One Last Time On Loss and Living Onward

I agree. The cover is elegant. Thank you, designer David Miles.

I agree. The cover is elegant. Thank you, designer David Miles.

This is post #199. In a couple of days, I’ll give you my final and 200th post. Between now and then, I invite you to order and read this book. 🙂

On Loss & Living Onward came to be over months of unprecedented searching and researching. By “searching,” I mean grieving, which, after the initial implosion of traumatic loss, is intense, prolonged yearning.

Yes, I was searching.  Not for release from grief or its pain, but specifically for Parker, for God, for community, for truth, for understanding, for strength, for light.  Sometimes, for air.

And I was researching. From the introduction to On Loss:

“…Every morning when the children left for school and Randall left for the office or for the airport, I turned to my daily pattern of digging and searching amid piles of books spread about me in a circular mountain range. I sat cross-legged on the floor with sometimes twenty books open at once: Testaments, both Old and New and other scriptures of my faith; a poetry anthology; a modern French novel; a German lyric; a prophet’s or pioneer’s personal journal; a Norwegian memoir; a commentary on the book of Job; a stack of professional journals on parental grief; collected talks from great spiritual leaders past and present and from the East to the West; discourses from Plutarch and Plato; my Riverside Shakespeare; accounts of Holocaust survivors, 9/11 survivors, tsunami survivors; and Parker’s own words, which we have treasured in his journals, poetry, school essays, letters, and lyrics.

Oh. And my laptop.

For hours to months on end, I went spelunking through others’ words. When someone’s words hit the bedrock of the Spirit, I knew it in half a breath. There were revelatory moments when a correct insight stunned me to immediate tears or, more often, head-to-toe stillness. At times my heart would leap a hurdle or my eyes would stretch wide open; other times I would hold my breath or exhale audibly in gratitude. Whatever my physical and intellectual response, every time a writer got it, I’d quickly type those words into my files.

Unswerving, I kept at it—mining, sifting, cataloging; grieving, mourning, learning, writing; adapting. While I never found the one book that for me addressed the desperate underside of grief as well as the magnificent promise of the loving bond that endures and evolves despite physical separation, I was (to my surprise) on my way to writing one.

And today—almost seven years after Parker was taken in an early harvest that plowed our souls right open—I finished this book. I lovingly pass it on to you.”



8 thoughts on “One Last Time On Loss and Living Onward

  1. Beautiful post, Melissa. I had lunch with a ward member who tragically (is there any other kind?) lost his wife this year. She was 48 and the circumstances are just horrible. I shared with him your book a few months ago. He’s almost finished.

    I asked him his opinion. He’s a very matter-of-fact man. He said that he thought you as an author adeptly communicated that each loss is different and that your loss is not the same as his loss and so the experience is radically different. He said he thought the book was a first book on how to heal and then realized it wasn’t. What he finds most helpful, he said, was the quotes. He said that in every chapter he connects with a few that resonate with him.

    It was a nice conversation and I felt blessed to be able to participate in this journey with you.

  2. And oh how glad I am that you did. Thank you for sharing a that side of your innermost part of your beautiful soul with me.

  3. Melissa: You are totally incredible!!! I am anxious to read your fascinating new book! I noticed the new and enlarged Springville Public Library has your “Global Mom” book, and it is very popular! It was out on the display shelf! You are so magnificently intelligent, talented, beautiful, articulate, righteous, loving, gracious, cultured, and yet, humble, down-to-earth, meek, and sensitive to others, friendly, warm, unselfish, and so helpful in meeting other’s needs! I think of you when reading the quote and inspiration given to Pres. Kimball when he prophesied that in the winding up scenes of the earth’s history, the good women of the world will be drawn to the Church in great numbers, according to the righteousness and articulateness of the LDS women. I think he was saying all LDS women, in all walks of life, not just the new upsurge of women missionaries, such as your inspiring, beautiful, articulate, and intelligent daughter! (no coincidence she is so good at languages, too!) Thank you for your enjoyable, interesting, entertaining, and inspiring blogs!!!! I’m glad to see that you will still be at it, only in another form! (Whew!–I love them!) You remind me more and more of your outstanding grandmother, Jesse Dalton, as time goes on! I no of no one else more like her than you! What a compliment to both of you! –Thanks so much for all you do and are!–you change lives for the better so significantly and amazingly well! Thanks a million, Melissa!!!!!

