A Daughter’s Sorrow; A Christmas Wish

On my blog roll, there is a site listed  “Just My Thoughts”. It belongs to my husband’s oldest daughter. On this site, she writes about her father’s illness, her children and other things that are close to her heart.

One of entries was about her fear of loosing the memory of her father’s voice and how she lost her “Protector”. She calls and emails from time to time, but, as for many, the contact with me causes her pain. I am the remenant of her father and the hurt is just too much to bear.

She  mentioned that others have memories that she does not have. Some are good and some are not so good. I  posted this comment on her blog.

Dear One,
You knew the real person that lived inside your dad. He didn’t allow many to see this side, but you did and he wanted you to know him.

Yes, you are the same artist and lover of beauty that he was. He couldn’t live without music playing in the house. He was always looking for that inspiring sight that he recorded deep inside his soul. As with you, his innermost being was that of an artist.

 

I believe that, had he been granted the wish to live his life over, he would would choose to be that long haired “hippie dude” playing the bass violin in the symphony orchestra…a true bohemian, who would have thrilled to the sounds of music created by the orchestra every night.

He would have sculpted the wonders around him and yes, he would have ridden his Harley as his primary vehicle.

Like a diamond,  he was so multi faceted, and you, dear heart,  are a part of that flawed but, brilliant gem.

I am coming to terms with the lack of his presence. I can imagine him riding a moonbeam or I can see him standing before God’s throne singing the songs of the Redeemed.

Never forget, angels cannot sing about being redeemed. They can never know, as a personal experience, the price of sin and its effects on our human life.

You father knew the experience of redemption. Your father knew exactly from what  he was saved and how much he was forgiven.

Regarding those things that people remember about the dark side of your father’s life, unfortunately, they may not be able to know nor can they comprehend this miracle. It is their loss.

Your father knew all of the things that are remembered by others. Now, he knows  his freedom to be all that he was created to be. 

I lived with him during his metamorphasis and that is why I am so confident in the man that was renewed.

Even in sorrow, I can rejoice that your father left this world a wonderfully changed person He left a completed man….He was REDEEMED…and God has welcomed him with open arms…

It will forever be my privilege to have known the man before redemption and after it. I loved both men and I am the richer for it…so are you, Dear-heart..You are the fruit of the man that lives on. Your children are the testament to his life…

         

           Love always,

           Mom II

  

As I thought more about the man that my husband became, I realized that it was not me, not circumstance, not anything of this earthly life that caused him to become that wonderful man.

 

It was  a “Saving Grace”, the unmerited favor, of his God that penetrated his heart and caused him to finally become what God intended from beginning of the foundations of this earth.

 

He did reach this final goal.

 

I believe all of us are doing the same. We are on a lifelong journey to discover and to become what our Creator designed us to be.

 

My husband was a loving and caring man. He was a concerned and compassionate father.  He was a man who could not allow a day to pass without praying for those he loved.

 

He was the man that said, ” Oh, Lord, let there be nothing between You and me.”

 

It must be have been hard for his oldest daughter to hear what others said about her father. Those who once knew him but never knew him as the finished product can never comprehend the change in him. They knew the “old man”. They never knew the “new man”.

 

As Jesus said to those who were amazed by the miracle of Lazarus rising from the grave, “Loose that man and let him go”. That is what I want to say to those who only remember the man he was.  “Loose him and let go of what was, he is not the same man.” 

 

He is no longer bound by his actions of the past or the opinions of others. He no longer must pay the consequences for his actions and choices. He was loosed from those things that bound his heart and soul for so long. He is finally free to love without fear.

 

It is sad that there are those who will never see the miracle of a changed life because they insist on holding on to the pain and anger of the past.  Little do they know that they are running the risk of becoming one as a person bound in grave clothes… tied to past pains and old resentments.  

 

While it is human to bear resentment and grudges, the human soul cannot live with long remembered pains. Should we refuse to forgive, and hold onto to these past hurts, these resentments can become a great price that is paid on the alter of “dead” issues. 

