Tag Archives: grief

Time is precious.

Time is an illusion, created by humans to measure the space between sunrise and sunset; so the hunter knew when to return home, when the farmer would know when it was time to stop plowing. As much as I love science fiction, time travel is just a fantasy. A wish fulfillment device to consider “what if?” questions and roads untraveled. A second is a second, an hour sixty of those seconds. It never changes, but sometimes an hour feels like a minute and a minute an hour. Everything is a matter of perception. As we get older, it feels as if time moves more quickly, even though the distance between each moment remains constant. Time, in fact, is the only constant in the universe, the one thing, once spent, we never get back. Time is precious. We squander so much of it even though we swear there is never enough.

My parents are both long gone, having passed about six years apart from each other. They died differently; mom lost her battle with cancer. She knew it was coming and once it spread too far for any treatment to guarantee quality of life, she let go. It was the bravest thing I’ve ever witnessed. In the days following, nothing was left unsaid. She passed peacefully in her own bed. When she left, I felt the pain of departure, but after the initial loss, I was happy and relieved for her. No more pain, no more fear. I moved on very quickly and every so often I have to remind myself just how long it has been since she died.

My father, on the other hand, was taken without warning by a sudden heart attack. I got the call from the NYPD. Dad was three days shy of 67 years old. We buried him on his birthday, a day he and I were planning to spend together. He was more than my father, he was my best friend. He was young, vital, in great shape, loved dancing, drinking, women, movies and music. We had so many more things to do together, but time, that precious thing we waste but don’t have enough of, ran out. I didn’t take it well. I was shattered. It took me a full year to pull out of the resulting depression. It was the longest year of my life. And I know exactly how long it’s been since I received that call (nineteen years and four months). I think of it on the anniversary of his death. Every. Single. Year. However, I can’t tell you the exact day my mother died. Not because I loved her any less, but because of how she left, and the closure we had. Her passing didn’t scar me.

The ancient cliché of time healing all wounds is a fallacy. Time only creates distance from events, healing comes from within, and only if conditions from without make it possible. We learn how to live with it, we create a new normal, we find a reason to get up every morning and move forward. Everyone has a reason, whether it is a child, grandchild, domestic partner, or pets (or all of the above). Perhaps it’s a mission, created to honor the person lost. Or a promise to live up to the example that loved one set. Yet, the wound is still there. We carry the pain, no matter great or small. For some, it can be a sharp pain that envelops our being to the point we can’t function until it passes. Where stepping outside in the world of people and daylight is an anathema to us. For others it’s a dull ache, rather like an old broken bone that twinges in rain. To this day, I miss my father, but the dull ache becomes a sharp pain at certain times of the year, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and, of course, his birthday. Or any time I’m about to perform on stage. Or when I listen to Gene Krupa records.

I didn’t lose my dad to a senseless act of violence. He wasn’t stolen from me by the unfeeling actions of a human monster. However, I was told something by someone I respect greatly.

Loss is loss.

Something large and important is taken from us. A piece of ourselves is gone. A chunk of our heart is chipped away, smashed into splinters, and trampled on until what remains is dust. Words are cold comfort. Everyone tries to say the right things, but it usually boils down to a phrase repeated ad nauseam: “sorry for your loss.” I heard it so many times, I swore I would never use those four words in that order again.

In the face of monumental loss, the best we can do is take each day as it comes, and do all we can in the time we have. With each person we lose, we are reminded of our own mortality and the fleetingness of time. We should all reevaluate the time we have and how it is spent. If I’ve learned anything it’s that those we love need know that we do, in fact, treasure them. Not just in words, but in action. Never let things go unsaid, never wonder “did she know how I really felt?”

Time is limited, so spend it wisely. We can always make more money, replenish our food, collect more stuff. However, once each second is gone, it never returns. Years spent unsatisfactorily aren’t refunded. So, try to dedicate the days you have to those you’ve lost. Live up to the example they set. You loved them because they touched your life, they helped to make you a whole person. They did something you admired. Take those best qualities and make them your own. Trust me, that is the best kind of theft and they would be proud of you for doing it. You see, when you do that, you give them something in death they never had in life…


Scott McIntyre

Like Wonder Woman, I now wear a bracelet of indomitability

Feeling quite like the superhero, Wonder Woman, I now wear a bracelet that holds within it so much strength and love that it is impenetrable by negative forces.

“She’s gone off the deep end now!”

No, I haven’t lost all my marbles. I know the beautiful bauble that adorns my wrist holds no magical powers, but it has given me the gift of a tangible reminder every second it lays against my skin that an incredible woman began laying a path and it is my duty — and honor — to continue her work.

Grieving in the United States is an odd thing, to say the very least. Americans set an unspoken time limit on the mourning process that is simply unrealistic and unhealthy. We are expected to put on brave faces, returning to work and going about our daily lives, as if nothing has happened; and we do it because we are rarely given any other choice. Employers expect us back at work within days and the people around us tire quickly of our sadness. So, we hold back the screams and sobs and do our best to go through each day as if our hearts haven’t been ripped from our chests; and everyone commends us on how strong and brave we are.