    • Gena-
      I do hope I can meet you face-to-face soon. I’ll be in your neck of the woods this summer (second half of July) with book tour activities and getting one child back to university, another into summer camps, and another ready to leave late this summer on his full-time service for our church in South England. And, oh yes, getting ready for our new life in Frankfurt, Germany…starting in August. Busy but promising times 🙂 Thank you, Gena, for your loving compliments. I’ll try my best to live up to them :-)–Melissa

      • You already do fully life up to them and much, much more!!!! I’ll keep my eyes peeled, ears open, and hope to connect with you somehow through your interviews, bookstore visits, and the like! Heaven on earth to know you’ll be here soon!!! Good you’ll get to see your family, too! I drive my your Grandmother Dalton’s home very, very slowly, and think of you and wish for your happiness and joy! Good luck in all you do!!!! Your fan, Gena

  4. Throughout the entire time of my knowing you through your remarkable posts here Melissa one singular thought has impressed upon me more than anything else. Indeed there may be commonality to some extent between those who have experienced heartbreak through loss of a loved one and as some would argue each individual has unique experiences and means of coping.

    That one persistent thought that has stayed with me as your story unfolded dear Melissa was a connection I made between my loss of my parents, more specifically my beloved mother perhaps, and our prior mutual loss of mom and dad’s first two children, Bruce initially who was a matter of weeks old and then my sister Lynn Ann who was slowly ravaged over six years, both with the same incurable disease.

    Mom, in particular, very rarely spoke of Bruce and infrequently but affectionately reflecting on Lynn, repressing the difficult memories of never finding restful sleep, ever, because of the lingering pain of knowing you may rise in the morning only to discover your child has quietly slipped away sometime through the night. Photographs were carefully stored in albums safely out of sight in a back room, only to brought out on our insistence, our curiosity, our desire to remember their beautiful faces in happier times. It strikes me more now than ever that perhaps those repressed memories did mom more harm than good. Then again, when you have to give your child 150 pills a day their entire brief life just so they can digest food and have reasonably clear lungs (The Breath of Life), when you have to watch a health professional apply postural drainage treatments to your child with deep percussing to help keep the lungs clear, when you have to shroud your sweet young child in a curtained mist tent every night of their lives in the hopes that the medicated vaporizer mist will help them live to see just one more day…when you have to look into that child’s beautiful blue eyes and wish them sweet dreams all the while terrified those dreams may be eternal…perhaps repressed memories would be my only recourse as well.

    That connection I refer to Melissa is important for me I believe. It does my heart and soul good to see that rather than repressed memories and emotional responses you have had the courage to share as you have, publishing such deeply personal reflections about your dear Parker and how life for you and your family has been since his passing. I would dearly love to think that somehow mom and dad have somehow experienced you through myself as I quietly read each of your posts here. Perhaps they have absorbed your words through my reading and now embrace greater comfort and release than they ever knew in their living.

    The foregoing is rather abstract I suppose, yet I want to believe in such possibilities. That connection through your words is profound and healing. I have shared your posts often with my own friends and reading audience in the hopes that they would do likewise for anyone who has lost someone as you have, as I and my family have. I was but two years of age when Lynn passed away and have precious little recall of the short time we had to share life together. I have lived in her tribute and memory primarily through photographs of a beautiful little princess with big blue eyes, dainty frilly dresses and polished leather shoes, her eyes hollow and searching, sad yet a smile of happiness with excited giggles as we toddled off to church on Sunday mornings with mom and dad.

    My greatest sadness would be in the loss not only of that beautiful child, my sister, our little princess, but even greater how much we would never share through a lifetime of living. And there is the great emotional connection between Lynn, mom, dad and your remarkable words upon these pages. How often I have teared up reading your words. How often I wish that in some way I could make even a small portion of your pain go away.

    Just know Melissa that the connection with which I speak is treasured now and always. This too shall be on the minds of all those fortunate enough to have embraced your words, your heart, your soul. Your written word will undoubtedly be your greatest legacy Melissa. Parker must be so proud.

    Bless your dear heart for the connection.

    • Don,

      Struck silent.

      I do hope Parker is proud, or at least pleased, even if it must be strange for him to realize that the first book I completed (he always pushed me; “Mom, when are you gonna get a whole book out there?”) is anchored in his story. He hadn’t planned on being on the cover of a book. But then had he planned on dying, either.

      So strengthened by your kind words. And I thank you warmly for the softness with which you communicate. Softness is so under-appreciated these days. There should be more Don MacIvers out there!

      Again, so grateful for our connection.–Melissa

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