 

They can hang like a millstone around our necks. The longer we refuse to let them go, their weight increases with bitterness. . As bitterness grows, it eventually crushes the life out of a person.

 

No one can bind my husband any longer. I like to imagine him riding a raindrop as he once rode his Harley.  If that isn’t fast enough for him, I can imagine him riding on the tail of a gas filed comet. In my mind’s eye, I see singing in the choir of the Redeemed.

 

I fail to understand why our human condition continues to look for him here? He is no longer held down by this world. He is free…and he is at Peace…

 

This man loved Christmas. I have no problem imagining him singing the original songs of the Heavenly Hosts. I can hear him sing along with the Angels as they sing their songs of comfort and joy  to the shepherds.

epiphany1It brings me joy to think that he  is celebrating with the original angelic throng who sang God’s announcement of

                  ” Peace On Earth, Good Will to Man”.

As the final moments of this Christmas Day come, I wonder, if, I listen carefully, maybe, I can hear his sweet tenor harmonizing with God’s angels?.

 

 He has every reason to sing.  He will gladly lift his voice and join in the heavenly celebration because he knows that, we on earth, are remembering that his Savior was born…Somehow, this brings me comfort. I am doing my best to have a good Christmas….I wish you all a Merry one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Geese

statuesque1

It was a moment that struck me as picturesque. The newly harvested field of corn seem to blend into their gray colored feathers. The only contrast was the black bands around their necks. They were standing perfectly still. This in a field that was a  bounty for the flock standing at attention.

I expected to see them bow their heads and begin feeding on the loose kernels of corn, but instead, they were like soldiers outside Buckingham Palace; erect and still as statues.  What was their focus of vigilance? It was curious.

For me, scenery with geese was nothing out of the ordinary, but I am at a loss as to understand this concrete like behavior. They just stood there facing toward the east.

After 40 minutes or so,  another flock of geese began to circle overhead. Their cries and calls seem to stir the statues in the field. Both the statues and the fliers called back and forth until the arriving band landed on the pond behind the field.  They all began to stir. Those on the pond first and then those in the field began to move and shift into a preflight mode.

In a few minutes, all rose from the earth and circled the pond and field a couple of times. With an unseen signal or a specific cry was sounded and they were off. The lot of them were flying in a predetermined direction. I watched until they were no longer in sight. I was spellbound.

Awestruck by their percision and the timing of the gathering of the flock, I stood amazed by the way they waited on the others to arrive. How did they know that this smaller band was coming?

As an afterthought, I realized, for a moment in time, my thoughts of sadness and loss were suspended to observe one of God’s wonders. sunset-and-geeseI am sure there are those who know much more about the habits and migration of geese than I, but this was so curious to me.

As I contemplated the autumn scene, I wondered as to why they were still here?

 Everyone, even humans, know that the days of ice, snow and unrelenting cold are about to descend upon us, so why are these geese waiting? How did they know to wait for the smaller band of travelers? Why were they not  south  already? Why were they so still and facing east? So many questions about what I witnessed and no answers, but I don’t know if I really want answers. I was lost in wonder.

The first thing to capture my attention was,  while standing in a field filled with food, the total lack of motion by these large birds. I was astounded; not a ruffle of a feather or a bob of their head. How can any living creature stay that still and silent for 45 minutes?

But, the greater mystery is how  were they able to capture my attention and distract me from my constant feeling of loss? For those 45 minutes, I was transported from my loneliness and dread over the approaching holiday season to an attentive observer of that present moment.

After the geese were gone for a while,  i realized that I appreciated those minutes of wonder. I became aware that I found relief from my grief. Because of my curiosity over the behavior of 20-50 geese in a newly harvested field of Indiana, I was mesmerized by the curiosity of the moment.

I think that I saw a glimpse of clearing in the fog of grief in those 45 minutes. I needed the reprieve and comfort while I pondered a mystery that was before me. It gave me hope. Hope that I will begin finding my way out of these continual shadows that live in my heart…

Leave it to God and His creation to fascinate me!  I have always been entranced by the outdoor “Cathedrals” I find in his Creation. I have thrilled to the Majesty of the Red Rocks of Sedona Arizona and I marveled at the wildlife in the wilderness of Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada. These were my heart felt places of worship. 

