everything’s going to be okay

great blue heron

I tend to become melancholy on December 31st. This last day of the year often feels like so many Sunday nights, when I feel sad to leave the wonderful weekend days behind to head into a brand new week filled with unknowns.

This year is different. I’m very okay with leaving 2014 behind.

This has been a tough year, overshadowed by family illness, death, and grief. In my career, I deal with death routinely, so I thought I’d be more prepared when February 27th arrived. I learned quickly, though, that much like becoming a parent, losing a parent is something that you simply can’t understand until you go through it yourself. I understand now. If there is a bright side to this experience, it’s that I feel that I am a more understanding physician for it.

But the year also had many good parts, and I don’t want you to think that I’ve been sitting in a darkened room, withering away, not moving forward. For one thing, my father would have had no patience for that.

We’ve had wonderful travel experiences this year, most notably our trip to the Grand Tetons and to Yellowstone National Park. I know that this may change one day, but we love traveling with our children. They soak in new experiences, ask amazing questions, and easily adapt to new situations and environments. Maddie and Oliver do their fair share of bickering, but it never lasts long, and they love being together. I know that one day, my kids might think that traveling with their parents is onerous. Until then, and probably even after then, we are going to continue making most of our family adventures.


I took up a new hobby over Thanksgiving weekend, one I’d been thinking of for some time. Thanks to online classes at Craftsy, I have learned to cast on, knit, purl, increase and decrease, bind off, and knit in the round. I have never taken Valium or Xanax before, but I believe that for me, knitting must have the same effect. As I place stitches, the wooden knitting needles softly clicking in my hands, I can feel my heart rate slow and a sense of stillness comes over me. To put it simply: I am in love.

2014 was the year we did a major back yard overhaul. After five years of debating and changing our minds (and stocking up the savings account), we had a pool put in. The back yard has now replaced my front porch as my favorite hanging-out place. The sound of running water is soothing, and I find myself looking into the back yard all the time, just to look at the water. I know that when the weather is warmer, I will love it even more.

I lamented the fact that the pool construction seemed to have scared off our backyard birds from our bird feeders.  In the past few weeks, after much wishing and hoping, my birds returned. We now have our cardinals back, and I have seen an oriole, the tufted titmouse, black-capped chickadees, sparrows, and curious house wrens. Yesterday, two pair of bright blue eastern bluebirds visited. And on December 19th, when I happened to be home from work, the great blue heron in the top photo surprised me when he appeared on the pool’s deck and stayed for twenty minutes or so, peering into the water to look for fish.

I took that heron as a sign. I don’t know what it’s a sign for, but seeing that majestic heron in my back yard, standing proud but wary, made me feel hopeful and optimistic. Like everything’s going to be okay.

And I think it will be. I think 2015 will be A-okay.

Happy New Year, friends.


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51 Responses to “an accident”

  1. Winnie — April 30, 2013 @ 8:46 pm

    I am so sorry, MJ.

  2. Monica Bhide — April 30, 2013 @ 8:46 pm

    I am so very sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my prayers.

  3. Oh Merry Jennifer, I’m so sorry. This post brought back my grandfather’s passing in shocking clarity, as if it were yesterday instead of nearly 10 years ago. It was very similar. I can feel the pain your cousins and aunt are going through, and my heart aches for them, and for you and your mom. There’s not much that can be said, other than my heart is with you, and I pray that the love you all share will help things eventually click back into place.

  4. Babette — April 30, 2013 @ 8:54 pm

    Sorry for your loss….

  5. Brian @ A Thought For Food — April 30, 2013 @ 8:59 pm

    My thoughts are with you and your family. To lose people we love, who we’re close to… it’s just unbearable. Stay well, MJ. Take care of yourself during this time.

    Lots of love.


  6. Beth — April 30, 2013 @ 9:00 pm

    Oh Merry Jennifer. I am so sorry for your loss. What a loving and beautiful post. You and your family are in my prayers.

  7. Denise — April 30, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

    Merry Jennifer, I am so sorry for your lose. Thinking of you ….. xo

  8. Lana @ Never Enough Thyme — April 30, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

    It’s so hard to know just what to say at a time like this, Merry Jennifer. May you and your family be comforted by the thoughts and prayers of so many who are thinking of you all.

  9. Maria — April 30, 2013 @ 9:05 pm

    I’m a relatively new reader of your blog, but I’ve been following your story of your dad in the nursing home, vacation with your family and now this accident, and I just had to let you know that I’m thinking about you and praying for your whole family. I feel for what you must be going through tonight, and I’m truly sorry for it.

    I’m not sure if it will help you sleep a little better or if might offer you some peace of mind, but I’ve found the saying that everything happens for a reason to be unbelievely powerful, not to mention true, in my own life. Just thought I’d share. All best.

  10. Kathy — April 30, 2013 @ 9:07 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear this, Merry Jennifer. I’ll keep you and your family in my prayers. xoxo

  11. Rona — April 30, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

    My heart is breaking after reading this. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers.

  12. Janis — April 30, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

    I am so very sorry for your family’s loss. My love and thoughts are with you.


  13. Lynne — April 30, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

    I am so sorry and I will hold all of you in my prayers.

  14. Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen — April 30, 2013 @ 9:41 pm

    So sorry for your loss. Sending thoughts and prayers for your dear family.

  15. Wendy Hondroulis — April 30, 2013 @ 9:43 pm

    Wrapping you all in prayer for peace and comfort.

