I Want to Be Full of Thanks AND Giving

The world can make a heart panic, scrambling to pile up extra lest “the worst” befalls us and suddenly there’s not enough.

That’s what happened a couple years ago when, for some unknown reason, toilet paper became the currency of security.

But no matter how deep or full the pantry, stuff can’t keep us truly safe.

Ask me how I know.

Read the rest here: Thanks And Giving

Don’t Let The Outside Fool You

What a blessed relief it was to drive up our winding lane and enter home after my husband’s surgery!

I am absolutely overwhelmed by the encouraging words and prayers lifted on our behalf. If you’ve raised your voice to Heaven, begging for relief, only to have your hopes dashed, then you understand how amazing it feels to have prayers answered.

I am happy, happy, happy to report that my husband is doing well.

A couple days ago he had a follow-up appointment to remove the staples from his incisions and there was no sign of infection. He was warned by the doctor not to mistake the lack of evidence declaring major surgery on the OUTSIDE with what they did to him on the INSIDE.

He was solemnly adjured to continue to take it easy for several more weeks so that deep and necessary healing could occur.

Because my mind is never all that far away from thinking about Dominic, loss, my own grief journey and the many who join me here walking the same broken road, I quickly found myself comparing Hector’s surgery to the experience of child loss.

From the outside-very soon after all the formal visiting, meal bringing and memorial service or funeral-most bereaved parents look “fine”.

We have to.

The world doesn’t stop turning because our world imploded.

Work, life, family duties, household chores, and all the ordinary things determined by hours and calendars keep rolling along.

But on the inside, every bit of who we are, how we feel, what we think has been devastatingly poked, prodded, ripped apart and rearranged.

And just like there is no substitute for TIME in physical healing, there is no substitute for TIME in emotional, mental or spiritual healing either.

So if you are fresh on this path, new to the rigors of trying to “do life” while mourning your precious child, recognize that there is oh, so much damage where people can’t see.

Even when (or if!) you are able to return to some semblance of normal, to carry on with duties and obligations and even muster a smile for special occasions, your wounded heart will require special care.

Don’t let others hurry you along or dismiss your very real need to maintain safe boundaries to protect it.

My husband’s body will bear scars from his surgery although the inner works will undoubtedly heal fine. I’m thankful for modern medicine that makes it possible.

It’s not so easy to heal a broken heart.

I’m convinced that while there is a measure of healing in this life it will never be complete until eternity.

But I’m certain that healing can only occur when we give ourselves the grace, space and time necessary to do the work grief requires.

May I Ask for Prayers? Please and Thank You.

Can I just say how very grateful I am for every single person who joins me here and in online groups?

I have been overwhelmingly BLESSED by comments and messages time and time again. It’s definitely been a lifeline when grief, other challenges and everyday living makes this old wounded heart want to give up and give in.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I never take your presence for granted.

Today I’d like to ask a favor.

Would you pray for me and my husband?

This morning my husband and I are getting up before the sun and making our way to a local hospital for surgery. He was diagnosed a couple months ago with prostate cancer and, while caught early, it is severe enough to warrant treatment.

It’s certainly not the most fearful thing we’ve faced together and we have every expectation that it will go smoothly and will result in him being cancer-free for the rest of his life.

But it’s still kind of scary.

When the worst thing you can imagine has already happened it doesn’t take much for a mind to wander that dark and well-worn path back to potential tragedy.

So I’ve been concentrating on good things like our grandboys, recipes for Thanksgiving desserts, stitching this year’s family Christmas ornament and the amazingly hope-filled statistics for this particular type of cancer.

I’m choosing not to google complications or listen to anyone’s horror story of how “my cousin had that done and…”.

My loins are girded with coffee and optimism (and my favorite prayer for mercy and grace!).

I’ll let you know how things go.

Grief and Gratitude: Appreciating What I Have, Acknowledging What I Miss

Gratitude does not undo grief.  

There, I said it.

Gratitude is important.  It is (in my opinion) a necessary ingredient for a healthy and hope-filled and useful life.  It is the key to any real happiness a heart might find on this broken road.

But it cannot fill up the empty place where Dominic used to be.  

Grief does not preclude gratitude.  

Although some broken hearts swear it does.  They have convinced themselves that if they cannot have the one thing they really want, then nothing else matters. 

That’s a lie as well.

Read the rest here: Gratitude and Grieving: Appreciating What I Have, Acknowledging What I Miss

Patience Appreciated Fellow Travelers!

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 love y’all. ❤

Wildflowers In The Weeds: Finding Joy Again

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’ve written before that Gratitude and Grieving coexist.

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.

Life continues.

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.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!

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.

❤ Melanie

Gratitude Doesn’t Undo Grief

One of the hard lessons I’ve learned in child loss is that while gratitude is important, and helps my heart hold on, it does not undo grief.

I truly look for and rejoice in every good thing, every tender moment, every smile, hug and bit of laughter shared with those I love.

But I can never stop looking for Dominic’s face around the table or longing to hear HIS voice in the chorus of chatter from the other room.

Oh, how I wish it were different!

The odd bits that break my heart-

The  moment my three living children are in the family room, joking and laughing-but his voice is so obviously missing.

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The moment I say to one son, “Have you texted your brother?” and don’t have to give a name, because there is only one brother left to text.

boys

Read the rest here: The Odd Bits That Break My Heart

The Good Stuff

I am not sticking my head in the sand.

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 chores while Frodo the goat watches me.

Frodo the goat who loves to be where he shouldn’t be and my pool.

Black-eyed Susans are blooming by my mailbox.

I had lunch with a friend.

Easy Grilled Burger Recipe | Kingsford®
Burgers with fresh tomatoes, lettuce and peaches for dessert.

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.

What we have enjoyed, we can never lose... all that we 
love deeply becomes a part of us. - Helen Keller

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.

Think about it.

What made you smile this week?

Wanna share?

Defying Fear: First Birthdays and New Memories

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.

Melanie ❤


THIS YEAR:

LAST year:

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.

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2019/03/11/fear-of-what-you-know/

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