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Where Do I Begin – Part 3

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A somewhat recent example of a movie that broke my heart was Disney’s, “Enchanted”.  Do you see what I am saying?   This movie is a fairy tale, a blend of reality and imagination; a world that may or may not be real.  Isn’t that similar to what we have as humans, when we try to imagine what heaven is like and how it fits into our real minds?  How can our human minds completely conceive the spiritual realm?  Not that the idea of heaven, earth, and hell is a fairy tale, because it is not.  It is truer than we know it to be, just because we don’t understand it all, or even see it, does not make it any less real.  We get a glimpse, or partial understandings, but that is all.

It makes me think of 1 Corinthians 13:9-13,
“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face.  Now, I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am known fully. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”  Even though I am now beginning to make some new connections in the journey/story of my life, I only know in part, but one day I will know fully.

The most unexpected places, moments, movies, and the most unexpected songs would often enter the place in my heart that was reserved for the grief I would one day carry.  I don’t fully understand why God had that door cracked for so many years of my life and I had to carry the unknown pain alone, because how could I make anyone understand it when, I, myself, could not make sense of it.

The part of “Enchanted” that tore me up on the inside, (more than it should have), was a scene near the end when the characters are dancing at an enchanted ball.  The two leads do a ballroom dance while Jon McLaughlin sings, “So Close”.  There are parts of it that literally took my breath away.  I have seen the movie about three times since its release in 2008, but every time it is the same.  It was just like the feeling I have had of being blindsided by a situation or a thing, since Michael’s death, which catches me so off guard, that the tears rush suddenly and it feels like the wind has been knocked out of me.  My sister placed this movie in my stack of movies to bring for my retreat this weekend, (she did not know any of this), but I have not watched it because I was not sure if I could handle that scene, even as silly and fun as the rest of the movie is.  It seems too real to me.

“So Close” by Jon McLaughlin

You’re in my arms and all the world is calm
The music playing on for two
So close together, and when I’m with you
So Close to feeling alive

A life goes by, romantic dreams will stop
So I bid mine good-bye and never knew
So close was waiting, waiting here with you
And now forever I know
All that I wanted, to hold you
So Close

So close to reaching that famous happy end
Almost believing this was not pretend
And now you’re beside me and look how far we’ve come
So far, we are, so close

How could I face the faceless days
If I should lose you now?
We’re so close, to reaching that famous happy end
And almost believing, this was not pretend
Let’s go on dreaming, for we know we are
So close, so close, and still so far

Where Do I Begin – Part 2

Monday, August 29, 2011
I am beginning to feel that I had a sense of “knowing” this tragic ending many years ago, somewhere deep down in my soul. Certain scenes in movies and certain songs would not just make me sad or melancholy like they do to some people.  They would literally break my heart.  It would be extremely painful, put me in a depressed state, and I could not explain it or make any sense of the deep pain that would come about when exposed to them.   I would be so moved by them that I could hardly bear it.  I never shared it with anyone, including Michael, because it just did not make sense to me.  I knew that something was passionately stirred inside of me but could not put my finger on what it was.  Was it just compassion for the broken hearted, an understanding of longing for something that you can’t have, or was it my soul already grieving?  I didn’t’ know.   Sometimes I would leave a movie, or finish hearing a song, and I would silently ask God in my heart, “What was that all about?  Why do these things seem to slam me so hard?  Why am I internalizing the pain to this degree?  Why does this move me so?  What are you trying to show me here?”  I asked God these questions over and over again through the years.  The emotions and the pain I experienced with each exposure, increased with age and came to, what I thought was, a climax last fall.  It was really just the end of the training.  It became almost unbearable to carry the weight that came with hearing certain songs and to watch certain movies….Josh Groban’s,” Where You Are”, being one of the songs.  Sometimes I thought I was depressed, but had no reason to be.  I could be moving right along cooking in the kitchen, when the song would change to one of “the” songs, and I would feel like everything was in slow motion and I would begin to miss Michael, even though he was upstairs changing after work.  I would try to put answers to all of my questions about it but nothing made sense.  I did not understand it for years, but now I feel that my heart was slowly being trained to handle, and function, with the empty feeling to life without him.  There is no other explanation.  All those questions that I asked God?  Sometimes we ask Him questions and He does not answer because we cannot handle the truth….it is not time for the answer….but now I know. 

