4 months gone

October 11, 2014 |  Category:   favorite posts life seasonal




The obligatory seasonal apple picking post. Comes around every year like a marker of time.

Today was the first day where I wished I wore a heavier jacket and a bigger scarf as I was walking around; it was legitimately chilly. But Fall in New York has been glorious the last few weeks like it always is every year – and the leaves haven’t even turned yet. Summer will always be enshrouded now in the memory of loss. The slowed down pace of longer days, the heaviness of the heat, the rhythmic buzz of the cicadas, and the feeling of suspended time will always remind me of a period of mourning. The change in seasons and hitting up all the Fall activities like we do every year feels like a reset on life. The crisp air signals that transition. I admit that every so often I feel a tinge of guilt for starting to move on. There’s more laughter than sadness now. I know that doesn’t make sense, this guilt, but maybe that is part of the process too. I know that he would want me to live my life. I never really believed in guardian angels before, but maybe I do now. It’s a nice thought, especially in regards to the children who were left behind. Whatever gets us through the days.

I feel a like there’s been a fairly big shift in my life right now and I’m not just talking about the job or my loss. Every once in a while that happens. You find yourself looking at a different vantage point and you realize that the people that you connect with and talk to everyday are suddenly a different cast of characters. If sort of feels like I was on one side of a Rubik’s cube and someone just picked it up, turned it one click clockwise to the right, and sat it down again. Everything and everyone that I know is still on the cube, but I’m suddenly on a new side, dropped into a different puzzle of colors than where I was before.

So maybe these yearly seasonal rituals like apple picking not only marks the season, but act like anchors. So we don’t float away and so we don’t get overwhelmed by all the turns that we take in life. The leaves – they’ll always change colors and the apples will always fall from branches. But they do come back every time.

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  • Raquel October 11, 2014 at 7:40 am

    I was very sadden by your and your familiy loss. I have been reading by maybe 2 years, this post in particular , was beautifully written. i thank you for sharing your thought with us.

  • L October 11, 2014 at 8:11 am

    Beautiful post.

  • Delia R October 11, 2014 at 8:19 am

    I completely understand how you feel…nothing will ever be the same. You put into words exactly how I’ve been feeling. I wrote about the loss of my little brother (in 2 short posts) . I am in no way as great a writer as you are but I hope you can take the time out and read them. My heart is with yours! Thank you again, sometimes I feel like no one really understands what I’m going through.



    • Jenna October 12, 2014 at 11:40 pm

      I’m really sorry about your loss Delia, and I’m so sorry you have had to read such hurtful things about your loss from strangers. Thank you for sharing your post with me. Will be thinking of you.

  • Delia R October 11, 2014 at 8:21 am

    Oops…here’s the second link: http://inbliss01.blogspot.com/2014/10/my-greatest-loss-part-2.html

  • Brittany October 11, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    This is gorgeous writing. I love the comparison to the Rubik’s cube, so simply and perfectly describes that feeling of a subtle shift taking place.

    Wishing you the best fall season, despite everything.

  • Ronnie October 11, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    That shift – I know exactly what you mean….
    Sending you my thoughts and prayers from the other side of the world.
    Ronnie xo

  • Vicki in Michigan October 12, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    I think “survivor’s guilt” is well-known and common. Definitely “a part of the process.”

    Sending good thoughts.

  • Jan October 12, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    I can’t help but respond to this in a way that you may find offensive. I’m also Korean American and have a little brother. We grew up with strict Korean parents and the almighty Korean culture – speaking Korean in the house and shutting out the American world outside. My brother’s the apple of my family’s eye. He’s the apple of my eye. Not only did we share a childhood, but I know every bad thing that has ever happened to him growing up. Which makes me ask (without trying to deliberately hurt you), how can you take the American way of trying to get over his death like it’s a C’est La Vie moment now? It sounds so blasphemous, the way an American husband takes up with another wife when his first one dies by saying, “well, I gotta move on.” If anything ever happened to my brother, I wouldn’t compare my life to a Rubik’s cube – I would spend the rest of it thinking about all the things I didn’t do right. All the things I should have done for him if I were a better sister, a better friend and human. I know your brother suffered as a child, but why don’t you ever talk about what you should have done as his sister? I was actually farther apart in years that you and your brother. I remember flying across the country to take apart a school bully of his because at the time, all I could think was, “I can’t abandon my brother…I would rather abandon my children than my brother.” Did you do anything like this? Because it’s those moments that made me. How could you have spent his most vulnerable years doing some kind of 80s wanderlust thing, when he was alone? It’s like you’re not Korean one bit. Family is everything to us – not just our own, but our siblings and parents. Anyways, I hope you’re not angry, but Korean culture is different – I’m not looking to soothe you like your other blog readers by telling you to move on. All I can think of is how this is not about you at all. This is about the premature death of a young man, presumably in his 30s with his whole life ahead. I feel wretched pity for him because nothing seemed to end right for him. And your parents! I know what first generation immigrant Korean parents must feel – the sense of failure and regret! I am sorry for them because they can’t move on. It was their job to make sure nothing happened to their son. As it was yours.

