Musical pairing – Beautiful Eyes by Taylor Swift

It’s quiet this morning except for a train somewhere off in the distance . . . I don’t know where that train is going but it’s these moments when I’m present enough to actually hear its whistle, I wonder where those tracks begin and end. I haven’t slept much in the last several days . . . life is turned upside down . . . and with it, my lack of focus, my lack of drive to accomplish checking items off my ‘to-do’ list . . .

The Professor has left for campus this morning, the cats are sleeping in various positions stationed around the perimeter of our great room; the sun has not yet risen but I occasionally hear the call of a bird outside and if I peer through my windows, I can barely see the outline of what’s left of the leaves on the trees. I should be accomplishing my morning routine . . . planning tonight’s dinner, running the sweeper, finishing a load of laundry and hitting the treadmill, then pilates or a bit of yoga before I start to clean off my desk in the office.

Instead I’m thinking about Alice . . . her siblings, her mother and my son . . . navigating this road, this uncharted territory . . . for when a child is born with a terminal illness and you somewhat plan for somewhere ‘down the road’ . . . ‘down the road’ suddenly sneaks up from behind, grabs you by the throat in a choke-hold and you can’t move . . . you discover that you just didn’t see ‘down the road’ coming . . . you didn’t plan properly . . .

I am flooded with sweet memories of Alice . . . dark brown hair in pigtails, white ankle socks with frilly lace, chipped ‘goth’ nail polish, a tattoo in the small of her back, big brown eyes hidden by even bigger sunglasses and a laugh and a smile that melts your heart the moment she freely shares. In typical teenager form, Alice prefers salty chips, sweet candy, Starbucks caramel lattes and pepperoni pizza . . . I am betting she would turn her nose up at this chicken . . . I think she’s much more a fried chicken kinda girl . . . but then again, she might surprise me and take the teensiest taste just to see if I’m right when I say it’s one of the best baked chicken recipes I’ve ever made . . . I’d also forgive her if she still prefers fried . . .

SMITH BITES NOTE: I wrote this post yesterday morning and life changed this afternoon; Alice is being taken off all support tonight and will be going home soon . . . she is tired, she’s in pain, her body is weak and she told her dad that she is ready to go . . . and I love her enough to tell her we’ll be ok . . . and we will be ok . . . thank you so much for your prayers, your words of encouragement, for your kindness . . . it means the world to me and my family.





  1. How can I make Harissa paste or where can I buy ?


  3. Reading these posts about Alice in reverse chronological order – just heart-breaking. I hope you are all doing OK… LOVE this dish – I discovered a tube of harissa paste in my fridge over the weekend (yes, my fridge is so bad that I can be genuinely surprised by what I find in it :o)) and now I know what to make with it. Thanks!

  4. Sweet, sweet Alice. I am so sorry.

  5. I read the recipe and mooned over the photos before reading the intro. So terribly sorry, thoughts are with you and your family

  6. I’m so sorry, Debra! My thoughts are with you and your family. Sending you love and hugs.

  7. I’m terribly sorry for your loss, Debra. Sometimes words really can’t convey our symptahy. My prayers are with you and your family right now.

  8. Oh Deb. I’ve been tweeting a bit about silly stuff, but not really keeping up with folks. And then I read this. I am so, so, so sorry.

    Losing a child, a grandchild, I can’t even imagine. And that your family had the strength to let her go, to give her that peace. That is love. Real love. Amazing. I can’t stop crying and Lucy is sitting next to me and thinks I’ve completely lost my mind.

    If you need a friend, I am here. Anything. Just call. Anytime. That invite is open forever.

    And please write more about Alice, about her chipped goth nail polish, about who she was in the world. She will live on in your memory and words, and then in our memories, and I would love to know more about her.

    Big love to you,


  9. Debra my heart just breaks for you right now. Despite as you said having a vision of something in the future, it’s unfathomable when someone is clearly as full of life as Alice was by your description. The heart knows no bounds and coming to terms with such a loss is beyond comprehension. You and your family are in my thoughts.

  10. Julie Africk

    I am so very sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  11. Oh Debra, I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult this has been for you and your family. May God comfort all of you and wrap you in His arms.

  12. Deb, my heart goes out to you. Shortly before their sophomore year of college, my daughter’s best friend ever was struck by lightning on the golf course where she worked. She would never again be the active, fun girl we knew, instead she spent 3 and a half years in a body that she could not control; never to walk, talk or manage even the slightest bit of her own care.

    We loved that girl but there was just a time when the extraordinary measures had to stop; when the efforts to keep her alive were for the people who didn’t want to lose her and would miss her. When her poor, broken body was ready for the release that everyone tried to keep her from. My tears are real because I know your pain but sweet Alice is now free of those bonds that have kept her a prisoner of her own body and I hope you and your family will soon not feel the pain of grief but just the joy of remembrance.

  13. Deb, there really are no words. Thinking of you and your family.

  14. I am so, so sorry Deb. Prayers and huge hugs to all of you.

  15. Deb, I am so, so sorry for your loss. Please know that you, the Professor and your son and his family are in my thoughts.

  16. Aww Deb. My heart goes to you, your son, his family and sweet Alice. So much pain to endure so sorry!! Am sure she would have loved you Harissa chicken!!

  17. I am so, so sorry. Prayers to your family.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *