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Today I Laughed

7 Dec

I am not typically a girl who likes to use certain four-letter words.  But you know what?  I have found that under certain terms and conditions, the F-word is of best service.  For instance, this morning I awoke with the heaviness of the “ache” of sorrow upon my soul.  And to help myself from crumbling under its weight, I proactively began attacking chores such as cleaning in and around the house (a nice distraction to getting my bills paid).  The unsuspecting cabinet that fell under my need to clean was the swimming pool “stuff” and beach bag cupboard.  Now that’s a pretty benign cleaning adventure…or so I thought.  Expired sunscreen, trashed.  Old sun hat whose elastic band has expanded, trashed.  Frida Kahlo and Deery Lou beach bags, saved!  I do believe you are getting the picture, or are you?  Waterproof, adjustable sunhat worn by my son during his Boy Scout adventures…saved.  The ache upon my soul moves to the gut–stay ye down oh breakfast of mine–clean Rivka, clean.  Sifting out the swimmers ear drops–the half used bottles, and organizing the ear plugs and wax, I came upon a prescription bottle.  My first thought, “oh this must be an old prescription belonging to Buddy the dog.”  I picked it up and read the name, Cole Bent.  What?  What is a prescription of Cole doing hiding in the swimming pool auxiliary pile?  Then I read the prescription, Gabapentin, and the memories flooded in hard–the adverse effects this “hopeful drug” set upon the soul of my suffering son.  The brain is such a complex entity and because his was so intruded upon with not only the tumor, but the hemorrhage and then surgery, he suffered unknown pain in severity.  The team of specialists had hoped Gabapentin would be the cure-all medication that would quell the rogue messages of the brain.  Nope, on the contrary my dear Watson…it sent him into a downward spiral, falling fast into despair.  Well I will spare you the details of the dramatic trauma of that week as our family, doctors and close friends rallied to keep Cole from succumbing to the medicinally induced disdain of life.  But I will share that this morning as I held that bottle in hand, and instantly was transported back to that time (coincidentally also in December), the only word that could honestly assist me in the moment contained four letters, none of which resemble anything close to eloquence but fitting to the occasion just the same.  …I must have put that bottle up in the cabinet so that it could not be found, at least that’s my best guess.

Our family has several of these “little moments” frequently.  We miss our Cole so very much.  How do you cut off an integral member of the unit and not lament the absence?  Their void is felt at every turn.  In fact, at this time of Christmas we are faced with the dilemma of the Christmas Tree.  The tradition in our family which not even the Marine Corp and their intrusive orders prevented from happening.  In fact, it is only the transfer of Cole to Heaven that has impeded upon the Bent family Christmas tree tradition.  For 22 years, Cole was a part of picking out the tree with Brian (and sometimes me) and then we would put on Vince Guaraldi’s Christmas and decorate the tannenbaum together.  When Esther entered the picture, it became the tradition of the 3 with mom (me) waiting at home (mostly because the truck sits three people).  Well last year, our first Christmas without our beloved son and brother, we ran away to Disney World in Florida.  It turned out to be a good choice for us.  But this year, with Esther being in college and the need to be fiscally conservative, we are having to stay home.  So yesterday as I was, again suppressing the guttural pain of loss as I passed by many a Christmas tree lot, I announced to Brian, “We can decorate for Christmas but we cannot have a tree!”  He looked at me quizzically until his eyes met mine, at which time he understood perfectly–No Cole, no tree!

Now not every day is full of inescapable pain, though the loss of our Cole is a constant upon us.  In fact, during the Thanksgiving holiday we had quite a few opportunities to deviate to other emotions.  For instance, when the oven caught on fire and the flames continued to grow as the chefs du cuisine were standing around watching the inferno rise, I’m pretty sure I tapped into the irritation and almost-panicked set of emotional responses.  And then next day, post the firestorm, when sitting around the kitchen table playing a board game with family, my brother-in-law and I were tripped off by some nonsense, sending both of us into a 10 minute state of hysteria.  The first time I have laughed, truly laughed, since before Cole’s passing.

