About

Welcome to Melissa Writes of Passage. I’m thrilled to have you visit.  I hope you’ll come often, comment every time without feeling self-conscious, and help all of us learn from you.

I’m an author (Global Mom: A Memoir; On Loss and Living Onward; numerous articles, anthologized poetry, this blog), a public speaker and international educational consultant, founding member of the refugee relief NPO, Their Story is Our Story, and the mother of four remarkable humans and wife to a wonderful, kind man.

reclining mel

I hold a BA in German and an MA in Comparative Literature, (both from Brigham Young University), and speak, read and write fluent German, French, and Norwegian, studied Mandarin, and am picking up Italian from my daughter Claire and her husband Alessandro, who is full-blooded Italian from the Lombardy countryside outside of Milan. (Claire and Ale met as missionaries in Sicily and  are now furthering their studies in the US, Claire in law and Ale targeting business.)

As a young adult I studied for extended stretches in Salzburg and Vienna, Austria, where I returned at 21 to serve a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  (Yes, I’m a deeply devoted Mormon.)

Karlskirche, Vienna at Christmas time.

Karlskirche, Vienna at Christmas time.

Subsequent to my missionary service in Austria, I taught German at the LDS Missionary Training Center in Utah alongside Randall, (who became my husband and whom I call Randge), whose gruffly rolled German r-r-r-r’s and tight umlauts wooed me in less than half an Augenblick.  We knew before we married that we would somehow live our lives and raise our children in the big, wide world “abroad.”  Looking back now on 31 years of marriage, I see that “abroad” has become “home” and our homeland more and more “abroad.” Randall and I have lived in Vienna and Hong Kong, and have raised our four children (Parker, Claire, Dalton, and Luc) in Oslo, Paris, Munich, Singapore, and Geneva, and we currently live near Frankfurt.

So I should actually blog on how to pack a wicked suitcase.

And believe me, I could.

Nesøya, Norge

Nesøya, Norge

070Our son Dalton (the Nordic prototype in the middle of the top picture, and the grade school monk in the above shot outside of Notre Dame) served for two years as an LDS missionary in South London, England and has since entered university where he’s chosen exactly what any kid born in Norway, raised in France, Germany, Singapore and Switzerland would  choose as his focus: Middle Eastern Studies with an Arabic emphasis and French minor.

Like you do.

And life’s been like that. Unchoreographed, unscriptable. Way beyond anything I could have planned, and at times way beyond anything I can really handle. It’s been a lo tof passage. Bright Lights, Northern Lights, Eiffel Lights. The sultry buzz of equatorial insects. The copper clank of neck bells on cows at pasture in our Swiss village in the heart of vineyard country on the banks of Lac Léman.  (That village — don’t hate me — had its own château once inhabited by Voltaire. And when the clouds lifted there was a view to Mont Blanc.)

You know. If that sort of thing rocks your boat.

On Lac Léman, or Lake Geneva

On Lac Léman, or Lake Geneva

Today, I’m sitting in my home office outside of Frankfurt, on the edge of a forest where, centuries ago, Roman soldiers and Germanic tribes soaked the soil with one another’s blood.  Daily, I walk our dog while doing some of my best writing: in the cover of forest, far away from my laptop, while tromping and conversing with the murmuring strand of unwritten voices that thread through my next writing project.

For me, writing itself has perhaps been the strand that’s sutured together our interrupted life. And no interruption has required as much suturing and spiritual muscle as has the passage of our firstborn, Parker.  At eighteen, our beautiful child never regained consciousness after having been under water too long when he tried to save the life of a college classmate trapped in a lethal whirlpool. Our sweet Parker has been one of the biggest engines beneath all of my writing and subsequent projects. You’re bound to sense him everywhere.

portrait

Before leaving you, here are links to the trailers for my books, (both lovely pieces from Michelle Lehnardt) :

Global Mom: A Memoir:  https://vimeo.com/74399962

Cover (3)

On Loss & Living Onward: https://vimeo.com/94186920

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

I agree, the cover is elegant. Thank you, Familius.

Welcome. Willkommen. Velkommen. Bienvenue. Huanying. Benvenuto. 

With Dalton traveling in Poland

With Dalton traveling in Poland

108 thoughts on “About

    • Melissa: I enjoyed reading about your family in the Deseret News today. I recently met one of your brothers who works for the Larry H. Miller Group and have known the basics of your family’s life, and now through that story and learning about this log I know more! I’m also comforted that your husband still answers to “Randge” after our fun and memorable years together at PHS

      • Kurt!

        Randge, yessir. Well, in some countries we’ve lived in, at least. He had to drop “Randy” the minute we left the US, since that word has negative connotations for any foreigner who learned King’s English.:-) And so it became Rrran-dahl in Norway and stuck in France, given that “range” is the imperative form of the verb, “to order, organize or categorize.” It’s complicated. He’s Randall.

        But for all of us from high school, the man is Randge.

        And every time we are in Utah, we always seem to mention your name, Kurt. It’s impossible to forget you, and I’m glad you’ve come by here!

        –M.

  1. I have read each of your passages thus far. your talent in writing is remarkable. I read a lot but seldom have I read something that when completed I can actually feel what is has been written. I think of you so often, I will look forward to reading more! Thank you!

    • Natalie, I’m truly grateful to hear that my writing “reaches” a reader on a meaningful level. You’re why I write. But I’ll tell you, (since I’m here), it’s a not-so-comfy thing to spread one’s innards across the public screen to let anyone poke and sniff and peer and . . .who knows what? I’ve had to get past that and simply share as if we were sitting together at my kitchen table, trusting some connection brings both of us comfort, joy, depth and light. Your’e so kind to comment here. Thanks bunches, M.

