0 comments for “Friends

  1. Excellent. Lightning bugs are in my childhood memory too. We caught them in jars then let them go. Good to see your writing here, Tom. Your class at Seaview was great.

  2. I just sent this to my sister—it really resonates with me. The first time my children saw lightning bugs was at her house in Austin. We haven’t seen them there in years now, and our children are in their 30s.

  3. Such a beautiful depiction of birth and also of the heart of those adopted. I adopted an 11year old boy, and he has lamented his losses for decades now. We can say “we chose you” but the abandonment never loses its sting. They long to attach to their mother, their DNA, their roots. We are substitutes, lesser than, trying to stand in the gap that is just too wide, too deep.

  4. There’s no shortage of fireflies where I live in rural Virginia. My grandson watched them in awe from the swingset in our back yard. They still hold a magical presence for me, a memory of the child I used to be.

  5. This story left me in slack-jaw silence.
    “I feel like the melted chocolate in the middle of a fresh-baked croissant” had me spellbound. I am saddend for Addie’s seizures, for the emptiness in the marriage, but I applaud the strength of this man.

  6. I believe Brian Lee Knopp is the best writer I’ve been lucky to know – and I’ve met a lot!

  7. “the fumes of the underworld…” I too can relate to leaving those fumes behind and enjoying life again. Thanks for this evocative essay.

  8. I really enjoyed this interview, Dorothy. Well done. Your full interview disproved the author’s dispiriting comments on her life being “boring,” and concluding “It has been [interesting] to me, but I can’t imagine it would be to anyone else.” The author has clearly been immensely successful in a wide variety of genres.

  9. Brutally frank and so supports other struggling writers and gives them hope.
    Hindu mythology makes two parts of Self: one that does and the other just watches. Your ego and spirit are similar.
    Hats off to you for your daily writing habit.

  10. I read somewhere that “a writer writes.” Often that is enough for me, but not always. As a teacher and writer who also longs for the validation and audience that publication of a book seems to promise, I relate to your story. And, as you explained so well, I also feel that the joy of writing is really what matters most. I hope you get a book published soon!

  11. This is my favorite part: “Coyote’s laugh echoed from the Iowa we’d come from, from the Montana we were going toward, ricocheting off the Bighorn Mountains in waves of bitter medicine. We stood on the edge of our marriage and assured each other we would be okay.” It’s the transition place, and it ties the whole story together. The trip wasn’t what you planned, but Coyote’s laugh came along and got you through all the mishaps of life and marriage. I love it!

  12. I am breathless after reading The Last Ride. Your expression of emotion felt sparkling to me. My best friend of over 40 years has cancer. In seven places in her body. She is moving on, living her life as if she were well and crazy the way we used to be together. She holds my life story within herself. I hope you won’t mind but I have absorbed your friend’s goal to live with a peaceful heart. Brava, Carol. Brava.

  13. Found this by accident while searching for information about an accident that happened in Windber. As someone who mostly grew up in Windber (born and lived in Johnstown from 1979 till 1985…lived in Windber till the early 2000s) this definitely tracks.

  14. This is beautiful, heartbreaking, soaring writing. I lost a good friend too soon to brain cancer. This piece spoke to me in so many ways. A wonderful remembrance of a wonderful friendship.

  15. Gorgeous writing. I loved the visual of the door shrinking and this line – “We became an island of three.” ❤️

  16. What a lovely touching story of the memory priestess & your 44 year relationship. The tenderness of your review of that friendship (and I suspect love story) tell me why you don’t want or need a reboot or perfection in the future. You just desire the best of the 44 years to sail into the future. And BTW, I enjoyed your bio. Especially your goal to live with a peaceful heart.

  17. Thank you for sharing this most intimate and difficult moment. God bless you and your children!

  18. I read my Dad’s autopsy report, I still didn’t know what he died of. I put it in the filing cabinet. I pulled it out last year and sent it to a friend. It was a dead thyroid. Mine was 90% dead, just discovered in 2029. He died on Father’s Day 1985. Mine was discovered 2019 after 5 years of being told nothing was wrong with me. A chill ran through me when I made the connection because he always said you are kind of kid who questions everything and that will get you through life. I wish he would have fought harder.

  19. Yes, enjoyed this very much, Kristen! Interested in how much reading in bathtubs is going on — sounds so relaxing. And my favorite sentence of his is probably: “We are all like fish in a forest, flopping around.” If this is true, then it makes perfect sense why we’d prefer to linger in a bathtub.

  20. What a sensitive interview. Thanks to both of you for introducing me to an author and a book I want to know more about.

  21. Wonderful piece on that oh so scary marketing part of writing. Thanks for sharing useful information as well as encouraging writers to reach for the rewards of connecting with new people

  22. Dear Jeanne–This piece is just so skillful and moving. Every word from title to closing keeps the narrative building and shifting. Beautifully done.


  23. Broke my heart like only the most beautiful prose can. Thank you for this piece, Melanie!

  24. Love this conversation, Kristen! I bought the book and can’t wait to dig into it! Especially love this line: ….”writers are going in search of themselves. They want to run their experiences through the combine of their imagination.” What a great phrase!

  25. I married at 18. He was 42 and a psychiatric nurse in the hospital I was residing in. Well, before they fired him. Our marrraige lasted two months over one thousand miles from my hometown. I have no regrets about that relationship.

  26. Hi, I just read Alice’s book and would love to write her an email. Do you have any contact information for her?

  27. Wow, thank you for sharing this. I loved the part about the “this is for the birds” then realizing it was meant literally. And of course the central part of the story about Willy was amazing and moving. How he actually came down and put his arms around you. We aren’t so separate as some like to think. I’m glad that happened. Also, through this retelling, I was able to feel the sadness that he died alone without his community. Thank you again for sharing.

    • Thank you, Erik. I’m glad you caught the humor in the interaction with woman who prepared all the food for the zoo. Telling Willy’s story was a powerful experience, especially with the perspective I have now.

  28. Beautifully written. So much packed in this small story. I could relate even though I’ve never been hungry.

  29. What a beautiful and beautifully written story about a rare connection. I can’t stop thinking about it!

  30. Thank you, Beth, for a masterful and emotion-packed story. I love the many details you provide about your daily routines as a young zookeeper, the behavior of the animals, and especially about Willy’s evolving interactions with you. You befriended him and he came to trust you. Beautiful story. A gift to us all.

