From the Files: Newspaper Obituaries

Newspaper Obituaries

In memory,
With love,
We have peacefully passed away
Or maybe not so peaceful
At home
In hospital
Alone or with others

But now at rest

We were born
To parents
Maybe siblings


We learned
At school
At college
Art school
A trade
From Father

But we learned something

We loved

Most of all we loved

We grew older
Like trees spreading branches
Leaves brushing against others
Touching lives
Lives touching ours

Too soon, a solar eclipse at noon
Deep into sunset years
Moonlight drifting across the path

We left them behind
And went on to see others
Parents and siblings
Sons and daughters
Lovers and friends

We’ve gone on
We each know where

Now a snapshot of our lives
Etched out in news print
A lingering breath

A note card tucked in the end pages

We lived
We learned
We loved
We grew

We want you to, too.

Annie Louise Twitchell
March 12, 2023

For my day job I end up handling and posting the obituaries for most of Franklin County and the surrounding communities. I make a point of reading through each one and studying their story. I will never know many of the people I read about but in the minutes I take to read about them, there is a story to learn and to remember.

From the Files: Two Hours

October 19, 2021. I’ve hesitated on sharing this story publicly for months now but I’ve shared it with enough people who found it valuable in their own journey that I’m going to give it a shot.

May, 2020

It was almost 8 p.m. when David stopped to ask if I was okay. I was still on the phone with my therapist, parked outside the library in a torrential downpour, and I told him I was okay. I guess he didn’t believe me; I was kind of in the middle of crying. He went up around the block and parked at the bank across the street, and just stuck around for a while.

Eventually my therapist had to hang up. I was going to go home, but my brain was spiraling down the street drain like the rainwater outside, and I was pretty sure if I started driving home I would just drive right past the house and keep going to Rangeley, but I’d run out of gas before I got there and I would be stranded.

I couldn’t figure out what to do, but that police cruiser was still there.

I drove over to the bank and went over to the cruiser. I was terrified to talk to him but I didn’t know what else to do and he was right there. He got out and asked me, again, if I was okay. I said I thought I needed help, and he got me settled into the passenger seat and turned the heat on so I could stop shivering, and we just talked for a few minutes. He had a bunch of questions and asked a couple times if I needed to go to the hospital, but then he just let me talk. I was panicky and stuck in a year-old memory and all I wanted was to go home and see my mom, but my mom has a traumatic brain injury and I have post traumatic stress, and sometimes—through no one’s fault—we rub against each other like sandpaper.

When I finally stopped crying, David asked me a question that has completely changed my entire approach to my mental health.

“What are you going to do for the rest of the night?”

He sat and waited until I worked out a plan for the rest of the night—I would go home, have a glass of milk and the huge cookie I’d bought at the Orange Cat earlier that day, and watch a movie with Hannah. Then it would be time for bed, and I hoped I would be able to go to sleep without much trouble.

He thought that sounded like a good plan, and he gave me his card and said if I needed anything for the rest of the night, I could call Dispatch, ask for him, and he would come help.

That idea—of having a plan for getting through the next few hours—has stuck with me ever since. I actually created a ‘mental health first aid kit’ with instructions for using it and on the really bad days when I can’t figure out what to do or where to begin, I pull that out. But even when it’s not that bad, I can pause, figure out a plan for the next hour or two, and give myself space to process what’s going on. I just need to get through two hours and then I can reevaluate where I’m at. It’s become automatic—a thought process on my way home from a difficult day at work, a hard story I had to cover, a rough call. It’s just there: “what am I going to do for the next couple hours?” It is a good thought to have in my head, a good response. I don’t have to be okay right now, I just have to make a cup of cocoa and put on a familiar show and snuggle my cats for a couple hours. I create a space where I am allowed to be not okay in a safe way, and that makes it easier to move forward.

I wish I could articulate how much that changed the game for me, but it’s hard to explain when I don’t entirely understand it. All I know is that that one sentence, that one question, has been a lifesaver.

Originally posted on Facebook on October 19, 2021.

From the Files: Does the Universe Paint Pictures?

I spent too long reading my lab results from the clinic this afternoon and found the names familiar. There is iron in my blood, and iron in the ground I walk on. I am made of the same stuff as the trees and my bones have calcium like the rocks on the mountain.

I am just one cell on Planet Earth but I am also a universe in this body.

I do believe in magic, and in grace, and in love, because my mother’s hands hold my genetic fingerprint. Because I could be a thousand different things but I’m not, I’m Annie. I could not exist without a million tiny miracles.

There is so much to feel and do and be. We are here for more than grocery lists and income taxes.

