I am having a hard time blogging this week. My body is being a little difficult and my heart and head keep taking me to the Gates of Heaven.  My nephew should be 28 in a few days, would be if he had continued to live here and grow old with us. He didn’t though, he answered the call of duty, joined the Army, fought bravely, and died along with four of his buddies in Iraq.


Grief is a teacher that never stops teaching. I have watched as it has torn at the very fabric of our family, stretching the threads so tight that at times I feared one or more of us would rip at the seams.  Death requires you to dig deep into your soul, this kind of work is hard and painful. It requires you to break open and become incredibly raw and vulnerable. You have to find ways to stitch together a life where pain, grief, joy, love, and hope are all able to live together. Where those stitches, never fully heal and something as beautiful as a rainbow pulls at them, making them bleed just a little. But it also means that a rainbow is no longer just a rainbow but an I love you from Heaven. You look for miracles and signs in places you never imagined.


It also means that you try to honor the things that were important to the person who has died. Seth’s relationship with his brothers was important to him. Upon his return from war Seth was going to go with his brother Nate and get a tattoo that said, Totus Virium, it means Undivided Strength. It was important to him and Nate. It breaks my heart that they were never able to share that memory. Nate could have gone and done it by himself but my sister raised amazing men, so Nate invited Eric to be a part of his first tattoo and asked his uncle to get it too. Even in his own grief this amazing young man thought of others. So in the middle of all the planning and pain Nate and his Uncle Eric went and got the tattoo together. It bonded them in a way that words cannot express. Our son Joe, got the same tattoo on the day he turned 18. I think Seth would feel honored and happy to know they all have the tattoo. That he is never forgotten and they carry him with them always.


Why haven’t we all crumbled and shattered?

 We may want to, there are even days  we think we will but at the end of the day we know that together we are strong. It is only together, undivided that we will heal and grow. It is together that we will tell Seth’s story, it is how we stitch up the pieces of our broken hearts.


My husband gave our nephews eulogy and he said Seth lived according to these things.

Live Harder

Love Deeper

Hug Tighter

Seth lived every second of his 19 years, he didn’t waste one second. When he made a decision, he went all in. He was brave and fearless. Seth loved the people in his life deeply and made sure they knew that. He took the time to spend time with the people he loved, while doing things that he loved. Man, could that boy hug! His hugs were so tight! The last time I saw him before he left for Iraq someone snapped a picture of him giving me a hug. There are no words for what this picture means to me.


People ask why I do what I do?

Seth is my why. I know what it is like to have your world crash down, to have your faith crumble into the sea. I know what it is like to have to rebuild your faith. I know life never looks the same but I also know that Life is Beautiful and that every second is a gift. I want to live a life that Seth is proud of, so that when I see him again he will give me one of those amazing hugs and say you did a good job, Auntie. You LIVED HARDER, LOVED DEEPER, HUGGED TIGHTER!


My request of you today is to live your life harder, to love deeper, and hug someone really tight.





  1. Hi Michelle~

    Your posting really got to me. I have always felt how much Seth meant in all of your lives. I know that I ‘met’ him when I met all of you: you embody his beautiful spirit & honor his memory every day in the rich living of your lives.

    Of course, it sure brought up stuff for me. Zach was my ‘other son’ & Arden’s best buddy in the world, besides his teacher. Arden’s music is sounding more & more like our Zach played it, & the melodies sure keep the memories alive & sweet. His birthday happened recently & he would have been the same age as Seth. We were on the coast, remembering him, lighting a candle in his memory, Arden busking on the bay front in Newport, getting into the music & the passersby & flirting with the girls & playing tunes over the chorus of sea lions barking, & just remembering.

    His hugs were loooong, tight & meaningful, & after a hug, he’d look you right in the eyes, smile & wink. The most special hugs I ever had. We even got one of those hugs from him the day before he died. I very spontaneously said to Arden, ‘Let’s drive over to the coast & see Zach,’ & we did. A brief, happy connection. The most precious use of my intuition that I have ever had.

    During the year before he died, since he had had such a close brush with death, he lived his life to the very very fullest. It was amazing to see, unfolding like a newly-discovered flower.

    Thanks for listening!

    Love to you,


    • Ami, thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories of Zach. He really was special. I remember listening to him and Arden play at his Bar Mitzvah, so special. We are truly blessed women to have loved and been loved by such beautiful souls.

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