    • Jenna October 12, 2014 at 11:29 pm

      Offensive indeed. I hope you and your parents are never judged by a stranger who knows nothing about someone else’s situation like you just judged me and mine.

      • Gealouxy October 13, 2014 at 1:14 am

        There’s always atleast one in the crowd. Hang in there.

        • Karen October 13, 2014 at 6:16 am

          Dear Jenna. This is a horrible comment and an unfair judgement from someone who clearly wanted to upset you. Perhaps they were angry at something else in their life but they shouldn’t have the right to have a go at you just because you blog about your life and feelings. There is no need to comment in such a callous way. I’m not Korean, I’m not American but I have had a few people pass during my 37 years and more than I would have liked were due to suicide or drug abuse. Of course we all reflect on what could have been or what we could have done but we do have to live our lives as well. Please don’t take such negativity to heart. Your blog is an honest & enlightening journey inspiring, entertaining and helping people. Your brave sharing your family with the world and your inner thoughts. Xx take care and take heart. You’re doing a good job. Karen. X all the best to your family.

      • Kay October 14, 2014 at 8:47 pm

        Joan Didion wrote in The Year of Magical Thinking–“Grief is different. Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life.”

        That someone would be so presumptuous as to culturally pigeonhole you in how to grieve is so, so insulting and just plain astounding, what lack of tact.

        Please take heart that you have many readers who share kind thoughts toward your loss and respect your grieving process.


    • Linda October 13, 2014 at 1:19 am

      Just because one is “korean-american” or anything-american doesn’t mean they have to follow that first culture’s upbringing. Your comment about your family following a strict korean household and that you followed that due to whatever values or guilt imposed onto you does not mean that others also need to follow it. The author has countless times mentioned on her blog that she didn’t grow up assimilating with her Korean roots/culture as her cousins and thats alright. As if it’s a requirement or something? to your point about the author not being Korean…well maybe she isn’t. Or atleast not as culturally Korean as what you’d expect Korean-Americans to be. She did grow up in America for goodness sakes, its not a surprised that she might not be as korean as you. I’m also asian-american and also come from a strict vietnamese household but that doesn’t mean I am expected to be vietnamese. If anything I dislike a lot of the viet culture and social etiquettes…and it’s not anyone to blame other than the fact that I grew up in an environment that allowed me to be more open to my surroundings rather than be confined. If parents don’t want their kids to assimilate and be influenced by any outside culture other than their own…they shouldn’t live there in the first place. But if they are living there, others shouldnt judge that they aren’t “insert culture name here” enough. I am so irked when I come across comments like this online (or in person) where the person shuns the other because they’re not “Korean/vietnamese/chinese/japanese/or whatever” enough. As if you’re more important or correct for being that way…

    • Gail October 13, 2014 at 9:00 am

      Goodness, I find your response to be beyond the pale in both blatant unkindness and subtle cruelty.

      (Maybe I haven’t grieved the loss of my parents in a Franco-American enough way?!!)

      Jan, it’s difficult to even know what to say without making matters worse, but please, find help for your frame of mind, and wishing you peace and ease in your heart for the myriad of karmic complexities with which we’re each faced in life.

      And Jenna, if I could I would give you the biggest, deepest possible hug. Thank you so much for your beautiful photography and honest, soulful postings over many years.

