Tuesday, July 17, 2018

My July: Remembering a little brown eyed Runner.

There is a weariness that goes beyond what I have done, what I have not done or my general overall health. It is a body that remembers. It remembers the terror and pain of a July night long ago. It remembers the nightmare of each July that followed. Summer and long hot days bring with it this weariness. God has healed my soul of much of the pain and fear of Leroy's death. Grief does not define who I am nor is it the focus of day to day living but July remembers. Granted this 2018 July has had it's own share of death and heartache but the weariness goes deeper than that.

Next week will be better. I will move past July 20 into relief. Something in me will relax. The dark side thoughts will disappear. The days will be cooler as we head into fall. This weary body will wake up and come alive once more. Energy will abound where none was found before.

Healing of grief is a long, slow process but it comes. Our God hears and heals. 

If you are weary in your journey, God promises that joy comes in the morning.

Weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning

Weeping may endure for the night…
May is indefinite, possible to happen but not positive or absolute.

Joy comes in the morning…
Comes is a definite, positive, absolute statement of fact. Truth.

Joy is coming in the morning.

For joy to come in the morning means healing has happened. 

May you find healing on your journey.
May you find your morning.
Wear red shoes for courage.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Time Between

Easter Saturday. The time between. "Weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning." Weeping may endure...may is not a definitive word. It might happen. It might not. Joy comes in the morning is definitive. It will happen. Joy will come in the morning.

How do we get from the night of grief to the morning of joy? How do we do the between time? We lean into our grief. It is the normal reaction to the death of someone we love. We were not created for separation. We grieve much because we love much.

There are no shortcuts, or detours on the grief journey.
The only way is straight on through the night.
Shed every tear.
Feel every feeling.
Cry every cry.
Embrace every pain.
Remember every memory.
Look at every picture.
Savor every belonging.
Visit every place.
Write every word.
Sing every song.
Pray every prayer.
And somewhere along the way
you will find the morning light.

In the bleak loneliness of Saturday, we learn how much God loves us. He loves us so much. He misses us so much. He seperated Himself from the son He loves to breach that wall of separation. He sent Jesus to bring us home.

Friday is broken parting.
Saturday we wait and weep.
Sunday joy comes in the morning.

Blessed Easter and joy be to you all.

Monday, January 22, 2018

A Flashlight

It is funny how thoughts go. I was driving to Amanda's at 4 o'clock one afternoon. Most of the cars had their lights on but it wasn't dark. The thought came to me that if you were looking for something outside you wouldn't need a flashlight.
A flashlight.
A flashlight...
I had a flashlight that night. I don't know  what  it looked like. I don't know where I found it. The beam of that flashlight shone in the bushes. There he was but he wasn't.  I had a flashlight, then my world turned dark for days, for weeks, for months, for years. Twenty-seven years and the thoughts still come unbidden all because I was thinking about the lengthening light as I was driving late one afternoon. 
Waiting for the morning Leroy James.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

“Jesus loves me! this I know, For the bible tells me so.”

Once upon a time there was a little brown eyed girl. She was called Cotton Top, Little Sunshine and Pepperpot. She talked nonstop. She had a grin from ear to ear except when she was having a quick temper fit. Her Mama taught her “Jesus loves me! this I know, For the bible tells me so.”

Before she even started school her cotton top turned dark. The sunshine went away. Her brown eyes were sad. Her grin disappeared. She stopped talking so much. But she knew “Jesus loves me! this I know, For the bible tells me so.”

She grew up. She got married. She was still sad. She had little boys and a girl of her own. Some had brown eyes and some had blue. Some were cotton tops. Some of them talked a lot. There were some pepper pots and some sad ones. She taught them “Jesus loves me! this I know, For the bible tells me so.”

Then one of her little brown eyed boys ran home to be with Jesus. The night was long and dark and scary. The sad went deeper in her heart. She struggled with everything she knew about “Jesus loves me! this I know, For the bible tells me so.”

She lived in the dark for a long time. No sunshine. No grin. Only the sad and dark and scary things. Then one day she turned around. She looked up. She saw the sunshine. She believed “Jesus loves me! this I know, For the bible tells me so.”

Her once cotton top is turning silver now. She lives in the sunshine. Sometimes she is a pepperpot. Sometimes she talks nonstop. She has a big grin. She knows, that she knows, that she knows that “Jesus loves me! this I know, For the bible tells me so.”

And she wears red shoes: for courage and to celebrate!


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Winter Storm Stella 2017

It is a first for her. She is here by herself as a nor’easter’ powders the east coast with a fine snow. It is heavier than it seems, whirling or sideways, building up fast.

The Biker is still in Florida. The Writer headed south yesterday much later than he planned. He stopped to say good-bye. She made him breakfast. They chatted. Dante’, school, future plans and past life; time slid by. He runs into freezing rain at the edge of the storm and stops for the night.

She fills a bucket with water and finds the day old bagels and chicken scraps. She shrugs on the big overalls zipping her phone into a pocket as a precaution. She routes out another hat as the one used earlier is still wet. She soon realizes she should have had everything prepped for chores before she dressed. She is overheating as she fills a pitcher for the bird feeders.

She plows her way to the woodshed with the big yellow scoop made to clear snow off the roof. Adding a bit of wood to the furnace she then plows out to the Deuce Coop. Shovels the coop steps and entry way to the run. On a whim she also clears the snow in front of the box shed. She might need something from there later.