      • Melissa (and Natalie) — Jane MacArthur Bradford checking in here (Schwester MacArthur, of Vienna mission days!)… funny story that I think you’ll both enjoy: I got an email yesterday from my 20-year old daughter at the end of her second week in the ROME, ITALY mission, and she said how weird it was that there is another Sorella Bradford in their mission!! I only figured out I knew who the other Sorella Bradford was, because I post her letters on a blog for her, and a friend pointed out that the other Sorella Bradford was your daughter! They also posted a link to your blog, here… I LOVED your description of dropping your daughter off in Provo… very much captured my emotions! The other funny part of this is that your daughter may not know there is another Sorella Bradford, yet… according to Marilyn, the “Roman Forum” transfer sheet that shows pictures of the incoming and outgoing missionaries (and is as religiously studied as our transfer sheets were) mistakenly called her Sorella MacArthur (a VAST improvement over “Schwester” MacArthur, by the way), since that is her middle name and someone was confused! Marilyn was saying it was going to take the mission a long time to figure out who she actually is, now. So I think that coincidence is just too delicious!

      • Jane MacArthur (now Bradford), what a great surprise! And what a double pleasure to imagine that our daughters are serving as full time missionaries in ROme together (and no, I don’t think my Claire knows about a second Sorella Bradford, but she will. And soon.) And I’m glad you found your way to this blog and that you will stick around and come often and leave brilliant, provocative, sensitive comments (what else could Jane MacArthur Bradford do but that?), and personally contribute to enriching and expanding my circle of wonderful friends.

        How great for me to hear that this post on dropping off Claire at the MTC (aka “Empty Sea”) resonated with you. I’m proud of her decision, and, like you, so grateful for an organization that encourages young people (and old people, and all people) to leave their comfort and lives centered on the self and launch into uncertain worlds and serve. Life-shaping. Ego-trimming. World-improving.

        And to think these two Sorelle might get to know each other!!! I’ll tell you, Claire already heard sotries about you from our mission days, so when she meets your daughter, stories will fly.

        Again, Jane, it’s fantastic (and yes, delicious!) to meet you after how many years, in this little, scratchy virtual box. Love always—-M.

  2. Hello Melissa, I am so happy I ran across your page! I am a homemaker with a lot to say lol and in November I decided to start my blog, I have not a clue as what to do. I decided that I would visit pages to get a feel of all the different ways one can blog and be positive. The first page that came up was yours and I love everything about it the positivity the message that you are putting out there for the world to see is beautiful! I would love to ask you questions about blogging, or if you could point me in the right direction I would absolutely love it! Thank you

    • Hi there srenee–What a nice surprise to find another debutante blogger like myself out there. Don’t be fooled: I am completely new at blogging and still jittery about it. (I’ve been writing for years, but not in a forum as transparent and constant as this one. But I’m catching on. . .:-) There is no end to what you can find and study in the blogosphere, and of course WordPress has insider tips and tutorials and links to endless support. Two things I do: I wield a camera just about everywhere I go now. (Still figuring out how to use it, of course, but am delving into the vast world of apertures and lenses.) And at the beginning of the month I write an outline for where my blog is heading, so I’m constantly gathering ideas along my daily path. Also, a general mindset that colors my approach to blogging is that all I have – the luxury of technology, peace, health, time, family, exposure, even very difficult experience – all of it is given to bless (not impress) others. Things seem to flow rapidly when I view life and writing that way. Best of luck to you. Please come back with tips for me!—M.

    • Lily—Learned my French on the streets 🙂 That is, upon our arrival in Versailles, where we lived four years, then on to our four years in the heart of Paris. Two of our four children attended French school and our church congregation and my husband’s profession were 100% in French, so that put the necessary pressure on to learn quickly and from the locals. Now we are back in the French-speaking world (in Geneva), so we’re back to functioning in that language again, which I love. Est-ce que vous êtes Francaise, vous?—Mélissa 🙂

  3. Hello, Melissa. I just read one of your posts and found myself in floods of tears. I’m an atheist myself, and a Zen practitioner (though I’m not a Buddhist – my cultural background is Christian, so I suppose I’m a cultural Christian!) – but I think your post, and your experience, is much more universal than anything confined by faith. You write beautifully and with searing clarity about the agony of the death of Parker. It reminds me of every grief I have experienced, and even of my relationships with close family now; not wanting to call, knowing that language is inadequate, skirting around the huge icebergs of our loss and feeling completely bereft at the end of the conversation. Your blog is a sensitive and honest path to openness and I thank you for it.

    • Gamanrad, you’re so warmly welcome here. I’m glad you found it. (Always a bit stunned when people do find their way, and grateful and humbled when my writing touches someone’s heart. 🙂 You’ve incited a renewed hope in me: to be able to write about these topics not only to members of my chosen faith, but to others who are seekers of truth and peace (and those who are just plain seeking for a break from the hopelessness. There is truth spread wide and deep in all directions, and we can help each other gain perspective by sharing here. thank you for your comment—M.

  4. Found your site and look forward to reading your posts. I am always in search for life’s answers after medical issues of my son and myself. I am a lighthearted soul, but tend to fight hard for understanding what this life is all about..

  5. I’m sorry to hear of your loss.

    We lost our son at childhood and it was very hard.

    My wife and learned a lot about love and each other during this rough time.

    We learned everyone grieves differently.

    We also learned there are others there to help.

    In Canada, there is a group called Compassionate Friends.

    These are all parents that have lost and they can all understand.

    We also found a group called Empty Cradle.

    This helped us deal with the void and lost expectations.

    I hope you are your family can find a way to heal from this tragedy.

    • L&L- Thank you for these careful messages of understanding. Yes, the Compassionate Friends are nearly global, (and they have a burgeoning website: http://www.compassionatefriends.org/home.aspx) at least there are chapters throughout much of the western world and there are small chapters, if I’m not mistaken, in the near and far east held most often by foreign nationals (so mostly in English). In Munich, the group was called “Die Verwaiste Eltern”, or “Orphaned Parents.” While we didn’t feel drawn to attending a support group (that’s a whole story I might write one day), I am certain such groups are extremely helpful for others, and it’s a huge blessing they exist. I’m grateful you give the names here, as other readers who might be in acute need might want to pursue support through a group setting. If nothing else (if a group setting feels too exposed), their website alone is a treasure of gathered experiences from all stages of the trek.

