Cozy & Free

Jay and I loved how free the 4th of July felt.  I don't mean free in the literal sense referring to this holiday but free in the sense that it was a holiday in the heat of the Nashville summer far away from the obligations of the rest of the year. There is freedom in summer in this way when you vaguely know who is around and  expectations and routine all melt away for a moment.

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Junebug would be afraid for many years of people disappearing. When you go to bed and wake up and the biggest love of your six years and eight months of life is gone, this fear makes sense.. or so I thought.

When I met Jay, the next biggest love of my life, he quickly learned about my fear of something happening to him. He always knew to pick up the phone when I called. "Hey Babe" he would say until he said it no more.  It's hard to believe my biggest fear happened and that I survived because longer than my seventeen year marriage to Jay, I had lived with this fear and others.

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When Zoe was younger, she used to love soft kisses on her forehead at night. Yesterday when I went to the cemetery, the second I stepped out of the car very light raindrops began to fall and continued to fall while I spoke to Jay. The raindrops I imagine felt like the soft kisses I used to give Zoe and as they fell, I noticed a bunny scurrying in and out of the bushes. Some days my tears are harder to find but yesterday it seemed the sky found them for me.

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Simon and I walked to movie night in the park last night. Before we left, he grabbed the football and we threw it as we walked. As much as I cherish my time with him even if that means being thrown into the role of mom/dad, I can feel the hole in our lives that Simon can not speak about. I know it is too much for him and I know what I need to do is just let him be a kid so at the movie he had ice cream and then dinner. And we did not talk about his dad. I am letting him be a kid.


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Salty & Sweet

Junebug and her dad loved to fly kites at the beach in Miami where her grandmother lived. Junebug was a very sure of herself tomboy and the trips to Miami in her boys swim trunks were the most magical. The smell of the beach, the palm trees, the fancy condo building, the doting older women who brought her gifts and her lovely grandmother with hands tanned the most golden shade of brown.  It was there that she could pretend that she was the one and only rather than the youngest of a rambunctious five.


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Ice Cream

Junebug Strong went back to school after her loud and sudden loss and she wasn’t sure why her ears were ringing so much or why she began to examine her eyes every night before going to sleep to make sure she would not go blind.  What Junebug Strong was sure of was that she wanted to protect her heart and if that meant rubbing ice cream all over her face at lunch to make her friends laugh, by God – she would do it. She would do anything to distract people from her heart.

We think of our heart as holding all of our desires. So it makes complete sense that she wanted to hide this part of her from others. She desired her dad to be back but she also desired to be like a normal kid – and when she weighed them both, focusing on her desire to fit in & be funny felt much less risky. All she needed was some ice cream. 

Junebug may have been a little confused about how to handle the loss of her dad but she got one thing right...losing someone is messy. I am listening to Brene Brown's Rising Strong book and the point she makes is how we are so focused on the triumphant victory and not enough on the journey. And it's true. When life gets hard and we fall flat on our faces, the getting back up part and learning how to walk again is often the part of our stories where we go radio silent. It's the messy part.

It's the part I am trying to learn. How to answer the question "how are you?" honestly even if it feels awkward. How to say no when I am tired or to be nice to myself when I get nothing done in a day. How I try not to over-explain, over-apologize, over-schedule or over-do it but often doing it anyway, and then forgiving myself and trying again. How to pick up the phone and ask for a favor. How to talk less and sit with myself and be OK with it. 

See with all of this messiness it makes sense why Junebug just went for the ice cream all over her face. Good job Junebug!

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, in her recent commencement speech about suddenly losing her husband talks about coming to accept that she had to "rock the shit out of plan B" as her victory moment and as I listened to this beautiful but melancholy tune by Ben Harper this week called "The Three of Us", I realized I am not quite at the rocking out phase. But I know I will be one day.. stay tuned.  

Jay loved this song below. It has no words - fitting I think.





Who is Junebug Strong? To be honest, I am not sure who she is as she seems to be evolving in my head as I weave together losses in my life from my dad at age 6 to Jay at age 45 with the loss of my brother-in-law, Jim and my dear friend, Scott in between. Jay would not be mad if I shared that Junebug was a nickname given to me by a guy I was dating right before Jay and I met.

We broke up when he gave me a green pocketknife with Junebug inscribed on it. What can I say – like my dad you will read about below, I am a romantic at heart and there was nothing romantic about this gift.  Jay was much better at giving me gifts but the biggest gift Jay gave me is all around me in the life we built together. It is what gives me hope everyday.

Although I only have a handful of friends who still call me Junebug, when I left my company a few months ago, I started thinking the name “Junebug Strong” would be a good name for my next something in life….


When her neighbors were not free to play hide and go seek or have mock orange fights, Junebug Strong liked to fish in the sewer behind the alley of her house. Her older sister told her there used to be an old toy store in the sewer and at times her sister would even spot a fish or a dolphin swimming by; and Junebug not having the best sense of geography (they lived in Tennessee) and a big imagination, believed her sister and did not think tying a string to a stick and sitting for awhile was a waste of her time at all.

In the middle of the night, Junebug had suddenly and loudly lost her dad, the biggest love of her 6 years and 8 months of life so hope was about all she had left and even though that felt about as slippery as a fish in her tiny hands, she was not willing to let it go no matter how bad that sewer smelled. She knew there was a possibility of catching a magical fish or a new toy. As her hands grew bigger and her imagination curated over time, hope became less slippery.

Her dad died because his heart became too big. Although the truth is he had rheumatic fever as a small boy, which permanently damaged his heart, she liked to think he had romantic fever. After all, there were so many stories about how head over heels in love he was with her mom. And Junebug definitely knew he was head over heals crazy about her and never would have decided to leave her if he could help it. But he couldn’t – Junebug would learn that lesson throughout her life. People can’t help when they decide to go.

Me and my dad getting ready to fly kites, 1975

Me and my dad getting ready to fly kites, 1975

I used to write and read to Jay and I miss reading to him so thanks for taking the time to read! More to come I think?

Love this Patty Griffin song below:

The Sunday after there was laughter in the air
Everybody had a kite
They were flying everywhere
And all the trouble went away
And it wasn't just a dream
All the trouble went away
And it wasn't just a dream