Tag Archives: grief

Almost through the darkness of winter

It’s spring … oh, okay, maybe not yet. But it’s definitely time for spring, if you measure the length and severity of this winter. Just talk to anyone from Boston or Montreal, and you’ll see in their shell-shocked, still frozen eyeballs how badly we all need the season to get here. In fact, if you listen closely, you’ll probably hear the whispered chant: “6:45 P.M. March 20–if I can just make it to 6:45 P.M. March 20 …”???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

That’s the official time that spring begins in Eastern Daylight Time.

It’s been a hard and long winter and we all deserve the rebirth and rejuvenation we associate with this season. The English definition of “spring” is to pounce, to leap, to jump into activity. Water bubbling up from the ground is called: a spring.

So let’s pounce. Let’s bounce off the bleakness and cold of a severe winter and get into action.

For me and for mom that will mean looking forward to marketing and talking about our latest book: Violet Fate. It’s our favorite so far, but it came out during the worst winter of our life. We experienced the kind of loss that stops all action and all desire to plan the future—we lost my father, her husband.

As we were driving this week to pick up his last effects, we talked about what we are feeling now. We are still reeling, but we want to move forward again. And one of the feelings we recognize, when it comes to getting published is astonishment: who could have imagined just a few years ago that mom and I would have three books out and three more in action. Who would have thought that my sister Allyn would be a successful children’s book author with even more books in action than us or that she would inspire us to pursue this dream? Who could have imagined that mom and I would ever be called a “mother/daughter writing duo,” would appear on television, would give talks all over Northern Virginia? Who could have predicted Mom and I and Allyn would sweat together through the ups and downs of getting published.

We had to put our talks with Applebee’s about an official launch on hold to get through the loss of this winter. But we’re talking to them again, and we’re going to make it happen with one change: it will be a book party—a celebration of the surprises life has in store. Some of those surprises may include sub-zero weather and mounds of snow … and soul-wrenching grief. But others will start with what inevitably happens in spring: a seed germinates, spreads its tiny sprout through the nourishment of the soil where it’s placed, sticks its little head through to the sunshine, and if give enough food: grows into plants and finally flowers.


Genilee Swope Parente


Posted by on March 13, 2015 in Uncategorized


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A fan’s take on grief


Robin Williams: Dreamstime

This has been a year of loss for my family: my brother in law passed last fall in the same week as our family pet. My husband’s cousin passed a few months ago—stricken down by a heart attack in his 50s. A dear aunt died after a year-long illness. Most recently, the man who married my husband and I died. And while these deaths left huge holes in my life, so did the passing of Robin Williams. He’s not family so he didn’t create the giant well of grief I felt for the others. But he took a part of me when he left just like these other people did.

It’s easier to talk about Robin because he was a celebrity I could not begin to know. The historical, biographical aspect of Robin’s life I’m looking forward to learning, and I’m sure there will be more lessons over the coming few days than I ever wanted to receive thanks to public outcry and media hunger. Like with the people close to me, however, the part Robin took cannot be replaced, though it might be copied.

When it comes to Robin Williams, the part was awe, and it’s something I like to feel, seek to experience, strive to present. Robin could wow, and to me, that is what anyone in any art form tries to do. As a comedian, Robin was true genius—his wit was so sharp, his brilliance so fine-tuned and quick, watching him do standup—oh heck, watching him do ANYthing—left me breathless. It was hard to keep up with the funny that poured from that man once he got going. And I always felt like I was on a roller coaster ride when I watched him―the part of the ride after you crest that first long hill and the car is shooting through the peaks and valleys of the thrill.

He affected me almost as much, however, as an actor. It must have been hard for him to take instructions from a director, and I’m sure he ticked off a few of them; but only temporarily until he got them to laugh. His acting had a level of depth that’s hard to describe—he played a crazy man in a photo booth with equal passion to a downtrodden widowed man who befriends a homeless man or a motherly drag queen. His movies were not always popular, but they are some of my favorites.

I’m angry with Robin Williams for taking the awe away in such a tragic way. But I know I’ll get over that aspect of what happened yesterday—and I should get over it. I’ll read about him and try to figure out why someone who created such joy could feel such despair. I won’t figure it out because I’m not like Robin in any way or even part of Robin’s family.

But then, it’s not up to me to judge or analyze him. It’s up to me, as a fan, to keep him alive.

—Genilee Swope Parente


Posted by on August 12, 2014 in Uncategorized


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The connections in our lives

Laney shares her bed with CC

Laney shares her bed with CC

I lost two loved ones this week—my brother in law passed away early this week after an extended illness and the family pet died peacefully in our arms a few days later.

This blog isn’t about the loss of either, the sorrow I feel, or the pain I know my sister-in-law Cindy and her boys are feeling. I couldn’t hope to express that well. It’s too soon.

This blog is about connections.

We had CC, the cat, for 14 blessed years. She was a stray that wandered into Cindy’s apartment complex. Because my sister-in-law was the apartment manager, she knew that she had to find a home for the cat or call animal control. She called me one morning.

“Sis. I have this cat you have to take. She is so loving―She has really taken a liking to Jim and won’t leave him alone. I don’t want to call the shelter. Jim would never forgive me.”

My husband and I came and got the cat, I tucked her into my coat to keep her warm, we took her home, and we had many wonderful years and a litter of kittens because of her.

The connection is that, the only reason she came into our lives, is because she took an instant liking to Jim. Jim was Cindy’s husband—the brother-in-law who passed away this week. Jim and CC had made an instant deep connection. My husband I both believe that Jim came to get CC last night. CC had been living with a heart condition for about six months so we were expecting her passing any day, though she appeared healthy up until this morning. We believe she waited for Jim to go first, then decided it was time to join him.

I know that sounds bizarre. But who knows what the true connections are between people and our pets. The only reason we found CC and spent a last few minutes with her before she passed is that our dog Laney was acting very strange. Laney kept trying to get my husband out of bed and even came and jumped in bed with me to try to get my attention. I thought she had to go out. She didn’t. She wouldn’t eat her breakfast. She just kept returning to my husband’s office, and even though we had looked for CC there earlier after hearing a loud meow. We didn’t find CC until the dog kept going back into the office. Our CC was tucked away in a corner, waiting for us. She died a short while later.

So Jim, we’re glad you have CC now to keep you company in heaven, and we’ll try to keep Cindy and her boys feeling loved and appreciated.

But in the mean time: don’t forget how CC likes her ears rubbed; how much she loves to be combed; and how she wants to hide her head when she’s afraid. We sure hope they have tuna in heaven.

–Genilee Swope Parente

Laney shares her dog bed with CC

Laney shares her dog bed with CC

Posted by on October 11, 2013 in Uncategorized


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