Not bothering to shovel a path she tromps through the snow to the bird feeders. Snow is sifting down her neck. This hat does not work as well as the cast off camo fleece one she usually wears. She comes in the back door and stomps her red boots but still tracks in snow as she goes to the kitchen to get the yard stick. Six inches on the flat of the picnic table.

Retracing her steps back past the woodshed she digs for the scrap pans among the coils of stored sap lines. The rubber palmed gloves she wears for chicken chores are not as warm as her leather ones drying on the rack. She usually scatters the scraps on the ground when she lets her flock out to free range in the late afternoon. She is doing chicken chores early and no one will come out of the run today. She fills a pan with freezer burned broccoli and leftover corn. Another one holds spaghetti and sunflower seeds that got damp filling the feeder so she did not pour them back in the can.

She hauls the bucket of water to the run. The waterer is still a third full. The hens are all in the coop. Not drinking as much water so less eggs tomorrow. She hangs the bagels off the roost and puts out the pans of scraps. Going into the coop with the egg basket she tries to shoo them into the run to find their treats but they don’t cooperate. She goes to the box shed for scratch feed and scatters it on the ramp to coax them out. Dominica comes to investigate followed by Emmaline and plump old Strawberry. Soon the ramp is full of pecking, sliding chickens. They jostle around the pans. She leans against a pole watching, waiting for them to find the bagels. The snow drifts in. The wind is “wild and shouting". The hens are uneasy. Every time the plastic wrapping the run flaps a couple dart back into the coop.

She gathers eggs. She fills the feeder with layer pellets, quickly shutting the feed bucket between scoops. Chores take longer in the cold and snow. She doesn’t mind. She likes weather and winter and seasons. She battens the coop door against the wind.  Every path she just cleared is already drifted with a couple inches of snow. The snow is fast and furious as was predicted for midday.

Back inside she wriggles out of the coveralls. They go on easier than the come off. Despite the covering her corduroys are crusted with snow on the bottom so she switches them out for pajamas. She fortifies herself with a cup of hot bone broth she made a few days ago. She is not sold on it. The broth has good things in it: ginger, garlic, lime and nutrients leached from the chicken bones. There are no definitive studies showing that our bodies make use of these nutrients in this form. It is warms her anyway.

She cleans, counts and cartons the eggs. Twelve, including two that are broken, but no green ones.

She heats the oven for the Crusty Bread she set last night. She fills a pitcher with water. She might want it later if the power goes out. While the oven heats and the bread bakes she washes the few dishes not bothering to run the dish washer. The hot water feels good on her hands. Old songs keep her company.

The feeder outside the kitchen window is flocked with small birds. A fluffy Tufted Titmouse rocks on the top bar while Chickadees flit in and out. A Nuthatch hangs on the suet cage where a little Downy Woodpecker fed earlier.

Someone will come plow her out later. Her boys are on standby if she needs them. She is by herself but not alone.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Wounds, Scars and a Soft Spot

Today, in the wake of recent deaths and also some discussions about death, I was pondering grief. This is where my thoughts went:

A few years ago I had infection in my leg that caused a deep grievous wound in my shin. The Biker described it as a bullet hole. It literally kept me off my feet for six weeks. It was a long recovery. The  scar is deep. It hurt on occasion for a very long time.   

When Leroy died it was a deep, infected grievous wound that took many years to heal. I traveled a long journey though the dark winter of grief. The overwhelming emotions that came with his death, shock, fear, anger, pain, and confusion no longer weigh me down but they did leave scars. Scars that hurt from time to time. What causes these scars to hurt? Sometimes just missing Leroy. The wounds of grief can heal but the missing part never goes away. He will always be gone from this life and we will always miss him. Another thing that makes my scars hurt is thinking about the suffering of my kyds because Leroy left us all behind. Not only did they lose a brother and best buddy, they lived through some of the most crucial years of childhood with both parents lost in the wilderness of grief: broken, wounded, often without strength to cope or just be there for them. 

Secondary losses also make scars hurt. The fact that my grandsons will never know Uncle Leroy in the here and now of this life is one of those. The lost possibility of another beloved daughter-in-law and more grand children is another.

When I hear of the death of yet another child, it doesn't tear open old wounds but  Leroy's death left a soft spot that wells up with compassion for those left behind. I know there is a long, hard road of grief ahead of them. I know their life will never be the same. I worry about siblings. I pray in the night hours for peace, for sleep, for forgiveness for everyone involved. I also remind myself that healing will come to them. Yes, healing comes. And joy. After the long night of grief joy comes in the morning.

I love you bunches and joy in the morning,

Friday, March 11, 2016

What is life really like...

About a month after Leroy died, the ALC Fall Services were held at the Battle Ground High School. A man, whom I recognized by face but not by name, came up to me and asked if I was Leroy's mother. I answered "Yes". He looked into my eyes and said "What a tragedy." Only those words. They resonated deep within me and I have never forgotten.

A few months later Rick Wiinikka joined the Biker and I for supper on my birthday. As we settled into a booth at Denny's, he asked "So, what is life really like without Leroy?" Just a simple question but it spoke so many things. It let us know that talking about Leroy was not considered a taboo subject. It was a willingness to listen. It acknowledged that our life was indeed changed. Leroy's name was spoken. The honesty of the question gave us permission to be equally honest in our answers. I don't recall what those answers were nor any of the conversation that followed but I will always remember the question.

Until then, Richard E, until then...

Make a simple honest statement.
Ask a simple, honest question.
Wear red shoes for courage - Pat