is to wake up singing or laughing. A few weeks ago I woke up & started singing “We Shall Overcome”. I love it when I wake myself up laughing. It’s a great way to start the day.
Another bit of dreaming pleasantry is when Elsie would chase something in her dreams. Her little paws would just go, and she would bark quietly. She rarely barked while awake, although she found her voice late in life. I’d heard her bark less than 5 times the first 4 years I had her. She started barking more about 6 mos. ago. It was a joy to hear. Obviously, thinking about her is a little hurtful to my heart, but it’s also nice to remember.
A fellow I worked with years ago lost his 20 year old son. I saw an obituary today. I can’t imagine the pain he and his wife are feeling. It has to be the worst feeling one could feel, the loss of a child.
Geez, I started with a happy thought, and look where it went! Here is a poem by Denise Levertov. I found it here. It is called: When We Look Up
He had not looked,
pitiful man whom none
pity, whom all
must pity if they look
into their own face (given
only by glass, steel, water
barely known) all
who look up
to see-how many
faces? How many
seen in a lifetime? (Not those that flash by, but those
into which the gaze wanders
and is lost
and returns to tell
Here is a mystery,
a person, an
other, an I?
I will leave you with a picture of… my booth at West End Antiques. Went over and cleaned & rearranged and added and subtracted today.
Today is my birthday. It is my favorite day of the year. I love the Thanksgiving holiday. In the past, because my birthday was around or on Thanksgiving, but now because I reflect on how very much gratitude I am blessed to possess.
I was born about 5:20 am the morning after President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. That has always cast a bit of a pall and fascination around my birthday. Strangely, 23 November was the birthday of Denise, the first wife of my husband, and Mommy of my boys. I’ve written some about Denise or grief here, here, here and here. Today would have been a milestone for Denise, her 50th birthday. I feel sad for Tim, the boys, her folks and sisters, nieces and friends.
Tim and I were talking about it this morning, and he read some words to me by Kahlil Gibran, from The Prophet.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent
knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart
dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd
when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid
upon him in honour.
I have some friends and acquaintances with my birthday. A few months ago we lost one, Annie Mae. She fought cancer for 60 years! Her kindness was renown among her friends. I was especially attracted and amazed by her incredible kindness to children. She made delicious chocolate pie. She loved God, her husband, Billy, and her children. Her soul is one of the gentlest I’ve known.
For life and death are one, even as the river and sea are one.
The Henrico Citizen has this amazing piece by its managing editor, Patty Kruszewski. She lost her daughter to a hit and run driver this year. It captures so well the agony and, yes, joy that accompanies a tremendous loss. The price and reward for having loved another.
Gibran tells us in The Prophet our capacity for joy is only as large as our capacity for sorrow. The full passage is here. I love the line “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.” Tim and I have talked about that so much.
So, with compassion and love I’m thinking of the losses of my loved ones. I’m thankful for my family and friends. Life is good.
Wow, the last time I posted anything was my last day off! I felt like The Reason deserves its own post, because it is so helpful.
The author kindly sent me this book because I sometimes write about grief here, and she wanted me to review it. I read it, I loved it, and I’m so excited to tell you about it.
When my husband Tim and I were married, we had these words from the poet Kahlil Gibran <http://www-personal.umich.edu/%7Ejrcole/gibran/prophet/prophet.htm> read at our wedding:
“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
These words resonated with both of us. Through Tim’s grief journey, he had experienced this firsthand. He told me of spiritual highs he experienced that were unimaginable before he lost Denise. I was constantly reminded of this quote while I read The Reason. Mrs. Grablick experienced the most anguishing of all losses, in the worst way imaginable. That loss was the violent suicide of her 19 year old son Ryan, in her home.
You might think The Reason is about Ryan’s suicide. That is surprisingly not true. It is about the changes Mrs. Grablick’s endured in her life that are the result of Ryan’s suicide. No one can avoid dealing with grief. You can’t go around it, over it, or under it. A person has to meet it head-on and work through their grief.
It is the most painful journey one can take. However, if we suffer a loss, we must fully experience it in order to learn to live with it, and eventually live with it. We never get over it; we just learn to live with it. Sally Grablick didn’t know any of this until she lost her son.
She captures perfectly the agony and confusion dealing with her loss. She compiles a list she calls “Cliff Notes For Beginners”. She marvels at how well our culture teaches us to deal with birth, marriage and work, and how little our culture teaches us about dealing with death.
I especially liked #12–”No Condo’s in the Valley and no giving up. It’s all about SURVIVAL.” She is saying although the pain of your loss takes you to the valley of the shadow of death at times, don’t take up residence there. It really is all about surviving this loss, and sometimes a person must focus on just taking the next breath. The Reason is also helpful for people who have friends who are dealing with a loss.
I learned much of this because I entered the lives of Tim, Andy & Barrett relatively soon after they lost Denise. They were still in the throes of heavily grieving, but Tim had gone through a very conscious grief process, and wanted to talk about it. We are still discussing it, 14 years later! It’s okay, though, because it moves us forward spiritually. My experience with them has helped me a lot in dealing with others’ grief.
