December 30, 2011


Grandpa + Jamie


Mike + Miles

Stella + Momma

Play Time

Sweet Iris


Grandma + Papa + Stella

Miles + Stella


Eaton Canyon Hike

Margot Was Here


December 26, 2011

Sometimes when I allow myself, when I can't take it anymore, when I can't feel M, when I achingly long to hold my little girl, I look at pictures of Stella at the same age as M would be now.

Today, December 26, Margot would be nine months and two days old. 
Stella was nine months and two days on November 23, 2009. 

I search through iPhoto, scrolling through the months until November 2009 and the days until the 23rd and the pictures until my Stella appears.

There we are, the three of us, happy as can be, walking the streets of our downtown home, ice skating in Pershing Square, frolicking around our loft. And there is Stella. Smiling, making mischief, living freely and willing to wear pants.

Blue eyes, thin upper lip, full cheeks and the Jackson'est smile you'll ever find.

Margot, Margot, Margot, my love, my dearest, with your perfect blues, are you in there somewhere?

December 25, 2011

We pulled up around seven, parked in a nice little spot, and ordered some food. Burgers, fries and a soda. The three of us sat in the car and waited for our number, the interior lights giving the older of us enough light to see the younger of us swinging wildly between the seats. Chocolate! she screamed in anticipation. A morsel of mint cocoa for a finished burger.

It's Christmas Eve and the weather is mild.

Nine months today.

We turn on the radio, looking for Christmas music, the first Christmas music of the season, some six weeks later than usual. An older gentleman begins singing while we dunk fries into ketchup and she tosses the bun for quicker patty access.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
Next year all our troubles will be miles away
Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us once more
Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

December 15, 2011

We head up to Margot's River, as we have all come to call it, every so often, when the day feels right or when Stella feels like picking out a rock for M, or when a massive wind storm hits Los Angeles, which happened a few weeks back.

We hiked and crawled around the forest, picking our way across the creek and climbing over downed trees and logs. We carefully selected the biggest rock yet to add to M's jar, and Stella, of course, wore her pink dress with a recently added star patch, which covers an impossible stain.

December 12, 2011

The following is the address I gave last night at the MISS Foundation's candle lighting service for National Children's Memorial Day. It was a beautiful evening, remembering our kiddos, talking about our kiddos, sharing it all next to dear family and friends. Thanks to Sari and our dedicated leaders for putting this together and inviting me to share.

Her and You, Then and Now

December 11th was a Saturday last year and already, our house was dressed in Christmas. Ornaments and colored lights adorned our tree. Festive trinkets were neatly placed around the house. An ironic glass snowman in the bathroom. A vintage santa clause on the bookshelf. And my relentless christmas playlist blared on repeat, pounding us with Mariah Carey and at least eleven of the sappiest versions of Silent Night that I could find.

On this day last year, my first child Stella and I played in the yard with our housemates. That evening, we prepared for our first christmas movie night by making popcorn and turning her room into a fort, outfitting our creation with a plethora of blankets and pillows. We watched a Charley Brown Christmas and snoopy's hysterical antics were the hit. And my wife Kari was twenty-four weeks pregnant with our second child, Margot June, and the holidays were a welcomed distraction from the hibernation that we normally go into during pregnancy.

Looking back on this day, I can almost smell the innocence on my breath. I can practically taste the richness of life, and feel the simplicity of my emotions.

Fourteen weeks later and twelve days before her due date, my blue eyed baby girl was dead.

The pain was, as you can attest to, more fiercely felt than I knew was possible, as if all of the heightened emotions I had ever experienced in my life were suddenly reduced to utter dullness in comparison. For the heart to swell with the deepest of love, and to break into a multitude of pieces, one right after the other, almost simultaneously, is something that only this unfortunate group can know. 

I could have never imagined on that December evening, watching snoopy slide across the icy pond, that a mere fourteen weeks later I’d be facing the darkest of nights, smothered in anguish and sorrow.

But, such is life, I have learned.

It is full of accidents and full of fortune, full of complicated twists and full of predictable outcomes, full of beauty and full of gloom, full of exhaustion and full of youth, full of hope and full of despair, full of suffering and full of wellness. I have come to see these attributes of life as not either-or, but both-and-together. A freak accident took my daughter, a fortunate clotting of blood saved my wife. And on and on we could go, showcasing the audacity of life’s complicated nature.

I feel this new life around every corner, both the splendor and heartache of what it means to be alive, what it means to be fully human. I think of this more acutely, I feel of this more deeply, especially on a night like tonight.

Thirty-eight weeks after Margot died, the exact amount of weeks she was alive, I stand here with you. My fellow survivors. YOU who comprehend, YOU who whisper the names of our children, YOU who abide with us, YOU who we can be our whole selves with, YOU who usher us out of the loneliness, YOU who say, “I understand.”

I could have never imagined, on that dreaded day when my daughter was here and then wasn’t, that thirty-eight weeks later I’d be sitting here with you, facing our losses in abiding unison.

In you, in this society of the suffering, I see the beauty of life. And on this cool December evening, as we light our candles and remember our lost children, I see the hope, however soft and delicate it may be.

December 10, 2011


I copied her to a USB drive and slid her into my pocket.

We arrived to the neon lights and glossy floors and aisles of nonsense just in time for an upbeat version of jingle bells.

Not so jingle this year, I thought to her, squeezing the plastic drive.

I pushed her in and she appeared, still warm, hair still wet, still wrapped in blankets.

Hey kiddo.

I stood up to cover the screen, surprised by my own instincts, to protect her from indifferent eyes.

4x6? 8x10?

How about 200x200? Would that be okay?

Here is your picture, he says, handing her back to me.

December 5, 2011

I'm writing over at Glow In the Woods today, talking about the purity in missing. Please feel free to stop by Glow and read my post, beautiful empty, and join the discussion.