The Umbrella


6 months ago today I looked upon your beautiful face for the very last time. How have I lived half a year already without you? There’ve been so many “firsts” in the past 6 months – the world kept turning, even when mine came to a sudden halt. I wanted to fall asleep and never wake up, but with each sunrise came a new day. I wanted to believe it was all a bad dream, but with each new day came the harsh realization that you were really gone. I remember, shortly after you left, someone said that losing a child grows harder with time… and I remember thinking it couldn’t possibly be so, because if it got any harder, surely I would never survive. 6 months later and I think it may be true. While the initial shock has subsided, the deep void you’ve left behind is only widening. I miss you fiercely sweet girl… I miss your laugh, your touch, your smell… I miss every ounce of who you were, and I’d give anything to have you here with me again.

Much has changed in my life since Emerson passed. For starters, I’ve stepped away from social media, at least for the time being – for mental health purposes, I needed a break. I’ve also gone back to school full-time to pursue a BS in nursing. I’m taking required science pre-reqs now and will apply to a one-year, accelerated program in the fall. It’s a natural fit, as I provided nursing care to Emerson for nearly 13 years. I only need my license, now, to provide that same care to others. In all, it feels like a constructive way to channel my grief and to honor Emerson. I’ve always believed that good things will come from her life, but only because I/we consciously choose them to. As such, I’m choosing to take what she taught me and use it to help others. It feels right, and the process of getting there has been a healthy distraction and good therapy for me. On a sad note, Jim and I have ended our marriage. It started before Emerson’s death but finalized afterwards and had nothing to do with her passing. We remain committed to the boys and I wish him nothing but continued success and wellbeing in the future. And to top it all off, I’m in the middle of a move that is weighing heavily on me, both physically and emotionally. It’s proving very difficult to leave the home I shared with Emerson and to wake up in a place where she never existed. My head knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she is with me, but my heart aches for memories of her in this space.

It’s hard to not feel like I’ve been caught in a tornado for the past 6 months… make that a 13- year storm leading up to a 6-month hurricane with sustained winds. That said, the strangest thing happened shortly after Emerson passed – I received a message that a UPS package was delivering, 2nd day air, to an address we lived at 3 years ago. Unaware of what it could be, I promptly logged into my UPS account and redirected the package to our new address. Several days later it arrived and I opened it – an umbrella. Nothing fancy, just a black umbrella. No special packaging, no note, no gift receipt… only the box to indicate it had been shipped from the manufacturer. It was clearly addressed to me, but I had definitely not ordered it. The mystery of the umbrella sat with me for months. Baffled by who had sent it, I was thankful to have it. Then a song came on the radio and I listened… then I listened again… it’s a popular song, but I’d never really listened to the words until that day:


“When it rains it pours, but you didn’t even notice

It ain’t rainin’ anymore, it’s hard to breathe when all you know is

The struggle of staying above, the rising water line


Well the sky is finally open, the rain & wind stopped blowin’

But you’re stuck out in the same old storm again


You hold tight to your umbrella, well darlin’ I’m just tryin’ to tell ya

That there’s always been a rainbow hangin’ over your head


Oh tie up your bow, take off your coat, and take a look around

Everything is alright now


Let go of your umbrella, ‘cause darlin’ I’m just tryin’ to tell ya

That there’s always been a rainbow hangin’ over your head”


I still have no idea who sent me that umbrella, perhaps it was a gift from the universe. To whomever did: thank you, but I’m going to try to let go now… I will never, ever get over Emerson’s death and I will have “not okay” days for the rest of my life, I know that. I also know, though, that the sun is shining upon her every day now. She has weathered her storm and found her peace. We are done fighting. She is okay, now I need to be too.

The day before Mother’s Day, in a random pile of papers in the garage, I came across a heart Emerson painted that read: “Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you for taking care of me. I love and miss you. Love, Eme” I have no idea when she made that, (or how it got into a random pile of papers in the garage), or why she would have said she missed me – we were always together! Maybe it was meant for me to find that day, the day before my first Mother’s Day without her. I will choose to believe it was and will cherish it always as a special gift from Heaven on that day.

Six months without you sweet girl – it feels like a lifetime and a blink of an eye, all at the same time. I’m not sure how I survived, but by the grace of God I am still breathing – I fall asleep every night to pictures of your beautiful face and wake every morning to the same. The storm has passed and everything is going to be alright; you are safe and I will survive, on my own – some way, some how. You were a shining example of all that is good in this world. Your beautiful spirit taught me strength in the face of adversity. You taught me to never stop fighting for a better tomorrow, and to never stop searching for rainbows and unicorns; we will find them if only we believe. Because of you, brave girl, I believe.