One night last fall, he came into the kitchen while I was cooking dinner, and Josh Groban’s, “You’re Still You,” was beginning to play.   I remember he was sitting on a stool at the counter sipping on a glass of red wine.  I looked at him with a longing, and pain in my heart and said, “I would love for you to sing this to me sometime.”  (It felt like the words in that song were representative of this unique bond that we felt towards one another, an unspoken sentiment. I was asking him to sing it to me, but, with our hearts, we would be singing it to each other.)  With a twinkle in his eye and a smile, he asked me like a shy, but beaming schoolboy, “You would?” With tears rolling down my cheeks, I looked at him and nodded my head, while stirring the pot on the cooktop.  He sat in silence as he listened to every word in the song , while making little sounds of agreement to the lyrics.  When it was over, he came to me for an embrace, with that adoring, loving look, and said, “That’s a great song, Babe….I would love to sing it to you.”

 “You’re Still You” by Josh Groban

Through the darkness, I can see your light
And you will always shine, and I can feel your heart in mine
Your face I’ve memorized, I idolize just you

I look up to you, everything you are
In my eyes you do no wrong, I’ve loved you for so long
And after all is said and done
You’re still you, after all, you’re still you

You walk past me, I can feel your pain
Time changes everything, one truth always stays the same
You’re still you, after all, you’re still you

I look up to you, everything you are
In my eyes you do no wrong
And I believe in you, although you never asked me to
I will remember you and what life put you through

And in the cruel and lonely world
I found one love
You’re still you, after all, you’re still you

He never got to sing it to me, but after hearing, Where You Are”, and crying streams of tears while my dinner was getting cold, “You’re Still You” began to play…..and I felt it was him. 

P.S. – I want to add a lyric disclaimer lest someone misunderstand.   When it says, “in my eyes you do no wrong”, of course that is not literal.  What I see it to mean is, “I will love you no matter what. You are perfectly chosen by God for me, therefore, God can help us overcome any wrong.”  Walking not only in love, but also in mercy towards one another.

Where Do I Begin – Part 1

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Where do I begin?  I am on a personal retreat for 3 days, at a cottage/guest house in the country, somewhere not too far from home.  No frills, no other guests, no restaurants…just me, the cottage, and the owners, whose home is about 50 yards away.  It is quaint, peaceful, and full of solitude.  It is everything I wanted it to be.  For the first twenty -four hours, I have felt totally numb, speechless, tearless, and thoughtless.  I have sat for long periods of silence, listened to the bugs, birds, and the oscillating fan while sitting on the screened porch, watched a couple of British films, read books, ate meals in silence, and even waded in the cool, rippling creek which runs through their property.  I have been waiting to feel like I was through decompressing before delving into any writing or contemplations on life, but the decompressing, the pulling away, reorienting myself, settling myself down on the inside, was taking much longer than I thought it would.  I got up from watching a couple of parts of a PBS Masterpiece Classic, Downton Abbey, on my computer and began to heat up a delicious dinner with some bread and wine. (My sister, Julie, packed a huge basket of all the kinds of food and drinks I love for me to have for these three days.)   I sat down in the chair next to the table with my iPod speakers and chose to listen to Josh Groban… it seemed to fit the meal. Even though it carried many memories associated with Michael, I wanted to try.... I was in the mood for that music.  So much of the other music seemed too upbeat for the silent moment. I set my glass of red wine on the table and took my first bite as the first song began.  No longer than having chewed twice on the food now in my mouth, that the weight of the lyrics set into my soul and all of my decompression time came to a sudden stand still to the present reality…I was in the moment.  I began to cry so suddenly and so fiercely that I almost choked on the food in my mouth.  The tears poured out in steady streams and I could hardly breathe as the song carried me to the painful separation between where Michael is now, where I am, the life we had, the life that is, and the question of what life will be…..

