Family, Grace, and Thanks

Today, my mother would have been 85 years old.

She is eternally 56, but I often think, and always on Thanksgiving, particularly when it falls on her birthday, about how my life would be different if she were still here, how we would celebrate her, how we would celebrate with her.

I feel (more) acutely her loss, and the longing for 28 years of memories that were not to be.

This is the first time in quite awhile that I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving with my mother’s side (my side) of my family, as I’m with my cousin (my mother’s sister’s daughter) celebrating this year. We’ve had a beautiful and joyful time of laughter and exploration this week with our two families. I’m so grateful.

For a long time, because I was hurting and because I was also the youngest in my family of origin, it had never been my task to keep connected with the family. I didn’t know how to reach out or who to reach out to. I missed out on connecting with my mom’s side of my family, which was, in effect, the only side of my family I had ever known.

These were hard times where I felt incredibly alone. There were periods when I didn’t feel like I had any family that truly knew and loved me. They were there, I just couldn’t feel it.

These feelings have taught me incredible empathy, and an understanding when things happen in my own life and people I love need to distance themselves from me, or when I need to distance myself from them. Sometimes this is just something that happens. It is hard, but sometimes it is what it is. I have learned to trust that when the time is right, if the relationship is meant to be (repaired), it will be.

It has been, in some ways, a very hard week, at the end of a very hard month. And it has also been an incredibly joyful week as I reprioritize parts of my life, and I work hard…at rest.

I am grateful for the generosity of grace and space, of people who are able to make space for me and give me grace in my imperfections and in the spaces we may never agree, for the people who hold on to love for me anyways. I am grateful for the ability to be fully human and to write from a place of that humanity. I am grateful to make memories with my family in the midst of times of grief and loss on so many levels in so many places. I am grateful that we can hold hard things alongside beautiful things.

I know that many people, many who are grieved on many levels, struggle with this holiday season, particularly with a holiday that has a tainted historical origin and that is so connected with family. I am holding space for all those suffering, near and far, today.

It is both this particular day (and holiday) and every day that I am also so incredibly grateful, for the life I am blessed to have, the fullness and light, and the loneliness and darkness.

I am coming into myself and the presence of all the things. I am grateful in the midst of it, even when things are hard, and especially when they are beautiful.

Thank you for being here with me.

A Different Pace Towards a Different World

“Our liberation is connected. And so is our oppression.”

“Identity is all we have left.”

“War is not going to solve anyone’s problems. Violence begets more violence.”

“So many of us are not allowed to mourn.”

“It’s not easy when the world is silencing you.”

“We all have a locus of control.”

“Fight for freedom, for ourselves and others.”

It is the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention 2023.

These are thoughts from a beautiful session this morning entitled, “Palestine, We Teach Life, Sir.” It is a session that reminded me deeply of shared humanity, of courage, and of suffering.

I have been moving through this conference at a different pace. A more measured and intentional pace.

I have been sitting with and in the world in a different way.

So many of us feel so alone in a sea of 10,000 people.

I have been listening and learning from my Palestinian and Jewish friends and colleagues, many of whom are sharing in deep suffering, many of whom feel alone in a time of deep grief, many of whom are calling together for a cease fire and an end to dehumanizing violence against families and children in Gaza and beyond.

I have been remembering in my heart and in my bones, what it is to feel alone in your deepest moments of fear and of grief. I have been carrying unresolved intergenerational trauma and grief and seeing how it shapes my walk in the world. The noticing allows me to acknowledge and choose differently.

I have been holding (for far too long) in my body the heaviness of pushing on, smiling, educating, loving, in spite of, in the face of, and while also holding sorrow (which was perhaps correctly corrected to sorry) that is too much.

I have been trying to heal myself and love on others, to be open, to continue talking across difference, to continue working towards community-based conversations and actions that remind us of our power, even when our governments, our institutions, our organizations do not act in ways that represent us, acknowledge us, love us. When things feel both overwhelmingly complicated and completely evident. When it is so much and too much, and when survival itself is resistance. When community and collectivity are the only ways forward, but we are kept in siloes away from one another, fighting and feeling alone.

My friend said that she hugged me so hard when she saw me the other day because there was a moment when she wondered if I had died (from my recent accidents) if she would have to my children that I had died from carrying my own grief and the grief of others. That the weight had become too much and it had crushed me.

