Kissing Hand

February 5, 2024

Dear Mitch,

My heart exploded into a million pieces when you died.

As I continue grieving, I think my heart cannot break anymore. Yet each morning, I wake up without you. Each anniversary, memory, or dream not coming true without you makes my heart shatter again. Each shard becomes smaller and smaller as my heart fractures more and more.

This reminds me of a couple of different activities I would do with my first graders. One is the children’s book The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. In this book, lil’ Racoon has to go to night school but misses his mom when he is there. Mother Racoon kisses his hand before he leaves each night. When baby Racoon misses his mom, all he has to do is put his mother’s kiss on his cheek and recite, Momma loves me, Momma loves me.

I find myself doing this.

Your tender touch on my neck and cheek conveyed your deep affection for me without the need to verbally express it. When I need confirmation that you still love me, I cup my cheek as you did, recall your face, paying particular attention to the way your eyes lit up, and declare, “I love you too.” When my grief was fresh, I would cry and feel an ache in my chest. Now, sometimes I cry less, my chest doesn’t ache as much, and I smile at the remembrance.

The other activity I did was have the kids make a construction heart, crumble it up, and then smooth it out again. We would discuss how words and actions hurt our hearts. By saying we are sorry, it helps but still leaves a mark behind.  You do not need to apologize for dying.

Your death is not just a wrinkle on heart-shaped paper;

it is pieces of my heart raining down. I always believed you could die of a broken heart. Now, with the excruciating, take-your-breath-away pain, I know it could happen to me. I have a fear that, with my heart in miniscule pieces, I will never be able to love again. Not just possibly another significant other, but future grandchildren. I don’t want to live like that. That isn’t fair to our grandchildren. Or to me, for that matter.

I am in despair!

I have to remind myself that to live life without the love we shared would have been much worse than struggling to move on after having had a great love in my life.

With all my love,


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