Endings and beginnings

Craig and Karen.

Craig and Karen Potts

It’s been a rough year. My sister recently lost her husband, Craig Potts, father to their only son, Chris. And the pain is still raw. Craig’s death came just a few months after we lost our mother, Hazel: two dearly-loved souls passing in just three month’s time.


Hazel Coffey.

Mother Hazel


Though we’ll always have fond memories of their personalities and the years spent together, it’s still difficult to believe that we’ll never see them again in this life. Both are endings that are hard to bear–and yet, what choice do we have? We take deep breaths and live one day at a time.

Changing with the seasons

Endings–and beginnings–are on my mind. Just this morning, I took my daughter to the airport for a flight to her junior year in college. And later today, my son and his friend, who boarded in our home during an internship, will pack up and leave the house to drive south into their senior year of college. It will be quiet around here without their comings and goings; the washer and dryer will get a rest, and the meals I cook will shrink again to portions for two: my husband and me.

Yet every ending is a beginning: the beginning of life without the ones we’ve lost, the beginning of new adventures and relationships, of news from children and friends, of chapters we’ll add to our own lives. A while ago, as I sat writing this, the high school bus stopped on the street outside to take this year’s students–no doubt some new–off to their second week of classes.

While beginnings are hopeful, they aren’t often easy, obscured as they are with distractions of the unknown: What challenges will come? Will the good times outweigh the hardships? You can try to live right, make lists, load up your phone calendar, invest in the latest technology, you can plan and you can pray, but nobody’s ever going to develop an app that shows you the future.

The day to day

Autumn leaves in the sun.As for me and my writing endeavors, I start the new season with a plenty of unknowns. I recently invested time interviewing with literary agents. It went well, though I’m still waiting for something concrete. Meanwhile, I continue to work on my second novel–talk about beginnings and endings. My goal is to finish it by the end of the year, and I wonder: Will I get there? Will it be what I envisioned? If only there was an app for that.

Outside, the summer is coming to a close, my days of writing on the patio numbered for the year. The high in Portland will climb past 80 today, but the morning was brisk, and the trees, already tinged with red, tell us what’s coming.

What will the future bring? How will I handle it? How will we all handle it? Yet another ending offering a place to begin…

What am I thankful for?

Turkey face, bird, close up.I’m wondering if you know the feeling: you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner, crazy busy getting everything ready–What time did I put the turkey in?–then finally, everyone is gathered, the potatoes are mashed, the gravy done, and you call the masses in to eat. But it’s only after everyone’s seated and halfway through their meals that you realize you forgot to give thanks. On Thanksgiving Day! I confess I’ve done this and ended up feeling like an overstuffed, ungrateful birdbrain–all before I’d even had pie!

This year, for a little insurance, I’m thinking ahead about all I’m grateful for and making a list. It’s not complete. How could it ever be? But it’s a start:

Clouds with sun shining through.

Summer sky over Lake Billy Chinook



First, I’m thankful for the grace of God, and how, despite evil and heartache (too much of which we’ve seen lately), hope and goodness shine through.


Marcia and Ed out to dinner.

Anniversary dinner in Lincoln City, OR




I’m thankful for my husband, who shows tremendous patience with the hours I spend writing (and not cleaning house!)…



me with kids (little) asleep in pajamas

Asleep before the story is done, circa 2000



…and for our kids (who for some odd reason never learned to clean house).



Clayton and Hazel with trick or treater.

Clayton and Hazel with neighbor “baby May”



I’m thankful for my parents (about to be great-grandparents again) and for every new day they’re able to stay in their own home…

Sisters in brown outfits, circa 1968.

Coffey sisters 1960s style (clockwise from upper left) Karen, Sally, Linda, Marcia





…and for my sisters, for all our years together, and that we’re each able to help with mom and dad.



My friends, around a table, waving.



I’m thankful for friends I can reach out to after a bad day for a little confidence or a big laugh…



Me with a goofy smile.




…and for humor, EVERY SINGLE DAY, which keeps me sane!


Sunrise over neighborhood.

Sunrise from our living room window




And, finally, I’m thankful for this life, however flawed, and hope that, one day, when it comes to a close, I’ll have family beside me and the presence of mind, one last time, to give thanks.


–If you’d like to add to this list, please feel free to leave a reply below–