“To Where You Are” by Josh Groban

Who can say for certain, maybe you’re still here
I feel you all around me, your memory, so clear

Deep in the stillness, I can hear you speak
You’re still an inspiration, Can it be?
That you are mine, forever love
And you are watching over me from up above

Fly me to where you are, beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight to see your smile
If only for awhile to know you’re there
A breath away, not far to where you are

Are you gently sleeping, here inside my dream
And isn’t faith believing all power can’t be seen

As my heart holds you, just one beat away
I cherish all you gave me everyday
‘Cause you are my forever love,
Watching me from up above

And I believe that angels breathe
And that love will live on and never leave

Fly me up, to where you are, beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight to see your smile
If only for awhile to know you’re there
A breath away, not far, to where you are

I know you’re there
A breath away, not far, to where you are

Six Months Ago

Sunday, August 21, 2011
Tomorrow, August 22nd, marks the six-month anniversary of Michael’s death.  Six months ago today, at this time, I was cooking what would be our last family dinner together.  Six months ago tonight, we shared our bed together for the last time. Six months ago tomorrow, I kissed him good -bye as he left after lunch for the last time. Six months ago tomorrow night, I said good night to him on the phone and told him I loved him, and heard him tell me he loved me, (just minutes before the accident)…. for the last time.  Six months ago tomorrow I saw his face for the last time. 

I cannot believe it has been six months.  It feels like last month, and yet so much has changed in the last six months. I have experienced countless “firsts”.  Every time I feel like a have climbed a new, strenuous mountain for the first time, I get to the top only to find another difficult mountain on the other side, with little or no descent before the next incline to the next first begins again.  I don’t always have time to catch my breath and gather my strength before I must face a new first. It is like this endless, steep staircase that has small landings every once in awhile for a very short reprieve, then I must begin the next ascent.  The mountains, or steps, continue to be placed before me.  Some of them occur in multiple fast succession, while others take longer to reach just one.  Some days have more than one; others may take a couple of weeks to overcome one. This past week was multiple succession of firsts and other hard situations…. handling a tough conversation on the phone, without Michael’s help or hand, with Keagan’s birth mother about the security of her boys and questioning her wisdom in her recent decision to quit her job and leave Keagan’s father.  Getting the email and phone call from the funeral home that Michael’s headstone had been placed at the gravesite and that I needed to come to the cemetery to tell them how to place the bench I had ordered near his grave.  Making a decision to keep our Polaris Ranger and flatbed trailer that Michael had purchased for him to enjoy with the children while “playing” in the woods, and then stressfully pulling it behind our car to a friend’s house in the country to store it.  Cooking for the first time, for real.  Taking Mia to college without Michael. (This was the reason I cooked.  I made a full meal of everything she wanted me to cook on our last night to have her at our table before becoming a college student.)  Being awoken late at night, after finally falling asleep, by Michael Anthony, who needed to talk in order to unload his heart, be reassured that Jesus loved him, cry, ask for forgiveness, and miss his dad. This all took place in three days….. just three of the days within the last six months.

Six months ago tomorrow, my prayer life changed.  I used to pray daily, from my heart, and out loud while sitting up in my bed every morning, both scriptural prayers and my own prayers.  I would pray, listen, and sometimes sing quietly, if a song rose in my heart.  For six months, all of that changed.  I couldn’t pray.  I did not know what to say.  I read scriptures, meditated on them, and cried out to God in my heart, without speaking a word aloud.  David’s prayers in the Old Testament were my prayers.  I wanted to be slow to speak and quick to listen, but at the same time, my heart, His Spirit inside of me, spoke to Him continually.  I know this to be true. We have had a silent relationship these last six months.  It was an understood silent conversation.  We have been present to one another but have not spoken much.  Many people have been interceding on my behalf, praying for me because I have been too weak to pray for myself.  It reminds me of Moses in the Old Testament.  The Israelites were fighting the Amalekites and could only defeat them if Moses held up his hands.  Exodus 17:12 says, “When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it.  Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady till sunset. “  Like Aaron and Hur, my friends, and those whom I have never met, have been holding up my hands so that I can win this battle, in spite of my weakness. One night, last week, I fell into bed after turning off my light and just needed to talk to Him, out loud and on my bed…. it was through tears that I was able to speak to Him….

