05 Apr 2013

Five Minute Friday: After

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” –Saul Bellow –>click to tweet.

On Fridays around these parts we like to write. Not for comments or traffic or anyone else’s agenda. But for pure love of the written word. For joy at the sound of syllables, sentences and paragraphs all strung together by the voice of the speaker.

We love to just write without worrying if it’s just right or not. For five minutes flat.

Here’s how we do it:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat on the prompt “After” with no editing, tweaking or self critiquing.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button code in my blog’s footer}.

3. Go and tell the person who linked up before you what their words meant to you. Every writer longs to feel heard.

OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes for the prompt:



I read something someone wrote and it reminded me. It took me deep down a rabbit trail I haven’t visited in a while. My mom died when I was 18. When I turned 36 it felt like there was a big black line painted in tar across my before and after. 18 years with her and 18 without her. I have a daughter now – I named her Zoe, which means “life” – because that’s what I want these next 18 to be about. I’m counting them with her. And holes that joy used to slip through are slowly closing over.

I’m a survivor of the after.

This hurt place that left a scar that pulled deep across my ribcage is healed now. I cover it up with clothes and most days I don’t even feel it itch. But it’s there. It’s there waiting for the woman who sits down next to me or writes up her words on a screen. The hard song of the motherless daughter. When I hear it my scar throbs. It throbs hard through my clothes and I have to stop everything and just let myself remember. These are the things we can’t heal. These are the necessary bridges. Our scars. And how they illustrate something we share in common with strangers better than any words.

I never say it will be OK. I always agree that it is terrible and hard and lots more awkward than you can imagine. It’s never easy to explain what you’ve lost to someone who hasn’t lost it. Pity and embarrassment get in the way. But when you spot someone else’s scar, you can just say it without worrying about how it sounds. Because they already know. They’re living in the after too.



{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    “the hard song of the motherless daughter.” That phrase is lodged in my heart. Oh, how your before and after is a thing of beauty to so many, Lisa-Jo. So many.

  2. 2

    Living in the after . . . oh how this makes my heart want to write. Thanks so much for this community!

  3. 3

    Thank you for your symphony of words, again. I so want to squeeze you tight.

  4. 4

    So many people are struggling through a painful after — whether it’s a loss due to death, divorce, or PTSD. Thank you for writing this. I look forward to every Friday, specifically for this group of writers.

    • 5

      I agree, so many afters…

      LisaJo wrote – These are the things we can’t heal.

      Wow. If only
      If only everyone knew that
      If only everyone even considered that
      Thanks for writing it :)

  5. 6

    My after today is about death of a family member also. Ironically (or not) yesterday was the sixth anniversary of my brother’s death.

    I keep thinking my Mom and Dad just need to hold on for this next thing or that next thing or the other next thing. I can’t imagine losing my Mom at 18. She almost died when I was 21 but she held on then. Now, perhaps she can continue holding on… for this Summer. For Katherine’s wedding. For Emma’s graduation. For Samuel starting middle school? For tomorrow?

    Loved this post and hated it. After writing my tear inducing after… here I go again. Thank you. Lots of emotion unspent lately.

  6. 8

    you’re a survivor of the after.

    oh sister, me too, me too.

    this is so beautifully written, lisa-jo. got me right in the heart.

    janelle marie

  7. 9

    I feel that way when I see other preemie moms…it’s like you don’t have to explain, you just both understand that your birth experience was different. Thanks for sharing Lisa-Jo…I love how you named your girl Zoe :)

  8. 10

    I would like to do this but I have never done a link up like you talk about here. It confuses me. Could someone give me the dummies version?

    And if you know the password to my old xanga account, that would be helpful too.


  9. 12

    Thank you, Lisa-Jo. We share the scars. Such a beautiful, compassionate post. I read and re-read soaking every word, nodding.

  10. 13

    I am so glad I found this link up. I’ve been wanting community in my life. Craving it. And as a writer, I makes me so happy that I’ve been reminded of the joys of free writing. Tonight was a really beautiful experience. Thank you for setting up!

  11. 15

    How is it that there are so many links just after midnight? Wow. I was heading to bed when I saw a post come through my blogfeeds for 5MF – I was like …wait, what? lol. To stay awake and write or wait until after I sleep….hmmm….Happy Friday!

    • 16
      Lisa-Jo says:

      I know, I’m always amazed myself. LOVE this group of crazy enthusiastic writers :) also, the west coasters totally have an advantage over us exhausted east coast writers.

  12. 17

    OK, so then I went and read the post- sorry! I started at the links and was so surprised , commented and then went up and read your post. Precious to name your girl “life”- I never new Zoe held this meaning. Perfect. And so the next 18 and beyond shall be.

  13. 18

    This is my first Five Minute Friday. I had no idea it would be so emotional for me! Thanks for letting me join in.

