Clare Saumell VanderWeele

essays on living

Category: Letters

A Letter to a Grieving Soul

Your heart pounds against the silence. There is only the blood that pumps fiercely through your body, chasing down meaning at a cellular level. There is only the crushing pain, the weight of emptiness, the hope that flew off when we weren’t looking.

I wish there was something I could say to you that would make things easier. That would illuminate the reason behind it all. That would bring you healing and peace.

But there never is.

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To the mamas

“Motherhood is a carnival mirror in that you see, at times, the absolute worst version of yourself, and at other times, the absolute best,” writes blogger Erin Loechner.

And she’s exactly right. Because being a mom is HARD. And sometimes we don’t want to do it, don’t enjoy it, don’t feel we are cut out for it… and feel immensely guilty for feeling all those things. We yell a little too much, check the time a little too often, breathe soul-heavy sighs of relief when they finally go to sleep. And that’s when we look in the mirror and see the ugly. The pinched, stretched, bloated, twisted parts of ourselves.

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The Women I Know

The women I know are spread out across lands and oceans, mountain ranges and prairies. I haven’t yet figured out how to make up for the hugs that cannot be sent three thousand miles. But there are words and photos, tears and laughter.

The women I know are stronger than they realize. They embody love to an extent that will carry them through the valleys. Their laughter fills gaps they don’t know exist, and their soft edges are the home they long for.

The women I know have faith so strong it knocks me over. They pick me up over and over again. They sacrifice and serve and shine. Until they hit walls. And then we pick them up in return. We share coffee and words, we pray and we laugh and we curse.

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The Unexpected Goodbye: A Letter to Chris

My new neighbor cut their tree down last week. It wasn’t dead or diseased, but I’m sure there was some legitimate reason behind their decision to chop it down.

It was surrounded by other trees and houses, so it had to be cut limb from limb, one slice of trunk at a time. By the time they got to the base, I could see just how old it really was, its life on display in concentric circles, each telling a story.

My whole yard was littered in saw dust and broken branches and torn leaves, and the men sucked it all up clean and tidy, leaving nothing but space. But the roots are still there, all over everything. They snake over the ground and plunge into the earth. Big, old knotty things, preventing anything from growing in its place.

And isn’t that the way it is? Death strikes us down, but our roots stay stubborn and strong, our lives splayed out over everything.

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To My Son on His 3rd Birthday

You love trains, puzzles, and peanut butter. Your laugh starts deep in your belly and is the most infectious giggle I’ve ever heard. You don’t go a day without singing, even if it’s Jingle Bells in April.

You have my fair hair and your daddy’s round hands. And you still ask for kisses when you fall over.

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I dread the day you realize I can’t protect you from the parts of life that are scary and dark. The day when kisses won’t be enough to heal. Continue reading