42 Million Heartbeats

You died on a Saturday. I remember thinking it was too beautiful a day for death; too beautiful for your slip from pink, to gray, to gold. But now I know Death comes, regardless of swaths of stars. Regardless of being held by the sun and kissed open by the wind. Death comes. Plucking each petal from its bloom in a garden I didn’t plant.

Death comes.

I’d talked to you the day before yours came. I’d said hard things, things I’d packed and unpacked in the suitcase of my soul, things that seemed boxy and awkward falling from my lips as my 4-month old screamed, strapped to my chest.

I was angry.

So angry.

In those moments, I was the person I had always been told to be: the one who was firm, who didn’t back down, who stated facts with precision. And I thought it’d feel good. That there’d be a cleansing.

But there wasn’t.

And I didn’t.

I thought of calling back that night. I thought of telling you one more time that I loved you, that I just wanted to keep you longer. But I only thought it. I didn’t do it. And after I woke the next morning, I was told you didn’t do the same.


The moments, hours, and days that followed were a blur. And if I’m being truthful, many still are. Because the hole in my heart is your size and shape, Dad. And while you wouldn’t want that; it’s there. And always will be.


365 days and roughly 42 million heartbeats have passed painfully since your last breaths left me breathless…unmoored…


So today…

I will turn my face toward the sky, where your name is written in puffs of white and sunlight,

where your heart beats Forever,


I will try

to be






  One thought on “42 Million Heartbeats

  1. July 9, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Oh ,Danni! I am sorry for your grief but thrilled to once again have the privilege of reading the inspired words of uor magic pen!

    • July 13, 2017 at 7:16 pm

      Thank you for your condolences, Stephen, and for dropping by. I know you’ve reached out and I haven’t reached back. Please forgive me. I haven’t been myself in quite some time. Hoping you and yours are well, safe, and wholly loved, dear friend.

      • July 13, 2017 at 7:41 pm

        Of course I forgive you, Dani, and though much has happened since last we connected, yes, we are all well.
        If I can help lift whatever weighs Moreno your heart, I am here!

        • July 13, 2017 at 7:46 pm

          Thank you, Stephen. I’ll be responding to your email soon and visiting your blog to see what’s been on your heart lately.

          • July 14, 2017 at 2:13 am

            I would like that very much, Dani!

  2. July 9, 2017 at 9:13 am

    Such beautiful pictures! It is brave to be found, to open yourself to love and mercy. And so, so hard. I’m sending you my love as you navigate grief and healing. ❤ ❤ ❤

    • July 13, 2017 at 7:20 pm

      I so miss your tender spirit, Karen, and apologize for being so lax in reading your lovely pieces. I will be by soon. I promise. Thank you for the love sent; it is gratefully received.

  3. July 9, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    Thoughts that lie too deep for tears … may you be comforted.

    • July 13, 2017 at 7:45 pm

      May you, as well, Catherine. I know you lost your mother. Such poignant departures mark one’s soul forever. They truly do.

      Thank you for your heart and for dropping by.

  4. July 9, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss and grateful for your willingness to share your painful journey to peace.

    • July 13, 2017 at 7:59 pm

      Thank you, Judy. It is part and parcel why we write, isn’t it?? To share in the hopes of being understood. And to elicit connectedness through these two words: me too.

  5. Cathy MacKenzie
    July 10, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    It was beautiful Danielle. The letter, the day and You..

    • July 13, 2017 at 8:02 pm

      Thank you, Cath. I think he would’ve been happy with how it turned out. I do.

  6. July 10, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    hi there this was so powerful and beautifully written. Your dad would be so proud of you. xo

    • July 13, 2017 at 8:04 pm

      Thank you for reading, Carol Anne. And I hope you’re right. I truly do.

      Blessings to you…

  7. July 11, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Grief must travel on a bungee cord, the way it can spring on us without warning and knock us off our feet with a punch to the gut.

    Sweet Dani, you wrote me last year about having a hard time, and I misinterpreted it to mean motherhood, until grief for my mother laid me low, again. Please forgive me.

    How do we use earthly tools in an eternal search?

    I am approaching the three year date since my mother shook off her dementia-tortured body and escaped to Peace. I, however was left with empty hands that no longer helped her out of my car or soothed her hair back. With a weight of woulda, shoulda, coulda and if-onlys.

    Slowly, agonizingly slowly, the pain of missing, of living in a world where she is not taking a breath, has been pushed back as I look into the faces of my children and grandchildren. More than once I have realized that I must choose to leave the graveside in my heart and open my love to those who share this space, who relish my presence.

    And make memories with them, so when my time comes they won’t be left with empty hearts.

    My father died many years ago. He was a polar opposite of yours, causing way more pain than giving love. Even so, I grieved when he died.

    Those heart strings are powerful.

