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Posts Tagged ‘Grief’

It was a Thursday morning, just like today.

Just like today, the sun shone brightly that day, after days of grey and gloom and rain.

At a glance, one might say that it was the calm after the storm … for me, a year ago, it was the beginning of the storm after the calm.

Twelve months later it is still a mix of calm and storms, everyday life and everything is changed, laughter and tears, stability and wobbling.

Twelve months of grief for my dad, followed by grief for his sister and her husband, a cancer diagnosis and treatment for a brother, the diagnosis of chronic disease for a daughter as well as illness for another, the loneliness of our mom and a world pandemic to round it all out.

Grief doesn’t happen in isolation. Life, with it’s joys and horrors just keeps happening, with little concern for our pain and processing.

There have been times when I have felt, metaphorically, buried alive with grief, disappointment, fear, tragedy and sorrow. Days when I got out of bed, but stayed on my dung heap from morning ’til night. Days when I didn’t have anything left to give … to anyone, even myself.

And the one who I had previously gone to, when there was no other … he was gone too. And I felt it. I felt the vacuum of his absence, the loss of the undergirding he had always provided.

And what have I learned?

  • I have learned that life is short … too short for regrets, excuses. We have today, this moment … that is all we know we have.
  • I have learned that speaking of your pain validates the pain felt by another.
  • I have learned to say I love you instead of good bye … to family, to friends … it will one day be too late to speak them, don’t save them like fancy china … throw them around like confetti.
  • I have learned to lean into my sadness, to cry when the tears surface, to say the words, “I am sad today,” to feel the feels of grief.
  • I have learned that it’s okay to take a break from helping others … saying no or not volunteering to help someone else is okay when your cup is empty.
  • I have learned that even helpers need helpers … from my husband, to a couple of friends, to my counsellor … these people have been the ones throwing me flotation devices when I was taking on water.
  • I have learned that even though I have struggled to write during this year, I have managed to continue to practice this daily discipline.
  • I have learned (again) that God never leaves us in the valleys of life, including grief … and he shows himself in people and wonders that can only be of him.
  • I have learned that grief is not something one can go around, but we must go through it.

It has been a year … started with a beautiful, sunny morning and ended the same.

Though the void left behind will never again be filled, I am hoping that this sunrise was the calm after the great storm.

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Muddled … that’s been the problem.

Awhile back I couldn’t, for the life of me, find my way out of a (small) parking garage. My family, colleagues and students have laughed with (I’m pretty sure it’s with, not at) me and my inability to focus, to remember. I start one task and get so easily diverted to another, forgetting the first one completely.

It all started the day I got the call from across the country, when packing a suitcase seemed the hardest thing in the world (mostly noted when I arrived to see what I had forgotten to pack).

Since that day in late November I have had times of sitting at my computer, oblivious to the unknown minutes that have past since I last tapped a letter on the keyboard. It is as if my brain takes an unexpected hiatus from the body where it is contained … I wonder where it has gone.

I will be helping a student with their math (an area where the pathways in my brain are still firing on all cylinders), the bell will ring and I have no idea whether that was the first or last bell of the day.

I’ll walk determinedly into a room and have no idea why I am there … actually, I am fifty and that is unchanged.

It is said, of some, that the death of a loved one can leave you feeling as if you have lost a part of yourself. I have felt as though I have lost an anchor and am like a boat adrift, moving aimlessly at the discretion of the waves, while, at the same time, looking unchanged, normal, capable.

Most days I function just fine, then my brain simply goes on vacation and I am left with a momentary void. Or I am left struggling to conjure up where my sentence was going. Or, I sit at the computer and cannot, for the life of me come up with anything to write about.

This muddled brain leaves me feeling confusion and insecurity like a boat, unmoored, drifting out to sea, directionless.

Then I read the following words:

Grief, in its excruciating form, is love that no longer has a place to belong.

This muddled mind, this brain adrift … symptoms of a love that has lost it’s mark, it’s destined port. So, it drifts, taking ones senses with it, searching for that which is gone … it’s gone …

he’s gone

and there is no coming back.

“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling …
to the only God our Savior …
Jude 1:24

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It was quiet … too quiet … something was missing.

I love a snow day … alway have, always will. The buzz of colleagues and friends texting, listening to weather reports, watching for emails, scrolling through social media for posts declaring that Mother Nature, local meteorologists, school administrators … God himself has hit the pause button for the day.

This particular day, though sweet, was quiet.

I spent time writing, shovelled snow, bid hubby farewell as he ventured off to work. It was so quiet … I started a jigsaw puzzle, listened to an online sermon, the news, music.

Then I saw it,

and I knew what was missing.

My dad.

He loved snow. When they would have snow days at the school in his community, he would email, message or post weather reports to me (always along with an invitation to move back to the East Coast, from the West). When I would have snow days, he would send celebratory messages as well.

This particular day, I felt the disquieting quiet of his absence from life … another loss that follows death.

So I rose from my seat and sought my recipe book.

Just a week prior I found a cherished poem from my dad to one of my own kids, along with his (famous) biscuit recipe.

He wrote poems, my dad. Little story-telling rhyming verses … just like his mom did. They were so common throughout my life … now I wish I had kept them all, so that I could pour over them, laugh and weep through them.

you never know what gift is precious until the one who gave it is gone

I gathered the ingredients that he always used (including the terribly unhealthy Fluffo shortening that he said was imperative) and set myself to work, following each direction, hearing his advice between each line of the recipe … throwing in a few tears for good measure.

I rolled out the dough, careful not to handle it too much. I cut out each biscuit, the final bit of dough formed into the coveted ‘hot dog’ (that everyone fought for, because it was the biggest). Then, into the preheated oven they went, until the tops were starting to brown, but only just a bit.

I took a picture to share with my family, who would fully understand …

Then I ate one … and whispered,

happy snow day, dad.

Snow days and the changes that follow death … they are part of life, a life that was so good it leaves quiet pauses.

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