Coming to terms with my brother’s death

The following post contains language and imagery that refers to suicide. Please take care in reading. If you need support at any time, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1–800–273-TALK.

Frank J King III

I am not sure if the voice I hear in my head belongs to my brother or just my memory of him. I hear it most profoundly in my sleep, even just a word or two. Watch your step, he gently warned the other night, right behind me as I hiked up a steep hill. I turned back to look at him as I stumbled. He was gone.

It’s becoming the used-car sales lot of writing

Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash

I know. You have dreams of becoming a freelance writer. You’re ready to work from home or, even better, travel the world. Your Instagram feed is swamped with ads promising a lifetime of freedom and independent wealth. You’ve read stories of people who earn upwards of $10k a month, and you’re sure that you can do the same. All you need is that one viral post to get things going.

Or do you?

One thing those “How to Make Money on Medium” articles don’t tell you is that only about 8% of writers earn more than $100 per month. …

I’m not trying to be sad here. But also, I’m not trying to be happy.

Photo by Dana Ainsworth

From the window of my room I see the blue-green, sometimes gray, dollop of the tiny, island harbor. The somber surf slosh-sloshes onto the rocky shore situated too close to the cabins and cottages the lobstermen call home.

I would like to believe I understand this. I would like to believe I share this secret, sacred thing with the 45 others who remain to face whatever winter may bring. I would like to believe we have been initiated by some collective loss, some shared grief we sought to escape. …

Mourning the loss of my brother amidst quarantine

Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here came on the radio the other day. It opens with a long and sparse guitar intro, in which a cough can be heard across one of the tracks. The sound is startling, as though someone unexpected was suddenly discovered to be in the room. More than once I’ve looked over my shoulder when hearing it. It’s what I love about the song, a reminder that this moment has been and will continue to be shared across distance and time.

When I heard that transcendent cough this week, it articulated a feeling I had barely…

Reinventing oneself in the time of COVID

Smart Photo on Unsplash

The hours of this past week have been consumed by the exhausting, frantic rush to produce something… anything… tangible on which to build a future. The new school year begins next week, and I am more aware than ever of the need to settle the unknowns in my daughter’s life. To create a home for her has been my greatest joy, to spread roots and ground us in place. There are many parts of parenthood where I have failed, but this has been the measurable success of my tenure. I have spent more hours than I can count attempting to…

Let’s face it… we all need a reason to celebrate

Photo by Amelie & Niklas Ohlrogge on Unsplash

Last weekend, I attended a small, backyard wedding. It was an abridged version of what had been originally planned, humble and simple, but it was also magnificent. Magnificent because we finally had a reason to celebrate. Magnificent because it had been so long since most of us had felt sustained joy. Magnificent because we, collectively, had finally come up for air, if only for a moment. I felt not only excitement at the beautiful event but joy at feeling joy.

I understood, perhaps for the first time, why occasions for celebration were so meaningful in centuries past. Even 100 years…

Reframing the way pro-life beliefs are put into action

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

I was in my second year of college when I got pregnant. Everyone had an opinion about what I should do. “Are you keeping it?” people would ask casually, as though referring to an old car or stray cat. In the check-out line of a grocery store, a woman asked if I was married, nodding toward the noticeable swell of my belly. I was too young to tactfully evade the question, so I simply moved my head from side to side. “Well, kudos to you for not aborting,” she said brightly…

Dana Ainsworth

Dana is a writer, educator, and mother in Charlottesville, VA. You can find more of her writing at

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