(I Promise My Next Post Will Be Full Of Funny Stories, Heartwarming Tales Of Small Town Life and Possibly A Few Fart Jokes.)

I seem to be in the middle of a season of loss around here.


Maybe it’s my age. Is mid-life (Why yes, I do plan on living to be 114 so technically this IS my mid- life, thanks for asking) traditionally the time when a lot of really terrible things start happening to people all around you? I know that life can randomly serve up crippling blows at any age, but dang, lately it feels like some celestial referee somewhere should be blowing their whistle and calling a penalty for PILING ON. Seriously, enough already.

People I really care about are struggling really hard. I am helpless on the sidelines. (Again with the football analogies?) This results in the following whirling dervish of emotions:

**Still filled with sadness and compassion for the Yake family who lost their Emily in a car accident last month.

**Distressed by the news of a dear friend’s cancer diagnosis. (NOT a death sentence, but definitely a life-altering event)

** Reeling from the sudden passing on Monday of music business friend Norman Holland.

**And finally,  I am trying to wrap my head around this horrible news from my longtime friend Crescent Dragonwagon:


Russ and I met Crescent and her equally fascinating husband Ned sometime in the 80’s when we stayed at their bed and breakfast in Eureka Springs. We maintained that connection for years, enjoying a comfortable ‘couples friendship,’ and were devastated when Ned was killed in a bike accident in November of 2000.  Crescent grieved intensely, but to the delight of all of us who cared about her, after several years alone she unexpectedly found love again with filmmaker David Koff.

They were a good match.


David Richard Koff (born 1939 in Philadelphia, United States) is an award-winning maker of documentary films, social activist, writer, researcher, and editor. His interest in social and economic justice has shaped a career largely spent exploring human rights, colonialism, resistance movements, racism, labor unions, and the oppression and exploitation of undocumented workers in America. However, he veered from political concerns long enough to write and co-produce the film, “People of the Wind” for which, in 1976, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary.

Crescent and David have been together for 12 years now, and lived in a 1795 farmhouse on 35 acres in Vermont until a recent bout with extensive damage caused by broken pipes forced them to move out while repairs are made. Crescent’s mother, famed children’s book author and editor Charlotte Zolotow  died in November, so they have been staying in her house in NY getting it ready for sale. But apparently for many years behind the scenes, brilliant, loving, kind David was fighting for his life against a deadly, devious enemy– clinical depression. The only way I can begin to make sense of what feels to me like an unforgivably selfish act is to realize that in the depths of his illness, David truly did not believe he had any other choice to make the pain stop. But I ache for Crescent, my sweet friend left once again to deal with the sudden, tragic death of her beloved– and this time, by his own hand.

Loss. I hate it.

I know it ‘s a part of life, it’s inevitable, blah blah blah. But understanding that doesn’t make me hate it any less.

Natural order of things. Ebb and flow. Roll with it. It won’t always feel like this.

These are the slightly cliched, bumper-sticker truisms I’ve been telling myself lately, willing myself to believe them.  I’m not having a crisis of faith- I know who I am and what I believe. And the fact that Crescent and my recently diagnosed friend with cancer follow a different spiritual path than I do does not give me pause for a second as I lift them up to the God of my understanding and ask for his mercy, grace and comfort to surround and overwhelm them. It’s all I know to do, because the fact that life and loss are intrinsically linked really sucks and leaning into something and Someone bigger than I am is my only safe harbor–even when it doesn’t feel all that safe here in this dang harbor right about now.

But regardless of how smarmy this sounds, I want to say (write) out loud that I am deliberately and daily making a conscious choice to focus on the good things in my life– to find gratitude, to seek peace, to reach out and grab that “thing with feathers that perches in the soul” by its scrawny little neck and not let go. I truly understand that you can’t “happy thought” your way out of a treacherous mental illness like depression, but I’m not really talking about depression right now.

I’m talking about learning how to navigate through the sadness that is all around us, all the time, as long as we are living here on earth, without getting lost in it. I’m talking about learning to accept the fact that the price tag for loving someone is the risk of losing them. But even though the human condition does indeed contain all of the above mentioned opportunities for despair, the God’s truth is that it also contains unimaginable beauty and unspeakable joy. So I’m choosing to lean in, not pull away. I’m putting myself out there, knowing that sooner or later, beyond a shadow of a doubt, there will be more loss coming my way and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

Because what’s the alternative? There’s not a place, or a person, or a religion that can guarantee us a pain-free life– I know, because I’ve looked. And for me, shutting down and refusing to care or engage so that I can protect myself from getting hurt isn’t really an option. Or a life.