      And now I just want to hang my head with you for the loss of your son. My many friends who have lost very young children or who have experienced stillbirths have a kind of haunting pain that is different from mine, I understand that now. Because their child’s life was so fresh and there were therefore fewer memories shared with an extended network of friends, that lost life has sometimes been treated by outsiders (this is horrible) as somehow of less value than a life lived longer. Replaceable, somehow. . .To get that lost life to be acknowledged – he was real, he mattered, he has a name, we loved and still love him – is frequently more problematic in the case of infants and very young children than with those who left heavy footprints on this earth.

      I appreciate that you’ve come here and spoken helpful words. To reassure you, we are doing so well these days. Joyfully well. Laughter, music, I am able to run and hike (and write a lot) and invest my energy in ways that honor the gift of life. M.

  6. Melissa, I found your blog through Renee, and have since read your posts on Segullah and several here as well. Your writing is beautiful and touching and heartwrenching. I have cried again for you and your family, and again for the Halls, and again for my own pain. It is a strange sort of sharing, but I feel a connection of sisterhood and loss. Now I think I need to look around and count my blessings again, and hug some of them.

    Love from Mandy Campbell

    • Mandy- I’m thrilled to make your acquaintance. Pull up a chair. I’d love to talk face-to-face. Thank you for reading my words and for allowing yourself to be dragged across some grating terrain in the process. They are real stories, and real can be rough. It can also reveal beauty that is invisible until we get cut wide open a bit. There should be no question how much I love the Halls and thank heaven for the sisterhood I have with Renée and with other woman around the world, who have been saviors in my life. Saviors. Yes, Mandy, do hug those blessings. They are with you. They are more miraculous than you or any of us realizes.–Blessings and warmth, M.

  7. So good to hear what your family is doing. I think of you often, every time I use one of your towels and the phone you left with me. Dong fine here in Stuart Fl with my son and his sweet family. Just celebrated the youngest one 10th birthday. Give your family my love and BIG hug from me. Love Lois

  8. Congratulations Melissa, I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. Please view my post about the award.
    I nominated seven blogs and plan to reblog my favorite post from each. I will ask permission first.

    You are a terrific writer!

    Cheers
    Angela

  9. Hi Melissa,
    I thought this might be a good place to contact you. Hope all is well!

    I would like to reblog your two part series on depression. As I previously mentioned, I plan to reblog my favorite posts from my list of seven for the One Lovely Blog Award. I would like to start tomorrow with your posts (Part I then Part II) on depression. It fits in perfectly with my current posts.

    Please let me know if you have suggestions or objections 🙂

    Thank you.
    Best,
    Angela

  10. Melissa — wrote you a long-ish email a few days back to a hotmail address that showed up when you left a comment on my blog. Wondering if it’s still a valid email. No rush or worries, just checking in. You and I go way back to MTC and BYU German dept. days. Powerful blog. Thank you.

    • KM: I didn’t receive the email, but I’ll track you down through yours. No worries. I think that perhaps if you review my address, check that all the letters are there. People often leave one out –the “d” — and the mail bounces back or simply evaporates into droplets in the Great Cloud Above.

      I’ll write to you on yours. I get many blog comments via email, actually, from readers who want total privacy. I respect that and always try to write back.

      Thanks for being here!—M.

  11. My sister-in-law (who you might have known in Munich?) “liked” your Global Mom FB page and I started reading a bit. I soon realized that you and your family are cut from the same mold in many ways; expat life, languages, and even LDS. I didn’t catch that you were LDS until well into some of the reading, but I had my suspicions. I also lived in Norway as a missionary and our family has spent time overseas in Holland. My post-Thunderbird career was not as international as I had wanted originally but we had great experiences living in many US states. It was only when we moved overseas and when I really started working extensively internationally that I realized just how deep that passion is for me. I LOVE languages as well, and the insights into the culture and people it provides. If I could (read drag my kids around unnecessarily) I would like to live in a new country every year and immerse myself in the language. Separately, our condolences on the loss of your son. We have had very dear friends recently lose their own teenager via an accident. What a journey of pain that is, made slightly easier with an eternal perspective.
    Good luck with the books.

    • Jeff, This is a welcome note. I do appreciate it. So much in common, and yes I’m each of those things you picked up on. And when were you in Norway as a missionary? We lived there from 1994-1999, not long enough, and were in the Sandivka menighet. Many of my readers here are from those days. (Heisann all dere!)

      That passion for delving into new cultures is something I relate to, too, although I’d gently suggest that moving every year doesn’t give you much time to delve. (I know you weren’t totally serious. . .or. . .?:-) When I’ve taught cross cultural integration courses, I generally tell folks that “the first year doesn’t count”, meaning that in the first year (esp if you have children and a new language to tackle) it takes you at least 3 months to unpack and figure out the fundamentals for daily survival. Then you spend 6 months figuring out how to manage on a higher level (like having conversations with neighbors and figuring out how to pay bills or fix everything that has already broken). Then you have 3 months of getting ready to move again. Two years is the bare minimum, and that’s still brief. How about a new country every three years? Done.

      And I am touched, Jeff, that you’ve mentioned our son, Parker. The devastation continues to shock me and my family every day in some new or familiar way. I never knew such agony existed and could be survived. We’re journeying forward as a family, though, always toward a brilliant reunion. Thank you for supporting with your words. It all helps.

      –M.

      • OK, the small world just got smaller. You DO know my Munich family – Jake and RuthAnn, who are now moving into our ward in Seattle… and now I know why Randall sounded familiar. We were at Merck in NJ prior to Jake. Perry was there too and had also been in Norway while I was there. And the Taylors are in our ward in Seattle. And that is why the story of your son resonated. I knew about it already.

  12. I was definitely exaggerating about the every year thing – I just love new countries and languages. I wish I could be fluent in both culture and language that quickly… but I agree it does definitely take longer. I have lived in Italy, Germany, Norway, Holland and Guatemala, but only Holland and Norway were long enough to truly feel a part of the country and culture.
    I was in Norway 88-90. Alesund, Sandefjord, Baerum, and Drammen. Ja, jeg elsker det landet.

    • Jeff-

      So interesting! I have yet to live in Central or South America. Still so much yet to see and learn in this world.

