"It's like taking a nap on that little rug when you were in kindergarten."

Life is Good. And Life Goes On

“Life goes on with or without you, time stops for no one!”

Here’s what we may think of ourselves, and our troubles, a lot of the time:

life goes on, me, the world revolves

But we quickly learn, throughout difficult periods of our life, that it isn’t really like that at all.

I’ve been away from this blog – literally and figuratively – for nearly eight months. What used to be a way to exercise my creative muscles has atrophied with the movement of time. Meanwhile, life has gone on.

In a way I feel like Brendan Fraser’s character – Adam Webber – from the not-so-highly acclaimed film, “Blast from the Past.” Adam is frozen in time (1962) in a bomb shelter for 35 years while the world above the shelter continually changes.

life goes on, blast from the past, brendan fraser

Many of you know that these seasons happen in life. Maybe not 35 years – for some people it may just be days, while for others it can last decades: “lost time” due to tough situations, hard years, tough working conditions, and/or tragedy with family or friends.

Maybe it was my way of coping with grief – to not enjoy something I get so much pleasure out of: expressing myself through writing.

We moved from California to Nebraska in what ended up being one of the longest winters on record. While maybe not the toughest winter, it did call for endurance, with the last snowfall coming in May.

We knew we trekked here for a reason, but why we moved, we weren’t quite sure. Our thoughts were that it was to be close to family we hadn’t been near in more than 15 years. Or to be there for Mom, who had suffered a stroke in 2007.

Cate and I were able to spend quality time just before Christmas, and on Christmas Day, with my mom and dad among other members of the family. It was the first time like that in so many years, and one we will certainly remember.

life goes on

MLB, MJ, Brother, Sister, Niece, BIL
In front: Mom and Dad


Dad always said, “Never let ’em see you sweat.” And to a large degree, this is a philosophy I also live by. That’s what made it tough when dad was hit by the first stroke on New Year’s Day. We were talking with him on the phone when at one point his words started not making sense.

Thankfully, it was just a mild one (a TIA), and he recovered very quickly. Within days, the slightly confusing speech had become normal again. Dad, Jim Monaghan, was a fighter. He came from the generation that toughed it out, “walked it off,” and didn’t go to the doctor. But this time, my brother was able to convince him to go to the doctor and have things checked out. They performed tests, gave him medication, and after this momentary blip, life went on.

While this was occurring, I was in the middle of starting a new job, in a completely new location. The hours are long and the work is challenging, requiring intense focus throughout the day.

At the same time we were preparing to move in to a new house (February 1st was the move-in date). It was a lot at once. We all go through “what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger” times, don’t we; those dig-deep passages of time that forge our character and prepare us for the future.

On January 17th, a second stroke hit Dad, and this one was massive. After a lot of difficult decisions and watching the breakdown of Dad’s health, we moved him to hospice where he passed away peacefully on Valentine’s Day.

As the days have turned into months, since his passing, it’s been like coming out of a deep San Francisco fog.

I’ve learned what many of you have undoubtedly experienced, and what Robert Frost penned so eloquently:

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life — It goes on.
Always fall in with what you’re asked to accept. Take what is given, and make it over your way. My aim in life has always been to hold my own with whatever’s going. Not against: with.”



  1. G M Barlean says:

    I wondered where you’d gone. This brought a tear to my eyes. Sorry for your loss, and yes…it does go on. Glad you have the right stuff. Sounds like your dad was a good man. Good luck with all of your adjustments. You will be fine. This too shall pass.

  2. It’s great to have you back MJ! I am glad that God confirmed one of the most difficult decisions you have made moving from San Diego (that you LOVED) to Nebraska (not so much). I’m sorry that you lost your dad. Losing a parent is a very hard thing to go through. If you want to come to California for a vacation, you and Cate are welcome to stay with us. I know of two local restaurants that have this GREAT waiter and I would love to bring you in to surprise him. Beware of the green beans! Just kidding!

    • kricket,

      It’s great to see you, even if only in writing. We will love to stay with you the next time we’re in Cali.

      That’s a fantastic idea to check out a couple of “new” restaurants with a cool waiter.

      Say hi to your dad for me.

