All posts by Kari Murphy

Taking Pause

Hey Sis,

I just returned home from a solo trip to Manitou Springs, Colorado where I went for a respite between semesters, but mostly I went to find a moment to slow life down, take pause and connect with you. Although, I think about and miss you each and every day, life seems to stay busy (or maybe I just busy myself) and I need to carve out time to hear the universe and the sound of your spirit. In the early years after your passing, I was very mindful to look for signs of you. As time has gone by, I have fallen back into old habits of rushing from one task to the next not taking time to truly see what is always around me – your love, your spirit.

While hiking up at Pikes Peak, I found a spot devoid of other humans in an alluring meadow and did a meditation atop a small boulder. It was probably the most peaceful place I have ever meditated. When I opened my eyes, I asked you to show me a sign in the form of a marmot and promised to not take pictures – I’d simply enjoy the moment. Sitting there on that rock for a while, no marmots to be seen, I abandoned the idea that my request would come to fruition. Walking back towards the trail head, I began to hear a chirping. As the sound grew louder, I kept looking for the source, hopping over small boulders, pausing, listening and then there it was…. a large marmot sitting on a rock chirping. I stopped and watched him without taking pictures just as I had promised. Looking around, I began to notice there were marmots all around me. I could see their little heads peeking over the tops of large boulders and even more sitting disbursed throughout this boulder field. I watched them, listened to and followed their chirping until I decided it was time to head back to the car. As I relinquished my marmot expedition and turned to head back to my car – there was the biggest  heart rock I have ever seen, a heart boulder if you will. You delivered in droves to my request for a sign and I am so incredibly grateful.

Since you left this earth, grief has become a close and cruel friend. I thought I knew so much, I mean I’d been through some very difficult times in my life, but nothing could have prepared me for the depths of sorrow that is child loss. Don’t get me wrong, I have happiness, joy, excitement, love – all the positive things that life has to offer, but there is always a piece of me that will forever be lost as it died right along with you. The pieces that remain have come so far in this journey and for that I am proud. As life resumes its busyness, I am beyond grateful for the time to “take pause” and connect with spirit.
Until next time, my sunshine…..

There is no place to hide.

Well, Chels, I have traveled more since your passing than I ever have in my life.  I think subconsciously, I must think I can run away from missing you.  Turns out, that each time I return home, I am left feeling empty and sad.  Being away and the vacations I have been fortunate enough to experience in the past 2.7 years have been an incredible experience, don’t get me wrong.  However, it is not an elixir that cures an ailing heart.  I do find some solace in knowing that you are traveling with me.  You are with me in spirit, but also in the ashes that I carry and spread along the way.

When you kiddos were young and your father and I traveled,   I was always wishing that the three of you could experience what I was experiencing.  I often tried to figure out a way to bring you all back to the place I had just visited.  Now, sometimes…..somehow…. you are just there.  You show me  your presence with  your special signs.  I am so grateful for that – like the gigantic heart in the Andes Mountains at the end of the first day on the Inca Trail.  Maddy and I just sat and basked in your presence.   Believe me, we needed your inspiration after such a grueling day on the trail.  Although I love these moments with you, let me be perfectly honest, it is not even in the same realm as having you physically here in the flesh experiencing  life with me.

I’ve tried to adapt to this new reality and I use a lot of positive self talk to get through the days.  Some days, though, I just don’t have the fight in me and I want to give in to my despair, leave my body and come to you.   I’ve tried alternative therapies in an attempt to have an out of body experience – hoping I  would be able to find you in spirit.  I’m always looking for something more tangible than just feeling your presence. I’ve mediated, done sensory deprivation, and age regression hypnosis.  All these have helped me in some way, but haven’t given me the ultimate goal for which I was searching.

I guess I am going to have to continue to put one foot in front of the other and keep walking the path set before me.  I know someday that path will lead to you, although, it is so hard for me to fathom what that existence is like.   It’s actually mind boggling when I attempt to figure it out.  So, again and again I choose let go…. to trust the journey and have faith in its course.

Chels, know I am doing the best I can.  Please keep showing me the way.

P.S.  I’m totally okay if you want to come visit me in my dreams!!

Chelsea’s Gift

As I was reading yet another book on grief/afterlife/near death experiences/etc in my search for solace, I came across this poem that spoke to my soul. I am going to write it below just as it is written by its original author, Sandy Goodman, only changing the name in the title.

