Tag Archives: choice

Heart in a Box

1 Aug

I’m shy 16 days of 3 months since I wrote my last post.  Lots happens (& has happened) and yet time stands still within my mind.  I liked my last writing, the mostly dead crew, which is why I sit on it easily and let it run its course within me.  There is another reason in which I find solace within the moratorium of writing, at this particular juncture.  Perhaps it will resonate with some who have walked this same road upon which I trod, or who are presently walking alongside me.  It is the intentional act of stepping away from the loss, my loss.  You see much like loosing a spouse, loosing a child impairs the minute by minute interaction within each day.  And as such, grief is faced in every nook, hallway, tabletop, room, street, store, movie, etc.–the loss is constantly present, because the person who has left was at one time, completely enmeshed in all aspects of your (my) living. That said and knowing that life does not pause for the brokenhearted we scramble to find our way while facing the loss at every turn.

So, this past June I did something different…I put my heart in a box and stored it.

What the hell? Well metaphorically speaking, of course. I consciously decided to step aside from my grief and work on being in the moment of whatever the moment provided.  I consciously decided to disallow the lens of grief to magnify the circumstance.  And I gave a try at putting my heart in a box, closing the lid and storing upon a shelf for a while.  I must say, it has been working.

I went to Manhattan, NY this past June. While there I focused on wonder and joy. I took time off to be at home and reorganize closets.  In doing so I began to find new homes for some of my son’s clothing, joyful homes, compassionate homes. I took time to be with family and friends, not all, but some.  I took time to do things while tired and not let the fear of exhaustion rule the day. I took time with my daughter and husband.  I actually went to the beach with him once…it’s been a while since I’ve done that.

Bottom line, I took time to view living and its interactions through another lens. A lens of life, not my lens of grief.

I am moving into this next year (academic year) with intention of keeping my heart in a box for a while longer. I’m not sure how I’ll do.  I’m not sure for how long I can keep the lid secured. There have definitely been moments, this summer, when the lid seems to be popping off, but I’ve managed to catch it in motion and refasten before the full extent of my heartache is exposed. Why? Why go to all this trouble? Because I’d like to see what Rivka looks like without the veil of grief over her face. I’m just wondering, can I be whole when I’ve been cut in half? And what does that look like? Can you relate to this type of musing? If not, no worries. I’m quite comfortable being a lone wolf within introspective ideations.

There is also the possibility I might just change my mind on the subject and continue to swim upstream the rest of my days.  In any case I’ll keep you posted, especially since I’ve just paid for another year of domain usage. And who knows, perhaps the next post I write here on Bentrivka will be filled with wisdom and encouragement for the reader. I still believe in miracles, though I’m clearly not a miracle worker myself. But I think it safe for us to stay tuned and see what possibilities await.

Can I photograph your dog?

7 Feb

I commute 128 miles each day, Monday through Friday.  My closest friend, aka my husband Brian, is my chauffeur. The moment I step into my office my fast paced life begins, until I force myself to leave tasks undone and head out the door for home.  It is typical that I arrive home at the dinner hour.  I then catch up with our daughter, give a smidgen of affection to the dogs and march myself off to bed because I have nothing left within me which allows for further activity.  I do not mind my commute, nor do I mind my fast paced job.  In truth, I think my work environment and pace has prevented, in a true physiological form, depression.  And I thank G-d for that.

Because I move at such a quick rate I often do not have time to allow myself to dwell upon my sorrow.  Oh it’s always with me, but I don’t have much opportunity to be real with it.  But today, I drove alone.  And upon leaving work and getting on the freeway, I realized I needed gas.  My first opportunity to get gas was at the exit of the Miramar National Cemetery where my son’s remains, remain.  And my first tear fell at the beginning of the exit.  Since I had the gift of time in the moment (Brian and Esther were both at a convention in downtown Los Angeles), I went to the gravesite of Cole.  I don’t think it coincidental that I was given a bouquet of tulips today from one of the students at my work, G-d just works that way.  I had them in the car with me and decided to take them to his site.

Now it just isn’t right…a mother should not see the name of her child on a headstone.  But alas, I do.  And I arranged the flowers at the base.  I sat there and marveled at the minuscule insects that were feeding/breeding on the granite.  It seemed fitting as Cole hated bugs yet they always found in him a perfect place to land.  As I killed the odd breed, I laughed, through my tears, at the irony of their presence.  And then I returned home and avowed to allow myself time to feel.  To give in to my sorrow and once again be a woman in mourning.

