Seize the moment

Swig from the hop

Enjoy the dawn

Don’t worry about being popular

Think clear thoughts

Don’t be sour, even if you have good reason

Gain strengths from your experiences

Take part in life

Don’t fake it

Overcome adversity.


Note: Inspired by the Creative Copy Challenge #48

Photo by Brian Lauitzen


You are Enough – Write On

I am participating in the Writing Contest:
You Are Enough, hosted by PositiveWriter.com.
So here goes:

Even before I found out my son had been murdered, I began writing about what I was experiencing as I waited for word of what had happened. Writing to ease pain seemed a natural choice. I was taking notes:
* 9/8
* Amanda (my daughter-in-law to be) brutally raped
* Prague, Oklahoma
* Ethan, nowhere to be found
And, seven and a half years later, the writing hasn’t stopped.

The days that followed the loss of my son were fraught with much confusion. I knew that writing and taking notes would be the only way I would keep things straight as the facts made me dizzy. So, off to the local superstore I went. I picked up a notebook for under $2 and began putting all of my notes in one portable spot.

Shortly after the funeral, I found myself shutting down, because my limited times of grieving out loud were too much for others. I was being forced to stifle my own feelings. The care of my two younger daughters, and other family members, became more important than taking care of myself. Someone had to be the head of the family, and it seem my husband was not going to do it. Hence, it was up to me.

That being said, I knew I needed an outlet, a non-judgmental set of “ears”. This is where writing to ease pain came in; writing more than just the poem for my son’s funeral card and the notes from conversations with the District Attorney.

It was time to express my feelings through writing, so I went to one of my usual online haunts — http://CreativeCopyChallenge.WordPress.com (CCC). You see, I had been meeting the weekly writing challenges for years and going back to them was … natural, refreshing, enlightening, and a source of comfort.

The week I re-visited the website, I took the ten random words posted on the CCC and wrote. After all, that is the most basic challenge. I told myself: “You can do it Kathleen, it is just “…creating a cohesive … short story….” No problem, right? I am not going to lie: it was not the easiest thing to do, especially when I had been stuffing many of my feelings deep down inside. There was a bit of trepidation as I put my toe back in the writing waters. But this is why I had come. My fingers hit the keys. The delete key was used a time or two. But low and behold, this was where my first “Mind-full Conversation” was born.

Through my opportunity to write to the CCC and in my journal, I began to write things that others close at hand did not want to hear or did not know how to react to. Writing allowed me to “speak” the words “with” my son that I could not say to others. I was able to chat with my son as if the conversations were still possible. Writing let me explore, in an honest manner, the multitude of feelings I was experiencing.

Writing enabled me to journal what was going on with the case. This turned out to be cathartic, cleansing and a clever way to share information. It also helped deal with frustrations while helping make some sense of all of the feelings I was experiencing.
I never push myself to write. I write no more and no less than I am feeling like writing at any time. I don’t always write to the CCC—most often, it’s just in my notebook/journal. As it turns out, I have am writing my memoir in small chunks. Writing in chunks that I could handle, handle looking inward at myself and looking at things that have happened in my life.

Even though writing a memoir was not my initial goal, along my bumpy path, I learned that my willingness to write about “it” was helpful to others. This started me on my research on memoirs. I found a group on LinkedIn.com chatting about memoirs and that is where I “met” Denis Ledoux. I was introduced to The (helpful) Memoir Network. It is where I have been encouraged to continue to write and work toward something I am willing to have others read.

The death of a loved one, often, does not gain closure quickly. Murders and suicides usually take longer. I am still in the writing and editing phase of my journal(s), some of my memoir(s) are about the loss of my son, but not all of them. You see, it’s not my first memoir creation. Other essays I have written are also memoirs, too.

I have used writing to process many things that have accrued in my life. I have written about surviving a multitude of experiences with my children at my side. I am blessed to have gotten comfortable writing in my journals. It was, and still is, natural for me to continue on with the process.