    • Karen October 13, 2014 at 9:39 am

      Jan, I am not Korean but I am human and I cannot believe that any culture would condone such hateful, hurtful words. I don’t know the details of the death of Jenna’s beloved brother, and neither do you. What I can tell from Jenna’s blog is that she loved her brother, that she misses him and that she is grieving for him. Everyone grieves differently. How shameful of you to insinuate that she and her parents could have done more, should grieve more, should behave differently. Clearly you have issues of your own that you should take some time to work through instead of attacking someone else for not acting like you think they should. What you said was disgraceful, to Americans, to Koreans, to humans.

    • Jen October 13, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      Jan, I am a Korean American and your comments are grotesquely out of line. What does being Korean or Korean American have anything to do with how a person and family you do not know should or should not grieve? I get that everyone is entitled to their opinion and you are certainly entitled to yours, but for goodness sake, please have some human kindness and decency, some love and respect. Because my Korean family taught me kindness and love. Jenna is sharing some snapshots of her life, it does not mean we know everything about these bloggers’ lives. I think it was brave of her to even share some snippets. I doubt you would like people to make assumptions about your family, about you, about how you were raised, right? I wish you love.

    • jen October 13, 2014 at 11:33 pm

      Jan, I’m sorry you grew up in an oppressive Korean culture and couldn’t find a way out of it. As a Korean I am very aware of the judgement, the guilt and the shame that can come if you do not turn out to be the perfect person. So in that sense, I feel the saddest for you and hope that when you fall from perfection or the ones that you love, they won’t be castaway.

      • jocy October 24, 2014 at 8:29 pm

        Jan, you should really learn about a thing called kindness. Horrible comments. I hope no one ever judges you this way during a time of extreme vulnerability. Wow.

  • Karin October 13, 2014 at 12:38 am

    Hi Jenna,

    Thank you for writing this. I don’t comment often, though I read all of your posts. I feel especially compelled to comment now, however—let’s swap out a stranger’s bitterness for another stranger’s gratitude, yes?

    I appreciate your openness in speaking about your brother’s death and about your grappling with your grief. I value the art and reflective space you provide in this blog, both through your photos and through your words. Also, I think the Rubik’s cube metaphor is a very elegant way of describing that particular mental reframing that happens after such a trauma.

    Press on, today and this week. Many thanks.

    • Giorgia October 14, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      I am also a regular reader, although I don’t comment. Karin voiced my feelings perfectly. This is a beautifully written blog, one of the few I keep coming back to, that make sense to me and help me view life in a more profound way. Thank you for your writing, Jenna.

  • S Kim October 13, 2014 at 1:27 am

    Hi. I rarely comment but in light of a certain comment, I had to say something.

    Thank you for your thoughts and writings. This post especially is beautiful in that you write about that shift in loss so poignantly. Although I’ve never lost an immediate family member, I’ve lost two very close cousins in a tragic accident and still to this day feel guilty that I got to read the last Harry Potter book… It’s silly but it’s those small things (like a crisp fall day) that makes me sad that they’re missing…

    Also, I don’t know how you can be so graceful and calm with that one commenter. Can I be angry for you? (Because I am!) Please know that your words are so appreciated and that most people don’t judge.

    You and your family are in my thoughts. Good night.

  • Sara October 13, 2014 at 1:47 am

    WHAT ON EARTH IS THIS GARBAGE? Who are you? How can you even say this, here? Who are you to tell Jenna how to grieve and attempt to move away from pain. What is this about letting her brother go? Like “whatever”? You have no grasp on what she is going through, you have no idea what she might have done for her brother, you know nothing but what you see here and even with just that you sure are making some really crappy assumptions.
    Who are you to dictate what someone should do based on their race? How racist is that? How disgusting that you assume that all Americans dont give a crap about death? How dark and hateful you must be inside to speak in this way.
    My aunt killed herself the week before I was born, she was super close with my mother, my mother had no idea this was going to happen. I can’t even imagine anyone blaming my mother for her sister’s suicide. My mother never even knew where her sister was buried.

    This comment above makes me feel sick to my stomach.

    Jenna I real life love you. Even though Im far away, just pretend that I am on the couch next to you.