  31. I missed the last Short Shorts/Micro Memoir deadline, but I’m interested! Will there be another contest?

  32. Beautifully written. Somehow you have given words to the myriad of struggles and feelings we encounter in our household. Thank you Luke for your honest and all-too-touching representation of these silent battles. I’m proud to be your colleague.

  33. I just wanted to say I’m absolutely in love with this piece of writing and it’s one of the best pieces of writing I’ve read in a while. I really felt like I was the performer with the guitar. I disagree with the other commenters, I think the CD idea adds a nice, fun detail.

  34. A gorgeous and revealing story…and so heartfelt! As a child my younger brother and I used to “rock” back & forth in bed and on the couch to relax and fall asleep…often humming or singing a mantra! I didn’t sleep over at a friend’s house until my teens as I was convinced I could not fall asleep without rocking. I overcame it but it was pure relaxation and contentment during my childhood! A revealing, important story!

  35. A very tender story, Beth! I had no idea of your experiences working at Mesker Park Zoo with Willy. Your ability to share such an impactful experience is impressive. Good job!

  36. How very heart wrenching to read! At the same time, the stragies he uses to help himself are so bold and daring!
    His strength and determination are daunting!

  37. Beth, I loved your story about Willy and the connection you made with him. I have shared the story with my family so they can enjoy it too.

  38. So sad, but Willy decided to embrace you and your love and concern for him. Must have felt like you were a mother figure to him. At least you both felt a goodness in each other. Sad, but at least you two had your moments together. Love it. Great story.

  39. Oh, dear Beth. Thank you for sharing your story of, and tender relationship with Willy. Your exquisite writing brought me so close I felt as if I was experiencing all of this wonder along with you.
    With gratitude and love.💕

  40. What a sad but beautiful story about the strikingly ‘human’ connection primates can have with one another

  41. Not recommended for relaxed, bedtime reading. This piece kept me wide awake, cracking me up with unforgettable characters wrapped in the scents and sounds of barnyard chaos. Awesome read!

  42. Yes, I agree with the above. Cut the CD. They would not kiss as well if you were not singing. Just remember that.

  43. Thank you for writing this beautiful tribute to your friend and the friendship you shared. It reminds me so much of my own dear friend who died at 49, leaving me to miss her and the ease we had between us. Gone now for 25 years, but still deeply remembered.

  44. Brian Lee Knopp grabbed my attention at the beginning of this story and didn’t let go till the final “nope”. Hilarious, insightful and the introduction of an unforgettable character and situation has me wanting more from this author. Thank you!

  45. Love it! I could feel it, I could see it, I could hear it. I’m the lady in the corner, tapping my foot, clapping my hands after every song. Cut the CD.

  46. Really appreciated this piece. I always rush to send things out – bad habit – and then boom – I see the errors. Thank you for reminding me to slow down.

  47. What an absolutely beautiful tribute to the decades long love you have for your dear friend. Holding you in your grieving. Thank you for sharing.

  48. What a beautiful friendship. I’m so sorry for your loss. And I thank you for touching something in me that I had forgotten. I need to call a certain friend…

  49. Leah, I inhaled your story in what felt like a single breath. In so few words (and no periods, which worked!), you brought me into that dentist chair and let me experience Daniel’s gentle optimism and your parenting angst. Such a powerful and relatable story!

  50. You really make me want to save that poor boy, and wonder- at the same- if the duress did eventually serve him or hinder him- all while elegantly painting experience so I experience it concurrently. Beautifully written, haunting.

    • Thanks so much, Brett! That’s wonderful to hear as I was trying hard to capture the right tone and details.


  51. Paige, you’re a gifted young lady. I agree with all the other comments.
    That was well written, heart warming, & heart wrenching. I cried alot!

  52. Our kind and empathetic MA introduced us to your book by saying she was in recovery and her story was in your book. Very powerful book and amazing to hear she is now taking on a new grant position working with people dealing with substance issues. She has indeed helped more than one other!

  53. Thanks for this! I was drawn to read your essay since I am a 5’1″-er…and my youthful experiences (including your menstrual story and the scoliosis are exactly what I remember!) I loved your professional anecdotes as well. Though I’m a 50-something English prof, I’m usually the smallest in the room too.
    “Though she be but little she is fierce”! Thanks again.

  54. Finally after reading THIS, I get it! SHOW not just TELL. I never understood this, though people have written those words when critiquing my words. I’ve felt like such a blockhead and almost gave up writing my memoir. Thank YOU for renewing faith in myself. I am so grateful. I am a 76 year old female senior citizen that has to get crackin on her book.

  55. This piece came at exactly the right time, as I put the finishing touches on a microessay about the last Valentine’s Day spent with my mum before her passing. Your excellent pointers and examples helped me nail the final sentence I’d been agonizing over. Thank you!

  56. This is beautiful, Leah, I hear your voice through and true, and just wow <3 You are an amazing mom and woman and a gorgeous writer. <3

  57. Perfectly described. I tried acupuncture a couple of times for my chronic migraines – (we’ll try anything right – even becoming a tomato-shaped pincushion) – but it didn’t do anything other than trigger a migraine both times. Here’s hoping someone clever invents something perfect soon… until then – keep writing 🙂

  58. If I didn’t know better I’d say that I hair stood straight up the entire time it took me to read your story.

  59. This is a marvelously, entertaining and interesting essay. The author weaves together comments on power and size, in a funny and provocative way, that makes you laugh and think at the same time. Not a word in this nimble essay is wasted. It’s simply wonderfully- short.

  60. Wow
    Page you had me in tears. I am
    So glad I got to meet Tiny have him take hay from my hands. Such a gentle giant. So loved it showed. Rod and I feel Blessed to have you and Jessie in our lives even if it was to save his truck. lol. See you soon

  61. A diamond of an essay both in form and content. Brave. Beautiful. Wonderful to gather here and feel real. I’m so excited to read more of your work in public spaces.

  62. The setup was skillful. The stream of consciousness style was perfect. The desperateness and responsibility that every mother feels when things go wrong was painful, just as you would wish. Well done!

  63. i loved reading your words and the style of stringing them all together. i was engaged from word one to the finish! you go girl!!!

  64. Paige, this was beautiful and so touched my heart. I have loved and lost horses. They give of themselves so generously in every way we ask, yet never lose that remarkable sense of self. Through it all, they love us and stand by us. You portrayed that perfectly in this piece. I look forward to reading your memoir some day.

