New Book!

New book on the market! The Brush of Angel Wings is a collection of poetry that shares my thoughts on the passing of my mother, the changing political scene, and the nature of unchanging, eternal Love.

Here’s the opening poem from the book…:

Two Earthworms

I came upon two earthworms on the sidewalk today –
their noses suspended in the air, frozen by the heat
of the sun – dried out and stiff
and I reached down and plucked up the first
and carried him to the dirt.
I dug a little hole for him and covered him
with earth – a grave to brings him back to life.
Gently I used my fingers as tweezers and pulled
the second worm from the sidewalk
and lifted him to the moist soil, laid him down,
and covered him with a wet leaf.
Fare thee well, my new friends –
May you revive and spend the rest of your days
happily leaving a trail of rich earth in your wake.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell


Pretending Death

I lay in bed, pretending to be dead,
not playing dead, but imagining dead.
Eyes closed. Breathing stopped. Mind blank.
Body stilled.
Is this what it feels like? I wondered.
And I wasn’t being melancholy
or morose or macabre.
I wasn’t wishing myself dead
I was just curious.
Is death just an eternal nothing?
And if it is, I reasoned, then
our time here is so short – so much to do,
so many to love, and so little time.
And the idea of that – so little time
to love – made no sense
to me.  How could Love ever end?
And I opened my eyes. Took a deep breath.
Got back to living.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

The Brush of Angel Wings

The end was like the beginning –
the oxygen machine breathing,
making the sound of the womb,
a soothing rhythm in the room
as she slept on the bed next to me.
All is quiet, but for the pumping
of O through her mask. In my dreams
I feel the light brush of angel wings
and fear is replaced by freedom
and limitless joy that comes,
through an opened heavenly portal.
I open my eyes to see the battle
over and done. She has won.
I rise and stand on holy ground.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Angels are not etherealized human beings, evolving animal qualities in their wings; but they are celestial visitants, flying on spiritual, not material, pinions. Angels are pure thoughts from God, winged with Truth and Love… ”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“Daddy, Mom passed on peacefully…”

Update on Dad:
I stopped in to see Dad this morning and he asked how Mom was. (Yesterday he’d asked if she was back east. He’d said he hoped she didn’t think he’d abandoned her.) I told him fine. He looked at me, skeptically, and said, “It feels like people aren’t giving me a straight answer to this question.” He is very sharp. At that point it was impossible to lie to him, so I got close to his ear and told him Mom had passed. He asked me what I’d said. I told him I loved him and hugged him and left.

I came back later with a new pair of pants for him. Mary from The Mountaineers was there and Dad was busy at the dining room table drawing a picture of Rainier on some watercolor paper she’d brought him. He asked how Mom was. I told him fine. I asked him how he was and he said he’d be happier if he knew how Mom was. I asked him if he’d like me to write him a note about Mom and he nodded his head yes. I wrote something like this:

“Daddy, Mom passed on peacefully in her sleep at my house last week. She loved you very much. She still loves you. She knows you love her, too. We all love you, Daddy. You’re not alone. We’re all here for you.”

He asked how “the boys” were doing. I said the boys were doing fine and wanted him to be happy.

I wrote to him that he had been able to see Mom before they brought her to my house. I told him an attendant had wheeled him up to Mom’s room so he could say good-bye. The attendant said it was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.

Mary and I were hugging him and he was holding my hand. I found a paper napkin and dabbed tears off the end of his nose. He asked if Mom had died in pain, and I said no, she’d died peacefully at my house. I’d been sleeping next to her. He wanted to know what she’d died of, and I told him her heart had gotten tired and stopped.

I told him about the memorial celebration for her, and he nodded his head that he wanted to come.

I asked him what I could do to help, what he wanted to do. He said he wanted to go to bed. So Mary and I helped him get back to his room. He told me he loved me before I left.

I think he might ask again – and I think we’re going to have to continue to be truthful with him, and help him get through this. He won’t let us not tell him the truth. He is very brave.


Response to a Response to My Almost-Interview with NPR

My friend, Kat, a thought-provoking ex-Christian Scientist of intelligence and interesting insight, posted a comment on my last blog post that I thought was worth responding to in a whole ‘nother post. Here’s Kat’s comment:

“Why would a Christian Scientist choose Christian Science over medical treatment for her children?”

