Tag Archives: depression

Grace, she is my Mercy

28 Sep

**I wrote this piece a while back. And now, amidst the global natural disasters we are under, I am feeling as if this piece is a bit too selfish. But I share it anyway, because the sentiments were (and are), legitimate. The Medical Board of CA called today because they are reviewing a doctor who treated Cole, they are concerned his care was unethical…

I’ve been using the phrase “I need grace and mercy,” this past year more than ever! It is not that I didn’t have use or previous need of the extension of that which grace bestows, but I am recognizing the consistent failings of my humanity and the longing therein for compassion’s salve. Honestly, I have my “shit together.” That just means I am of sound mind and physical ability and utilize these tools as I carry on in life. Beyond that, I am damaged goods bouncing along this road of life and hoping to not hurt others as result of my own struggles. Of course grace is a divine assistance and not really a human trait, but it is the foundation of mercy; compassion or forgiveness shown to someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

The above statements aren’t necessarily illuminating. They aren’t meant to be. To me they are just facts I am sharing. Really what I want to focus on in this post is the reality of sorrows imposition upon the soul; and the tangible need for grace from above and mercy here below. How I see it (visually) is much like bowling with a child, when the bumpers are up on the sides so the ball can safely bounce back and forth down the lane in order to accomplish the intended goal of knocking down some pins. I see the extension of grace as the bumpers, and the hurt person the ball aggressively moving from side to side until the bumpers have absorbed enough friction to calm it down, and set it straight. Of course the knocked pins are the victory, the accomplishment of the goal through much aid, protection and mercy. Funny I should use a bowling analogy…not really a game I play, ever. Perhaps its a subliminal homage to my grams–now she was a bowler!

Here’s the thing, if you don’t know or fathom rather, the need for compassion’s touch–bless you and my sincere prayer is you remain in the good favor of the almighty. But if you do, if you are someone who has suffered a sorrow that is debilitating and you have to find somehow, someway to keep on living, then you understand the profound need for compassion from others whether in small or large doses.

The reason for this is simple, it really does take a great deal of energy to usurp the pain of loss. To daily strive to allow joy to be present, and to even be an active participant in life’s activities such as grabbing a cup o’ joe (coffee), can consume a days worth of effort. This doesn’t leave much energy left for superficiality, self centered choices, inconsiderate behaviors, and intolerable acts. And because those, too, exist within the daily walk of humanity the energy left at the end of the day is most often only enough for “a little bit more.” This my friends is where the gift of mercy is most appreciated…

It is here, at this point, at the exhaustion from living-in-pain point, where you will find the newly, unimproved, Rivka. The Rivka who gives an answer with a sharp tongue (ok, that’s always been my strong point!). The Rivka who hasn’t much to talk about (new found trait). The Rivka who doesn’t want to go to social events (ever). The Rivka who uses the F-word to get a point across or when stubbing a toe (learned in the hospital alongside my paralyzed son). The Rivka who doesn’t call (because she’s out of words). The Rivka who falls short on birthday celebrations (birthdays are overrated, are they not?). The Rivka who has no patience for people’s judgement (of myself or others). The Rivka who doesn’t get excited when things go wrong (I live daily in the “wrong” of my son’s death). The Rivka who wants to annihilate inconsiderate drivers (move them off the road). The Rivka who might not seem burdened by heartbreak (but is). The Rivka who is struggling just to connect to this world (but thankfully does). And, it is at this point you will find the Rivka who is desperately in need of compassion or forgiveness when it is (justifiably) within one’s power to punish or harm her.

Knowing this about myself allows me to don a cloak of empathy most of the time, which has just about shut out my ability to cast judgement (still in me are ill thoughts toward those that callously hurt others, and cars that don’t let me merge onto the freeway). In practical terms, I recognize I am overusing the grace of G-d and the mercy of humans on an ongoing basis. And as such, am using some of my depleted energy bank to ensure I am not stingy in considering whom else might be traveling down life’s lane with the bumpers up.

And if I’m real here in this post, I can confess I hope this writing will challenge each of us to consider further the grumpy person in line at a store and the fact that their story might be wearing them down. Or the aloof individual who doesn’t reciprocate a friendly smile, who might just be making it under the weight of loss. Of course none of this encouragement is new, there are scriptures and proverbs that guide in this wisdom. But in our humanity we forget and so a reminder is not such a bad idea.

 

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Hungry?

27 Nov

It is the Sunday after the Thanksgiving holiday here in the USA and so it seems fitting at this time that I write about food and hunger, though this is a thought process that has been in the works for a while now…

When I was around nineteen years old I had the wonderful opportunity to live with my grandmother Ella and grandfather Greg for nearly a year. During that time, I became engaged to marry my husband and thus had domesticity on the brain. Living under the influence of Ella was fortuitous and her mark was evidenced in my own nuclear family for many years. She taught me many basics of cooking which lent their foundations to my spring-boarding recipes. And so my children, friends, nieces and nephews, neighbors and more knew me to be a creative and consistent cook.