  14. 20

    I am the “hard song” of the Fatherless daughter – and there are scares He tries to heal but my hands get in the way. I do know, though, that He doesn’t leave us fatherless or motherless – but there are days on this big old earth that I just wish I had a physical hand to put mine into:) Blessings friend – in what He has for you in the after!

  15. 22

    What a beatifully written reflection on loss and grief. I just lost my dad a couple weeks ago and recently wrote a post about it… The blog post I didn’t want to write. Not looking forward to what you describe as the “after.” Still in the place where it feels a bit of a blur. Anyways, this post really touched me.

    • 23
      Lisa-Jo says:

      Oh Charis. May Jesus walk so close to you in this dark valley. I promise it gets better. But slowly. Yes, it’s OK that it goes slow.

  16. 24

    Your words about the after really spoke to me and tugged at my heart. Your after is similar to so many others’. Thank you!

  17. 25

    I just want to shout so loud that I get this so completely. I know that ache better than almost any thing else and the way it works itself out in beautiful and awkward ways in life. We, motherless daughters, have to stick together.

  18. 27

    My sister-in-law lost her husband suddenly 18 months ago and walking thought that time with her, and four her sons, has opened my husband’s and my own eyes about grief….what it’s like to wake to the sound of children crying day after day…preparing yourself to support them through the years, not just for a short season. Late last Saturday night I remembered that I hadn’t bought an egg for her sons to give her, and they are not yet old enough to do that for themselves. And I was ashamed. I was ashamed that I had become absorbed in the relentless pace of my own life and forgot about the daily pain of hers.
    Thanks for sharing you story.

  19. 28

    I have a rule that I don’t read your post until I’ve written my own…and today, my After is me without my dad. I’m so very sorry that this is a wound we share- it changes something about your DNA to lose a parent, I think.

    • 29
      Lisa-Jo says:

      Yes, your DNA shifts with strands of loss woven into it, doesn’t it? Blessings on your scar today, Abbey

  20. 30

    notes sung by someone who knows …
    resonating with someone who gets it.

    reminds me of natalie grant’s lyrics,
    from her song, ‘held’:

    this is what it means to be held
    how it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
    and you survive
    this is what it is to be loved
    and to know
    that the promise was that when everything fell
    we’d be held

    ~ with empathy from another living in the after

  21. 31

    I was much older than 18 when I acquired that scar, but I resonate with your words here. Thank you for sharing your deep places of living in the after.

  22. 32

    THis is so powerful. I think every person who reads this post will instantly be catapulted into their own after. Beautiful.

  23. 33

    Good Morning!
    I keep wondering, do you have a South African accent? I love accents. I’m from Texas but I pick up accents all the time, so SoMetImEs I don’t sound like I’m from Texas at all. But, I think that’s changed these recent years. Anyway, I’m off subject here.

    Thank you again for your post. It really made me think … I really like and appreciate your summation, but especially these words: It’s never easy to explain what you’ve lost to someone who hasn’t lost it. Pity and embarrassment get in the way. But when you spot someone else’s scar, you can just say it without worrying about how it sounds. Because they already know. They’re living in the after too.

    I have a close family member who often remarks “you get me”. It’s so important in life to “get” our own scars … know from what and when and where we are healed or healing and the One responsible for that healing. We can’t relate to others without it … sometimes we can relate to almost anyone with it. It’s just part of life. My family member is scarred literally in life and sometimes she says “Jesus loves me that much” … in and through the scars – a permanent reminder.

    Thank you again -you’ve got me thinking about it all.


    • 34
      Lisa-Jo says:

      Hey Jenn,

      Well if you asked my husband he’d say I used to have one and now it’s mostly just a confused mix of everywhere we’ve lived – this is his constant complaint :) He misses my South African accent.

  24. 35

    “I’m a survivor of the after.” Me too. But my dad. Thanks for sharing.

  25. 36

    Loved this! And joined for the first time, though it took ALL THAT IS WITHIN ME not to correct the mistake I immediately saw.

  26. 37

    Totally relate to EVERYTHING you said today. EVERYTHING.

  27. 38

    I can’t believe how blonde Zoe has gotten! I lost my mom 7 years ago last month. Thank you for always speaking what I feel and still can’t write about it.

    And that quote at the top? So TRUE! I hopped out of bed and typed something in the notes app on my phone last night and today it’s like a little gift I forgot. Why can’t we think that clearly all the time?

    • 39
      Lisa-Jo says:

      :) I think it’s smart you typed it. I’ll have to remember that. I’m always trying to figure out what my scrawled midnight notes mean.

  28. 40
    Elizabeth Rolf says:

    My only complaint is I wish there was more. These words are so beautiful and so accurate. As a fatherless daughter I identify deeply with you. Thank you so much for this. Thank you thank you thank you.