  • Sarah October 13, 2014 at 2:20 am

    I don’t understand how someone would speak for all of us Koreans about what is right and wrong in grieving. It’s such a personal thing. Thought this post was especially beautiful. Thanks for sharing about your loss. It’s your honesty that makes your writing such a pleasure to read.

  • Lisa October 13, 2014 at 3:12 am

    Oh Jenna
    That nasty post says so much about the other person,but doesn’t describe you.
    I love your transparency,your writing is beautiful,just as your baked goods are.
    Continue on your journey.It is different for every single one of us on this planet.
    It can be difficult to pick yourself up after having venom and bitterness thrown in your direction.No,it was not deserved.At all.

    But you must continue.To write.To bake.To bring up your family….and all the juggling that entails! For that is life happening right there.
    My friend,you are appreciated by me,all the way over the pond to Scotland.Autumn has been good here too,although a bad storm came in last week.Just as it does in our lives.The weather always changes.The tide always brings in something new.
    Wipe your eyes,have a cup of tea,and continue with your fabulous work.At home and with the food.Go on,you can do it.
    These may be words in cyberspace,but they are written by a mother who juggles.Who has faced some heartbreaking losses.What you are feeling is normal,it’s part of the human condition.
    I bake with all my might too.I create seasonal foods.I mess up,I get too emotional,but that is me.
    Come, bake side by side with me today.Its Monday.
    With love

  • Kiana October 13, 2014 at 4:10 am

    Jan, I’m sorry that you went through what you went through with your brother, but that doesn’t give you the right to judge someone else or measure their grief. Neither you nor I have any idea how Jenna has felt nor how deep the relationship was between her and her brother. All we know as blog readers is what bloggers choose to share. Jenna hasn’t shared every story, every moment, every thought, or every feeling. So it’s not possible to make a judgement about someone’s grief and even if it were, you shouldn’t because it’s not your life and it’s none of your business. I too come from a very traditional culture (Iranian) where mourning is supposed to be all day, every day for the rest of your life. My little sister killed herself almost ten years ago and according to Iranian culture, I should have never ‘gotten over it’. Well guess what: I never have. I will always think that I could have saved her even if that’s not a rational thought. But I have ‘moved on’. I graduated college, went to grad school, got married, had a child and I laugh every day.

    I can only think that your troubles must be so great that you would feel the need to post a comment that you yourself realized was offensive.

    Jenna, I’m so sorry you were hurt by this comment. Please don’t ruminate on it any more.

  • Joo October 13, 2014 at 7:31 am

    please disregard every word of that judgmental post by one reader. how offensive! people like her hold others back from evolving, growing, and becoming open-minded. it’s one thing to respect your heritage and culture (which in my humble opinion, you do wonderfully) but another to hold onto old and stupid ideas we need not inherit. and may i point out that as a Korean-American myself, my upbringing was nowhere close to hers and i truly hope, she doesn’t talk about our culture the way she wrote here. utter nonsense. please do not be discouraged by people like her. i find your writing real, relatable, and honest. sending hugs!!

  • Karen October 13, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Jenna, I’ve so sad that Jan felt the need to instruct you on how to grieve. Within the last two years, I’ve lost my husband, my sister and just 4 weeks ago, I lost my father. Each death was sudden and completely changed my world. Was there anything I could have done to keep them from leaving this life? No. Do I feel guilt anyway? Yes. But they all knew that I loved them, and I knew they loved me, and even though I miss them, I know that they would not have wanted me to spend the rest of my life beating myself up over what I could have done differently. The outcome would not have changed one bit. Some days, I am overcome with sadness and loneliness and bitterness over what could have been. There are days and weeks and even months that are a complete fog. But as time goes on, I have days that are full of friends and beauty and laughter, and I believe that is what is meant to be. Peace, Karen

  • MCC October 13, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Jenna, I wish I could offer beautiful words to comfort you, as you have done for me and so many of your readers. Instead, i just want to *be* here in support. That lonely, judgmental commenter is completely out of bounds and hugely offensive. Not just to you but anyone who has suffered loss.

    Please don’t stop writing because of one coward who is a far, far way from the light you are seeking and will find. Peace to you.

