On my darkest, loneliest days – Charlie never leaves me – my spirit animal lifts me up – just by curling up next to me (and snoring a little)
It was a very emotional day. I rode my WildFire on the beach, even a few steps into the Atlantic Ocean. I missed my son so much. He loved the ocean. Our last days together, were spent by the ocean. I wanted to call him, to text him photos – to hear his laugh – instead, I searched the sky for signs. I believe he was there with me.
I am nearly 60 years old, and I visited Disney World for the first time just a few days ago. I must be honest, it wasn’t the experience I expected. Maybe it is my age, or maybe it is the grief and depression clouding my perception. The Disney “experience” was eye-popping!! The buildings and grounds were beautiful. The costumes and parades were phenomenal. The prices were outrageous. Every possible inch of space was consumed by someone. I observed many hot, sweating, tense, tired adults and several over-stimulated, tired, squalling children. I was just over-whelmed – crowded – almost panicky.
My heart went out to the performers who provided an awe-inspiring spectacle, despite over bearing heat. I cannot imagine how they managed those sweet, joyful smiles while dancing in those hot costumes under a blazing sun. I pledge my respect and admiration to their talent, professionalism, and commitment.
Our little group made our way inch-by-inch through the throng and into an eatery, already clogged with humanity, some happy and friendly, many not so much. I studied the faces of the cafeteria employees. Bergens. Yep. Bergens. If you have seen the move, TROLLS, you know the Bergens. Bergens are sad, unhappy souls that trudge about through their day. These poor workers looked so hot, tired, stressed – trudging. Without thinking, I started singing a portion of the song when I heard from behind me “….It’s coming on, It’s coming on….” I suddenly realized two people in the line were singing with me!
We exchanged a quick knowing glance and giggle. Then, I kind of felt bad – the cafeteria employees are probably really nice, hard working people just trying to get through a hot, difficult day. Some people in the line in front of me were short, cross, and just down right rude. Imagine a whole day of that!! I made it a point to be kind, to smile, and to say “Thank you. Have a great day.” One of five smiled back, made eye contact – and I cheerily added “I appreciate you – thank you so much.”
OK, crossing Disney World off my list – for now. Maybe I will try again in a few years. Right now, I am so glad to be back on my farm where I belong!!
I have always loved the Book of Ruth – beginning way back in my childhood (about a million years ago). It was like a fairy tale to me. Ruth was beautiful and loving and kind. She did not abandoned Naomi in her pain and grief. In the end, Ruth and Boaz fell in love – and in my mind “live happily ever after”. I was so absorbed in Ruth’s story, I never really considered Naomi’s.
Now, I am living Naomi’s story!! Suddenly, I read Ruth from a whole different perspective. Naomi lost both her sons. I lost my only son. I know her pain. I feel her pain. Naomi had a loving daughter-in-law. So do I. I cherish her.
In Ruth Chapter 1, Naomi tells everyone not to call her Naomi anymore. That name meant pleasant. Instead, Naomi wanted to be call Mara which is bitter. Yeah, I am bitter too – I understand. Sometimes the bitterness is all-consuming. But I am trying, everyday trying – not to be bitter. I am trying to remember the end of the story where Naomi is blessed by Ruth’s love and ultimately, her relationship with Boaz. GOD saw her pain and grief and heard her sobs.
So, the loss of Naomi’s sons was not the end of her story.
Maybe this is not the end of my story.
My morning began in a blanket fort.
First alarm just went off at 5:30 am. My mind acknowledged the alarm with a snarky snarl, “I have 20 minutes before second alarm goes off.”
I am snuggled in my blanket fort with the blanket pulled tightly over my head. It is a soft, cuddly blanket – feels like kittens – fresh from the dryer last night, smelling sweet. I want to burrow down into my blanket fort and just think of you. No grief, no tears, no pain – safe in blanket fort with happy memories.
I remember pulling couch cushions and blankets and turning our living room into a camp site. I remember looking through the view master at dinosaurs, and pretending they were binoculars and real dinos and we were brave explorers. I remember the giggles and the tickles – blocking out the whole world in our little blanket fort.
The second alarm pierced my perfect memory – had to finally drag it out of my blanket fort. But don’t worry, Son, I will be back. Does anyone else have a blanket fort?
My grief is not weakness. My grief is not sin. My grief is not a lack of faith. My grief does not offend GOD. It is a very human response to a very profound, devastating loss.