Yeah, that’s the elephant in the room CS is going to have to address head-on over and over and over again. Some CS have made REALLY BAD CHOICES and people have died.

Caroline Fraser’s book God’s Perfect Child talks about this at length. Another excellent example is Rita Swan’s son Matthew,‘matthew-you-cannot-be-sick’/ (you may have heard of her, she founded C.H.I.L.D.

I agree A better question might be: “What is it about Christian Science that appeals to you?” it no longer appeals to me, but for a while it did, and on some level, I still understand the appeal.

Hi, Kat –

The producer at NPR wanted a Christian Scientist on her show who could respond to Dr. Paul Offit’s assertion that religion is killing children – an assertion presented in his book, Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine. I was not the right fit to respond to that assertion – seeing as how I did take my sons to doctors now and then when they were youngsters.

But if I were interviewing Offit, there are a couple questions I’d like to ask him, if I had the chance: We know that preventable errors in medical care are the third-leading cause of death in this country (according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, among other sources) and have been for several years now. Knowing that about 400,000 people a year die from preventable medical errors ( ), I’d like to ask Dr. Offit –

  • How much of your time do you spend making medical treatment safer and better, as opposed to concerning yourself with other forms of treatment?
  • Do you think parents should be forced to bring their children into a system that is the third-leading cause of death in America?
  • And do you believe that when a child dies under medical treatment it is any less tragic than when a child dies under some other form of treatment?

I’ve lost friends who were under Christian Science treatment. I’ve also lost friends who died from the medical treatment they were under-going – not from the disease, but from the medical treatment itself. Neither type of death caused me less grief than the other. Humans die. I may even appear to die someday. (I know – it’s hard to believe, right? – but I think we need to consider the possibility that I may not ascend here.) And if I die while under Christian Science treatment, I really hope my loved ones don’t blame Christian Science for this. I hope they realize that Christian Science has helped make me the person they love – and that there was some part of me – maybe a part of me they love – that was drawn to this way of life.

Regarding Rita Swan: I’m not sure why Rita Swan made the choices she made when her baby became so ill. I’m not going to try to speak for someone else. But I imagine that if I’d been in her shoes I might have felt terrible guilt after my baby’s death and would have looked for someone else, or something else, to put the blame on for this tragedy – just to relieve the burden of self-condemnation a little. I wouldn’t judge anyone in Rita Swan’s position for taking the direction she took after Matthew’s death. I don’t blame her. But I’ve never been in the position she was in – as I wrote in my post, I took my sons to doctors now and then when I felt the need to do so. I’ve never felt any pressure from my church family to avoid medical treatment. And I’m pretty sure that if I ever did, it wouldn’t faze me at all. My responsibilities as a mother to keep my sons safe out-trumped any other considerations. (And sometimes that meant saying “no thank you” to drugs that doctors offered that had potentially adverse side effects and no guarantee of helping.)

Regarding Caroline Fraser: Years ago she wrote an article for Atlantic Monthly about Christian Science. Someone handed me the magazine, and I thought they were giving it to me because of the really well-written article on the environment that was in that issue. It wasn’t until a week later, when I was looking through the magazine again, that I saw Fraser’s article. What struck me about the article was the complete lack of objectivity, and the blatant bias. She wrote about Mary Baker Eddy with authority – as if she’d actually met the woman (which, of course, she had not – Eddy died long before either Fraser or I were born). Fraser acted as though she could get inside Eddy’s head and tell us all what was going on in there. I am always wary of people who set themselves up as experts on what’s going on inside someone else’s head – who presume to know what someone else is/was thinking, feeling, and believing – this is often a symptom of bigotry.  Fraser’s article made me wary of Fraser.

There’s another book about Christian Science, though, written by Lucia Greenhouse, a woman who watched her Christian Science mother die of cancer – that I think is less sensationalistic than Fraser’s writings about Christian Science. One of my friends who was raised in Christian Science could relate to a lot of Greenhouse’s experiences with Christian Science in fathermothergod  – and I think Greenhouse’s book was really helpful in validating my friend’s experience. I don’t discount Lucia Greenhouse’s experiences with Christian Science – I believe she’s telling the truth. But my experience being raised in Christian Science is very different from either my friend’s or Greenhouse’s.  My brothers and I were brought to doctors, dentists, and optometrists – and this was no big deal. We also experienced some really beautiful healings in Christian Science. (Which you can read about in Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist .)

As I wrote in my last post, what draws me to Christian Science is the transformation in my nature that I feel when I experience healing – and I HAVE experienced healing in Christian Science. Christian Science healing doesn’t just make me better physically – but it brings me closer to Love – it lifts my thoughts, inspires me, gives me courage – fills me with joy and gratitude and good will to my fellow man and woman. These are not things I’ve experienced in medical science treatment.

And now I give you a picture from my morning bike ride – just because I wanna… 🙂

Samish River (photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

Freckle Rose (1998-2015)

I scratch her behind her ears.
She gives a sweet little meow,
and puts her paw on top of my hand
one last time before she moves on…


My cat, Freckle Rose, passed on yesterday. She was almost 17. I guess we recognized she was dying for the last several weeks. There were decisions to make or not to make – should we take her to the vet and let him “put her to sleep” or should we let her die in her own home, in her own time, in her own way? She didn’t seem to be in pain (but who knows with cats, right?) and the last time I’d taken her to the vet she’d been really scared and unahppy – so I decided to keep her home and let her move on in her own way.

She stopped eating. Finally stopped drinking, too. I kept waking up every morning expecting to find she’d died in the night.

Yesterday morning when I went downstairs Scott said he’d found her lying on the floor next to a little stuffed animal that he thinks our dog maybe brought to her. Scott had put her on the couch. He told me he wasn’t sure if she was still with us. I went over to her. She didn’t seem to be moving. I started scratching behind her ears and she stretched – like cats do when they’re enjoying something. She meowed once – but not a grown-up cat meow – it was the same kind of meow she’d had when she was a little kitty – a sweet little meow. And she put her paw on my hand. I sang to her, and told her to look for my Aunt Junie – told her Junie would take care of her – and I told her to look for her mentor-cat, Paws. (She’d loved Paws. When she was still a youngster, she’d seen Paws get run over in front of our house, and had come running to the door to tell me – she’d led me to Paws in the same way that a dog would.)

After awhile I brought her outside into the sunshine – the birds were busy out there and the air was full of birdsong. Freckle meowed three times – really loud – kind of excited – and then her head dropped against my arm. I brought her back inside and laid her back on the couch. Her breaths became gasps with long spaces of nothing in between. I kept my hand on her body and could feel it still pulsing. And then I stopped feeling the life. Her eyes dilated. I think I knew when she was gone – but I’m not sure – it was a very gentle, gradual thing – no definite moment between life and death.

Scott had to go to work, but he said he’d help me bury her when he got home, if I wanted. But I wanted to bury Freckle while the sun was still out and the birds were still singing. So I went out to bury Freckle in my Secret Garden – I was going to do it by myself – I dug a hole and put her in it – but it wasn’t big enough and her little paws were sticking out of it. That was not going to work. So I found another place and started to dig, and then I turned around and my sons had come out to the garden to help me. They dug a nice deep hole for me, and we put Freckle in it and put a spring pansy in it on top of her, and covered her in the good earth.

I think of all Freckle Rose lived through with me. When I got her she was a feral little ball of fluff – only a month or two old. She’d shared most of her entire life with me, and a big chunk of my life: She’d been alive when my youngest had started kindergarten and been alive when he graduated high school; She’d been alive when we moved, and built our new house and moved again; She’d been alive on 9-11-2001;  She’d been alive when I’d lived through my life-changing depression, when I’d published my first book, and my second and third and fourth books; She’d been alive as I’d worked my way through my Master’s program; When my Aunt Junie had passed, Freckle Rose had been here; And when we’d acquired our rambunctious Labradane pup five years ago, Freckle had been alive and might have wondered what in the hell we were thinking. Freckle Rose had lived through a lot.

It’s weird to live in a world with no Freckle Rose.