A Different Kind Of Christmas Tree

—My feet will want to
walk to where you are sleeping,  but I
shall go on living—Pablo Neruda


One blink of an eye. One flutter. Eyelashes touching a
bottom lid.


Open.  Close. Open.


And before you can shut your eyes a second time…


Blackness sets in. Shadows arrive. The love of your life
has been shot three times in the head.


Life transforms.  A
family torn apart.  A world becomes
reduced to something you’ve never known or imagined.


Never in your most horrifying


After your murder, I faced darkness directly in the face.
I never turned away. I absorbed

Every. Single. Detail.


Your  powerless
body on a breathing machine. The doctor of death giving us the news.


Brain Dead.  Are
you serious?


What does that mean? What the hell does that mean?


The preparation. The fucking preparation. It never ended.
The insignificant, idiotic, monotonous preparation.


The ironing of salmon colored shirts for the pall
bearers. Sitting with the gray haired man discussing the ceremony. How many
seats will we need? Do you want cake or cookies? Coffee or punch?


I don’t give a shit.


Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.


Observing your shell within a shiny brown casket.


A  perfect
porcelain doll.


Emptiness. Hollowness. A soul removed.  A flower left out.


You were beautiful.  You were always the beautiful one.


I ordered the autopsy report. I want to know, needed to
know everything the son-of-a-bitch did to you.


You had a bruise on her right arm. You still had the
remnants of bullets stuck inside your head.


You had three caesareans.
A scar on your left ear. Brown eyes. Brown highlighted hair.  A strong back. Flawless lungs.


Then you left me.
Left me.




I’ve heard people actually die of  broken hearts.


If so, why am I still living, breathing, walking,
working, eating, celebrating Christmas, loving?


It’s been 948 days since your murder.


Sometimes I find it unbelievable, unbearable,
incomprehensible that my heart still beats.


But it does.  It


And sometimes I feel bursts of joy—eruptions of


Sometimes I actually believe I’ll be able to live without

Kay’s Christmas Tree at Oneota Cemetery


You can link up anything you would like to
share about your lost love one: a link to a Facebook photo/post, a blog post
about a particular memory, a Pinterest pin sharing how you cope, whatever you
would like others to read or see. The link ups will be displayed as follows:

We have also created a Pinterest board
called Hugs for the Holidays and will be pinning many of your posts there as well. Please place your comments, stories, or anything else you desire below in comments, too.

Love  Love  Love

—–I also ask that you pray ceaselessly for the 27 shooting victims of Sandy Hook.  Our country can never go back to where it was
after that kind of evil.

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50 Responses to A Different Kind Of Christmas Tree

  1. Such a beautiful thing to do, Kim; to create place and space for grief in a compassionately positive manner.

    Kay’s tree is beautiful. You are beautiful – from the inside out. You radiate beauty.

    Love, Ellen xoxo

  2. karen sosnoski says:

    Oh my God, the last line is so daring, must have been so hard to write and harder to live. Hope in the face of so much violence takes so much courage–something we all need right now. Thank you Kim. You have an amazing spirit and your writing is going places, taking us along with you. XO

  3. elizabeth says:

    Your words about Kay always take my breath away. She is so lucky to have you as a sister. I always thought one day I would meet you and Kay and your words let me know more about the 2 of you. Such love, so pure, so real. i would say you are so lucky but then my mind goes to May 26th and I know there is no prefect.
    love her tree. love you. elizabeth
    elizabeth recently posted..Hello God. Is it you or is it us? I am not blaming you…butMy Profile

  4. mamawolfe says:

    Simply beautiful. Your love endures. Her spirit lives.
    mamawolfe recently posted..Sharing My TearsMy Profile

  5. Alison says:

    You’re truly amazing for telling your story, baring your soul, sharing your beautiful Kay with us. Love you. xo
    Alison recently posted..The OrdinaryMy Profile

  6. I looked at the picture for two minutes before I realized it is what you have created for Kay. Like everything else you do in her memory it’s beautiful.
    I’m sure your Christmas and holidays are tinged with such sadness …as Kay is missed and remembered in a special way. I have no words to offer – as they would all be so empty…..
    Holding you in love and prayer, dearest Kim.
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted..A Writer On Vacation?My Profile

  7. You’re living without her physical presence but it’s very clear she is so much a part of you that she’s with you always. You are surviving, you are living, and you will find more and more joy in life and I know Kay would want nothing less than that for you.
    Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell recently posted..Shari’s Berries, Cookies, Candy, Nuts & Yum!My Profile

  8. Trish says:

    Thinking of you, Kim.

  9. My father was killed in a train accident on Dec 12th when I was eight years old. I always remember the emptiness. I always remember my brother handing out the presents instead of my Dad . That emptiness will be felt in twenty-seven and a million more homes because of sensless violence or acts of fatal stupidity this year. I never forget it
    countingducks recently posted..It’s RainingMy Profile

  10. Liz says:


    I am so glad for your posts, especially this time of year. Grieving is a process that we work with all our life and I am grateful for your words. They help me too. In reading this post, I am thinking about the kids and adults shot senselessly in Connecticut. THAT NEVER HAD TO HAPPEN. WTF!!!! (Pardon my expression, or not : ) Why? Why? I ask myself. Why are people starting a war on other people, on the children and people who don’t deserve to die like that? This is a sacred, holy time and why? Okay, that kid who did the shooting took, and excuse again the language, the chickenshit way out if he was having problems – he took the coward’s way. Dude, (I know he’s dead but) seriously GET SOME HELP, there’s no crime in that, there’s no shame. People who want to or hurt other people need to know this. We need to keep ourselves aware to what is going on & take the good path all we can.

    Thank you Kim for this post on this day.

  11. He TRIED to wipe her out, to keep her for himself and not share her with anyone, ever again… but he failed.

    FAILED, with a colossal F.

    Kay’s beauty, her spirit, her message – is louder and stronger and more powerful than ever.

    And he can never take away her love for you, or anyone else. Kay will always be with you, and ironically, in the hearts of more people than ever knew her in life.
    Beverly Diehl recently posted..The Real Nightmare Before ChristmasMy Profile

  12. Pamela says:

    What an amazing beautiful tree and tribute. Your love for her is a beautiful thing.
    Pamela recently posted..Christmas, oh Christmas, it’s Christmas once again.My Profile

  13. Lady Jennie says:

    It’s my first time here – visiting from Anna and Jessica. My brother committed suicide nearly 20 years ago. The hurt is less after all this time and other griefs have taken its place in freshness, but it hurts all the same. I love what you guys are doing.
    Lady Jennie recently posted..BereftMy Profile

  14. Oh Kim. Hurting for you, hurting with you. In awe of your courage and compassion. You are one truly special woman – and the way you care about others, and reach out to them despite your own vile, gut-wrenching pain, proves it.
    I hope that flashes of beauty continue to come into your life. I don’t believe we ever ‘get over a loss’, we just need to find ways of living with it. And still, somedays, it will dig its bony fingers into our eyes and hearts.

  15. Sandy Webb says:

    I love how you decorate the tree at the cemetery in her honor. What a beautiful thing to do.
    Sandy Webb recently posted..Yard WorkMy Profile

  16. Now there’s a Christmas Tree! Beyond any doubt, the Kay you’ve introduced to me would laugh with joyful delight and abandon over your Random Act of Great Love!

    Thank you for the list of those grieving over Christmas…I’ve connected my friend to the mom’s link. I know she will feel some comfort.

    Many blessings this Christmas for all your loved ones and you. And, yes, Kay is in that blessing too!
    Amy@SoulDipper recently posted..Be The Love – Move from Head to Heart – and MeditateMy Profile

  17. Red Dwyer says:

    The shoes are fabulous and so perfect. Your love for Kay oozes from all you do like an effervescent, pink brook.

    For my tiniest angel: http://mommasmoneymatters.com/poetry-leaving/

    For my husband: http://mommasmoneymatters.com/wbh-talk-music/ You do this.

    Just one until the book comes out in two weeks. I step-by-step my way through that.

