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.
Ninety miles an hour-that’s how fast my mind can go from here to there.
From what’s in front of me to what’s behind me.
From laughter to swallowing sobs.
We sit in a living room surrounded by toys and playing with children, talking about life and love and plans and people. The little brown face that turns his eyes to mine looks so much like Dominic I have to suck in my breath.
In yesterday’s post I shared how adjusting my focus and speaking truth and hope to my heart makes such a difference!
But sometimes, no matter how hard I try to “keep my chin up” or “remind myself of redemption”, my soul gets weary.
I’ve recently come off of several months of activity along with emotionally charged interactions and I. am. worn. out.
There’s not really a good or easy way to describe this kind of bone-deep tiredness to someone who has not walked the path we’ve walked so I usually settle for, “I’m tired”. That’s when they typically suggest I get more rest or take a nap.
When I say to someone, “I’m so very tired!” they nearly always suggest a nap. Trust me, if a nap would erase this soul weariness, I’d take one every single day.
But it doesn’t, so I don’t.
Instead I go outside and breathe some fresh air, make a cup of hot tea and sit down with a good book, or just sit down and watch the Christmas lights or a candle with my cat in my lap.
We like to think we are invincible, full of infinite energy and able to handle anything life may throw at us. It’s understandable considering Western society places a premium on heroic endurance in the face of adversity or challenge.
Truth is, though, our emotional, physical and mental energy are not infinite. We ALL have an absolute rock bottom where we simply cannot do one. more. thing.
And living with child loss means I exhaust my resources sooner than many.
I love this concrete representation of my limitations. It has helped me understand that it’s OK to say, “no” and it’s human to have to.
I hope it gives you courage to do the same.
The basic idea is that everyone starts with a finite number of “spoons” representing the energy, attention and stamina that can be accessed for any given day. When you do something, you remove a spoon(or two or three) based on the effort required. When you have used up all your spoons, you are operating at a deficit.
Like a budget, you can only do that so long before you are in big trouble.
I try to limit the time I spend perusing old photos and old social media posts of my missing son.
I’ve learned that while they remind me of sweet memories and happy times they also prick my heart in ways nothing else can.
I was looking for something specific the other day and had to scroll through Dominic’s Facebook page to find it. As I did, I began reading some of the back and forth comments under the posts and pictures.
This time it wasn’t what was said or where the photos were taken that hurt my heart.
Instead it was the tiny little time stamp underneath the words that took my breath away.
Nothing more recent than seven years ago was recorded.
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.
I was asked a few months ago to record a short video sharing about how my son’s death impacted my faith.
It was the first time in the more than seven years since he ran ahead to Heaven I’d tried to tell the story in so few words.
And while I’ve shared much of this same material (plus even more details, thoughts and feelings!) here on the blog, I thought a few of you may want to watch this short video to gain some background you might have missed.
I DID misspeak in one instance-my eldest son was not yet in the Air Force at that time. He was out of town though when I got the news of his brother’s accident.