A Daughter’s Promise~

It was a deathbed promise made to her dad.

Look after your mom, he said.  I will, she responded.

A promise kept. But the how’s of keeping that promise? It was done in ways that not many could manage, or would be willing to attempt.

I was already on the road in PinkMagic, making my way towards our two older kids in Arizona last year when our daughter Rachael-Grace (Rae), called me up and offered to go on the road with me in my Odyssey of Love. Initially, I thought she said two months. No, she corrected me.  Six months.

And she was true to her word.

Rachael-Grace is in her early 30’s, married to Sean. They discussed uprooting their lives so that she could do this with me and for me and decided they were strong enough as a couple to make it happen. What this young woman did needs no embellishment, so I’ll just tell you simply.

She and her husband gave up their apartment, putting their belongings in storage.  Sean camped out in the desert and stayed with my son occasionally.  For 6 months he changed his entire life so that he could support her in this endeavor.  Shades of Handsome Husband there.

She saved up enough money to pay her bills while on the road and paid them faithfully.

She helped me create ritual as we visited each of the places Handsome Husband requested I visit to scatter his cremains. When privacy for doing such seemed impossible, she brainstormed and dreamed meaningful intention into being.

It was she who chronicled our travels in pictures, from the beginnings in Arizona, to the West coast, eastwards along the northern states to New England, south to Key West, and west again to Arizona. Without that, we’d have no record. I’ve lost interest in picture-taking for the most part.

She quietly sat with me as my body convulsed into pain and grief and made no judgement. She spoke with me of memories of her dad as I spoke of my husband.

She learned to tow PinkMagic, to set her up and break her down. If we were stationary for more than a few days she took it into her hands to create an altar for us, to establish our outdoor living space, and she cooked meals to tempt my poor appetite.

She made me laugh because she is irreverent and cryptic and, like me, suffers no sacred cows.

She assisted me with technology, locating us on her google maps and pointing us (mostly) in whatever direction we needed to go.

She patiently (mostly) listened to me tell the Odyssey story over and over again, as we met new people along the way. That couldn’t have been easy for her, I know.

She encouraged me, she pushed me, she called me out when I needed it, she tough-loved me. She taught me not to fear the dark places and shadows of grief and held a light for me to provide direction.

She listened to my (way too intimate at times) stories of me and my husband and our romance. Long before we arrived back here, her sensibilities had toughened. She knew I needed to tell my story and she opened her heart to my words and we learned to joke about it.  She became more than my daughter.  It wasn’t long after we began that the lines between mom and daughter (always close), disappeared and we became, quite simply, two women on the road, honoring a man we both loved, and who loved us.

It wasn’t easy for her and I never for a minute though it was.  It was a gift of Love she gave ardently and graciously to me but I fully realize it took an emotional toll on her.  For six months she was present every minute for me, subduing her own grief in many ways, so that she could stand strong with me.  There were many times in our months together when I know she, and her grief, must have felt invisible.  Widows generally are “seen” more than grieving daughters.  I sensed that happening and we spoke about it, but I know it had to be difficult at best.

She missed her husband desperately as PinkMagic ate up the miles and it gave her a glimpse into my world and it hurt her heart and she expressed that to me;  her husband was waiting for her when we were done and mine wasn’t and never would be again. It added yet another layer to her grief.  She was not only grieving her dad;  she grieved at watching her mom in such pain.

For six months, as we drove this Odyssey, Rachael-Grace brought life to my life. She brought Love, she brought continuity, she brought poetry and music and hula-hoops and her natural joy for life.  She brought acknowledgement and gave space and created magic for me.

She is grace personified. Her dad could never have imagined how she would keep her promise to him.  Wherever he is,  if he is, I hope he saw.  I hope he knows.

She kept her promise~10350356_10202636515534966_4300709640610250417_n


18 thoughts on “A Daughter’s Promise~

  1. Beautifully written.  You have a gem there and you gracefully know it and cherish it.    Still traveling with you and wishing you peace in your soul and heart.  It will come some day when you are ready, as you are still going through your journey one minute at a time.    Fondly,   Wendy

  2. Your daughter is quite simply,Amazing!Wonder how that happened?…Some of hardest things in Life are about keeping promises…Been on a similar path for three years…the grief is like an out of control rollercoaster,or washes over you like a dark blanket of profound sorrow…but there are moments of exquisite lightness too….carry on in your journey,all will be revealed!…Two incredibly strong woman,blessings to you both.(and what a great partner your daughter chose,very selfless)

  3. Your daughter is quite simply,Amazing!Wonder how that happened?…Some of hardest things in Life are about keeping promises…Been on a similar path for three years…the grief is like an out of control rollercoaster,or washes over you like a dark blanket of profound sorrow…but there are moments of exquisite lightness too….carry on in your journey,all will be revealed!…Two incredibly strong women,blessings to you both.(and what a great partner your daughter chose,very selfless)

    • Susan,
      Our family has been blessed in so many ways. Not because life comes easily but because we each strive to have an awareness and consciousness about our selves and the direction our lives take. Each of our kids has loving partners (after some false starts) and the circle of love only grows larger.

