Monday, December 7, 2009


Phoenix Rising From The Ashes,
originally uploaded by VicOrtiz22.

Life can be so complicated, that at times we need to remind ourselves to take notice of the simple joys. It is quite odd to hear myself say this, as it feels as though I have no joy these days. Yet I do need reminders to step back from my grief at times, to observe myself, and recognize each of my children can put a smile on my face. It is the smallest of details that can change our perspective.

Like my grief, life as a parent, life as a family, can easily feel overwhelming. In my case I have three children, all of whom were adopted. They each arrived a different times over the past 18 years, as they are all biological siblings. My daughter was the first to arrive, at 6 months of age. Some years later my middle child, a son, arrived at 18 months. And just when I thought I was done with babies, my youngest arrived at 3 months of age. Today they are far from babies. My daughter is now 18 years, and my sons are 15 and 11 years old. Life for my children has not been what you would think of as ideal. They come from quite difficult beginnings, with each of their neurological systems being compromised by substances even prior to birth. Their individual journeys have be fraught with many challenges, giving them no choice but to bend with the wind, and attempt to keep moving forward.

Parenthood, like my relationship and eventual marriage, has been one of ongoing challenges. Parenthood, like my life with Michael, has also been a source of pride and joy. Each of my children are blessed with amazing talents that seem to easily spring forth when they get a glimpse of artistic inspiration. For my daughter this has been in the form of visual art, and for my boys it has been in music and dance. While these are gifts that I have truly enjoyed nurturing, this are gifts that they inherited by way of their genetic history. It would be far to easy to throw blame at their biological mother, who had many struggles in her life. Yes, the consequences of her life are being lived out by my children, but she has also handed down the sceptre of her natural brilliance of expression.

Unfortunately, my children will never meet their biological mother, as she also left this world far to early. We found out about her death only months before Michael was diagnosed with his cancer. The news of her death came as quite a blow to all of us, and set the course for our journey of loss. And while many tears have been shed, from the ashes the phoenix shall rise. This is the image that I need to believe in. This is the image that I need my children to believe in.

In our day to day lives we can feel so lost in our grief. In my day to day life I can get so lost in despair. The flame of loss can singe our heart. In my life there have, and continue to be, so many fires that need to be dealt with, that need to be put out. I often feel as though I am running from one crisis to the next. In the immediacy of the moment all I see, and feel, is the destruction and devastation that these fires can bring. Yet in my heart, I know that the phoenix will rise. I have been witness to it. I have to believe that I, and each of my children, will be transformed in the end. Even in these darkest of times, I will hold true to this knowledge.

I am writing these words down, as I also know that by nights end I may begin to let doubt permeate my soul. I will need to return to these words often, to see that today, at this hour, I permanently left myself this reminder. I will come out of this, not unscathed, but transformed. I will then be able to remind my children that I also believe that they will one day come out of their darkness, transformed.


  1. Dan, that was an amazing post and I too will return to these words of yours ... whenever the darkest days come. Thank you.

    I too believe that we learn to live and laugh again, little by little. I feel like a little child again, taking those wobbly steps ... we will fall over some days, and other days we will run.

  2. Great post. We will all emerge from this darkness transformed. Though I would go back to my former life in a heartbeat and I am still daily, hourly, moment by moment grieving the losss of my husband and that life, I am curious as to where my transformation will take me and my children. Our paths are forever altered. But we must have hope and I thank you, Dan, for reminding us that it's ok to have hope about the future.


  3. i know grief changes us as each and every experience we have throughout our lives changes us. it is good that you can find an image to hold up. the phoenix is a wonderful example.

    your children, i know, are wonderful people because they have you and Michael as examples. forgive my always speaking to things like this in the present tense but i feel that death does not take away what was, it does not wipe clean who a person was or their achievements. i hope you do return to your posting here to find solace in your own words.