Wise words from a friend on getting through 2020: Prayer and Wine. Prayer and Wine.

Dear Family and Friends,

In December I decided to make my grandmother Rose’s Swedish coffee braid for the holidays. Maybe I was a glutton for pandemic punishment, but I realized I had so little time left to accomplish anything of significance, having wasted my quarantine time sipping wine from my porch swing. While I watched my Facebook friends tackle DIY projects and spit-shine their homes, teach calculus to their teenagers and take cute photos of their rescued shelter dogs, I took swallows of my Pinot Noir and finished another online puzzle of a random castle somewhere in Europe. …


Ashes don’t sink. They form a ghostly swath and float away.

There’s a pinch of my Mom’s cremains laying in my jewelry box, tucked inside a tiny gold-colored tear drop suspended from a chain. When she passed away nine years ago, I thought a necklace containing a little part of her would keep her memory close to my heart.

I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

My Mom asked to be cremated and sprinkled on the James River. It seemed a simple request, until I found myself left with the task of fulfilling it. When it came time to pick up Mom’s ashes from the funeral home, my out-of-state siblings had…


That’s what Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson told me. According to him, I meet all the criteria of a star headed toward its grand extinguishing.

Okay, he wasn’t literally talking to me. I was watching an episode of Cosmos. But in my quarantine state of mind, he and I were having a deep discussion in my living room while I sat on my sofa wrapped in a fleece throw and drinking a glass of wine. With the cadence of a late-night radio host talking listeners off the ledge, Dr. Tyson explained the terminal condition that plagued the red giant looming large…


When my son Liam turned four years old, I made him a Bob the Builder cake for his birthday. I hadn’t planned to. In fact, as an unaccomplished baker, the thought never even crossed my mind. But two weeks before his birthday, a package arrived in the mail from my sister Susie — a Bob the Builder cake pan.

“What the hell was Susie thinking?” was my first thought, and I put the pan right back in the box. She was the baker of cool scratch cakes, not me. I could probably fill the cake mold with a box mix…


For six weeks I have lived in isolation, shunning the entire world to avoid running into a microscopic virus. But the quarantine hasn’t protected me from the continual outbreak of family drama. It finds me, no matter what kind of mask I hide behind or how much sanitizer I rub into my hands.

My grandmother died about four weeks into this pandemic — not of the virus itself — but of a UTI that got out of hand and caused her 100-year-old body to finally call it quits. She had been ready for death for quite some time, but until…

Kelly Barlow

A writer for public relations, small town news and technical pubs. For 25 years I’ve written everyone’s stories but my own. I think it’s time to write mine.

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