There is a Key

Writing down what goes on in life, writing your journals and/or a memoir— whether these are only for you, for your family, or for strangers, your goal is to help someone find a shining light on the path through this thing called life – writing is the key. Writing is the key to self-expression. Writing is the key to keeping a log of things that have gone on in one’s life. It can be difficult at times as well as cleansing. So, pick up a pen; hit the keys; write. Because there is a personally cleansing memoir, or two, in all of us. It does not need to be perfect either, because there are editors out there to help clean it all up.

Thank you to:

Hints of Holiday Spirit

Note: This Flash Fiction was inspired by Creative Copy Challenge #511 and the bold typed words were part of the challenge.

“Mum, why are you just sitting, motionless, computer-side?” she looked up from the keyboard she had not touched in hours, past the ceiling that held the roof and the snow, toward the voice she knew she was the only one to hear it. “If you sit there much longer Hypothermia will set in.”

“I know son. You are right,” she said softly.

“Why don’t you go stand or sit by the fire while this nor’easter blows through?”

She rose, albeit hesitantly, at his suggestion. As she approached the fireplace the warmth from the flames fleeced the chill that had been settling into her bones. She rubbed her hands together as she held her hands above the flame.

The woolens that covered her legs began to hold the heat.

“Remember how we used to fight to get the best spot, in front of the fire?”

The corners of her mouth began to rise. “Yes, you three standing there in your longjohns, sniffles egged on by the mention of coco and stories….”

“And one of us trying to get you to say… move over and give – whoever sniffled – a closer spot next to the fire!” the glee in her son’s voice was undeniable. “Wasn’t there something about sugarplum fairies and who knows what else?” He did not wait for an answer, “Those were great times Mum.”

“I am glad you think so Lovie. They were apt entertainment on the ranch and for childhood.”

“They helped with those dreary long Colorado days Mum.”

“Thanks son, for saying that … for stopping by today. Your visits help keep the ice crystals from adhereing to my heart, well, at least for long periods of time.”

“Awe mum, you’re not cold hearted, dad lied about that for years, you are just broken hearted.”

“You are right Lovie. But I did smile, deep down inside, at the neighbor’s lights display this year; it has music and all.”

“I saw that Mum. I miss the house aglow in lights too.”



A Reminder of the Wake

Four years ago, today, I was sitting at a restaurant with my Spouse-type fella and my youngest beauty. We were doing what family’s do, enjoying a meal and conversation. But it is a meal I will never forget.

I sat, chopsticks in hand, Pad Thai on my plate and my youngest, then 17 years old, says, “[Miss K] says when mom gets old… if she gets dementia … she’s gonna put mom in a home, [a rest home].”

When I asked Miss E “Why?” she replied, “she said, ‘because I know [mom] will ask where’s Ethan and I won’t be able to handle that,'” Miss E added, “and then I told Miss K, yah it’s a home for her.”

The tears that fell from my downcast eyes blurred my vision. The noodles lost their individuality. The table became quiet as it was noticed I had become still and silent. Unable to speak really. The Spouse-type fella gently touched my left arm. Tears still descended to plate.

It was a reality that broke my heart, yet again. My surviving children have had their hearts broken, broken so that they anticipate it never being repaired or put back together nor a strong enough band-aid being applied that many years down the road the mere mention of their brother’s death will re-injury this family. Re-injury us beyond repair.

Lord, please spare my children this agony and let me keep my faculties about me ’til the end.
— signed a loving teary eyed mom.

Moment By Moment

Over the last few years – since the sentencing really — I have learned to give family members their space, even when I feel the need to talk to them, even when I really want to know that they are okay. I have learned my needs do not outweigh theirs. Hence when I went to send out “Merry Christmas” notes this week I deleted the one to a family member who has needed to put distance between us. And to my surprise I got a note from that family member, all on her own, a great Christmas present.

