The past few months have been extraordinarily difficult for our modern blended family. My daughter’s father, my ex-husband, has been battling throat cancer for over a year, and just before Thanksgiving we learned that it had become untreatable. Tragically, Mark passed away last Tuesday evening.

It has been unbearably sad to see Mark’s wife, Jocelyn, lose her husband; to see his parents, Sue and Dan, lose their son; to see his brother, Brent, lose his only sibling; and to see my 15-year old, Sophie, lose her dad. As her mother, I am in unchartered waters as I struggle awkwardly to help her cope. In turn, my family and friends have turned themselves inside out to support me as I try to support her.

Their love and friendship has been abundant, boundless, humbling. Quite literally we have been buoyed by friends and family every step of this journey.

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Words fail to express how much I love and appreciate my incredibly strong husband, Tom, who hasn’t missed a step with me throughout all of this. And my parents who jetted in at the blink of an eye to cover Sophie up with love. Not to mention Jocelyn’s family and friends who have made us feel welcome in her home as we have camped out there lately in order to support Sophie and Jocelyn collectively.

And my friends! I treasure every single email, text, facebook message, note, and phone call. I am especially grateful for all the prayers. And the much needed laughs. I am grateful for the friends that dropped by to hug Sophie this week. For the stunning flowers and the linen handkerchiefs and the organic sleep spray and the cookies and the edible arrangements and the pasta dinners and the prayer quilt and the special treat for Sophie in that ever-so-fun blue Tiffany bag. For the girlfriend that cashed in airline miles to be here for the service and the one who snagged an overnight sitter and braved I35 to drive in late Saturday evening. I am grateful for the friend who texted me after the memorial service to say, “Sophie did great. You my friend, rocked the pantsuit.”

Bottom line, you gotta love a good Show-Up Girlfriend.

And Sophie had them too! Some of her camp friends arrived from Houston to surprise her on Saturday night, providing a much needed evening of laughter before a very big, hard day that followed.

Yesterday was the memorial service which was a beautiful tribute to Mark’s larger than life personality, his sense of humor, and most recently, the unmatched dignity with which he fought cancer. There was a reception immediately afterwards, and the highlight was seeing Sophie surrounded by her teenage friends. She had friends from her elementary school days, middle school, and high school. Friends from summer camp whose moms had driven them from Waco and Houston. Her former youth group leader traveled from Dallas. Her lacrosse coach made time to be there. Her summer camp directors came.

It’s inspiring! Rest assured that this mother will never, and I mean never, forget every single gesture of love and kindness that has been expressed to Sophie during this sad experience. You all have kept us afloat.

“The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who have helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.” –Ulysses S. Grant


“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” –Albert Schweitzer


Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. 1 Peter 4:8-10

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31 Comments on “Buoyed

    • Thank you so much Mandy! And thank you for being at the service. I’m sorry we didn’t see you but means so much yall were there. Jocelyn told Sophie you and Eloise signed the book and she was so excited that Eloise was there too! much love xxoo

  1. It’s a stab in the gut just thinking about experiencing something so heartbreaking with my children, I cannot image. I’m sending love and condolences your way. As always, your example of grace and strength is an inspiration.

    Blessings to you and yours. xo

    • we’ve been through a lot through the years haven’t we Piper!!?? and as always, your kind words are much appreciated. thank you, thank you. you’re a very sweet soul xxoo

  2. Christine,
    I’m thinking about you , Sophie and the rest of the family. It’s a blessing to have such loving and supportive friends and family. I can only imagine how much Sophie is going to miss her dad. Godspeed to him and I’ll keep you all in my prayers!

    • Thank you so much Dinah. it is wonderful to hear from friends near and far and your prayers for Sophie are TRULY appreciated. xxoo

  3. My condolences, Christine, to you, Sophie and your family/ies. I saw something was up but didn’t know what. What a tough journey it is to lose someone to cancer. Thank goodness for all that support! My prayers and thoughts are with you all.