Shortly after my son passed away, a dear friend of mine gave me a morsel of wisdom.  She said, “Rivka, just remember you are going to need to extend grace to people, for they often don’t say the right thing.”  I haven’t forgotten her words.  And just this week at work, I was given verbal confirmation that I am walking in that wisdom.  Someone said, “Thank you, Rivka, for your graceful manner.”  And, “Thank you for the efficient and cheerful way in which you do things.”  Now I have to tell you, those comments bring tears to my eyes because I am truly surviving on the strength and hope of our Lord G-d, Heavenly Father.  For inside of myself I am flat, depleted, and worn.  But everyday I pray to be useful and in (and of) service to G-d.  And if people are seeing cheerfulness and grace within me, it is because the Holy Spirit is hearing my cry and answering my prayers.  …I am grateful, humbled, and honored to be in His service.

And yet, this afternoon, MY afternoon…

On this day when I gave in to allowing myself a moment of grieving, I became stretched by an unknown stranger in need of the grace of that which my dear friend had counseled me.

I took the dogs on a short walk, mostly to satisfy their canine exuberance once I walked in the door.  I have little Buddy, the Chihuahua/Terrier mix and Piper, the purebred Siberian Husky–Cole’s service dog.  Now Piper is a super love.  A sweet and beautiful creature.  But she is terrified of little kids, girls especially.  Mostly because they see her and run toward her in natural excitement that translates with a high pitch squeal.  They long to take her fluffy, furry body and wrap their little arms around it.  And the closer they get, the more terrified Piper becomes (of course one should never run up to a strange dog–but little girls are often too young to have yet adopted the policy).  At any rate, as I was walking through the neighborhood behind my house, the last leg of our short jaunt, I spied a cadre of little girls running from one house to another, with a “mom chaperone” trailing behind.  Based on their enthusiasm and bags in hand, mom included, I gathered they were on some sort of a scavenger hunt.  Piper noticed them too, so I assured her it was ok and felt confident their own adventure would keep them distracted from Cole’s beauty (really I should say bitch, but it just doesn’t sound right–even in writing!).

I was almost past the little group, and mind you, I had my coat on with my hood over my head–my intent was to emanate the sentiment, “closed for the season”–when out of the mouth of the mom came a shout, “can I photograph your dog?”  Uh oh, she penetrated my world with her intrusive request.  Couldn’t she see I am in mourning?  Couldn’t she feel my closure to the world?  I was merely walking the dogs out of obligation to them, while missing my son and feeling great pain for his suffering and our loss.  Why didn’t she know?

Well how could she?  I do not have the advantage of wearing clothes of grief.  Nope, I had just my green jacket and its protective cover failed me.  But I needed this afternoon and needed it desperately.  I also needed to respect Piper’s fear of little girls and so I said, “not at this time” and I kept walking.  The mom was taken aback and quite put out by my response.  In fact, she reacted according to her position…not mine.

“Grace.  You will need to extend grace to people.”

Once I got the ugly thoughts quieted from my mind, I remembered back to Rivka the young mother.  Rivka, who could put her shoes in the place of the mom wanting a photo.  Of course from her perspective, taking a picture of a beautiful dog is not an imposing request.  For little did she know, and little would I have known if I had been her, that I had just returned from the grave of my son and my heart was(is) broken though still functioning.  So I enacted the words of counsel from my friend and I allowed the woman to think ill of me, and I chose to not think ill of her.  Truth is, I envy her.  I envy her excitement and exuberance for her children and their young stage of life.  I love her place of intent, to bring joy to her group of girls through the simple act of photography.  And I miss that place of being, though am grateful for once having had it.

There really is a great deal of hardship in this world.  AND, there really is an awful lot of goodness.  We really have a choice between bitterness and joy.  I choose the latter of the two which is why being in the service of our Lord is so important to me.  To think He can still find use of my brokenness blesses me with a peace I cannot explain.  I am sorry to the mom for whom I could not accommodate.  I am not sorry I did not stop for her to photograph a terrified dog.  And I am not sorry that I allowed myself to be true to my own emotional state.  I am just sorry that she might consider my actions unreasonable and therefore feel affronted by them.  I am much more aware that as people, we are walking this earth, many of us, with stories that effect our actions.  I am just one of them, and this is just one of my little stories.

