Tristesse: sadness in French. Goodbye Uncle Rusty

Delphinium or Lupine near Orange (c) Kristin Espinasse
Are there seasons in Heaven? A field of French flowers for a favorite Uncle.

tristesse (tree-stess) noun, feminine

    : sadness

A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

We need to keep this simple today. Simple as sadness.

For while love is sometimes a mystery...
can sadness be put in the same category?

No, sadness is simple... as love should be.

Sadness is frank. Sadness un-peels itself and off goes the coat, then the sweater, then the shirt... eventually bearing our hearts, our very hurts.

While our hearts hold on to Haiti, some people question the Pourquoi of it all: "Why would God do this?"

Adding to the tristesse is our own personal misery. My dear sweet Uncle Rusty (Jules's 66-year-old brother) passed away on Friday. Three months ago he was fine. Three weeks ago he learned he had cancer.

Along with others out there, I try to compose my thoughts about tragedy, calamity, and being taken "unawares" from this earthly "comedy". It has all happened so fast.

While others question the Pourquoi—and so slip into doubt and hopelessness, I am busy making a pact with my dear Uncle up above:

For as long as he looks down on me...
I promise to "smile up" and make him proud of what he sees.

Updating this post 12 years later, I would like to dedicate it to my dear Aunt Betty, Rusty's wife and the love of his life. Also to their son, my cousin Josh. Uncle Rusty would be so proud of you today.

Update (from my mom,  Jules):

Thank You all of my FRIENDS AT FWAD, Yes, I am still crying - your messages are helping my broken heart. Rusty was the shinning star of my life as a child, even until my 20's. I followed him around just like a little puppy, he was everything to me. Rusty was a mechanical man, when I received my first baby-doll stroller he dismanteled it in one day. He built me tree-huts and then moved on to building doon-buggies and jet-boats before they were even invented. When I was 10 and Rusty 13 a friend from California brought him the plans to build a skiff-type boat, that had a stand up bar which he held onto and a 35 hp. motor on the back. We spent all of our afternoons after school (me sitting in front of his stand-up bar with the controls mounted flying up and down the Colorado river chasing mud-hens. We looked like we were on a flying carpet-coffee table. In the evenings we would dance the jitterbug together. So many wonderful memories... XOXO JULES



A Day in a Dog's Life...
by Smokey Dokey

Of all the members of our family... I am the one who most resembles our dashing Uncle Rusty. For one, we have the same color hair! Secondly, we have the same sweet hearts. Also, just as you, Dear Uncle, were a handy man, I fancy myself "handy mutt". More about those talents that I have inherited—from I know now who... in future episodes.

Love (and don't forget to forgive others, as we dogs do),

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I just bought your book and have been savouring it. Everything outside my window right now is grey and will be for a while to come. Your words and photos like the one in this post will get me through the long, dark Canadian l'hiver. Merci.

Joan B.

Dear Kristin and family, especially your mom,

I am so sorry about your uncle. Thank you for sharing your loss with us.



Oh Jules and Kristin, and of course your family:

I am so sorry to read of your brother's/Uncle's passing. Keep your memories near as you grieve. There are so many of us holding you close, if only via the computer.

Seeing your picture of the field of flowers reminded me of my own loss. My sweet sister died five years ago (how is that possible???), and a few weeks after, I was driving with my grandson when we passed a field full of daffodils. He turned to me and asked: Is that Heaven? And I responded, No, but that's probably what it looks like. He said: Good, then Jackie is happy. (Jackie was my sister.)

Praying for peace and comfort in your heart.

Nolensville, TN


Such terrible news! :( Am so saddened for your sudden loss of your uncle and brother, you loved so well. From experience, I know it's always difficult to mourn the loss when a life is taken so suddenly because you are dealing with the shock of the situation, and of course the "Why's?" Hopefully you will both be able to take some time to savour the precious memories you shared with Rusty and bask in the happiness of those plentiful times.


My thoughts are with you on this sad occasion. Take heart in the comfort of friends, family, and community.


Jean-Marc Espinasse

What a lovely and sweet post.
I have met Rusty 2 times and will treasure some great memories.
I have never met people from Haïti but I feel very compassion for them.
Today, as horrible bombings happened in Kaboul, I am praying for all those who suffer in this (still) beautiful planet.

Joyce Hoover

Love to you and your family and also to the families in Haiti who are suffering today. May God Bless. Joyce from Hampton, VA

karen mckeon wilson

Dear Kristin,

You have written such a lovely piece about loss and simplicity. It is impossible for us to know why there is such tragedy in the world, but all we can do is help where we can. Also I think that is the nicest way of dealing with the loss of someone close to you; to do the best you can for them and for others. I am sure your Uncle in some other realm, is very proud of you and doing what he can to continue being an inspiration to you. Love from Karen.

Theresa Van Ornum

My Prayers today are with your Uncle Rusty, you and your family. Thank you for sharing this tender moment with us. Thank you for putting it all in such gentle clear perspective. The beauty of your words are already changing the way I am living this day. Blessings to you.


Je suis tellement désolée d'entendre de la mort de votre oncle. Tous mes condoléances à vous et votre famille.


My sympathies~

Karen - Maryland, USA

Your words are so true and as always so beautifully laid out for us. We always bury the reality that death is a part of our God-given life. I'm sickened by the toll it's taken on Haiti and I'm very, very sorry for the lose you and your mother and family are now experiencing and will continue to experience for a long time. Why does the last taste of our life here on earth have to be so painful? Pouquoi, pourquoi? We must have faith in the plan.

I wish you all the best in keeping your promise to always "smile up". I'm sure that when he "smiles down" he will be hoping to see you living the good part of your God-given life dancing among that lovely lavender.

Warm hugs to all.

Marika Ujvari

My heart goes out to you dear Kristin. I am sorry for your loss. Please accept my heartfelt sumpathies!


Dear Kristin, I share my tristesse with you. My favorite uncle also passed away four days ago. Three months ago we discovered he had cancer. My favorite uncle who supported me while I was an exchange student in France - a year that makes reading your French Word-A-Day so dear! My prayer also goes to your family.

ps: today's picture is the loveliest. lavender is the thing i miss the most from my daily life in France. Love Amreta


Dear Kristin,

I am so very sorry to learn of your uncle's passing. May your sweet memories of him soften the sadness in your heart.


Candy in SW KS

Dear Kristin, JULES, and family, I'm so sorry for your loss. How trite those words seem and yet I dont' know how else to express my sadness for you and what you are feeling. I was going to "wax poetic", but somehow it's not in me this morning. I hope you can take comfort in the warm and caring words of your friends. Thank you for the beautiful photos of the lavendar and your precious Smokey. Life is all around us and we need to enjoy every moment. Prayers for your family and for all of those suffering loss throughout the world.

Lauren Averill

Dear Kristin,

May you be surrounded by a circle of love and support in these days following your uncle's death. We send our thoughts and prayers of comfort to you and your family.

Lauren and Tim


Lovely note today on tristesse. You ask, "Why would God do this?" God didn't do it, necessarily. We live in a broken world. Where you can see what God does, and why, is in your last words: "or we can get busy straightening out our arms, holding out our hands, helping others along, in love and simplicity." Now THAT is God at work through us, showing his love.


Cher Kristen et Jules and families,
Sending heartfelt sympathies for your loss.
Jan in Wisconsin

So sorry for you, Kristin ...


Sorry for your loss, Kristin

Carol Wayne

Chere Kristin et famille,

Please accept my deepest sympathy on the loss of your is difficult to accept our fragile status on earth...treasure your memories and hug your children....Your quote was so lovely.


Eileen deCamp

Dear Jules, Kristin and Family,
I'm so sorry for your loss and you are in my prayers.

Ophelia Paine

Dear Kristin -- The minute I saw "tristesse" I knew something must have happened. I am so sorry for you and for Jules to lose your uncle, her brother, so quickly and so young. Your essay today is pure poetry and full of love.

I have no doubt that he was a most wonderful man. Please know that you will be in my thoughts and prayers.


Josie Cimini

Deepest Sympathies to you and your family Kristin. I hope that you will take comfort in your memories of him.
- Josie from a gray and cold Boston. (Sad weather that fits your post, I would say.)

june shenton turner

I am so sad for you and your mother,Kristen, I have lost my brother and know the sadness. I have a Haitian friend of many years in London - her sister and her sister's son live in Port au Prince and she has not heard a word. Four days waiting by the phone and watching every t.v. news.
Tristesse bien sur.

Holly Sloboda

Deepest sympathy to you and your family. I work in Oncology. Know during this sad time that there are thousands of us out there fighting this terrible disease. We are making progress, just not fast enough sometimes...

Holly from MI, currently working at a hospital in Boston, MA

Linda D.

We're so sorry for your loss, Kristin. We , too, lost an uncle - my sweet and funny godfather, John. The good memories never really fade when I share the stories of him with my children. I know that cuddles and the sunshine of Provence will help. Many blessings on you and your family.

Jeanne Robinson

I wish I could send words that would ease your sadness, but they are part of our lives here on this earth and must be endured for a time. This, too, shall pass. I do rejoice for you in the knowledge that your dear Rusty is looking into the face of Jesus, and as believers, you know there will be a joyous reunion to come. I pray you will feel the presence of the Comforter in your lives in the days and weeks to come.


Kristin and family,
May God's certain promises of hope be your strength today and all your tomorrows. "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly will I then boast about my weaknesses...for when I am weak, then I am strong."

Kristine, dallas

Jules, Kristin and family,

My prayers are with you today, as always, in hopes that the memories of your brother Rusty and your Uncle Rusty will sustain you through the coming months of "tristesse".

Maybe a donation in Rusty's name to the ICRC or those here in the states, American Red Cross, will help you while helping others.


Dear Kristin,
Please know that you and your entire family are in my heart and prayers, as you grieve for you Uncle Rusty.

Mike Dishner

Well said. Praying for Haiti…


Cheres Kristin and Jules,
I'm so sorry about the loss of your uncle and brother.

Carol Ann

Kristin and Jules,
I was so sorry to hear of your loss. Kristin, your essay was so beautiful. I will try to remember it when I am in a situation like that. Thank you for such a wonderful explanation.

Carol Ann


Kristin and family,

Much love and hugs being sent your way. Cherish the great memories. You have given him a very sweet heartfelt, goodbye in your post.
Jonni, our in your old stomping grounds, Az.


Dear Kristin, Jules, and family,
I am so sorry to hear about your uncle and brother passing away. It is a blessing he was spared a long illness and suffering. Today it is raining in San Diego and I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers as we stay in today to commemorate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


You have a lovely way of keeping your Uncle in your heart. My best to Jules to lose the presence of a sibling is very hard.
Its warming up before a new blast of winter cold in Denver.

Jean Pierre

Dear Kristin,
You and your family are in my thoughts today with deepest sympathy. Hold those dear to you close and remember the good things about your dear uncle.

Karen from Phoenix, AZ

Dear Jules, Kristin and family,

I am so sorry for your loss. My prayers and thoughts and many, many hugs are sent your way.

Marianne Gooding

Thank you so much for your words and beautiful pictures. My thoughts are with you and your family. May we all appreciate each moment of every day and all that we have, especially our loved ones, (including pets!) I truly enjoy your posts and often share them and the photos with my students.
Marianne - Ohio


Such awful times for the people of Haiti and other parts of the world. There are many sad stories but also some wonderful miracles of people still being rescued. I was lucky to have a favorite uncle. Before he got ill I wrote a "everything I need to know I learned from Uncle...." list for him. So glad I did, he realized how much he was loved and appreciated. My sympathies to you, Jules and the rest of your family on the loss of Uncle Rusty.
Mid 40s and very windy in Seattle


Dear Krsitin, Jules and family,
I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your uncle/brother. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

I often think of the words of The Little Prince at times like this.

"In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night... you, only you, will have stars that can laugh!"


Dear Kristin,
Everthing seems to happen fast after you're fifty! (Or is that forty?) Please accept my condolences -- sixty-six is NOT SO OLD anymore. One Psalm always comforts me, "He maketh me lie down in green pastures." As for Haiti, I just don't know -- those poor folks have suffered centuries of abuse and lately hurricanes, tropical storms and now the earthquake. Perhaps it is God's plan to shine such a light on the Haitian's plight that people all over the world will not rest until there is a quality of life for each and every person -- especially each CHILD. Children suffering is painful, for them and for us, the bystanders. "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven."

Diane Marie Samson

Dear Kristin and Jules,
I am so very sorry to hear of Uncle Rusty passing. It is difficult when death comes so swiftly, because we came barely begin to take in the finality. But for Jules, we are grateful that there was not prolonged suffering so we are conflicted. It is so difficult for you, I know. My mother's passing was quite similar. I can only promise to keep you and your family in my prayers and ask the great God in Heaven to wrap his loving arms around you and gently rock you as you weep,
For your father, Kristin--San Antonio, USA, 51 and cloudy but should rise to mid 60s and sunny.

Barbara Hall

Your pledge to "smile up" is perfectly expressed. Merci Kristin. As always, your essays and photos are so moving.

Monica Henkel

Very touching & beautiful & definitely something I needed to read today, my prayers are w/you & your family

Christine Jackson

So sorry Kristin and Jules. May peace and calm be in your hearts today.

Much love from Salt Lake City where it is snowy and 34 degrees


very sorry for your loss... we look forward to the time when our loving God will "Isa 25:8 - He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken [it]." and when we will see our loved ones again... (Job 14:14-15) If an able-bodied man dies can he live again? All the days of my compulsory service I shall wait, Until my relief comes. 15 You will call, and I myself shall answer you. For the work of your hands you will have a yearning.
Rev 21:4 states "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Hopefully these verses will bring you comfort...

Jules Greer

Thank You all of my FRIENDS AT FWAD,

Yes, I am still crying - your messages are helping my broken heart.

Rusty was the shinning star of my life as a child, even until my 20's. I followed him around just like a little puppy, he was everything to me.

Rusty was a mechanical man, when I received my first baby-doll stroller he dismanteled it in one day. He built me tree-huts and then moved on to building doon-buggies and jet-boats before they were even invented.
When I was 10 and Rusty 13 a friend from California brought him the plans to build a skiff-type boat, that had a stand up bar which he held onto and a 35 hp. motor on the back. We spent all of our afternoons after school (me sitting in front of his stand-up bar with the controls mounted flying up and down the Colorado river chasing mud-hens. We looked like we were on a flying carpet-coffee table.

In the evenings we would dance the jitterbug together.

So many wonderful memories...



Bob Fowler

Dear Kristin, Jules and family ~

Having lost two brothers, a brother-in-law and a sister-in-law to the horrible disease of cancer, we appreciate your pain and offer our heartfelt condolences. Please take comfort in your hapy memories and perhaps this quote by an unknown author will offer some comfort as well ~ "When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure." Take care, keep "smiling up" and know that people all over the world are thinking of you.

Angela and Robert Fowler
Monterey Park, California


Dear Kristin, Dear Jules, and all of your family and friends,

I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved Rusty. What a shock to lose one you love so deeply, so quickly!

What a blessing that you have so many happy times together to remember. Not all families have had such joys together.

As to Haiti and such natural disasters, even cancer in our bodies..I can NEVER believe that God "does such things", only that he set the cosmos in motion and that plate tectonics and volcanoes and storms are part of the natural motions.

But it is GOD who gives we humans the love and compassion to help others and the strength to get through the disasters which may happen.

We send our love and support, and we will be praying for you.
May you find peace in your hearts, and good memories to support you.


Gayle Markow

Dear Kristin and Jules, sending you condolences at this time of the passing of your uncle, your brother.

Thank you so much Kristin for your beautiful essay this morning on tristesse. The world is so full with it; but it is easier to bear when we know that we are not alone. Your willingness to look at this tristesse directly, to know it, and to choose to go forward in a new kind of relationship with your uncle is beautiful. Sharing your vision and wisdom with us is such gift.

My dad died this past year. The wonderful hospice folks sent me a quote I have posted next to my computer. It says:
"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight." Kahlil Gibran (The Prophet).

With love, Gayle


Kristin, Jules, et famille,
My thoughts are with your family as you embrace Rusty's memory.

Thank you to Bill, those verses are helpful to all of us.

Leah in foggy, overcast Illinois


My sympathy to you and your mother and all of your family. Sixty-six is a young man in my book!! Jeanne


Your words were a lovely tribute to your beloved uncle and to the life he lived. May you and your family be surrounded by memories of your time together and rejoice in the happiness you shared. Your comments have become for me a mini vacation in the middle of gray winter. Thank you for the sunshine and smiles you bring.

Bill in St. Paul

Jules, Kristin and family,

My sympathy to you all. As Jeanne said, sixty-six is indeed a young man.


Dear Kristin, Jules and Family,

SIncere and heartfelt condolences! Nothing I can say that has not been said. So little we understand about the world and its ways even as we understand so much. The mysteries, we have to pray hard and in earnest, so they would be revealed. I pray for strength, patience, and love. I am fully confident that nothing pleases your dear uncle except his remembrance and nothing is more essential than praying for the progress of his beautiful soul.

Regards Haiti, a dear friend of mine in one instant, lost two cousins and their kids, now has homeless mother, nephew, and sisters. All too much...As I was searching for answers I came across this below which does not erase the pain but only helps us understand, perhaps only a little.

"Although outwardly cataclysms are hard to understand and to endure, yet there lies a great wisdom behind them which appears later. All the visible material events are inter-related with invisible spiritual forces. The infinite phenomena of creation are as interdependent as the links of a chain.
When certain links become rusty, they are broken by unseen forces, to be replaced by newer and better ones. There are certain colossal events which transpire in the world of humanity which are required by the nature of the times. For example, the requirements of winter are cold, snow, hail and rain – but the birds and animals who live for six months, enjoying a short span of life, not realizing the wisdom of winter, chide and make lament and are discontent, saying, “Why this awful frost? Why this hail and storm? Why not the balmy weather? Why not the eternal springtime? Why this injustice on the part of the creator? Why this suffering? What have we done to be meted out with this catastrophe?”
However, those souls who have lived many years and have acquired much experience and have weathered many severe winters realize that in order to enjoy the coming spring they must pass through the cold of winter."
(Divine Philosophy)

God bless and showers of love...

Judith Tripp

Dear Kristin,
This is my first post to you after a couple of months of savoring your wonderful blend of French essence, soul wisdom and golden retrievers.
I offer my sympathy and gratitude for your willingness to share so deeply from your heart. With love from Judith and Gracie, the golden

Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

Dear Jules, Kristi and family,

With sadness I read today's message. I am sorry for your loss. Jules, thank you for sharing some wonderful memories of your brother. It brought me joy just reading about them! Kristi, I cannot imagine a more beautiful way to share this with us.

My arms are open wide; my heart goes out to you. What a lovely family Rusty has been blessed with!

Lots of Love & Blessings!

Allie Milroy

Blessings to you and your family. Peace
allie from vancouver, bc, canada

Lynette Simser

Dear Kristin and Jules and family,

My sympathies to you and your family. A life well lived is truly the best way to honor those who have passed.
Love from Lynette in Minneapolis MN

Jacqui McCargar

Chere Kristi and Jules, Very sorry to hear about Rusty's passing, only know that he is in a better place now and watching over us all.
The field of lupines in the picture is beautiful and so appropriate, I can't help but smile and enjoy the beauty we have on earth. We get busy with everyday life and don't "stop and smell the roses" enough, and after my harrowing experience earlier this month I will be doing just that from now on and treasuring every moment with my loved ones. Please take care and never forget to tell someone you love them.

Diane Scott

Dear Kristin and Jules,

Please accept my deepest sympathy for your great loss. I send along a virtual bouquet of helleborus, an evergreen, which valiently blooms in the deepest of our winter months.

Warmest thoughts,


Elizabeth Berry

Thank you for sharing your loss. So you will be a part of my thoughts today as you grieve. May you know that everyone you have shared with, now holds you in their arms, knowing that grieving and great saddness are ok and that memories never die.

Elizabeth Jones

Your simple message is the heart of it all. Our family is thinking of you and yours at this sad time. If you watched the Golden Globes last night, Meryl Streep sums life up well too with her acceptance speach. Love to you and your family,

Elizabeth Jones


Dieu ne peut pas être blâmé pour les souffrances dans ce monde--y compris l'horreur qui se passe maintenant en Haïti. Prends ta Bible et soit conforté par Job 34:10 qui nous explique "Loin du vrai Dieu d'agir méchamment et du Tout-Puissant d'agir injustement!" Le vrai coupable est le "chef du monde" temporaire(Jean 14:34) et "dieu de ce système de choses" (II Cor 4:4), qui va être éliminé très bientôt! C'est la bonne nouvelle du royaume...c'est a dire le royaume de Dieu va éliminer la méchanceté bientôt (et celui qui le cause), pour toujours. Sois assuré, les paroles en Psaumes 34:10-11 & 29 seront accomplis.
Très respectueusement,

Jean Meyers

Thank you for this site, and the email. it's very generous thing you do, and it stimulates me, helps the AM blues, turns on my brain. Hope you are as at peace with your uncle's death, as he must be after the transition.



Even in la tristesse, you brighten up my day. Your wise reflections are a gift. Clarity and simplicity are not easy to achieve in any art form. Uncle Rusty was lucky to have you and his gorgeous sister in his life. Thanks for sharing your loss.
Sending love from San Francisco, where the heavens are crying for Haiti.


Kerry Ann

Dear Kristin and Jules,
May the loving memories of your uncle/brother comfort you at this sad time.
Love, Kerry Ann from sunny Pennsylvania

Mindy Garza

Dear Kristin and Jules,

I, too, lost an only brother and a favorite uncle to cancer within one month of one another. My heart goes out to you as you deal with the sadness of your loss.

Bill Facker

Jules .. Kristin .. I hope your grief is replaced by the warmth of loving memories as quickly as possible. So very sorry for your loss.

Anne Brixner

Kristi, Jules and your beautiful family,
Your words ring so perfectly true. All of us are stretching
out our loving arms to all of you, as we do to the people of Haiti and wherever "tristesse" needs comforting by "amour."
Annie and Mike

Linda Chandler

Dear Kristin, I'm so sorry about your beloved uncle's untimely passing. Smokey looks sad too. His picture made me cry. Your words are beautiful and wise. My sympathy to your family. Linda in AZ


Kristi, Heartfelt condolences at the loss of your uncle. Obviously, three months ago, he was not fine. He had a cancer eating away at his body. Some people have cancers, called envy,or hatred,or sadness or other destructful names which eat away at our very being. Obviously, your beloved uncle had none of these but the kind of cancer which kills the body but not the soul.His spirit will live on in all who loved him.

Larry Mason

Dear Kristin, Jules and family,

We're so sorry to hear this news. Perhaps this is a case where quickness is a blessing. We wish you and your family strength and warmth from the wonderful memories you have of your uncle and brother.

Larry and Sarah
Baltimore MD

Maria Cochrane

Kristen & Jules - thank you for sharing your lives with transparency and allowing us to reach out.
Praying that your uncle was overjoyed as Jesus welcomed him home with open arms.
May we not hold back in sharing our love & hope with those around us. Ceux qu'on aime, on ne sait jamais quand ils vont nous quitter!



Kristen and Jules,

My deepest sympathy on the loss of your uncle and dear brother.

Your post was beautiful and very thoughtful.


Sandra Vann

Dear Kristin and family,

I also send my heartfelt condolences in the loss of your beloved Uncle you, your mom, and entire family. I loved your essay and believe he does see you smiling up at him, reaching arms full of love and kindness and words to others and across the globe. May his memories bring you strength and courage and wisdom.

I nearly met you a few years ago, however it was harvest time and little time for a coffee chat unfortunately.
I love your emails....and am sitting at my own computer today wondering if I will try to go to Haiti with UNICEF, Save the Children, CRS or another organization, as I did in Bosnia and Kosovo, refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines. Or can I provide staff support and care for the aide workers from Skype, or on their return...
It is heart breaking. A local Boulder attorney is working to bring I think it is 600 orphans home on charters soon, that were in the midst of being adopted. I plan to call her also.