*I have to take a side step here, for I know my mom (Margie) reads this blog and will be chiding the computer screen with a “hey, what about me?” type question. My mom is an amazingly creative and gifted culinary master in her own right. Unfortunately for her, I liked only white rice and plain pasta noodles during my formative years. Her cooking left me stuck at the kitchen table as a young girl for hours past the dinner meal, staring at and stirring my grub. I have vivid memories of her pea soup, which now I would relish, but then I thought was some ancient torture ritual and I the prisoner of circumstance. I learned a few tricks of the trade during that time–swallowing peas like pills so as not to taste them and lopping up my food with napkins, burying them down in the bottom of the trash “unrecoverable.” And though it would seem I am the reluctant beneficiary of her talents, I see her in myself and my preferences more and more. I am thankful for her influence though she didn’t find in me the opportunistic learner that her mom did. Now back to the story at hand.

I am winding down in my 27th year of marriage (anniversary in February) and for 23 years of marital bliss I had the circumstance and opportunity to provide meals for my household always with a nutritional and creative lens. I viewed the kitchen as my “lab.” Understanding the chemistry of ingredients and how they react one with another lent for some masterpieces and some flops. I came up with creative ways to serve my husband and children vegetables that they found palatable as well as low-sugar desserts and some high sugar ones as well. Under my grandmother’s influence I started off the culinary arts with a high fat dependence upon butter, cheese and Campbell’s soups. But the more ground I gained as dietician to the Bent family, the “Margie factor” crowded out the Ella influence and hydrogenated fats in the soups were replaced by a love of olive oil and international ingredients. I studied nutritional journals and published papers, kept charts of the nutritional values in different vegetables, fruits, grains and meats, and used this information to better understand the influence food has on the body. I took inventory from my troops of the nutrients they consumed in a day and planned menus to provide variety and diversity of ingredients for the holistic picture. I believed (and still do) that our nutrients are best derived from food and not supplements, so diversity of food has been key in healthy living.

*I must side step again as I find it so ironic when I write or speak about my views on health or faith, because my son died of a brain tumor so I realize that my investment in food and prayer are not exactly the poster child one hopes for, as far as outcomes are concerned…sometimes I wonder if I should have embraced soda and fried chicken! Forgive me as I digress.

Getting back to the subject at hand, which the mention of my deceased will help me to do, is to say that I have spent a good and consistent part of my life creating and being inspired to cook. Which is why, since the loss of Cole, I find it strange that I don’t even feel hunger. My creativity is lost somewhere inside of my struggle to live in loss. My palate craves nothing and my body needs little. This is not to say I dislike food, on the contrary, I do like food-I guess. But my taste is simplistic at best. I am satisfied by an avocado for lunch. Or fish and rice. An artichoke for breakfast along with my coffee is more satisfying than an iconic spread. I now walk the produce section of a grocery store in wonder, with no inspired thought. Oh yes, I know I enjoy sauteed mushrooms but with what? I don’t know and don’t care. I don’t want pasta, but bought a package to have on hand this past week for my young cousin who was visiting. My husband is often eating cereal for dinner as I have no offerings to provide (unless in his ambition he heats up a hotdog and canned beans) and prepackaged meals gross me out. Even salad, usually a favorite of mine, is common place. I assemble one often for lunch because I know this is the type of fuel that works well for my constitution but I don’t crave a certain type. I even find that during the holidays, when hosting at my house, I struggle to think of what others would want and enjoy. I don’t snack and my beverage of choice is water. By my own assessment, I have become quite dull. In full disclosure, this past week I did eat 7 sticky buns (Ella’s recipe courtesy my sister who keeps this family recipe/tradition alive) but declared it my dinner and left everyone else to fend for themselves. On Thanksgiving I bought the ingredients to ensure the traditionalists were happy, but I myself, had not one bite of turkey and ate very little from the side dishes as I felt no pang of hunger. In fact as I sit here and write, Brian (my love) is asking if I’d like a stuffed potato for dinner–his treat courtesy the local barbecue restaurant–to which I give an emphatic “no!” …I’m not hungry and I don’t want to eat.

Living in loss, with loss, can make one feel quite lost. The person I have known myself to be is missing and with her is the desire for food. I eat out of a knowledge base to fuel the body (except for the sticky bun extravaganza which is more of a nod to past practice than anything else) and prefer to have food in its natural state such as rice, fish and vegetables (and I suppose a potato would work). When I think I am craving a food, as soon as I see it, the desire dissipates. I am not fond of this disconnect. But then again I am not a fan of this life without my son in it. So there you have it, my soapbox on food, hunger and grief just as my husband asks me again with a boy-like enthusiasm “are you hungry and ready for dinner?” I of course restate my first answer, but in yielding to the knowledge that fuel is a necessary agent for living, relented and promised to wrap up this post so we can talk dinner (or he can talk rather). I think in this regard a fairy god-mother of food would be helpful for me. I need a Rivka in my life who will assess my nutrient intake of the day, prepare the food I should eat, and tell me it is the only option. Sounds like I need a mom! I suppose this is a maternal retribution, Margie’s revenge…for I scorned her culinary influence once upon a time. Oh irony how thee doth sting.