I am flawed, broken person. I make mistakes. GOD knows me and loves me anyway.
I live for somedays. Somedays, I am OK. Somedays, I am not OK. Somedays I make good decisions and I make progress. Somedays I make stupid decisions and I slide back. Somedays, I do all that before my first cup of coffee. I know GOD loves me anyway, that’s why I keep trying.
Some days, I do things I don’t really understand, like carry a pebble around all day, clutching it for dear life. Someday, I will retire and explore other ways to support my family. Someday, I will go to the World Equestrian Games in North Carolina – and Someday I will go to Ireland and take my followers along. Someday, I will be able to devote myself full time to hobby farming and crafting. Someday I will something- …. Or maybe never, maybe nothing – I really don’t know.
I chose to share my journey, not force it on anyone. I do not know where this journey will lead me – I don’t have that kind of “written-in-stone” plan. I cannot look that far ahead. I may have to change directions, alter my path a few times as I trod along. I will stumble. I will take wrong turns. I will continue. I will make my journey with GOD, communing with and answering to GOD.
If in my little rantings even just one person can find a pebble they want to pick up and hold for comfort – I am grateful. If sharing my journey can let them know they are not a bad Christian if they scream out in pain, if they cry in the shower, if they suffer with grief or depression or pain – let them know they are loved as they are– then this is a journey worth sharing. GOD loves us all anyway.
2 Corinthians 5:8
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
I should be happy for you, my Son – I guess that is what this passage is trying to tell me. That is a hard thing for me to process. You are absent from your body, but also absent from our lives. I know you are with the LORD, present before HIM. That must be glorious. At the same time, I know you did not want to leave your family and friends. I know being with LORD is wonderful – but I selfishly want you with me, with us.
GOD, YOU have my baby – I know he is YOUR precious child too. I believe, I know YOU love my baby– so please take care of him.
Help me to focus on the joy he is feeling being with YOU. Help me to understand. Basically, just help me.
This definitely does not get any easier. 30 month and 4 days – and it is still a pain that defies words.
Hold it in. Keep trying.
My prayers are with all who are hurting and struggling. Just keep holding on.
Today, this Lakota prayer for the dead shared by a friend comforts me – I pray it comforts others too:
May your songs of the winds and clouds sweep the pain and sadness out of my friends’ hearts; as they hear those songs, let them know the spirits who are with those songs are at peace.
Now, truly – I love almost all music – from classical to show tunes to rap to pop to R&B – but grew up in the age of Rock N Roll!!! Unfortunately, I find, in the deepest of my grief attacks, George Thorogood and the Destroyers and Joan Jett just don’t reach me. AC/DC, Pink Floyd, and CCR don’t not relieve my mind and Sugarhill Gang or Led Zeppilin just don’t do it. I have tried them all.
Somewhere in my travels, on a friends radio, I heard the familiar lyrics “You’ll see green alligators and long necked geese…..” The Unicorn song!! I remember that from a far distant childhood in a whole other lifetime. So, I recently purchased 20 years of the Irish Rovers from iTunes. I can’t help myself – I am tapping my foot. I found myself dancing to “The Bonnie Lady”!! What!! Dancing!!!
I know, it is only a temporary diversion – but for a moment…just a brief moment – I felt lighter. Thank you, GOD – for the moments. I know my journey is made up of moments – help me to see YOU in those moments.
Music truly has power.
For me, on my grief journey – I feel grief is like quicksand. There are times, I feel like I am beginning to come out of the heavy, dark, painful weight of the grief. I feel like I can smile and maybe get excited about a craft project or event.
Then BAM!!! It sucks me right back down. This weekend was one of those mired in the quicksand weekends. I didn’t answer the phone when people called. I didn’t even go into my craft room. I didn’t read. I just didn’t.
My husband was having the same experience so we just wallowed on the couch together. We talked. We shared. We hurt. We raged. We remembered. We cried. We grew closer.
I wailed and yelled at the world, and cried out to GOD – I begged and pleaded for forgiveness and grace. I looked at photos and drenched each one with fresh tears. I let myself sink. My husband let himself sink too. We just held each other at the bottom of the quicksand. Our dogs curled up with us too. What an odd little “PACK” we are – but we support one another.
Maybe, the quicksand periods are necessary and useful – my body needed rest. My marriage needed work. The pain is still there – always will be. But at least, today, my head is above the quicksand. I may not return any phone calls. But I am up, showered, at work, and fake smiling – so that is a start.