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Human Parts
A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.


In Human Parts. More on Medium.

Lived Through This

We all cope differently

I wrote sixty songs during the three months that my mom was dying. I was disgusted with my muse, who had ghosted me for years and chose the end of her life to set a fire in me.

But you can’t deny it—you can’t be holding your mom’s hand and…


When my daughter died, I phased out of your reality

Painting, oil on canvas, by Emily Dooley

Part one: The many ways I’m separate

Sometimes I almost forget that I’m not in the same place as you. This took me a few years to master and (let’s face it) I can never truly forget that I’m in a different dimension. …


My daughter’s absence was like a wound, raw and weeping. Everything we did together reminded us of who we had lost.

Painting by Emily Dooley

Once I got married and became a mother, I understood that my whole self wasn’t just about me anymore. My life revolved around the other members of my familial collective — my husband and my two daughters. Four was the number that felt complete.

My world was driven by this…

A Memorial Meadow

Eschscholzia californica

Last October, I stood in my seacoast yard, listening to the waves and grieving the death of my wonderful Aunt Kathy from pancreatic cancer. My landscaper pressed me for a decision about mulching a ledge-filled patch of earth with a tiny view of the water. …

On digital heirlooms and ongoing conversations

Photo: Yifei Fang/Getty Images

A recent Wall Street Journal article, “The Family Heirlooms That Our Children Don’t Want,” apparently resonated with millennials, as many of my peers were sharing it on social media. The gist is that boomer parents have a lot of stuff, and often, for various reasons, their adult children don’t want…

Ana, age 12 (with her cat Pepper)

The first playdate was the product of an infant/toddler reading hour at my local library in the fall of 2002. I’d been freshly laid off from a dot-com job that had consumed me. My daughter Ana was 18 months old.

I’d been adrift, aimless, caught in the purgatory between unemployment…

This Is Us

On having faith, and giving permission to let go

Illustration by Jacqueline Dooley

“How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again.”
— Henry Scott Holland

Dear Mom,

The light is different here. If you saw how this place shines, I think you’d stop worrying about me. The light connects the landscape to every part of itself. It moves…

This Is Us

Bridges between me and those I’ve lost

Photo: baona/Getty Images

When I got through the cold they made me swim in a river, and I forgot his name. I forgot all the names. — Sarah Ruhl, ‘Eurydice’

I cared for both my boyfriend and my mother in my house. My boyfriend died in his hospice bed in my living room…

This Is Us

With my brother gone, am I still a sister?

Photo: Dan Smith/Moment/Getty Images

Do you have any siblings?

I don’t feel the warm rush of panic flood my chest when I’m asked this question anymore, though I’ve never quite gotten used to it. As a middle-aged mom, I don’t actually hear it as much anymore. …

This Is Us

On losing, and finding, my son

Ben’s hat, Mt. Garfield Summit

The first days after my son’s suicide were punctuated with question marks. Words uttered in library whispers by well-meaning relatives or friends hinted at the questions that always swirl around suicide. None of them were answerable, except to say that my son was fiercely private about his inner struggles. …

Human Parts

A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

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