Stuffed potato anyone?

Muted Tones

2 Dec

If you have ever walked the road of grief, depression and/or oppression you will understand fully, this particular writing…

My culture and society do not recognize the black veil of mourning (yes our society once did), or the fact that black clothes represent grieving (they use to, but not now).  I’ve written about this aspect of life already and will not harp on it further, at least to the degree of reiterating my desire to have my clothes reflective of my sorrow.  No, that is not my direction today.  My direction today is to give a nod to living life in muted tones.

Muted tones?  You ask with a quizzical, half-hearted interest–if even that!  Yes muted.  Though the black veil of mourning is not covering my face, my soul is wrapped in a dark blanket of grief.  This grief mutes the colorful tones of life.  And I experience this world, currently, without the glitter and glitz of technicolor.

The translation of my predicament is this: my soul is sheltered thus my vision is fogged, or veiled.  It is akin to looking at a beautiful sunset (or sunrise) with colors bursting in multiplicity, clouds accenting the Painter’s canvas with utmost perfection so much so that the breeze takes a reverent pause.  And all who are privileged to view the masterful presentation are awestruck by the art of life.  And I, alongside the other viewers, am also aware of the beauty, though awe is not mine.  For the veil through which I look has slightly muddled the picture.

What is the tangibility of the reported “awe?”  The tangibility equates to happiness.  Happiness for something, anything.  It is a weird place to live, this world of mine without happiness.  Oh I do have joyful moments, for my soul has enough experience to not cloud that perspective.  But happiness, she has sailed away at the moment.  And while she is tarrying, I am somewhat paralyzed.  Not in physical movement but in actions of the heart.  …I want to shop for holiday gifts, but I get into a store and cannot think beyond the reality of my loss and the ‘whom I’m not shopping for’.  I leave the store empty handed, or worse yet, with a purchase that doesn’t make much practical or sentimental sense. I know I have a tradition of baking for our neighbors and friends, but for the life of me I can’t get my soul excited enough to think up a good plan.  I want to bless others, but as my mind tries desperately to focus on what that means, I draw a blank.  I want to make phone calls, but can’t find my voice.  I want to visit with friends, but can’t remember how to converse.  I want to be normal–well “normal” was never mine to begin with! 😉

Thankfully my sister was in town for Thanksgiving and she (and her husband) did everything to ensure our holiday tradition was observed.  For if left up to me, we would have ended up enjoying a warm bowl of pre-made ramen noodles courtesy a pot of boiling water.  I could hardly think one tangible thought past the need to stare into space and not speak one word.  Yes, I was surrounded by family whose children are a complete joy to interact with.  But the enjoyment of them is experienced through my veil.  I have weird and unique miracles all around me, reminding me that our G-d reigns and is watching over us (me).  It is just that the lack of happiness scares me a bit.  It keeps me muted.  And sometimes I worry I won’t recognize an emergency situation because the impact of seeing through my veil disables my reflexes–whether the emergency is physical, emotional, or spiritual.

Even writing is elusive.  I have considered writing quite a few times since my previous entry, but when I sit down to express myself the paralyzation sets in and I stare.  I am quite boring at this particular stage of grief.  How droll am I.  To paraphrase Mr. T, “I pity the fool who has to spend time with me!”

Person: How are you? Me:  I’m ok, thank you.  How are you?  Person: Fine.  So what’s new?  Me:  Nothing, and you?  Person: How’s your new job?  Me: It’s going well, thank you.  Person:  Do you like San Diego?  Me: Yes, but it’s not my home.  Me:  Well I’m glad you are well.  Thank you for checking in, perhaps I’ll see you again soon.  Take care.

And then I bolt before the conversation turns to my children, my family, my heart.  Which is probably why I am in a place of muted tones.  For I am constantly running away from the same wall that keeps appearing before me.  I turn and run right…the wall appears.  I turn faster to the left and run like hell…the wall appears.  I move backwards with grace and ease, running like a pro…the wall appears.  I run straight, steady and poised; the wall, the grief, the loss…appears.

I spend minutes in futile wonderment…what is the difference between happiness and joy?  Are they synonymous?  When the bible speaks of the “joy of the Lord” what does that mean?  Does it translate to peace, this ‘joy of the Lord’?  If so, I have that–peace that is.  Not to be confused with reconciliation.  Reconciled to this life I am not.  But I do have peace in knowing my reconciled state is irrelevant to the cycle of life, thus in a quasi manner, I live a peaceful life.  …futility at its finest (and that is just a glimpse).  It is here I see the blessing of my job.  For focusing on work keeps me from loosing myself in the wreckage of my thoughts.

I breathe deeply here at the end of a long and sorrow-filled note.  I breathe deeply for I am sitting at the wall, its color is gray, though the sunset this evening was magnificent!

Thank you for allowing me this moment of grief sharing.

 

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