Tag Archives: community

Living Between The Lines

18 Aug

I have had the opportunity, these past few years, to live out my burdens upon this blog.  And by doing so I have received comfort and condolences from family, friends and strangers alike.  When going through a hard time, some find assistance, solace and comfort, in the spoken word–oral communication.  For me, the calm silence of the written word has been the soothing provision to my soul.  I think we are funny, us creatures of humanity.  We have so many offerings we can reach for, to guide us through whatever it is our journey presents.  In fact, from the moment my son entered the hospital back in March 2011 I have been given a multitude of resources.  Several are grief specific and a few are literary pleasure reads.  The ironic thing is that for as much as writing sends my soul to the moon and ignites within me an excitement for living, while in the pressure cooker of life (at my son’s bedside and beyond) I cannot ingest the writings of others.  I can’t explain it thoroughly except to say it is as if I am using every ounce within me to live out my own story, that to take in the story of another, fiction or nonfiction, to the level a book extends, is more cumbersome to my being than helpful.

Now some of my reads are soothing just by their title alone.  Others not so much.  Maybe from one I extract a morsel from a page, others the back cover does the trick.  But all in all I am at a standstill in reading, at this time.

books for the soul

Soul Fodder

read is FUN

Library in Waiting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t normally keep books in such a disheveled manner as my photos suggest.  But upon receiving the gift, I think my head was so clouded by grief that the idea that I am one who falls within the category of the target audience irritated me.  I mean have you ever been included in a club that you had no interest in being a member?  I am there.  I am not interested in being a member of the “I’ve lost a child” club.  No, I want him back and I want a normal family life…two children, two dogs, one husband, a house, a family, a life with grandkids down the road.  So as the books on grieving were given to me, in earnest love and attempt to soothe a difficult loss, they inadvertently served as a reminder of just that–loss.  And with that word comes irritation, so I just piled them atop one another.  Yet interspersed between my literary counselors are a few gems that for some reason lift the burden momentarily, if only because their placement is so out of line with the others that the irony tickles my fancy.  Eats, Shoots & Leaves for example is one I have been “borrowing” now for over five years.  I have read and re-read the first few chapters and can’t seem to get through to the end.  But I think it is a brilliant writing as it makes punctuation the protagonist while using satirical humor to drive its cause home.  As you can tell from my overuse of the comma, I am a slow learner.  But the fact that this particular writing is stacked between such titles as “I’m Grieving As Fast As I Can” and “Grieving the Loss of Someone You Love” I find more soothing to my grief stricken state than if I actually pick the resource up and read it (the other little outcast on the works of  Robert Doisneau is equally as comical).  In the same vein, the other stack of heartfelt reads is topped by a ridiculous writing titled, “Managing the Millennials.”  It is not ridiculous because it is a poorly written resource, just that its placement among the others deems it so.

So here I am living between the lines.  As the stacks of books suggest, I bounce between places of joy and sorrow, fear and courage, peaceful waiting and restless anxiety, all of which are bordered by the lines of loss that have defined our family.  Just this summer alone our family has been touched (along with others) by the loss of a dear young friend, untimely and abrupt–just as our son.  I can see her beautiful face, streaming with tears, as we hugged on the day of my son’s funeral.  Now we grieve her passing as well, and hurt alongside her little girls and husband who grapple with their new void (though the youngest will likely not remember her mama).  We also have news that another young soul, our neighbor and father of two wee ones, is not long for this world as his cancer is not responding to treatment.  Our fervent prayers for a magical miracle remain intact and our souls (Brian and I, for we can’t bring ourselves to tell Esther) are heavy under the burden of this reality.  My brother and his family are facing the cancer intrusion in the life and lungs of his mother-in-law, a vicious disease that has already claimed the life of her husband.  These are hard, tough aspects of life.

And yet, simultaneously upon us is the elation of new life.  New adventure and the continued momentum of the living.  Our family has the good fortune to celebrate a couple of expected births come next spring.  Our niece came to live with us this summer (she just left to return for her senior year of college yesterday) and our family felt more whole with her here.  Our daughter is getting ready to head off to her university, 2-1/2 hours from home, on August 28th.  Far enough for her to experience the freedom to grow in her own direction, yet close enough that we can still be of real physical and emotional support.  I am moving into my second year working within an environment that is well suited to my natural calling and Brian’s art, clothing and lifestyle is gaining consistent momentum (I am still hoping he makes me a woman of leisure this side of Heaven!).  We had the pleasure of attending the wedding of a young couple this past weekend and we have another nuptial celebration coming next month.  Our god-kids remain a bright spot for us (though we haven’t seen them much this summer), being participants in their lives is an honor we hold dear.

So we move and groove within the space between the lines, the matrix if you will.  For the borders represent our loss, the void of the one not here.  And though the natural motion of the in-between forces us to touch the outer edge, as the laws of physics mandate, we bounce back to the middle because the lines are inhabited with a repellent within its system–a force which prohibits a long term stay.  So on to the next, whatever the next happens to be.  Books on grief will have to wait.  The middle is available and its offers of joyful enthusiasm help assuage the deep pain of each margin.


I believe scripture calls it, “beauty from ashes,” (Isaiah 61)–nothing new under the sun, just living between the lines.


