The Missing Birthday

Yesterday would have been Eric’s 42nd birthday. This time of year typically puts me into a spin cycle, hurtling me towards the anniversary of his death on October 29, then to the holidays where his presence is noticeably absent, then finally spits me out sometime in January, when the frigid weather numbs my raw emotions. My brother Luke’s birthday was August 31, and mine is coming up on Sunday. We always celebrated our birthdays together, my two brothers and I. With all three birthdays little more than a week apart, it was not only convenient for my family, but was a special bond we all shared.

This year, we celebrated Luke’s birthday separately, and it felt nice.  I couldn’t help but feel, though, the void in between. With my birthday coming up on Sunday, we’ve lost the …

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I hesitated before writing this post. I have friends on polar opposite ends of the abortion spectrum, and I know how passionately you feel about the issue, whether for or against. I hope you can read this with an open mind and open heart. But then again, if you’re any friend of mine, I already know you will. 


Recently, while driving down two-lanes in rural Kansas, I’ve seen two separate handmade billboards positioned in pastures facing the highway. One, I agree with, and one, I vehemently oppose. The first simply said:

Life – God’s Most Precious Gift
I absolutely believe this is a true statement. After having felt my daughters growing in me and seeing firsthand the miracle that is human life, there’s no fiber of my being that believes otherwise. But here’s the thing. …

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He was an awesome big brother for so many reasons (besides rockin’ big frames just like his kid sister).

“Catherine, we need to talk. You know, sometimes, when you see the cats in the yard, and it looks like they’re wrestling on top of each other? Well, they’re not really wrestling. They’re…”

Ohmygodohmygodohmygod…He is NOT talking to me about this! I can’t believe this is happening. This is so embarrassing. Don’t look at him. Just look down. Pretend this isn’t happening. Think about something else. ANYTHING else. 

When my older brother Eric sat me down to have the “birds and the bees” talk at the age of 12, I was mortified. Actually, there has to be a stronger word for my emotion. I wanted to disappear. An avid Star Trek fan, I never so badly wanted teleportation …

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Olympic Judo hopeful Kayla Harrison is an incredible athlete. Her strength and skill have propelled her to the top of her sport, and earned her a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in London. But according to this NPR segment, she’s sometimes frustrated at the motives behind the bright spotlight:

“Do I wish that everyone would just talk about how, you know, awesome I am — and how I could be America’s first gold medalist? Yes, I wish that,” she says. “But America wants that comeback kid story. They want the person who overcame obstacles to reach their goals. And I fit that bill pretty well.”

I’ll let you read the article to find out the obstacles Kayla is speaking of. If she’d rather have more attention focused on her atheleticism than her emotional backstory, …

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After the NCAA issued its ruling against Penn State today, part of me celebrated that the egregious cover-up was being treated seriously, and part of me mourned the justice that was not done after my brother’s death, after the deaths of four other victims, after thirty years of abuse was shoved under the rug.

NCAA president Mark Emmert called the case the most painful “chapter in the history of intercollegiate athletics,” and said it could be argued that the punishment was “greater than any other seen in NCAA history. Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people,” Emmert said.

That’s good. That’s a step in the right direction. But I can’t help getting mad all over again. By the time Robert Larson’s (the priest who abused my brother) legacy of sexual …

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The beauty of the conference center’s garden was a gentle reminder that life is good. Life is to be enjoyed.

When someone tells me they enjoy reading my blog, I’m thrilled. But, when Malena Lott (founder and executive editor of Buzz Books), told me she enjoyed reading my blog, I was over the moon. Not only because I need constant validation like an insecure puppy, but because she likes my writing despite (or because of) the dark subject matter.  And how did I respond to this compliment from an experienced, talented author? Did I take the advice of my former boss and swallow my self deprecation? Sort of.

“Thank you. I really have no idea what I’m doing.” Why did I say this? Was it true? Well, yes and no. Up until …

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