Sunday, December 30, 2012
When we lost Joey, I found myself in a very lonely place. I had been blogging Joey's life to dispel some of my grief, and began to search the blog world for others who would understand. Blogging was still relatively new at that time, and so it was not such an easy thing to find others. About a year into my journey, I was blessed, through a chain of discovery, to find three other women with whom I instantly identified. These women, whose beliefs overlapped my own, seemed to feel my same pain, and I could count on them to regularly express their grief in ways that were healing to me. They were able to help me sort out the internal chaos that accompanied the loss of my son. It was a priceless gift of solidarity in anonymity, for none of us knew one another in real life. I also had one more dear bereaved friend, a stranger who was introduced to me by a third party, with whom I lamented on email, every other day or so. This was my therapy. My support group. I attribute much of my healing, however much I have, to these four women. (Three of them are listed on my side bar to link: Metanoia, Katie's Family and True North).
What drew me to them? Two of them had lost grown children like me, very suddenly. They lived in the same world of almost speechless shock and unreality that I lived in. Two of them had each lost a daughter through cancer, and though our children's death experiences were dissimilar, their grief itself resonated with my own heart. All of them had lost children within a year of our loss. A significant factor, I realize now. I am pretty sure that the only ones who can help are the ones who have been there, or better yet, are there where you are right this moment.
In my search for kindred spirits, it quickly became apparent that I could not identify with everyone. There were some grief bloggers that even repelled me, as harsh as that sounds. I was hyper-sensitized then and sometimes triggered by their words. I remember revolting strongly against something I read, exclaiming angrily at my computer, "I will never feel like that!!" Grief morphs with time. I know that now. And perhaps as time has gone on, I have felt those same things. But the true point of this is: they were not what I needed then. And you must find what helps you right when you need it, right where you are at that moment.
Finding people who truly walk in your shoes is the challenge. Recently another bereaved mother started a blog that solves the problem of finding people who understand. She has actually created a website that gathers the blogs of other mourners into one place, and this mother "curates" it in honor of her beloved son Graham. She is making it simpler for the bereaved to connect with others on the road of grief. The deceased children represent a variety of ages and causes of death. The writers represent a variety of world views and backgrounds. I think it's a beautiful hope-giving place--one that will most certainly alleviate the loneliness of many.
Here is the link: Grief and Loss. Pass it on.
Friday, December 28, 2012
A dear family friend named Jeremy, one who grew up with my son, and played hours of music with him, sent me this one yesterday. Poetry about death and eternity brings great comfort to me. I have always loved George Herbert, though I had never come across this one. I hope you will enjoy this one as much as me. Though it was written in old English in 1633, it is easy to decipher. It talks about the purifying power of death.
My tennis shoes are standing on the ancient floor of St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, Italy, built in 1063.
MArk you the floore? that square & speckled stone, Which looks so firm and strong, Is Patience: And th’ other black and grave, where with each one Is checker’d all along, Humilitie: The gentle rising, which on either hand Leads to the Quire above, Is Confidence: But the sweet cement, which in one sure band Ties the whole frame, is Love And Charitie. Hither sometimes Sinne steals, and stains The marbles neat and curious veins: But all is cleansed when the marble weeps. Sometimes Death, puffing at the Doore, Blows all the dust about the floore: But while he thinks to spoil the room, he sweeps. Blest be the Architect, whose art Could build so strong in a weak heart.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Death Is A Door by Nancy Byrd Turner 1936
I am missing my son intensely right now. So wanted to reach out and hug him these past few days. Poetry helps for some reason. This one helped me. May it give some comfort to others who are bereaved, and for whom Christmas will never be the same.
Friday, December 14, 2012
Our last Christmas with Joey, 2007
This is the fifth Christmas since my son went to Heaven. It doesn't seem possible. I still miss him every day, and long for him to be here with us as we celebrate our family traditions. His loss is still a knife in my heart. I make myself go through the process now, but there is a gaping void where he used to be.
After he grew up and left home, he was always the surprise package on Christmas eve. Joey would tell us he couldn't come home for some credible reason, and then he and his dad would secretly set up plane tickets. On Christmas eve, my dear husband would think up some excuse to leave the house, make a quick jaunt to the airport to pick up Joey, and Voila! Surprise! there he would be on my doorstep. I miss the big arrival scenes, the joyous laughter, the big wrap-around hug, and the adventurous stories of how he got there after all.
