Cancer,  Dan,  Grieving,  Hope,  Hospital Stays,  Illinois,  Leah,  Oregon,  Raine

Where Life Takes You


Saying goodbye to our sweet hometown, our routines and habits, and the nearness of our former neighborhoods and homes–so full of memories.
Saying goodbye to a beautiful, supportive, generous community and a family of friends.
Saying goodbye to all of the secret places, gardens and beaches of extraordinary beauty, and worn-in seats of bars and doctor offices.
Saying goodbye to all we have ever known together. Nearly 12 years of marriage surrounded by a cocoon of firs and pines, rain, and seclusion.






There have been places on a map where I have lived. Washington, Illinois. Goshen, Indiana. Chicago, Illinois. Moments of growth or disappointment moved me. I visited a place or two in Europe. Small trips took me across my country. I have photos. I have memories of where I slept, the streets I walked, who I was holding onto. What was joyful, what was learned, what was scary, what was mine. There were also maybe-places, hope of living here or there. Lists of locations and contingencies. I wrote Oregon down in my heart when it was so very broken. I should have never written it down. It symbolized too much, it should have escaped my grasp. Then I met Dan and we broke it open to a new world that I couldn’t have ever imagined. 

But now, it becomes “a place where.” A memory. I hole in my heart. I can’t change my drivers license. Close the bank account. Throw away the library card. 

Let go.

I am grieving.

A few days ago, I drove across a bridge as I headed into Peoria at dusk. I caught a glimpse of a white softness in the sky above a building and I believed that I was home and catching that friendly glimpse of Mt. St. Helens. I don’t know what will feel more difficult–these moments of false recognition or the moment where there is no more confusion.  At some point, my mind will simply follow what it firmly knows. 





My hope sustains me. A belief in myself and my judgement. I had a vision that a life in Illinois could give us something new, something growing and ready, familiar but also open and unknown, and full of generosity. It had to be so generous because the change, over and over again, the change–it is rigid with its shock and wonder.

I must watch my son grow: learn, move, become. He thrives! He is a healthy, beloved young boy. He will continue to begin–over and over. New to smells, questions, behaviors, excitements, and lessons. He is a creature I thought that I could imagine, yet he is beyond–living and breathing into every day much more than I could have ever grasped. I teach, mend, praise, ask, offer, and throw my hands up in the air. Hail Mary. He is my boy, he is young. He still does not know what all of these doctor appointments mean.




I must watch bodies fail. Suffer, break, unhinge. We all age! My friends with their silver streaks of hair, my father nearing 80 and quietly letting go of rigorous chores. Appointments for vision, trembling, aching, hearing. I visit my mother and speak loudly, slowly. Often I clean her folded flesh and massage her hands while she can’t remember what day it is. And my beautiful husband, hurting–over and over. Bearing bacterial infections on his skin, a gate that shifts and slows, forgetfulness, blistering acne over his back and arms, weight loss, and vertigo. He is so content and at ease, he takes his meds and endures treatments, hospital stays, and limitations with a shrug of his shoulders. He is reading, listening to music, staying at home with Raine, drinking coffee, cooking dinner for his family. These things are his treasures. I question, let go, assist, push, work, remind, kiss, listen, hold, pleasure, scold, and throw my hands up in the air. Hail Mary. He is my husband, he is mortal. I am aware of how fragile we are every moment.




Friends, please keep near. I miss writing to you. I will share my thoughts more often. Comments and messages are welcome.





Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  • Christie

    Oregon misses you and your lovely family! (Yes, I speak for all of Oregon, lest that be in question.) I look forward to every blog post, status update, and Instagram photo so keep ’em coming! And let me know if you need jam. I’m happy to send you some from Republic of Jam, any excuse to visit that cute little town you introduced me to when you and Dan moved there. Much love to you and yours. –Christie

  • Amber

    I was just thinking of you and here you are. I so enjoy reading all you write. The sad and the happy. You write so beautifully. I feel sad for you and your sweet family. All you go through. So strong and filled with so much love. I hope that writing and sending it out into the world helps you in some way. Oregon misses you. Thank goodness for internet. And being able to stay in touch. Off to bed I go. Snuggled in to my favorite stripey Leah sheets. Prayers, loves and good vibes out to you.

  • Melissa

    Typing through tears. I miss you guys so god damn much. I know all of these decisions we make, the paths we choose and those that choose us, it’s all part of a bigger plan. We are small in this big, big universe. But it doesn’t lessen the pain, the hardships, the worry. Thank you for blogging, for sharing, for being out there so I can stay connected. Did I mention how much I miss you? And I love you even more.

    • Leah Ruth

      OH DAMN. i miss you too. so much. i keep thinking i will see you next month. but there is no next month!!! until next year, at least. expect a drunk dial very soon.

  • Dalon

    Beautiful sentiments my friend. I too am struggling with my feelings surrounding our recent move back to Alaska. This is home. This is where we need to be. Yet there is a process in the change … we must be allowed to grieve what we left behind. We will embrace our here and now. Thank you for sharing your story. Please continue to write and share because we love to hear your news. :-)

  • Jen

    Hey Leah. Dolly and I have a wee gift for Raine that we will mail now that you are settled. Moving is hard and I know how much you loved it here – but i know there is so much more for you where you are. maybe even a Pilates class or 2!

    Love of love Jen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *