A New Dawn


Sunrise in Afghanistan ~photo by William James Keys

It’s been 1826 days since my son died. Yesterday marked 5 whole years. To top it off, in 5 days, it will be William’s 28th birthday. The date of birth and the date of death are two of the hardest days in the life of a grieving parent. Certainly, my greatest joy was the day he was born and no doubt my deepest sorrow the day he died. It’s time for me to be OK with it all.


wearing his first sailor suit


I am OK because all this time my boy has been the gift that keeps on giving. With every Whoosh moment he lets me know he is still with me. Maybe it’s time I give him something back, a birthday gift. Something I know, as his mother, he has been wanting and patiently waiting for. “Get Over it Mom.” That sense of peace has finally arrived. I can’t think of anything that could make him happier than for his mom to have the courage to change paths and move on.


This blog has been my therapy. My goodness it has been hard work. Cooking for you has been my therapy and my pleasure. The writing has been like a weekly does of chemotherapy knocking me for a loop, but in the end making me stronger. I have survived 5 years and the outlook looks good.


The blog has always been about celebrating my family and especially my son, William. It started because I was afraid he would be forgotten. I know now that is a silly notion. You, my friends, family and readers have shown me the light that is his because you kept coming back. Every comment encouraged me to keep writing. You have no idea how many times I wanted to quit.



I hope I have taught you something about grief. Maybe dispelled a myth or two or helped you better understand how to be with a griever. How to be present, but silent. If you are mourning a loss I hope you know that you are never alone and that you’re loved. Have courage. Your person really is the whisper in the wind and an angel on your shoulder.


Good Grief Cook is about to diverge in the woods. It’s time for a new path, but not sure where it will take me. The grief journey is about evolution. Lots of changes and growth and so the blog must evolve, too. I will take some time to think and hopefully won’t be gone too long, but until then be well. May you and your children flourish together always.


The War Quilt

I hope you like this gift, William. I believe I will see you again, but until then I know we are together in our hearts and spirits. Thanks for holding me up. Thanks to my amazing family and friends and YOUR amazing friends (my Middlebury, Taft and Military kids). Thanks to God. IMG_0338



65 thoughts on “A New Dawn

  1. I didn’t know your son, but, William I am sure would be so proud of his mom. Your five years of thoughtful words have strengthened many grieving a loss and not to mention the delicious recipes. I pray that your next focus continues to bring you comfort. ❤️

  2. Wishing you whooshes everyday!❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️😘😘😘😘😘

    • What makes those moments special is that they come when least expected and some times when most needed. ❤

  3. Lisa, I know there are thousands of moments that bring you to this place. I’m so amazed by you and your voyage of discovery. The deepest hurt, the moments of comfort, the peace you’ve found in your memories, and the love of your family and friends the cooking blog and how you’ve given back one hundred fold-You’ve embraced it all. May you find all the joy that’s waiting for you ❤
    On a personal note, I will miss your writings that always leave me waiting for more. When you're ready circle back around..we'll all be here waiting 😉

    • You and I have been on a journey of faith starting from my early Middlebury days. I certainly have taken the long way around the block. You have always inspired me with your faithfulness and love for others. If I have given back just the amount of love in your little pinky then maybe I have done something good. ❤ I will be back.

  4. Heavy

    That time
    I thought I could not
    go any closer to grief
    without dying

    I went closer,
    and I did not die.
    Surely God
    had His hand in this,

    as well as friends.
    Still, I was bent,
    and my laughter,
    as the poets said,

    was nowhere to be found.
    Then said my friend Daniel
    (brave even among lions),
    “It’s not the weight you carry

    but how you carry it—
    books, bricks, grief—
    it’s all in the way
    you embrace it, balance it, carry it

    when you cannot, and would not,
    put it down.”
    So I went practicing.
    Have you noticed?

    Have you heard
    the laughter
    that comes, now and again,
    out of my startled mouth?

    How I linger
    to admire, admire, admire
    the things of this world
    that are kind, and maybe

    also troubled—
    roses in the wind,
    the sea geese on the steep waves,
    a love
    to which there is no reply?
    –– Mary Oliver

    Carry on, my dear, carry on.

    • I think that Mary Oliver lives inside my soul. Her words and this particular poem are truly who we are. I think this is my favorite.