  3. It’s good to see you back, Mr. M. That said, I’m so sorry for the loss of your father.

    • So great to see you, my friend. I’ve missed reading your thorough analysis of your recent reads. I’m sure you’ve already made it through 40+ books by this time of year.

  4. J Timothy Quirk says:

    Very sorry for your loss, Michael. It makes sense to take a break and reassess where one is at after a life changing event like that. Having that Christmas together as a family was a wonderful gift. All the best, my friend.

  5. Hi MJ,
    I’m so sorry about your dad. I have thought about you, and hoped you would resurface when the time was right. Wishing you a gentle time as you resettle into life without your dad. It sounds like he left you with many memories and pearls of wisdom. I use my mom’s like worry beads, and it helps me remember she is still with me, and always will be.

    • What a great description “like worry beads.” I’ve missed enjoying your photo-journalistic blog, Naomi. You always have the best pictures and stories to go with them. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement.

  6. Dear MJ, so sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing; glad you were close by when it happened. Sometimes life is just a clusterf#%*k. But keep going with it. That’s all we can do, isn’t it.

    • It truly was a blessing to be so close when Dad’s health took a bad turn.

      When I pulled up WP to get this post going, low and behold, Miss Elyse Freshly Pressed!! Congrats.

  7. Great to see you back, it my heart goes out to you and family on your father’s passing.
    I hope life is returning to some normalcy, enjoy the times with your family more than ever. hang on to them tightly.
    the Frost quote is eloquent and perfect, and I never realised before, but it’s something I try to live by. Now it has words.

    • So glad to be back, Jennifer. I’ve missed reading your blog during my absence, beader friend. Things are getting back to normal … and writing this has helped me turn the corner. I’ve been trying to write this for some time now.

      I so agree with you on the Frost quote.

  8. Hey, MJ…it’s so good to see you back! It’s certainly been a year of changes for you, and I think your father would be proud of the way you’ve handled everything. There will still be bumpy days ahead. It took almost two years after my dad died before life felt normal to me again, but you’ll get there. Just take care of yourself and your family…and don’t neglect the blog anymore, okay? We miss you when you’re not around. :)

  9. I have missed you, Mike and was hoping you were OK. Sorry to hear about your Dad. I do recall how devastated I was when my Dad passed in 2011 (and my Mon in 2001).

    So glad to see you writing again. You were one of my earliest supporters and I always knew I could count on you if I had a question. Welcome back to your WP family.

  10. MJ, So sorry to hear of your loss. My eldest sister suffered a series of strokes, small ones at first, then a much larger one. It was sad to see the changes wrought in her life, and then she passed away in June. And life does go on, though we carry the memories of our loved ones with us. Thanks for sharing this, and welcome back to the blogging world.

  11. Hey MJ, I’m so glad you are back. I kept checking, just to make sure there wasn’t some problem getting a notice when you posted. Time and again, I saw nothing new, and I wondered about you… sending positive vibes out for good things.

    I’m so sorry about the loss of your Dad. My Dad suffered a stroke just before retirement. His employer pulled the retirement paperwork and put him back on payroll. After months of struggle, Dad got back some of what he lost… and he was a changed man. No longer an angry and negative man, we saw him laugh, cry and show his love openly. Then two years later, a massive stroke took him quickly. I felt robbed in a way, I was just getting to know the Dad who was everything I had always yearned for. Yet, I was thankful that he didn’t suffer, trapped in a body that couldn’t perform or give him a quality of life.

    Nebraska is a hard life, and maybe not what you were hoping for. But I feel you were led there because it is where you need to be at this time. I hope on one of my trips back home, that we’ll be able to hook up and have coffee or just have some time to “shoot the shit” and catch up on life. I’ve missed you my friend.

    • I was so happy to see “Littlesundog” show up in the comments section. I have missed your writing, photos, and storytelling more than you know. Hey, you have short hair in your gravatar – looks great; and sassy!

      So glad you got that time with your dad. And thankfully, in my dad’s situation, he was only trapped for a month or so. It was hard to watch, but provided some time for healing with family members.

      Nebraska has been interesting. It’s what I expected in some ways, and not in other ways. But it has been one of those things that has added to our life experiences and certainly is where we are supposed to be at this time.

