The Backpack

What is grief to you? For me, grief is a backpack packed with 200 pounds of large rocks zipped up in its pouch. My backpack is very heavy to carry at times. Knowing I can never put my backpack down, it, at times, saddens and disheartens me. My backpack has become part of my permanent shadow. Some days, I can’t shoulder the weight. It is hard to even function and many times I can’t recall my life without my backpack. Over time, the load seems to feel lighter, but I still carry the same 200 pounds of rock. With each passing day, my body adjusts. I become stronger and my heart begins to feel again. It may be a week, a month or many years before the heaviness of the load in my backpack is lifted. Carrying my backpack has forced me into a rebirth of sorts; a rebirth to a different and unrecognizable life that leads to moving beyond something … or someone. Like giving birth, I am laboring through the heavy, dark weight of my backpack to hear the cry of life once more. For me, grief is a backpack full of heavy rocks that can never be put down....

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The Apple Effect – A Journey to Finding Closure

  The summer of 2000 found me working with hospice in a small closet office off Wellington Drive in Wilmington, NC. Knowing Apple had graduated from the FBI academy over a year ago and was relocating to Salt Lake City, I was trying to move on with my life. And although I was dating again, something was still missing. I needed to find closure and come to terms with the end of our relationship. Before the days of Google, I sat at my desk, picked up the phone and dialed 411 for Salt Lake City’s information line. I asked for Apple’s number, and it was given to me. Hesitating just a moment, I picked up the phone and called. “You’ve reached the Apple’s resident, we are not home right now,” a woman’s voice said over the answering machine. “Please leave a message.” I hung up. It would be years later before I found out the truth about Apple. Instead of him getting married and moving on with his life as I had assumed, he had died just two months prior to me making that call. I had even unknowingly dialed the wrong number. Although all of my assumptions were wrong,...

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The Apple Effect

When you slow down long enough your life finds you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “How did you go from the hallways of Saturday Night Live and casting CBS daytime to hospice?” Obviously there is a story behind my answer to that question. Everyone has a story about how they end up where they are, but I’ll keep mine short and sweet. Circumstance, happenstance and a very special person transformed my life almost 20 years ago and ignited a passion that I’m now living. After leaving New York City, I moved back to a small town outside of Raleigh, NC, known as Garner. I fell in love for the very first time with a boy that happened to be a Garner police officer. His dream was to one day become an FBI agent. I refer to him as “Apple,” for many reasons. Our relationship was full of respect, love, laughter and adventure. He opened new doors to different ways of thinking. He exposed me to movies such as “Down the Rabbit Hole” and several books by Stephen Hawking.   He rarely watched television and read all the time. He loved good food, cooking and rock climbing....

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Who’s That? – A Ted X Talk

Since my Ted X Talk in March 2016 and nearly 20 years working in hospice, I learned more from people facing end of life than I ever thought I would. For most, dying wasn’t about the end. It was about living well, making the most of every moment we have, and connection with those we love. Yet, I also learned through friends and family that people know very little about preparing for the end. You don’t know what you don’t know until sometimes it is too late. That’s why I am writing this book, Death by Design. We spend a lot of time planning for things in our lives. I think death and dying deserve the same attention. If we give it the same attention we could design a death that represents our life and our values. Death is a final destination, but if we prepare I believe it can also be an experience that celebrates a life well lived. In “Death by Design,” I want to help teach individuals how to unlearn what they think they know about death and dying so they can learn about the reality, make decisions, communicate and plan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcauNT3x2k8

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