We Live On the Internet. We Die Alone.

by Nora McInerny

A good way to become very popular is to be on your deathbed. Everyone wants to stop by, drop off a casserole (I’m in the Midwest), say the deep and meaningful things they always meant to say, have a poignant moment, a cinematic hand squeeze.

A deathbed is really not the time for that, though. If you’re worried about making sure people know how you feel, go ahead and do that right now. This can wait. But once Aaron was admitted to hospice care at age 35 our phones kept dinging and buzzing and lighting up with messages from long-absent friends and long-lost family near and far who suddenly and urgently needed to be a part of my husband’s death.

At first, I tried to be a good messenger.

“Aaron,” I whispered to him after my phone lit up with an offer for a casserole from a couple we’d last seen 18 months before, “the so-and-so’s want to stop by to see you. What do you think?”

Read more on Time.com

Getting an Epidural Does Not Mean I Failed at Giving Birth

by Nora McInerny

A baby grew inside me and then came out, and if you try to tell me it wasn't natural, well, I wish you well on your path of righteous judgment.


I was always going to be a cool mom.

Not the Amy Poehler in Mean Girls kind of mom, although yes, I would wear that Juicy tracksuit. The kind of mom who just goes with the flow. Who doesn't fret over nap times and baby vitamins, over milestones or sleepless nights. The kind of mom who isn't always complaining about the brutalities of motherhood while also captioning all of her Instagram photos #blessed (you know who you are).

I started my Cool Mom quest before I was even a mom, when my son Ralph was a tadpole growing in my stomach and my husband and I were being bombarded with questions from friends, family and brochures that showed up in our mailboxes. Where would we give birth (um, a hospital??). Who would be our care provider (uhhhh, a medical professional?). What was our birth plan (hold on, let me Google that).

A birth plan, as it turns out, is exactly what you think it is: a plan for an uncontrollable natural experience, meant to provide a sense of the atmosphere you'd like as you welcome into the world the small human who is bursting forth from your vagina. Areas of interest in your birth plan include:

Read more on Elle.com


Please Don’t Ask Me to Put Down My Phone

by Nora McInerny

It’s a time machine to a place where my husband is still alive.


“Wherever you go, there you are.” My father quoted the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, the famous mindfulness advocate, to me my entire life.

He said this whenever I wanted to run away from something that was too hard: the varsity basketball team, where I spent a significant amount of time on the bench, avoiding eye contact with my coach and hoping not to have to break a sweat; my Latin class in college, where I struggled with conjugations and pronunciation; a boss who once told me to be “less myself” at work.

My father—and I can say this because he’s dead and won’t read this and get all bent out of shape—was wrong. Wherever I go, I’m wherever I’d rather be. I’m a modern-day time traveler; the constraints of time and space do not apply to me.

Read more at Slate.com

How Working Out Taught Me To Embrace The Struggle

by Nora McInerny

It wasn’t until my husband was diagnosed with cancer that I started to take my fitness seriously.


Like most children raised in the ’80s and ’90s, I was awarded for nearly everything I did — things that were not particularly accomplishments, like completing my elementary school’s field day, or showing up for a swim meet. Most of those shiny PARTICIPANT ribbons eventually made their way into a landfill, but there’s a collection of plaques and trophies that have nestled into every bookshelf I’ve ever owned.

“NORA MCINERNY, MOST IMPROVED,” they proclaim in all caps, telling the world that while I was never the very best at basketball, or volleyball, or golf, or really any athletic endeavor of any kind, I at least got better at it.

Read more on Buzzfeed


by Nora McInerny

If you lose a baby, and nobody knew about it in the first place, does it make a sound?


I  know what I'm seeing before she tells me. I knew when the midwife excused herself from the examination room, claiming not to be an ultrasound expert. I knew when the ultrasound tech looked at the screen and recommended we move to her room, where the machinery is more advanced. I knew when I saw her face, and the tiny white figure hanging motionless on the monitor. 

I knew the night before, even before Googling, that no blood is good blood when you're pregnant. I called the twenty-four-hour nurse line, curled up in bed, with Aaron beside me playing with the ends of my hair and tracing an infinity symbol between by shoulder blades. "It's not blood," I tell her, "it's just, blood-ish. Like, it's more gray than pink." Never in my life have I paid such attention to anything that's come out of my vagina, including the very alive child who is sleeping in the room next to ours. 

Read more at Elle.com

Don’t say this to your friend whose boyfriend has cancer

by Nora McInerny

When your boyfriend is having his head shaved before emergency surgery to remove a brain tumor, the right thing to say about his shiny new head is probably not “You were going bald anyway.” But that’s what I said, because I am an idiot and because nobody ever knows what to say in awkward, terrible situations.