Oh dear Jesus….I have missed you….I love you….I need you.  Come to me now. Help me.  I have missed talking to you.  I want what we had before.  Be my Lord.  Be Lord over my heart.  Be Lord over this house.  Be Lord over my children.  Be Lord over their thoughts and their hearts.  Be Lord over their actions.  Protect their hearts.  Keep them set apart for your purposes.  I pray Your kingdom power into our lives…. not my will, but your will be done in our lives….. Lord, I don’t understand.  Give me the grace to carry on with strength.  What do you see in me that I can’t see in myself?  What are you working through me through this awful time of suffering?  I am trusting you.  I lean on you….
Thank you…

Six months of not speaking to my two best friends and lovers of my soul.  I felt like I had collapsed at the first finish line that night in bed….a marathon broken up into parts.  Many parts to go with varying distances.  Hopefully,  the worst has past being the first six months. I am not a believer that you need just one year.  I think it may be closer to two, for the real hard things. I may write about that soon.  For now, I know I have missed  my Michael every minute of every day for six months, but God has been with me every minute of every day. 

Strength Waning

Friday, August 12, 2011
I feel my strength waning this week as each day goes by.  It has been a week filled with huge draws on my strength each day.   I have been strong and taking care of the necessary this week and I think I pushed myself a little too much.  When I am in the moment, I am thinking, “I can do this. It is just a task.  Just keep going a little further.  Keep a level head.  Make your decisions clear.  Keep moving. “  It always hits me later when I am in a position to let down.   Tonight, when I was getting ready for bed, I finally broke…… in the closet, again.

I have had painters and carpenters in and out of my house for a week now, fixing some rotted wood on the outside of my house, building some shelves and a desk for Michael Anthony, and having the entire outside of my house painted and then some painting in his bedroom.  Constant decisions and questions to answer all day long.  On Tuesday of this week, the children and I went to Michael’s office together… for the first time. This was something I was putting off but it was time and necessary.  This was the office where he had been for 11 years.  He owned the small building and had turned it into a creative place where creative minds produced great architecture.  Within those fours walls, a Barranco subculture was created to feed their creative freedom.  We walked in and it was as if they had all just stepped out of the office for a meeting.  It was messy.  Drawings everywhere.  Coffee still in the pot.  A note that Mia had put on his marker board to him was still there.  We all wandered around the place with our own personal agendas.  We all looked, discovered, and felt his absence in this perfect little building on North State Street that was his second home for so long.  I just looked all around each area, remembering who sat where, where we bought each piece of furniture, stared at all of the watercolor renderings of projects that lined the walls of his conference room, projects that I remember discussing around the dining room table with him, and saw all of the boxes in which we had placed his entire collection of architecture books just two weeks before the accident in order to move to his new office with the firm he was merging.  We only took about 8 boxes of the 30 to 40 boxes of books to his new office.  He wanted some time to figure out his new space before he brought the rest of his books.  The rest never made it to the new office.  I held myself together while in the office for the sake of the children.  They were focused on exploring.  Once we pulled back into our driveway at home, a painter with questions stopped me and I broke down.  I headed straight inside to the kitchen and was met by my sister, Julie, who wrapped her arms around me and held my while I cried.  I had carried in my hands some family photos that Michael had put in a box to take to his new office.  One was a picture of Michael Anthony dressed in a Civil War uniform that I sewed for him.  He was pretending to sit on our dog like a horse and was doing his salute imitation of the crazy stage driver in Dances with Wolves.  The picture made Michael laugh every time he saw it, so I had a 5x7 made and framed it for his office so that he would have something to look at when he needed to lighten up his day.  Another picture was an 8x10 frame that I had given him for Father’s Day about 10 years ago.  I had taken the black and white photos from the proof sheets of several photo shoots that we had done over the years of the children and us with them, and made a big collage.  It always sat right next to his computer screen.  Lots of sweet memories in those photos.  The third one was also a Father’s Day gift to him about 9 years ago.  It held three individual pictures of each child that I had taken while we were living in France.  Below the pictures, I had put a quote. “Priorities… A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”   Tucked in the corner of the frame was one of his Barranco logo note cards with his favorite verse written on it, in his handwriting.  “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but rather painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 
I had chosen this verse to put on a bronze plate that will sit at the base of a granite bench,  which will bear his name and will be placed near his grave in the cemetery.  He lived by this verse and how appropriate that, in his own handwriting, on his Barranco Architecture stationary, it stayed before him daily, tucked in the corner of these precious framed pictures of our children.  Discipline of parenting, discipline of work, and discipline of the spirit.  It is what he lived by.

I had a meeting for a couple of hours with my estate attorney for the task of updating my will and testament, health directive, and trust.  Not easy discussions to have.  We were in a corner meeting room with windows everywhere on the 14th floor….with a great view of many buildings Michael’s firm, Barranco Architecture, had designed, along with the cemetery where his body lays in the distance.  I was very distracted at first because I just wanted to stare out of the window at the activity going on around the buildings that carried his thumbprint.  There was the new work out facility, The Club, whose grand opening is coming up in a month, the new Metropolitan Bank, whose metal framework structure is standing strong, ready for the addition of walls and interior spaces, and then the entire Township forming an L behind the bank.  Just beyond that, is the lake belonging to the funeral home.  It was a heavy feeling to look out and see his touch in everything within view.  I wanted to just be quiet and stare at all of it, but had to carry on with the meeting.

 After lunch, I had an appointment with Doug Dale, Michael’s new partner in the firm with whom he had just merged.  I had scheduled some time with him so we could talk about everything from our feelings about Michael, grieving for a lost spouse (He lost his wife 5 years ago to cancer.), what projects were going on, how the firm was doing, and for me to gather up all of Michael’s personal belongings that we had moved there just a couple of weeks before February 22.  He was so kind and took his time with me as we sat in Michael’s office, with me sitting in Michael’s chair.  All of his books were on the shelves above the desk, just as we had placed them that Saturday in early February.  When I walked in his office and saw all of his books, it was like seeing old friends for the first time in years.  So many of those reference books I had seen on the shelves our entire years of marriage.  I pulled one off the shelf called, The History of Architecture, just so I could touch it and see his name inside the cover.  Inside the hardcover was the stamp that read, From the library of Michael Barranco, and then on the next page in the upper left hand corner was his signature……his classic signature.  I cried over that book.  Mia had just asked me on Tuesday, after having visited his office, where Barranco Architecture flourished,  “Mom, do we have his signature somewhere?  I would really like to have it.”  I reassured her that we had it in many places.  I thought of her, as I looked at his signature with the Barranco name sprawling out to a straight line with a dot at the end.   Three of the architects, who had worked with Michael in his firm over the years, and were a part of the merger, came into the office to hug me and visit for a few minutes.  It was good and comforting to see their familiar faces, faces that had always looked up from their desks with a smile and a hello when I would walk in the office to visit with Michael.   I cried as I talked to Doug about my struggles.  We compared the ways that we both dealt with and are dealing with the loss of a spouse.  I was able to share my heart and ask him his advice on a few business ventures that I now have to carry on in Michael’s absence.  The time flew by and then it was time for me to box up all of Michael’s books and other personal belongings.  I texted my sister, Julie, and told her I was ready for her to come to the office and help.  In the quiet office, I began to put his architecture books in the boxes.  These books represented his passion.  Most of them were on detailing, New Urbanism, and architectural history, all things that he loved.  We put everything on the dollies that were provided and were ready to head to the car when I remembered the drawers.  I had not looked in them because someone had already emptied most of their contents out into a box for me before I got there.  I opened up the top drawer, and for some reason, there sat the receipt for the diamond earrings that he had just given me for Christmas this past year.  He purchased them on Christmas Eve as the icing on the cake to a wonderfully blessed Christmas.  I had previously been told by the sales clerk at the jewelry store that he had come by while shopping to look at a pair then decided to go do some other last minute shopping while he thought about it.  He returned to not only purchase the earrings, but chose a larger size because he said, ”She deserves it.”  He told her it had been a tough year and I had stood by him and the upcoming year was going to be better.  Of all of the places for that receipt to be, there it was, sitting in this deserted drawer waiting for me to find it.  I picked it up and felt his heart.  I slipped it into my purse then turned to the framed piece on the wall that needed to go with me.  It was an award honoring him as a past President of the Mississippi American Institute of Architects.   My sister took it off the wall and we walked out together.

