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November 23rd

2012/11/23

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.

Gibran says:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

Reading….

2010/01/15

Okay, I’m back to the epic Among the Missing-An Anecdotal History of Missing Persons from 1800 to Present written in the 70’s by Jay Robert Nash.  I needed some True Crime to lighten my mood.  I know that sounds oxymoronic, but it helps me escape from my head to think about what happened with other people.  It’s interesting, because some of the cases portrayed in this book I’ve read entire books about.  It’s always interested to revisit the cases from different perspectives.  The last couple of weeks I’ve also been on a gossip magazine frenzy, getting US and People both weeks.  I’m filled in completely on Kate Gosslein & …. I don’t know what else.  Had never even heard of her before all of this scandal broke out.  Really sad for the kids. 

Busy couple of weeks ahead.  Moving, the 23rd.  We get the garage tomorrow morning so we’ll do some moving of smaller things and perhaps things in storage.  Not sure exactly how all that will work logistically.  I’ve really been in denial about the move.  I haven’t packed much, but I plan to get a lot done this weekend. 

I have a physical tomorrow, I’ve been doing sparkpeople for several days and it has gone well.  Just being conscious of what I put in my mouth makes the biggest difference, then little efforts to add Vitamin C, fiber or something when I read my nutrition report that I am short on daily requirements of different nutrients.  The awareness is just really helpful.  I have an ear and/or a sinus infection.  Ear hurting, sinuses on left side of my face hurting.  I’ll get the doc to check that out when I go tomorrow.

 A very elegant, beautiful woman who had been very sick passed away today.  I’m happy for her, but sad too.  She was a fine, graceful person.  Her name was Jane Langhorne Martin, the wife of a scion in our church, Dr. Berkley Martin, Westhampton Baptist, here in Richmond.  He was older and passed away years ago.  I didn’t know him.  I’m not sure how old Mrs. Martin was-between 75-85, probably.  She’d been sick a long time.  I distinctly remember the last time I saw her.  She was as beautiful as always.  I didn’t always know this, but when her children were little, perhaps some not even born yet, she sent her oldest, Berkley the 3rd, called Berkey, if I remember correctly, to camp.  I believe he was 6.  Unfortunately, when the bus came back, he was not on it.  He had drowned in the pool and no one had noticed.  I can’t imagine how that would feel.  I was told she & her husband were instrumental in groups with children being required to  ‘count heads’ before leaving a pool, departing camp, etc.  This evening I thought she was with her little Berkey now.  It’s probably been 50-55 years since she’s seen him.  It must be very sad for her surviving children though.   She was one of those people who, having suffered immeasurable loss, “understood” how Tim felt when he lost Denise. (My husband lost his 1st wife suddenly when she collapsed from cardiac arrhythmia at age 33.)

Here is what the great poet, writer, wise man, artist Kahlil Gibran, said about Joy & Sorrow.  Tim and I had this reading at our wedding, which is a little odd, I know, but meant a lot to both of us on our lifes’ journeys.  From The Prophet which I found here.

On Joy and Sorrow
 Kahlil Gibran

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.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater thar sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Kamilah, Kahlil's mother
Kamilah, Kahlil’s mother. Painting by Kahlil Gibran

I recomment reading the entire book of poems.  They contain ancient, truthful wisdom.