 

Ironic Living

Bent-style irony


 

My Many Hats

8 Sep

I have a collection of hats.  Some of which belonged to my grandmother, Ella, from the 1950’s and beyond.  Her collection, in particular, is special to me.  I am able to keep Ella with me, though physically her absence is felt.

vintage hats

A few of Ella’s collection

In many ways, I wear different hats throughout the week.  I am speaking metaphorically, of course.  The hats I wear involve, or reflect rather, the varying ways I make it through each circumstance of each day.

I put on my ‘professional hat’ while at work.  That hat remains devoid of my sorrow.  I put on the hat of ‘faith’ which encourages others facing a challenge.  And encourages me as well.  I wear a hat of ‘progress’ which propells my every, sorrow-filled step forward.  I wear the hat of ‘normalcy’ when my daughter and husband, and dogs, require it.  I wear, too, the hat of ‘mourning’, the black veil that fictitiously remains intact–pinned perfectly, to my coife of the day.  This is the “hat” I wish were more of a presence for the world to see, but that is not the culture of my society.

I am a woman of many hats.

I don’t think it wrong to don whichever hat is needed, in the moment it is required.  This is living.  This is life, this side of Heaven.  In fact, I think it right.  I think it honors those of whom have traveled to the great beyond before me.  I think in their state of peace, sorrow no more, and fulfilled earthly mission, my wearing of each hat pays tribute to their journey.  …and in this perspective, you may feel free to call me a “wierdo.”

I am weird.  My hats are weird.  My life is everything strange.  Your perspective of me, whatever it may be, is justified.

I also wear a cap of self pity.  This particular hat, I wear, when I step outside of myself and look at our loss from those around me.  When I go to the end of my driveway and pick up the newspaper, only to see a few of my neighbors conversing in the crisp of the morning.  They look at me and wave.  I wave back.  Yet as I return, paper in hand, to the kitchen table where I will read the news, I know their hearts are filled with sorrow for the reduction of our family unit.  I feel the eyes of “the other people.”  The idea that our new Bent life reflects the obvious–the, this can happen to you, feeling.  For when a loss is felt, close at hand, it reverberates the possibility of, it happening!

Are you able to follow this wild train of thought?  My soul feels my intention, though my use of language, at this time, seems to be failing me.

It is not a self pity that is debilitating.  As I have described above, the other hats come into play to thwart “debilitating’s” victory.  It is more the realization that my life’s reflection speaks of the possibility of sorrow’s touch.  Again, my use of language is failing me.

Should I just stop here?  With this post?  Is it too heavy a concept to pass along to the reader?  hhhmmmm…I pause to ponder.

I miss my son.  My family unit misses his presence.  And my world around me, misses our unit.  Sorrow is right, for this time.  I look forward to the day when the fictitious black veil is no longer adhered to my head.  I look forward to the day when our unit, and those connected, can celebrate the memory of Cole and the many memories his short life gave to us.

But for now, I am a woman who wears many hats.  And with that, I shall take my leave.

Taken for Gran-ite

20 Jul

I’m sure most of us, above the age of 13, have been advised “don’t take life for granted” or “life is short, don’t take the people you love for granted.”  Well if anybody understands the brevity of life, it is I (and those connected to me).  However, in order to live, I am finding out that the only way to carry on is to, in fact, take those we love for granted.  We have to.  We have to consider that we will speak again, see each other again, and fulfill our future plans together.  It is imperative for our mental health that we consider the next day will come!

Now mind you, as each next day comes (at rapid speed) I am still trying to grapple with the yesterday gone by.  And while in my grappling state, momentary living–living in the moment rather, gets to be a tough concept to abide by.  Especially as my life keeps traveling at a rate too fast for me to handle.  Check this out…

  • Brian and I spend the day with our son, Cole.  May 16, 2013
  • A telephone call from a sheriff and Cole’s best friend tells us our son is gone.  May 17, 2013
  • We bury our son at Miramar National Cemetery, San Diego.  Dates at this point are escaping my memory
  • We leave for a pre-planned (business/pleasure) trip to Europe.
  • We return from Europe and turn around and fly to Japan (business/with pleasure attached).  July 1-7
  • Home from Japan with severe jet-lag, the following Monday (July 15), I begin a new job an hour from my home.
  • Here I sit, on my couch, the Saturday after navigating my first week of work.

I have mounds of mail to attend to.  I am late paying my visa bill.  My toilet is sporting a new “brown color ring” on the inside of the bowl.  My kitchen counter looks like a cross between OfficeMax and the grocery store.  I have the census bureau sending me threatening notifications about the fact I am “obligated by law” to fill out the form.  My laundry is still under the impression that “konichiwa” is the proper greeting of the day.  I have phone calls I haven’t made and follow up I haven’t done in connection to the death of my son.  We have been offered a historical home to live in, in San Diego (next door to my new job), for free–minus utilities.  And while the offer is extremely generous and financially appealing, the idea of it terrifies me.  AND–this is a big “and”– I have family and friends who are in sorrow with us and who have been left in the dust of our whirlwind as well.

So when I actually try to get my head around my life, my yesterday, my today, and my tomorrow–I find myself needing, absolutely requiring, that my loved ones, my circumstances, my world,  remain intact.  I mean it is all happening too fast for me…  I have to “take for granted” that they will be here tomorrow, if I am to make it through my today.

Now I must go de-clutter the kitchen counter, put the roast in the crock-pot, cut the fruit so it doesn’t rot, sort the beans and put them to boil, make breakfast for the rousing crew, and fill out the damn census form before John-Law comes a knocking at my door.

Any thoughts from the peanut gallery (a term I use to pay homage to my children–they are my peanuts–and I can still hear Cole’s voice)?

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