What I Love

Quilt of photographs by Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, to remember her daughter who died, Marika Warden.It was the day after my daughter’s fourth deathday. Marika has a birthday and a deathday. They are each opportunities to celebrate the life that happened in between. The day was filled with friends who called, emailed, facebooked, and feasted on sushi. It was an uplifting time. But the day after, the sky caved in.

“This isn’t working for me. The Internet search didn’t help. I need to be spoon-fed some information here. I’m struggling,” I said in my photography class where I’m putting together a series of basic Photoshop lessons to share with hospital patients, people healing from loss, and parents of teens living with cancer. I was cranky and couldn’t think. Everything was a headache.

“Can we talk in terms of solutions rather than problems?” asked Kathy, the photography instructor. It felt like I’d been hit hard on my head. Right away I recognized my negativity, a trait I dislike and try to stifle.

“Keep coming back to what you love,” she said a short while after. And I almost cried.

So I ‘shopped a picture of my sisters eating decadent desserts. I wrote up a handout sheet to teach a cool Photoshop technique. And then I did what I’ve only allowed myself to do on events like deathdays: I went back to the snapshots of my daughter.

Marika’s hazel eyes always fascinated me. They pouted, “Why can’t we have sushi for dinner two nights in a row?” They sneered, “Way to go mom. You just exposed yourself all over the Internet.” She smiled mischievously when I asked where my chocolates went. She blasted, “Go fall off a mountain” and “Go drown yourself,” and rolled her eyes at almost everything I said. But something in me soared each time she came home.

Kathy’s words followed me home from class and stuck with me the next days as I assured myself I could “come back” to my daughter any time I want. So now I invite all my friends who get stuck listening to a world that tells them to “move on” and “get over” what dies, to “keep coming back to what you love.” It’s like snuggling in a warm quilt for a while. It can bring back sweet energy to propel you forward.


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12 thoughts on “What I Love

  1. Joann Giovannone (Jo)

    Hi, Robin, I’m reading/savoring your older posts usually every couple of days…like opening a gift extremely slow, because you don’t want it all to be over so soon. This post really struck an emotional chord with me. I loved it! Thank you for being so open and sharing your grief journey with us. Jo

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank YOU, Jo. Thanks for loving one of my favorite posts and for sending me back to it again. And for giving me hope – I haven’t contacted Mike Huber yet as I’m updating parts of my website and want it to be as good as it can be in case he “visits” it. Stay well and please keep in touch. Hugs!

  2. Elaine Mansfield

    Yes, go back to what you love. I also find that a good cry clears the air when I’m spinning wheels. And I’m with Tori: you are one brave woman and, for me, it’s been an amputation. But we are starfish and grow new arms while we tend and love the old ones. Blessings.

  3. Annette Corth

    Kudos again and again, Robin! Your magic touch wih words is rivaled only by your marvelous images. So imaginative and so poignant.

    So proud to be your friend and admirer.


    1. robinbotie.com

      Thanks for responding, Annette. I know this was a major step for you, clicking strange buttons that could lead your computer into unfathomable territory. I’m so proud of you and flattered that you tried this. Cheers!

  4. Lynne Taetzsch

    Thanks, Robin, for giving us permission to go back to the ones we love long after we’re supposed to be done with grieving. You brought tears to my eyes.


    1. robinbotie.com

      Thank you, Lynne. It’s so helpful to know that this is normal, natural, and all that. For me, it makes it easier to do what I need to in my life. Cheers!

  5. Tori de Clare

    I’m in awe of your honesty, Robin. It takes guts to face your current situation, which is waiting for you each day. But it takes incredible courage to share thoughts/feelings with whoever might come across your words. I applaud you, and I agree with the sentiment. Why should we ‘move on’ from or ‘get over’ our loss? Losing a loved one isn’t like an illness we ‘get over’, but is more like an amputation we have to learn to live with. It is a wonderful privilege to continue to feel close to loved ones after they’ve passed. The feelings of love only seem to intensify. Let’s embrace them, seeing as we can’t extinguish them. Nor would we ever wish to. And let’s remember that it’s two-way. Our love is reciprocated, I believe, even from beyond the grave. xx

    1. robinbotie.com

      Thanks, Tory. I’m still considering the amputation analogy. Yeah. That’s really perfect. And I like to think that my daughter is watching me, loving me. There have been so many strange things happening that point to that. Cheers to you.


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