    Much love and many blessing, Kimmy. I love you.
    Red Dwyer recently posted..Saturday Evening PostMy Profile

  18. Every time you write about your dear sis, you reveal more and more of the tragedy that you have been living through. And with each new reveal, the depths and beauty of your love for her are shared with us. It is a gift you keep on giving. Xx
    Debi Pasricha recently posted..Font MattersMy Profile

  19. Kathy says:

    Oh, Kim, your words always leave me wordless–you say so much, so beautifully, it seems there’s no way to say more. Or maybe I’m afraid the response will sound trite. Whatever the case, the tree for your sister is so stunning–bare branches against blue sky—so like Kay’s story!
    Kathy recently posted..10 Steps to Holiday Ecology: DIY Gift-Wrapping with “Trash”My Profile

  20. Jessica says:

    Oh this post conveys your pain so strongly I hardly know what to say. I am so sorry your sister is not here with you and will never understand why anyone is taken from us long before they have lived their life. I love her tree and can’t thank you enough for doing this with us. xo
    Jessica recently posted..Remembering togetherMy Profile

  21. God, this is beautiful and raw and honest.

    I remember wanting to know everything about how my mom died and ordered the doctor’s records and all of it. I needed to know the mechanics of how and why AND FUCKING WHY.

    And the preparations: pine or mahogany?

    Flowers? Where should they go?

    And the after-funeral at our house: The people drinking (including me) and numbing and not remembering how I thought we should.

    All love to you. Our loves lost are lost and there’s not getting around it, so let’s SHOUT ABOUT IT.

    San Diego Momma (Deb) recently posted..The SignMy Profile

  22. Carrie says:

    I have no words to express the emotions your writing brings up on me. Your strength and honesty has helped me more than you know in the last year and I have referred many people here because your story must be heard around the world.

    Those families have not left my mind since I heard what happened; I m still in disbelief any onehat heartless and cruel.

    God bless you and your family thus Christmas!
    Hugs from Vancouver, BC Canada

  23. Blond Duck says:

    Maybe you’re not living in spite of her, maybe you’re living for her. For her joy, her memory.
    Blond Duck recently posted..A tale of Three CookiesMy Profile

  24. jen says:

    Her tree is awesome and original and amazing just like the love that you have for each other! Sending love, prayers and blessings to you and your family. Merry Christmas sweet lady.
    jen recently posted..throwing a log on the tv while the music playsMy Profile

  25. ladyfi says:

    This brought tears to my eyes.
    ladyfi recently posted..Festive greetingsMy Profile

  26. Lafemmeroar says:

    I truly love the way you honor your sister’s life and memory. You’re a wonderful woman and you keep on keeping on despite it all. You’re strong and sincere. I’m glad I connected with you. Be well …
    Lafemmeroar recently posted..What Every Woman Should Be …My Profile

  27. Kim, never stop telling your story, and Kay’s story. Never stop shouting it. In the current and upcoming debates about gun control, it will be voices like yours–from heartbroken survivors of gun violence (“Blackness sets in”) that are going to make the BIG difference. Your words matter–SO MUCH!!!!! I love Kay’s tree!
    Jann Huizenga recently posted..Scenes from a December SicilyMy Profile

  28. Brenda says:

    I wish you peace this year, Kim. May the angels watch over you.
    Brenda recently posted..Sweet DreamsMy Profile

  29. Barbara says:

    This is truly beautiful Kim. I can only imagine the pain that comes during this season. Your tree is just stunningly beautiful and I know she smiles down on it and you.

    Ending domestic violence is my primary charitable cause. This year I donated to Women Against Domestic Violence in the name of my friend Molly Rothgary. I will never forget getting the news. We were in Baltimore for my son and daughter-in-law’s baby shower. Our mutual friend Michele had come down from Philly as well. It was a beautiful celebration of life. Then on the drive home I got a call from Michele. She said, “You aren’t driving are you?” I said, “no why?” Then the words came as if in slow motion and I was stunned and silent.

    “Mike killed Molly then shot himself.”