I did not feel like talking on the drive home.  I can’t find the words to describe how I was feeling.  I think depressed.  My chest felt heavy.  Breathing felt shallow.  My stare felt blank and distant.  Michael, you are really gone.  Such a void left where your life once took up so much space.  My heart aches for you. Another step of reality was being forced to settle into my mind.  The back of my van was full of his books.  I could have sat in silence for hours, but then we passed a building that Michael had claimed his favorite building in Jackson, the Veterans War Memorial, next to the Old Capitol.  I pointed that out to Julie.  If I remembered correctly, it was his favorite because it was a perfect example of classical architecture. 

Thursday night….
By the time I got ready for bed, I was emotionally spent and feeling like I was about to cry hard.  I thought to myself, “I feel like my strength waning.  My stores are spent.  Lord, I need you. I can’t do this alone.”  I had held it together fairly well all day, considering where I had to go emotionally all afternoon.  I put on my pajamas in my closet, and then peeked over at Michael’s dress shirts that hung behind me on the other side of the closet door.  I have only smelled and or touched his clothes about 4 times.  I seem to save it when I have a desperate need for him.   I felt desperate last night.  I took a deep breath and breathed in all of his smells, the cologne, the dry cleaners smell and his personal smell.  It was like a being wrapped in a blanket.  I felt the back of the shirts, touching the smoothly starched fabric that I always felt on his back when I hugged him at the end of the day.  It was only a few seconds but felt longer.  I heard Julia coming to my closet, calling for me to say good night.  I came around the closet door with tears running down my face. She said, “I came to say good night.“  She had noticed the tears and we stood there and hugged for a long time.  I cried while we stood there in the doorway to my closet.  She allowed me to hold her as long as I wanted.  I whispered to her, “I was smelling his shirts.”  I know she understood….she of all people.  She is a smeller and always has been.  She knows people by their smells and had even wanted Michael’s pillow for the smells.  She now sleeps with it in her bed.  I kissed her forehead and we said good night to each other.  I cried my way through washing my face and brushing my teeth.  I looked at myself in the mirror and saw the pain.  It was still early in the evening, so I decided to start writing down my week, knowing I would feel some release from getting it out of my heart and into words.  There was some closure that day, closure of the dream of his merger with Doug Dale, whom he admired and respected and had looked forward to working alongside.  Closure of his working relationships with his past employees.  Closure of future possibilities for his creative ideas to be built.  Closure of a season.  A wonderful, exciting, challenging, blessed, and beautiful season.

Business as Usual?

Sunday, August 7, 2011
I know many people assume that when I am not posting anything new, things must be going well.  Other people I know begin to pray more for me when I am not writing because they recognize that it could mean I am pulling away, going deeper inside the box.  The second is more the truth.  Even though I appear as if I am functioning and doing my daily tasks, the longer I operate outside the box, the more I go inside the box on the inside.  Sometimes I must function for longer periods of time outside, but all I really want to do is disappear to my room and focus on my aching heart that is always present, no matter what I am doing or where I am.  As I get busy with life schedules and decision making, and the longer I go without writing, the more lonely and sad I am and the more I feel the need to allow myself to pull away to be quiet, write, reflect, cry without anybody watching, and do nothing.  The more I write, the better I am on a daily basis.  Facing the reality daily by writing about my feelings is much better than staying in a busy state which does not allow me the time to feel, discern, contemplate my life, or to hear from God.  There must be a balance between the two and my emotional state seems to suffer when I stay in one place too long, inside or outside.  Most all of the time, it is too much time outside.

I am reading a little book, off and on, called Good Grief, by Granger Westberg.  He explains, “People are off talking about other things and we are left alone with our sorrow. Everyone has forgotten our tragedy.”  This feels so true.  It is easy for everyone else to move on and some can assume that we are moving right along the same as they have…but we are left alone with our sorrow.  He goes onto say, “The pace of modern life may have something to do with this.  The minute people finish one event they are off to another and another….Most people do not take time to help work through another’s losses.  We also find, when we attempt to get back into life again, it is much too painful.  We would rather grieve than fight the battle of coping with new situations.  Grieving is painful, but not as painful as having to face entirely new decisions every hour.  We are more comfortable in our grief than in the new unpredictable world.”  This is also true.  Even though grieving, in and of itself, is difficult, it can often be more painful to face new decisions every hour.  It is much easier to stay in a place where decisions can be avoided, but that is not possible.  It is a hard but good thing in the healing process to make new decisions and face all of the realities that your loved one is gone, life is and must go on, and it is going to hurt.  All of the decisions are hard and painful, no matter how big or small.  It becomes exhausting to face new decisions for long periods of time. 

