In gardening, some trees are combined by slicing through the bark and inserting a limb of a different variety into the opening. It is also the means of growing new tissue onto a living person.

My dear friend, A. uses the term to explain the way she connects friends. It’s not just an introduction. I should know; she grafted me into friendships in Minnesota, making my move much more enjoyable. (She is also the impetus behind our Bear Encounter in the Boundary Waters.)

For that very reason, I thought it would be beneficial to graft one of my friends online. Today’s post is written by my colleague from Fairfield University’s MFA program, Moriah Erickson. We sat in many workshops and endured one torturous arrogant poetess,(who shall not be named!) but overall, really enjoyed our time. I admire her award-winning poetry and I am so grateful for her weekly missives. They fill boxes and keep us connected as I have journeyed around the country.

She has numerous published collections and “In the Mouth of the Wolf” is available at

To read one of her poems, click here

Her friendship is a gift and I asked her to share her writing, letting her choose the topic. Mother of seven, she lives in Maine and although she did not comment on her choice of topics, by this time in our lives we have all experienced loss and the grief that goes with it. I think many of us can relate.

Thank you, Moriah, for sharing these thoughts:

 I’ve made a habit out of being caught off guard lately. Take this weekend: I worked Saturday overnight and had an uneventful shift at the hospital where I am a respiratory therapist. I drove home in a post-night shift stupor, thinking about coffee and my warm bed. There were a couple blank moments, as usual, where my eyes were open, but all the synapses were not firing and I was thankful that there were few other cars out that early on a rainy Sunday morning in Maine. 

I got home safely, with a breath of relief. I petted my dogs and said hello to my family. I stumbled blindly to bed, as I often do, barely able to change out of my scrubs and rinse the hospital off. As I laid in bed, I put the television on to distract me from the sounds of the household while I slept. I set my alarm for noon, which is typical for my days off. Just as I was almost asleep, I noticed the movie that I had streamed was musical and without dialogue. 

I had selected it simply because of the title “The Ghost Story,” thinking it was a horror movie, or at least a psychological thriller, my usual selections for mindless, dreamless sleep. But as I watched, I recognized it as mournful. I thought briefly about grief and fell asleep. 

When I woke, I still had grief on my mind. I watched “The Ghost Story” for real again, sipping coffee and laying in bed with my three dogs. The premise of it is this: happy couple living life, man gets killed in freak auto accident, woman grieves, man returns to the house in a sheet as a “ghost” and witnesses her grief in its entirety. It was a film that was somber, and heartbreaking. I recognized why the lack of dialogue occurred to me. 

But grief, seriously. It punches you in the gut when you least expect it, and when you are least prepared for it. But we humans are well-equipped to cope with it. It’s a good thing, too, because otherwise grief could consume us whole, like Jonah in the whale. I’ve lost people in my life, I’ve given up dreams in favor of reality, and I have even lost some facets of my self. I have grieved all of these things, and while they do still make me sad, I can function. 

With mourning, though, I recognize that in order to have the sadness, the loss, there has to be the having and with the having, the joy. Your beloved grandmother dies, but you have the memories of her. You have the time. You could not have the degree of sadness that you have without the equal degree of joy. I would bet if someone could turn this into an equation of sorts, it would be equal on both sides. 

Considering that, are the saddest people really the happiest, too? Are the rest of us living closer to the middle of that spectrum someplace? And should we be comfortable there? 

I have been caught off guard by the intensity of emotion that “The Ghost Story” propelled through me. I have been caught off guard by the importance of loss. I can only recommend dwelling on these topics, as they make us more appreciative of the having. 

Thank you to Moriah, for this essay and for having me as a friend. xo

By Catstrav

Reindeer handler. NDT tech. Mother of four. Aspiring astronaut.

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