      Let me know the next time you’re coming through the Great State of Nebraska and MLB and I will meet you for coffee or lunch. In the meantime, I’ll give you a surprise call one of these days. :)

  12. Joycie Villasenor says:

    So sorry for your loss. Glad to see you writing again!

  13. Hello MJ, so good to see a post from you! I am so sorry to hear about your dad’s passing; I know it’s very difficult, I’ve been there.

    Life does go on, whether we’re ready or not, but we’re somehow changed from the experience. Maybe we’ve gained a deeper appreciation, or we stop and just experience the moment a bit more, but we are changed.

    Nebraska may not have been your “dream destination” at this point in your life, LOL, but at least it has brought you closer in proximity with so many of your loved ones! I think about you and YLB as we pass by your area from time to time. Maybe next time Lori is back for a visit, we can finally get together for that coffee! Take care!

    • Jules, thank you for the kind words. I’m FINALLY getting around to responding, and I’ve been terrible about it.

      Nebraska has been treating us well, so far. It’s about to head into winter so we need to batten down the hatches – lol!

      MLB and I would love to meet you and your family sometime when you’re in our neck of the woods. That would be awesome to meet Lori, as well.

      Take care and I hope the family is well, my friend.

  14. I am so sorry for your loss. It is so great that you got to spend time together before he passed. What a beautiful family you have.
    Change is hard but it’s good too. The challenges in our life is what it takes to grow as a person.
    Welcome back!

    • Susie, it was fantastic that we were even in the state, let alone so close. It was something of a miracle that we were here.

      I haven’t followed a lot of posts, but did see that you’ve had a huge challenge in your life, and faced it so incredibly. You are an inspiration of courage and tenacity, Susie!

      • It is funny how Life works in such mysterious ways.
        Oh thank you MJ! I’m out of the woods and am hitting my 8th week after surgery. I’m looking forward to running for the first time on Wednesday. Always forward, never backwards…

  15. I’m glad to see you here, Mike. Very sorry to hear about your dad. I hope the job is everything you wanted it to be.

    I hope you like snow.

    I seldom go on Facebook these days, so if my friends stop blogging, I have no idea what’s going on. I hope you’ll come back and keep this blog updated. I’ve missed it.

    • As you know, you are one of my favorites – I can’t lie. Your writing is superb, and I’ve missed your daily writing. You are prolific and disciplined. I admire your consistency.

      The job has been challenging, but the people are really good. Bonus … I get to be responsible for snow removal at our facility. :)

      Hope you and MTM are well, Andra.

  16. I understand how life can freeze you in your tracks sometimes, MJ. Sorry about your Dad. Understand how that feels also. Glad you are back here. It may seem at times like a selfish endeavor, this need to write and feel, but selfish is okay. Especially if it helps you heal.

    • Julie, you have always been so great about supporting me and other blogs. Thank you for the kind words and commiseration. I’ve read some of your posts via FB, and things are going quite well for you and your writing. Nothing but the best to you, my friend!

  17. Jodi Aman says:

    MJ, Glad to see you. I figured you were just adjusting to new house and job, so very sorry about dad. So glad you included this photo of him. I would love to hear more! xoxo

    • Jodi, so sorry it’s taken so long to respond. Thanks for your awesome support now, and over the last couple of years. You are a source of encouragement, my friend.

  18. MJ, I’m so sorry for your loss. Who could blame you for taking time away to try to regain your bearings? I’m glad to see you back here, doing something you’re good at, something that is fulfilling to you. Welcome back.

  19. Sorry about your loss. Hope things smooth out for you. And thanks for the important reminder, life does go on. Sometimes, it’s hard to hear.

  20. Great to have you back–but I’m so sorry to hear about your father. Sending hugs your way. XO

  21. “Monaghan” ~ you have been missed friend! Sincere deep condolences for the loss o your father. 2013 has been a particularly “suck” year for many. I have taken note of your eternal Irish optimism ~ “Life is Good. And Life Goes On”

    That is the “stubborn” of how we are, arising each day, trying to get the best we can out of it and keep on keepin’ on moving forward. It doesn’t mean any of us is perfect at it. It does not mean there aren’t some very foggy days happened/happening. It does mean we continue to persevere.

    I’ve also taken note that I too when attempting to flow through extreme changes and challenges (in my own case, particularly the family ones) ~ I get very blog quiet.