I begin to carry more grief on the inside because I feel like people are tired of hearing about it, are ready to move on and want me to do the same.  I still need to talk about it.  I have more questions in my head now than I have had this whole time.    Westberg continues to say, “Our modern way of life makes it difficult for us to grieve about any loss in the presence of other people.  We are forced to carry all of the grief within ourselves.”…Case in point, the need for me to go to my room to really let down.  “This is particularly true in the loss of a loved one through death.  When many of us were children, people grieved more openly.  The men wore black armbands and the women wore black veils for six months to a year….so that everyone was reminded daily of their loss.  But we somehow have the impression that grief is out of place in our society.  We conduct a quiet conspiracy of silence against it.  We try never to talk about grief, and certainly never display it by any outward sign.  We offer our sympathy to our grieving friends immediately after their loss has occurred, but from then on we say in effect, ‘Now, let’s get back to business as usual again.’ “ 

A friend of mine told me on the phone that she noticed people avoiding her and the subject of her losing her father.  It hurt her.  She said,” People are missing out by not sharing in the grieving process.  It enriches the lives of both people.”   Death is as much as a part of this life experience as life itself.  We can learn as much from it as we can from life. It takes a long time to work  your way through the fog that seems to settle on the road ahead.  Why do people want to rush through it, push it away or down as if it is not really there?  This is life, we must deal with death, grow in wisdom and compassion through it with our friends as they walk through their loss.

As I wrote in a previous post in April, entitled  “It’s a Long Road”....

It is a long road.  To my friends and family, please hang in there with me.  Allow me to take my time, handle me with care, hug me, listen - not too much advice, love, pray often,  join me when I stop to rest, and remember this great man with me and what a great loss it is to not have him with us in this life.  Yes, it is heaven's gain, but we are still on this earthly journey towards heaven, and it hurts.

Hard, but Good

Saturday, August 6, 2011
So many times I have found myself answering a question that I am often asked, “So how was it?” , referring to something that I have had to experience that would have been difficult for me, with the short response of, “it was hard but good.”  When I say that, I am trying to say that it was a very difficult thing for me to have to walk through, but it was good for me to press through and do it anyway.  Sometimes it is hard and not good.  In other words, it was hard and I feel like I did not gain any strength, courage, understanding, or release of pain from having to do it.  Going to the beach with my children to visit Nanette and Peter without Michael was hard but good for us to share in our grieving with such close friends.  Writing on my blog is hard for me to gather up all that I am feeling and put words on it, then cry as I experience it again as I read my own words, but it is good for my emotional state. Sending Michael Anthony off for three and a half weeks of camp this summer was hard, but good for building his self confidence and learning to rely on his inner strength.  Going to the beach this past spring by ourselves without Michael for the first time was hard, but good for our health, reflection time, and our time of bonding as a new family unit.  Watching the children’s piano recital was hard but good because of the strength and confidence that grew in the hearts of my children from having to overcome such great obstacles to get to the recital day.  Going to the cemetery for the first time by myself was hard, but a good time of solitude, talking to God,  and crying for Michael.  Attending all of the business meetings with attorneys and financial people are hard and not very good because they are reminders that Michael is no longer a part of this arrangement and I am having to trudge through all of these decisions alone.  Choosing a head stone and bench for the cemetery was hard, not good.  Signing off on all of the proofs for the wording on them both would come in an email form  and it was hard, not good.  I could be sitting anywhere in public, do a quick glance at my emails and a proof for one of them would pop up and I had to just sit there and act like it was just another email.  This was hard, not good.

Some things in life are hard but build character, or you can at least see the lesson that will be learned when you get to the other side. Other times, things are just plain hard and we can’t always see the good in it.   Most things right now are plain hard, just making daily decisions can sometimes be hard.  There are many more things that I am going to have to experience this year that will be hard.  Will they be good for me too?  I don’t know.  There is always more to learn and more room for growth.  I am still taking things one day at a time….even a half a day at a time.