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.

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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.

 

 

Blanket Fort Morning

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?

GOD loves me anyway

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.

To be absent from the body and Present before the LORD

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:

GrandFather Sky:

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.