Red Sky at Night

I needed this sky tonight. Thank you

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After the clown show

You see, grief doesn’t end, at least not for me. In 18 days, it will be three years since I lost my son. To the world, I am “OK”. Because I get up everyday and put on the clown show. I smile, socialize, interact – everything the world has come to expect from me. I have to – I am the strong, responsible one.

At the end of the day, when the clown show is over – when all my adult responsibilities have been fulfilled, I can curl up with my dogs – alone, in the dark. Then, I can grieve. I remember. I cry. I smile. I love. No clown. No pretend. Just me.

The clown show is exhausting to me. I welcome the dark, late at night.

I don’t think I want to be a clown anymore – maybe, just maybe – people will just have to accept that I am different now. I need to learn how to stop pretending.

Breathe

Holidays are tough when you are grieving. I will always be grieving. I try to hold onto the light, the good things – but there is such a gaping hole. According to my grief counselor, I am dealing with delayed grief, or what ever label one attaches. I always feel like I have to be the strong one, the responsible one – so I hold everything in – take care of business. SO – Here I am going through the 3rd Christmas without my son, my only child and – it isn’t any easier for any of us. My husband is hospitalized, so I am holding down the farm. So, I spent the holiday with my animals and a nasty respiratory infection. Finally gave in and went to the doctor. My asthma was flared up and needed a treatment. So I spent my morning in a the medical center, doing a nebulizer treatment – 2 years, 10 months, and 6 days after my son died of a severe asthma attack. Each breath cut through me – I will finally had to admit how guilty I feel – he got the asthma from me, I know it. I feel like it is my fault, my punishment and I don’t know why. No matter how many times I tell myself, it isn’t my fault and it isn’t about me – I can’t stop the thoughts. They attack in waves. I love my GOD so much, and I lean on the GREAT SPIRIT for comfort and healing, and I know HE did NOT TAKE my child, HE received him in love, just like HE loves me.

Still – the thoughts come. My son, a young, successful Emergency Room Doctor just finished a shift saving lives. Why couldn’t they save him? He saved lives. He made a difference in this world. Why is he gone and I’m still here? What do I do? I hate these thoughts – I suppressed them as long as I could – now I have to let them out so I can let them go.

Breathe. I tell myself just breathe and let it go. I needed to lance this abscess so I could get this poison out.

I needed to spend this holiday in my home alone so I could deal with my grief, and not be responsible for anyone else. I don’t have to put on the brave face. I am spending this day in prayer, in healing – just me and my dogs (and hugs on the horses, mule, cat, – and patted the goose). I absorbed their love – pure, honest love.

Maybe, if there is any good that can come of my grief journey – it is to share the revelations – tell someone you love them and give them a safe place to express their grief. Everyone needs to express the dark thoughts without judgement or condemnation or fear of rejection – Don’t hammer a broken person over the head with the Bible. Remember, it is the word of GOD, not a weapon. Instead, Hold their hand and pray with them.

If you are hurting, you have to breathe and let it out – scream it out – curse it out – even break something if it helps. But the abscess never heals unless it ruptures. I hold onto my big Ol’ Charlie Tarheel (My German Shepherd) and I cry and I pray. Strange as it sounds, I believe he is my spirit animal, sent to guide me to a closer spiritual relationship and a stronger faith. That works for me. I pray everyone in pain finds what works for them, to bring healing. Please, don’t give up. Continue the journey.

Prayers.

Kindness has power

My mind is rambling today – I just miss my son so much – it is hard to rein in the thoughts. So I am just going to let them run.

When my son was 11 years, he was diagnosed with a condition called mid-aortic syndrome. This is a very rare, dangerous condition that required a complicated and dangerous aortic implant. He was in surgery for over 16 hours and my husband and I spent this time on our knees or pacing about. Unfortunately, there as a problem with the implant and after only a few hours in recovery, Jay was rushed back to surgery for another 4 hours.

I wanted to call my prayer group and tell them to pray harder, but I was out of coins for the phone. Yes, this was back in 92, and I needed coins.

A custodian walked by, busy going about his duties, yet he stopped to notice my tears and care. Without a word, he stuffed a handful of quarters into my hand. I tried to thank him, but he just gave me a hug and a bright smile and strolled off. I did call my prayer team and they did pray harder and my son began to grow stronger. Today I am grateful for the 24 additional years we enjoyed together, and for the act of kindness.

I do not know the kind gentleman’s name and I did not see him again – but he is always in my heart. His small act of kindness is burned indelibly into my memory. There is power in kindness! Just like the loving woman who washed Jesus’ feet, the kindness is remembered.

Today, my husband and I are letting the grief take over – we are just letting it flow. As we do – my mind rambles about. When we first learned we would be parents, we were filled with joy. When we first held our son, we were filled with love. When we lost him, we were filled with pain and sorrow. But, broken as I am, I know I still have value. I can still serve a loving GOD by being kind. Even if it is just some small gesture, a quick smile – I know kindness has power, lifting power that touches everyone, even those who just witness the kindness.

We need the power of kindness in this world today, more than ever – more kindness to all living things.

