Falling Together by Author Debbie Zapata

I am sitting on the dock next to the lake. It is a place of solace during my darkest moments. My best friend since childhood sits quietly nearby. I can’t do this alone. It’s only been three months since my dad’s death. It’s his birthday—the first one without him here.

I’ve discovered there’s no such thing as a little bit of grief, a little bit of a broken heart, or a little bit of emptiness. My dad died. I am shattered. My dad was the person I turned to, to get through the hardest moments. He was always there for me. This chilly, February afternoon next to the dark, rippling water, I feel so alone.


My dad was my everything. Now nothing makes sense. I loved him with all my heart and my heart is broken. I cannot come out of this without coming apart. Grief’s grip is too strong to repair the ruptures. At some point, I have to pick up the broken pieces. I cannot see how.

My best friend takes my cold hand. The warmth feels good. She puts her arm around me. I rest my head on her shoulder, like I used to do with my dad. We gaze at the water. She knows this moment. Her mother died twenty years ago.

We sit for a long time without words. She pulls up and shows me a photo on her phone. It is kintsukuroi, a Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer. The understanding is that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken. When my dad left, he took a part of me with him and he left a part of himself with me.

I begin to understand that in time, it will be that part of him that is always here with me— that gold lacquer, the only thing that can bring the pieces back together. I see the power of selecting only the parts that are mine to possess. My dad will still be part of my life, it will just look different. 

According to Debbie, why small moments matter: Small moments matter because life's impermanence is both brief and eternal.

Photo courtesy of Joni Lorraine.

Photo courtesy of Joni Lorraine.

Bio: Debbie Zapata, MA, MSW grew up in Austin, Texas in a multicultural family. At a young age, she fell in love with helping others and expanding her world through international friendships. She has served as an international student advisor, an International Human Resources specialist, and an on-campus college mental health counselor. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from New York University.

Debbie’s writing is influenced by her heritage and desire to share stories from diverse points of view. She wrote, produced, and directed EXIT, a play about overcoming trauma (premiered at the Vortex Theater spring 2016). Debbie does supportive counseling and writes children’s books. Learn more at: www.debbiezapata.com

Brave Tutu Note: Like many in my literary life tribe, Debbie and I met at our Write. Submit. Support. Class (WSS) at The Writing Barn in Austin, TX. Debbie has a way of just “knowing” when to reach out and offer unsolicited support, love and encouragement. She is one of the few people I know who truly has her finger on the pulse of others. Debbie shares herself authentically in her writing and with friends. She is brave and I can’t wait to read her books.


Your Brave Tutu (You’re Brave Too-Too)

-Take Courage in delight. Discover power in small moments.

Debbie's daughter Sarah. Because...how could we not?

Debbie's daughter Sarah. Because...how could we not?