  16. Lisa @ Garnish with Lemon — April 30, 2013 @ 9:51 pm

    Oh Merry Jennifer, I am so sorry for your loss. I’m glad that you were able to be there with your mother. How difficult it must have been for you, especially with your medical knowledge . Prayers for your family.

  17. Mallory — April 30, 2013 @ 9:53 pm

    I am so very sorry for your family’s loss. There are no words. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  18. Wendy Read — April 30, 2013 @ 9:54 pm

    So very sorry for your loss MJ. We are never ready. Sending much love and comfort to you and yours.

  19. Maria Raynal — April 30, 2013 @ 9:58 pm

    Oh, MJ. Too much tragedy has been heaped on your family in such a short time. You’re all in my thoughts, and sending peace and comfort.

  20. Sara — April 30, 2013 @ 9:59 pm

    We are so sorry to hear of your beloved Uncle’s death. Our hearts go out to you and your family.

  21. thefoodpoet — April 30, 2013 @ 10:06 pm

    I’m sending you a storm full of hugs and prayers right now for when the calm hits. I’m so very sorry for your loss, MJ.

  22. Carol Sacks — April 30, 2013 @ 10:07 pm

    Very sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  23. Jean Layton — April 30, 2013 @ 10:17 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss MJ

  24. Beth Lee — April 30, 2013 @ 10:58 pm

    Oh MJ – how beautifully you shared with us such a heart wrenching story. I am so very sorry for your loss – April has been just filled with loss for so many of us. Each one gut wrenching for those closest to it. Sending hugs to you and your family.

  25. Jean — April 30, 2013 @ 11:06 pm

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. I’ll be praying for comfort and healing for you and your family.

  26. Michelle Ledesma — April 30, 2013 @ 11:08 pm

    MJ, so very sorry for your loss. Sending prayers for peace.

  27. Jenny Hartin — April 30, 2013 @ 11:10 pm

    MJ, I am so sorry. Sending love and prayers. Xo

  28. Denise @ Creative Kitchen — April 30, 2013 @ 11:20 pm

    Merry Jennifer,

    How very, very sad! I’m so sorrry for your devestating loss. My prayers are with you and your family.

  29. Kallie Jurgens — May 1, 2013 @ 12:18 am

    Our prayers are with you tonight; God bless you all!

  30. Lana Watkins — May 1, 2013 @ 12:39 am

    Thinking of you and your family and sending you a big, warm hug from California. XOXO

  31. Linda — May 1, 2013 @ 2:54 am

    My heart breaks for your aunt and your family, and I fel for you all. Sending love.

  32. Kathryn — May 1, 2013 @ 4:09 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss and my thoughts are with you and your family xo

  33. Elizabeth — May 1, 2013 @ 5:09 am

    This can not be an easy time for any of you, hope you are able to find comfort in the happy memories you can share with each other.
    Your family is in my thoughts and prayers.

  34. Alice Martin — May 1, 2013 @ 5:51 am

    For over thirty years my friend, your mother, shared stories of her twin sister and Quinn. I feel as though I have lost him too. My thoughts are with each of you.

  35. Rachel — May 1, 2013 @ 6:54 am

    So sorry, MJ. Praying for your family and sending big hugs.

  36. I’m so, so sorry, MJ. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts today. XO

  37. Jennifer — May 1, 2013 @ 10:52 am

    I am so sorry to read about your loss, I can imagine how devastating this must be for your entire family.

    Sending you all peace and strength.

  38. Mary Kay Roddy — May 1, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

    I am so very sorry about your uncle. As I read through your post and got to the part where you said he passed away, I actually let out a scream. I was really hoping Quinn would be okay. I am so sorry for your loss.

  39. Rachel Winter — May 1, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

    Sending prayers. Thinking of you. XOXO Rachel

  40. Lynda - TasteFood — May 1, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

    I am so sorry for your family’s loss MJ. Sending lots of positive thoughts and prayers to you. xoxo.

  41. Rima Kleiner — May 1, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

    My heart goes out to you, your mom and your aunt, MJ. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts. Take care of yourself.

  42. Catherine — May 1, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

    Oh I am so sorry MJ – God bless you all.

  43. cherie — May 1, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

    my tremendous sympathy to you and your mother – prayers for you and your whole family especially dear Aunt Sherry

  44. Helene — May 1, 2013 @ 11:46 pm

    All my love and prayers to you and your family.
    <3 <3 <3

  45. Katie — May 2, 2013 @ 7:11 am

    MJ my prayers go out to you and your family.

  46. Di — May 2, 2013 @ 9:09 am

    Heartfelt condolences on the loss of your Uncle. I have held similar vigils over beloved relatives before their passing. My heart breaks for you and your family. Peace and strength in the days to come.

  47. I am so sorry for your loss Merry.

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  49. stephanie souris — May 9, 2013 @ 8:23 pm

    so very, very sorry. May his Memory be Eternal.

  50. Paula — May 15, 2013 @ 10:02 am

    I’m deeply sorry for your loss. I pray for strength for your Aunt and for your entire family Merry Jennifer. Your family has had more to bear than most of late and I pray that you can all continue to find the courage to move forward with each passing day.

  51. Kiran @ KiranTarun.com — May 15, 2013 @ 10:35 pm

    So sorry for your loss, MJ. With everything that is going on, I pray that you and the family continue having the strength to push ahead. Can’t wait to hug it out at FBF.

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