      Ah, Ålesund! So breathtaking. Ja da, jeg og! Jeg elsker dette landet, som det stiger frem. . .

      -M.

      • hey! i’ve rented A HOUSE in central amerika for a couple weeks in Feb. (2014). Drop on by and stay a couple daze or three if yer passin’ threw!

  13. I’m loving your blog and writing and all of it! Thank you for sharing! I am very interested in living abroad and have a bit of language and traveling behind me, however, mostly all Pre-marriage and mom days;). I’m curious if you’re up for sharing what it is that has given your family this lifestyle? I’m guessing career but maybe not, one never knows;). You are a brave and wonderful mother! All the best to you and your family!

    Jennie

    • Jennie-

      Such a friendly note! Thanks for it. The vehicle that’s been moving us around has been my husband Randall’s career in international business. He’s done his work in Norwegian, French and German, and has overseen just about every geography in the world for his particular function. Sometimes he laughs, saying he’s the “bus driver” for our nomadic life, that he’s necessary to get us places where the adventure explodes.

      There are many friends in our international circle who move similarly, but for diplomatic assignments, others who are affiliated with military, others who are entrepreneurs and select given geographies then move there to launch business ventures. I sense that more and more people are seeking out such a life as travel becomes less expensive, the reach of technology increases, and organizations insist on global fluency. Maybe it’s still part of your future, you never know!

      Thank you for your kind comments. I hope you’ll keep stopping by–

      Melissa

  14. Dear Melissa,
    I just discovered your blog. I love the way you write. It’s inspiring.
    I can’t wait to read your book, which I’m sure will be amazing.
    Iris (Sarah’s sister)

  15. Hey Melissa, congrats on the book! Looks like a fun capturing of many wonderful (and challenging) experiences so I’ve ordered a copy. This Blog is pretty amazing. I still remember you and Randy having Kaye and I to dinner in France long ago. May you enjoy success in this new venture, and may your family life continue to be meaningful.

    • Warner:

      I remember that dinner in Versailles in great detail, and my husband (who now goes by Randall) agrees that you taught us much about caring in and for the world. Your Third World Democracy class at BYU was mind-expanding for Randall, and we’ve tried to share part of that (and Unitus’ message) everywhere we’ve lived. We have yet to live in a 3rd world country, but that might be next, who knows?

      Thank you so much for showing interest in my writing, research and our family’s global adventures. It goes without saying that you played an essential role in encouraging our world view.

      Always with warmth and an open door for sharing that next dinner, Warner.

      P.S. I will be lecturing on international careers at BYU’s Marriott School of Management in February 2014. Maybe we can have that dinner then?

  16. I am reading “Global Mom” and feeling like you are dissecting my life and making sense of it backwards. I was born and raised in Norway in the 60’s and 70’s. My father was Norwegian and my mother a short, dark haired Bostonian. Names like Bakken and Pedersen in church are familiar from Primary days. At age 12 we moved to Geneva and yes, we lived several years in a castle surrounded by vineyards (Chateau Barillet by CERN). After highschool at ECOLINT I was sent off to Smith college in Massachusetts to try to figure out American culture. After medical school , a mission, marriage to a Utahn, and four children, I’m still working to understand the intricacies of American life. Thanks for letting me ponder internationalism. I’m making sure my husband reads your book!

    • Nina-

      And you haven’t written your own book yet? I’d be the first reader!

      Wonderful to make this connection, and to remake multiple others: Bakken, Pedersen, Morteng, Hedemark. . .All those wonderful Oslo navn that carry the sounds of voices, the shapes of eyes, the cadence in walking, all those people I love… and Château Barillet is familiar to me, as we just passed CERN this morning. My children are at La Châtaigneraie in Founex (you were in Les Nations? Or La Grande Boissière?), I have many good friends in Massachusetts, served an LDS mission (Vienna, ’83-’85), married a (phenomenal) Utahn and have four children. Don’t tell me your blood type is also O+…?

      Also like you (and like much of the world) I am still figuring out American culture 🙂 So honored and happy you’d be interested in my book. Let me know what your reactions are, will you please?

      Warmest welcome here!

    • Where to begin… I discovered your blog through your last post, that Sheri shared on Facebook. It is exquisite, and I have bookmarked it so I can go back and re-read over and over. However, I feel like I have known you forever, although you don’t know me. I am Katrine Røsakers aunt, married to Helgunn’s brother. Browsing through the comments, I recognized many of the responders with ties to Norway. Nina Jørgensen, who was a cherished friend while I lived with my family in Saint Prex, Switzerland (’82-’85), Heidi Eljarbø Morell Andersen, who babysat me when our family moved to Oslo from London in ’77… I finally ended up in Stavanger, Norway, and have stayed put for the last 26 years, and like you, have four children – 1 girl and 3 three boys. I have had your books on my wish list for some time, but now my summer reading list is definitely set. 🙂 Thank you for so eloquently sharing your thoughts, faith and emotions. I look forward to following you more closely.

      • Jojo-

        Katrine? Helgunn? Nina, Heidi? Alle gode venner fra norske årene våre (eller fra online!) And St. Prex was just up the street from Prangins (à côté de Nyons, si tu sais où c’est), where we also lived? Which all means that as far as I’m concerned we’re practically related. 🙂 Please, if and when you find time to read my books, send me a line. I am always blessed by native’s response to my descriptions of their countries. And as my second book is exclusively about loss and adaptation, which are inevitably spiritual in nature, their tone resembles this essay.

        Det var jo bare hyggelig å ha deg her en liten stund. Kom snart tilbake og da kan vi kanskje skravle enda mer.

  17. I just read the interview on Mormon Woman Project. Thanks. The message about grief helping/compelling us to morph into a new being really touched my heart. Good luck with the book, first read about it at Michelle L’s Blog, downloaded the free chapter on Kindle. Will buy it when I have time to read and a few extra pennies. The Mormon Community does NOT do grief well and I pray your book opens up avenues of discussion and understanding.

    Cheers!

    Jenny Hatch

    • Jenny:

      And you clearly have direct, visceral experience with grief. I agree, while there are so many strengths in our particular faith culture, we yet have things to learn (and allow for) with regards the grim realities of major loss. Considering the doctrine we espouse, you’d expect we’d do better.