    Thank you for sharing this with us. Sending love, compassion, concern, care and big hugs for you and your family members.

    Kaye aka @grammakaye

    • Grammakaye, you are one of the bright, shining lights out there in the internets! I appreciate your kind, Irish thoughts and words.

      You hit the nail on the head with the stubborn part of being Irish. lol

      Thank you for always being there with support and words of encouragement, grammakaye!

  22. Welcome back, with deepest condolences on your loss.

  23. Mark Schwietz says:

    Michael – I hope you can see by the comments left that a) you were missed, b) you are blessed, c) you are not alone, d) you are loved. Continued thoughts and prayers for you and the whole family. xoxo Mark

  24. Welcome back to the blogosphere, Michael. It’s good to hear from you. I’m very sorry for your loss. It sounds like a big adjustment period on many fronts. May your loved ones, friends, and WordPress community bring you strength.
    All my best.

  25. You know you will always be my WBFF…even in the absence of the aforementioned “W”! And yes, I’ve been missing my “W” for a long time as well — it was a year for me. So welcome back…and know that I’m sending big virtual hugs from across the country.

    • Wow, didn’t realize you’ve been away too, WBFF! You’ve been a bit busy with the baby, your freelance writing, and your beau.

      Fortunately, I’ve been able to keep up with how well everything’s going via FB. Congrats on all your success, in so many different avenues.

      BTW, you’re going to have to take that whole throwing the brick thing and turn it into building your new life… brick by brick. :)

  26. Mj! I was so excited to see you were back. So sorry to hear about your sad news, I’m not surprised that you didn’t feel like blogging. Weirdly, when I went through a tough patch a few years ago for various reasons I stopped keeping a diary and I had written them for several years. But when so much bad stuff was going on I couldn’t write in it, I couldn’t put what I was feeling into words; I guess a blog is a little like a diary in a way. :)

    I love that film Blast from the Past! I caught it by chance on TV late at some random hour and loved it.

    Good to have you back, and I hope the new job isn’t too stressful!

    • Thanks for the welcome back. It was good to see your book and candle gravatar again, Becks. It’s so identifiable.

      I totally understand not wanting to write in your journal, too. It’s tough when you have a lot going on.

  27. always been to hold my own with whatever’s going. Not against: with.”

    In spite of has helped me.

  28. I’m so sorry to read about your dad. Mine has been gone going-on five years now, and I still miss him. You’ll miss yours, too. Writing helps, you know, and it’s good to see you back (whether sporadic or not!). Sounds like you’ve had a LOT on your plate lately. Here’s hoping things settle down a bit!

    • It’s good to be back. Thank you, Debbie.

      You’re right about the missing. I’ll see something and want to call, forgetting that I can’t. The memories are good, though.

  29. MJ — Welcome back. I’m so glad I caught this post, and know that you are blogging again. Your words are always welcome here, no matter how much time you take off. When I read your post I felt overcome with emotions. I saw the words, “first stroke,” and knew the ending would not be a good one. Then I clicked on the link for your dad and saw it was an obituary. I am so very, very sorry for your loss. You have my deepest sympathies. He sounds like a remarkable man. Thank you for sharing this difficult time in your life with us, your readers, and may you find comfort as you grieve. As I said, your words are always welcome. Write when you can, and we’ll be here to share your story. Take care –Melissa

    • Melissa, thank you so much for your compassion and kind words. You have always been such a support to me on this blog, and I have truly enjoyed your writing as well.

      It’s interesting that we never really prepare ourselves for things that are inevitable in life. I’m sure this is true of every generation. We’re so busy living that we don’t think of it.

      Anyway, I look forward to getting back to reading your posts again and getting back into the swing of the blogosphere. :)

  30. hello MJ – very sorry to read on the loss of your father. my deepest sympathy. your dad sounds like the kind of people we need more of today: a person of deep faith and strong family values. it was good to read your post today. thanks for sharing and as always – all the best to you personally and in the blog-o-sphere. ☼

  31. Jane Thorne says:

    Oh MJ, my heart goes out to you. Your Dad’s love stills wraps around you all. We may never find the reason for why certain things happen, but as you rightly point out, life goes on. I have missed you. Hugs for you buddy. x

Love to hear from you.

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