Chelsea’s Gift

When you left
You took the cool breeze of summer with you.
Rainbows paled, smiles became grimaces,
And the air I sucked into my aching soul was fetid and thick.
Prayers became jokes, faith turned to doubt,
And hope lay buried under a rock.
Sunsets came in browns and grays, muted by the dullness
in my soul.
Then you returned…
Swooping into my heart, transforming my reality;
And bringing me truth – A gift throbbing with the intensity of spirit.
Now rainbows pulse with brilliance, breezes rustle emerald leaves,
And the air I breathe gently cools my burning soul.
I understand that to know turquoise, I must first know grey.
And to know pink, I must understand brown.
I had to huddle in the black of an endless night before I could grasp
the radiance of a purple dawn.
Without sleep,
There is no awakening,
Without darkness,
…no light.
And without knowing the desperate screaming agony of death,
I did not know life.

Chelsea, I still have gray days, some so gray that I don’t think the clouds will ever clear, but I am grateful that the “purple dawn” has become a part of my existence as well. I am no longer fresh vegetation; my soul has seen the weathering of seasons gone by. I’ve learned how to survive the elements and in surviving, I have also learned how live.

I love you, Chelsea Rose – thank your for teaching me!

Two years gone…..

It seems impossible that it’s been two years since I’ve gotten to touch you, smell you, laugh with you or experience your physical presence. Two years ago, I felt like I was sinking in quicksand, unable to pull myself out no matter how hard I tried. Over the past two years, I still have those days where I feel like I’m sinking, but, I also have days where I think about the gift of your life that I was so fortunate to share for 23 years and I smile at the opportunity.

I have a long way to go on this grief journey, with so much more to learn. For today though, I have learned that sorrow and joy can live in me simultaneously.I have uploaded the five memorial tattoos that family and friends have gotten in your honor/memory thus far.

Chels, you may have been here only a short while, but your impact was sizable. These tattoos represent just a morsel of your influence on those who experienced you.

A Gift on Mother’s Day

Well, I just made it through my second Mother’s Day without your physical presence.  I had been dreading this day as I knew it would heighten my awareness of your absence.  No, that’s not right, my awareness is always heightened.  I guess, it’s just one of those holidays that you figure you will get to spend with your kids for the rest of your life.  Even as children grow older and are unable to come home for Mom’s special day,  a phone call or the like is usually made in the absence of the presence.  Sadly, I did not get you in the physical, nor did I get  a phone call or a text.  However, I did start my day by seeing that silly little gnat crawling all over my computer while I logged in to roll the phones to myself since I was working and on call.  The presence of that gnat was, in my mind, your way of saying “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  I’m here and I love you.”  I never would’ve imagined that a gnat could bring such joy to my life.  But, in typical Chelsea humor, that has been one of the signs of love that you shower upon me.  The week leading up to Mother’s Day was full of hearts and a few gnats as well – almost like you knew that this holiday would be difficult and you were building me up to make it though this special day.  Well, Chels, you did it – you filled me with your sunshine all week, which gave me the strength to enjoy the day. Now, Joshy and Maddy Mad came out to spend the day with me, which is always my favorite way to celebrate any holiday – with you kiddos!  Betty, Ryan and Betty Lane came out to spend a few hours and asked to visit your tree.  Of course,  Scotty was there along with  Kassie.  All the wonderful signs from you mixed with the presence of the people I love so dearly made for a very pleasant day.

Life is full of surprises.  I would have never dreamed  that I could be so in tune with your energy, but here I am feeling your presence in my life even when your physical self is no longer walking the earth.  Sometimes, I think I am just crazy and playing a lot of mind games, but then I see one of your signs and “that feeling” goes all over me and I know its you!  Unfortunately not everyone is open to feeling or receiving messages from their departed loved ones, so I am so grateful to you for your persistence in making sure that I see your gifts of love.  I don’t pretend to understand how it all works – life after death – it remains a great mystery and will until the day I die and join you on the other side of the veil.   Until then, I will watch for your gifts of love and keep smiling when that little gnat flies around my face and makes its presence known.

I love you to the moon and back times 2!