Just BE

This question is so natural this time of year – a simple question really.  “What are you planning for the holidays?”   In my head, I answer: Isolation. Pain. Sadness. Darkness. Anguish.

My son loved Thanksgiving. He just loved Turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy and stuffing – the whole menu. I would roast a huge turkey, just to make sure he had plenty of leftovers. He always said the leftovers were one of his favorite parts.  Now, I don’t want to roast a turkey, smell a turkey, or even see a turkey  – maybe never again. It hurts too much. I miss him so very much – always.

Instead of happily rushing into the holidays, my husband and I are bracing for the overwhelming pain, loss, and grief.

Many friends and relatives extended invitations, sincere and heart felt.  We declined them all.

Not because we do not appreciate the invitations. We do.

Not because we do not love the people. We do.

In fact, it is because we love them. I don’t want to drag down some one else’s holiday. I don’t want to make them uncomfortable.  And I just don’t want to pretend I am OK when I am not. I don’t want to put on a happy face – when I feel like crying. This holiday, I need to be able to just “BE”

BE sad or BE broken or BE still or BE hysterical or BE nostalgic or BE in communion with GOD or BE …. whatever I need to BE.

If I am around others, I must consider their feelings. I must conceal my pain and put on the smile facade.  I always feel like I need to BE what they need.

So my husband and I will stay home over the holidays. We will BE with each other. We will remember. We will sob.  We will pray.  We will BE.

I miss you, Jay.

 

WildFlower Farewell

I am afraid I do not know the name of this purple flower, but I love the colorful blooms.  It is a hardy, tall fellow – standing up to Virginia drout and sun.  My husband and I sat on our “memory”  bench and enjoyed the last of them

Now there is a huge dragon fly in our living room.  I believe this is a powerful, positive blessing and we will help guide our little visitor safely outdoors.

Casualties of Grief Part 3

Holidays and Parties – for me – are definitely on the casualty list.  I used to love parties and family gatherings.  In the fall, we would always build a huge bond fire and invite family and friends to the farm.  We would eat my husband’s chili, roast hots dogs and marshmallows – just enjoy.

I have not hosted or attended a party since losing my son – I just struggle being around groups of people.  Truthfully, I cannot get “in the mood” to host a party and I don’t want to attend some one else’s party and bring down their mood.

Has anyone else experienced the awkwardness of the grief journey?  The isolation?  When I encounter people, acquaintances who either do not KNOW or I do not see on a regular basis – there is an awkwardness in our interaction.  I can tell it is on their mind and they feel uncomfortable – and I feel uncomfortable.  Conversation just feels “forced”.

Holidays and party days are ahead – AGAIN.  If I muster the courage to accept  invitations, will I would be socializing with people I have not seen since my son’s memorial service?  Will they feel uncomfortable?  Will I be a dark cloud on the party?

I cry privately.  I grieve privately.   I work to always maintain my composure in any public situation.  I do not want to burden others.  What to do?  Go?  Say no?

Listen,Listen

As I blogged in the past, there are many casualties of grief.  Horseback riding was one – for me.  In the last months, I have tried to get my saddle time.  While it has been good to be back on a horse – we weren’t a team – not connecting.  My mare would hollow out, jig, toss her head – not good.  My ride last weekend jarred my back – and seriously had me thinking about giving it all away.  I have been riding for nearly 50 years – I can’t quit like this.

So, I prayed.  “God, please – I don’t know what to do.  Help me.  What is wrong with this hateful red, mare.”

The only word that kept popping in my thoughts – Listen

Well, God, I am listening – that’s why I am praying – tell me!!

Listen

AAARGHGHH!!

Listen.

OK, thanks to my loving Spirit Sister, we changed the tack – maybe the saddle was pinching?

Still, nagging voice – Listen.

This morning, after a sleepless night – I hauled my horse to the near by park.  That voice was hounding me – Listen!!

AAARHHHGGH!!  The anger, the frustration – what does that mean????

I just broke down, hanging on my horse’s neck – sobbing.  I hugged her head and pleaded, “Tonka, I am so broken-hearted.  Please, Tonka, I need you.”

This time, I understood the voice – Listen to the horse.  I looked into her eyes and knew that I put too much in the saddle.  I don’t mean just my extra chubby butt.  I mean I took all my pain, grief, sadness, darkness, rage, and frustration riding with me – I piled all that onto Tonka’s back.  As I clung to her neck, I asked her to forgive me.  I promised her today, it would be just my chubby butt (again, I apologized for the chubby part). No more emotional junk.  I felt her lean into me and sigh.  

Today, was the best ride in 31 months!  Today, Tonka and I connected.  When a horse and rider connect, it is beautiful, powerful – it is spiritual. 

I believe the Great Spirit blew HIS breath into the nostrils of the horse – he gave them life so they could held guide us.  In the woods today, surrounded by creation and truly connected with my beloved mare – I know GOD was there and my prayers were heard.  I am so thankful.

After a 3 hour ride, I smothered Tonka with kisses and scratches and stuffed her full of apples.  She was so relaxed, I could feel her relief.  Finally –  I listened!!!

Naomi and Ruth

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.