  65. Oh Leah! I’m familiar with the calling forth of the courage to share your work and am so glad that you are! Keep being brave and telling your story – the world needs it!! ❤️❤️❤️

  66. I held my breath through the reading until the tears. What mother, or dental patient for that matter, hasn’t felt such honest pain? I love your writing, my friend!

  67. Leah! I’m so touched and impressed with your work! I love your voice and style! Warm and easy to connect with. Bravo! Congratulations! Looking forward to reading more! ( I don’t know why, but I woke up thinking of you and here you are!)

    • Thanks so much, Leah! This is the kind of comment that his music to every writer’s ears!

      Cathy Mellett

  68. 💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙
    I was completely absorbed and really touched by this story You are a wonderful Mother and a great writer.

  69. 💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚and now I love Daniel too!! Enjoyed this piece Leah, I could hear your voice throughout….. loved the use of the comma, it’s a skill! The best most diligent mum I know!! 🥰

    • I started reading this, and stopped at “my fucked up teeth,” and laughed out loud, and I turned to my wife Carole and said I’m reading this piece written by my high school friend Leah, and she said, “She has a pretty smile,” cause I showed her your picture, and I said, “Yes,” and added you are one of the kindest ever, and I read Carole that first sentence, and well, don’t you know, I came to the end of that sentence, and I smiled, and Carole said, “I love it,” and I said, “Me, too,” and so thank you, Leah, this was awesome, and please please keep writing. XO

  70. Love this essay. Happy to be introduced to a new author to follow. I also am a former prosecutor, although in a less glamorous position than the US Attorney’s office in Manhattan. I’m currently writing a memoir about childhood trauma but would like to figure out next how to interweave the creative with my professional experiences. As a young attorney, I was roped into, by a senior partner, defending a serial killer and appearing doing so on national television. I’d like to write about that. Your writing, which successfully and artfully combines the personal and professional, is instructive.

  71. My 6’7” kept from being a fighter pilot, my childhood dream, but I was too tall to be drafted to go to Viet Nam.

  72. To me this is a rather sad story (imperfection, intimacy, loss) but the “peanut butter” brings levity. Really lovely writing. “Just into flesh. Just into lack.”

  73. Beautifully poignant. Rich and captivating. A powerful journey of decline and healing. So very well told, Paige.

  74. Hello Paige. Thank you for your moving story. You needed big Tiny so your loving horse stayed for you. What a beautiful tribute and inside look at Postpartum depression. I liked how you ended with hope. May your life and your writing be blessed. All the best, Mary.

  75. This a very enjoyable, well-articulated and expressive piece of writing. Couldn’t put it down until I finished it!

  76. brilliant, engaging, light-hearted. all with serious intent. The inherent tension Anne creates (where will she take us with this height thing?) coaxes us along, paragraph after paragraph, on a journey we never intended, with a delicious joy we didn’t expect, and a regret that it had to end.

  77. I don’t cry. Well, hardly ever. But this? This? You have so eloquent-emotionally captured the holyness, holiness, and wholeness of life… a day in the life… a month in a life… a life in a life. I hear you. You opened a channel for me to hear all those who are without a voice, or whose voices cant articulate the sheer powerlessness of overwhelm, of clinical overload, of whatever the diagnosis is spelled out on some take-these-sheets-home and look up these links… I hear the voices through your words… and, I think that my writing hand and heart, and my mothering past, and my animal-lovingness has just heard my own sounds; and there is a melody.

    • Marie, thank you for taking the time to type out such a heartfelt comment. I am so happy that it resonated with you. As this is my first piece available for public viewing your words are immensely encouraging. Thank you so much

  78. Dear Dheepa, sorrow’s disorientation as well as the luminous hush you create with such depth and authenticity stirs my heart for your story as well as my own. Truly, memorably rendered. Well done, Dheepa!

  79. if youre just reading her books youre probably fine but if you know this person pls be careful. this is a narcissistic sociopath who hates & blocks most members of her family. she recently tried to upset her own brother’s suicide funeral (which she refused to attend) with a series of self indulgent relentlessly self promoting letters, one of which attempted to incentivize her own mother to kill herself as well. she is not well. her career is based on joining multiple cults, & the only one she can never see is the one she is currently in.

  80. Drivel. Bloated description and a plodding style. Inaccurate portrayal of the Appalachian experience. That this shiznit is recognized as “good” nonfiction is mind-numbing.

  81. Dear Angela,
    I just happened across this review–which I somehow didn’t see when it was first posted back in June–and wow, thank you! I’m grateful to you for spending time with my words–even the tough ones–and for, you know, getting my sense of humor.
    Here’s to holding warm bodies & feeling brave enough to fly,

  82. Very nicely done. AIM HIGH. NO HIGHER! AND DONT WAIT.

    YOU GOT IT … THE IT… you got It kid.
    Don’t dare waste it!


  83. Such a moving story. I felt this way in Rome years after I had visited it w my dad by then deceased. Ann writes so well.

  84. Very poignant recounting of a mother’s identity through the memory of her daughter. I especially loved the repetition of scenes, what the mother must have witnessed, then what the daughter did. The daughter’s imagined scened of what her mother’s lost mind must be “seeing” on her driving by water.

  85. TALK ABOUT LUCKY! That’s amazing. Just in the nick of time, those ancient Indian spirits sent that buffalo to keep you from becoming, “just meat”, to that small pack of wolves.
    We can only wonder about the power from the great beyond, and how it is sometimes able to mingle with us, (down here) in our atmosphere.
    This is a wonderful piece. So well laid out and economically written. You gave us just enough, to be there and nothing that would scare us out of our wits. Though the fear was indeed felt. Felt to the bone.
    Aurora, is such a beautiful name. I’m trying to come up with what the nickname would be. I’ve never had a friend with that name. “Roar-a” would be the nickname I would have given you.

    Loved your story, “Roarah”.

    Best wishes,

    Ken B.

  86. Such an evocative piece of writing Ann – I understand the fascination of process and the half of a half of a half….. my drawing for you is still waiting in the studio – I’ll send it … but not today

  87. Lovely and relatable–the murkiness of living in those in-between spaces and times–where we are both and neither.

  88. Wow, what a story and what a tribute to your dad. I remember you well from our days together at Forrest Sherman High School. You did a great job in your article reminding us of the sacrifice people like your dad paid to keep our country safe. I wish you could’ve known him more.
    Bruce M.