What makes matters worse is that while you are in the initial stages of loss and grief, your loved one’s death becomes a monetized social event. Service. Music. Flowers. Food. Thank you notes. It’s a surreal moment when you realize you are going through the same preparations for your mum’s death as you did for your own wedding.

I do not envy those in the business of death. What a weight they bear.

When Tina, from Full of Grace Rosary Design, reached out to me with a business solicitation shortly after I made public my mum’s murder on my personal Facebook page, she knew she was stepping onto volatile ground. She did not know me personally, but knew others that did. She was kind, compassionate and respectful in her communication, and her intent was genuinely from the heart as well as something that aligned with my mum’s beliefs, so we began the creative process of designing and creating a memorial together.

I sent select flowers from each floral arrangement received at mum’s beautiful memorial service and at home to Tina where she prayed over them and set the blooms out to dry.
Once dry, the petals were gently separated.
Once dry, the petals were gently separated.
The dried petals were then ground.
Purple polymer clay was cut for mixing with half of the ground dried petals.
Lavender polymer clay was cut for mixing with half of the ground dried petals.
Each bead was hand rolled, encasing bits of petals.
Batches of handmade beads were cured
Batches of handmade beads were cured and then lightly tumbled and glazed so as to maintain the integrity of the dried petals and their texture.
The perfect sterling silver, CZ and purple crystal butterfly bead, was special ordered for each bracelet; and the remaining dried petals were encased in epoxy resin and molded into contrasting beads.
The perfect sterling silver, CZ and purple crystal butterfly bead, was special ordered for each bracelet; and the remaining dried petals were encased in epoxy resin and molded into contrasting beads.
The final sterling silver pieces (wire, beads, findings) were all chosen, including an "infinity" lobster clasp because as Tina said, "Your mother's legacy should be infinite!"
The final sterling silver pieces (wire, beads, findings) were all chosen, including an “infinity” lobster clasp because as Tina said, “Your mother’s legacy should be infinite!”
Four months of patience and hard work came together and Tina presented me with the final product -- The Rita Langworthy Memorial Bracelet.
Four months of patience and hard work came together as Tina presented me with the final product — The Rita Langworthy Memorial Bracelet.
The two indominable forces in my life together again.
The two indominable forces in my life together again.

Having been denied my mum’s few remaining earthly possessions, I have relied on decades of photos and memories that only her daughter could possess. One would think this would be enough — to have such a precious treasure trove — and yet it hasn’t.

I can still feel our last embrace in April as we stood on the sidewalk outside my apartment building before I told her “I love you” and put her in a cab headed back to her airport hotel. Mum wasn’t demonstrative despite how deeply she felt. It was, however, because of her level of empathy that she felt the need to protect herself. And so, that hug will forever be burned on my tactile memory because we stood holding one another for longer than we ever had before. And it was a farewell that tore at me four months before it would become our last.

That tactile imprint is what rushed back to me, like a full-body slam into a brick wall, when I touched the bracelet Tina had created. For the first time since that April embrace, her arms manifested themselves around me and I could truly feel her with me.

The bracelet, while elegant in its own way, is not particularly dainty and its weight is a constant, welcome reminder of her physical presence. I have touched each individual bead and turned them gently on the wire, feeling the surface and admiring their rare, individual beauty.  And just as I protect her ashes, I also protect this physical manifestation of her — tucking it away in it’s cotton lined purple box every night safe from anyone who may wish to do it harm.


Taking a breath.

The hard part of this post is over and now I can tell you about how YOU could be a lucky recipient of a Rita Langworthy Memorial Bracelet, too! That’s right! You didn’t think all those petals went into just one bracelet, did you? I arranged for Tina to make a limited amount of bracelets and we are going to give THREE of them away this weekend and auction off the last one at our Inaugural Butterflies & Blues cocktail party fundraiser in NYC next year (October 17, 2016). These will be your only two opportunities to acquire one of these rare bracelets as no more may be made.

Here are the rules:

  1. Submit your “The Rita Effect” story HERE. (click link to be directed to story submission page)
  2. Deadline: Sunday, December 20, 2015, 11:59PM EST
  3. We will randomly select THREE submissions which will be highlighted in our next newsletter as well as their author’s receiving one of the LIMITED EDITION Rita Langworthy Memorial Bracelets.
  4. Bracelets are packaged in purple gift boxes and come with a card describing the creative process.
  5. Bracelets will be shipped via USPS Priority Mail and may be mailed only within the U.S.

Good luck!

P.S. Do not despair if you are not one of the lucky 3. We hope to begin selling the beautiful sterling silver & crystal butterfly beads individually shortly.

Lin Randolph