Don’t let them hold you down. And yes, you can reach the sun.

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Roman. Photo by Skater Bud, used with permission.

Dear Roman —

Your name came to me in a dream. Strong, steadfast, certain. A soldier guarding a citadel. A red sun sinking behind the castle. Concrete courage and fearless fortitude. The might and wisdom of eons, wrapped in your name and being. For you, anything was possible.

“He turns somersaults,” I complained to your father as you tumbled inside me. “Endlessly. Like a ferret on a roller coaster.”

You came in a rush. Always moving faster than planned, you arrived quickly, forcefully. Your cry announced a strength I sensed before you were even born.

As the doctor stitched me up in the…

Maybe it’s just that “We are clowns whose hearts are broken.” — Oscar Wilde

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Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

“The unexamined life is not _________ ______________.”

Any drowsy college student, noob philosopher, or Gen X’er can fill in the blanks of this cliché (spoiler alert: worth living). When Socrates uttered these words thousands of years ago, he encouraged his wealthy (male) pupils to closely investigate the spirit within, to ceaselessly question the answers, and to endlessly, infinitely grow.

The self was an end in itself. To review and reflect brought man (and maybe woman) close to his infinity.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” — Socrates

Fast forward to Now. American culture has erected an industry around self-inquiry…

Little by little, it all adds up to healing

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Photo by George Bonev on Unsplash

I get it.

It’s tough to see the bright blue sky when you’re sunk in a deep black box.

Even more, it seems impossible to find the motivation to make a move. Your legs protest. Your mind resists. Stuck in shock or suffering or pain — or all three — it can be crazy hard to even face the day.

I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve hidden from the world. I’ve retreated from life. I’ve sat in a dark house with all the lights left off. I’ve not returned calls. I let the doorbell ring, unanswered.

Daily, I deal with the sudden…

It takes hard work and diligence as well

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Photo by sean Kong on Unsplash

I was only a kid, but I still clearly remember the day my mom returned from Germany and her grammar school reunion.

Both my parents are German, and trips back and forth between Germany and the States weren’t a big deal. So it wasn’t the trip that piqued my attention.

It was what she told me:

“Do you know what surprised me the most about seeing my old classmates?” my mother asked. I shook my head. “The most successful people weren’t the ones you’d predict,” she said. …

Your love can make all the difference.

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Photo by Marcelo Matarazzo on Unsplash

I stared at the X-rays. Even my untrained eye could see the problem with my son’s spine. His bones, thin and white, twisted eerily — ghost-white twigs on black film.

“He’ll need surgery,” Dr. B said. “There’s no other solution. The sooner, the better.”

My mind spun like a cyclone. How could this be? What was happening? Why this? Why now? Why my kid? Will he be okay? Will he be normal? What do I do now?

The outer circle of parenting hell

When you’re a parent, you have good days and bad days. Most of your kid-raising days are neither one extreme nor the other…

#12 — Life is so very close to death

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Photo by Seif Eddin Khayat on Unsplash

I startled awake to the BEEEP of an alarm. I pushed myself up from the bench where I slept. I staggered to the bed where my son dozed in a morphine haze. 7 seconds later, our night nurse was at his side.

“Don’t worry,” she said, pressing buttons and straightening the tangle of tubes snaking around Sebastian’s arm, “It’s just a signal to add antibiotic. Everything’s fine.”

I nodded. She smiled. “Go back to sleep,” she said, but she knew as well as I dd that that’s a tall order.

Sleeping in the ICU is tough. Even tougher? Spending the…

5 ways to help yourself manage when you’re managing someone’s suffering

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Photo by Iluha Zavaley on Unsplash

It’s Monday and I’m sitting in the hospital hallway trying to stop my heart from jumping out of my chest. It’s throbbing 9 million miles per hour. I’m not sure my ribs and skin can hold it in much longer.

I take a deep breath. Close my eyes. Calm down, I tell myself.

Not working.

Ding. I glance at my phone.

Children’s Hospital: Just starting procedure. Sebastian is doing fine.

The nurse’s message is meant to be communicative. Helpful. Comforting. Instead, it makes my heart accelerate. My head aches. My eyes sting.

It’s the beginning of my son’s 9-hour surgery…

Because I can’t get off the couch right now

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Photo by Benjamin Combs on Unsplash

Today was a biggie.

I got up early. Showered. Dressed. Then drove an hour to take my son to Randall’s Children’s Hospital in Portland for pre-op testing before his 9-hour surgery next week.

Our surgeon is great. Personable. Knowledgeable. His staff is friendly. A hospital concierge even walked us from lab to lab for Sebastian’s bloodwork, EKG, and other tests.

Afterward, five hours later, we had sushi at this cozy, cute place off Burnside Avenue.

“How are you feeling?” I asked my son for the 24th time while pouring myself another thimble of hot sake.

“I dunno,” he said, followed…

Light & love is still possible in spite of everything

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The holidays are upon us.

Soon, our Insta feeds will be overflowing with crafty, cozy décor ideas, fuzzy, funny Santa hats, and the eager sharing of family traditions. But (presumably and hopefully) it won’t be filled with pics of the whole extended fam in matchy-matchy argyle sweaters or large crowds around a turkey-laden table.

This year, like every year, I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. Since I’m in rainy Oregon, it’s a long shot. I fantasize about waking Christmas morn to the soft, steady drift of white snowflakes outside my window. Usually doesn’t happen — but there’s always the dream.

#3 — Put yourself in time out.

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Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Thank you, thank you. Whew: what can I say? Another year, another Bad Mom award. Thank you — again! I owe this to all the great moms out there who I aspire to be, but won’t — at least not anytime soon. I owe this award to my ingrained impatience and irritation. Oh, and I can’t forget my snarkiness and sarcasm. Where would a Bad Mom be without those? But thank you — -I’ll put this on my messy counter along with the other 27 Bad Mom statuettes. Thanks again! …

Dr. Audrey

Life is better with words — and dark chocolate.

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