  29. 41

    such beauty, truth and compassion in your words, Lisa-Jo…sending you a cyber-hug :)

  30. 42

    Eighteen years is way too young. I can’t imagine. I lost my father this year. I’m so thankful to have almost 50 years with him. I know you will never take time for granted with loved ones.

  31. 43

    I can sense the real pain that you’ve expressed here. I cannot imagine experiencing that. I struggle with the loss that has taken place with a mother with Parkinson’s and a father with Alzheimer’s. They aren’t the parents I had when I was 18, I miss them, but they are still here, and I know what a blessing that is. Grace and peace to you.

  32. 44
    Mallory says:

    Beautiful, heartfelt writing. Reading that triggers that ache from the deep down scars, too.

  33. 45

    Thank you for writing this. Describes it perfectly. You can’t know until you know.

  34. 46

    I don’t understand how this works even after looking at directions. I must be dense. Here is what I wrote: I owe the “after” to Denise J. Hughes. This is my first ever five minute writing blog thingee. I’m sure that’s not a word, but that’s okay. Things like thinga-ma-jig have been around for a long while, but no one seems to say they are right or wrong. When I first started blogging I wanted to do things “just right” only to find out there isn’t a right or wrong way to write your own personal blog – uniqueness cannot be legislated.
    So when I go over the perfectionism I could freely write with my whole heart. I just write what I’m learning. That is why I call my posts Whispered Words of Wisdom. But now that I’ve learned the value of uniqueness I’m going to be launching a new and improved blog with just my name as the moniker. It will have posts on inspiration, history, videos and so much more. I am excited about living in the power of uniqueness.
    If anyone has read the book by Denise J. Hughes on becoming a writer then you will understand how freeing it is to just write according the will of God. I don’t feel like I’m competing anymore than a rose would feel inferior to a daisy. God made us bloggers, like he did flowers, but the power of His hand we write His story with words He’s planted in our hearts.

  35. 48

    I know all about those scars. I lost my Dad when I was just about to turn 6 and watched my mother raise 3 girls alone at the age of 35. I am about to turn 35 and cancer took my mom just weeks ago. I am struggling with the emotions, but have the knowledge, love and respect for life that I will breathe through this moment. Thanks you for your teachings today. Your words calmed the storm in my heart.

  36. 49


    I am glad that the holes are healing in the mighty works of our Lord and that you are a blessing to so many in this community. Let that light continue to shine so that many more will come to know Him and be healed too.

  37. 50

    So true. I saw that in my mother when I was growing up. Her mother died when she was 18, and she missed her. I think it makes it harder when your mama couldn’t hold your babies. I miss my mom too and my dad. That is the cycle of life; but as a Christian, I know I will see them again.

  38. 51

    I so appreciate the rawness of your posts.

    The wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent, when to say “everything will be okay” and when to say “that stinks!” is far too rare these days.

    You clearly have that gift of discernment, and it’s very much needed.

  39. 52

    I still miss my mom.
    Someone said, you’re in an exclusive club now.
    Another person I met, he pointed out how many of the fairy tales are about motherless daughters. He did his thesis on Emma, lacking a mom. I never realized it, and then my mom died of breast cancer when I was 40, so I had a good 40 years, but oh I do miss her these past 7! Most days I turn the missing into gratitude. Sometimes I just cry on God’s shoulder, asking him for help.
    Yah, I still miss my mom.

  40. 53

    My heart ached for you in this post Lisa. Thank you for sharing the pain and the rawness. My friend just lost her mother last week and I wasn’t sure what to say and what not to say. Your beautiful post has helped, so thank you.

  41. 54

    For me, it was my dad. I was five. I seem to have missed him in different ways over the years. As my needs for a father changed – from a 3rd grader, to a teenager, to a bride, to a parent – there was a different sense of loss at each crossroad. You’re right. It doesn’t go away but God has been the best daddy on the planet — and then some. He has carried me through many rough spots. Thanks for sharing, Lisa-Jo.

    I wrote about my Dad in this week’s FMF here:

  42. 55

    I I too, am a survivor of the “after”. Sometimes I can’t stop thinking about it, but I am learning to remember the love and the goodness and the heart. For me, that helps. Those are the things I share. Today, I wrote a poem for my Five Minutes. I try to focus on the fact that I know I am not alone in my own “after”. Love the prompt today and the words you shared. Bless you in your journey.

  43. 56

    I don’t know how I found you, but I did and I love 5 mins Friday. I lost my dad when I was 13 and my mom in 2004. I feel like an “orphaned child”. Thank God I have an awesome husband that is so much like my dad, a son and daughter that we have that bond that I had with my parents.

    Thanks for sharing.

  44. 57

    I realized I forgot to link up, so I give you my link here:

  45. 58

    I am not living in the after of a death of a parent, but I am happy to see that through you, I can see an after that is a happy one. http://bellesbazaar-heather.blogspot.com/2014/03/after-5-minute-prompt.html

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