    I pray you will find a way through, to weave those strings into a fabric that both surrounds your heart with love and throbs new life into your going forward.

    Wishing you beautiful sunrises, and much love.

    • July 13, 2017 at 8:29 pm

      There is nothing for which to apologize, Jane. You reached out many times; I just didn’t have the strength to reach back. I’m so sorry you’ve been swinging on the pendulum of grief. I know how it strikes with a force beyond comprehension at times and how it tiptoes like a thief at others.

      Each journey toward healing is as intricate and nuanced as a fingerprint, as such, it’s easy to feel as if you’re Alone. In a way you are, I suppose, as no one can grieve your grief for you, but there are others who breathe into us, share our heart space, and make us feel Human again by mending the patches of our emotional flesh with threads of love, kindness, patience, and empathy.

      Thank you for the beautiful sunrises.
      I will look for them.
      I will.

      • July 13, 2017 at 9:07 pm

        Today I took my golden retriever to the beach. Another woman joined us with her golden, and her mother. As we shared conversation I was stung repeatedly with a deep longing to have my mom there with me again. The beach was Mom’s favorite place, but her dementia had made it too hard for me to take her the last couple of years. When I heard the older lady confuse words, and her daughter correct her, my heart ached again. I so wished I could take the daughter aside and encourage her not to let irritation rob her or keep her from enjoying those sunny days together.

        And today became another of those off-balance days, with one foot in my daily tasks, and one dragging with longing for what can never be again.

        Tomorrow I will see my daughter and three of my precios grandchildren, and know I’ll be smiling again.

        • July 14, 2017 at 11:50 pm

          Hoping today found you smiling, dear Jane.


  8. July 12, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Thanks for sharing your writing again, Danielle… so touching and meaningful… 

    • July 13, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      Thank you for reading, Dawn. Missing you and hoping to catch up soon.

  9. Jose ornelas
    July 13, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    I always love to read what your write. I particularly like the poignancy, the beauty and the love that you show in this piece dedicated to your father. I particularly enjoyed the image of the whole in your heart. It is both touching and sad. It expresses well your pain!!!

    • July 13, 2017 at 8:34 pm

      I’m touched you visited, Jose. I have such fond memories of your teaching and Spirit while at UMASS. Thank you for who you are and who you helped to inspire me to become.

  10. July 14, 2017 at 4:15 am

    I am deeply sorry for your loss. If it is of any worth I hope you know his death wasn’t your fault or a result of what you said or how you said it the day prior. Though I can only imagine and cringe at how it’s left you feeling. Hugs. So many hugs.

    • July 15, 2017 at 12:01 am

      Thank you so much for your comment. It’s funny how we know in one part of ourselves that something’s untrue, but in another we just can’t shake the feeling it is. In the deepest recesses of my heart, I know nothing I said or did caused my father’s death. I just wish my last conversation with him had been kinder, less judgmental, and laced with more “I love you’s”.

  11. July 17, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Great post, Thanks for sharing..

    • July 17, 2017 at 5:35 am

      Thank you for reading.

  12. July 19, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    Wow, so incredibly beautiful, heartbreaking and touching all at the same time. So sorry for the pain you are feeling. Your words speak to my soul. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

    • June 10, 2018 at 8:18 am

      Thank you so much, Daphne. It’s been Much too long since I’ve sat at the table of this Space and just inhaled and exhaled. I hope to return soon and to visit your Space, as well ❤

  13. August 25, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Oh my Dani, I was unprepared…as I guess you were too. I’m sorry for your loss. You articulate it with astonishing clarity and grace. Oh my. I’m just sort of speechless.

    • June 10, 2018 at 8:26 am

      Oh, Linda, I’m so touched you stopped by. My apologies for being absent, both here and there. I hope to remedy that soon.

      • June 10, 2018 at 9:12 am

        Dani, your absence is completely understandable. I sense, perhaps I hope for, a gathering of forces, regrouping, refocusing, nourishing a bruised soul. I will look forward to hearing more when you are ready.

        • June 10, 2018 at 9:13 am

          Thank you ❤

  14. June 10, 2018 at 1:12 am

    Beautiful. Powerful. Your words resonate. I, too, have lost my father. At the end of April. Have not fully processed his death.

    • June 10, 2018 at 8:34 am

      I’m so sorry to hear about your father, Kitt, and know it takes time to unpack the many emotions associated with such a profound loss. Try and be gentle with yourself, as you step forward and back in the grieving process. May you find comfort ❤

  15. December 13, 2020 at 11:54 am

    I hope time and distance are healing your loss Dani. You write so poignantly from the heart. Thank you. Hugs..

    • December 13, 2020 at 3:21 pm

      I still miss him terribly, of course, but am no longer haunted by his absence. I suppose time dulls the edges of grief and allows for joy in what was given instead of sadness in what was taken. Thank you for the hugs.

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