One of the greatest things about teaching is that I get to meet amazing writers. Rachel Kain is one of them. I cannot tell you how much it filled my soul to find out that she’s living into her dreams. You’ll see what I mean.

The women’s retreat leader stood in the middle of the room in front of a basket full of smooth river rocks, which was flanked by candles on one side and a couple of paint pens on the other.

She said, “Please, when you’re ready, come up to the table and select a stone. On the stone, please write a word or phrase representing something you’re seeking or want to achieve.”

Then she stepped quietly away, and the women sitting in the circle sat for a moment in silence before a few decided to get up and make their choices. One by one, or two by two, women silently walked up to the table and picked a rock and wrote on them.

I finally took my turn and when I walked up to the basket, there was a beautiful pink, heart-shaped stone sitting on the side of the basket that I had walked up to. I reached in and grabbed it. It wasn’t perfectly polished or smooth, but its shape spoke to me (my son, Colin, died in 2010 from complications due to congenital heart defects before he reached 4 months old). I rolled the rock between my palms as I thought about what to write on it. Suddenly, it came to me.


I could have picked up the glittery silver or gold pens, but I wanted this to be a declaration. So I wrote it in big, black capital letters: “JOY.” I think that I was smiling after I wrote it. I had been seeking something for so long after Colin died, and it occurred to me that joy was what was missing. Even though it is my middle name (literally), even though my house is full of objects with the word “joy” on them that my mom purchases for me every Christmas, it hadn’t clicked that joy had disappeared from my life.

I took my JOY stone home with me and decided I would bring it to work and put it on my desk where I would see it every day, as a reminder. When I set it on my desk, I realized that I had already begun to feel more joyful, and that was, perhaps, why it dawned on me that day that it had been missing. I had started taking a writing class with the lovely and talented Andi Cumbo, on the recommendation of Becca Rowan, who had taken the class previously. I was a month into the class when I wrote “JOY” on that stone.

I was writing again—often. I was writing every day, in fact, to do my best to keep up with the class in spite of jobs and kids and obligations. I observed that I had been feeling more joyful. I realized, upon further contemplation, that this was no coincidence. Writing is one of those things in my life that I can just “do”. It’s not to say it’s perfectly easy, but for some reason, when perched in front of a keyboard or plunked down with a notebook and pen, words just come out of me. Words that require editing, of course!

This feeling, this pouring out of words onto page is most certainly joy inducing. It’s the same way I feel when I sing. But singing alone couldn’t bring my joy back to me. I added the writing back into my life, in a way that I hadn’t since I was in college—lo those many years ago—and suddenly I began to feel like myself again.
Rachel Joy Kain—that’s me. The joy is truly back.

Rachel Kain is a writer, musician and yoga teacher who makes ends meet as an IT business analyst. She’s also a wife and mother. Words are her passion and she is grateful to be able to write about the grief journey for Still Standing Magazine. You can find her blog, Writers Write, at She blogs about whatever comes to mind. As a lifelong writer who is finally sharing her work with the world, she is searching for her voice, join her as she finds it.