May the love and light of all of us help the Haitians and all who suffer by opening our hearts, donating and praying for a more gentle, equitable, humane world.
Take extra good care of yourself.

I am searching for my next path: overseas aide work, staff care consulting, writing memoirs, while hoping we will soon be able to move to France...Love to meet you and your family and dogs in person! You are all in my heart and thoughts. Sandra Vann


Dear Kristen and Jules,
My heartful sympathy to you both on your is difficult to process such things, especially when it happens so quickly and unexpectedly.. I hope you will find peace , solice, and comfort in all of the wonderful memories you both have in your dear uncle and brother. Remember to celebrate his life as the wonderful man that he was to you both.


Dear Kristen, Jules and Family,

I am so sorry to hear about your lose. My husband and I are going through a very similar situation and it is always natural to question "why"? and get angry. I wish your family the best of luck and I am sure that he is smiling down on you all and fixing something up in the sky.
Much love -


Chere Kristin et Jules,
Je suis désolé. Mes condoléances pour votre Rusty. Mes prières sont avec vous et votre famille.

Janine Cortell

Chere Kristin:
Toutes mes condoleances pour la perte de ton oncle. Moi aussi, j'ai perdu mon frere a l'age de 57 ans le juin passe.
Je pense souvent a lui et a tous les bons moments que nous avons passes ensemble.
Quand j'y pense, je ne suis pas triste.
Je suis sure que vous avez de bons souvenirs de votre once. Ne les oubliez pas.Janine


With all the others who hold you and your family dear, my sympathy and thoughts are with all of you at this sad time. I think, oh, in the blink of an eye, our lives change.


Dear Jules, Kristi and family,
Desolee for you loss... may the Light of Peace and the Force of Love bring comfort to your hearts soon.

Que en Paz descanse Rusty.

I am praying for the people in Haiti and for all the people who are suffering cancer... hope we find the cure... my mom is still in that battle.

Andrea @ Austin, TX


I am so sorry for your loss. I am with you as far as showing compassion, prayers and support for the people of Haiti. And on a light, sweet note, I am so grateful to have your emails and your presence on Facebook. Your word a day is always a special internet adventure that makes me smile. Even today, through the sadness, there is that element of beauty that you bring to every subject of the day.

Annette Heath

Dear Kristin, You are still young and the pain of loss is no less severe. It seems to me as I grow older that loss is with me constantly, and I have a need to learn how to live with it. Even our precious animals are only with us for ten to 15 yrs or less. I loved your way of living with it - to smile upward for your dear uncle. Bless you for remembering all the loss and horrendous pain being endured in Haiti. God is surely testing us as well as the Haitians. Bisous, Annette

Fred Caswell

Kristi, Jean-Marc, "Jewels" you continue to inspire me and I love you. Thank you for allowing me to experience your beauty.

May the blessings you give to others come back in warm, comforting sustaining love at this and whenever you suffer la tristesse.

Pauline Lowe

Chere Jules et Kristin,
sorry to hear of the death of your brother and uncle, it is one of the certainties of life and we cannot plan it, cancer is such an isidious beast.
Hope you find comfort in the memories, they can still make you smile even avec tristesse.

Thinking of you, Pauline

Pam Conrad

A friend whose sister was in Haiti found that repeating this prayer to be helpful when she found herself overcome with anxiety and asking Why

"Sometimes God calms the storm, but sometimes God lets the storm rage and He calms the Child."

Patty Beynet

I am so sorry for your loss. All of the comments are wonderful and I hope they give you comfort. Now is such sadness, but after a time, you will smile when you think of Rusty and you will have peace. Patty B

Shannon, Alexandria, VA

Jules, Kristin,

Rest assured that during this difficult time, I am lifting you up with my prayers.

In hopes that your days get brighter with each passing moment, knowing that truly, as Lincoln once (loosely) stated, it's not the years in Rusty's life that counted, but the brilliant life in his years.

Sending warm and peaceful thoughts to you all...



Kristin,Jules and family,

I am sorry for the loss of your uncle/brother may your loss bring you the assurance that your uncle is still beside you, an ever guiding light in your life and that the assurance of a reunion when all is said and done..

