Category Archives: Faith

Writing My Own Obituary – Take Two

I took a deep breath and walked inside a smallish meeting room that had been tucked behind rows and rows of books in a trendy bookshop downtown. A smattering of women had already gathered themselves in groups of twos and threes, and the hum of small talk and introductions started to rise. I strategically chose a seat in the back of the room, close to an exit so I could make a quick getaway the moment the workshop was over. I dutifully pulled out my notebook and pen, and tried in vain to feel like I belonged there. The seats around me began to fill, and eventually I was warmly drawn into a few typical hellos and how-are-yous and where-are-you-froms. I remained calm and steady in polite and superficial conversation. I smiled and avoided mention of anything that could possibly trigger the flood of emotions pent up from earlier in the day. Besides, I figured no one really wants to hear, “my children almost died today” from a complete stranger.

The workshop began, and to my complete horror, a free-write assignment was given immediately. I hadn’t written anything outside of my private journal for well over a year. And it had been even longer than that since I’d exercised even a particle of creativity. I was bone-dry. Lost in a world of math and needles, I had been stuck in survival mode, navigating my way through complex medical diagnoses and round-the-clock caregiving. I subsisted mainly on herbal tea and much-less-than-adequate sleep as I made my best attempt each day to keep my children healthy. On the drive over, I had repeatedly questioned aloud why on earth I had even signed up for a creative writing workshop in the first place. I knew in my gut that my experiences over the last couple of years would inform my writing on a deeper level, but on a day like today, it all seemed a little too raw and personal. The given assignment drew a few nervous laughs from around the room. We were asked to write our own obituary. To make the situation incredibly worse, we were given just ten minutes to write. And then we would read our piece aloud.

I stared blankly at my notebook for a minute or two and silently cursed at myself for driving all the way downtown to be humiliated like this. Then I frantically tried to piece together a few words. My mind grasped for some endearing anecdote or wise quote. But my nerves were still as rattled as they had been hours earlier, and all I could feel was a strong desire to actually die rather than read this crap out loud. If a better woman were writing her own obituary, she might have actually taken stock of her life’s experiences and thought about the legacy she’d like to leave for the world. Instead, I ticked off a short list of rather unimpressive achievements and places I had lived. I thought briefly about giving voice to my fierce and passionate love for my family. Then I remembered the part about reading our pieces out loud and I considered the powder keg of emotion behind that… so instead I listed the date David and I were married and the years our children were born. Ava-2006. Ella- 2008. Dallin-2010. Jack-2012. In the interest of time, I scratched out all of the dates, and simply listed their names. But even with the most generic of information about my children on paper, in my mind’s eye, I could see all of their innocent, squishy faces, and tears came dangerously close to the surface.

Love is an interesting thing. It is one simple word that is used to describe a whole range of extraordinarily complex and different emotions. One word. The same word that describes my deep and abiding commitment to my husband is the same word I use to describe what motivates me to bring dinner to a sick neighbor. It is what carried me through the whirlwind of learning to care for two young children diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. It is what brought me to my knees when my preschooler was diagnosed with autism six months later. It is what causes me to weep in the shower, and yet the same thing that makes me smile every time my daughters set up lemonade stands to raise money for charities and medical research. Love is in all of it. The grocery shopping for gluten-free foods, the endless laundry, the insulin injections, the books and bedtime snuggles. Love is in the apologies after an argument, the phone call checking in with a friend, and in the embrace with my husband as we kneel in prayer together at the end of every long, hard day. Mother Theresa once suggested that we should “do small things with great love.” This is the quote my mind was searching for when we were all informed that our ten minutes were up.

The class takes turns reading their individual obituaries. Most are incredibly smart and witty. Some are profound and wise. Mine is simple and straightforward and utterly artless.