We are breathing — do you know what it takes to breathe? To fill your lungs with air and carry the oxygen through your bloodstream? To exhale and then, deep inhale? Who tells your lungs how to expand?

Who tells your heart how to love? How to break?

We are made of the same stuff as the trees but we laugh and cry and love. We paint pictures and tell stories.

I look at the sunset and I wonder if the universe paints pictures, too.

But then I look at you and I know it does.

Originally posted on Facebook on October 28, 2021

From the Files: Baking Bread

The world is heavy in my hands today.

Inside my ring of mountains and outside, there are things that I cannot change, problems I cannot solve.

The world is heavy in my hands today.

So, I take a breath. I wash my hands, scrub under my nails, and knead bread dough.

I place the dough in a bowl to rise.

I shape a round loaf and place it in a cast iron pan, slice a thin ribbon across the top, and let it rise again.

This is an old ritual, an old memory.

My grandmother’s grandmother did this in another world, at another time.

I did not have to be taught this skill. My bones have known this since before I remember.

This is how I remind myself of the infinite truth of humanity: we are who we are because we bake bread and we bandage wounds and we share blankets for warmth. We are human because of our paintings and poems and how we work together as a community to care for and love each other. We are human.

I choose to embrace our beauty.

I choose to hold the heaviness close and to feel it, and to pour my fatigue and hurt and rage into my muscles, turning and pushing and kneading the dough until it is smooth and I am at ease.

The world is heavy in my hands today, and I am baking bread.

Originally posted on Facebook on February 24, 2022.

From the Files: Dishes

My little brother tells me

he doesn’t understand romance stories

because it feels like something is missing.

He says, it feels fake.

He asks, what does love really look like?

I tell him I am not the best person to answer,

but I will try.

I tell him I want someone who

turns the porch light on for me when it’s dark.

Someone who

brings home supper on the long days.

Someone whose

socks I don’t mind washing over and over.

Someone who

wants to go for walks with me.

Someone who

will do the dishes with me

for the rest of our lives.

My little brother understands about

doing the dishes.

I tell him the extraordinary is important

but I need the everyday ordinary

or it’s a firework, burning out.

I do not know more than this.

I know I want someone to do the dishes

with me


From the Files: Sunshine and Snowbanks

My communities have seen too much tragedy this week. But there’s been little rays of sunshine breaking through the clouds.

This morning I needed to get out of the house. My options are limited (thanks COVID) but I decided to go to town, pick up breakfast, and run a few errands.

Before I could do that I needed to clear out the driveway. I can bumble through a foot of powder with the truck but I try to avoid barreling through the plow drift at the end of the driveway unless it’s an emergency. I decided I’d shovel out the plow drift, go to town, and then tackle the rest of the driveway when I got home.

The plow drift was such a fine specimen that I should have logged it for scientific purposes. It was about four feet deep, about two and a half feet tall, and almost entirely made of dense, compacted powder. I started carving it away, quickly slipping into a scoop-lift-throw rhythm.

One of my local guys drove by, backed up, and said he’d take a pass off the end of the drive. Three quick swipes and he’d cleared away the whole plow drift and cleared enough space at the end of the drive to get the truck out without any trouble.

I thanked him and he continued on his way.

I went back inside, called Missie, and began crying.

After this week, I needed that casual kindness. It made my whole day better.

People talk a lot about changing the world. Heroic acts. Daring deeds. There’s nothing wrong with that; the world desperately needs heroes.

But in a world that isn’t kind, being recklessly kind and unconditionally loving is a heroic act. Sometimes the best way to change the world as a whole is to change the world around you.

This week has been hard. But people keep bringing rays of sunshine through the clouds.

I’m so thankful for them.

Do me a favor? Hug your kids and tell them you love them.

Originally posted on Facebook on February 1, 2021.

From the Files: Stage Fright

A few years ago I spent some time with a class of fifth grade students in one of my dad’s schools. I was doing a “book talk”, where I gave a presentation, then I would answer questions afterwards.

I have anxiety, and it was really bad at that time, so I had a script written out for my presentation.

I tripped up in the first minute or two of my presentation. I misspoke and couldn’t find my place again.

And then I jumped off script for a minute even though everything in me screamed to just push through and get through the script and be done.

“Sorry,” I said, tapping my script. “I get anxious sometimes when I’m talking to people, so for today I wrote out what I was going to say to make it easier. Sometimes I trip up anyway and have to take a second to find my place again.”

“That’s okay!” One of the kids yelled. “That’s called stage fright. I LIKE talking to people and I still get it.”

The next couple minutes were filled with these kiddos reassuring me that it’s okay if I have stage fright, telling me that they have stage fright, and even giving me a couple ideas for coping with it.