      You’ll be interested, I think, in my next book, slated for release in May, on (the US’s) Memorial Day, 2014: On Loss and Living Onward. It’s a robust anthology collected from across history and the breadth of many philosophical stances (including our own), all which address life at, after and eventually transformed by major loss – the possibility, as you put it, of “morphing in to a new being.” It will also contain several personal essays of my own as chapter introductions.

      I’m so glad you’re interested in GLobal Mom. Watch on my Global Mom Facebook page for upcoming book give aways. That might get a copy into your hands sooner. 🙂

      • Thanks for letting me know about your new book Melissa!

        It sounds wonderful…and yes, I am aquainted with grief and a woman of sorrows. One of the main reasons I read Scenes from the Wild is because Michelle is working through something so terrible she cannot even write about it publicly and her resolve to live happy gives me strength.

        Like you I have found it cathartic to write: http://jennyhatch.com/books/ and I am also into musical theatre. Currently am working as Stage Manager and playing a couple bit parts for Little Shop of Horrors.

        I appreciate anyone who is willing to be “out there” promoting books, blogs, ideas, and just being willing to speak up on the topics near and dear to our broken hearts.

        At times the new being I morphed into was so different from the ME I knew growing up that I have revolted myself when looking in the mirror and observing who and what I had become. Now that I am on the other side of so much trauma and grief I have a much better grasp of who that woman was screaming in the midst of the despair.

        I believe my LDS community tried to help in myriad ways and I will be eternally grateful for the empathy and support, but there was so much that they did not know and could not understand. As I ponder it, I received some of the most effective help from those beautiful souls who would stop me in the hall at church and say, “I am not quite sure what is wrong, but I want you to know that I love you and am mourning with you.”

        Thankfully the Atonement covers it all and I claim the blessings attached to it.

        Don’t hesitate to sound the trumpets when the new book is ready, sounds like the topic and the timing for its release could not be better!

        Jenny

      • Jenny-

        I appreciate that you would share openly what helped you when you were in a painful place. It’s instructive that no one needs to feel the onus is on them to be the Ultimate Healer, but that the simple acknowledgement that there’s pain goes far to alleviate the added pain of isolation. At least I experienced it that way.

        As you have alluded to, so many (most?) people are carrying burdens others would never know of or even imagine. So much grief is, of necessity, camouflaged, unsharable, even unspeakable. All the more reason to be kind and forgiving with one another.

        I’ve not always been mature in this way. I suppose we can all learn to be much more merciful.

        Thank you for stirring this thought process in me.

  18. Melissa..As I get ready to read your book I realized that you looked so familiar. Not knowing anything about your background, I was drawn to your book as our family of 6 has moved 10 times in 20 years..we moved to Paris a year and a half ago. After reading a bit of your background I remembered sitting next to you at my son’s graduation last June from ASP.
    I’ve thought of you so often since then and wanted to say hello and to let you know that your family is in my prayers.
    I look forward to reading your book and following along with your blog.
    xo
    Pam

    • Pam, That’s right, we were seat partners at last year’s graduation at ASP. How great you remembered, too. I hope the book is meaningful reading for you, and that we’ll see each other at this year’s graduation. Save me a seat. Warmth to you, Pam.
      — Melissa

  19. You spoke at my church house last night, and I was able to come up after and introduce myself. Actually Sharlee introduced us, and I think the world of her! I was so impressed with the words you spoke, and I feel compelled to tell you how much I gained from these 2 short hours. Thank you for sharing your story and knowledge with us! The first thing I did when I got home was search you on the web. I’ve ordered your books and have read most of your blog. I’ll admit I need a dictionary next to me when I read your passages, you speak like James E. Talmage! A huge complement (and yes, I use my old Webster when reading his books also). I love diving into new books and adventures, and I can’t wait to start reading your tales.
    I truly hope the best for your family.
    Thank you again for an amazing evening!

    • Jamie–First, thank you. I remember meeting, and yes, I thought that evening was exceptional in warmth and energy. I can hardly pin down what it was precisely, but as I’ve reflected, I’ve concluded that it had much to do with the sincere spiritual hunger and raw need present in room. I sensed it before I stood to speak. So it had more to do with the listeners than with the one who spoke. All that groundwork had be laid before I opened my mouth. It’s helpful to hear that things you experienced were of value to you personally. So glad that was the case.
      Second, I know. I know. I use some humdingers when I write, but also when I speak. I am a sickie word hoarder. I honestly sit and read dictionaries, in English but also in other languages. Words delight and excite me. I like their weight, feel, look, sound. Since I was little, I’ve written down words I hear or read, and then just gaze at them, slobbering, like I’m in love.
      Third, my Talmage books are soaked through with my markings. Glad you enjoy him, too!

  20. Hi Melissa, I just finished reading your book (Global Mom) and was very moved. While I could relate to your expat experiences, I have not lost a child. Your description of your feelings after Parker’s death was so hard for me to read (especially as a mom), but I found it so insightful. I felt that I learned more about loss and the ongoing coping process. I too have lived in Paris with kids at ASP and am now living in Singapore (Bukit Timah). It was uncanny how I could identify with many of your observations and experiences! May God bless you and your family of 6. Thanks for writing your story. It really touched me. Take care, Laurie O’Rourke

    • Laurie, thank you for taking the time to stop in and share your thoughts. ASP and Bukit Timah—what improbable connections to great locations. And I’m warmed to think my writing has touched a reader. I appreciate your reaching out to me.—Melissa

  21. Hi Melissa,

    I found you on MormonWomen and I am now wanting to read your book… although a little frightened at the same time. My oldest son is named Parker and just turned 10 today. Some things touch too close to home for me.
    We just had our sixth child three weeks ago, here in Costa Rica. We’re also an international family and have traveled to 13 countries together since 2007. Just wanted to say that I admire you. I’m an aspiring writer as well.