After some solid writing advice from the workshop facilitators and a short question-and-answer period, the class ends, and I make a beeline to my car. I call home to check in with our home nurse, and, to my great relief, she tells me that all is well. She reports that both of my boys are stable and doing much better after an incredibly scary experience earlier in the day when not one, but both of my little diabetics nearly went unconscious from severe hypoglycemia – a condition that can be fatal without immediate medical treatment. I had been home alone with my boys at lunchtime when they simulataneously  started getting irritable and angry, then suddenly their eyes began to roll back into their heads, and both showed the telltale signs of being on the verge of slipping into unconsciousness. I tried frantically to pour juice into their mouths as they took turns spitting it out and clawing at me. I went from one to the other, holding their mouths open and forcing a sip at a time and desperately patting their cheeks; shouting at each of them and begging them to stay with me. They were in turn both irrational and combative. And with both of them on the brink of unconsciousness, it took every ounce of calm strength and determination I could muster, all of the faith and all of the prayers I could offer; it took all of God’s grace and all of the incredible love I felt for these children to care for them and eventually revive them. It had all happened so fast, and unleashed such a torrent of emotions, that my nerves were still shot a full ten hours later. In the two and a half years since both of my boys were diagnosed with this disease, we have only experienced situations like this a handful of times, and never with both boys at once. “Terrifying” doesn’t begin to describe it.

On the drive home I rewrite my obituary in my mind. It includes fanciful assumptions that at some future date my boys will take place in groundbreaking medical research and will be completely cured of diabetes by the time they are teenagers. It speaks of my lovely daughters and how Ava will accomplish her dream of being an interior designer in New York and how Ella really will be the first female President of the United States, in addition to being a veterinarian, a reporter, a chef, an artist, and also the first female player in the NFL. It speaks of the adventures my husband and I would have as we travelled the world together, and how all of my children will serve faithful missions for our church. My new and improved obituary speaks of Dallin’s future career as a cartoonist and professional ninja. It mentions the fact that despite all odds, my youngest son, Jack, will marry his good friend Ruby Valentine, and with the love and support of their friends, family, and an excellent medical team, they will be expecting their second child together at the time of my passing. My obituary closes with requests for charitable donations to be given to starving children in Venezuela in lieu of flowers, and strict instructions for only my best and most flattering pictures to be shown at the services instead of the weird and very morbid practice of an open-casket viewing.

And as my nerves continue to settle on the long drive home, the end of my obituary reads like this:

Kimberly Tait lived a quiet life in a small town. She loved dogs and horses and Arizona sunsets. She cared deeply about her children, her grandchildren, her parents, her extended family, and most of all, her eternal companion, David. She was devoted to her family and her faith. She treasured good books, great music, and belly laughter with her girlfriends. She taught her children to work hard and be kind. She did hard things without complaining (most of the time). And throughout her life, she followed the sage advice of Mother Theresa. She did small things with great love.



November is an interesting month for me. As all Arizonans know, our November is basically equivalent to the first blissful days of spring in many other parts of the country. The weather is getting beautiful and it is time once again to venture outdoors. The dreadful heat of summer has finally subsided, and everyone seems  generally happier with the world around them. It is the month that is home to everyone’s favorite holiday, Thanksgiving…and to make matters even better, it’s also my birthday month. Yay me.

But my November is also a time of reflection. Twenty-two years ago this month I lost my older brother. It was a weird industrial accident. He was 25. I was 13. His wife was pregnant with their first child.  It was terrible and tragic and unexpected and heartbreaking.

I remember being called out of class and finding my Dad in the front office at my school, his voice wavering a little as he tried to explain that Gregg had been in an “accident.” At the time, he knew it was serious, possibly debilitating, but he had no idea the accident had been fatal. We drove home in an eery, nervous silence. When we pulled into the driveway, my Mom came out of the house, crying and as she shook her head, all she could say was, “He didn’t make it…” As she was shaking her head and weeping and telling us, it was almost as though she didn’t even believe it herself.  “He didn’t make it…” Growing up in Southern California, there had been many times I had unwittingly turned my back on the ocean and then been thrown down by an unexpected wave and tossed underwater by the fury and unyielding power of the sea. That is exactly what those words did to me. We hugged each other and all fell to the ground, right there in the driveway, bawling our eyes out for all the neighbors to see.

