoughts to heaven and they’ll find their way to you.


She said I should write you a letter and my sadness will recede…besides she said you know your grandpa…and how much he likes to read.


She said to do the best I can for she knows I’m just a boy…she said not to write about how sad I am…but to write about our joy.


I remember all those books you’d read to me…my favorite was the dancing giraffe…I remember all those jokes you’d tell…all those times you made me laugh.


I remember watching TV in your arms…falling asleep before the show was through…I remember waking up to find…you were sleeping too.


I remember throwing airplanes in the park…watching them soar so high…I remember when you’d pick me up..and together we would fly.


Hey, you know Mom was right…she said if sat down and wrote you a letter

that I wouldn’t be as sad…that it would make me feel better.


But I’m a little tired now…I hope you understand

If I bring this letter to a close…because all this writing hurts my hand…


But do not worry Grandpa…I’ll send you letters day and night…

because I have a lot more paper…and so much more to write.


So good night Grandpa…I hope this letter finds you happy…

when it finds you in the sky….

Mom said I should say good night…

and never say goodbye.

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I had a conversation in the bookstore the other night with a couple about my age…the husband is battling prostrate cancer…it’s in its final stage.


He’s undergoing a new radium infusion therapy…having endured chemotherapy and radiation’s rays…and they were pleased to announce this was the first time he’d been out of the house in days.


“We’re hoping this therapy gives me a little more time.” He said and his wife readily agreed. “Because,” and here he smiled, “there’s a few more books I’d like to read.”


He bought a couple of books…his wife put them in her sack…and he smiled at me as they slowly walked away saying, “God willing…I’ll be back.”


As I watched them walk away I thought…what a different world we see… when we come face to face…with our own mortality.


I imagine when we’re looking at the end…when we know we’re living our final days…what’s important to us rises to the top…while what isn’t slips away.


I imagine we might wish for one more moment…when we know our life will be over soon…to make more footprints in the sand…or gaze up at the moon.


One more moment to hug our family…to look into their eyes…one more moment just to wake up and see one more sun begin to rise.


That’s what I found myself wishing for this man…as he faded from my sight

Hoping he’ll have more moments….as for his life he fights.


I know in the time he has left…there’s nothing he will overlook…

and I’m hoping he has a few more moments…to read a few more books.

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Enora used to take him walking in the woods…they would listen to the trees….They would stop to touch the flowers…watch the butterfly and bees.


Enora loved to walk among the birds…she knew them all by name……She did not have a favorite one…for she loved them all the same.


She would close her eyes and listen to their songs…their melodies without words….“Oh I would give anything.” She’d say…”to be singing with these birds.”


On the day Enora passed away…the Enora he adored…he ran into the forest…to the place where they explored.


He remembered how they walked these woods..and all the wonders they had found…but he was not expecting…what he discovered on the ground.


He was thinking of Enora…when suddenly he heard…plaintive cries…what sounded like the moaning of a bird?


He looked around and then he saw it… a few steps up ahead…a baby bird had fallen from the nest…the baby bird was dead.


He scooped her in his hands as gently as he could…then in a voice both sad and calm…he looked up in the tree and said, “I’m sorry!” to the mom.


Tears cascaded down his cheek…as he looked into the mother bird’s eyes…as he listened to her somber tweet…as he watched the mother bird cry?


He nestled the bird within his hands…she was a beautiful shade of blue…then carried her back to his front porch…unsure what to do.


As his thoughts returned to Enora…it became easy to decide….He filled an old shoe box with cotton…then laid the bird inside.


He carried that box back back to the woods…got on his hands and knees…and with mom (and Enora) watching….buried her beneath that tree.


“I know that you’re unhappy, momma bird.” He said.  “Wishing things were different than they were.”…but your baby’s with Enora now…and she’ll take care of her…”


Then he looked up to the heavens…searching in his heart for the right words…“I think you got her wish Enora.” He said…”have fun singing with the birds.”


Then the momma bird landed on a lower branch…and sang the sweetest lullaby

as both boy and bird found their own way…

to say their last good-bye.



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After her mother died she watched her father begin to fade away.

He was always a quiet man, reserved, polite…soft spoken.

but now he hardly ever said a word…she could see his heart was broken.


When he did speak…it was only in whispers…he told her silence was his choice.

He did not want a sound…any sound…to muffle the memory of her voice.


When she asked him why he stopped his morning walks…he smiled,

“I am happy sitting here…thinking about her.”

“Besides,” he smiled, “my feet aren’t as trustworthy as they used to be…It seems they don’t know where to go without her.”


