And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.
-Maya Angelou

Sunday, October 16, 2016

I Planted Flowers Today (and an Update of Sorts)

(my serenity garden in the back yard)

It's starting to cool off here in the Southwest. The mornings are cool, which is about as close as we get to Fall weather here. The crisp mornings and the store displays usher in the impending holiday season. Since Jack died, November 4th (Jack's Birthday) through January 5th (Jack's death day) has been a time to simply get through. My heart could barely acknowledge the holiday season, let alone celebrate it.

But today, I planted flowers. Well, technically, I potted flowers. And, I bought two pumpkins and I decorated our front entry way. My heart feels ready to acknowledge and celebrate the holidays this year. While it's a rare day that the tears don't fall because I miss Jack so very much, I am now able to balance grief with joy and recognize that it's okay to feel both.

Life is hard and life is good.

And, for the first time in almost three years, I planted flowers today.


Update of Sorts:

The Book. 

Early September, I handed off my parent stories to my co-author and he's now working on his part. I still have work to do and more stories to gather, but the pressure to get the bulk of my part done is off. The book is a work in progress and we are still tossing around ideas of what all will be included. But it will definitely include stories of physician encounters from the parents perspective and stories of encounters with families/patients from the physicians perspective. I'm excited for the finished project, although we are still a ways out from that point. Stay tuned. 

Jack's 18th Birthday. 

Hard as it is to believe, this November 4th is Jack's 18th birthday. I remember thinking about all the things I'd need to get in place once Jack turned 18 (guardianship paperwork, SSI). I never really imagined Jack wouldn't be here. While my first instinct is to escape out of town on Jack's birthday, what I'm going to do instead is honor his birthday by hosting The Willow Tree Foundation's second Mom's Day Retreat. In addition to local moms, several out-of-state  moms will be joining us. This year's retreat is truly representative of the many beautiful parent connections Jack has gifted me with through the years. I can honestly say that I'm looking forward to November 4th this year.

Grand Canyon Rim To Rim.

For those not on Facebook, we did get our permit and I did hike the Grand Canyon down the North Rim and out the South Rim, with a two day stay at the bottom of the Canyon before we hiked out. It was beautiful and it was hard. I hiked with friends from St. Louis, Colorado and Minnesota. It involved teamwork and patience and perseverance. We were told that only 1% of the visitors to the Grand Canyon ever hike Rim to Rim. I'm glad I did it, but I don't feel compelled to ever do it again! 

Here are some pictures.

North Rim - tents set up for the night
The North Rim is beautiful - we wish we could have spent more time there

Ready to set out 

Starting point - North Kaibab Trailhead

Heading down North Kaibab

miles and miles of switchbacks 

first of several bridges we encountered

narrow trail - kind of important to stay focused on where you are going

Canyon Willow

Botton of the Canyon - Bright Angel Creek (our campground was just a few yards from the creek - so relaxing to listen to the creek at night)


view from my tent 

this is how I spent our day of rest - resting with my feet in the creek! 

crossing the Colorado River on the way out Bright Angel Trail

At the finish! 

Hiking out was a lot more challenging (obviously) than hiking down, so I didn't get many pictures of the hike out. 

Well, that's the update of sorts. I realize I don't write much anymore, but I'm not one to write just to write. (Although this post might be pushing it as far as being of any substance.) I have three other children and there's a lot going on in my life that keeps me busy and stressed, but it's not all that exciting or appropriate to write about. Jack was and will always be my inspiration for writing. For the last year and a half, he's been my inspiration as I've focused on writing my book. I'm not sure if I'll ever get back to real blogging again. I guess that will be up to Jack! 

Inching Onward! 


  1. Hi Ann! I still think of you often even though we don't even know each other personally, just through your blog. I reached out on the tracheostomy message boards when our son, Jonathan, was about to get his trach in 2009 and you offered advice and help. Thank you. You are a role model to me and I was helped by so many things you posted over the years about Jack and all the "stuff" surrounding his disability. Thank you for continuing to post here on occasion. I will continue to pray for you and your journey without Jack here with you. You are an inspiration to me!!

    AmyK (Amy Krautkremer from MN :) )

    1. Hi Amy! Good to hear from you. The next time I get out to MN, we must meet each other in person. My husband has family in Rochester and St. Paul. I have plans to be out to MN next summer, hopefully we can meet. I think I have our email - but just in case I can't find it -- send me an email at schrooten.ann at so we can stay in touch. I hope you and Jonathan are well.