Now that I am a mother myself, I think back often to what that day was like for my mom. What a punch in the gut it was. What that day was like for my sister-in-law, 8 months pregnant with their baby boy. What that day was like for my sister, who was much closer to my brother, in age, in looks…in every way, really. Being at least 10 years junior to all of my siblings, I felt very much like an outsider looking in on their grief. I shared it, but I never felt real ownership of it until I was much older. I was in shock, just like everyone else, but it was a superficial cut. It sunk deeper over time. I didn’t imagine then that 22 years later I would be sitting at a stoplight in my Suburban with four children in the back, tears streaming down my face because of it.

He didn’t make it. He died. It was a cold November day in Utah when we buried that brother of mine. His son was born in January.  But as I sat in my car this morning, crying on my way to the gym and missing him something fierce, I did something I don’t often take the time to do.

I looked up.

I looked at the sky and it’s perfect shade of November blue. It didn’t make my heart hurt any less, but it did help me breathe a little deeper. It felt too far away. But it did help me remember the hope and joy and peace that always lay ahead, just like a cool, crisp fall after a long, hot Arizona summer.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.


The Only Way to Peace

I sat at my breakfast table on Thursday morning and cried over the stabbings in Pennsylvania. Not one to typically talk to the TV, I couldn’t help but say aloud, “Why? Why would someone do this?!” The brutality of it was just too much.

Later in the day I found myself reaching for my phone, checking social media to keep updated on a friend of mine, who’s precious baby girl has been in the hospital since Monday. My heart breaks a little to see so many tubes attached to that sweet little face. She is sedated and paralyzed and a machine is basically breathing for her. Another tear rolls off of my cheek.

Then the phone rings. It is a friend of mine from my old neighborhood. A mom whose daughter went to kindergarten with my oldest. She tells me that her husband of 22 years is leaving her. She recently discovered that he had been having an affair with a woman he met at the gym. Now she is facing a mountain of debt and is planning to move  herself and her three daughters back to her native homeland, Holland.

It’s a lot to take in in one morning.

Human suffering takes so many shapes. A young man so broken and emotionally unstable that he commits gruesome, unfathomable violence. His victims – blindsided, and literally stabbed in the back. Precious babies, innocent and hurting. Mothers, fathers, family and friends who feel so helpless as they look on. Sadness, fear, anger, loneliness, betrayal. Heartache in all its varieties.

From Thursday until Saturday night, my heart was hurting for friends and family members – and even strangers across the country – in so many ways.

And then on Saturday night I had the opportunity to visit the Gilbert Arizona Temple. My perspective changed and my mind was put at ease. My heart was changed. But I wasn’t able to find the perfect words describing that change until Sunday morning.

At church, the bishop of my congregation and shared some thoughts. He spoke about his son, and how he was watching from a window as his son struggled with some chores outside. He said his first inclination was to rush out and help him. But he didn’t right away. He said his heart was stretched out to his fine son because he kept at it. He didn’t give up the struggle. And he was made stronger and wiser in the process.  Then my bishop shared one of my very favorite scriptures. It is a scripture that, for me, perfectly sums up the joy of the Easter season.

John 16:33

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have  overcome the world.

It’s worth reading again.

So there you have it. Every heartache in this world – whether it comes of our own doing or we are hurting because of someone else – every single physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional hurt can be healed by the power of Christ’s atonement. He is the way out of darkness into the Light. He has borne all of our suffering in a way that I can not fully comprehend. The sad truth of this life is that we will all have tribulation. We will all face trials in one way or another. But there is happiness and hope and light ahead. And He alone is the way to peace.


Image courtesy of

Wishing you all a lovely and beautiful Easter.

The Olive Trees: Seeing the Divine in the Everyday

You may have noticed the images of paintings I have included here recently. Aren’t they pretty? In the late 1800s, Vincent Van Gogh decided to commit himself to an asylum in Southern France. There, he painted a collection of artwork entitled, “The Olive Trees”. Aside from loving them for purely aesthetic purposes, I’ve found these pieces have a deeper significance.


Historically, the olive branch has always been a symbol of peace. From Ancient Greece to early Christianity to the modern day, there is meaningful significance regarding olive branches and peace in cultures across the world. Here, Van Gogh’s representation of the olive orchards surrounding his asylum largely symbolized his feelings toward Christ in Gethsemane. He wanted to portray his feelings toward the divine without  representing a literal figure.