She stopped by every day to comfort him…the father she adored…but with each visit he seems a little sadder…a little older…he seemed to fade away a little more.


Until the day she came and found him in his favorite chair…his favorite place…he’d gone to be with her mother…and for the first time in a long time…he had a smile on his face.


“Goodbye, Daddy.” She said kissing his cheek…then laying her head inside his palm…”Have a safe trip…and when you get to Heaven…say Hi for me…to Mom.”


Then glancing down she smiled through her tears…as she whispered, “I’ll miss you Daddy…but I am happy knowing…even though it took a while…you’re feet know where they’re going.



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“It’s never easy to explain a death.” he said to his son sitting sad upon his knee.  “So I’ll explain it to you as best I can…the way your Grandpa explained it to me.”


It is true Grandpa has died and our life will change…it can never go back to the way it was before…but it only means that physically we won’t see Grandpa anymore.”


“You might not understand this today but, in time, you'll know it to be true…Even though he’s no longer here with us…he’s still inside of you.”


You see any time we meet another person…any time our lives are intertwined…we take a little piece from that person with us while leaving a piece of ourself behind.


You don’t even noticing it happening…you don’t feel it when you're apart but all those little pieces you took from Grandpa have found their way into your heart.


Every time you saw Grandpa being kind…every time you saw him give…you were learning about love and compassion…you were learning how to live.


Grandpa loved to take you to his garden…where you planted flowers or vegetables in a row…which means Grandpa will now be a part of every plant you ever grow.


And what do you say, though I disagree, on the weekend when I make your pancakes…you laugh and say mine don’t taste as good as the pancakes Grandpa makes.


Grandpas in the garden, he’s in the pancakes and as crazy as it seems…he will find a way into your thoughts…a way to sneak into your dreams.


To say that Grandpa’s gone forever…well that would be unfair

because if you stop and look around…you’ll find him everywhere.


His son jumped down from his Dad’s knee…with a huge smile on his face then headed out of the room at a somewhat hurried pace.


“Where are you going?” his father asked…noticing his son’s sadness now behind him…

“If Grandpa is all over the place he said…I think I’ll go and find him”.




It’s never easy to explain a death…because death is always bleak…but it’s nice to know we can ease the pain…

with a game of hide and seek.






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They were good friends when they were young…they’d lie together under the stars…he’d search for constellations…she loved Jupiter and Mars.


The two of them were so young all they had to do it seemed…was to laugh and play and sit together under the stars…and dream.


And oh the dreams they dreamed…of things they’d do and the places they would go…never realizing at such an innocent age…there was much they did not know.


They didn’t know on those evenings looking up at the stars from her backyard that life would not always be that easy…or would hit her quite so hard.


As she grew up her life became one of sadness, of sorrow, of uncertainty and doubt.

He saw her sinking into a quicksand of depression…but he could not pull her out.


She left him a note the day she killed herself with instructions to read it…under either Jupiter or Mars…It read: I’m sorry to be leaving you but there’s just too much darkness between the stars.


He rereads her note often…on nights sitting under a starlit sky

and even after all these years…he still can’t help but wonder why…


Why he couldn’t help her find a way through her sadness…over the terror of her starkness…a way to help her see the stars…instead of all the darkness.


As he looks up at the stars today he tells her, “I’m still missing you…and I am sad for all the dreams we made that never will come true.”


“And I have to tell you something when we were young we couldn’t possibly have known…

It’s not as much fun dreaming…when you have to dream alone.”


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When you meet another person and your lives are intertwined

you don’t think much about the memories that person will leave behind…


You’re too busy enjoying this roller coaster of life you’re riding on

to think what your life would be like if this person was ever gone.


Big Nana is what we called her…it’s the only name we ever knew.

That’s what our grandchildren called her…so that’s what we called her too.


We used to see her often at family gatherings…birthday parties and soccer games.

We loved how when the children would see her they’d excitedly call her name.


Big Nana they would yell!

Big Nana they would shout!

And we would stand and wonder as all this love came pouring out.


Big Nana was like a flower…constantly in bloom

A smile from Big Nana could light up any room.


Big Nana loved to take care of others…Big Nana loved to cook

(And Big Nana was one of only a handful of people who ever read my book!)


But families are unpredictable…they have a way of changing course

and any future time we had with Big Nana was lost in a divorce.


And though it’s been years since I saw her last

since our lives were side by side

I was overwhelmed with sorrow when I heard Big Nana died.


But I feel blessed to ever have known her…

Blessed for the little while our two lives were aligned 

and blessed to have so many memories

Big Nana left behind.


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