  89. A real Romeo and Juliet story without all the unnecessary theatrics. Enjoyed it. And wish it upon everyone in the world.

  90. I think she you are harshly judgmental about Laura, Brian. He. father didn’t ‘nobly’ sacrifice true love for his family, he hid ( out of fear) and was inauthentic , he did not live a truthful life.
    There is no judgement for the father -to feel that one has to sacrifice authenticity and selfhood in order to survive is a tragic and extraordinarily painful ( to put it mildly).
    To suggest that Laura addressing her own very painful and confusing feelings as opposed to feeling primary compassion for dad is very cruel. you have no idea how that kind of secret can distort a young person’s life. She was the victim – like it or not- his life was his choice. hers was not.

  91. Sarah! We were in Lisa Wells’ Orion workshop together. This is a beautiful piece. Shattering…in the way that truth always is. Thank you for sharing this rich word-soil.

  92. I was a participant in the Schick Center for Smoking and Weight loss at the age of 12 and did lose weight but the body shaming that came with the electroshock treatments did harm to my self esteem I can’t even out into words. I’d love to find out what happened to the company and if anyone ever looked at this as child abuse.

  93. Great interview. I took a braided essay class with Lily in 2022 and really enjoyed it. Re. nonfiction and “level of concern about how it’s going to be received by the people in their lives.” I’d be curious about fiction. I can remember my Swedish husband reading a novel by an author who had been one of his students and feeling uncomfortable at recognizing himself. I’ve heard people say that swapping out traits from a variety of real people is part of creating believable characters. Is there a “crossing the line” in fiction too? Thoughts?

  94. I went to salsa night in Al Asad one time in 2005 out of curiosity when we had an over night stay on main side. I saw two Marines fake fight over a chair that was their dance partner. They “argued” with the chair, “argued” with one another over who would get to dance with the chair. It was pretty funny to watch. I never went back. That seemed like a great ending. Also, not long after the CG in Al Anbar province stopped salsa night, fight night, all the nights. What I had heard was the the MWSS at Al Asad was not supplying base security as the mission says they are supposed to. It was, instead, Marines from 3/25 from Haditha Dam. He had said until those Marines could attend those nights, no one would get to go until the grunts had that same opportunity. All us combat arms Marines celebrated.

    It was nice to read this. When I saw the title I immediately thought of Al Asad. I was glad to read this and see how it stuck out to another Marine.

  95. Oh I had no idea. We were beat of friends in grade school and I spent many nights with her . I am sorry she struggled. Thank you for this .

  96. My mother would wiggle her toes when my sisters and I sang, “We’ll be down to getcha in a taxi, two steps we’re goin’ to h
    ave a ball….:” brought back such happy memories Jeff….thank you for letting me in.

  97. Mothers, daughters, sisters–so complicated, and yet you’ve explored that complexity with grand agility.

  98. ” I will kiss my stories goodbye and send them adrift” – How beautiful that last paragraph is . Zina, I loved reading your goals to leave behind something that someone will find…… and yes we POC have to use our voices, share our stories.

  99. What a powerful piece. I know Brittany’s family and I am excited about her soon to be released memoir, Hell If You Don’t Change Your Ways. Congrats on all you’ve achieved thus far! All the best.

  100. One of my favorite books in both its adventurous form and its content. I read it in one sitting and would do so again and again. This beautiful review really captured its essence.

  101. What an outstanding piece. Love and regret and pain all mushed together–we unwrap it and there it is, memory, freshly shorn.

  102. It is amazing the content of such a short read. The more I read the more I wanted to read. Anxiously anticipating more from you. Amazing read, Zina!

  103. To me this was such a compassionate and sharply observed picture of how the love between mothers and daughters and between sisters isn’t always fair in the way it’s given or taken but can be mediated by regret or grief, or even envy. That love is still real though—I think this came through.

    • Yes Indeed ,OMG- First I give thanks for this Amazing Lady, She soars,roars, she gets it done. I’m So so Proud of you making big moves, doing big things- I so enjoyed this, and it leaves Me wanting more- That’s when you know!!!!… May God Continue to bless you In ALL you do Zina. One Love❤️ Keep it Coming.

  104. Dear Zina, i loved reading your piece on writing. I look forward to your forthcoming autobiography. I can even hear you reading it and this gives it a greater force in my mind as a reader. Keep it up.

  105. Wow! That was an awesome read! It is amazing how much I can relate to what you wrote. I can hardly wait for your next blessing!

  106. In the short amount of time it took me to read this I was transported to a place of calm and serenity. Your writing is so vivid. I can’t wait for your short story!

    • Zina, I’m so excited for you and cannot wait to read your upcoming work. I am especially excited to read your autobiography about your military journey. Beautiful writing.

  107. Zina! Your writing takes the reader in and allows him/her to feel the undulation of the waves in your mind and movement. Looking forward to reading more of your work!

  108. I like this creative thinking “ways crashing”! I want more!

    Excuse me we’re saying this, You have mother’s snip-it but not grandmother (you’ll get there) creative thoughts becomes reality; say what you mean in the moment.

  109. Beaitiful. When Jeffrey’s mother rouses to “Under the Boardwalk,” I’m remeinded of a hospice patient who hadn’r spoken or opened her eyes in days but mouthed the words as volunteers sang a Christmas carol at her bedside.

  110. Very nice. I can feel the early morning and the “delicate and hectic” movement of birds, as well as all the memories.

  111. Your words captured eloquently the care you had for your mother, and the care she had for you. You can feel that kind of love go deep in the soul, as obvious as sun going down.

  112. I felt like I was there. This brought back memories of being in the Army working as a psychiatric specialist during Viet Nam 1971-1973 at Walter Reed Army Hospital. There was life and death all around me, suffering beyond understanding. All that could be done was to be there for them in any way that felt right. I could feel your fear and pain for too have been in your skin.

  113. Written from the heart, yet in such an informative and amusing way. Certainly gives me pause from feeling miserable about the unfortunate loss of my testicles. Kinda makes me want to tell myself to grow a pair.

  114. I love this, Tamara! I’m forwarding your terrific advice to friends as soon as I finish writing this comment. Thanks for the shout out, you da bomb! xx

  115. Well written Krishna. Bring on more. The universality of suffering – very moving and in so few words !

  116. I love this hermit crab essay! What a clever and humorous approach to a complex and hard experience. I just wish that the multiple choice answers (which are labeled as 1, 2, 3, 4) would match the language in the text (i.e. “Answer C, of course they all must go.” “Answer C, but they really mean D.” etc.)

