Sisterhood of the Traveling Sign

Our group of bereaved mothers first met together in the fall of 2002 at an all-day workshop at Salem College (that cold, cold room you may have read about by now in the Farther Along book). We met for a second half-day workshop at Winston-Salem Hospice in the spring of 2003. With hope but a lot of trepidation, we planned an overnight retreat in a mountain cabin owned by the daughter and son-in-law of Dottye, one of our writers, in the fall of 2003. (Read more about this in Farther Along: The Writing Journey of Thirteen Bereaved Mothers, “Breath of Sol,” page 95.)

Ten of the thirteen of us at the first overnight retreat at Breath of Sol. See the sign in front of Peggy and Dottye with its fourteen sun rays.

When ten of us arrived at the house off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, we saw a sign. Not just an ordinary sign but the Breath of Sol sign. The name given the house, Breath of Sol, was inspiring enough, but the sun on the sign had fourteen rays. The thirteen of us had lost fourteen children. It was a sign. I could go on and on about how breath became a symbol for life force and hope and survival and sol having not only to do with healing sunlight but solace and souls. Enough, though. You can see the connections. We can feel them.

After the book launch party on August 10, Dottye’s daughter, son-in-law and family gave her a gift: the sign.

“For the Solomonson Family – Karin, Chad, Emily, and Boden, this sign has been a part of their home environment for over a decade (and since Boden is only 11, most of his life!). They have all loved the sign and decided as a family to give it to us.

“So it was not just a matter of getting rid of something they didn’t need anymore, rather it was a gift from their hearts in honor of the Breath of Sol sisters. They feel very honored to have had a small part in naming us and felt the sign really belonged to us now.

“When Walt and I were getting ready to leave the restaurant on Friday night where we had gathered for our family celebration, Karin said I should open my trunk and I looked up and Emily and Boden were carrying the sign toward us — both with big smiles on their faces. Chad was standing proudly with Karin, and I could tell it was a special passing-along of love and hope and all that our sisterhood stands for,” Dottye wrote. So our deep thanks to the Solomonson family, not only for lending us their cabin but now also for the gift of the sign.

We decided that in somewhat the same fashion as the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, we will now be a sisterhood of the traveling sign. It will accompany us to retreats (maybe it will be a little heavy in the luggage to France?) and live in our gardens in between. Kathy is taking the first turn. It will “live” in her Japanese garden, created in memory of Ryan. We will post stories about the sign on this page. Check back often.

Dottye received the sign after the book launch party.

Dottye received the sign after the book launch party from her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren.

Kathy took the first turn in this “sisterhood of the traveling sign” and placed it in the Japanese garden she created in memory of Ryan at her home.

We took a cut out of the traveling sign with us to Chateau du Pin in the Loire valley of France in September 2012. Dottye and Julie are pictured with the Breath of Sol sign at the chateau.


July 2013: The sign was moved to a patio belonging to Beth who said that as she placed it on the patio, she felt a breath of wind and sol. Now it’s ready to move again. Stay tuned for more of the story..


May 2014: The sign is is living at Beverly’s for a while among her trees and plants (and perhaps a few butterflies).

An acrostic by Beverly for Mother’s Day:


Of the time (12 years and 12,000 tears and more later)

The days are joy-filled. That’s unbelievable! But knowing the 12 women with whom I have walked this journey


Enabled me to share in the brokenness of losing my sons. And the healing. These 12 are broken too. And they are healing. For the almost 12 years that we have been writing our hearts have

Rested together, played together, cried together, laughed together. And WRITTEN. TOGETHER. The stories of our children are all very different, yet we are the

Same. We are mothers.






4 thoughts on “Sisterhood of the Traveling Sign”

  1. Beverly Brown Burton said:

    Could we ship it to France?! Just kidding…


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