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!

Madison Murphy – a message to Chelsea Rose Murphy

Let’s just start with the obvious reason I am writing; it has been a year since I have gotten to see you. I would say talk to you to but I feel as though our communication is just different now. Granted, I prefer to hangout and talk in the flesh but things don’t always go how you wish they did. That has officially been engraved into my brain. I will always hope for the best, but, I have realized that life doesn’t play favorites and it doesn’t wait up on anybody. I have tried so hard to learn everything I am supposed to from this experience and it has really changed me as a person. In general I try to be a better person but within myself I have changed too. I have taken in great account that nothing really matters except the people you love. I don’t let the little things get to me and I can see the bigger picture a little better. I would never say I am grateful for this particular lesson, all I can continue to tell myself is that it was meant to be this way, we must learn from it and move forward on our own personal journeys. I miss you so much though. I woke up this morning and immediately thought of you when I saw the sunrise hitting the mountains outside of my window. I just can’t wrap my head around the thought that a year ago this was our last day to speak. It wasn’t a good goodbye unfortunately. You were upset and woke me up by telling me I was a f**ker haha, I try to find a little humor in that. That morning I didn’t think twice about you being all up in arms because I had seen you, let’s say, express your emotions so many times before. I offered a hug and you denied it. You were standing in my doorway when you said something I have thought back on a lot. You looked right at me and said “no Maddy, you probably won’t see me for a very long time”. All I thought then was, huh she ventured away from saying “I’m never talking to you guys again”. I so regret not forcefully hugging you before you left. But I know that our last conversation doesn’t depict the sisterly love we have and our relationship, so I try to let it go. I am actually kind of happy you said that though, I see it now as almost a subconscious foreshadowing. All I have to do now is wait that long time and I will see you again. I may reiterate this too much but I cannot believe it has been a year. It seems like yesterday still, that I was woken up with the phone call telling me to come home. At the same time though, I have done so much this year, it feels like there’s no way that you weren’t alive during those times. Today doesn’t seem so bad though. The holidays were hard but I must be distracted today due to being in our favorite state, Colorado. I wish you were here with us, where we all can see you but I will accept the many signs and sightings of you. On Christmas we left Tulsa at 5:30 in the morning to head to our destination. I was so tired that I kept forgetting it was Christmas. Although I wasn’t able to really feel you during the ride up, by the time I actually woke up I began to see your signs. The most major one would probably be the song I stumbled across when I was looking for a Dirty Heads song. I guess they have a song titled “Chelsea”. Obviously I played it when I saw it, it didn’t say your name in the song but the lyrics are so spot on. It was a great find that I know you placed right under my nose. I have also “seen” you a few times this trip. I’ll turn my head and I’ll see your face or hair, but it always turns out not to be you. It is nice though to feel like I can see you on this trip with us. Some people may think I’ve gone crazy with all of the things I say about you being here and signs and whatnot. Sometimes I even think I’m going crazy and that it’s all a trick of the brain, but I would rather be crazy and happy then just sad all the time haha. This being said I have learned too that it is okay to keep some sadness and anger, it’s kind of unavoidable. When I’m alone, or with someone for that matter, a funny joke or phrase will pop into my head. I don’t share these thoughts sometimes because It almost feels like it was just you chiming in and I like to have some personal jokes with you still. I think I have become more like you this past year too. I can’t name specific ways but I just see it in some of the things I do or say, I like it though. Josh finally got his tattoo and its beautiful, I can’t wait to get mine. Mom and Dad are talking about theirs too. I am sure you have got to be loving this attention. The picture I posted may seem like an interesting choice but I love it because it captured us being weird together. I miss having my dinner table partner to play around with and do stupid stuff while the rest of the family is having adult conversations. We all miss you so much sister. I hope you can help our family remember what it means to be a family, all together as one with our differences aside. I know you are watching over all of us and I know you are alive and well in heaven, or whatever comes next. Like you said, “you guys are more dead than I am”… still an odd saying but I guess I can find comfort in it, so thanks haha. Thank you for everything sissy, stay with us as much as you can. Tell everyone I say hello and I love them too. I am thankful to have you as a part of me, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year. I love you, I love you, I love you.

Float On

Your 24th was one for the books.  Whenever I am spacing out or just about to slip into sleep, I imagine those graceful, floating lanterns swirling down the Arkansas with the huge, blood red moon reflecting on the water.  I just want to run that scene on repeat in my head somedays. Its kinda similar to not wanting a thunderstorm to stop pattering the roof and booming the sky.

Besides seeing you in my dreams I have struggled to really feel your presence back here with me.  I remember writing you a birthday love note on the outside of my lantern and decorating the wooden base with mandalas and roses.  I feel like I could have done that for hours just hanging out in the grass drawing like a little kid but thank god everyone else kept me on schedule.