Joey, apres-ski relaxing
When Joey was home, it was as if the lights went on. He was a charmer, that boy of mine, and an entertainer, a comedian and an agent of good will-- a happiness bringer. He was attuned, aware, alive, and a giver. He was something special and wonderful. And we all knew it.
We ruled the world then. Everything was good. We thought life was manageable and in our control. We thought it would be an endless stream of successes, happy vacations and surprise parties. We had not met crushing loss then, nor deep unremitting sorrow; nor had we known the heavy darkness of night weighing down on us, making it difficult to breathe.
It was the world "before", and now we live in the world "after". Perhaps we were lucky to have such a shallow view of suffering, but I am pretty sure we were not better people for it. Are we better now? I hope so, and wish it to be so, but I will not guarantee it. We are still a work in progress.
2012 has been the most difficult year for us since 2008. Just when we thought we were getting steady in our boat, we have been hit by wave upon wave of loss and disappointment this year. And with it, the attendant discouragement, frustration, stress, powerlessness, and struggle. We have wrestled with stubborn circumstances far beyond our ability to control or influence. And we seem to be our same old weak, frail, human selves, and not the exemplary overcomers we wish to be. Alas.
In our quest to redeem suffering, to be wiser than before, to be beyond weakness, we find ourselves still very much in need of a Savior. But the good news is: He is there. Our "Beautiful Savior, King of Creation. Son of God and Son of man" is there. Arms open wide, gracious, reassuring, strong where we are weak.
Our hope at Joey's death, and our hope in this year of great travail, continues to be our Beautiful Savior. Though we cannot bring back our son, and we cannot bring back the "before", and we cannot control our circumstances, or others or even ourselves at times, He can and will do it all.
He is our Hope. Our Christmas wish to you is to find the same hope we have found in our Beautiful Savior.
Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future,nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Monday, December 03, 2012
At the mall.
They consented to go see Santa so I could get a good picture of them for Christmas.
This is what we got. On Santa's lap, no less.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
We cannot find the good without some disciplined thought.
We have unmet demands. We have disappointments.
Nothing proceeds according to schedule.
Is it His fault? Did He fail us?
Perhaps we haven't the right to plan. Not here or now.
Perhaps that act breaks the unwritten rules of the universe.
Perhaps He doesn't listen to our pleading. It has already been ordained.
Perhaps our desperate cries in the dark of night are an anxious waste of breath.
Perhaps He is busy. It is a big universe and we are very small and almost totally inconsequential.
Perhaps we are very important and we have lessons to learn that only a hollow no will teach us.
Perhaps that's it.
That's where I land when I hopscotch myself to the end of the chalky squares.
Perhaps I am very loved, and perhaps there is a plan.
Perhaps it isn't as random or existential as it looks.
Perhaps unsought lessons will be learned, and perhaps I will be perceptibly changed,
and perhaps all will be well in the end.
Like a bride beautiful in her white gown, I will enter and see my groom at the altar,
smiling at me, with a ring in his pocket, and love in his eyes and devotion in his heart and
scars from battles he has fought for my hand.
And that is when I will live happily
for ever after.
Perhaps I can thank Him for the promise of that day.
Perhaps thankful doesn't even begin to say it.
Monday, November 12, 2012
Two years ago, in the midst of our grieving, my husband had a desperate need to get out of the city. He kinda dragged me to this broken down house in the country. I didn't want to go, being very content in my nice little house in my nice little neighborhood, with my nice sidewalks and friendly neighbors. Eleven acres with no neighbors really held no attraction. But he needed a project, and being a good wife, I went along. Project is the understatement. We bought our own little money pit, but it's been so good for us, mentally, physically and spiritually. I started reluctantly, and still resist occasionally, but mostly it's opened a new chapter in my life. I decided I needed a new blog to chronicle this interesting journey. I am leaving the sad stuff here on this blog, and devoting the new blog to the charms and challenges of country living. I hope you can join me there, too.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
This is the worst of it for us...flooding all around the house, and the road leading to our house was flooded like a river. It is receding today. We had to pump water out of our crawl space under the house, and my husband's office in the barn also got flooded from rain collecting outside, then pouring in at the floor board level. He's ripped out his floor and is drying the place out. Water in the barn is a whole lot easier to deal with than water in the house, so we are thankful for our dry house. After seeing what those north of us are dealing with, we have utterly no complaints.