    • Meghan (and Louise!) – Thank you so much for reading. And you are absolutely correct! This was a quirk with the WordPress formatting when we input the content during production! We’re so sorry for this snafu; it’s something we should have caught during QA, especially since the form is what makes this essay. It’s been fixed to match the author’s original draft and intent! Thank you for commenting and for your grace. 🙂

  117. I love the breathlessness of this story–its tempo–the way it lingers for just a moment and in the next leaps across time. Reading it a few times, I tried to figure out how Ms. Miller created this breathlessness and came away with one word she uses twice: Pfft. The tempo of the syntax is driven by cars and a bus, Miller’s non human protagonists. This is without a doubt my favorite coming of age story!

    If coming of age in my home country of West Germany took place by way of bikes and street cars and trains, in rural North America childhood was ended by (and in) private cars. (The song about American Pie, the Chevy & the Levy tells a tragic story about it.)

    In many ways the condition of the Chevy Galaxy works like a metaphor for the kid’s feelings about his relationship to his older brother. It’s broken and needs repair; it disappears entirely; reappears and needs fixing again; till finally, it will be replaced by a dream car, a new Buick. This promise of a closer relationship is in the boy’s imagination, a vision that he sees in the future; a dream of a relationship with his grown up, soon to be married, brother that actually works.

    But such a mechanical summary does no justice to the lyrical way Ms. Miller tells a story about a boy’s longing for closeness to his older brother. This is a fabulously crafted story and I can’t wait to read other stories by Ms. Miller.

  118. So, so beautifully written. Please write more. Keep submitting pieces ready for publication so that I can read them with my hazel eyes while sitting on my sofa in the room with two cats. — 73-year-old woman in Massachusetts

  119. Wonderful! I love how you interspersed the experience in the room with your memories of your Dad and thoughts about your own fathering.

    • Beautifully written. Such a mikafo stick build up. I think I held my breath for the duration. Scared silly like the character & then boom! A silly piece of fuzz. Exhaling at last…

  120. Such a beautiful, poignant story. It reminded me so much of the last days of my own mother’s life. I even have a bowl story similar to yours. Only I was an adult when I broke it.
    Many thanks for this lovely work of art.

  121. I have not had Covid, but I might as well have. I am losing strength from inactivity. I know I need to move more, but here I sit.

  122. What a beautifully written account of such raw emotions and heartbreaking reality. I am still weeping after reading this. To have such a deep love and know you will lose it is incomprehensible. Having known such joy in a marriage and accepting the reality that it must end is truly devastating. I witnessed it with my sister who lost her husband to a terminal illness. Sending healing thoughts to you…🙏🏻

  123. Great questions—and answers. Morgan’s book is a fascinating look at a family’s process with life-threatening illnesses, emotional turmoil, loss and resilience.

  124. Well done, Louise Bell. I’m sorry you had to go through all of this. You’re a wonderful writer.

  125. Wow! I am thrilled to read this beautiful essay and revel in your gift of words again. Long time reader and lover of all three of your books. I met you once, at a book club reading in St Paul. You are as lovely as your writing. Keep shining, Jonathan!

  126. This is a beautiful piece. A lovely look at the efforts of a daughter who regrets not a single act of love shown to her mother.

  127. Your story moved me beyond anything in a long long while. So rich and brittle and fat-thin and strong at the same time. And your writing convinces me that love exists outside the bathtub, too.

  128. Your tribute is heart rending and even though full of pathos not a bit sentimental. I had to go back to your first sentence to get the full tragedy of his life. Erased twice. Just beautiful writing — will look for other stories by you!

  129. I love the way you relate the island’s history to yours — great structural device! I don’t mind telling you that I had some (minor) belly responses to your ordeal. Fabulous story telling!

  130. Thank you, Jason, for humanizing Sleepy’s life. No one knows why he chose a sad path. Bless you for having compassion and gratitude. We need more writers like you.

  131. Carol,. Quite an inspired piece as I found myself , introspectively recalling images, situations sometimes loosing but eventually winning. And like standing in front a slot machine I too found my self struggling to let go of the handle knowing three 🍒 await , to sate my certainty.of a win….eventually!
    Thank you again for that great.composition.
    Hamburgers anyone?

  132. Dave’s heart, you and your tub, the views—-all of it pulled me in. That’s what good writing does.

  133. Trish’s writing is so evocative. Her prose takes you right into the kitchen. I felt the cold on my face from the open fridge door.

  134. Such a great conversation between two of my favorite memoirists. I found myself nodding in agreement as i read. Looking forward to spending time with both of you soon!

  135. “…it is possible to take care of yourself and not only survive, but thrive.” Never easy and sometimes awkward, but yeeessss. Wonderful interview.

  136. Carol, Love this essay. It’s upbeat, exuberant, fun and a joy to read! I can hear you saying each word and sentence. It’s You! Thanks for sharing and the uplift to my day. Debbie V

    • Thank you Deb! I’ve always enjoyed writing, and have learned so much over the last few years via Zoom writing classes.

  137. What an incredible story. It was so moving that I didn’t want it to end. Thank you so much for giving us a vivid snapshot of life in a trans family.

  138. Am navigating my own loss to suicide of my teenaged son. I found him too. Sometimes you need somebody who gets it. I’m sorry there are others. When I get to the other side, I sure as hell hope it makes some sense.

  139. I read this wondering how such a good heart is given such a rough life. Then my mind wanders down the rabbit hole wondering if you could talk to and live vicariously through the life and times of your asshole brother, would you take the opportunity?

  140. I always said after going thru what I did when our parents died in same yr…” I’m going to write a how to manual..”. Always have multiple cert copies of your self and partners documents. Birth certificate. Marriage cert. I bought 12 death cert. I used all but 1. And they must be certified. Which costs money.

  141. A beautifully written piece; albeit heartbreaking. I will eat ice cream cake with you any day! Xoxox

  142. Dad was surprised to find that each death certificate cost 20 bucks, and since he needs about 50. . . The death care industry is a complete rip off. Thank you for baring your soul and sharing, because it’s so important to make this shit known. Love you.