Can you imagine Van Gogh looking through the bars on the window in his asylum to paint these pieces? How many times a day do I feel like I’m looking through the windows in an asylum when my five-year-old is squealing and running through the house without her pants on, or my two-year-old has hijacked the Nutella and spread it on the walls (again)? One of my favorite quotes is the Othello Principle: “The eye sees what the mind looks for.” How do we train ourselves to look out of the windows in our own personal asylum (one of our own choosing, I might add), and see the divine?


Landscape with Olive Trees


It takes practice. But look at the beauty just beyond those bars. Look at the way your daughter holds her sister’s hand when they hop out of the car at school. Notice the laundry your husband folded to save you some time. Look at the flowers he planted. Take a moment to let a wave of gratitude sweep over you when you nuzzle your nose into your son’s smushy, just-out-of-the-bath cheeks. Feel the quiet reassurance that you are a part of something much greater than an afternoon of cleaning Nutella off the walls.Take some time each day to bask in the beauty around you. It is there if you only have eyes to see.







Being the Glue

Mother-Child-Klimt-LI went to my Positive Discipline class again last night, and left poor David with all four kids at EVO. He was such a good sport about it, totally lied through his teeth and said they’d be fine. So I hurried off to my class, knowing that I had at least fed them all dinner and left the kitchen clean.

When I got home that evening, feeling renewed and encouraged by all I had learned in class, I walked in to a nice, quiet house. David had just gotten the kids to bed. But, well, the house wasn’t as clean as I had left it. I didn’t expect it to be clean at all. I know all too well the tornado that is involved with getting four children to bed on your own. I kind of chuckled, actually, as I rolled up my sleeves and washed the pile of dishes in a sink that had been spotless 3 hours ago. Like a super sleuth, I could tell exactly what had happened while I was away, just by the evidence all around me. They had obviously come home and eaten a second round of dinner, followed by what looked like massive amounts of ice cream. When the dishes were all done (again), I moved on to the kitchen table, tidied up all of the books that had been read before bedtime, and then moved on to the bedroom. I folded the laundry that had piled up on the bed, and fed Jack one last time before bed. The house was so quiet that I didn’t even mind the busy work. It was strangely relaxing.

As David stepped out of the shower, he said something that struck me.

“You know… you are really the glue.”

“The glue?” I said.

“Yes. It is just not the same when you are gone. The kids are crazy. The house is a wreck. There is a calm when you are here, and it is never the same without you.”

Although I knew he was being pretty generous in his assessment, the comment really warmed my heart. Because as a mom, isn’t that really what we are all striving for? Don’t we all just really want to be that calming influence, that warm blanket on a cold day that your whole family finds warmth and protection in? I know I do. I want them to know that as long as I am here, everything will be ok. Or at least, as ok as it can be in any given circumstance.

So tonight, as I prayed, I asked my Heavenly Father to strengthen me in being the glue. Because at this point in my life, that is just the kind of peacemaker I want to be.


Sometimes balancing motherhood and managing your home means that the only time you have available to go grocery shopping is late on a Saturday night after the kids go to bed. Like, 11 pm late. And sometimes because your husband is a small business owner undergoing an extreme amount of stress, that means coming home to a house full of sleeping people. And sometimes, while unloading all of the groceries by yourself in the middle of the night, you start to feel like no one gives a rat’s behind that you are doing what you are doing so they can eat breakfast tomorrow.

But at least the house is quiet.

So, maybe if they don’t notice, it’s okay. Maybe instead I can take a few minutes to notice them. I can look and see how peaceful Jack is when he sleeps. How the slow and steady movement of his little chest while  he breathes is evidence of God’s most perfect miracle, human life. I can look at my husband, who works so hard and deserves every single moment of sleep he can get. I can listen and hear Ava, Ella, and Dallin snoring away in the next room, grateful for them and their clean squishy faces. Hell, even our dog is cuter when she sleeps.

It’s okay if they don’t thank me while guzzling down their orange juice tomorrow, or thank me for noticing that we had run out of napkins. They won’t notice, and they shouldn’t have to. What they should notice, and I hope they do, is just how much I love them. How I would go to the moon and back again for them.

Even if that means going to Safeway alone on a Saturday night.