It hit me in the moment, while I was listening to the joyous sound of my own laughter, that I was laughing.  It is really tough to explain on paper, which is why the previous sentence seems ill constructed.  But truly I had forgotten the sound of my own elation, and for a 10 minute window on Black Friday, I was given the gift of remembering…

In the remembrance, buried under the surface of the expressed emotion, is hope found.  Perhaps just a glimmer, but enough to be considered of value.  And because of that moment of joyful intervention, when I announced to Brian the “no Christmas tree” policy, the little voice of hope was simultaneously reminding me that one day, perhaps if we are blessed with a grandchild (or children) who need the policy overruled and a new tradition instated, a Christmas tree will return to the Bent house for a new round of memory making and joy.


rivka bent

“smile though your heart is aching…”



A Man, a Woman and a Dog

10 Oct

My personal Tedx

I love women.  I also love men.  I do not believe I have the right to govern over the organs of either gender.  I believe that the decisions a person makes regarding their organs are between the person and God.  And if a person does not believe in God, I believe that too is between that person and God.  I don’t believe hair should grow out from a mans ears, but hair keeps growing.  I’d like not to believe in the wind, but regardless of my intent to hold that belief in truth, the wind keeps blowing.  Disregarding the Creator no more casts the Spirit aside than my own aforementioned fancies sway the hair growth and weather patterns.  I believe my stated opinions are valueless and in no way hold supremacy or even honor that which is supreme.  They are my own statements and journey, and should be accounted as such.

I don’t know why, for so many years, women have been subjugated while men (in general) have not.  I don’t believe to liberate one is to incarcerate the other.  I don’t understand why we state we are a free society when truly all people are not free.  I don’t understand how I can claim a human right for myself and disregard it for another.  I have long wondered, given the history of human beings and their destructive ways, how-on-earth we apply (in the English language) the word “humane” as a positive term.

Where is this questioning coming from? One may ask.  Rivka, why are you going on and on in this way?  What’s your point?  Well, if you are thinking such things, I will explain.  First off, I am a filthy rotten sinner and in need of redemption.  Thankfully I have been redeemed through the blood of the lamb.  With that said, my introspections are result of understanding the darkness within.  If I deny my own inner turmoil then I am nothing short of a liar.  And as I navigate my way through the many messes upon our global society (ISIS, DV, Economic Crisis, political rule, etc.) I cannot fathom the contemplations without first honoring the human struggle at the core of my own being.

The other day, while driving on the I5 freeway (let me just say that the “I” in the I5 equation stands for “Interstate”) clipping along at my normal rapid rate which is typically 15 miles per hour Over the posted speed limit, I spied a woman, a man and a dog walking on the shoulder of this rapid thoroughfare.  The man and woman each pushed their own metal shopping cart (borrowed no doubt from an unsuspecting grocer) with what looked like all of their earthly possessions in tow.  The dog ambled on his own, alongside his human counterparts.  And as these three living beings steadfastly moved forward amongst the speedway just inches to their left, their untold story festered in my mind.  Their plight ignites my interrogations.  Their fortitude, in obvious adversity, nods to the innate character of man (humans).  Their journey became my puzzle.

Connected to the “I5 Three” are the rights each of us is given in this United States of America, rights which have not been wholly honored on the majority level.  As stated in the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I found myself thinking (and rightfully easing up on the accelerator pedal) that the I5 Three were in the same pursuit as myself, though theirs was on foot while I was in vehicle.  I no more deserve the pursuit than they do, just as I no more have the right to take it away from them nor they from me–not here in the U.S.A.  After all, we are not under totalitarianism rule.  And, as human beings, we are in this lot together.  I then quickly move from the brave ambulating strangers to the idea of Rights.  Rights for us all and how women (in general) have been in a consistent struggle, through the ages, to have those unalienable Rights bestowed them.  And through the process and rapidity in which the thoughts disperse within my being, I move quickly to the place of considering how to impact our world so my potential granddaughters are ensured the same consideration as my potential grandsons.  And why, in the first place, is it so tough for people to extend the courtesy of their own freedoms to that of another?

