Bonfire for You Tonight

Hi Babe – I lit a bonfire tonight on this late October night, as it seemed to remind me of many nights that we sat behind your house, under the towering trees and starry skies, when we would chat by the fire. Our talks would go late into the night as we kept adding another log to the fire. We’d pause and stare into the hypnotic dancing flames, and hold our breaths at times when the crisp wind would swirl the smoke at us. The smell of smoke in my jacket the next day was a warm reminder of the night we had sitting closely and taking in each fire as if were unique.

The bonfires surrounded by family and friends were very festive gatherings where the outpouring of support and love for all produced their own glow. The people in your life reflected back the love you had for all of them. You had a huge circle of love around you, from the shining light of little Nate, to your dear Mom, Dad and brothers, childhood friends and classmates, neighbors, coworkers, friends you met along the way, to parents and clients that you helped so. You touched and inspired a whole lot of people.

Bonfires were sometimes a quiet time to try and find answers to why so much bad had come your way. Dealing with all that you did only showed us all how strong you were. In the face of life kicking you in the gut seemingly again and again, you chose grace and strength, while teaching those around you to live each day, and live with authenticity. And sharing the Eckhart Tolle quote that spoke of your quest: “Acceptance of the unacceptable is the greatest source of grace in this world.”

I miss your guiding light and wisdom, but if I am quiet I can hear your caring words still now. As I now gaze into the fire I can feel you next to me, in the chair I always set out for you, your sweet voice still here and your infectious smile still bringing peace to my heart.

We miss you dearly. All of us do. You were an important part of so many of us, that even 15 months later we still hurt. But together we share your memory which makes it a little easier.

I know Nate misses you terribly, though we have not seen him since before you peacefully left us. We never got to comfort him after you passed. As your Mom mentioned here last month, Bernd has now supposedly moved with Nate to Germany, near Bernd’s family we are told, which I know will bring you some comfort as you adored all of them and loved the town they live in. Your Mom was meeting with Bernd over these last 15 months trying to work something out, without having to go to court to get grandparent rights. We wish he would think of Nate’s grieving and growth, and let Nate at least regularly see his Grandmother, if not his Uncle and the myriad of people that love Nate. Very sad for us all. But if they are now in Germany, glad as you would be that Nate is amongst his family and cousins there.

Hot Coals Still Burning Strong

Hot Coals Still Burning Strong

Just as the fire keeps aglow with hot coals long, long after it has subsided, you live on in each of our hearts, warming us from within with your true love and spirit. We will never be alone for you will be there when we need a lift or a word of encouragement, when we need it most. We cherish the fond memories and appreciate that you touched our lives so deeply.

As you wanted us all to know with the funeral service that you had Andi orchestrate for us – we will, as the Gospel choir sang, let our little lights shine. Our little light will shine as we take your example and live each day fully. We’ll shine brightly with you in our hearts, just as our bonfires burn, our candles dance, and the cool Fall breeze leaves our clothes with smokey reminders. As the embers and hot coals burn til morning, so too will you warm us still, until we ignite our next little light. Thanks for continuing to inspire and support us.

May your hot coals keep burning.

Love you,

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  1. Ashby
    I don’t know how you do this writing. It moves me to tears every time. Losing Nate in this way is like losing Katie all over again. I should have taken Bernd to court right from the get go but I kept thinking that we could work something out that he would go along with. What was I thinking?


    1. Tam –
      It was knowing Katie that freed up my writing and speaking more about my feelings. Love has many benefits. Please don’t second guess yourself too much. You were doing what you thought was best even though it was so hard for you not to see Nate all that time. You were also grieving the loss of Katie pretty hard for a long time. Lot to deal with.


  2. Ashby, your writing directly to Katie in this way is so beautiful and honest. It brings me right to a seat at the fire with the both of you. What a perfect picture you paint of Autumn nights in the yard. We all pray for Nate to be well and happy. As he grows up I have faith that there are strong memories of Katie and You and Tammy and Chuck and all of Katies’ circle sharing time and love with him in her cozy home. As Chuck used to say to Katie when she worried about his future, “I’m betting on Nate.” thank you for your heartwarming posts, Ashby. I just love reading them. I just got a firepit in New Buffalo but I haven’t used it yet. Your post inspires me to light up the night with sweet memories of Katie and Chuck as soon as I get back there.


    1. Hey Holly, I agree with Chuck’s words. We’ll have to meet you in New Buffalo and sit for a bonfire, remembering Chuck and Katie! Be well!


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