We are very glad it's over.
We are very glad it's over.
Thanks for the support and prayers. Hope you are all warm, dry and cozy on the day after the Superstorm.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
We are loaded with family celebrations in the Fall. Two granddaughters have the same birthday two years apart.
I love these ladies.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Enjoying posing for the cameras.
For Izzy, it's been a long wait to become a teenager. When you have the late birthday and all your friends have already passed over the line from childhood to "all grown up now", it deserves a big celebration.
All 19 of them eventually showed up and stayed.
Maybe the largest sleepover I've ever been party to.
One more pose and then to the pond and jacuzzi.
They sort of acted like they were college girls--- but with soda and bedtimes and numerous chaperones.
I have such mixed feelings about them growing up. But I can't stop time, so on it rolls, taking my grandchildren with it.
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
I think this is the original poster hanging in a British museum. It's from the 1939 British government campaign to lift morale as Hitler marched across Europe. It was only rediscovered in 2000 and you've likely seen it reproduced everywhere-- in all shapes, sizes and sentiments. It was a war-time admonition to the British public to not get swept away by fear, but to press on with the normal responsibilities of life as much as possible. The more things change, the more necessary stability becomes. With a war waging, it was essential that people face it with courage and keep the country running. Everything depended on that response.
When my beautiful friend Melissa took her life in July, it knocked our world off its tracks. All the carefully set game board pieces went up in the air, and landed on the ground in disarray. Putting it all together again is requiring more intense effort and insight than I could have imagined.
For one thing, I feel jumpy inside. The scene keeps replaying. The questions keep coming. I keep playing detective trying to make sense of the incomprehensible. I am skittish with it, nervous, but compelled to replay it. Do answers make me feel any better? Not at all. Does that stop me? Not in the least.
For another thing, I am tired. I am world weary. I shrink from it: "This can't have happened. No." Another deep sorrow. Another huge loss, which spreads in many directions. Deep disappointments. So many human failures in this whole thing, including mine. Is there no limit to how low life can go? Apparently not.
And finally, there's the change. There are so many repercussions to this final act by my friend. Nothing, nothing is the same. Nothing. Grasping for the familiar is an exercise in futility. The familiar is gone. Everything has changed. No one who knew her looks the same now. The shadow of her absence is on all our faces. Our church is disoriented. People look hollow. The air has gone out of our sails. The beauty has gone out of the changing season. The Fall traditions seem like too much trouble. Her family and friends are longing for her, wishing her here, and facing the reality of never seeing her again in this life. It's a stunner.
Probably not unlike seeing beautiful, stately London bombed out by a maniac, loved ones in a battle from which they may not return, imminent danger on every continent, and at home, food and energy and commodity shortages that unravel every day life.
Keep calm and carry on. It's become my watch word, a compass point in the storm. Change is chaotic. It is unsettling. It is unnerving. It leaves few options. It requires me to leave an older secure way of doing things, and to reluctantly move on to the new that is not of my choice or making. It requires letting go of cherished things with a silent grief in the daily process. It requires me to do things I don't know how to do. There is a learning curve and failures daily. Trial and error. Trip and fall. Depression, discouragement, and dread.
But I have learned that it can be done. It must be done. There are children watching who need hope.
Keep calm and carry on. It's the only sensible thing to do right now.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
They are so cute! We live next door to a National Wildlife Refuge and frequently make the walk to the end of the road to check things out.
Parts of it are not open to the public, just to the critters. Apparently the critters won't make babies if too many people are poking their heads in. We are glad to cooperate and stay out of their way.
But if you walk down our road, there are beautiful things to see. It changes with the seasons.
These grasses are called phragmites and they are everywhere in the marshes by the end of the summer, weighted down by their heavy heads.
This is the Back Bay. It's a large body of water edged by a narrow strip of land across from us that keeps out the Atlantic ocean. The land on the other shore is the northernmost portion of the famous strip of land known as the Outer Banks. It looks like a line in these pictures.
If you were to drive South on that little strip of land you would be in North Carolina. They don't let you do that, though. It's a bird sanctuary.
They close the Back Bay in winter, but we pedestrians who live on this street are able to slide in beside the poles and stay a while.
Back in the house, I sit in my chair and take a shot of my gorgeous roses. These are the dribs and drabs of my summer roses. So gorgeous on my cluttered table next to my favorite leather chair. My spot.
The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.