My Solace

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No Hard Feelings by the Avett Brothers has been my solace for the past year, though at times I’ve had to skip it on my playlist because it almost always makes me cry. I lost my mother-in-law in August 2017, then my Mom in February 2018, and today my dog, Loretta. Yes, I understand there are huge differences in losing a pet vs. a person, but when one comes on the heels of the other it is just nearly too much.

The song begins
“When my body won’t hold me anymore
And it finally lets me free
Will I be ready?”

I wasn’t ready to let any of them go, but in Loretta’s case, I think SHE was ready. She had a good life and enriched ours in so many ways.

Then
“When my feet won’t walk another mile.”
My dog, Loretta, hit this point  so suddenly last night I can’t wrap my head around it. She was fine and peppy one minute, then lethargic and unresponsive the next. She perked up once for a few minutes, a sort of last hurrah I guess, then just could hardly move. My husband carried her to our room where we’d made her a soft blanket “pallet” to lie on. We finally fell asleep, but both awoke at 2AM to sit on the floor beside her as she drew her last breath. I can only guess it was her heart giving out.

Listen to this song – more than once if you can. It is overflowing in meaning and may be a balm for YOUR spirit.

 

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Grief

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Sometimes when you are grieving it helps to talk to someone. But, sometimes it helps to just lose yourself in a book (or TV show) and relate to a fictional character or situation. And cry.

“When you lose someone suddenly and unexpectedly it hurts differently…it’s like a lightning bolt you can’t even see reaching inside of you and tearing out your guts…” – Randall, This is Us

That was exactly how I felt when I got the call about my mom- like my guts were torn out. And then I had to go full steam for a while.

“And then I thought about my friend Bluford Jackson, the one who got lockjaw after firecrackers burned his hand last Christmas. He had died soon after New Year’s Day and now nearly six months later I was just finally seeing that Blue was gone for good.”  – Will, in Cold Sassy Tree by  Olive Ann Burns

I can relate to Will’s feelings. It’s been three and a half months since Mom died, and it hits me in unexpected moments more and more. Grief is sometimes elusive, sometimes a pressing weight.

“Grief is different from unhappiness. In unhappiness one is stuck in time. In grief, time is totally askew.” – Sold Into Eqypt by Madeleine L’Engle 

“When people die, they are not wiped out of our lives as though they had never been, they are still and always part of our history. ” – Sold Into Eqypt by Madeleine L’Engle  

Today would have been my dad’s 86th birthday, but he died at 63. After 23 years, he is still a part of so many stories we tell, so many memories we cherish. He is in the height of my older son and the curls of my younger daughter; he is in the work ethic of my brothers. I read his words of love in the letters I found after Mom died, and although he had a hard time expressing those words aloud sometimes, I knew it was there.

 

 

 

The Meter of Our Lives

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Lives metered out in baby breaths

It seems some secret hand adjusts the metronome

And what do the miles on the odometer say?

work, work, work, play

Work, work, work, play

Though we think it flies and we think it drags

There is no meter that can measure

that elusive quality of time

Wake, wake, wake, sleep

Wake, wake, wake, sleep

the clock tells us

sixty seconds every minute

Sixty minutes every hour

Tick, tock, tick, tock

Tick, tock, tick, tock

We have a portion of time

Alloted from the beginning

Its rhythm is our own

Some melody, some cacophony

Some melody, some cacophony

Take care of the moments meted out

Fleeting and lovely

Store them up in memories

Reveries and dreams

Reveries and dreams

 

for PAD today…

Death

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There never seems to be a right time to cry, and then emotion builds up, and suddenly something inappropriate will cause it to overflow, and there I am with tears uncontrollably welling up at the wrong time and in the wrong place. – from The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle

I am no expert on death. Yet, I have experienced it, as we all have or will. I know those stages of grief are real, yet vary from person to person. L’Engle’s words resonate with me.

When my dad died, I was sad, but assured in the knowledge that he knew the Lord. I was with my mother at his side when he died. Because of financial circumstances in my family, I went to work the following month, while still homeschooling our kids. Our life went full throttle, but about nine months later the sadness hit me. Hard. I struggled with depression, though I’m not sure I put a name on it back then.

About twelve years later, I lost a very dear friend. Debbie and I taught fourth grade together for three years, and remained friends even after I moved away from Winter Haven FL back to my hometown of Jacksonville. When she got cancer, I returned to visit her. Later, I flew to North Carolina to see her, where her parents were taking care of her. I returned there for her funeral. I would sometimes listen to her messages saved on my phone – she would leave me long, drawn out ones that my husband and I would laugh about. I fell apart the day they got erased by the guy at the Verizon store who reset my phone.

Last year, when my best friend, Cathy, died. I grieved, but kept pushing ahead. I knew she, too, was a believer. She was finished with the physical battle she’d fought long and hard against cancer. I made it my mission to keep in touch with her son. I cried. But, one night, about six months later, I lost it. I threw things in the kitchen and sobbed until I was spent.

Providentially, I have a husband who understands. He senses my moods (most of the time), he offers comfort, and he sometimes just lets me be. And he knows, when I throw things, I’m not throwing them at him.