I am always flabbergasted by the comments and messages folks send me here and via Facebook.
So, so many kind words sail through cyberspace and lend courage to my heart.
Truthfully, I think in six years I haven’t had a whole handful of what I would deem surly, rude or mean remarks. Folks may be thinking it but apparently they think better about writing it down!
I know this year’s posts have been mostly recycled words from years past and I imagine it might be a bit confusing for some who have followed this site for awhile as it seems I jump back and forth between early days and latter, stronger days of this journey.
I’m sorry for that.
Major life adjustments (husband retiring), lots of traveling (can’t keep me away from my grandbaby!), a number of health issues (changing meds for RA plus a hospitalization) and just the whole effort of reentering society post Covid craziness have wreaked havoc on my previously predictable routine of morning writing and afternoon musing which gives way to writing.
So I want to take a minute to say, “Thank you!” to every heart who chooses to gather round this meagre campfire of hope.
I (like the rest of the bereaved) am girding my loins for the holidays which will undoubtedly include some wonderful new memories with family and friends but also highlight the longing in my heart to make new ones with Dominic.
That empty chair is always there regardless of how many bodies crowd around the table.
But after that (Lord willing!) I am going to make space to write again. I have tons of ideas in my draft folder and I want to share how grief has changed over time AND how it is still part of my everyday life.
I feel like I have more to say and as I’ve written before, will continue to post as long as I am able. So stay tuned.
I have learned so much from my fellow travelers.
One of the most important is that I need to be able to receive grace as well as give it.
Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being patient and extending grace.
I’d like to encourage my fellow travelers in this Valley today.
Often I write about and share the hardest parts of this journey. Because there are so, so many hard parts!
And they are rarely spoken about above a whisper (if at all!) in greater society. I am determined to be as honest as possible lest I know of a hidden danger along the way and fail to warn you.
But there are also precious joys tucked away along the difficult path.
The trick is to train your eye to see them and your heart to receive them.
I’ll be the first to admit that for months (probably two years) despair and sorrow and loss were all I could truly feel.
Bereft is the word I’d choose if forced to choose only one.
I became so adept at finding the sad in every situation I fell out of practice in finding anything else.
To be honest, it didn’t take much to find the sad. Holidays were duller, celebrations were always missing one, even a sunrise didn’t shine as brightly knowing Dominic was never going to set eyes on that day’s bright glow.
At some point, unbidden, a tiny spark of gratitude-like a wildflower among weeds-drew my heart to joy. Even if I tried, I couldn’t help responding to the fact that not every moment of every day was clad in mourning clothes.
Little by little color seeped back into my life.
I found that if I grabbed those bits, held them close and meditated upon them, they soon came closer and closer together. They grew to fill not just moments but sometimes hours.
Do not be distant, O Lord, lest I become so mired in yesterday’s hurts, that I miss entirely the living gifts this day might hold.
“Liturgy for Embracing Both Joy & Sorrow” from Every Moment Holy Vol. II: Death, Grief & Hope
I can’t weigh all my blessings on a giant cosmic scale against the bruising of child loss and make it balance. But I have also realized that I don’t have to live in a constant state of bitter sadness just to prove I love my son.
It brings good things, hard things, beautiful blessings and awful bruising. I have-in the years since Dom left us-had challenges and triumphs.
I’m learning that if I pluck the flowers of joy when I see them, I’m better able to survive the moments of despair when they overtake me.
When I decided to make my thoughts, experience and heart public in September 2015 I had no preconceived notions regarding who might read what I wrote or what impact it might have on anyone’s life but my own.
I think I simply felt like what I had inside of me just couldn’t be contained.
I had been writing in my journal since the morning Dominic left for Heaven but those pages were no longer large enough. So I ended up here.
I’ve been amazed at how gracious, how kind, how supportive and how encouraging the community of hearts that have gathered around these blog posts have proven to be-to me and to one another.
When I asked y’all if you thought a book might be a good idea I was blown away by the response.
Thank you for stepping up and giving me feedback.
So many of your comments touched my heart! I’m humbled that choosing to be transparent has been helpful to even one other grieving parent.
I think I will pursue a print compilation of what I’ve written in this space.
I doubt it will be available very soon as I intend to investigate various options.
I promise to keep you updated!
In the meantime, know that every comment, every share, every “like” encourages me.
My family has regular discussions about current events and while I don’t watch televised news, I read widely each day about what’s going on in the world.
Even still, a steady diet of nothing but dire reports is anything but good for a heart.
So each day I try to focus on some happy moments as well.
Let me share a few with you.
This past week I’ve gotten a good bit of outdoor work done, sweated tons and walked farther and longer than usual.
Our weather turned from rainy and excessively humid to sunny and actually pretty dry (for Alabama!).
My chickens are laying well and our little local produce man had watermelons and peaches.
This afternoon I’ll hop in my not-very-big above ground pool and cool off between choreswhile Frodo the goat watches me.
Black-eyed Susans are blooming by my mailbox.
I had lunch with a friend.
And I had a video chat with four other amazing bereaved mamas.
Finding at least one thing each day for which to be thankful helps my heart hold onto hope.
I make a conscious effort to breathe in beauty and enjoy those moments.
When I was fresh on this journey it was hard to receive anything as “good”. Everything was filtered through the lens of loss. So I understand if you think this is a futile exercise.
But eventually I was able to see more than my son’s absence and feel more than pain and sorrow.
Life is still life and there are still beautiful moments. Sunlight through the trees, a baby’s laugh, friends and family around the table, flowers, furry friends, a favorite meal, or the perfect cup of coffee are all things I enjoy. They don’t take away the sorrow of missing my son but they are worth celebrating.
I’m learning to hang onto them with both hands and to cherish them as a gift.
A year ago I was in the same city under very different circumstances.
My first grandson had been born at just over 28 weeks because his mama developed HELLP syndrome and was in mortal danger. Both he and she were in the hospital while we held our collective breath, begging for them to be OK.
We were filled with quiet but uneasy joy knowing as we do how death can come to steal it away.
This Sunday, family and friends gathered to watch this little guy grab his first birthday cake with gusto and smear his mama and daddy with blue icing.
You’d never know he got such a tentative start in life just by looking at him.
Grateful is too small a word for how we feel.
Last week was a roller coaster.
My first grandchild-a boy-was born prematurely on Saturday after several days of heart stopping, breath robbing drama as his mama went back and forth to the hospital three times in as many days.
My son, his father, is deployed overseas and paddling as fast as he can to get home.