I have a tattoo. The translation of the first half of it is, “You bring into existence the world in which you believe.” The second half is, “I believe in better.”

I believe in the possibility of my own liberation and my own healing. I am fighting for it, as I am fighting for freedom and community for others, that we might create spaces in which people might feel loved, seen, safe, known, even and especially in their deepest grief.

I hope you are able to be in and bring into existence (s)paces that move us collectively forward, that advocate for humanity, that act courageously. I am working on this. I believe that we can move this way if we give space to one another to grieve, to heal, to grow, to live peacefully with enough. It is not so much to ask and yet it is everything.



I wrote a post 9 days ago, debriefing a serious accident I had in mid-October. For whatever reason (likely because of the way social media algorithms are structured) or because it was a lengthy update, it didn’t get read.

Today, I had another, different type of accident, a car accident with my daughter in the car.

In both these accidents, those involved will heal. But in both of them, if things had gone slightly differently, we would not be okay. I would not be okay. And I might not even be here anymore.

After my accident in mid-October, I did not reach out for help. Mostly this is because I did not want to center myself in a time of multiple global crises, when there are many more things that seem more important than my own life.

But friends, this was wrong. I am realizing how much I need community.

We all need community to survive.

If you are my people, even though I might not be able to response, if you show up, check in, remind me that my life matters, remind me to trust myself, remind me that my empathetic nature means this time is tender all the time right now, remind me that I have to slow down even when I feel fine, and remind me to hydrate, breathe and sit down when you see me, I’d appreciate it.

Thank you. Love you. Really.

Life and Death

A screenshot of a tweet that reads "Work is an addiction that will literally kill you. We are all replaceable to institutions, but not to those who love us. Reminding myself because I need to hear it."

A little over three years ago, I tweeted the above tweet (which came up in my Facebook memories on the three year anniversary of the post).

Two weeks ago, at a work-related conference, I was involved in a health-related accident that, had it gone slightly differently, might have led to my death. This is not an exaggeration or over-dramatization. I am grateful to be alive.

I have not talked about this incident extensively because I didn’t want people to worry; I was not seriously injured; and I haven’t had the mental and emotional bandwidth to process what happened. The world is also experiencing multiple genocides and extended warfare which feels much more important to amplify than focusing on my own existence.

I am writing this blog now for a few reasons: 1) I have to deal with the fact that I almost died, then the next day, just went on like nothing happened. This is not normal; 2) Life is so precious and so fragile. There is no time more than the present for us to embrace this and focus our energy on our collective humanity; 3) When I was not sure if I was going to be okay, the one thing that I worried about most was who I was leaving behind, and how my family would be if I was not here. In the moments when I was in the ambulance on the way to the ER, I felt profoundly alone. In the last few weeks, I have felt profoundly alone. So mostly, I am writing this because I cannot keep going alone; we cannot keep going alone.

Our society, academia, hypercapitalism, fear, scarcity, pride, all of it pushes us towards disembodiment, towards dissociation and towards dehumanization, of ourselves and others. This has become so clear for me in the last two weeks. We often spend our time justifying and defending what we think is “right” even when it costs us (or others) our (or their) lives.

Every person should have a right to live, to feel safe, to have clean water, to have enough to eat, to live in peace. These should not be controversial statements.

I am an educator. Children and families are my heart.

Friends, people are dying; so many children and families are dying or being irreparably broken. Thousands of people in genocides in Palestine (and less widely publicized in Sudan). Hundreds of thousands displaced in these same countries and in the Congo. This does not take away from the loss of 1400 Israeli lives on October 7. However, neither does one loss of life justify the loss of many, many others.

As someone who is deeply acquainted with grief and loss, blame and justification do NOTHING to bring back those who have been killed. Anger and dehumanization only serve to destroy us.

I am not judging anyone who responds to trauma with anger. It’s not my place. But I am holding on to another way. I believe in Dr. King’s words: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” I also believe in calls to hold out hope in these dark times.

But we can only hold on to light, love and hope if we hold on to one another.

We have to keep one another safe. We have to resist those that would put being right ahead our our shared humanity.

Finally, I just want to say, because I am alive and I can, that if you are someone with whom I am connected, I deeply love you and value your humanity. That is not conditional on our agreement. We never know when we will not see those we love again so I want you to know this.

There aren’t more words and this hasn’t been coherent, but that’s all I have for now, in a time that is beyond words. Thanks for reading.