Aaron laughed, because he had the superhuman ability to laugh at himself, but even today I feel terrible about how that came out. Even though, I mean, I was right.

Since that bizarre Twilight Zone episode of a Halloween night where my boyfriend went from being a normal thirty-two-year-old dude to being a cancer patient, our family has gotten emails from long-lost acquaintances and friends of friends of friends. We have been stopped in restaurants and on the street by total strangers, people who just want to tell us they love our love, that they think of us often and wish us well. Even though this tends to happen when I am out in public wearing no makeup and looking like a drowned sewer rat, that’s a really amazing feeling. It’s been like a never-ending fire hose of love and energy that we get to dance in like sweaty children on a hot summer day, with occasional pauses for someone to instead pelt me in the face with a water balloon.

Read more on New York Post.com

I Gave Up on My Dream — and I'm So Happy I Did

by Nora McInerny

Moving back to the Midwest after working in New York City was the best thing I've ever done.


Like so many girls of the Midwest, everything I knew about New York City before I moved there had been gleaned from three sources:

  1. The plotline of Felicity. (Get ready to have a bright, airy loft and have several very handsome boys fight over your attention. Also, once you arrive, you get a life-changing haircut!)
  2. The many, many plotlines of the Law & Order franchises. (Avoid rooftops and parks. Nothing — nothing — good will happen there.)
  3. A few high school trips where I did things that all the locals do: go to the Statue of Liberty, hang out at the top of the Empire State Building, hand out money to homeless people, and climb into strange vans in Chinatown because a man told me he had a Tommy Hilfiger bag to show me (hush, it was the millennium). 

Read more at Cosmopolitan.com

Yes, You Should Binge-Watch Netflix Alone on Mother’s Day

by Nora McInerny

And my other brilliant ideas for cutting yourself a break — with or without a dead partner.


I was not raised to give a shit about Mother’s Day, but the world did not care.

Our teachers insisted that we press our sweaty little hands into tempera paint, paste together homemade cards, and shower our mothers with appreciation on some arbitrary Sunday in May. “Oh GOD,” my mom would say as we handed her our offerings, “Thank you but it’s a made-up holiday.” Nevertheless, the Sunday circulars insisted that my mother needed to be pampered. She needed “me time.” She needed a hot bath, a fat-free yogurt, a diamond pendant shaped like a mom alien made of diamonds, holding a baby alien made of diamonds.

Read more at Modern Loss

The 12 Types of Women Who Join Facebook Moms' Groups

by Nora McInerny

"I'm hoping to find a vegan au pair with a background in music therapy."

Lauren: Very concerned about a study she just read about [LITERALLY EVERYTHING].

FB Post: Hi Mamas!!! Not here to judge, but wondering where you all stand on screen time? I only ask because Savannah has yet to see a screen of any kind, and we're hoping to keep it that way until she's about three. It's hard to do when our playgroups include littles with their own iPads. Would love to host a separate meetup with other parents trying to keep their kids away from screen! 

Read more at Elle.com

6 Things You Should Say to Your Soulmate Every Single Day

by Nora McInerny

From someone who lost hers.


For three years, I had the most perfect marriage in the entire world. I never set out to brag about it, but it's really hard not to. We loved each other. We liked each other. We finished each other's sandwiches, sentences, and Starbucks (he was the slowest drinker on the planet). We left each other love notes every day. We surprised each other with the exact same gift on more than one occasion (Sleater-Kinney tickets, the Wes Anderson coffee table book, and Gaslight Anthem tickets). We were only married for three years (He died, OK? Cut us a break.), but if you have a person to text about the Ivy Park line, or a person to play with your hair while you watch Buffy and eat three bowls of ice cream, or a person to remind you to book the dentist appointment you've been postponing for, like, 100 years, consider yourself lucky. 

Like your mother and those cheesy signs from TJ MAXX are always saying, life is short and we don't know when we're going to die, so treat each other well. Unfortunately for all of us, those wise TJ MAXX signs cannot talk, but I can, and here's what they'd want you to tell your person. Every day, if you can. 

Read more at Cosmopolitan.com

The Best Thing That Happened When I Was Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend's Ex-Girlfriend

by Nora McInerny

On the other side of that boiling envy is someone who is basically just like you.

I wouldn't say I was obsessed with Karen — I just knew a lot about her, considering she was a total stranger. We hadn't met personally, but I knew I hated her. I also knew her eye color, her brother's name, the last vacation she took, the names of her college roommates, and where she graduated from college.

Most of my friendships don't start with this level of research, but then again, most of my friends weren't dating my ex-boyfriend when we met. Karen was my successor, the girl I thought about while running to Beyoncé's "Ring the Alarm," even though she had met Jacob months after we broke up, when he was totally fair, single, handsome game.

Read more at Cosmopolitan.com