Those fifth graders were the best class I’ve ever spoken with and, honestly, that experience has helped me so much. I don’t think I lowered my expectations — I do expect to be able to speak without tripping over myself — but I gave myself space and time to build up to those expectations. I stopped beating myself up if I misspoke. I started to insert a little pause instead of mumbling while I found my words again.

I did take the advice of those fifth grade students. They told me that I’ll get better at it the more I practice. And they told me that it’s still okay to mess up.

Now, I tell my writing students and the kids I work with that you can do anything. You can be anything. And I tell them that it’s okay if they don’t know what they want to do or be yet. It’s okay. Give yourself time to figure it out.

If you have stories to tell but you can’t spell, write them anyway and get someone to help you edit. Don’t let anything hold you back from something that you want to do.

Stories are a human trait. We tell stories, we sing and dance and create art, because that is a form of communication. Humans need to communicate. That is almost an instinct. We need to communicate, and for more than just survival and living. We need to share stories.

I know far too many people who say you have to be good at writing, or singing, or dancing, or art. You have to be good at it if you want to do it.


You have to do it.

That’s it.

If you want to write, then write. And don’t worry about it being good. Just write. Tell the story you want to tell. Don’t know how it ends? Don’t worry about it! I have HUNDREDS of unfinished stories on my hard drive. It’s the best kind of practice there is. You will get stronger at writing with every word you write.

At the end of the day, the best way to get good at something is to just do it, and do it over and over again. Sometimes you have talents or gifts that make it easier or faster, but you still need practice and repetition to develop and strengthen you.

If you want to write, do it.

If you want to sing, dance, or create art, do it.

Don’t worry about anyone else. If you want to do it, then do it.

We are all made up of stories. Find your voice and tell yours. Even if it’s a story or song or picture that you create in your own head and never share with another person, you will be happier for it.

Originally shared on Facebook on February 10, 2021.

From the Files: It Gets Better

“It does get better.”

Someone told me that a number of years ago when I was really struggling to just slog through the day. My entire world was gray, flat, and lifeless. I could barely handle one day at a time, much less look forward to the future. But someone I knew and trusted told me that it did get better, if I just held on.

You know something?

They were right.

They were absolutely right.

Life is always going to throw curveballs at you. It is always going to be up and down. There will be good days and bad days, and you will cry and laugh and hurt and love. There will always be shadows and darkness.

But healing is possible. You just keep moving forward, one step at a time, and you’ll start to see the sunshine more often. You will begin to feel stronger. You’ll laugh more than you cry and you’ll find that the pain, once so fresh and harsh, is fading into old scars and memory. You will learn to be honest with yourself and you will learn to give yourself grace. You will start to see yourself grow.

There will still be hard times but it will be worth it.

Nothing could have prepared me for the sheer overwhelming joy of watching the sunrise, of feeding the birds, of sitting quietly and listening to the river talk. These were all things that I lost during the dark times and things that I got back as I got better. In some ways, the absence made those simple experiences more vibrant and lovely than they had seemed before.

You’re the only you that we’ve got, and you are worth waiting for. So yes, take your time. Walk through the shadows. Grieve the losses and take the time to process the trauma. Do whatever you need to in order to heal. But believe that the sunrise is coming, and the world is waiting for you. And if you can’t believe in the good in yourself and the good in the world, then I will believe in it for you until you can.

It does get better, friend. I promise. It does.

Originally posted on Facebook on March 2, 2021

Welcome to 2023!

Happy new year!

I did not stay up until midnight, and I only caught a couple minutes of the fireworks last night. I ended 2022 with the flu and I’m still dealing with that last lingering cough, so I’ve been laying low for a few days.

Today I’ve been revamping my website and getting some new content lined up for you all.

To start things off…

Here’s the current front cover for my upcoming release, The People We Know: Volume One.

This book will be released on June 1, 2023 and will be available for pre-order in a few weeks!

(I can’t wait to share this with you, but I have been told that it needs a tissue warning.)

Next up, I’ve touched up my Patreon page!

Subscribers on my Patreon page get ‘Butterfly Mail’ every month, sent anywhere a USPS postage stamp can take it – including internationally. In the past they’ve gotten poems, cards, essays, photos, artwork, early release copies of my books, and more. This year, in addition to the monthly mailing, I’ll be adding more digital content exclusively for my Patreon supporters as a thank-you – they pay for my grocery bill!

If you’d like to sign up on my Patreon account, click here.

One final note – I can always be reached via email, a direct message on my Facebook page, or by a good old-fashioned letter in the mail.

I can’t wait to see what 2023 brings!

All my best,

Annie Louise