So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

I miss you. I imagine you hugging me in my mind. I close my eyes, and I breathe you in. Your smell, your whiskers brushing my cheek, the way you squeezed me and would rub my back. You were so much bigger than your momma, tall and broad-shouldered. Sometimes, it hurt my neck, but I’d never complain. Remember when your grandma died and you rushed to the hospital? You scooped me into one of those giant hugs, nearly lifting me off my feet. You cried while you held me.

I miss you. 

I always wear your necklace, so I can bring you with me. It’s wrapped three times around my wrist. I should clip the tail off because when I’m cooking over the stove, sometimes it gets hot. Burning hot. But it just reminds me of you, so I leave it.

And I miss you. 

I tattooed your handwriting on my other wrist so I can always look down and see “I love you.” We would have laughed at the neatness of the handwriting–that wasn’t normal for you. You were sort of messy, but you wrote particularly neat in one of your letters from boot camp, so I chose the legible one. I thought about putting your name there as well, but I didn’t. I imagined too many questions about “who is John?” and then I would have to tell people you died. I can’t believe you died.

And I miss you. 

RELATED: A Letter to the Grieving Mom

When you were a baby you loved to snuggle, and as you grew, that fact didn’t change. You liked to be close. Remember that cruise we took? You were so wound up and couldn’t sleep. I just reached my hand over to your bed from our bed, and I laid my hand on your pillow. Palm up. You rested your cheek on it and were sleeping almost instantly. I miss that.

And I miss you.

Sometimes I go into your room and open your closet door. The memories hit me in waves. I see you wearing your hockey jacket, the flannels you loved so much, your camo, and all the T-shirts that are stacked in a row. Every piece holds some image of you, a picture, an event, a game.

You were 24 when you died.

And I miss you.

RELATED: This is Grief

Sometimes when I miss you, I stand in the doorway and look at your bed. The bed you died in. I see you lying there, so peaceful . . . so cold. You had the covers pulled up under your chin.

And I miss you.

I wonder what happened that night. I wonder what time you left us and went to be with Jesus. I wonder if you had any idea the drugs that had their hooks in you were about to take your life.

Dear God, I miss you.

I think about the puppy, sleeping in there with you that night. Did she realize what was happening? She didn’t bark. She didn’t cry. She didn’t have to go outside all night . . . why was that? And sometimes I ask God why he didn’t wake us up? And I hear His still, small voice whisper, Beloved, do you trust me? And I cry.

And I miss you.

Your pictures are everywhere here.

Somedays, I stare into your eyes–those beautiful, hazel eyes that were gray or green, the scar in your eyebrow, and the right eye smaller than the left one when you smiled . . . and I can’t believe you are gone from this earth. I see the evidence all around me that you lived. That you were ours. That you were born and grew and died.

And I miss you.

My heart aches and my arms ache, and I want you to be here with me. 

RELATED: Grief is a Constant Companion for the Mother Who’s Lost a Child

Every day I carry a shoulder bag made from your Army fatigues. It comforts me. I see the flag, your name, and your rank patch, and I remember how hard it was to go six months at a time without seeing your face. And yes, some days I hug that purse, that beautiful gift from a friend.

And I miss you.

I look at six months now as a blip because I could call you and text you and see you on Snapchat or FaceTime . . . and now all we have are memories.

And I miss you.

One day, because I miss you, I will watch the home videos. But right now, it’s too much. It’s too real. To hear your voice and watch you grow all over again, to see you with your sister, and to imagine how our family was broken . . . I just can’t. I don’t think I could survive that.

Because I miss you—so very much, John.

And I love you always,


Kristin Schlegel

Kristin and her husband have been married for 30 years. She found writing to be very therapeutic after losing their son, John, to the opioid epidemic at the age of 24. She hopes her writing will help other bereaved parents know that they are not alone.

Memories Fill the Holes in Their Hearts Where a Grandpa’s Love Should Be

In: Grief
Drawing, journal, and photo of man, color photo

“Girls, come here for a minute.” In some sort of yearly ritual, I guide my oldest two daughters to my bedroom, where a wooden chest sits. It’s painted in flowers of muted colors and has a brass keyhole on it, making it look like an antique. It isn’t. It’s only 20 years old. As my girls follow me into my room, I grab the skeleton key off my dresser that unlocks the wooden chest. I turn the key and open the wooden box that holds so many pieces that are supposed to remind me of my dad.  Pictures of him....

Keep Reading

The Calls Stopped When the Casket Closed

In: Grief
Father and toddler walking in cemetery, color photo

The night my mother died is raw. It was filled with a lot of emotions: anger, regret, sadness, guilt, and remorse. The next day, I woke up to multiple calls, text messages, posts on my Facebook wall, and Facebook messages. It was a flood. The flood soon turned into a drought. Before I could process what happened the night before, people were sending flowers, the funeral home was calling, and people were showing up at my door. The next two days there was an influx of people in and out of my house and a lot of food. But the...