    He had taken their two beautiful daughters to his sister’s house. They were 4 and 7. Clearly his sick mind had thought this all out.
    She had given up her career here in Philly to move to Cleveland for his. It took a while for her friends in Philly to put our own memorial together for her. I wrote about it here: http://www.zeroto60andbeyond.com/?p=565

    My thoughts are with you and all those who’s lives have been forever changed because of domestic violence.
    Barbara recently posted..Rodentia must DIE!My Profile

  30. anna see says:

    I am so very, very sorry Kim.
    anna see recently posted..Hugs for the HolidaysMy Profile

  31. Dad says:

    I pray for all the vicitoms of the useless killings at New Town CT. (Sandy Hook) School. How Horrific.
    I know how we miss Kay, especially this time of the year———- She loved Christmas so much.
    I Love You So Much Kim

  32. Laci says:

    Beautiful. Just like you and just like Kay. Beautiful. Sending you many hugs!
    Laci recently posted..12.14.12My Profile

  33. adrianairis says:

    I love Neruda and I love you…
    May your holiday be peaceful.
    Know you are beautiful and

    From your friend in the South…
    adrianairis recently posted..Happy Things…My Profile

  34. As always Kim, you break my heart. Kay’s story touches us all, reminds us all there is more to do. Each time I see her tree I glance at my window to check my own exactly the same wind chime and think, “I wonder does she hear both and laugh?”

    We go on Kim, we survivors we go on. We have to because we have to tell the stories. If not us, then who? If we don’t get off our knees and speak our pain, our grief, our fury; then who will? If we don’t rage at the sky, then who will? If we don’t beg for relief from the pain of silence, then who will?

    As always Kim, I am here. Here is my shoulder, weep on it if you need it is strong and it is yours. I will weep with you.




  35. julie says:

    Beautifully written. My brother was also murdered. I don’t see a place to link for this but here is what I wrote for him yesterday: http://www.ilikebeerandbabies.com/2012/12/how-to-help.html
    julie recently posted..Tis the Season for RegiftingMy Profile

  36. What can I say? Except to send more love your way.

    And hope.

    And joy.
    Girl with a New Life recently posted..Recycle Glass Jars for a Festive Dinner TableMy Profile

  37. Monica says:

    So hauntingly sad, Kim. Though you offer hope at the end when you say, “Sometimes I actually believe I’ll be able to live without you.” Find the beauty around you, in those who are with you. I do believe that Kay is with you too. Bless you, my friend, and hope you have a warm holiday season.

  38. Your writing is going to another level, Kim.

    “I faced darkness directly in the face” … your courage and authenticity are extraordinary. Thank you for making it possible in the world. All my love and gratitude at Christmas, Narelle xxx
    Solid gold creativity recently posted..The nanosecond of decisionMy Profile

  39. Mrs4444 says:

    Thank you for sharing this raw, aching piece of your heart. I’m so sorry your sister, your friend, your life was taken so wrongly.

  40. I absolutely adore Kay’s Christmas Tree. I really wish I was able to send you the exquisite shoe ornaments I found last month – they would look perfect in Kay’s Tree.
    I can never listen to or sing Amazing Grace without crying – such an incredibly powerful Hymn.
    Love, love, love from a sunny South Africa to you and your family darling Kim.
    :-) Mandy xoxoxo
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  41. Kim, I got goosebumps reading your words. You write with such honest intensity. Thank you and we love you xxx
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  42. Pingback: Hugs for the Holidays: Dealing with Loss of a Spouse | GFunkified

  43. Terri Sonoda says:

    Kay’s tree is beautiful! What a wonderful thing you did. You never cease to amaze me and you always warm my heart. Merry Christmas my lovely friend! XOXOs
    Terri Sonoda recently posted..Apocalypse notwithstandingMy Profile

  44. Joe Cardillo says:

    Have read this a couple times already…not much to add to others except I hear ya and saying some prayers for there to be more love in the world today than yesterday.

  45. Blond Duck says:

    Merry Christmas!
    Blond Duck recently posted..Christmas ShoesMy Profile

  46. pete says:

    Happy holidays! My dear friend, I have been out of control working, but will be back full time in the new year. Peace!

  47. You are Kay’s beautiful sister. Grace and peace.
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  48. Vidya Sury says:

    Such a beautiful tribute, Kim. Holding you in my heart with love, hugs, Vidya
    Vidya Sury recently posted..Children, Chores and ConfidenceMy Profile

  49. Read this and wept.
    A beautiful way to remember a beautiful life.

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