Just as it was here where my teenage heart called out to God with the intent on knowing Him. Now, I may again, walk pastures and fields in open conversation.  I know that He will meet me here. This is where I first opened my heart and my mouth and walked and talked with my God. It was in His Creation, not a man made building, that my awestruck heart came to know true worship.

Maybe, it will be as it was then.  Maybe it will be in this place of security and familiarity I will be able to call out to my Creator, my Lord and Savior and end this silence between us.  Maybe, it will be in the midst of these woods that I will lift my voice in keening of my mourning and finally give my inner pain back to the One who holds our sorrows?

I know that My God and Creator can do nothing until I am willing to release this pain. It is not His lacking, but my unwillingness to let go.

In a strange way, I may be afraid that I will loselife-mates2 the final part of my husband that I carry inside of me. This pain is one of the few things that exists that is shared by our hearts. Yet, I know that my husband would never want me to keep company with him through sorrow. He loved me too much to have me stay this hurt.

As with geese who mate for life, I too must make a choice as whether to stay with my fallen mate or leave for the life-giving horizons.

new-sunSomehow, I realize that I have stood perfectly still while waiting for him to somehow join me again so that we may continue our flight together. Now, it is the changing of season and I must either stay by his lifeless body and eventually die, or I must join the others who are flying to a new destination…

I suspose I could do a little online research and become more knowledgeable of the habits of geese, but somehow, I don’t want to spoil this learning observation that I received from the Heart of Creation.

Maybe, it is a beginning of a sunrise out of this long sunset and night that I have been living. Maybe, it is a little wind beneath my wings.

In The Present

Time,. We measure it. We manipulate it. We feel it pass and it is either dragging on endlessly or it is flying by.

In an of itself, it is mankind’s concept. Nature doesn’t measure time in minutes, hours and days. It is measured in seasons.

The old adage, “Time heals all wounds” comes to mind. I don’t think that the wounds ever totally heal, rather they are just less visible or we fill the time with other things so that we don’t focus on the cause of our pain.

But, in time, there is the past, the present and the future. While here, we live in one of those dispensations. I have seen so many people who get stuck in the past, or they are always planning for their future. They are afraid of living in their present.

At 26 years old, I learned a valuable lesson about always planning for a “future”. I was a young wife and mother. I worked at the local hospital on second shift. My neighbor was also a nurse at the ER of the same hospital and she and I would watch each others child while we worked. I would bring the kids to work with me and she would take them back home with her until my son’s grandmother got off work and then he would stay with her overnight and I would pick him up in the morning.

This arrangement and the fact that we lived next door fostered a friendship with her and her husband. Their daughter and my son were best friends. My neighbors were in their 30’s and we all had a lot in common.

I remember the day that they returned from vacation.  They had driven all night and arrived home in the early hours of the morning. When their little girl came over to play with my son, my friend came too. She told me about the property in Maine that they purchased while on vacation. She shared all of their future plans and trips that they would be making as they built their retirement home.

At my age, I thought that they were a little strange for thinking about retiring when they were years and years away from it, but that is the viewpoint of youth.

As evening approached, she, her daugher and husband left to go get ice cream at the local Baskins and Robbins. I had no idea that I would be the last person to see her alive.

On their way back from the ice cream place, a car ran a 4 way Stop sign and hit them broadside. The impact threw the little girl out of the back hatch of their small car and, when she landed, she sustained an open skull fracture.

My friend was 5 months pregnant and the impact caused internal bleeding. As her fellow ER workers labored feverishly to replace the fluids that were leaving her body at a faster rate, she looked over toward her daughter. Her child was her main concern. I think that she knew that she wasn’t going to be there for her. All the efforts of her co workers were futile and my friend died.

Her husband was severely injured and he was transported by Lifeline to a large hospital in the city. He was in ICU for a couple of weeks while their daughter fought for her life in another city hospital.