My prayers for everlasting peace for your uncle, and only warm thoughts to you and yours not forgetting Smokey

May God above bless and guide you...


Dear Kristin,
It is hard to find the right words for you all except to say how sorry I am to hear of your Uncle Rusty's passing...I know from your writings he was indeed a treasured part of your family...he is in my prayers, as you all are, especially today...

To Jules...a special thought and prayer as you have lost a very dear brother...

With sincerity
Gretel x

Marianne Rankin

As human beings, it is natural for us to ask "why?" about many things, especially those that don't seem to make a lot of sense. Although we will never have complete, clear answers, as we think and live, we may come closer to some hints as to why some things happen as they do; yet the world will always be a somewhat random place. I don't think God deliberately inflicts bad things on us; He allows us to reap what we sow. When things happen that no one seems to have caused or wanted, that's when it's hard to believe, but it would make no sense for God to create humans, then "beat them up." In the face of cancer, earthquakes, and other slings and arrows, we can, as Kristin said, do what we can to make the world a better place, which surely Rusty would appreciate.

A couple of quotations have helped me over the years:

"He who claps to himself a joy/Doth the winged life destroy;/But he who kisses the joy as it flies/Lives in eternity's sunrise." (William Blake)

"Un souvenir heureux est peut-etre plus vrai que le bonheur." (Alfred de Musset)

My thoughts and prayers are with you.


Condolences on your loss Jules and Kristin. I'm sure you know it's important to resist sorrow and grief at this time (Isaiah 53:4, James 4:7 for example).
I'd like to echo Candy's note - God doesn't cause earthquakes (or tsunamis, crime, shooting the Pope, disease, etc). God created everything (Genesis 1:1), including natural phenomena. A perfect world could only be attained if all humans were directly controlled by God (like puppets), but then there would be no free will (this is how to trip up atheists and agnostics). We are surrounded by troubles (false messages, evil) and God helps us see the light. This is the mainstream Christian philosophy.

Roz Harris

To Kristin and family, please accept my heartfelt condolences for the loss of your uncle. You have sweet, fond memories to hold tight. May they comfort you and bring you peace. Regards, Roz Harris

Elizabeth (Betty) Cleveland

Dear Kristin,
So much sadness, but we must all eventually say "au voir" to tristesse. I cannot bear the suffering in Haiti and now I am so sad for you losing your dear young uncle. I think your being so many miles away wrenches your heart a little more.
I wrote a little message on my Christmas cards this year and just maybe it might be of some comfort to you. Here it is. It will not have the same spacing but I think the message is there.
"When I was twelve and a dreamer, a child of the unknown, I walked in the dusk of a Christmas evening, smelling the woodsmoke from apple boughs.
The twinkling lights in the houses were welcome beacons, especially those in my own home, but the
darkening sky and the chill in the air all portended to me a preview of life, intimations of its possibilities, the glorious and
the tragic.
I felt special, that I had been given a gift...the ability to step
back from life and to be prepared for what would come.
Woodsmoke never lies."
I would love to put an arm around your shoulder, Kristin. I feel such a warm connection with you.
How wonderful the people we meet
in all our travels.
Keep looking for the glorious possibilities that are out there.
Je t'embrasse.

Je t'embrasse.


Jules, Kristi and Jean-Marc:

I have not been to the site in a few weeks, so I am saddened to hear of your loss - all good energy to each of you (and yes, Jean-Marc, it is still a beautiful (a.k.a. wonderful) world - is Satchmo on your phone?)

As for Haiti: I rue the devastation and loss, but there remains rays of hope, since people are still being pulled alive from the toppled buildings. For those who are still trapped, I send my energy for a speedy rescue. I also will use my thoughts to hope that a better Haiti will emerge - one to which the world will finally pay attention.

I bet Smokey is focusing his thoughts as well - he knows a thing or two about being rescued.

Christine Dashper

Dear Kristin, Jules and all your family,

I just want to send loving thoughts to you all for the loss of your uncle, and brother Rusty.

The courage you both show is inspiring.

warm wishes and hugs

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