Chelsea Rose Murphy – The Longest Year

Chelsea, It’s been one year, 365 days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes since we spoke. There have been so many moments in this short year that you were not here in the flesh to share with us. You have been gone for such a short time, yet it seems like you have been gone forever. Even though, you haven’t physically been here, you are always with me. You are my first thought when I wake up each morning. You are my constant companion as I go through the day and you are the last thought before I sleep at night. I don’t seem to find you in my dreams, except on some very rare occasions. Dreams of you are such an incredible gift – you are almost tangible in them. What I wouldn’t give to touch you, to smell you, to wrap my arms around you. I do feel you around though and for that I am grateful. I see/feel you in various ways: whether it be a heart, a rose, a C, a bird or an ornery gnat – certain things speak Chelsea to me. There are those times that I just “know” it’s you! Of course, I always want more. I feel so needy. I need constant reminders that you are still a part of me. Time has a way of fading images in the mind, so there are things that are foggy from your growing up, but there are still many things that are clear. I pray for clarity every day to remember moments lost along the way.
I have grown over the past year. Lessons in life, love and sorrow that I never could have imagined. I never thought I could survive the loss of a child. But, here I am, a year later still standing. Thanks to a strong support network of family and friends. Chelsea, I have come to know a few of your friends much more closely since your passing. I find comfort in them and the relationships they shared with you. I hope that I provide the same comfort to them. You were/are a very loved woman. I have been told story after story of how you have impacted the lives of others. I have always been proud to be your mom, but my pride grows bigger with each story I hear. Who would’ve ever guessed that you would have taught me so many life lessons? (I can hear you answering that sarcastically.)
Admittedly, you weren’t always easy. You gave me a run for my money many times. You were never afraid to challenge me. I used to get so frustrated with you, but at the same time, I was awed by your authority. Now, I am grateful for the tough times as well as the good times – they all create memories that warm my heart. Motherhood is definitely a painful privilege! I thank God that I got to be your momma and you my daughter. Our dance was cut short here on this earth plane, but I know one day our dance will go on.
I love and miss you My Beautiful Sunshine!

Say Chelsea

Chelsea, today is the 6th month anniversary of your passing. As life moves forward, people revert back into their old routines of the everyday. But, not me – I am forever changed, forever plagued by what was and what will never be. As people move forward, I need them to remember to say your name! Say Chelsea to me!

The following is adapted from Donald Hackettt’s ‘Say Olin.’

The time of concern is over.
No longer am I asked how I am doing.
Hardly ever is the name of my daughter mentioned to me.
A curtain descends. The moment has passed.
A life slips from frequent recall.
There are exceptions: close and compassionate friends, sensitive and loving family.
For most, the drama is over.
The spotlight is off. Applause is silent.
But for me the play will never end.
The effects on me are timeless.
Say Chelsea to me!
Do not tiptoe around the greatest event of my life.
Love does not die.
Her name is written on my life.
The sound of her voice replays within my mind.
You feel she is dead.
I feel she is of the dead and still lives.
She ghost walks my soul, beckoning in future welcome.
You say she was my daughter.
I say she is.
Say Chelsea to me and say Chelsea again.
It hurts to bury her memory in silence.
What she was in flesh is spread over the earth.
What she is in spirit stirs within me always.
She is of my past but she is part of my now.
She is my hope for the future.
You say not to remind me.
How little you understand I cannot forget.
I would not if I could.
I understand you, but feel pain in being forced to do so.
I forgive you, because you cannot know.
I accept how you see me,
But understand that you see me not at all.
I strive not to judge you, for yesterday I was like you.
I love you, will make no expectations toward you.
But, I wish you could understand that I dwell both in flesh and spirit.
I do not ask you to walk this road.
The ascent is steep and the burden heavy.
I walk it not by choice.
I would rather walk with her in flesh.
Looking not to spirit roads beyond.
I am what I have to be.
What I have gained you cannot see.
And I would not have you.
Say Chelsea for she is alive in me.
She and I will meet again, though in many ways we have never parted.
She and her life play songs in my mind,
Sunrises and sunsets on my dreams.
She is real and shadow, was and is.
Say Chelsea to me and say Chelsea again.
She is my daughter and I love her as I always did.
Say Chelsea!


The year moves on.
Between the weeks and days
are spaces filled
with more than only time.
Those minutes, moments,
when your life stands still
and aches in memory…

And part of you
needs to endure the dark
because it means
to have that love again.
And, part of you
prays for forgetfulness,
because your mind
may break, remembering.

Between the weeks and days
are spaces filled
with more than only time…..

People often ask me what it is that I need to do with the time that I seek for solitude. Why do you need less time at work?  It’s simply that the evenings and weekends do not allow enough time for all that my heart and head are feeling. The ebbing and flowing of grief’s continual stream. It takes time to endure the darkness and absorb all the feelings that it delivers. Denial is still a strong contestant for winning through the phases of grief. Just this weekend Leah and I had a discussion about a particular girl and we were tying to remember if she ran in your crowd.  In my head, I said, “I’ll just call Chelsea and ask her.” Then it hit me like a cunt punt (a Chelsea quote) on the soccer field that actually, no… I wouldn’t. Most days you are ever present, just under the surface of my smile. Or, laid out like a shiny patch on my sleeve while I cry. But, there is that moment – that moment that I forget for a split second and think I’ll make a phone call.