She survived but she was definately brain damaged and she never was the same little girl that was my son’s best friend. Her father was an odd sort prior to the accident and it only caused him to be a bit more pecular.

I remember thinking that the accident changed all of their plans. They had decided to make so many sacrifices for their future dream. At some point, I realized that my neighbors were always living in the future and not enjoying their present.

Maybe, I took the wrong lesson from this event, but in light of my life with my husband, I am very glad I saw the importance of living in the present. If my husband and I did as this couple, we would never experienced the many wonderful places and things that we did. If we had waited for “retirement”, he would not be here with me and our life would have been devoid of some wonderful memories that I hold dear.

I took the correct lesson from that friend’s life and I purposed to live as much in the present as in the future. It is in the present that memories are made. They are the warmth that your heart needs when it is alone.

It is the in present that you are to make sure that tell your loved ones how you feel. There is no magic moment that causes you to think, ” I am going to tell them that I love them, tomorrow”. You do it in the moment that has presented itself. That way, there are no expressions of love left unsaid.

What of my present? Normally, I like to ” get on” with the task at hand. My temptation is to move the unpleasantness and the pain on down the path and into a past state instead of dwelling on it, however, I know that my husband’s death is not something with which I can move. It “IS” and therefore, it is a “milestone” and it set a course for my life.

After 25 years and 2 failed marriages, my husband’s life impacted me when he walked back into an old familiar door and there I stood. He wasn’t expecting me. He was expecting my brother. He was unaware that my brother had been killed in a racing accident 6 months earlier.

I didn’t even recognize him when he walked in the door, but the moment he spoke, I knew him. I was amazed that he was crossing my path, especially, at that particular moment in my life. I was  “thunderstruck”.

Seventeen years later and 7 weeks after his passing, he has “thunderstruck” me again. My present is totally re arranged and I am living in the state of the present with multi-emotions and lost direction. That man could always shake up my world!

In life and now in death, he has caused me to look at myself in a new light. Even though I did not asked for it; it has come all the same.

Through him, I began to write this blog. Through him, I realized that by walking this path, I was gaining while  loosing him. I gained the support and friendship of a community that fails to exist in my physical world. How glad I am to have this blog!

Through him, I gained children and grandchildren that biologically would never be mine, but by his sharing them and by making me their step mother, my life has been enriched.

Through him, I also suffered many things by the circumstances and choices he made before he re entered my life. At the time, some of these sufferings were very bitter, but the joy that his love gave me always out distanced the pain and the disappointments.

Through him, I learned that this thrist for life is never quenched until we  see the face of our Creator. It is in that moment, we release our hold on these temporal things and we grasp the new life that awaits. This metamorphosis is so full of awesomeness that, at the moment of passing, it leaves a wondrous expression on our face.

Now, it is time to face my new definition of “Present”. I have to learn to walk, talk and think as a “whole” person instead of part of a team. I have to look out for myself and my best interest because most everyone has others that need their efforts… No one else is responsible for me.

Today, my present is a sobering place, but at the same time, it is my place. I am defining it. I am living in it. I am not hurrying through it. It is what I can make it.

Many days, I am helpless to make it anything more than something that I must pass through, but I also am aware, that I do not travel it totally alone.

I take every wonderful and sad experience that I had with the love of my life with me. I am forever changed because he lived, he loved me and he died and that has become a part of my fiber.

As with all living things, we adapt. We take our sum total of life experiences and we forge ahead. That is what we were designed to do and so I must do it.

I wrote in one of my posts that I would live for us both. Brave words that are yet to begin. When I wrote those words, that was what was surging through me. Those words existed while he was yet on this earth. Those words are still true. I still must live for us both.

To learn how to do that starts in this present, and to accomplish that, I must find a way to reconcile our lives as they once were and take it forward to what is awaiting ahead of me. I can not leave him behind, but I must allow him, yet not rely on what he would do or be totally directed by those memories.