  143. Thank you, Lisa. The practical side of death is a hammer that many don’t see coming. Your notes are a true guide – especially about the death certificates. The thing I most remember about my mother’s death was being in a foreign place and having to drive out in the middle of nowhere to meet a family-owned mortuary who did cremations. It felt like an audition. This was East Texas and creamation was not the accepted form of burial. I felt more judgement than compassion. “You don’t want an urn? Any urn? Then how will you transport your mother’s remains?” (By halving them and sending one box to my sister in California and one box to me in Hawai’i.). Trying not to spend money on ashes was met with downcast looks and a cool demeanour as if I was some heathen monster, some sort of evil they couldn’t get rid of fast enough. I should be ashamed, that was obvious. And here I’m running around, emotionally distraught, and trying to sort out the business end of death while my sister is sitting in the ICU with my dying mother. Mom had a living will but she was in a Baptist Hospital in East Texas. It took me 9 days to get her off of life support even though she had a living will and I had power of attorney. I kept having to debate the issue with their lawyer and counsellor while my mother’s eyes pleaded with me, grabbing at her ventilator tube with her eyes begging me to enforce her wishes. So my mother is dying and I’m evil and cheap and a potential murderer, all from those ‘here to help’. The business of death. I was not ready for it either, but ready or not…

  144. Wonderful story full of the love, hope, protection and letting go that is parenting. Thanks for so clearly voicing it for all of us.

  145. Kayte says:
    March 22, 2023 at 8pm

    I have never been given the opportunity to “know” this fabulous writer and/or especially her heart. Thank you for exposing its’ depth with me and to the world that is privileged to read it…. And thank you for allowing me to see my beloved brother in a way that he was unable to show me…… and I thank your sweet daughter for sharing this gift to me…..

  146. What a remarkable and beautiful piece that shows a parent’s infinite love and capacity to pave the way in unchartered territory. Thank you for writing and sharing this!

  147. It takes a lot of bravery to share the writing assignments God has given you these past couple of years. Thanks for the tough, honest words. Judy

  148. The writing from this man is simply beautiful. The way the words flow together make the imagery of the content come alive. I was transported. I need more works from this talented author!

  149. A practical and poignant list. Our system makes it hard to be the one left behind. Thank you for finding the fortitude to share it.

  150. This essay was beautifully written. Every parent should be as devoted and understanding to their child as Ren is.. What a wonderful gift it is to have this unconditional love to give a child. Bravo Ren!!! Looking forward to more stories.

  151. Oh Jon – How good to read your words again. I still use lines from the Healing when speaking about the “calling” of birthwork. Your writing has always had a place in my heart and, even more, in my soul. This doula is one of your biggest fans.
    Judith Nylander

  152. Your writing is so strong- I felt like I was in the kitchen with you when your mom walked in. Thank you for sharing that story. Great job!!

  153. You are a gifted writer! I miss visiting with you in the back of the church sometimes. Keep shining your light!

  154. Thank you for giving voice to that quiet/loud/angry/sad buried Self that many of us live with – so many hopes and fears! I look forward to reading more of your work.

  155. Required reading for humans! Thanks to the author for vividly showing us what one family’s love for their trans kid looks like.

  156. So real and honest about the struggle of potential loss and trying to live with its inevitability. Beautiful and heart breaking at the same time.

  157. Wow that was a great story! Why can’t we just all love each other? That writer put her kid and their needs first 😉

  158. Jonathan your story is indeed sunlight therapy. I liked following you back home, and I think of my cousins back in Copiah, knowing that they likely directed their negativity towards you. I particularly am glad that James predicted your future as a writer, and glad that I am one who read a couple of your books, and learned from you. So very good to hear from you, love, love, love you, and all the esteem you have gathered and shared.

  159. The awakening of a spirit. A story that could have been lived and told a thousand times but I read it here first. Thank you Jonathan.

  160. What an incredible story! Thank you for sharing the thoughts and feelings of your tender years, when so much can snuff out that light and sparkle so easily. I’m glad that your story now has happier days in it and the success because of your considerable talent.

  161. My grandma has Lou Gehrig’s disease, she is about 75 years old it was diagnosed 2 years ago. Right now it’s getting more difficult to live for her, because of stiff muscles she can’t even move. Riluzole and Edaravone medicines are given, but won”t give much relief. She can”t eat food without choking. I thought this might be the last stage and the medications she was given did not help at all, so I started to do alot of research on natural treatments, I was introduced to Health Natural Centre and their ALS Herbal Protocol. She started on the ALS/MND Treatment last year, her symptoms gradually diminished including her vocal cord spasm, Body Weakness and Difficulty with swallowing. Reach them at health natural centre . org , She is getting active again since starting this treatment, she is able to walk again ( down the street and back )she have also resumed exercising to strengthen muscles!! God Bless all ALS Caregivers. Stay Strong, take small moments throughout the day to thank yourself, to love your self, and pray to whatever faith, star, spiritual force you believe in and ask for strength. I can personally vouch for these remedy but you would probably need to decide what works best for you.

  162. Absolutely beautiful work. So relatable to my life on so many levels. Thank you for writing this, thank you for sharing. Glad to have you around.

  163. March 7, 2023
    This was a very visual piece of writing weaving all the colors of life, fabric, mother, daughter, family. Thank you for sharing and taking me on a journey with you from the beginning to the end. A lovely tribute to your Mother.

  164. I went through this, too. Not in quite the same way, but it took me a long time to move from noticing that I was happiest when I was writing — to noticing that I was happy ONLY when I was writing, and no other time. The problem was not the girls.

  165. Thank you for this interview! I resonate with so much of what was discussed, even though my daughter’s depression did not knock her into psychosis, she turned to drugs to self medicate. As a mother, I experienced the same far, anger, loss, and determination to help someone who was “not there.” Sharing stories, I find, is the best medicine for moms.

  166. I recently lost my mother and I found my emotions reflected beautifully, wonderfully in this writing.

  167. Oh that first step takes so long. Lifting that 10 pound shoe and allowing it to drop 6 inches in front of you and then the nest step. What we put ourselves through before we execute. The result FREEDOM!
    Thank you for Stuckness

  168. The subject of this piece was enough to take my breath away. But then the richness and precision of the language (“the plastic dome WINCES open”), the matter-of-fact tone that comes with grief…wow. Brilliant. Thank you.

  169. Whoa! That guy was having a bad day! Wonderful
    piece , light and solid.
    It flew.
    PS saw your letter in P&W and had to look your published self up. Don’t stop!