15 thoughts on “The Umbrella

  1. Oh, Erika, what a storm you have, and still are, enduring! Continued prayers for you and your family and all that you face. May God’s rainbow continue to be visible for you every day just when you need it most.

  2. Dear Erika I have kept you in my prayers since Emerson ‘s passing and I to can’t belive it is 6months since your beautiful girl gained her wings.
    I am delighted to hear that you intend pursuing a nursing career as you say it will be lovely to share the skills you gained in caring for Emerson.
    I wish you nothing but the very best and I thank you for sharing your journey. Take care and good luck.

  3. Dear Erika,

    I didn’t know I was going to cry today but I am wiping back the tears as I write. Not only do I believe you should pursue nursing – how fortunate your patients will be – but I also am sure you should pursue writing when the time comes around for you. Emerson’s picture is on my desk and in my thoughts daily. I send you my love. May your journey ahead be filled with rainbows.

    With best wishes,

  4. Your words crushed me as all I could think about was your pain…My pain it never goes away, Our loss no one should ever have to go through or live with. Emerson & Antonio are our Strength
    Until they are back in our Arms again,

    I wish you nothing but the best for your new endeavor.

  5. Emerson and her journey has always been my go-to story of strength. She still is. I miss you a lot. I pray for you often. I love you. ❤️

  6. Dear Erika, I was so pleased to read you new post. I continue to burn my candle everyday for you as I did for many years for sweet Emerson. I wish you all the best in your new endeavors and continue to keep you in my prayers🙏🏻 Fondly, Patti

  7. Tears in my eyes as I read this beautiful message. I wish you the best of luck with your nursing career. I am sure you will be wonderful as you cared for her for so long. I will never forget Emersons beautiful strength and spirit. I feel blessed to have gotten to know her and care for her over the years. She brought joy to so many lives and she was a gift to so many. Thinking of you often and remembering all the joyful moments that Eme brought with her. I loved caring for Emerson in the PICU at the med center in NE. She was my absolute favorite. I’m so touched that Emerson remembered you on Mother’s Day this year. What a special gift. Wishing you peace and joy as you brave each day. Casey Frost

  8. Best of luck in all you do. The loss of Eme weighs on our hearts still, too. We are lifting you in prayer and hope. Much love and peace to you and your family.

  9. Dear Erika, wishing you the best on your new beginning and the many more go come wish you the best and it was a pleasure reading your update. Beautiful the things you have shared.

  10. Dear Erika,
    I think about you often and wish you the best! I want you to know I’m here if you ever want to talk. And please let me know if I can do anything to help you.
    Sincerely, 💕

  11. Dear Erika,
    You have a way with words that brings tears to my eyes!! You and Emerson will always hold a special place in my heart, and I am so terribly sorry for the pain you are enduring!! You will be an amazing nurse and I have no doubt you will have such an impact on all the patients who get the privilege of receiving your care! I wish I could have made her memorial service in Denver (I am still living in Fort Collins), but know that you have been in my thoughts and prayers!
    Megan Clay

  12. Erika, I remember vividly Eme’s baby shower and the joy and hope you had. When you posted, I read. My heart broke for you and at the same time, I so admired your strength and perseverance. I lost contact due to my own struggles. I will never be able to imagine your pain. Truths will be revealed to you through thoughts, signs, comments, yes, and papers out of nowhere. You are aware, perceptive, and alive. Eme wants you to find pure joy in your life. Move on and you will find it. Not from the memories but from the pain. I agree, you need to write. You can help many.
    You will find the peace and understanding you need. You will find that hope in your heart after the shock subsides.. God, your spirit guides, and angels are on this journey with you. Ask them to clear your path and hold you up. It will happen.
    Please get in touch if you would like. I would love to see you.

  13. Dear Erika – It’s not possible to imagine your life without Emerson – but only to hope that memories fill a bit of the hole in your heart, and that Em’s determination, brilliant smile, resiliency, and love for life lead you to find new purposes in your own life as you honor her, but also as you fulfill your dreams and ambitions, and make this world even brighter for so many. May a bright light always shine on you with the knowledge that Emerson is smiling on you, and encouraging you to face each challenge and find your own smiles in each day. Hugs Shayne

  14. Dear Erika,
    What a beautiful photograph to go with the beautiful words that had to have been so difficult to write. Thank you so much for sharing. You are such a special, brave woman and mother. It is wonderful to read you are pursuing a nursing career, and it is fortunate for whomever to have you be their nurse! My prayers for strength continue…..with hope that any umbrella helps to hold your tears….. Annette

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