Tag Archives: loss

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


 

Stress Relief Lotion

12 Jul

I am tired of my sorrow.  Aren’t you, the reader, ready for me to move on from it?  The question is neither rhetorical nor literal.  The question is shameful.  Shameful, how is that?  The question implies that the author (me) considers the reader to be in a state of consideration of the writer.  The very essence of the question is full of the self centered entanglement which is a common secondary condition of a grief-filled state.  In other words, or more plainly written, it is difficult to think outside of oneself, when the one-self is hurting.  The pain inside is ever encompassing of the soul, it clouds the view of the outside and angles the lens toward the infliction.  The last time I wrote a blog post was May 27, 2014 and I haven’t wanted to hear my inner voice since then–I still don’t, though at this moment I am having a hard time ignoring it.

Quite frankly, I am exhausted.  I am struggling as result of jet-lag, returned this week from a foreign land, and the time difference has my sleep cycle completely turned around.  Consequently, I’m tired and my defenses are down.  In this past month and a half I have thought of writing.  I thought of a blog post when I went into one of our kitchen cabinets to put something away and found the 1950’s rocket-shaped ice crusher we bought for our son when he was a teenager.  We have one ourselves and he grew up loving it.  At about the age of 15 (or so) he announced his desire to have one for himself for his future home/life.  So my husband and I kept a lookout for one for him every time we would pop into an antique shop.  We did eventually find an exact copy, though the color scheme was different from our black and white model, as was customary in the 1950’s.  His rocket-ship, ice crusher is iconic robin’s-egg blue, translucent style.

1950's ice crusher

Crushing ice, space aged style.

I pulled the saved item from the cupboard and showed it quizzically to my husband.  Thankfully, my ever loving spouse has learned to read my mind and he gave me an answer without having to hear the auditory version of the question.  What do we do with this now, this additional reminder of our hopes and dreams lost?  Well without conversing on the matter, we both decided it was more hurtful to have it saved away for the day that would now never come, so Brian removed our black and white model and in its place, in honor of the son we love still, hangs the robin’s egg blue.  That was a blog post I didn’t feel like writing at the time it happened.  As I sat at the computer to translate my feelings, I couldn’t abandon the thought of how heavy my sorrow is for me, and how I don’t want to continue to share its burden.

Yet here I am sharing.  And why?

I don’t know, and perhaps the answer is as simple as, “I can’t sleep.”  I think, too, I haven’t had the strength yet to offer encouragement to others.  And encouragement for this road of life is what we need most.  Lamenting with me over and over again is brutal–exhausting–stagnating.  And it is the stagnation that keeps me from creating works at the level I inwardly hope to achieve.

And yet, in the suffering is a profound beauty–a blossom–a light.

Today I had such a wave of memories flood over my soul.  Memories of my son’s childhood, memories we shared together.  When memories flood in, their goodness is always overshadowed by the cessation of the hope of tomorrow.  Not my tomorrow directly (though most definitely, indirectly) but by my son’s tomorrow.  True, his tomorrow is infused in a glorious, peaceful eternity, but it is grief from our (my) loss of which I write, and so we will not confuse the matter by focusing on the heavenly realm–funny how my hope is in Heaven and my faith hinges on me spending my eternity there, but having my loved ones attain it before me is not something to which I favor–the paradoxical side of living.  …sorry, I became distracted.

The beauty within my sorrowful day was that of  the simple gesture of kindness from my husband.  My daughter had a routine doctors appointment today and I was to accompany her.  I announced an hour ahead of the scheduled time that I would meet her there, as I intended to arrive by foot.  Her appointment was with her pediatrician, my son’s pediatrician, the doctor who stood by Cole’s side from his earliest days as an infant to his last days on earth.  I was already emotional, flooded by memories of summers past so what the heck, a trip to the doctor would be no big deal.  And by walking, I would have time to get my emotional self together.  About 5 minutes into my departure I hear a loud noise coming up from behind.  I knew the sound well, a skateboard.  I turned and there was my husband, Brian.  My love who loathes a walk, especially a long walk, especially in the heat of the day; all of which were exactly what he was facing by being by my side.  He reached me and got off his board, took my hand and walked with me as I cried.  You know what?  I haven’t stopped crying all day and now it is after midnight.

Oh to be at a place where I can offer you, the reader, a more positive message.  A message of “go for it” and “be all you can be!”  How I would love to uplift rather than invite you into my sorrow, again and again.  How I would love to selfishly be above it myself.  Above the hurt of loss.  But I am not there yet.  The desire is sparked, to be sure, though the follow through is lagging a bit behind.

 

“Dead art thou! Alack! my child is dead; And with my child my joys are buried.” ~W. Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet Act IV, sc. V

 

This Side of Crazy

20 May

I don’t mean to be a broken record, or beat a dead horse, or spin my wheels, or as all of the idioms suggest, repeat myself until my listener tires of the message; But–these past several years I have been much occupied with my familial affairs.  First caring for my son, assisting him in his recovery from surgery and all aspects of his militarily connected life, to wading through this past year of grief for myself, my husband and our daughter.  Thus my time, since about March 12, 2011, has been allocated to most things Bent!  As result, I have many friends who endearingly tell me, I am missed.

The problem is, I miss me too.



I feel as if I am in a quasi rendition of a “Where’s Waldo?” book.  Only my title reads, “Where’s Rivka?!”  I vacillate so frequently in my position on things, I hardly recognize my own opinion!  One day I’m aching to have a vacation away, then when the opportunity presents, I have no desire.  I know I love sushi, but when faced with pangs of hunger I cannot decide for what it is I crave.  I used to find a therapeutic remedy in my exploration of culinary arts, now I settle for a bowl of cereal.  I have many friends with whom I would often visit, and now I prefer solitude.  “Where’s Rivka??”  I honestly miss her!!

Not only do I want her back, I need her back.  She has work to do…she has an entire VA system to fight and reform– with veterans in need of compassionate advocacy.  She has friends she loves who were previously surviving on her sloppy seconds.  She has interests left waiting for her return.  “Where’s Rivka?”

Well folks, regardless of where she is (where I am) and whether we shall ever truly see her again, she must resume her place in life.  A year of mourning has, this past weekend, been fulfilled.  The time is upon her to gain ground and “get at it.”  I hope the next series of posts will be reflective of that attempt.  The attempt to find my place within a world that is different, and with a person who is altered–me.

**Note: This post is written with the sole purpose of exposing the melancholy within a grief stricken soul.  It is sometimes helpful for others to know that sentiments of grief manifest within the realm of crazy.  And within that state, a functioning being exists.  

 

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