      May you, too, be blessed~

  4. Seriously, in tears. What an amazing tribute to your daughter….and your relationship with each other. I spent much of the first year with my Mom after Daddy passed…she called me her Ruth. A biblical woman with quite a story of love, faithfulness and grace. I especially identified with the part that *she subdued her own grief*…it is a good thing you are able to see, acknowledge and talk about that…as a daughter who went back into her own life after that first year, found myself in delayed grief, I would ask that you stay mindful of that for her, there may be some backlash as life gets back *to normal* and she finds her own grief unpacking itself, and needing to come to terms with it as well…and a loving, seeing, knowing Momma like you certainly can help her thru, if that were to occur…it may help *shades of handsome husband* as well. I treasure that time with my Mom, that she calls me her Ruth and that there were bonds forged in that year that no other moment would have afforded us…the same is true for you and your daughter. I pray that as life moves forward for you both, your new *normals* are filled with love, joy, grace and peace. Sending love, prayers and (((hugs))).


    • Cynthia,
      Your words speak so strongly of your own loving relationship with your mom and your experience with her. Yes, Rae and I found, for both of us, that we struggled with re-entry time. A couple months later we’re still finding what works for us. She more than I, since I’ll be returning to the road. Rae and I are so much on the same wave-length and can read each other fairly accurately, which helps us stay attuned to one another.

      Thank you for being part of this circle of love and offering your prayers and hugs~

  5. Beautiful. he sees. he knows. of course he does. much like you both, there was a method to his madness as well. you’ve taken such good care of each other across the miles. I am strangely envious. Isn’t that crazy? While in your mournful torment, there is someone who envy’s what you are experiencing? I have only one daughter. I wonder…Would she keep as lovely a promise as your Rae? Life (and death) are often strange and curious. Know that others think of you often as you go thru this journey

    • April,
      Your words touch me deeply. I hope, I hope, I pray, that my husband knows of all of this somehow. I know that my life, and this experience of grief, could be so different from what it has been, without my kids and my strong community of support. Which does, I hope you know, include you. It is crazy, isn’t it, that anyone would be envious of me in my position but, yes, I get it. In the midst of this devastation is this circle of love and that, in the end, must be larger than the grief.

      Thank you for being a part of this circle~

  6. You have GOT to get that book made, somehow! Your voice is so unique, so spiritual, that you reach places in a reader’s heart that they did not know they had. The way your family comes together is beyond inspiring. It is almost beyond belief in this manic, materialistic age. We recently had a death in my inner circle and I looked to you over and over again for guidance, reassurance and comfort because it seemed almost everyone around me did not “get it”. (Not many people seem to care about the sacrosanct transition of the spirit from this realm into another.) Your daughter is the pinnacle of what a human being should be.

    • Doretta,
      If there is nothing else of which I’m continually aware, I do at least know how blessed I am with my and Handsome Husband’s kids. He’d be pleased beyond measure, but not at all surprised, at the level of love and support they have given me, even in their own grief. I’m touched that the words I write, and the people/experiences of which I write, serve a purpose for you.

      I’m blessed too, to have you in my circle~

  7. dear Alison,
    what a magnificent gift, one that you will be marveling and discovering it’s layer upon layer for a long time. and some parts of what may now remain softly, quietly, subtle just might burst forth at some unexpected prompt and you will find yourself experiencing even a tiny shard of your Daughter’s comfort and wisdom rising up into a light so stunning, blindingly beautiful – enough to take your breath away, and savor and make you exude such astonishing gratitude and love that there will hardly be enough words to express it. I hope, indeed, I believe that the gifts that you already keep firmly tucked into your entire being with such profound thankfulness to your beautiful souled Daughter will give life to more gifts for both of you, to your son-in-law, too. love, LOVE, NOTHIN’ BUT LOVE…it never runs out, it just keeps giving.

    much love to you for such a touching and inspiring post,

    Karen OxO

    • Karen,
      The past 6 months would have been so vastly different without her. She was a teacher for me, and a guide. There is so much to be processed about our time together and in that process, I’ve no doubt, more gifts will be revealed.

      Thank you so much for your beautiful words of love~

  8. Alison-

    I just read your latest post, but went back in your blog to read others. This one touched me profoundly. I know sometimes my mother doesn’t know how to be a mother to a grown woman. Sometimes I don’t know how to be a grown daughter to a mother! No doubt- it is more about becoming two women on a journey for all of us, but especially you and your daughter. What an amazing, albeit heart wrenching gift. I love your truth and honesty, in all of this. Thank you for being so open about your grief and raw emotions. Carry on friend- even thought you aren’t feeling it at the moment.


  9. Very touching post. I have years in my eyes. You are blessed to see such a special relationship grow out the devastation that you’ve both experienced (and still do). Like two beautiful flowers from the ashes.

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