So, I am trying to walk in this present state of mind and I continue to place each step as carefully as possible. I am trying to find a little progress out of each day. I am aware that there shall be days that I walk backwards instead of forwards, but I will be walking, none the less….

To the present and what it holds for me, Today….

Reflections in the Shadows

It is 11:37 on Friday night and my husband and I were on the kitchen floor looking at the condenser, the evaporator coils and the compressor of our 15 year old refrigerator that isn’t working quite right. My major thought was, “Not now, don’t pooped out on me now. I don’t have the money to replace you because I need everything I have for funeral expenses.”

So, I use all of my weakened strength to push and pull this big side by side refrigerator out from the wall. I leave to get the sweeper and when I return, my husband is getting on the floor to “take a look” and determine what may be the problem.

In spite of my protests, he continues on to spread out on the floor with his over sized abdomen and he assumes the position of repairman and Mr. Fix It  just like always. I know just how difficult this is for his tired and wasted body. I watch him juggle the tubes and take extra precaution so as to not pull the PEG tube ( It can be easily dislodged from its placement ) and to not drop the IV pump that sends a steady supply of potent pain killer into his pain racked body…There is no stopping him because this is what he has always done.

The refrigerator had set on thick carpeting for the 6 years that we were away and it sucked up every bit of animal fur as well as dust bunnies…all of these things kill appliances. But the grime wasn’t the problem. In spite of it, the old ice box had kept the milk cold, the jello jiggling and prevented spoiling of many left overs. Now, at this time of night and in this kind of warm weather it was going to quit on us…and there he sat,  trying to clear a spot so as to see what was working and what was not.

We did basic Home Repair 101 by checking the power source and sure enough,  when we tested the surge protector, it was clear that it had failed and not the appliance. That was a huge relief. I don’t know if we were just lucky by finding the problem so early and before anything could spoil or if we are just that good at spotting trouble before it gets too far, but we both breathed a sigh of relief when we learned it was the surge protector.

For both of us, the absolutely last thing that either one of us needed was to be wrestling with a huge refrigerator and with deep dirt. He, because of his body’s limitations, and me, because of my asthma. No matter, there was nothing stopping him and if he was going to sacrifice his comfort and willingly experience pain, then I would follow him and treat my asthma symptoms all night, if need be. As I have posted before, we are a team…

As I approached the refrigerator with the vacuum, he looked up at me and said, ” Have I told you that I love you today?” I smiled and went on with what I was doing. As I was chasing the dirt and dust with the hose attachment, I thought about how many, ” I love you..s” that I heard for the past 17 years. I could not begin to count how many times. The number rivals the stars.

Early on in our relationship, he told me how he didn’t want to miss a day of telling me that he loved me and if he couldn’t remember doing it by the end of the day, he would ask the same question, ” Have I told you…”.

While the roar of the vacuum made conversation impossible, I pondered further on the things that I would miss. I wondered if I heard his love expressed in words enough for a life time. I began to wonder how would it feel to live my life without hearing, “I love you.” ?  Will I ever hear it said again by someone else or will I even allow someone to ever say those words to me? Will I even desire to share my life with another man again? If I thought for a minute that I wanted to find another husband, are there enough men out there?  I don’t know.

As I poked and proded the stubborn grime, I pictured myself at 11:37 PM on a Friday night worrying over an appliance. It is just me and our little dog. There is no one to ask for their opinion as to what may be wrong. I saw myself tug at this old fridge pushing and pulling it away from the wall without any help and wishing that I had this man, who is presently setting in the midst of this mess, to ask what he thought was wrong.  Or wishing that I could hear his voice asking for my opinion as to the problem.

I saw myself earlier on that Friday evening wondering if it is worth the effort to cook anything for supper and opting for a peanut butter sandwhich because I didn’t see the need to make a mess for one person to eat a small meal.

I saw myself take the sandwich into the living room and our little dog following after me as if to beg for a bite of my “supper”. I saw the TV playing and there was only one lamp to light the room of shadows. I saw myself going through the motions of living without the companionship that I craved. I would remember that I had it for too short of time and loosing it to the thief called, “Cancer”. Later, I would try to find a way to go to sleep or find a way to block out the unending lonliness.

