I haven’t posted here in 369 days. I have allowed the waves to wash over me day after day after day. I feel beaten.

The shapes of this year are embedded like shrapnel. My skin has closed around the foreign. Loss has become the slow-growth beneath the bones of my ribcage. My heart has wandered.

Poppy is well. She has undergone more surgery and procedures. She has grown and amazed and laughed and suffered and stood taller than ever before (or expected). This place is for her. This string of words in the wild are about the existence and journey and trials and joys of Poppy Avalon as written by her adoring and elaborate mama.

But her mama…

May 27, 2015 My best friend is in a motorcycle accident and has multiple organ trauma. Her kidney is gone. Her spleen is gone. Our left pillar is gone. Our daily. Our weekly. Our constant comfort and refuge and shoulder has been severely injured and is now hanging in this “balance” they speak of.

I clap shut. My idea of safety and friendship called forward. Can you take this?


July 16, 2015 @10:31pm Poppy sat straight up in bed and grabbed at her form yelling “MAMA MY HEAD IS BREAKING. MY FACE IS FALLING OFF.”
I cradled. I soothed. I worried and wrung and wracked and rendered myself present. My phone rang and my mother (my best friend) made noises and forces words and worries and wrung and rendered herself ready.

My dad died. Not the one that shares with me nothing more than a last name. Not the father of biology who gave me eyes and anger and fear. But the father who walked in when I was a grown woman still 8 years old and standing at the top of some third floor apartment somewhere thinking “this is life.” The man I yelled at “HEY!” And followed up three more flights of apartment stairs to see. “Are you here to scavenge?” “Did you smell our blood?” “Have you come to finish us off?”

But he began us.

He smiled and he laughed and he fell asleep in every chair and he was there but never, not even once, proclaimed “I am here.” But here there is this hole like the effects of an explosion. There is this truth that this IS life. That we are going to face the darkest hour at every other turn. But this time, oh, Lord of my childhood Pentecostal tent revivals, LORD what more can be suffered.

No fathers. No grandfathers. No leaning on the shoulder of tall and sturdy and strong. No leaning, kid.

And so now the prince, the happily ever after, the calm and unafraid, the papa the man the sweet and soothing and best thing to ever happen is gone and we just wake up back here where my sister feeds me chicken nugget skins and my mom sobs in the next room and I am a helpless child … EXCEPT now I have my own little love children.

I never thought it was fair. But I thought I could survive it. I believed. I foraged and fought and laughed when the roads were blocked. I meandered. I made anew. I swam under. Panic is my now.

And Poppy, and my sweet, patient, blonde, beautiful boy… They wait. They wait for the dry days. Days that begin with medical bills and the answer “No.” and the minutes of love that spill over, the breakdown after the mean kids, the finale of tears following chance meetings when I just don’t know who I can be.

Was I ever his daughter?


Oh, sweet sadness. Bitter betrayal of my heart. He was mine, too. He loved me, too. I (briefly) remember breathing.

I remember him in every moment of my hardest times. In every photograph of Poppy’s birth. In the awkward cracks and crevices of raising a teenage boy. In the matter of the mangled heart of a mother who was never given the right to childhood. I remember his voice and his scent and his quiet. And he was more than enough. He was safety. He was that dance in the eye of the hurricane.

And I didn’t just lose my father. My mother went with him. Her sparkle, her light, her short-lived laughter and life – chased him down and drown in the goodness of his sauntering in…

People. My people. This time has been so trying.

I am calling out an S.O.S..

Love one another. Hard. Put it all out there. Do not be afraid to say “You’re the very best thing that ever happened to me.”

Let us love one another and be family. Instead of uncomfortable and unsure and outcast. Let me grab you in my arms and say “I know pain, too. I know how hard these truths can be.”

Family is not what we have fallen beneath. It is what, it is whom, we follow. It is the face we want to pass by because we are not responsible for it – or angry with it – or because we have feelings. But I will tell you now, I will promise to you that those faces are the faces of your family. We are responsible.

One action. It can be the very best and very worst simultaneously. Yes, this is life. Here we are. Dodging the stones, grave jumping and praying and hoping and really, really believing in the good.

Is nine years the number? Will I suffer it a third time?

You were there. You were established in the most trying moments of this existence. You said you were proud. I was loved. You tagged and hauled and unloaded the weight of sadness and need. It’s what you could do. So you did. And you did and you did.

More to come… As soon as this wave subsides.

-xo, loves






3 responses to “Three hundred sixty nine days.”

  1. Andrea Swickard Avatar
    Andrea Swickard

    Your words are so touching Noelle, I know of the loss of a spouse and it hurts so bad, I still get tears in my eyes and heart and it’s been 9 1/2 yrs.but I have the love in my heart and smiles for all the memories he bestowed on me and go on as he would want me too, I pray for your Mom that she will survive the sorrow and remember all the love he left in her heart, & I pray for you and your Lil’ family that his love will sustain you too, but now let the sorrow out so all the love he gave to you can shine, he’s looking down and sending hugs and love forever remember that.


  2. Patty belsick Avatar
    Patty belsick

    Noelle, this made me cry. It is so so beautiful! Your writing is earth shattering! I want to send a donation for your sweet Poppy! Can you please send me your address. 🙂 sending you love as well! Patty


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