    • Thank you Stacie! I really appreciate your kind message. and grateful too for your prayers, xxoo

  4. Dearest Christine,
    I can only imagine the torment and anguish you have been going through these past months, yet it does my heart well to hear that you and your daughter’s CLH friends have been solid through it all. You have always been one of the witiest gals I have encountered, and I pray that He will overwhelm you with peace, discernment and love at this crazy time.

    Girlfriend, this too, will pass, yet please know you are in our prayers from Costa Rica.

  5. Love is the only balm for grief. Hold on to each other. Been there several years ago with my 3 children. So tough for them when they hit big milestones; Sophie is so blessed to have you as her Momma.

    • Melanie, well I am so sorry to hear you’ve been through this but grateful you can offer sound advice. I appreciate it! I’ve heard the milestones are really hard. message me if you have any other suggestions. I am open! much love….xo

      • Plz feel free to call anytime. I work as a Doula and am currently waiting on a lady; any day now! So always close to the phone. 406.465.4290 I still feel as tho I walk a thin line between not saying enough about their Dad and making too big of a deal. And my kids are all adults! This is tough. Praise be you folks are who you are; Sophie is truly blessed.

  6. Dear Christine,
    Your words are so beautiful and comforting. I am with a dear friend who lost her husband last week and your words have given light to how I can help her and how I can be there for her. My heart breaks for the pain Sophie, you and all who loved Mark are feeling. So sorry for your loss and prayers for comfort for you all!

    • Edie, I am so sorry for your loss. I saw the obituary you posted on facebook and my heart is breaking for your friend who lost her husband. sending lots of light and love. I know she is in good hands with a faithful friend like you at her side. much love, xo

  7. Sounds like you have done everything right Christine during a tough tough time. Whenever we have been together (always with Carter, of course!), your positive energy and spirit has been such a delight and is very catching. And I feel certain your wonderful attitude has helped Sophie and Mark’s family through this. Thinking of you ALL.

    • Lori, how kind of you to reach out and what a beautiful thing to say. I really appreciate it so much. XXOO

  8. Christine, what a beautiful tribute-So grateful for our friendship! You are a wonderful mother, wife, daughter and friend! Can’t wait to see you all! xx, Kathrine

    • Kathrine—well those are some unbelievably kind things to say. thank you. I love you so much and am VERY grateful for our friendship. can’t wait to see you too, hopefully sooner rather than later. xxoo

  9. Oh Christine, I am so sorry to read this. Sending love and prayers to you all, especially your Sophie. She has one awesome mama. Xxoo

  10. What a beautiful piece!! Sophie was blessed to be loved so dearly by a wonderful dad and it amazingly lucky to have a mom who is so strong!! I look forward to hugging your necks, both of you.

  11. Christine,Sophie, your families, and you are in my thoughts and prayers. Sophie is a blessed child to have such an amazing supportive and loving mama. Thank you for sharing your yet again expressive powerful prose to help all of us feel part of your world and yet touch part of our own. Look forward to seeing you soon!

    • AC–thank you for this kind comment!! I can hardly believe I can string two sentences together at this point so your praise is very appreciated. and I am even more grateful for the prayers for Sophie. would love to see you soon!! xxoo

  12. Thank you for you beautiful writing. I lost my stepmom when I was 16, and my sisters (half sisters I guess) were 4yrs, and 1 mo old. I’ve been thinking a lot about you and your family and the difficulty of losing a parent in a blended/”modern” family. You’re handling it with grace and that’s wonderful. Kids are resilient and I know Sophie will be ok but she and all of you are in my prayers. Again, thanks for your words, it has helped sooth some old wounds that are always there and sometimes could use a little acknowledgment and soothing. -WRW (Lily’s dad/Molly’s husband)

    • Wesley — thank you so much for this touching comment. I really appreciate you sharing these kind words and a bit of your story. THANK YOU. and please pass along to Molly and Lilly how meaningful it was to both Sophie and me to see them after the service.

  13. Christine- I was saddened to read your post. I join your many readers in expressing my condolences and wishing peace for you and Sophie during this difficult time.

    “The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”
    ~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross~

    • Hooper, thank you so much for your incredibly kind comment. I am continually grateful to those of you who read my stories, and am touched by the outreach.

      thank you friend

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