Our Biggest Sale of the Year is Here!🎄 ➔

I traveled back in time today for about an hour. I was sitting in my daughter’s bedroom as she played and I was completely in another place in time. I spent most of my time traveling through 2003-2006, depending on the piece of paper I was holding.

I quickly skimmed each piece of paper to assess its importance. Itineraries from business trips: shred pile. Cards from friends and families: trash, but shred the envelope if there is an address on it. Name tags from conferences: keep. Papers with his handwriting: trash if it’s not important, keep if it has inspiring words on it, shred if it seems to pertain to anything personal but not worth keeping. Medical bills: shred. Images from his endoscopies: shred shred shred. The planbook from his final year of life with a picture of him and my sister taped to the inside flap: keep of course.

Eventually my daughter joined me and began to treat this exercise like a game. She was in charge of the trash pile and she took great pleasure in throwing the papers all over her room. I didn’t care because I was too busy traveling through time.

My family recently helped my mom go through her storage unit that she had been paying for for 8 years. When she initially asked for help she claimed that it was just full of my dad’s old papers, most of which she would be throwing away. She needed to get out of the storage unit quickly because she could no longer afford to pay for it.

I was suspicious of her request for help from the beginning. I knew that it was highly likely that there was way more than my dad’s papers in there and I was not comfortable with the idea of just throwing all of his stuff away without even looking at it. My parents were and my mother still is somewhat of a hoarder. They did not throw things away. I have found worksheets from first grade and artwork from when I used to draw in my dad’s office waiting for him to be done with work. When I say artwork I mean scribbles. My parents saved pieces of scrap paper with my scribbles on them.

My mom assured me that this job would take 4 hours. She only had the Uhaul truck for that long anyway. After 5 trips to her storage unit, 2 weekends and 1 weekday later, the job was finally done. I use the word done very loosely. There are still boxes piled in her backyard, waiting to be opened and discarded.

My mom had underestimated both what was in her storage unit and my will to preserve traces of my father. What ended up being in that storage unit was a lifetime of possessions, thousands of stories, and millions of memories. That is how I found myself this morning sitting on the floor of my daughter’s bedroom trying to piece together snapshots of my father’s life.

My father died 10 years ago. If I could guarantee that all of those papers could bring him back to me, not just in memories but in the flesh, I wouldn’t shred or discard a single scrap. Since that’s not the way of the world, holding these scraps and remembering before I send them on their way is all I have for now.

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Kristina Newman

Kristina is a stay at home mom and writer. She is a regular contributor for the Denver Metro Moms Blog and her work has also been featured on Scary Mommy, The Mighty, and Postpartum Progress. Kristina recently performed in the 2016 Boulder production of Listen To Your Mother. When she's not running around trying to keep up with her "spirited" toddler, she enjoys reading, spending quality time with her husband, listening to music, and having impromptu dance parties. You can follow her on Twitter @ktinamou.

A Letter To My Mother in Heaven

In: Death of a Parent, Grief, Motherhood
Wide open sky at sunset

Dear Mom, I miss you. I wish you were here. I can tell you a mom is irreplaceable for a child. When a mom dies, her child is no longer whole. The loss makes it hard to breathe. That child flails in the wind like a cottonwood seed. A piece of fluff that gets knocked about the world by the wind. Sometimes I landed on solid ground, sometimes I landed in a pond and almost drowned. But I’m still here. I survived. RELATED: To Those Who Know the Bitter Hurt of Losing a Parent In the year after your death,...

Keep Reading

The Grey Sweater

In: Death of a Parent, Faith, Grief
The Grey Sweater www.herviewfromhome.com

Folding the laundry gets me down sometimes. It’s a mindless activity, really. My brain runs on autopilot as it remembers the old days when laundry only took up a small percentage of my time. Nowadays, I can spend up to four hours in one afternoon doing laundry for my tribe of six people. I drift into a mechanical rhythm as I go through my three step process: retrieve fold put away (Granted, this is an ideal scenario- I don’t typically make it through all three steps in one day!) While I was going through the motions this morning, my hands...

Keep Reading

Even Though You’re In Heaven, Your Grandchildren Will Know You

In: Death of a Parent, Grief, Motherhood
Mother and little boy looking down road

The well-loved picture frame sits on the shelf in your grandkids’ room; just high enough to be out of reach from curious toddler hands, but low enough for me to pull it down each time they ask about you. That photo of you— it has always been my favorite. You look so happy, so healthy, so whole . . . just the way that I want these sweet grandbabies of yours—the ones you never got to meet—to know you. Because although you may be in Heaven, they will know you. You’ll never bounce them on your knee, or sneak extra...

Keep Reading

He Died Getting Sober For His Granddaughter: What My Father’s Death Taught Me About Grief

In: Death of a Parent, Grief
He Died Getting Sober For His Granddaughter: What My Father's Death Taught Me About Grief www.herviewfromhome.com

Years had been spent trying to tell my father that he needed help. He and his wife had separated, gotten back together, and separated again. His alcoholism was controlling every facet of his life and he was in complete denial about it. That had been the way for years. When I finally became pregnant, my husband and I decided to drop the bomb on Dad with humor. He had what we called a “thriving” waistline (due to excessive drinking and poor diet) and so I pointed out his gut and said “give me a few months and I’ll catch up....

Keep Reading

Moving Through Grief With My Sensitive Son

In: Death of a Parent, Grief, Kids
Moving Through Grief With My Sensitive Son www.herviewfromhome.com

My middle child, Austin, is not the extrovert like his older sister and younger brother. Though he doesn’t hide from a crowd, he’s most happy at home, reading books, riding his bike in the alley, and cuddling in our big chair with me. He’s always been this way. My husband, Shawn, and I spent a painful year watching Austin scream and cry every single day when we’d leave him at the preschool doors. The next year was less dramatic, but he still shed many tears. Finally in kindergarten he could walk into the classroom without crying, but he would still...

Keep Reading

My Mom Died and It’s Not Fair

In: Death of a Parent, Grief, Motherhood
My Mom Died and It's Not Fair www.herviewfromhome.com

“I think we should leave,” I whispered to my husband through clenched teeth as my two-year old daughter, Hailey, wailed in my arms. We were at my cousin Ryan’s house for his daughter’s birthday party and Hailey was having a typical overtired toddler meltdown. Tears started to well up in my eyes, but not because of my daughter’s less than ideal behavior. As I surveyed the room, I could see my aunt smiling and laughing with her granddaughter and Ryan’s wife’s mom right beside them, doting on the little girl, too. Witnessing this made me think about my own mother...

Keep Reading

A Love Letter From Mamas in Heaven to Their Beautiful Daughters on Earth

In: Death of a Parent, Grief, Journal, Loss
motherless, motherless daughter, grief, loss, heaven, faith, grieving, mom www.herviewfromhome.com

“We know days don’t come easy for you and so we chose to band together and compose a love letter in your honor. Funny thing when it comes to mamas in Heaven: we find each other and form a tribe like a sisterhood on earth. We comfort one another when you’re hurting and we brag up the wazoo when you accomplish anything. Actually, we brag from morning till night. Yesterday Kim’s mama made us gather around and listen for over an hour how her daughter graduated college with honors although she had mononucleosis for two semesters. Right now, Sara’s mama...

Keep Reading

Dear Husband, I Know the Importance of a Dad, Because I Lost Mine Too Soon

In: Death of a Parent, Journal
Dear Husband, I Know the Importance of a Dad, Because I Lost Mine Too Soon www.herviewfromhome.com

Dad was enlightened. He knew that every small moment mattered. He was silly, too. He made funny faces at me in every situation. He told stories of sailing to China on container ships, and he practiced Tai Chi every morning. He knew how to engage my creativity, spreading butcher paper all over the living room floor so I could draw on and on and on. His collection of string instruments and the bright, whimsical canvases he painted in oil decorated our home. We danced and sang to Ry Cooder and David Lindley and ate slices of juicy red watermelon on...

Keep Reading

To Those Who Know the Bitter Hurt of Losing a Parent

In: Death of a Parent, Grief
Sad woman head in her hands sitting against a wall

To the young adults out there who have lost parents, this one is for you. You experienced a great loss and you’re still so young with so much life ahead of you. You often wonder how you can make it through the rest of your life without the parent who is no longer here. I see you struggling. On the outside, you hold it together. You keep a smile and hold your head up high; you want to take on the world and embrace life. You meet new people and want to tell them your story because maybe they understand....

Keep Reading

Mother’s Day Magnifies the Loss of My Own Mom, and It’s Still Hard

In: Death of a Parent, Grief, Motherhood
Mother's Day Magnifies the Loss of My Own Mom, and It's Still Hard www.herviewfromhome.com

“Your mother’s gone,” my dad said as he walked into our apartment. Those words still haunt me, even 19 years later. My mother’s death wasn’t a surprise—she had been battling lung cancer for sixteen months—I just wasn’t ready to hear it. The finality of it all. My mother was gone. Those few days, weeks and months remain somewhat of a blur. I was very angry and bitter. I had recently started dating a wonderful man (my now-husband, Brian) and our lives revolved around parties and other social events.  But I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to be happy. While out...

Keep Reading