This family member was in need of chatting, processing the negative affect that infamous day is still having on many of our lives. I prayed I would have the right words. Prayed hard.

So I wrote: I know the positive stuff/outlook/attitude is a challenge at times. I stumble each week and tears often drip from my eyes many days of the week, often many times of the day. But the duration of the love drops that fall from my eyes is shorter, most days. But you are right “…nothing has been the same or even normal for 6 years.” I know the selfish people took joy from our lives… evident by this empty house I sit in, evident by the fact that my daughters and I have not spoken in year and 7 months.”

I thought to myself, nothing will ever be the same. It can’t be. Our E-man is gone.

I know we, this entire family, have a big whole in our hearts, souls and lives. Our family is now so disjointed, spread to all of the corners of the US and we are no longer tight. Add to this that many of my loved ones are not dealing with the death, let alone dealing well with the loss of such a positive part of all of our lives. But as I allow the love to stream down my face, as I wipe the love that drips from my eyes… I have chosen to do my best to not let those selfish people take more and more and more and more. They have taken enough from me, from us all.

I fake it ‘till I make it.
I am still faking it.
But there are now moments, moments that are added side by side now, that help me find the joys in the moments I am in. Temporary/limited … yes, but they are moments our boy encourages.

It was then she asked me if I was able to take a call. So I gave her my phone number (I think she was glad it had not changed) and two hours 29 minutes later we hung up. Tears were shared. Heck, the moment I heard her voice the tears began. She sounded good. We caught up. We re-ran through many things and clarity was gained for her. And some for me, too. Apologies were made. Apologies were accepted. Encouragement of more healing was given.

This life my son’s family and friends are now living is not a life we had thought we would be living. But it is a life that we must be lived. It is a life we must find a way to live. Find a way to put one foot in front of the other. Find a why to honor our loved one while not letting the selfish bastards continue to victimize any of us. I wish this progression in all who love my son, Ethan and all who have been touched by his story.

6 Years and Counting

Mind-full Conversation …

                                                    a continuing set of chats

It is not cruel and unusual punishment to keep him locked away in that institution nor his sister-wife. I hate it when folks forget how inhumane the Orange Blob’s treatment of you was (and of others).

I love it how the cops call here the “Swife”.

It is comical, isn’t it Lovie.


So, momma….

Yes, Lovie.

After all those interviews  she looked up to the sky … Did they get all the information they needed … to help the families of some of his first victims?

No Lovie. It seems there is still some more interest in getting more out of him.

So they think what he has told them has some merit?

It seems so.

Are there industry standards for how much they can get with this plea bargain?
No, each plea bargain is written specific to the criminal.

Will they keep you informed of progress?

Yes, Lovie. After all, they would not have made the leaps and bounds in these cases if your murder had not provided them with the DNA. Plus, the facts are so similar they seem to mergeinto one big case. They keep me up to date, I insist on it. Heck, I email them on your birth date, your death date and now the death date of the two others.

Sept. 8th, marks 6 years since my son, Ethan JD Kline Walton was robbed of his life and other horrendous acts were played out on other family members of mine. My “Mind-full Conversation” are things I would say to my son, as if her were still here, allowing me to share information with others as well.

When giving of ourselves is too much – for others

It happened again, just the other day — it was suggested that I “stop going onto those pages and stop helping others who are grieving because it is keeping you living in the past.” Like my grief is holding me back. Like my learning to live with my grief and helping to lead others out of a very dark place — that I had gotten to after the murder of my son — is a bad thing.

I shake my head, more at myself than anyone, at questioning, for a moment, if the lady who suggested this was right.

As I questioned myself and my own path over the last, nearly, 6 years. I began looking at my interaction with others. I will admit I even compared my interactions, a bit, with her’s. Now this is a church going, God loving person who is active in her church. So, I was surprised this came from her, on one hand, but … then again she has not suffered a heaven sent child loss – first hand – as I have. She has only been on the shirttail of it all since that 8th day of September 2010.