A natural skeptic, Mrs. Grablick talks about visiting a psychic both before and after Ryan’s death. She also starts to realize ways Ryan is communicating with her and others. She recounts many occasions she has communicated with Ryan since his death. One thing I found interesting was Ryan’s spiritual growth beyond his earthly existence. At first he doesn’t regret his suicide, but after seeing the continuing anguish of his loved ones, he comes to express regret for his suicide.
It is also interesting seeing Mrs. Grablick’s spiritual growth through this. Like my Tim, she reaches spiritual places she couldn’t have imagined before losing her loved one. She shows everyone many ways to take care of themselves and loved ones spiritually in The Reason.
The writing is fluid and understandable. I get the sense at times she wants to prove she is receiving contact from Ryan. I don’t think she needs to prove anything. When a person suffers a loss like she did, it breaks down your entire being, your foundation. It also literally blows your mind. Your world automatically becomes much bigger, including spiritual latitudes that may not have seemed possible before.
A young man, 2 weeks short of his 29th birthday, died this week. I found out about it a few hours ago & visited his family at the funeral home. I can’t believe how much it hurts. I didn’t even really know him. He was the beloved baby born into this wonderful family a few years after I stopped babysitting them. There were 3 kids when I babysat them. It hurts because I love his parents, brothers and sister, and I know they are in so much pain. I suppose they are a little numb from the shock right now. More anguish will come after all the fanfare is over. I can’t imagine it.
He lived life very fully, as all of those kids do. They have such great parents. Jesus, I feel bad for them. They are in hell, and it will never leave them. It will become less constant, but their loss is permanent. Sandy lost her mother less than a year ago. She lost her own baby brother 10 or 12 years ago. He was murdered. God bless her and her family, keep them, comfort them. Amen.
In this post I talked about 4 books I’d read, and 1 I was in the process of reading. I did read Frank Conroy’s ‘Stop Time’, and it was excellent. To me, it was like Holden Caulfield meets Tom Sawyer. I also finished ‘Mentor’. ‘Mentor’ blew me away, and I recommend it above all the ones I spoke of in that post.
3 of the 1st 4 books and ‘Mentor’ were lent to me by a woman at work. She was a resident. Sadly, she passed on soon after I wrote the post. The sad thing about her passing was she didn’t die of natural causes. She was a vibrant, kind, humble person. She was very able, didn’t have organic brain disease, and I think she was in her late 80′s.
She had a car accident. From what I’ve been told, her chest was crushed and she, like many elderly people, couldn’t tolerate anesthesia. If she could, surgery would have given her a good chance at life. Instead she died, slowly. I felt terrible for her and her family.
I’ve worked at this assisted living facility now for 9 months. I love my job. However, I haven’t quite mastered how to deal with the constant grief. On average we probably lose 1 person per month. It could be more, I’m not sure. The longer I’ve worked there, the more I knew these people who passed. I try to have good boundaries. I don’t become excessively emotionally involved with residents, although I’ve become very fond of many of them. I need to learn more about self-care in this field. I’m not bad at self-care, but I’ve noticed some depression creeping up, despite being medicated!
I’m going to leave you with a picture of my family ca. 1971. We had gotten our first 2nd car, a VW beetle. In this picture are my oldest sister, Lynn, older sister, Betsy, my brother, David, me, and my Dad. An introvert, I know my Dad must have felt “crowded” at times. This image certainly is a perfect example!
I’m grieving you today, a lot. I woke up grieving you. I ordered flowers from Donna’s, although someone else owns it now. But Miss Ann & Mrs. Barrett still work there. I had to order silk flowers, because I’m not there to take care of a dish garden. You have a birthday coming up. 5/8/21-8/14/09. Did you pass the 14th, or was your funeral the 14th? I don’t remember right now. I have it written down.
I know you’re in a happy place. Sometimes I miss you so badly, my heart just aches. But I’m happy you are where you are. You had a long life. You suffered a lot, but you had a lot of joy, too. You were loved by so many people, and you still are. I’m sure the folks at your church and bible study miss you a lot. I miss the view from your place at Wynneview. Remember watching the fireworks there on your balcony?
Love to you, always!
Your sassy cousin
“The Visitor”. It is very depressing. It’s a Sunday afternoon blues film and it isn’t even Sunday afternoon! It is a story, though, of people connecting, of one person affecting another in a positive way, then another person, and so on. The world really can work like this. It’s actually starting to lift my spirits. Well, I wasn’t down, but the film seemed a downer but it is a great movie about people connecting and One Love. All of the actors are lovely, but Richard Jenkins is exceptional. The others are unknown to me, but they are also excellent. I wish everyone could see this film. It’s about people who are strangers to each other connecting on a visceral level, lifting each other up, edifying each other.
I’m enjoying “The Visitor”! It is sweet, sweet! I hope it isn’t heartbreaking at the end. I’m pretty invested now! It is heartbreaking, but it is also passionate. Heartbreak doesn’t stamp out passion. Passion prevails.
Okay, those are my thoughts on this film. Please see it. I loved it. I feel like a better person, having watched it.