I have found that, since Jason died, I crave beauty. Sometimes that craving is so strong I can hardly contain it. I feel like I’m always looking for a beautiful place to go for a drive or place to take pictures, especially on weekends. Beautiful days, golden sunrises or sunsets, foggy mornings, raindrops on flowers – all make me want to skip work and find someplace to take photographs so that I can capture the beauty. I drive through the Biltmore Estate again and again to take photographs of the various flowers as they bloom (thank goodness for season passes!). We drive the Blue Ridge Parkway each weekend in the fall, looking for a perfect place to capture the autumn colors or a sunset. It’s as though I am trying to capture beauty to compensate for the brokenness I feel and for the depth of grief I try to hide. I’ve written about this a couple of times, and have posted links here to those posts.

The picture above from Ellie’s Way came up on my Facebook feed this morning, and made me think about the time six months after Jason’s death that one of Joe’s contracts (the Westin Hotel Seattle) gave us a wonderful gift of beauty when we were so exhausted and in need of a time away. I am forever grateful for their kindness; I don’t think we could have made it without it.

It also made me very aware of how much I crave beauty. I don’t think I will ever get my fill, because that brokenness and grief will always be with me and inside of me.


© 2017 Rebecca R. Carney

All photographs are specifically taken by and owned by Rebecca R. Carney and may not be copied or saved without permission.

Hawaii – A beautiful respite

From my journal dated September 3, 2002:

Six months. We have survived six months without Jason. I don’t know how we made it six months without our boy.

We are in Hawaii. We have all needed a vacation so badly. All of us are so very weary…we’re worn out. We have had so much to deal with the last six months on top of Jason’s death. The meeting with the Snohomish County deputy on Saturday was exhausting. We just need a break, a break from all the “stuff.”

Not that we don’t think about Jason. He’s always there. I miss him so much. The sadness is right below the surface. But we don’t have to go by the crash site every day. We don’t have to deal with people avoiding us and not calling us or the loneliness. We don’t have to face the empty spaces and reminders that Jason is gone. We’re not in an empty house that screams in its silence.

I’ve thought many times since we got here how much he would have enjoyed this vacation. He would have made it so much better, just by his presence. I wish he were here.

From my journal dated September 10, 2002:

Well, here it is Tuesday already and our return home is getting closer.

I feel like we’ve sort of had a break, a vacation from the horrendous grief. That sounds funny to say. I guess my mind feels like Jason’s at home waiting for us…and that’s why it’s okay to vacation.

What’s waiting for us at home is reality…and I dread going back to it.

From my journal dated September 15, 2002:

We are on the plane heading home. I’m sort of dreading going back to it. Back to ugly reality after a break. I dread the overwhelming grief, the loneliness, the absence of Jason. Not that I haven’t thought about him or missed him. I will always miss him. He is always in my heart.

I think our minds trick us so we can handle things. I am aware that it has tricked me into feeling that Jason’s just not along on this vacation, sort of like when Eric didn’t go with us on our family vacation in 1999. Maybe that’s what I need right now. I know everything will be right in our faces when we get home. Nothing will have changed. But we really needed a break. I don’t think we could keep going without one. We have been exhausted every way possible. Weary of the journey.

Jenna and Eric

I’m so glad Eric could come for the last week. He has really needed a break, too…he’s so thin and stressed out. I think he really had a good time.

The Westin was amazing…right on the beach…absolutely beautiful. I am so thankful for this amazing gift they gave us. We swam, played tourist, ate at great local restaurants, walked along the beach. It was so nice not to have things right in our faces. We could let ourselves relax some and rest in a place of beauty.

Something to look forward to – Hawaii

From my journal dated August 24, 2002:

People ask me if I’m excited about going to Hawaii. I don’t think the word “excited” is in my vocabulary right now…but I’m looking forward to it. We are all so weary. Going to Hawaii sounds wonderful.



At the time (in 2002), Joe worked for a telecommunications company that handled some of the major hotels, hospitals and businesses in the Puget Sound region. The manager of one of his contracts, The Westin Hotel, offered us employee rates at the Westin Maui if we wanted to get away for a bit. We found great airfares and decided to take him up on the offer.

It was the kindest, most thoughtful gift anyone could have given us at the time. I will forever be grateful to the kind people at the Westin!! We were all so drained and weary. We were worn out, worn thin. Exhausted physically, emotionally, spiritually. I don’t think any of really realized how much we needed something to look forward to, how much we needed a break from our day-to-day lives. Grieving is hard work, and we were just plain weary.

I honestly don’t know how we would have made it through the next six months without this time away. It’s like it took us away from the empty house for a while, away from driving by the accident scene every day, away from people we knew, away from dealing with overwhelming issues every day, away from the loneliness and abandonment we felt. It’s hard to explain. We took our grief with us, but secondary issues weren’t constantly in our faces. Being in a place of such beauty gave us a different focus for a while. It physically took us away from looking at certain difficult things (people, places, events) every day.

Joe and Eric had gone back to work the week after the accident. Jenna and I had gone back to school one week after the accident, and were about to start another year the beginning of fall quarter. We had continued on with what we had to do at the time…on top of dealing with Jason’s death and all the surrounding issues. None of us had ever been to Hawaii before, so it gave us something to look forward to.

It almost felt wrong to be taking a “vacation”, particularly without Jason…especially to place where people think, “Ooohhh, ahhhh…Hawaii!!” We really needed a respite, though, to a place of beauty. It was exactly what we needed at the time.