Prayersong: Life and Death

Last week I would have told you that, 4ish weeks from our planned departure, my big concern at the moment was that my best friend was coming to be our first weekend guest. I was sure that I needed to get the cockpit cushions sewn so that I could clear the materials out of the v-berth to make a private place for Aimee to sleep. Then, last week, three of my closest friends lost a father, a mother, and a mentor to death, and my sister-in law went into labor with her son, who has trisomy 13, a rare, serious, random chromosomal syndrome; the best guess of his doctors was that if Judah were born alive, he would live only a couple of days.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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I sort of wish there was a heart button to show you that I have read and love/appreciate the post. As there is not, I am writing instead. As always, I appreciate your writing, way of seeing/experiencing the world, and how you share it with others in this space. Wishing you love and light as you step off the stairs into the sea. -Laura


Darling Laura, thank you so much for bringing this up! James and I have chosen to have an independent blog with its own discussion system. Setting this up and maintaining it is not a small amount of work! We could easily have made a FB page, and we chose not to do that. James is investing his time in this gorgeous thing because we both feel strongly about what we aim to create here.

We want to be able to tell our stories, to keep in touch with our loved ones spread far and wide, and give back to the sailing community by sharing as we learn, having learned so much from others who have done this. We also wish to engage in conversation about freedom and about what a good human life looks like. This journey is not about checking a box; neither of us has a lifelong desire to sail to a certain place. This journey is more of a question, an open-ended exploration. We have no set destination or goals. Our stated intention is to dream new dreams. We want to talk about that with others as we go.

If you think about the blogs and social media, it’s on social media that you can “like” things; it isn’t a common occurrence on independent blogs. The fact that you stepped up to speak because you couldn’t just click is exactly why this is made this way. We value voices over clicks.

I admire the way you live. You are so loving and ferocious. You are both independent and interdependent with the people you know in a way that seems healthy and vibrant. I’m grateful that you are reading and that you’ve taken time to post, and when I write something that spurs your thoughts again, I look forward to hearing them.

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Oh! You CAN like comments. Because we want you to be able to engage with other people, for this to become a community and a conversation.

Yes. I figured that was part of the reason for the blog. A different and perhaps deeper engagement than FB can bring forth. I wanted to honor that, so posted. :slight_smile: I will definitely keep doing so as I am moved to.

Thank you for your kind words! They make my smile.


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My own life has taken a rather sudden turn recently, and my heart and head have both wondered if these were the right choices. Sometimes following joy and passion means breaking hearts; and finding a new home means leaving another behind, along with its beloved denizens. So thank you, Kristie, for the thoughts in this post, which touched me deeply. As it often has, your voice carries the lesson of patient and loving acceptance, just when I need it.


Susan, I love you and wish you well in this new branch of your path.

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If this post is intriguing for you, you might be interested in checking out my dear sister-in-practice Eleni’s upcoming Conversation About Death, a daylong retreat consisting of practice and discussion

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It was my mentor Joel who died last week. I love the zen calendar quote so much, it was very Joel. In fact in his last note to us he said, “I’ve never liked that line about living each day as if it’s your last. I’ve always preferred to think of it as ‘I’m going to live forever — but one day, I’ll be wrong.’ Joel was a person with so much presence, it’s hard to imagine him being gone. So for now I’ve been not really processing his death so much as integrating his presence into my daily life more. I can hear his voice in my ear all the time, and I can feel myself actually becoming more emboldened by the advice and support he gave me for so many years. Which, I know, is just what Joel would have wanted. Thank you for honoring him with your prayers. Thank you for sharing this conversation. There’s so much to learn about death, and I always appreciate the chance to talk about it openly. Sending much love to you and James and all the close ones who are hurting in this moment. <3


I never knew Joel and I feel like I learned so much from him from the ways he touched how you see the world. I love how the people who mean the most to us get shared amongst all of us even if we never get to have individual relationships. It makes me want to more overtly share and attribute the wisdom of the people who have made me who I am. I’m so sorry for your loss, Jenifer, but so happy for all of our gain by knowing Joel through the way you live your life.

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Oh, Jenifer, I love this, " I’ve been not really processing his death so much as integrating his presence into my daily life more."

I’ve told you this story before, but I will tell it again instead of just referring to it for others who may be reading:

When I was, oh, about 26, my friend Teri was staying with me and my boyfriend. One day, she asked if I minded if she played her viola in the living room of our small railroad flat. It was, she explained, her father’s birthday, and she liked to play for him on his birthday. He had died when she was a child, but she had a beautiful relationship with him in her heart. It was the first time that anyone had shared with me their experience of a living, vibrant relationship with their beloved dead. That one morning, where she was just honest about why she was playing that day, was such a gift. It became a model for me of how to carry on loving someone when their physical form was no longer present in your life, of how to carry on the relationship with how they live in your heart.

I think that when we tell ourselves that someone is GONE GONE GONE FOREVER GONE, it deepens the hurt of being unable to be present with them in the form we have known. But there is another way to grieve, and you have spoken of it so skillfully and sweetly here: we take the little room in our heart which holds love for that person, and instead of boarding it up or setting it on fire, we throw a party in it. We snug up and watch movies with the one we love, or we have tea with them, or a beer with them, or we sing to them. We write them letters or talk to them. We take the relationship which was external and we internalize it. We allow the person to be alive within us. I’m thinking of that They Might Be Giants Line “make a little birdhouse in your soul.”

I am so grateful to Joel for all his gifts to you, and for the way they spread out to the world through you, as James has spoken so well.

Thank you for asking me to join you in grieving. I’ll be singing for you both again in the morning.

Thank you for this Kristie. I recently lost a friend of 38 years old. She leaves behind a grieving mother, husband and four young boys. And many friends and colleagues whose lives she lit up with her colour, depth and humour. And again I’m left wondering how I got to 37 years old and I am still surprised that this is life. This was posted on her Facebook wall and brought me comfort.

Sending love and strength to you, James, Judah and all the recipients of your prayer song.

Thank you, sweet Simone, for your presence and for these lovely words. I am sorry for your loss, and send you my love as you mourn.

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