  5. Thank you for always putting your heart out there. I hope that when you figure out the new direction you will continue to blog. Thank you Lisa. I will truly miss my Sunday morning inspiration.
    PS: the chocolate mint came back… I was worried

    • So happy you have a tangible piece of my heart in that chocolate mint. I am always here for you, Krista. ❤

  6. Even though I am new to this grief journey, just 9 months since my son Matt was killed in a car accident at 24, your blog has given me hope. The first birthday in heaven and the day of his death are both coming soon and I know they will be two of the hardest days yet. Thank you for the inspiration and recipes. Our boys are forever in our hearts.

    • Denise, I hope you know you will always be able to find me, if needed. You are never alone in this. The blog will always be here for your encouragement. I am coming back, still, as Good Grief Cook, but looking at a new chapter.

  7. Again, goosebumps with every word. I’m thankful to feel that I’ve not only gotten to know you through this blog … but also William, someone I never would’ve had the good fortune to know. You’ve won the hearts of every person who has read your blog … and you truly are the epitome of “mom: keeper of the universe.” ❤️

    • I so love you, Patrice and the work you do as keeper of the universe. Your thoughtfulness has gone above and beyond anything that I could have imagined. My tangible “WHOOSH” goes everywhere with me. ❤

    • Thank you Caroline. I love you, too and believe that I am the lucky one that you all don’t think I am completely off my rocker. 🙂

  8. Simply a beautiful tribute to your dear William. I have been brought to tears by several of your posts, but most especially this one. The pictures of the early Middlebury years remind me just how fortunate our family was to call your family our friends. I keep a picture of our Atwood Rd. gang gathered in your backyard on my desk and it never fails to make me smile and remember those dear and simple times. Please know we will keep you and your William in our heart always.
    You were an inspiration to me then and you continue to amaze me with your eloquence, fortitude, and incredible talents. May god bless you always.

    • I think we need to be neighbors again! Wasn’t that photo of Leigh Leigh so dear? Those were such good days.Thankful for them.

  9. There are two types of people in this world, those who have suffered a loss, and those who will. Your loss, the one of a child, is one of the greatest magnitude. Your posts have truly shown us that what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I admire you more than I can say. I know without a doubt, that William is so proud of you. Thanks for taking us on your journey.

  10. Five years…a life time and a blink of an eye. I read this quote at my Mum’s service six months ago and I thought you might like to see it: “We ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” Thornton Wilder
    Your Courage and Love are inspiring. XO Bonnie

  11. Five years: A life time and a blink of an eye. I read this at my Mum’s service six months ago and thought you might like it: “We ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” Thornton Wilder
    Your Courage and Love are inspirational.
    XO Bonnie

    • Well, there is a huge bridge of love at the Taft School with you being the first brick. I can never thank you enough for taking care of me in those first days. Love to all in your office who continue to honor my boy. ❤

  12. Lisa you have been such an inspiration to many people. I have enjoyed your beautiful writings and words of encouragement. Loved your photos, sneak peeks into your life and recipes as well. I am looking forward to your next endeavor as I know it will be very creative. You are one “badass” woman. I applaud your strength. ❤️

  13. Dear Lisa,
    I will miss your post, messages and most of all your great recipes.
    Here is a quote I tried to live by daily.
    Have Courage!
    “Do not look forward to what might happen tomorrow; the same Everlasting Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and everyday.
    Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you an unfailing strength to bear it.
    Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations”.
    St. Francis de Sales.

    I thank God everyday for my son. I know and feel that love you shared for your William.
    He lives on. You’ll be in my hear and prayers.
    Marline McCarthy.

  14. I hope the time off will lend more clarity to the future direction of your writing.

  15. Our Angels
    For every fear that shakes our peace…For every night we feel alone…For every moment we lose a little hope, Our Angels whisper “I am here”. Their gentle reminders fill our hearts with that Peace and Hope. Whether it is your Whoosh or my Penny, we can feel secure knowing that someday we will see Our Angels again. You and I are the lucky ones, Lisa. We believe…..

  16. You and your William are both survivors-Survivors in Spirit and Soul. Thanks, once again, for taking me to church and realizing the Power of our Awesome God! I wait anxiously every Sunday to get up, turn on my computer, and read your Sunday blog post-it lifts me up. Thank you both for that.