    • Rachel,
      That Mormon Women Project is a superlative resource don’t you think? So grateful for Neylan McBaine and her team, who insist on excellence in form and content, and in presenting true stories that bust stereotypes and break down false divides of culture, history, geography. Love that woman.
      I think that my book might increase your love for your Parker, Rachel, not drive you to paranoia. Age 10 is the age I often see my Parker in in my dreams. I don’t know why that would be. It is a beautiful age, though, so lavish in it!
      And you are in Central America. How very fortunate and ripe with opportunity. That’s a part of the world I know only from literature, not from breathing it into my system. I’d sincerely like to read your writings about your experience. When you are ready to share, will you with me?

  22. Pingback: Global Mom by Melissa Dalton-Bradford. A Review.

  23. Dear Melissa,
    Global Mom was recommended to me by a friend and expat-writer-colleague, so I was looking forward to reading it, but did not expect to devour it within days. That opening chapter about your Norwegian table had me hooked. I was captivated by your voice and the beauty of your writing — genuine, unpretentious and at the same time so poignant and resonant. Also, I’ve lived in some of the places you have (France, Austria, and now Switzerland) so I loved how you captured their essence. Reading your book was delightful and heartbreaking; I didn’t want it to end. I read a lot of expat literature (though I don’t like the term) and this clearly stands out.
    So thank you 🙂

    • Dear Katia- This is so nice and encouraging to hear. Thank you! Thank you for reading my book, and for then taking the time to come here and comment. I’m honored, grateful and moved. I wrote very little on Austria (edited out those Vienna chapters, actually, since they happened when I was single, and digressed too much from the story of a family) but I will write about those Austrian years in my upcoming works, which will reach into the history of each of the places we’ve lived. Very gracious of you to comment here. Thanks again…M.

  24. I just finished “Global Mom” and, wow. What a brilliant memoir. I am an avid reader and can’t think of a voice I’ve enjoyed more than yours in ages. Although your vast set of talents could have made you slightly pretentious or ego-centric, you have somehow remained down-to-earth, humble, and real, which comes across in your memoir in the most unaffected way. When I finished the book, I wished I were one of those who have had the good fortune of sitting at your farmhouse table as part of your circle. I, too, am a Global Mom, having spent ten years raising our family of four children in England, Brazil, Singapore, and Toronto. Your stories touched my heart, made me laugh out loud, and reminded me of all the joys and challenges of those years abroad. I am in awe of your foresight to journal about daily life so you could write a memoir so rich with the tangible details of your experiences. Thank you for doing the hard work of writing and sharing your story. I cannot express how much I loved it. I am so looking forward to reading your next book but a little hesitant to dive into a book about grief. I know grief is in my future by virtue of my being human, but at the moment it’s not my particular burden. How do you think it will read for those of us who are not currently grieving?

    • Adrianne- I just finished reading this message, and, wow. Your response lifts me and fuels my determination to keep at it, in spite of fears and self-doubt and the other costs entailed in putting oneself (not to mention one’s family) out there. It has not been easy. But, paradoxically, it’s also been a tremendous joy.

      As for Loss and Living Onward: Collected Voices, which releases in a matter of days (May 6th), I know that grief intimidates. But I also know it isolates, and does so partially due to misunderstandings and fear. My greatest wish is that those who have not yet known great loss–who have not yet visited that land– will be able to use my words as a guide book. They’ll carry images and impressions with them that will, at some time, be useful and stabilizing, either to face another’s grief, or to enter into their own. And for those who do know the Land of Loss, I will be the voice of solidarity, like meeting someone who speaks your language when you first arrive in a new country. A relief. A companion. A true friend in when you are in distress and need.

      And I do hope it will be the first of several books I can write on this and related subjects.

      Thanks again for reading Global Mom, and for taking your valuable time to come here to comment. It does mean a lot to me.

      –Melissa

  25. My heart is broken, and I’m searching for solace. I inhaled your book, Global Mom, a few months ago. Now I’m visiting the Land of Grief for the third time (my son’s TBI from a fall off a cliff at age 18 in 2005, my best friend’s death three years ago, and now my brother-in-law yesterday who leaves behind three small children.) Where can I get a copy of your new book on Grief? I need it for myself and for my sister-in-law. The funeral is Friday in Atlanta.

  26. HI Melissa
    I finished your book “Global Mom” yesterday and will be writing a review recommending it widely. Your style of writing is engaging and endearing, I felt I knew you very quickly and could see myself alongside you stalking the Barnepark and looking on in horror. I loved your openness to the cultural differences despite your internal resistance and I laughed many times with you. As someone who has lived outside their home country and works with people who are moving I identified and appreciated your insights, humour and willingness to share. In my field I would say you consistently demonstrate high cultural intelligence. 🙂
    As someone who has only visited the land of loss with the passing of my dear Dad I can’t stand alongside you in the depth of pain you allowed us to see, but I appreciate your sharing so honestly and would gladly have punched the guy who told you to smile. I would love to hear you speak so if any engagements bring you to Australia please let me know.
    Keep writing!
    Trisha

    • Trisha-

      This comment makes me grateful, but beyond that, it makes me feel strong and determined to do just what you’ve said: keep writing. If only I had more hours to the day, more days to the week, more weeks to the month. . .There’s a series of historical fiction just itching to get out from under the creases of my brain. Alongside creative nonfiction and personal essay, I’m tooling my way toward novels. Thank you for reading Global Mom, and for taking the valuable time to share it with others by writing a review. What a kind gesture.–Melissa

  27. Dear Melissa,
    Today I finished “Global Mom.” Wow! As an avid reader (for me this means carrying a book with me at all times–even in the car and reading at stop lights) of mostly non-fiction, biography, and memoirs, your book is among the most poignant and beautifully-written. I am in awe of your honesty and vulnerability in sharing the heart-warming and heart-wrenching stories of your multi-cultural family life. You inspire me to be a better person, wife and mother. You trained Parker well for his post-earth mission.
    And, speaking of Parker, my two oldest daughters (as BYU-I students) have been in the water at Monkey Rock. My 21-year-old returned missionary son begins his studies at BYU-I in April. You can be sure I will warn him of the perils at that exist at that dangerous and now hallowed place.
    Bless you for being you and for making the world a more beautiful place. I look forward to reading more from and about you.
    Natalie

    • Dear Natalie–

      I’m very touched that you’d write. Thank you.