I loved the parade down to the river edge with everyone clutching their little personalized lantern for you.  The night was growing dark as the candles flamed and then slowly we started placing them into the current one by one.  And off they went bobbing along together slowly moving along the river. I am not really sure if people were actually silent but I was in my own little bubble with you.

Once I placed your light on the water I just thought it would follow the others and float on.  But it just stayed there right next to me on the shore.  It was like I couldn’t let you go and drift away and maybe (or so I like to think) you were holding on too. I literally had to push that lantern away to go and catch up with the others.  Which were now all heading to a low hanging tree! Oh shit.

I just couldn’t let them have that short of a journey so I just automatically started wading in the water on a mission. And boom Ori was right there with me–no questions asked–in that nasty ass water to save the day! Definitely went for gold and had to actually swim to get to the tree and start saving lanterns. It was hilarious! The current was way stronger than we thought but the sketchiness was way worth it to see your lights continue on the river. We knew you would be the first to hop in that murky water too so it was pretty suiting!

Thank you for that night. I will always remember it.

Love always,



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!

Betsy Whitmarsh’s post to Chelsea Rose Murphy the day of her service

Insanity at it’s finest.
Fire starter,
Riot maker,
Moon stricken,
Animal need,
Bad seed,
Untamable beast.

Tech N9ne “The Beast”

Josh shared these lyrics at your service today. He said you used to recite them before each soccer game to get pumped up. You were a beast, babe. A beautiful, wild child who made no apologies and took no prisoners.

Words can’t describe how heartbroken we are that you are gone or how much we miss you already. I always thought you were a much better version of me. We shared that whole middle child thing. But you were fierce and fearless, while I was self-conscious and shy, and I admired you, even as I shook my head and smiled.

I love you. There is no part of me that can even begin to accept that you are gone. I am so angry, I want to break everything I can get my hands on; and so sad, I don’t know that I will ever be able to smile again.

And then I see your beautiful face smiling back at me. And I know that you’d be really ticked at me if I gave into my grief for good, because you didn’t. No matter how crappy things got, no matter how many obstacles you had to overcome, you never complained – you got back up, you kept going, and you smiled that beautiful, beautiful smile. I was and still am in awe of you. I don’t know if we deserved you, sweetheart, but we loved you so.

I don’t know how to say goodbye to you. I don’t know if I ever will. You and Chase and Josh and Maddy are what bring me peace and without you, the word seems empty. I’m not okay. Nothing is okay. And then I hear your voice in my head and I know, once again, that while I can’t escape the pain of losing you, I can’t give into it either. Somehow, it will transform us both.

“We are not human beings living spiritual lives, but spiritual beings living human lives.” Can’t think of who said that, but it makes me think of you. My mind starts to try to make sense of this somehow and then all the memories of everything that’s happened these past few years come flooding in and I know that I will never be able to make sense of any of this.

“We never bury the dead. We take them with us – It’s the price of living.” We don’t heal from these losses, either, or work our way through them. We simply learn to live with the pain of losing those we love so dearly. For better or worse. And I promise you, Chelsea – as excruciatingly painful as losing you is for me – I will find a way to take you with me, I will find a way to go on without letting go, and I will find a way to become a better person than I ever thought I could be, because you, my beautiful, beautiful child never gave in, never gave up, and never quit smiling. I love you, sweet girl.

Sent from my iPad

My Favorite Memories of Chelsea Rose Murphy by Betsy Whitmarsh

My Favorite Memories – by Betsy Whitmarsh, a memorial of Chelsea Rose Murphy

I found god in myself
and I loved her,
I loved her fiercely.

– Ntozaje Shange

This poem has always made me think of you, Chelsea. I’ve never known anyone as outwardly self-assured as you. I’ve always marveled at your confidence. You were such a combination of strength, beauty, intelligence and compassion that you had every reason to feel good about yourself. However, most young girls don’t have the clarity of vision or the strength of character that you possessed. You stayed true to yourself. Even when you felt like things weren’t going well, you were startlingly honest and insightful, both with and about yourself.

One of my favorite memories of you will always be when you wanted to model for me all the new underwear and bras you got for Christmas. Of course, ALL the underwear was thongs! I was so proud and tickled and amazed by you. Never in a million years would I have had the self-confidence to do a “fashion show” in my underwear and yet, to you, it was the most normal thing in the world. Now I think about it, I recall that there were actually quite a few of these Victoria Secret “Fashion Shows.” You were always so excited whenever you got a new bra or thong and you literally had dozens of them. I think we actually counted your bras once. You had something like one for every day of the month!

Oh, sweetie, what I would give to be sitting on your bed with you, shaking my head and laughing while you showed me your new clothes, thongs and all.