    • I get a little smile on my face thinking of you sitting in a pew reading my blog (lol). Not certain what the new face of the blog will be, but hopefully I will figure it out, come back and still take you o a place that gives you a little piece “peace” of me. ❤

  17. Five years ago you were a faceless name known to me only through CCC. I remember the sorrow of your post that William had passed. My heart ached for you. Still I didn’t know you. Five years later I feel that I know you and your sweet boy. William the all American boy of any mother’s dreams … loving, sweet, mischevious, handsome … and more. Lisa the mother of any child’s dreams … loving, guiding, fun, talented … and more. You wrote your blog to remember William and help you grieve, it helped us all experience life and loss. To any friend’s dream … insightful, loving, sharing, emotional … and more. Thank you Lisa for not hiding away. Much love as you move forward.

    • I don’t know how to respond to such beautiful words. I am reading for the second time and my eyes fill with tears. Thank you Helen for staying with me all these years and knowing me and my William. ❤

  18. You were in my heart and on my mind as my family was close to losing our oldest son in a recent car accident. It’s horrifying and horrific, and one finds out who is really there as friend and support. I went back to read some of your blog posts. It gave me insight and strength. Keep on cooking and writing. XO

    • So very sorry you had to witness something like this first hand. I know how grateful you are that your son will recover and we can all be thankful for life’s miracles. ❤

  19. I have so enjoyed your posts, Sunday’s for some reason are the times I miss Dalton the most. I just read this one and it gives my heart some peace knowing we are all here holding each other’s hands through this horrendous, raw, debilitating thing we call GRIEF. I’m stronger because of my sons love and strength he had in his 21 years of being with me, but these other mothers who have faced this as well gives me the strength I didn’t know I even had and I’m so thankful to have you warrior mamas in my life. 💙👼

    • And I will remain in your life. You always know where to find me. I love being called “warrior mama” 🙂

  20. Thank you Lisa,
    It is my Sunday good reading and remembering Wil and the wonderful Middlebury days when our children were young boys running through make believe. 💙

  21. Bravo. Lisa …Zachary was born November 3rd, had the ‘accident’. Nov. 11, and died.. November 13, 2 years later. We (survivors) will never forget, but life , somehow, manages to go on…..but — they will always remain a part of our journey, and that is how I want it to be
    Love always to you, Bill, Caitlin

  22. I believe that I have Wil to thank for bringing you into my life. I am so thankful and honored… Love you, Lisa Keys!

    • I think it is one of the things I am most grateful for, Min. Many wonderful people have been brought into my life as the result of this blog. You and your family have been such a blessing. ❤

  23. It’s hard for me to believe I have been following your journey for five years… Heres to beautiful whooshes, joyous memories and a beautiful road ahead!

    • I believe we first found each other on RWOP. I remember saying good-bye to all of you there soon after he died. We have been through some good times and bad together and we are stronger for it. ❤

  24. This was a beautiful post. Can’t wait to hear about more whoosh moments. I truly believe in these moments and for me with my Grandfather they come in the form of butterflies- hope to see many hearts and butterflies in our future…so glad you have found some peace ❤

  25. Lisa-you are right that those around you may not know how to act or what to say to a grieving parent. I do understand it sucks because of how much it hurts my heart. I can’t imagine the pain in your heart. However, you always made it easy to be around you and made others feel loved and comfortable. That is truly admirable.

  26. Lisa,
    I just want you to know how much i respect and admire you for so many reasons. Your strength, courage and wisdom have been very insightful and most encouraging to me. I thank you for letting me into your “world”. I can’t wait to see all the new and wonderful things life has in store for you as you continue your journey forward. I also look forward to meeting you in person soon, well heck, we really are “neighbors”.

    • I look forward to meeting you too. You have no idea how often your “Jilly from Philly” sense of humor got me through the day. ❤

  27. I hope the new path leads you to a sunny clearing in the woods. I also hope our paths cross one day. I always look forward to your posts, and admire how you have shared the rawness of grief. I hope you have lots of whoosh moments going forward, and that your Sweet William visits you in your dreams. ❤️

  28. Beautiful, Lisa. I so admire your strengths and talents. I have a feeling I know what (part of) the next phase includes 🙂 and such a joy it will be! xoxo

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