I have found that I think she, and many others possibly (because this has been said to me by a couple of other well meaning, loving folks) forgotten that in 1 Peter 4:10-11 we are told:

 As each has received a gift, [we are to] use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s     varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—[should do so] in order that in everything [we do] God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. 

After all, I openly admit that I couldn’t have made it this far without the strength of something bigger then myself. But maybe I missed effectively conveying this to those around me whom my grief still bothers, to those around me who are at a loss because my grief still hurts them.

Maybe they think I can turn my grief on and off like a light switch.
Maybe they think it would be easier to deal with me if I was not so open about my grief, open about my learning to live on this altered path, open about taking x-y- and z steps to regain what I can of me (the me that was here before the murder of my son)?

Then I find myself looking at Galatians 5:13-14:
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

For many who know me, are coming to know me through this blog, the Hearts For Bereaved page (a private group page on Facebook), and one-on-one contact like the recent blessing of answering the phone, at my day job, to a wife who is reeling from the unexpected death of her husband – I am a loving person. I am a ‘Pay It Forward’ person. It has been my nature since I was born. It is ingrained in me to give so much, let alone it goes along with my personal faith.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been things (and people) that have happened in my life that have tried to break that loving kindhearted spirit within me. There have even been times I thought “that” might have won. But, alas, today, today I can say – those forces have not won. I have. And it is because of the strength I have gained from my faith which tells me at my weakest the strength comes from God.

I am reminded in Proverbs11:25: Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. The reality is I have been blessed. I have not been nice and loving and kind and caring to others to better my place in the eye of the Lord. In turn, allowing myself to continue to be kind has helped me. It has “watered” my soul, as it is promised in Proverbs 11:25.

I am not blind to Philippians 2:1-5 in which we are encouraged to not be selfish if we feel encouragement from our relationship with Jesus. So if there is any encouragement in Christ, (which I have) any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit (which I have), any affection and sympathy (which I have), complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit (which I do not), but in humility count others more significant than yourselves (which I have be faulted by others for doing). Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others….

I am reminded that …we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

When one of us suffers a deep personal loss of a child or a husband, wife, sibling or friend we should not be alone in our grief at all times. That is not how it was meant to be. We need others to lead us, by example, by encouragement and sometimes by the hand — out of the darkness and down the new, bumpy path we are now thrust upon to travel. And that is what I am doing when I help others who walk, stumble and fall on the same or nearly same path I am now navigating.

I am sorry my grief has not dissipated and has not gone away – because it seems, even nearly 6 years later, my grief is still too much for others. I am sorry my grief brings pain to others. But I am better than I was, even if they don’t see it. I am healthier because I am able to share this grief aloud with others. I am healthier because I am able to be the shoulder for others. I am stronger in my faith, as well, as I do not question the helping position I have been put in (just wish others saw it that way too).

A determined path

Yesterday, I was out with the Search and Rescue doing Hug a Tree presentation to the Boy Scouts. One of our local Explore kids joined us (okay there were 2, but only one was new to me). As we sat enjoying the generous meal the Boy Scouts offered us, we chatted about many a subject including Charlie Manson, his followers and other criminals that have hit the headlines of late. Sargent Dave, a fellow SAR member, brought up a few names that the young 18-23-year-olds did not recognize right away as residents of Crowbar Motels (prisons). This young Explore, I will call him WS, like many of them, have goals to become Officers; to stand up for others.

‘It is actions like these, the senseless murders, that make me want to be work in corrections,’ WS said. He further admitted that the taking of another’s life confounded him. It was then that I shared.

It was about then that the Explorer I know changed sides of the table and came to sit beside me. He had heard the tale once before.

