I feel so fortunate that my path crosses with the best people on earth. I get to connect with the people who have scars to show and stories to share and do it in a way that inspires healing in so many ways. This Healing Note is a gift from one of those women…. Well, I love anyone who can make reference a tiara!

And, this is the perfect Holiday story! Enjoy and be sure to comment at the end and share your thoughts with us!

A New Heart, by Ginny McKinney

I had the perfect husband. Ruggedly handsome in a Sean Connery sort of way. Tall, silver hair, piercing blue eyes, disarming smile, a gentle spirit. A man’s man in every sense of the word and we were hopelessly in love. We never, ever so much as raised our voices to each other and carried each other’s heart on a velvet pillow.

We were approaching retirement age and decided to buy a travel trailer to hit the open road for a month in the spring. As we stood in the fourth trailer, picking out the one we wanted, my beloved husband had a heart attack and died. The life we had planned…the hopes, the dreams…died with him. He left me just three weeks shy of our 6th wedding anniversary. I knew instinctively I needed to put something joyful in front of me or I was never going to survive this, so a couple of weeks later, I went out and bought a small 16′ travel trailer. I took off by myself for three months and circled the state of Colorado to begin my grief journey.

When fall waned, and the trailer was put to bed for the winter, I struggled with grief and depression. The long dark nights only served to emphasize my state of…alone-ness. It was far too easy for me to withdraw and isolate myself in this grey fog of grief so I forced myself to get up and head out into the world. I lived in a small mountain town and I could just about guarantee I’d run into someone I knew, so I went searching for hugs. Eventually I made my way down to the mall and there was Santa, with three shiny-faced children sitting in his lap…awestruck as they whispered their wishes. I stood there watching, unaware of the tears dripping off my chin. Eventually the children moved on and I noticed Santa was watching me. We made eye contact, he tilted his head inquisitively, and scooched over in his overstuffed chair in an invitation to join him. I looked around and saw there was no one waiting, so I slowly made my way over. He patted the seat beside him and I dutifully sat down. We neither said a word for the longest time. I didn’t dare make eye contact. Santa leaned in toward me. I sat gazing at my hands in my lap. Finally, I looked up into his eyes and softly whispered, “I lost my husband. I need a new heart.”

Tweet: Santa leaned in toward me. I looked up into his eyes and whispered, “I need a new heart.” Read More http://bit.ly/1MYwoeB #grief #holidays [click to tweet – yes it’s that good!]

Santa wrapped his arm around my shoulder and pulled me closer and whispered back, “I’m so sorry.”

We sat there, me helplessly sobbing…releasing some of the pent up grief as I faced my very first Christmas alone. It didn’t take long to regain my composure. That is the nature of grief. The tears come in an instant and stop on a dime.

“That is the nature of grief. The tears come in an instant and stop on a dime.” (1)


I apologized and he brushed it off with “Nonsense…you’re perfect!” I smiled gratefully.

I stood to leave and he asked, “Will you have your picture taken with me?”

“I’d love that!” I said, with the same star-struck awe of the children seated there before me.

As I turned to go, Santa whispered, “Thank you for stopping.”

I leaned in and whispered back, “Thank you for being real.”

I’m heading into my third Christmas season now and much has happened since that sad day with Santa. Last summer I realized I was spending every moment I could in my camper, essentially living on the curb in front of my house. I have followed the Tiny House Movement for quite some time and I longed to be free of the burdens of home ownership. I sold my big mountain house in Colorado, got rid of 95% of my personal belongings, traded in the 16′ camper for a 30′ travel trailer with a slide out, got myself a reliable F-150, and tossed my tiara out the window on my way out of town. In the last year I have put 24,000 miles on that pickup as I crisscrossed the country twice. I attended several gatherings with my fellow Sisters on the Fly. I camped at a music festival in Nelsonville, Ohio. I weathered a hurricane at Myrtle Beach. I stood on mountain tops in the Rockies crying out to God in anguish. I kayaked down the Ohio River in blissful abandon. I laughed and flounced around in a tutu and cowboy boots at a campfire and stood on the rim of the Black Hills in South Dakota. I spoke to groups about loss and grief and hope.

I have faced my loss with what grace I could muster [click to tweet!] and I’m building this new life in a way that I hope will make my children, and grandchildren, proud. I am filled with hope…and with peace.

Ginny McKinney
Marshmallow Ranch
Copyright 2015

Ginny McKinney was born in West Virginia and moved to Colorado after two years abroad in England. She writes a blog on Facebook called Marshmallow Ranch. She is putting the final touches on two books…an autobiography and a faith-based daily devotional. She lives full time in her camper named TOW-Wanda and divides her time between Colorado, West Virginia, and someplace warm with sand and little umbrellas in the drinks. She creates unique jewelry out of antique silverware, maps, and other sparkly bits. She lost her beloved husband, Mr. Virgo, in March 2013 and has learned to embrace the life of a Bohemian. Oh, and she was just kidding…she didn’t really throw away her tiara!


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