      I’m a reader like you’re a reader, and mostly of non-fiction, too, although I’m reentering historical fiction (All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is my current bedstand partner), and this because I’m outlining my own upcoming writing projects; a series of 6 historical fiction novels based on each of the countries in which we’ve lived. (I’m starting with Austria/Germany.) It is a consuming and meaningful multigenerational/genealogical undertaking.

      To BYU-I and Monkey Rock, two distinct and separate places…Oh, how I wish that ground at Monkey Rock had remained hallowed. We erected monuments and held a dedication/devotional there to warn others of potential peril and to bless the area. But in short time, folks vandalized those sacred monuments (more than once), so we’ve kind of distanced ourselves from the place itself and try to keep the memory of kind university faculty and studentbody members, and the generous local support we experiences. We have learned much. We keep learning much.

      Warmth to you, Natalie

  28. Dear Melissa,
    Few books have given me the long-term impact that Global Mom has. We can’t wait for our family to also experience living abroad. We are in the process of gathering information and advice from all sources to actually make it happen. It’s overwhelming to say the least. I thought of you as a possible resource to give us any advice, significant or small. I’d be glad to give you more background if you’d like to shoot me an email. I would be so grateful.

  29. Dear Melissa, I have just read you book Global Mom, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I would love to share my thoughts on it with you, but as they are just a bit longer than fitting on this blog, could you please send me your mail address?
    Wishing you a beautiful Sunday!
    Inger

  30. I’m super excited to have just discovered your blog and book, Global Mom. My husband and I, with our four little girls recently moved to Germany in December. We’ve began the integration process by putting out girls in the german schools. Can’t wait to read about and learn from you!!

  31. Dear Ms. Bradford,
    I can not have been more than 13 years old when your son Parker was hosted by my family for ISSTs in Belgium. I remember you wrote my family a lovely letter thanking us for hosting your son together with a book. I am now 23 years old. I want you and your family to know what an impact he had our family, we spent 3 days together with your son. We went bowling together, he helped my younger brother with his homework, he played piano for our family and more than anything he made me happy. I think Parker may be the only ISST participant that my family and I hosted that had such an impact on us. We were devastated to hear he had passed away. I did not know if I could ever tell anyone how much he had meant to us. I do not in any way want you feel obliged to reply or even acknowledge this post. My only wish is for you and your family to know that after 3 days with your son, 10 years later he is still in our thoughts and they are only positive. Only the best of wishes to you and your family.

    • My dear Anna—

      I’ve come to my laptop for common work— busied, distracted, in boiled wool house slippers, chewing a stalk of celery— and in one sentence everything has changed.

      Words, they are mighty. Words carry with them heft and buoyancy, healing and heat. And something about words emerging 10 years after impact makes them all the sweeter. I’m deeply grateful you didn’t hold back, that you dared put it all down, and you tracked me down to do so. That you remembered the interaction with Parker, and took the time and spent the effort to send this message to his family says as much about you as it does about Parker. No wonder you took to him. He cared about people and relationships more than anything. Whatever else one’s disposition and human weakness, it’s wise and beautiful to care about relationships above all else.

      I’ve read your note aloud to my husband, and we could hardly get through it, that gentle throttle choke in the cords, you know. The warbling. Maybe you understand. Please don’t think this is painful only —it’s painfully joyous— the best kind of gift at Christmas time.

      I hope you won’t mind that I’d like to post your message (without sharing your personal details) on the FB page for my second book, On Loss and Living Onward. I want others to understand that it’s never too late to offer comfort and joy. And in this case, the ten year gap has only given your memory that much more significance.

      All our love and gratitude-

      Melissa, Randall and family

      • Dear Ms. Bradford,
        Of course you have my permission to post my message. I would like to thank you for your response, it meant a lot to me and I am so grateful you took the time to reply.
        With love,
        Anna

      • Your words have inspired so many of my friends across the world through social media. I posted on my FB profile and think I will post here, too. In fact, it will be my next post, as it’s so powerful. Be watching in the next week…

  32. i know you don’t “need” to be told — but i check in on you from time to time — and have been “blown away” each visit with how profound you — or, seeing as how i don’t exactly know “you” — with how you write and convey DEEP messages ~

    • Betunada- We’ve been exchanging for a while, haven’t we? And I’ve so appreciated it from the very start. It’s taken time for me to trust sending my deep center voice out into the the world. It’s easier (though soul-starving and ultimately frustrating) to fling out light stuff. When ears like yours hear what I am daring to share, there’s a wonderful synergy that arises, and I gather courage to write from my core again. You strengthen me! Thank you.

      • don’t take this “the wrong way” — (and you me). I do feel “so light” (frivolous) … a lot. you’re treading on the ridge between … eh, total despair on the one side, and (oh what the heck, let’s call it) total doom on the other.
        I shed (as far as it goes) frivolousness when I consider and course down the stream of your discourses … (metaphorically) panting — out of breath when I paddle to a sand bar to stop and consider. you have deep faith, there’s no denying. I am endeavoring to come up with “my own terms” — but you ARE (at times) channeling the nagual, the Tao, the essence of what my wife’s great (many times over) grandfather, Rabbi Ishtaak Luria, wrote in his exposition of the Hebrew most-sacred text (& most esoteric, obviously, as, still, I think i’m lucky to understand (Peter Tosh would say “over-stand”) 5% of it) — the Qaballah — but you “know” it as something else. I sense and see it when you write about it.

        i’m embarrassed but don’t care. we’re talking about “it” — (so far, mostly, YOU are. I flirt with talking about it).

  33. Wow. I just read your post shared on face book by my daughter Candice. You are very gifted or seasoned, perhaps both. I went on a search to read your other pieces and discovered you are some what of a super speises. It might be easier to find what you don’t do. So then when I brought your name, and accomplishments up to my daughter I was surprised when she said ” oh yes I’m going to meet her in Germany this summer”. Anyway thank you for sharing your talents. So very insightful and moving. I love good writing!