  • Sophia October 13, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Hi Jenna,
    I lost my brother 16 years ago the 29th of this month. I know exactly how you feel. I remember not wanting to laugh or do anything fun because that meant I had moved on and forgotten about my brother. My birthday is the 31st and to be honest, I still find it hard to celebrate. Also I felt he was looking down at me and he could see me being happy when I should have been grieving but that was and is not the case. Our brothers would want us to move on with our lives. They know we have families to raise and loved ones they left behind to take care of. Each person handles their grief differently. No way is the right way and no one should be judged for the relationship they had with their siblings when they were on this earth. Each family dynamic is different and we don’t know enough about each others stories to make these judgments. Let’s just lift each other up on the days we are feeling down. Best wishes to you and your family and don’t let this one comment take away your beautiful gift of writing and sharing with your readers. It is meant to be shared.

  • H.S. October 14, 2014 at 1:48 am

    Wow. I have no words to accurately describe how angry and sad I feel at the hurtful and self-righteous babbling by this person, Jan. I am a Korean-American but first, I am a human. With a heart. To make such outrageous comments to a person who’s lost her brother just this summer is simply cruel. Jan, you are entitled to your opinion but please do not stand on your pedestal and act like you represent “true” Koreans. You do not. I actually find much of what you say utter nonsense and quite frankly, bizarre! You seem to suggest the only way to honor someone who’s passed away is to torture oneself with needless guilt and regret in perpetuity. Most of us would disagree. Not to mention, I wonder how your children would feel knowing mom would abandon them in a second to save her brother. Huh?!?
    Jenna, I’ve followed your blog on and off over the years and we share a lot in common in terms of our background. Your writing, full of wisdom, has often helped me clarify my own thoughts and feelings. I, too, have struggled with a loss about 4 years ago, (although a little different from yours). I continue to deal with it everyday but the passage of time has helped me move on and like you, I have a lot to live for, and too much to lose if I give up. Your comment in one of your posts this summer – about learning to accept there’s a new thread woven into your being – really helped me to accept my circumstances. Your post today about your changed world referencing the Rubik’s cube nailed it again for me. I remember those painful times, and take comfort knowing it’s a universal emotion.
    Please do not be disheartened by one callous commenter. You are an inspiration to many of us and we are thinking of you, sending you good wishes.

  • kAren October 14, 2014 at 4:10 am

    Dear Jenna, I can’t find the words to tell you how horrified I am by that sickening answer to your as always beautiful post. Noboby deserves this, you less than anybody else. I’m a longtime follower and haven’t missed a single post for many years now, and I’ve always much appreciated the very positive feedback generated by your clear-sighted vision of life. Recently, I was so happy to read that you sensed you were moving on and that something big was coming despite the pain and the grief. What I see through your sharing, is that your relationship with your brother was a close, loving and beautiful one. That’s all that matters, everything else is crap, and I hope you manage to consider it as such. Which is easier said than done, I know I would find it difficult. I just hope this doesn’t prevent you from keeping your momentum.

  • Helle (Helen) October 14, 2014 at 5:37 am

    Well that was a slap in the face. What on earth possesses people to write such hurtful stuff. I, like the other commentors, appreciate your wrting, sharing, putting feelings into words in ways I probably never could. I hope that however hurtful and disencouraging it must be to get comments like Jan’s, that you keep writing your blog. I’d miss it very much if you didn’t.

  • Hannah October 16, 2014 at 7:57 am

    Jenna, I am astounded that anyone would respond to your writing, your honesty, and your generosity with such thoughtless nonsense. It is a horrible way to behave. I’m staggered that anyone would speak to you this way. I only know you through your blog posts, but even knowing you in this small, particular way feels to me like a privilege. I so appreciate your thoughtful, beautiful posts and it is clear that lots of other people feel the same. x

  • Leslie October 25, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    I’m so sorry you had to read that offensive garbage. How thoughtless and cruel of anonymous Jan to brain dump and implicate such horrific things. Perhaps she needs to return to her kinder roots and relearn a childhood rule: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

  • AK October 27, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Jenna, I’ve only just read through the comments here. I am also Korean American and am married to a Korean national, and it should surprise no one that I also find the comment that everyone is discussing here to be shameful, twisted, unkind, baffling, and as another commenter said, extremely bizarre.

    Thank you again for creating a lovely corner of the internet to combat the ugliness.