As hard as remembering is, I don’t ever want to forget!  I want to always remember that you were… that we were! A gift for 23 years. A gift that brought a thousand smiles to my face and, yes, many tears to my eyes.   And, lets not forget, how many times you left me with my mouth hanging open from shock of what you had just shared with me. I’m so thankful for the many intimate moments we shared and how honesty, even when it was definitely inappropriate, was on your lips. You’ve shocked me, you’ve awed me, but most of all – you loved me.  I still feel your love today and see it in those around me through the stories they share and the tears they cry.  Although our journey together was far from perfect – it was like Cinderella’s slipper – the right fit for us!

Chelsea – My Sissy By: Maddy Murphy

Chelsea, I wanted to be able to honor you by standing up and speaking about you, but there are just absolutely no words great enough to even begin to describe you.

My sissy, the most beautiful angel to ever bless this earth with her presence. Anyone and everyone who was lucky enough to meet her could sense that she is one of a kind. People like Chelsea don’t come along often! She was the type of person who could walk into a room without saying a word and still be noticed. Besides the fact that she had mesmerizing fiery red hair, stunning blue eyes and a heartwarming smile; her open mind and exceptional personality could make the shyest of people feel comfortable. She brought me out of my shell, and even though I may have realized it at the time, Chelsea taught me to be myself and not care what others thought. Being able to call Chelsea my sister feels so incredibly amazing. I would always get a sense of pride whenever we were introduced as sisters. In lack of better words, it was just super cool being her sister. I have so many great memories with Chelsea and I am forever thankful for them. From practicing for Americas Next Top Model and having to deal with top model sabotage to belting “Son of a Preacher Man” together. Chelsea and I had high hopes of becoming famous somehow. As my brother, Josh put it, Chelsea didn’t half ass fun and she taught me how to do the same.

Sissy, losing you has been so hard. Your spirit is just too big for this world and unfortunately, we must let you be free. Even though I can not see you physically, I know you will always be with me. I want to thank you for coming to seem so much already and I ask that you never stop. I hope you are having fun exploring your new world. Give everybody a hug for me. I love you to the moon and back times infinity and I can’t wait for the day when we can wrestle and play again. Try not to miss me too much. Your sissy forever!

Chelsea Rose Murphy: You Are My Sunshine

Chelsea – you are my sunshine, my incredibly beautiful bright light!  Shining bright like the sun, your vast beams of personality radiated and left its imprint on my heart.  You are like the colors of the sunset, the beautiful vibrant shades of orange I see when I look at the horizon.  And, like the sunset, your mesmerizing glow is all encompassing and lures those around you.

When you came into a room, your bountiful presence commanded attention.  People would watch in awe as you spoke.  Whether you were telling a great tale of being attacked by a shark, sharing the latest gossip or making fun of some unfortunate soul, your wicked sense of humor brought copious amounts of laughter to those around you.  And, your infectious laugh was music to my ears.

You didn’t live life quietly!  You were my red-headed wild child, fierce and ungovernable, standing up for what you believed in and teaching others to do the same.  Many a teacher would describe you as ‘spirited’ at our parent-teacher conferences.  And, as you grew older, your lively nature grew and spilled over touching all those that encountered you, leaving many memories in your wake.

But, what a lot of people didn’t get to see was the delicate spirit that lay beneath the hard candy shell.  You were one of the most sensitive people I have ever known.  As a child, I recall watching you on one of your first days at Undercroft.  You didn’t know anyone and I watched  as you observed two little girls holding hands while standing in line at the door before going outside.  You walked over to those girls and slipped your tiny hand into theirs ~ wanting to be a part of what they shared.  If any of you were ever fortunate enough to experience this side of Chelsea, you know how special it was!  I am blessed to have experienced both sides of Chelsea; the untamed and the tender.

Most of all Chelsea, my life will be forever changed because of you, my bright  beautiful sunshine!

Chels – today marks the fourth week since your precious soul left this earth.  I search for you daily and will continue to do so until I join you on the other side.  I am trying to be grateful for the 23 years I was given to make memories with you.  But, it feels like we were just getting started!  I had so many hopes and dreams of what the future would hold.  Now, as life moves forward without your physical presence, I am trying to be  mindful of the signs you leave in my path that show me that you are still with me.  I love you Chelsea Rose!