    • Sidney,

      Yes, your bright and articulate Candice will be in Germany this summer when she and I will have a chance to sit down and talk about refugee work, which consumes much of my thought and energy at present.

      I’m grateful for your kind words and hope you return here often to share your wisdom and insights!

  34. Melissa, you are an inspiration! I’m writing this in the midst of my jetlag after my 14 hour international flight from Barcelona to LAX. Thanks for sharing your dream about Parker. It’s changed my perspective. Aloha. Sue

    • Sue-

      Those long, long flights. Countless potential relationships in that one stretch. I’m glad my sharing this personal experience has nudged something in your perspective. We all need reminders. –Melissa

  35. Dear Melissa (I feel a lengthy post coming on–sorry!),
    I’m sitting here, a former “Fiona” in Brigadoon and a former “Laurie” in Oklahoma, a Los Angeles singer who married a Hollywood dancer–the second Mormon I’d ever met–thinking about common threads of experience and connection. Parker has taken Elder Maxwell’s: “We are each other’s clinical experience,” to a new level. It’s too raw now, but I hope our soon-to-be-single-mom-of-four daughter can apply Parker’s perspective to her abusive 19-yr-marriage. I hope she will see what we see, that her patience, long-suffering and commitment to The Atonement–that people can and do change–has in truth changed her. In her Christlike dealing with his “perishing soul,” she has enlarged and beautified her own. And in this summer of Passages we go from despair to joy with the marriage, finally (“Mom, I’m always the one they date before they find The One”) of our traveling tennis pro coach son who met the lovely, lovely Lioba in Germany. She spoke little English; he spoke no German. But together they learned they were both fluent in Spanish–he from a mission and she through travel and study–and the courtship in Español prevailed! And now, because of your and Parker’s insight, I am looking forward to that long, long flight to Dusseldorf in August. Thank you for the blessing of your writing.

    • Sandy-
      If you’ve played Fiona and Laurie, and if you’re someone with an internal stockpile of Neal A. Maxwellisms, and if you are devoted to your family (as I can tell you are), and on top of all that will be adding a German daughter-in-law to your clan, then we have more than a few connections. Parker’s insight gives us all food for thought, don’t you think, for a journey to Düsseldorf or to the end of our days. 🙂 And I thank you for the blessing of your response.
      With warmth-Melissa

  36. Pingback: TGMS #010 Slurping Soup and Other Confusions with expat Maryam Afnan Ahmad - The Global Mom Show

  37. I had hoped to email privately, but since I can’t find a way to do that, I’ll brave a comment. I’m here because I loved your stunning refugee piece in the BYU magazine. I’ve read over many of your posts and thank you for your beautiful words. Because it’s a constant fear in my mother-heart, I tend to remember all the news stories about children dying in accidents–morbid, I know. I remember your son’s heartbreaking story. I am grateful now to read your own words of grief and love because they help ease my fears that if the worst were to happen, I couldn’t survive the sorrow. Thanks for sharing your insights into everything.

  38. Hi Melissa. I heard about your dream today at church, so I went home and search for your blog to read it myself. It was amazing…then I went to your home page and I found Elder Bradford! Of course, I thought. We live in England and he served in our ward, Selsdon ward, we are the Lombardi family( if he remember us, say hi to him from us!) we have the oportunity to know him a little and he has such a gentle, friendly and social soul. He lives what you write about relationships , truly.
    Love
    Natalia

  39. Hi Melissa,
    I attended the RubyGirl retreat at L.D.S. Business College and loved taking your writing class and hearing you speak.
    My reason for commenting is this: I know you help refugees, and I want to as well, but I don’t know how. Do you have any ideas for getting started?

    Thanks!
    Lily

  40. Hi Melissa,

    I just finished reading Global Mom (read it in 2 days, I could not put it down!) and absolutely loved it! My husband and I have 6 children and are currently living in our 5th country (my husband’s 6th).

    We’ve only been in Mumbai for just under 2 months and I’ve been having a hard time finding my “place” here (I still have my 2 year old at home while everyone else is at school and work). Anyway, you have inspired me to try and find that place here. Thanks for your beautiful example!

    Sincerely,
    Jen

  41. My daughter, Hildie Westenhaver, is in Segullah with you. She gave me your book, GLOBAL MOM, and I absolutely ADORED it! I laughed throughout at your wit and adventures, but also wept when you told of your Parker dying. I hope to read more of your work and posts. Do you write regularly for Segullah, only on this blog site, or elsewhere? You are a TERRIFIC WRITER!!

    I, too, am a writer, but of four fictionalized biographies based on the lives of my amazing Austrian grandmother Rosa, (who attended the U. of Vienna Med School during World War I, studying under Sigmund Freud, and spent World War II in a British prison camp), and my own mother, Hildegard, who joined the LDS Church as a teen, and had to escape Nazi Austria blesssed by the most unbelievable miracles. I write as Lorie H. Nicholes, my maiden name. My mom and I, Lorie Hildegard, my daughter Hildie, and her daughter India Hildegard are ALL the first females of each generation born after the original Rosa (a count of progeny standing now at well over 100 living persons!). We are proud to bear the name Hildegard in any of its incarnations. Someday India H. will name HER first daughter Something Hildegard to carry on this family tradition.

    I have never lost a child, but I lost my husband to a heart attack when he was only 50. (Now I am 74, and still writing.) There is no way anyone can measure or even understand the grief of another. My wonderful, beautiful, formerly faithful husband died only months after an addiction caused him to abandon his family for a 26 year-old girl. My grief lasted for several years during which I mourned more for the loss of a precious marriage, than specifically for my husband. I had given our marriage everything I possessed, and it seemed to have been for nothing! I must have wept 5 hours a day for 3 years, and then more hours a day for another 4 years. I know grief.

    An LDS book I found most deeply helpful was called AFTER MY SON’S SUICIDE, by Darla Isackson. Today I keep on buying copies and handing them out to grieving anybody, whether for suicides, divorces, deaths of children, parents or spouses! This book brought me peace, enlarged my understanding exponentially and allowed forgiveness as nothing else ever did. (24 years brought perspective, as well.)

    I will be delighted to find myself able to continue following your family’s adventures around the world!

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