“Yes, it does not make sense why someone would choose to, plan to defraud….” And I proceeded in telling a cursory set of details about a young 19-year-old boy, man the papers said, who lost his life, and his beautiful fiancé whose life was altered that day too. And I spoke of the Orange Blob and his Sister-wife; the children they produced and the fact that his mother was a Pastor.

WS agreed, shaking head, that these types of actions don’t make sense.

It is then that I said, “I know that actions like these don’t make sense, but the DNA collected that day, off my son, etc. helped solve more cases.”

Yes, this took WS by surprise. I did my best to not hit him over the head with the shock of the case I was talking about, but I have learned there is no easy way to let anyone know you are speaking of your own family when the discussion is at hand.

Then came a true and caring, “How is your daughter-in-law?” from the Explorer who was now sitting beside me.

I smiled, then proudly said, “She is doing well. She really is.”

It was then that WS looked at me and said softly, ‘You are the most positive person I have met. I am not sure how you do it, but I think it’s great.’

WS’s right. I am a positive person, most of the time. I have my down times. I admit it.

I have longer stretches, not limited to mere moments, in which I am not so positive since my son was murdered and the changes this entire mess has had on our “family” that is left behind in the wake of it all. Those are, most often, private moments, or at least moments I only let an extremely limited number of people witness; hence why I am not seen by as many people as before the murder took place.

But back to the positiveness of it all.

I have promised myself to keep the me I like, even if that means regaining me. Long ago I promised myself to not let anyone take that me away from me. And because it is a positive thing I am trying my hardest, at times, to keep – me. I am not going to lie — I am struggling, at times, to look in the mirror and see the me that was here before this tragedy hit our family. It has changed me. It has changed us all to a large extent, but I like being positive. It is part of me that was there before and part of me which I showed my children, all of them.

And then there is that one last thing: I am determined to NOT let the Orange Blob (the murderer) and his Sister-wife take that away from me … too.


Day 28 of the June Challenge

Twenty-eight Dominoes

June 28, 1914. Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo along with his wife, Duchess Sophie. This assassinated started a domino effect resulting in World War I.

There are 28 dominoes in a full set of dominoes. Do you like to play dominoes? Do you like to play games? Why or Why not? What are your favorite games? Tell us about a time you played a game with friends or family.
Or write about The Big Game from your high school or college days.”

So … Do I like playing games…? NO!

I grew up playing cards with mom, grandma and the sisters. I even played tri-dominos with my grandma Kay. But my love of playing games fell away and I don’t even know when. My enjoyment for playing games, the challenge was still around when I was 23. That is when I tried out for and was on the gameshow – Super Password – back in 1986. I played well, well enough to become a retired 5-time undefeated champion. But I wonder if that was when my game playing enjoyment began to fade.

I became a person who was not a game player.

Some may say, often it was my children who I heard saying it in different ways, I am too serious in life. It was needed back then. But stalking can have that affect on a gal.

I remember … there was this one time, in 2001 — I remember when I felt forced to learn to play the color bubble game on the computer, yep, by my kids. I felt forced at the time. But I really tired to learn to relax and do something to affirm life.

“Come on mom, you can learn to play it. We’ll teach you!”

The kids repeated often. So I relented in hopes of getting them off my back. After all, I could no longer resist the willing encouragement from my two beauties.

A week later my son, Ethan, age 10-ish lead the troops into the house from school. Kayla, 8, was right on his heals when they found me sitting at the computer and he said with much surprise, “Mom, what are you doing?”

I looked up, a bit of guilt in my eyes, “I am playing the game you taught me to play,” my cheeks became flush as I looked to see the glee in his expression. Both he and Kayla gather around me in disbelief with giggles. I know they thought I must be just hammering out another article. But to their surprise… I really was playing the game they had encouraged me to learn to play.

So now, even with the empty nest, when I am board and want a bit of that happiness back… I find a modern game associated with colored bubbles and I download it and play it in memory of that once joyous time.

Oh for the colored bubbles my kids just knew they could teach me to play with. ❤