Keep Reading

Losing a Child Changes Everything

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Woman at beach sunset

I‘ve had my life planned out since I was a teenager. My dreams were to be a teacher, wife, and mom in that order. I would teach elementary school and have the cutest classroom with the greatest lessons, and I’d teach until I was old and retired. The man of my dreams would sweep me off my feet in college, and we’d have a romantic wedding and start our great life together. Then, after a few years, we would have two children, a boy and a girl. We would be a blissfully boring, happy little family.  I didn’t want extravagant...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Love Lasts Forever

In: Grief, Grown Children, Motherhood
Silhouette mother and daughter

She was so pretty. So pretty it was hard to look away from that porcelain skin, those high cheekbones, stunning green eyes with just the right amount of sparkle and depth, and shiny black hair. And those lips, perfectly plump with neatly applied lipstick, always ready to give a kiss on the cheek or a knowing smile. More than pretty, she was beautiful—you know, beautiful inside and out. She was classy. Not fancy or prim and proper, not snobby—just classy. A certain air about her that made you notice and appreciate her presence when she walked into the room. She...

Keep Reading

Thumbprint Glasses and a Lifetime of Love

In: Grief, Motherhood
Broken thumbprint glass on floor, color photo

Yesterday my Nannie’s glass was shattered, intentionally thrown across the room by a child of mine. My heart shattered with it for that glass held memories. When we visited my Nannie in Florida, I would wake with the sun to the aroma of fresh eggs, bacon, and grits. I would stumble into her bright yellow kitchen. The counters always cluttered, the small white table nicely set, and the glasses full of orange juice. “Thumbprint glasses,” I called them. I would put my tiny thumb into the imprint of each beautiful dent and admire the rainbows the iridescent glass made. That...

Keep Reading

Some Babies Are Held Only in a Mother’s Heart

In: Baby, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Ultrasound of baby

“Whatever may come and whatever may pass, we have faith that our God will bring us to it and through it.” That’s what I wrote in a post after we announced our third pregnancy. It was the first pregnancy we went public with, but it was the third time we had two positive lines on a pregnancy test. You see, we had miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage. We went from surprised optimism to guarded yearning and finally stolen joy. The first baby was nothing more than a what-if before that test. It was a surprise to two people who loved...

Keep Reading

My Birthday Will Never Be the Same without My Mother

In: Grief
Mother and two daughters, older color photo

It’s been eight months since my mom took her last breath on earth and entered into her eternal resting place. Eight, long, motherless months. I expected holidays to be hard, as they should, because a piece of the family is missing. The spot where they once sat, ate, laughed, took pictures, and made memories is now empty. Just like a piece of my heart is empty. RELATED: I Didn’t Just Lose My Mom the Day She Died The holiday no one prepared me for was my birthday. A day that’s to be celebrated. It’s the day I took my first...

Keep Reading

Dear Mom, I Miss You

In: Faith, Grief
Grown woman and her mother, color photo

Dear Mom, Yesterday I went over to your house. I was hoping you would open the door, but Daddy greeted me with his sweet smile. Yes, he still has a mustache. The one you hate, but I did manage to trim it up for him. I cut his hair too.   We talked about you over coffee and waited for you to join us, but you never did. He’s doing his best to do this life without you in it, but his eyes are clouded with memories and mixed with pain. He misses you, Momma. RELATED: I Didn’t Just Lose...

Keep Reading

Mom, You Were There for All My Firsts…Except This One

In: Grief
Sad woman looking out window

Firsts are monumental. Inaugural. Annual. They say you always remember the milestones, the annuals, the inaugurals.  You were there for those firsts during my first few years of life: my first tooth, first steps, first boo-boo. Always supporting me. Always cheering me on. When I grew up, you stood by me for the next wave of firsts: my first bad grade, my first heartbreak, the first fight with friends, my first solo in choir, my first stitches.  You stayed by my side during the pain from your divorce and dried my tears when Dad moved out. You even loved me...

Keep Reading

I Wanted to Call You Last Night, Dad

In: Grief, Grown Children
Woman sitting on dock alone by lake

I went to call you last night. I was sitting in my room, watching grown men play a child’s game. Alone. And when the last out was registered, in an improbable no-hitter, I needed to share my delight. I wanted to call you. But I couldn’t. Since you left, a mere 18 months ago, there have been many moments, when I have wanted to call. To say, hello, to ask for advice, to share good news, and bad. To discuss world events or shoot the breeze. To hear your corny jokes and lift your spirits. Or have you lift mine....

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!


Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime