September 24th

On the morning of September 24th, 1986 my Mom did not get out of bed.

I hope to never experience the challenge she faced that morning after learning my Dad’s cancer had taken him from us.

Him, fighting so hard.

Six kids, eyes on her.

It was the day before her birthday and seeing her in bed, wiping tears from her eyes was almost enough.

Until then I’d known nothing that could break her in such a way.

But we had to hear her say it.

Tell us he was never coming back.

She had the job of speaking the words that would forever change our lives.

How she pulled herself from that bed, I’ll never know.

Humans are incredible like that.

Incredible that we can push forward.

Incredible that we continue waking every morning.

Incredible that we allow ourselves to love again knowing full well the risk of loss involved.

Incredible, that a little girl could lose her Dad after just seven years of life with him and 26 years later still ache for him.

When You’re Seven And Your Dad Dies: The Funeral
When You’re Seven And Your Dad Dies: The Limo Ride
When You’re Seven And Your Dad Dies: Second Grade
When You’re Seven And Your Dad Dies: Metamorphosis
When You’re Seven And Your Dad Dies: Without Him In The Room
When You’re Seven And Your Dad Dies: The Manger
When You’re Seven And Your Dad Dies: The Fall


  1. says

    You know what, your mom has my mom’s birthday. Today is my oldest sister’s birthday. This year will mark our first year without mom on her birthday and I am dreading tomorrow. My sister spent the weekend in the hospital having emergency surgery to remove her gall bladder. Not a great week for either of us is it hun?? Tell your mom happy birthday from the daughter of another September 25 momma.

  2. says

    I’m so sorry Kat. I can’t even imagine what this is like for you. As a mom, I’m sure you can understand how she managed to get out of bed, although it must’ve been so hard. Hugs! <3

  3. says

    We have no idea the depth of our strengths and capabilities until faced with something so heartbreaking, gut-wrenching and life altering. I have walked in your mom’s footsteps though I only have two children. Your mom is a strong woman. Incredible, indeed.

    Sending you virtual hugs and warm thoughts today.

  4. says

    My heart is with you today.I too understand the gut wrenching sorrow of loss as my sister was murdered and instantly taken from us at age twelve.Its the anniversary today of her death as bow hunters found her little body shot twice in the head face down in a heavily wooded area.No goodbyes no last hugs no answers,just the image of her sweet face forever etched in my mind and on my heart.I understand your pain…….

  5. says

    It does amaze me, the strength and will of people I’ve met or read about. I hope to have that ability to keep going, to be propelled by some force that keeps me afloat. Thinking of your family today.

  6. says

    We think we can never do something like that, and then we realize: we have no choice.
    What else can you do?

    You are the mother.

    Your mother’s strength, here: so evident in your few but powerful, carefully chosen words; brings tears to my eyes.
    This is TRUE LIFE.

    And so fragiley tragically beautiful.

  7. says

    Came back to tell you that this is staying with me today.

    And I want to share it.

    Will be highlighting it on my best finds of the week on the internet. Because this right here: has so much richness in it.

    • says

      Thank you for doing that! So often I publish these and never look back, but I thought it was really sweet of you to share it on your site. :)

  8. says

    So very sad. Somethings happen that we will never understand. That’s the root of all my worry. I don’t want to experience pain like your mother and your family suffered. Your mother bravely did what she had to do — she really didn’t have much choice.

  9. says

    It must be that incredible love for those who depend on us that keeps us from falling apart, but I still can’t imagine the determination to just get out of bed.

    I am thinking of your family today and hoping that you find comfort in each other.

  10. says

    This was a beautiful post. I love these lines the most:

    Humans are incredible like that.
    Incredible that we can push forward.
    Incredible that we continue waking every morning.
    Incredible that we allow ourselves to love again knowing full well the risk of loss involved.

    It’s so true… humans are amazing.

    Sending you a little more love than usual today.

  11. amy says

    Many Many HUGS. I lost my mom to a heart attack when I was 18 and 3 weeks before I left for my freshman year away from home. It was rough. It has been 30 years since my mom left us and almost 20 since my dad left us right after my 29th birthday. It sucks and it still sucks at times.
    When I met my husband and when I got married and when I had my girls, I felt the loss of not having them with me.
    Your mom must have been incredibly strong to carry on with her 6 children along side her. She is a hero and your mother. You are blessed.
    We all share 3 things in common. We are born, we live a life and then we pass on.
    Hugs and Love

  12. says

    One of the only things that pulled me through when my dad died was watching my stepmother get up every day and just be. I lost my dad, which was unbearably hard. She lost her everything. I have no idea how you keep going from that.

  13. says

    That was beautiful and heartbreaking. Your mother must be a strong woman. I bet the love she had for you kids was the thing that kept her going despite such an agonizing loss.

  14. says

    I often wonder that too…how people keep on going after something earth-shattering has happened. I totally understand you aching for your Dad…I know my 7-year-old would always ache for his if this happened in our family. Thinking of you and your little 7-year-old heart.

  15. says

    A strong lady, your mom. I’m so sorry you lost a parent so young. I can’t imagine the ache your heart must have for him. This was so strongly written, it brought tears to my eyes. Warm thoughts to you and your whole family.

  16. says

    I appreciate the simplicity of this piece. Beautifully written. The death of a parent requires years to process (process–such an inadequate and overly clinical word for my meaning). We feel the loss at every milestone for the rest of our lives. If only he could have seen this recital, walked me down the aisle, seen his grandchild. I’m sure he would be honored by this piece.

  17. Devon Malonson says

    Sending my thoughts and wishes to you and your mom. Five years ago i had to tell my 4 daughters that their Dad was gone too. It was the single worst moment of my life. Time doesn’t heal the pain, just better equips you to deal with it. It has been especially hard recently as we prepare for the wedding of our oldest daughter.

  18. says

    I’m so sorry, Kat. I just don’t know how a little girl goes through something like that. My mom lost her dad to cancer when she was 14. She still misses him. Once my grandmother told us about him being sick his last days and she wept as she told it. It was heartbreaking for all of us to hear. I often wonder how different all of our lives would’ve been if he hadn’t gotten sick.

  19. says

    *warmest hugs* and a big thank you for sharing.
    We lost my Mom to cancer in April. (Which is why I haven’t been Writers Workshopping it…I just can’t seem to write the way I used to).

    I am so sorry for the loss of your dearest Dad.

  20. Melissa Hourigan says

    Felt like I was there with you in that moment. So sorry, that image, experience and memory is heartbreaking to read about. Sending you love on this angel anniversary.

  21. says

    Oh sweetie…I send you my love and support. I do not know how young children and spouses do it either…I was 30 years old when I lost my dad…I was a wife and a mom of three girls and could not understand how life could just keep going. I remember standing in line at the grocery store and people were laughing and visiting and I remember thinking to myself, “how can you everyone be so happy? Don’t you know I lost my dad?” It has been a long time since that day and still all these years later…I miss him. I miss him every holiday but, most of all I miss him when there is a monumental thing in our families life…yes, I send you my love and understanding and friendship today and always.