  170. My favorite lines: ” ‘You think culture is just sarees and cumin and oil wicks? No, kanna,* culture is how you see, what you value, what you remember.’ And I realize it’s true. Despite my limitations, despite the deficiencies in my knowledge and understanding, there is nevertheless a legacy built right into my own foundation, infused in my blood and bones. It shapes how I think, what I honor, what I choose to write, and how I write it.”

  171. Notes on the Fragility of Bowls shows a rare depth of soul. It shows a courage to share existential reflections on personal life events. The images used are striking, at the same time real and symbolic. The hollowed maple burls, the coronation bowl and the clay pot, both broken and repaired, the jagged sutures and missing shard.

    This moving reflection is so much more valuable that what we often hear from those caught-up in mundane trivial talk and activities. There are past and present events that we cannot control or change. There are wounds, sorrows, and tears that have left their indelible traces on life and memory. There is the image of light departing through the wounds. Can the heart keep pumping? Can the light be replenished?

    Finally, we are left with the suspense of the incomplete future: “I will…”; and the shared love of the song of the white throated sparrow.

  172. I just found this in early 2023. It is so deep and touching that I want to read it again and perhaps comment again tomorrow. TMc in Ontario

  173. This essay has me searching for words to express what has been revealed to me. Things that I have just found about you, and things I’ve just found out about me. Ah, a ringing phone to break the spell.

  174. Oh Dheepa!! This is such a lovely piece – wish it wasn’t so sad!! You are an amazing daughter, mother, wife and a great friend! ❤️

    • Oh my god… it’s so so touching odhina… I could visualise every scene when u read every instance you mentioned and the tears rolling down my cheek..

    • So very well expressed Dheepa, but so sad to read, hard to contain the emotions!
      You are a fabulous writer!! Love and hugs !!

  175. A very energetic and moving vignette, really well written. I closed my website but you can find me at Jane Berger Herschlag.

  176. I loved your story, too. I did some dangerous things in my early twenties and luckily nothing bad happened. But doing them empowered me to do other kinds of things that weren’t physically dangerous, but scary for me, such as face classrooms full of kids as a new teacher, go for a masters degree when I didn’t even like school, train and run a marathon, and the biggest of all—face cancer. There’s always a fine line between life and death, but life is for stepping out for what we want/need even when we are afraid. I’m so sorry you don’t have your brother on earth anymore. But I bet he’s with you in spirit whenever you attempt to do something hard. Keep talking with him. He’s listening.

  177. It is beautiful writing. I have two people I cared about who killed themselves and you do wonder what that last day was like and you are left wondering for a long long time about everything and more.

  178. Oh, Joy! This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing the gift of your considerable talent in capturing all of the many emotions present in each of these moments.

  179. I absolutely love this beautiful piece of writing. My father was a gardener too. His hands were always warm. I remember my small cool hands warmed by his many times in my childhood and adolescence. He would have taken pleasure to did up a lily for me, just as Sayuri’s father did for her here. He was a constant in my life. Unconditional love. The images your writing evokes, “My father stands in a field of sunflowers”. “Day after day, lifting me up into daylight ” . “As he circled the bright fields”. Just gorgeous.

  180. The writing beautifully captures the grace and challenges of a devout life! The musings on the habit are especially engaging.


  182. Tim Hetherton brought me here- that was super interesting and fun to read! thanks for putting that all down!

    Chris Gibbs

  183. Nice piece of writing! To me, your experience has always been a secret history. I’d be interested in reading more!

  184. Beautiful piece! I love the way you weave in the process of kayaking as well as the myth of Demeter and Persephone!!!!

  185. What a great interview! A plethora of good information. I will be re-reading Candace’s book for about the 4th or 5th time.

  186. What an amazingly gorgeous story. What a great ride in a foreign land, (beyond Kansas) I could visualize every scene. So sorry about what you endured due to your brother’s choice. (((BIG HUGS))) to you.

  187. Thanks for your beautiful memory, Ryan. It’s so important to remember how we got here, and your story brought to light a few special vignettes of my own family tales. So many ancestors did so much to help me thrive in a world so very different to the ones into which they were thrust. At my best, their strength and wisdom live on through me. Your story underlined for me how much joy my family savored in my smallest achievements. I could taste the the contentment and gratitude in your postscript fish dinner. Thanks for prompting my own sweet memories.

  188. Hello Ms. Francis-Williams!

    I am delighted to have come across this story and you! Your biography says you grew up in the 60s and were immersed in the counterculture movements of southern California. As a graduate student, I am working on a research project around just that and, if able, I’d be honored to talk to you more about those things. After reading this story, I also wondered if you had ever published your memoir “Sassafras Tea and Cinnamon Toast, a life without ruffles.”


  189. today is December 23rd. according to your “when can you submit” there is a fee-free submission period from 12/21/2022 to 12/31/2022. I have tried every day so far, but Submittable still still demands $3.00. this is not about the money. This is about accuracy and being able to rely on posted information about a submission call. Can you please let me know how to access the free submission. There is a world of difference between pay to play and venues just welcoming written works. I await your instructions on accessing the fee-free option.

  190. Casey thank you for sharing a moving and soul gripping summary of these three novels that I am grateful to know about. It has been five years since I lost my adored 26-year-old son and I am hoping I will find my words to share this never-ending grief.

  191. I really enjoyed your memory piece, Ryan. It brought back all the details of going fishing with my father (though he LOVED it). Even setting trotlines.

  192. I love this essay, Maryam!! Finding compassion for the ways we are unique in our reading, writing, and learning is so liberating! Thank you for sharing!

  193. Evoked long ago memories of farm pond fishing in the deep summer heat, and left me longing for a seat at the family table. Ohhhh, for a taste of Mama and Mamaw’s fresh caught deep fried fish, hush puppies, and coleslaw! Simply lovely, Cressie. More, please!!!

  194. I once read in the Economist something to the effect, “Evil exits in the world and evolution has prepared us to recognize it”. This sounded right to me based on my experiences in life. I could make decisions that were not random, but the result of parenting I received and all other knowledge gained by living in different cultures and working with humans in these diverse cultures that would be considered, “The right thing to do” and these decisions would benefit me and be beneficial for the society. I have more recently concluded that many people make poor decisions because their envelope of knowledge is too limited to cope with misinformation. Further, I have concluded that most of those trapped in this limited bubble of knowledge will never have the necessary curiosity or incentive to be motivated to expand their knowledge which could allow them to have thoughts and make decisions which are better for them and the society. This has made me more empathetic towards these people and causes me sorrow that they will what the remainder of their lives trapped in small bubble of knowledge.

