Motherhood Week: The End Can Be Like This

My mother was dying. It was time to get ready. First came the visit to a funeral home where we walked among the coffins as if shopping for a new couch. Deep woods polished shiny; insides pillowed, all velvets and ruffles; pallbearer handlebars in brass or chrome. But no, too fancy, and she’d be cremated anyway, […]

A Matter of Choice

My friend, I’ll call her Anna, is dying today. She was dying yesterday, too, and tomorrow she’ll be even closer to death than today. That’s true of all of us, I suppose, but she’s on the fast track: Her gut is so clogged up with cancer that there’s nothing left to do for her but […]

A Bird’s Foot: Death in the Forest 

I find a stick and use it to break up the dry twists of coyote scat I have found on the trail. Shit is nature’s obituary page. In each pile are the traces of lives recently lost. In this particular excreta I find a sprinkling of little white brittle bones—bird bones. And then I pull […]

The Othering of Tom Hayden

I need you to know this: I had my name before he was famous. And though my family moved from Detroit to Saskatoon during the Vietnam War years that made him so, I need you to understand that my father was never a draft dodger. I have no quarrel with the decisions, to flee conscription […]

A Wolf Dies

“The Silver Lake Wolves” sounds like the title of a young adult novel, or possibly an indie rock band with lots of close harmony and beards. Actually, it was the name given by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to a small family of wolves […]

The Four Stages of Twitter Grief

2016 has been ruthless. Yesterday, Gene Wilder died. In July it was Elie Wiesel and Miss Cleo. In June it was Muhammad Ali. In April it was Chyna and Prince. In January it was David Bowie and Alan Rickman. In 2016 we grieve in public, on social media. When Prince died people wrote millions of Tweets […]

What Happened Next

My husband died.  He wasn’t young any more and was sick and weak but we weren’t expecting his death to come as quickly as it did, within a few days, almost overnight.  He just went away.  Maybe there are worse things than a quick, quiet death. Here’s what happened next. My brother and sister-in-law (who […]

Death Barged In

Pia’s birthday was last week. I didn’t call her or send a card or bake a cake. Such efforts would have fallen on deaf ears, because she died six years ago in January. Pia was the older sister I’d never had, and she’d welcomed me into her life with apricots and a warm pot of […]