Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Three Years Ago Today....

We said goodbye to our beloved dog, J.B.

Two years ago, we lit a torch on his grave to observe the first anniversary of his death. I thought then that the following spring I would finally be able to plant a garden where his body rests.

I wasn't.

Sure, I was busier this past spring than I've ever been. Serving in the Maine Legislature remains the highest honor of my life. I will always work tirelessly to do the best I can. But, truth be told, I still wasn't ready to plant that garden.

Today, I'll simply let myself miss my dog.

And that will be enough.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

15 Years Ago Today

Friends came...

...bearing gifts.

They gathered in our backyard to see us marry.

Before our altar...

...we exchanged vows.

Daddy sang "Ebb Tide," my favorite love song.

We joined our lights...

...and became one heart.



Two families became one.

How sweet it is.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The First Time I Saw Her Face

TWELVE YEARS ago today, I saw my birthmother's face in person for the first time in my life. It's hard to believe it's been so long. Hard to believe there have been so many twists and turns. Great celebrations. More separation. Confrontation. Reconciliation.

But this was how it was, as I documented in my book, on that Sabbath evening twelve years ago:

Their Eyes Were Watching God

It is dark. It takes them a little while to locate the right unit. Craig anticipates what’s about to happen, his anxiety stiff and peaked like whipped egg whites. What will she look like?

The time is near.

Will she recognize him?

The time is near.

How will she react?

The time is near.

They find the right unit. Uncle James, still talking on the phone with Sonja, knocks on the door. Job aims the video camera at the door.

Craig stands away from the door, away from his husband and uncle. James knocks again.

“Who is it?” a voice replies. Is it hers? Or his sister’s?

“It’s Uncle James.”

The door opens. She appears in blue-green shorts and a white T-shirt. Her face shrouded with hair.

“It’s the CIA.” James laughs his shrill and infectious laugh.

“I thought you weren’t coming until tomorrow.”

“Well, I’m here now. Mind if I bring my friends in with me?”

“Not at all. Who are your friends?”

They exchange pleasantries.

Craig shakes her hand, quickly, and steps inside, trembling.

“So who are your friends?”

“This is Job.” Job shakes her hand.

“Job’s full name is Jacobus, which means James.” Cell phone still live with Aunt Sonja, Uncle James steps inside and away from Craig.

“Who is this?”

“You know who he is.”

“No, I don’t.”

“Yes, you do.”

With the back of her right hand, she pushes her long hair out of her face. She studies Craig’s face. He has her protruding bottom lip. She studies closer. He has her exact caramel-colored skin with the reddish tint.


He has that slightly squinted left eye that reflects her tightly squinted right eye.

And closer still.

She cocks her head subtly to the right, but not so subtly that he doesn’t notice, and furrows her brow.

“It’s been thirty-three years.”

But she doesn’t hear Job, because she already knows.

“My son?”

He nods.

Wow.” She raises her right hand. “Joseph.”

He nods again.

She steps forward to hug him. He clenches her.

“Oh, my God.”

His water breaks.

“Oh, my God.”

His earth quakes.

“Oh, my God.”

His bow breaks.

“Oh, my God.”

His heart aches.

“Oh, my God.”

He can’t let go.

“Oh, my God.”

He won’t let go.

“Oh, my God.”

She rocks him slowly side to side.

“Oh, my God.”

“It’s okay,” she whispers.


“It’s okay.”


He buries his head in her shoulder.


She strokes his head.


She rocks him slowly and strokes his head.

“Ohm’ God.”

His earth quakes


His water breaks.


And he wails three decades and three years of tears.

And time stands still.

The day after. From left: The grandmother, the spouse, yours truly, the nephew, the sister, the birthmother, the auntie, the eldest uncle, the younger uncle

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


When I first received word of the Boston Marathon bombing, I was out in the field behind the barn turning over the soil for planting. It was the first time this season that I have been able to work the land, to get soil under my nails. To hear of such horrifying news when preparing to seed new life reminded me just how much we often take for granted.  How life is so ripe with contradictions.

I lived in Boston for 16 years and immediately thought of old friends who may have been in harm’s way. A few legislators had family members in Boston. So far, they have all reported in safe and sound. If any of your friends or loved ones live in or were visiting Boston, I pray that they are safe as well.

While there is no way to take away the heart shattering loss of those who died in this senseless attack, we can offer our support to their families and the devastatingly injured survivors.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino have formed The One Fund Boston to help the families most affected by the attack. For more information, click here:


If you are so inclined, please spread the word.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all who grieve.

Take care of your blessings.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hickman On The Hill

On Tuesday, January 29, I addressed the entire student body of Kents Hill School in Readfield as the Amnesty International Human Rights Speaker. It's always an honor to speak to young people. My remarks combined personal history, a focus on community, ideas for a sustainable Maine economy through agriculture and food, and a special demonstration of slam poetry at the request of a student during question and answer. It was truly an honor to receive a spontaneous standing ovation as soon as I finished my address from the students, faculty, and members of the community who attended. 

On Friday, February 1, I returned to campus to lead roundtable discussions in six classes (three English, AP Environmental Studies, Literature of Place, and Western Civ), meet with Head of School, Jeremy LaCasse, attend a school meeting, and break bread with members of the Student Council. 

Overall, it was an extraordinary experience. The students were engaged, intelligent, wise and seeking creative and sustainable solutions for the environment and food systems that they will inherit from us as they enter adulthood. I thank Anne Richardson, Director of College Counseling, Director of International and ESL Programs and Amnesty International Advisor, for inviting me to participate this year. After completing my class visits, Anne sent me this email:

"On behalf of Kents Hill, I want to thank you for your energy, enthusiasm, patience, and, above all, your superb words at Kents Hill School this week.   Your words about and your advocacy for the hungry and for food policy were moving and inspiring.  I think you could tell from the stillness in the room that you kept an audience of 250 teenagers rapt for the entire duration, and then enthralled them with your poetry rendition.  This is no mean feat, and I thank you for being one of the best Human Rights speakers we have had to date.

"In addition, every class you attended gave you rave reviews - again, we appreciate you giving your entire attention to us, especially when you were feeling slightly under the weather.

"I think the entire school joins with me in wishing you an energetic, fulfilling and productive legislative season, and great gratitude for the work you do for us.   We are proud to have you representing us."