Because love, in all of its glorious, heartbreaking incarnations– is so absolutely worth it.


Let Evening Come

By Jane Kenyon


Let the light of late afternoon

shine through chinks in the barn, moving

up the bales as the sun moves down.


Let the cricket take up chafing

as a woman takes up her needles

and her yarn. Let evening come.


Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned

in long grass. Let the stars appear

and the moon disclose her silver horn.


Let the fox go back to its sandy den.

Let the wind die down. Let the shed

go black inside. Let evening come.


To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop

in the oats, to air in the lung

let evening come.


Let it come, as it will, and don’t

be afraid. God does not leave us

comfortless, so let evening come

10 Responses

  1. beckabrown

    Tori Taff, I love you so very dearly. And I’m so sorry you are in this season of loss and feeling the pain of those you care about who are struggling. And you’re right, it is inevitable. And you’re also right that it still sucks. Big time.

    Besides the fact that I am mad about you, I also really love the way you write. The way you are able to pry open your sternum and reveal your beautiful beating heart with such loveliness. That is who you are. And I love that you left us with the benediction from Jane Kenyon. I love that poem. Good thing to meditate on.

    I wish I could be there to love on you. Sit on your porch and listen to the rain. We’ll do it soon, dear friend.

  2. tori

    beckabrown: Annnnnd now I’m missing you even MORE! (Love you, my calla lily friend.)

  3. Gramma Jac

    beckabrown, your response said everything that I wanted to say, and beautifully. Thank you and thank you dear Tori. ((Quiet hugs!))

  4. tori

    Gramma Jac: ((Quiet hugs right back))

  5. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Me, too! I feel the same way about Tori…and Russ…and Madi…and Char. Makes me wish I could wiggle my nose and make everything perfect for them in the old so imperfect world.

  6. MaGraham

    Tori, I LOVE your heart! You are such a brilliant writer with such tremendous insight. I LOVE your “deep thought” writings like this.

    A “season of loss” can bring about a “season of grief.” We, obviously, not only grieve when we suffer a loss but also when a dear friend or loved one experiences a life-altering event. We should always try to move closer to God in difficult times like this and He will help us in ways that will bring about a “season of growth” in our Christian walk. It’s much like the saying, “It’s in the valleys that I grow.” And, the imagery of the four seasons is to illustrate that grief is cyclical, not a linear journey with a clear end. . .we must not hurry grief.

    And yes, sadly, I believe it is our age that’s causing us to see so much suffering and death around us, sweet Tori. As God helps prepare us for our heavenly home, He allows these bodies to wear out. . .helping us to realize that we will no longer need them one day. And often, that’s what we witness in those around us. . .since so many of our friends and loved ones are our age or older. But praise God, heaven is eternal and we’ll have a new body!

    Reading your writings today brought this to mind so I thought I’d share it.

    “There is sacredness in tears.
    They are not the mark of weakness, but of power.
    They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues.
    They are messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.”
    ~ Washington Irving

    Oh, I love the weeping angel!

  7. tori

    Momma Lloyd: Just knowing you’re in the world makes it a little more perfect for me.

  8. tori

    MaGraham: Wise words. I’m going to concentrate on the ‘season of growth’ aspect of this time in my life…

  9. Janet B

    Whew. I got nothin’. (Ok…that’s not true. Ever. hehe)

    As my mother used to say, there’s a song for everything.

    He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater;
    He sendeth more strength when the labours increase;
    To added affliction, He addeth His mercy;
    To multiplied trials – His multiplied peace.

    When we have exhausted our store of endurance;
    When our strength has failed ‘ere the day is half done;
    When we reach the end of our hoarded resources;
    Our Father’s full giving is only begun!

    Oh, His love has no limit – His grace has no measure!
    His power has no boundary known unto men.
    For out of His infinite riches in Jesus…
    He giveth…and giveth…and giveth again.

  10. tori

    JanetB: I am singing this to myself all day today.

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