I am grateful to know my Creator.  I am grateful for the teachings of Jesus.  I am grateful that while upon earth The Christ exampled equality to both genders and showed love with impartiality.  I cling to the words of Jesus as stated in scripture, also known as “The Golden Rule” (paraphrased) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Jesus himself was a champion for women and all people.  He lovingly gave us the right to choose–even if the choice made is apart from him.  So why today, in our supposedly westernized civilization, are we still politicizing the female and lording over that particular sex?  Why are some disempowered still by the lack of a Y chromosome?  Why are we wanting to rule over others and by doing so strip them of the same opportunities we are allowed to aspire to?

While I cannot answer the immensity of the questions posed, I can consider them at a level within my reach.  I can start with me.  I avow to pioneer for equality for women as well as pioneer for equality for men.  I will not take on one, without also tending to the other.  However, I will not stand by and quietly allow the rights of a woman to be disregarded while the rights of a man are not.  I will not align myself to “men haters” as that agenda is counterintuitive to the cause.  And I will not stand by and be silent, nor align myself with hypocrisy, within this nation I call home.

October is “Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” my post is in honor of subjugated women around the globe.

Talking to Bees

17 Mar

Remember that for which you toil…

I have had a few people ask me a question of late, “So why are you having a hard time?”  Or, “Why are you having a hard day?”  The inquiry posed as result of my answer to the inevitable salutation, “how are you doing?”  I find it quite difficult to express the why and the wherefore of my hard days, mostly because it takes a lot of energy for me to share my intimate feelings verbally (which is why this blog has been a healthy outlet for me).  So yesterday when a good friend who has two healthy sons asked the “why” question, the best answer I could muster up the strength to state is, “because my son is not coming home.”  A simple, yet profoundly difficult reality I am facing.

Now it is said that “misery loves company”, but I have discovered this is not true for me.  I am quite happy when a friend, acquaintance, or stranger cannot identify with my present lament.  I gratefully acknowledge their place of ignorance with a welcomed relief.  When I am presented with the consolatory “I can’t even imagine what you’re going through” catch-phrase, I joyfully reply, “That is good.  You shouldn’t even try.”  I wish no sorrow upon another, no loss too profound to bear, no kinship with this road upon which I trod.

Bring me your babies.  Celebrate with me your happiness.  Invite me to your milestones.  Crack a joke.  Share a pastry.  Brave the sorrow of my soul, and keep me tied to the beauty of the living.

The other day I was in our back yard, loitering around my son’s room.  It had been raining for a couple of days and I was out in-between a break in the clouds.  It was cold, wet and breezy.  As I stood in the gloom of the day, looking at the foliage of our back yard, a little bee perused the blooms on the Bird of Paradise.  It was an improbable attempt at gaining nectar but there the little guy was, in the wet and cold, taking the brief opening of the clouds for the potential opportunity it provided.  And there I was cheering him on with an audible voice, “Best of luck to you, little bee…go get ’em.”  I then chuckled at myself for speaking out loud to a bee.  And I wondered, does that make me crazy?  The fact I talk to bees?

Well I’m sure there are several people out there who could argue the status of my sanity for many more plausible reasons than insecta articulation.  As for my own self assessment, I have determined that talking to bees does not make me crazy, but is rather a simple method of staying connected.  Connected to life while living with sorrow.


I do not need one to be kindred with my pain.  I am quite happy my friend has two healthy and strong young men for her to continue to guide.  My response was merely to help her gain insight into my hard day.

My child is not coming home.  Do me a favor and don’t let that statement sink in!

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