  195. Loved the imagery in this story- brought back many fond food memories of time spent cooking & fishing with my Missouri grandparents.

  196. A tender, vivid story that really transported me to place (and, naturally, inspired me to cook fish tonight). Well done, Ryan!

  197. Joanne I met you in person at the Library in Oneonta . I finished your book on 3 days. It made me laugh and it made me cry. As we talked about in Oneonta I can relate to your story. My husband had PSP. And while reading your book I felt like I was reliving my husbands battle with PSP. As Beany said your book is a love story. If my husband had had ax choice he would have chosen the same path as your husband did. Thank you for sharing your love story. My love story was very much the same as yours. My husband was a gift.

  198. A beautifully written story. It is full of sights , sounds, smells, and taste. It made me happy and sad and also reminded me a bit of Welty.

  199. Ryan, I love the richness of your storytelling – such a feast for each of the senses. You pry loose memories of my own childhood as you unwind your story, full of the poignancy of seemingly simpler times, comfortable and predictable routines, delicious home cooking, and taking life as it is. Your writing is both a balm and a nudge. Beautiful! I cannot wait for more!

  200. This is such a gentle poignant story — I soon got lost in the world you created. The car and the siblings, the fish fry and the hush puppies, the sense of time lost is all so rich. Love the way it brings you up to modern day- fish from Whole Foods, dining alone after the parade of people in the childhood house. This is a lovely piece of memoir writing. More, more please

  201. What a lovely story, so happy you have such vivid memories, and can share them.
    I would have liked to spend a day with Mamaw!

  202. Ryan, such a beautiful story. I feel like I have been transported to your youth – in a place that’s so different from where I grew up – in a way that is rich, warm and moving. Congratulations!

  203. Ryan, I so enjoyed reading about this vivid Mississippi memory. I can’t help but tear up thinking of my own. I too had a Mamaw that told all of us children we would never be a fisherman if we couldn’t bait our own hook. Congratulations!

  204. This story made me feel like a fly on the wall of someone’s life. So rich, so vivid, so delicious… Loved it!

  205. Wow, that made me feel so warm inside. It brought me back to the simpler days as a kid just playing outside with my friends and then running home to a home-cooked meal with my family. What an amazing childhood memory. I could really picture the whole scene. Loved it!

  206. Loved this story about family and fishing. I thought a lot about my now-deceased younger brother who adored fishing. Really felt connected to the characters in the story. Thank you for the sweet peek into what can draw families together.

  207. Ryan — Time travel is such a wonderful gift — thank you for transporting us. You have a gift for telling details — can see (and hear) Bubba jumping two-footed to the ground, the shirtdresses (for good and not so good) are vivid still and I can picture Mama at the stove, talking and cooking, lifting the edge of the fish to make sure it’s not too brown.

  208. What a great story, Ryan. It transported me back to Mississippi and a bygone era. It makes me want to grab a cane pole and find a little pond in the woods somewhere. Congratulations!

  209. Congratulations, Ryan (or should I say “Cressie”?) on the publication of this wonderfully detailed childhood story. It further confirms the rich truth of food being the key to life’s best memories. Is that really the hush puppy origin story? Never knew that!

  210. Loved this so much! It brought tears to my eyes. As the baby in the story, and being raised by the same women it is interesting how our experiences with these 2 women were different in many ways. I always knew they loved fishing but never really enjoyed seeing them fishing in the way described in the story. Their fishing days were over by the time I could remember. It was so fun reading the story from your perspective. You told it so well. Thank you for capturing this memory.

  211. You have a wonderful way of conveying your journey and showing how nothing is left behind.
    I really enjoyed your book, too.

  212. Oh, Ryan! What a wonderful story! I so enjoyed immersing myself in the beautifully crafted vignettes of a loving family and childhood memories. I can almost taste the hush puppies and brim. A bit of made by hand makes the tasty memory even better!

  213. I just read your story aloud to Terry! It’s so genuine, and directly from your heart. Details upon details create a warm and real response from anyone reading it. It was so visual. Terry added that your childhood was sure different from either one of ours! We love it.

  214. Such a lovely and well written memory Ryan, I really enjoyed slowing myself down to appreciate the nuances!

  215. What a journey into a time and place I sadly don’t think exists even in Mississippi.
    But maybe. I loved the relationship of the women handing down tradition through nature, activity, stories. So much love emanates even to us the readers. A gift.

  216. Such a beautiful story. I feel like I am right there. Also, love the inclusion of present day experience at the end.

  217. Ryan, thanks for that memory….I can see all of us gathering at Mamaw’s house at the holiday. Such a small house but so huge with love and good memories… it’s amazing how we all fit. I can feel Mamaw’s dress as I climbed in her lap in that rocking chair…..slightly worn but rich with her scent. I’m instantly brought back to images of her brushing her long grey hair at night before bed and rubbing Ben-Gay on her knees……LOL

  218. Ryan- Congratuations! I loved reading about your memories of Mama and Mamaw. Food is a way of traveling through time. Beautifully conveyed. Mary Pat

  219. Beautiful, poignant story with such an authentic voice – I’m sitting right beside you throughout! Great piece, Ryan!

  220. I loved Davis’s use of field peas.
    Loved Ronit’s Another one who wouldn’t be ours.
    Loved Randel’s and pulls herself into the rest of her day, week, life.
    Great examples departing an essay. The emotional leave always resonates with me.

  221. Ryan – This is fantastic! I was right there with you as a child – such sensual details — SO ALIVE! You’ve made me hungry for fish and fishing. Thank you for writing this. Karen

  222. What a delightful childhood memory… I could see and hear and almost taste every moment you spent that day with your family. You wrote it with such a tender richness, that I want to know more!

  223. Hi Ryan……….I’m so glad Denise told me about your story. You did a great job, good buddy. I loved the vivid memories, the solid setting, the accurate dialogue. Hurrah for you! Now I am waiting to read your whole book of memories. Keep on keeping on. love, carol

  224. Lovely vulnerable piece and learning to take care of our body and use the damn restroom when we need to is a real practice!

  225. I have read this so many times – I give it to my students – and each time it guts me. I watched my mother die, but I’m more afraid of how my daughters will deal with me dying.