Siberian Huskey

Piper, at your service!

Stinky Socks

20 Dec

Tonight I lie here, in my bed, a bit under the weather.  Yes, the respiratory bug has come by for a visit and I am the one to catch it.  And with me are what my family refers to as my “stinky socks.”  Which in fact are my microwaveable slippers.  Each slipper has a removable insert which is filled with some sort of grain.  When microwaved and reinserted into the slipper, they do a fantastic job of keeping my ice block feet warm and toasty while stinking up the house with their foul odor.  I do believe my daughter likened it to the smell of urine.  No matter…my sinuses are stuffed up thus disabling my olfactory perception.  My feet are happy and I know not how they smell!

I do, however, know a thing or two about sadness.  But I am not quite sure how to ease into this with the ‘grace of a lady’ I wish to posses.  Therefore I will bounce clumsily into the subject.  My heart is quite heavy with the losses incurred this past week in Connecticut.  Last week, while I was fighting for the life of my son, I could not take on the additional burden of the unconscionable actions of the young man, as provided by the news coverage.  I confess, I had to abstain.  It wasn’t until Sunday night I was able to embrace the sorrowful occasion and painstakingly read the names and ages of the victims, knowing full well that the numbers and monikers did not fully represent those affected by such a tragedy.  Yes, along with the rest of the empathizing individuals of the world, I am profoundly sad.  And with the sadness comes the tidal wave of philosophical questioning that seems to always follow an inexplicable act of evil.  The questions such as, “Why did G-d allow this to happen?”  And, “If he is a loving G-d, then why does he allow evil in the first place?”  Of course my son always seems to come up with the hardest of the hard, in terms of questioning…”Why to innocent little children and not the asshole’s who beat their wives?  Or the sons of bitches that abuse kids?”

And along with that line of questioning then comes his own angst about sickness and more specifically cancer.  “Why me, when there are other jerk-offs who don’t deserve to even be alive?  Why my friends wife, Michelle, when she is the sweetest lady on this earth?”  Honestly, this type of questioning can go on for hours.  I know it follows me for days.  And quite frankly, to be able to rise and smile anew every day I have to deliberately turn the questions off with a knowing that I just might not ever be given the answer…this side of Heaven (and perhaps the other side as well).  But I choose to believe G-d and what he says, that he is for us and not against us (I make this choice even with the spiritual interrogations present within me).

Yet amidst these heavy hitters of real life circumstance, we do have the privilege of seeing goodness and miracles.  For instance, last week Cole was struggling to be alive, and considering in-patient psychiatric intervention as a result.  His dad and I were along side him, fighting for his life…monitoring him moment to moment, showering him with love and compassion, praying for his body, mind, and soul, and reaching out to others for prayer and guidance so we, too, could stay afloat.  And float we did.  In fact, I had specifically called out to the Lord of Hosts to meet my son on all three accounts (body, mind, spirit) by the weekend’s end.  You know what?  On Thursday last, Cole’s body was attended to by way of a new medicinal regimen.  Friday last, his mind was given a renewed sense of purpose through a new gym membership.  Saturday and Sunday last, his spirit was given some soul food which carried with it the nutrient rich infusion of hope…a staple he had been without for quite some time.

So as I write this post, in honor truly of the many people who are experiencing the profound sadness of a significant loss, I cannot offer an insight or wisdom that will soothe the inescapable pain, though I can remind us all that miracles are still a present force in our life.  I can remind us that our Heavenly father is mysteriously present and his claim is that of love.  I can remind, that even though evil is allowed to walk among us it is not overtaking the world.  Goodness, and good, are still the reigning force.  I know this not only because G-d says so in his Word, but because if it were not so we would all, each and every one, be overtaken.  And even a glimmer of hope would not be possible in the life which had been completely drained of it.

Bottom line (a line I should get to quickly, as drowsiness from the Vick’s NyQuil is starting to kick in), I am sorry to my family for having stinky socks.  I am so very sorry to the many people affected by the gunman’s aim.  I am so very sorry we have to grapple with the philosophical questions which come as result of breathing.  I am sorry to my son, and Michelle, who have to daily deal with the overhanging statistical information regarding their diagnosis.  I am profoundly sorry.

And now I must rest.

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