 I feel myself sitting on the couch, trying not to think about the weekend days that held nothing for me to anticipate, no planned pleasure or outing, just sitting on the couch waiting for the hours to pass until I could return to work on Monday. I could see myself trying to will these hours of lonliness to pass more quickly. It seemed to be a long time until Monday.

It isn’t a hard stretch for me to imagine this scenario because this was what it was like immediately after my divorce and I still remember the emptiness and the lonliness. I still remember the pain of coming home at the end of a work day to a dark and empty house with no one to greet me or ask me about my day. No one to call to say that they would be late coming home and what about supper. No one to get concerned if I didn’t arrive home in a timely manner. I still remember how that felt and I fear that it will feel as badly as I remember it.

In those early divorce years, I experienced a precusor as to what life is like when you loose someone that you loved. I realize that no matter how painful that time in my life felt, it will pale in comparison with the loss of the love of my life. I thought that if I felt like I almost didn’t survive the lonliness that divorce brought to me, how in the world am I going to survive living life when every part of me is bleeding from the tearing asunder what God put together? How will I be able to function effectively while in the throes of depression. Depression almost swallowed me whole after the painful loss of divorce.

At least, in divorce, I had lost that feeling of deep love that once lived but finally died. I mourned for the loss of the life that I had known and not the loss of the person who was in that life. If I grieved so hard over a marriage that was bad on its best day, how would I survive life without the love of the man who made the worst day wonderful? How will I be able to work and concentrate so as to earn a living and be competent and effective in whatever job I find?  How raw will my emotions become when death brings a multiplied suffering such as this? I don’t know? 

The cure for the loss of companionship is to find another to share your life. I don’t know if I want to find another someone to share my life again. I don’t know if my heart can trust someone that I just met or will I ever find the same trust as I found in my husband’s heart? I don’t know if I am enough of a gambler to risk finding a companion, a friend or even a lover. Can there really be another mate who was made just for me? I don’t know. My mind cannot conceive that being a reality. In all of my questioning and confusion at this moment, I definately know that I do not want to go through loosing another love by divorce or death. I don’t know if I could survive loosing another mate. Once in a lifetime is more than plenty.

My life with my husband has been full of great love, wonderful experiences and happy memories that only this depth of love can create. This life also had many emotional wounds, difficult trials with children and the atrocities brought about by mental illness. To repeat anyone of those experiences would be beyond my ability to cope. Sorting through the family dynamics alone is enough for me to say, ” No, Thank You.”

I don’t know if it is possible to love another person in the manner in which they deserve to be loved. How can I ever open my heart up again. How can I ever be totally commited to someone else? I doubt that I could ever rightly love another man again. It would not be fair to them. My husband would always be there.

All of this thinking takes me to a place of contemplation about my “Golden Years” as a widow. A widow that cannot rely on anyone else and one that must be self sufficient for the rest of her  life. I do not have a retirement or pension. All of those plans were lost in the bankruptcy of 2003. I will have to work and hopefully have a little income from Social Security for the rest of my life. Working will be much more than a means to an income and independence. It must be a tool that will cause me to not stay inside myself. It will be a necessity to pull me through the grief and mourning that surely follows such a devastating loss…

When I think of my family helping me, I know that my son and daughter in law will be very supportive, but I do not want to be the “third wheel” or the “Obligation”.  To put it succinctly, I do not want to be a burden or live life through my children and grandchildren. I still want to live my own God given and appointed life. Good or bad, I need my identity and self sufficiency. I need that more than consolation, pity or sympathy.

I think I need to stop here. If I stare too deeply into the reflection of these coming shadows, I become too fearful and the multitude of ” What If’s” overwhelm my senses. I close my eyes tightly so as to not see anymore. I am tired and I can’t see how all of this ends. I have endured this reflection to its limit and I do not care to peer into this pool of shadows any longer this evening. I reflected and I saw enough…