Monday, June 22, 2015
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that my oldest sister passed away three weeks ago. Without going into a lot of detail, I’ll share that services are delayed until all of our family can be together in August. We did plan a gathering in her honor for those who are around for this past weekend, but before that, there was this void. In my experience, funerals help those who are left behind get on with their mourning. But in our case, we were all with her the day she died, and then we scattered. As a result, before this weekend, I struggled to find some kind of acceptance.
This sister, lover of everything ocean, surf and sand, was a collector of beach stones, especially those shaped like hearts. She had boxes of rocks all over her house, and she kept a plate of her favorite heart stones on a hutch in her kitchen. Knowing how much they meant to her, I can't tell you how honored I felt when she gave me a special one a few months ago. I wrote about that here. Keep that in mind, as I tell you this.
Every Father’s day weekend, our town hosts an art festival on our common. The local art center displays juried and members' artwork in a huge tent, and the rest of the common is lined with artisans and crafters selling their creations. Friday, I was feeling a little blue but I decided to go to the festival anyway. As I drove down to the common, a thought popped into my head. If I see anything related to heart stones down there, I’ll know Susan is with me.
I parked far away, had a long walk to the festival, spent time viewing the artwork as well as the craft displays, then got distracted when I realized I’d arrived at exactly the right time to witness an award ceremony for the juried artists. My friend's sister had been awarded Best in Show, so I stayed to congratulate her, having forgotten about the thought floating through my brain on the way to the festival. On my way back to my car, I realized I’d missed a row of displays and returned to see them.
I smile every time I look at this picture I took at the very last booth.
Monday, June 15, 2015
Things I've Learned Over the Last Year and a Half.
Always listen to your body.
It is easier to do the right thing, even if it may not feel that way before you do it.
Anger has no place when life is finite.
Say what you need to say. One day, you won’t have that luxury.
It’s important to live in the here and now, but don’t forget to remember.
Never underestimate the importance of honesty.
The hardest thing you have ever done becomes less so, if it means managing someone’s pain.
“Someday” is not a guarantee.
Love needs no words, but say them anyway.
The earth offers up symbols. Believe in them.
Monday, June 1, 2015
After spending the morning gardening, I sat on the back step by the hummingbird feeder reading last weekend. One persistent little guy kept returning to drink and each time he did, he cast a shadow on my book. So, I grabbed the camera, focused, and held the position until he arrived again.
So, my dears. I’ve had a loss in my life. My oldest sister succumbed to cancer on Friday, May 29. It was long and painful and her death was one of those things people call a blessing. It just doesn’t feel that way to me right now. I’m not sure when I’ll have the heart to write a real blog post again, but if you don’t see me here for a while, know that somewhere I’m writing, because that’s how I heal.
Blessings to all. And if life gets challenging for you, remember to look for the hummingbirds.
Monday, May 25, 2015
Last week, we managed through the first anniversary of the passing of my husband’s father, who was an important part of our lives. “Poppy” was a military man, served in WWII and in the National Guard for years, and was a fervent believer in all that is American. It seemed appropriate somehow, that we lost him last year, two days before Memorial Day weekend.
Some of you might have read the poem I posted here a year ago, which described the robin that sang outside his window at the moment he passed. Since then, we’ve seen robins at so many significant times, as a family we’ve come to believe the birds are a cryptic message from Poppy, from wherever he is now. And, at about noontime, my daughter texted me at work, “There is a robin outside my window. He won’t move.” Well, hello there Poppy.
But that only explains one of the things that made May 21, 2015 a day to smile in memory.
A few minutes after that, the following happened. Bear with me here. My own dad, good friends with Poppy, died eleven years ago. As a veteran, my dad was eligible for a plaque at the foot of his grave, indicating his service. In order to get it though, we had to produce his military discharge papers and they were nowhere to be found after he died. My siblings and I all knew we should have pursued it, but none of us had the heart to wade through what we perceived would involve mountains of red tape and bureaucracy, and so that agenda item landed square on the list titled “someday.”
But on Thursday, on Poppy-the-military-man’s anniversary, I happened to have a conversation with our town’s veterans' agent, a man I met through Poppy. I wasn’t thinking about my dad’s grave, but the story of the discharge papers came up. With that, the agent sat down at the computer, typed in a password, my father’s name and voila, up came the discharge papers. In addition, the agent is going to walk me through the process of getting the stone ordered and placed. So on the first anniversary of Poppy’s death, I began the process of putting something to rights that’s been wrong for too long. I believe, in all my heart that from some other realm, Poppy had a hand in this.
But, if you question that, listen to this.
I brought the paperwork the agent gave me home. There are choices to be made and so I emailed my siblings with information. As I was reading the application, I came to this:
ADDITIONAL ITEMS may be inscribed at Government expense if they are requested on the initial claim and space is available. Examples of additional items include appropriate terms of endearment, nicknames (in expressions such as “OUR BELOVED POPPY”).
Okay. So now do you believe me?
Still shaking my head at the serendipity or synchronicity or whatever was going on, I went out to pick up flowers to put on Poppy’s grave. It just seemed right that in front of the store, the Veterans were already soliciting donations… in return for donating; they offered…well, you know this one, a poppy. I bought one and looped it around the ribbon decorating the plant I'd purchased.
After my husband got home from work, we went to visit his dad’s grave, then out to dinner and I recounted all of the ways that Poppy had been around today. But, we weren’t done yet. At home, I did a quick Facebook check before we went to bed, and the first thing that came up was this picture posted by one of my friends.
Giving thanks on Memorial Day to all who served our country, and giving thanks to Poppy, too.