Sunday Blessing

I had planned to take Sunday breaks during the write 31-day challenge.  But today at church one of my favorite scripture passages from Isaiah was read and I found it comforting.  I thought maybe you would too.

In our deepest grief or trouble, we can go to God’s word to find strength and peace. My prayer is that whatever you are passing through today you will find comfort in the words of our Holy God.

But now, this is what the Lord says — he who created you, Jacob, He who formed you Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the holy one of Israel, your savior.       Isaiah 43:1-3 (NIV)

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Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Click here for the complete series, A 31 Day Journey through grief.

 

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I Won’t Lose You

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30:5b

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From the archives – September 21, 2015

I look out my window and see you standing there, all forlorn in your red jacket and shoes.  My heart breaks into a million pieces as you look around lost in another world.

I’m helpless to fix you. I wish I could take you in my arms, hold you tight and make the pain go away.

Memories of things said in haste flood my mind; things I wish I could unsay because I didn’t know. I didn’t know you couldn’t always help it; I didn’t know how bad you were hurting.

How we were all hurting.   Walking around in a fog trying to make sense of the new normal.  In many ways we are all ill – it has changed us.  We dig deep trying to find answers; trying to hold onto hope, but failing in so many ways.

I don’t want you to leave before you go.  I want you full and present while you’re still with us.  I know it’s not about me, it’s not about any of us really.

We’re the burden bearers reaching out to you to offer comfort, accepting the reality that it’s never enough.  I stifle screams for mercy and laugh with you over whimsy and words that have no meaning.

The laughter is the mask that helps us live, otherwise, we’d cry tears unto death.  We won’t give in without fighting.  I won’t lose you.  You are still you.,

I wait for a glimmer of your essence and thank God for you. I blink away tears as I watch you walk away and I pray for mercy, strength, and peace.

Later, I’ll cry those tears and hope they wash everything new again.

 

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I came across the above words from the blog archives last night as I was planning ahead for today’s post:

Journal – October 5, 2018

I still remember the day I looked out my window and saw Mom standing on the sidewalk beside her house.  She had on her favorite denim dress, red canvas, shoes and a red jacket.  Red was always one of her colors. I will never forget how she was standing there, staring across the yard.  She seemed so defenseless and I just wanted to run to her, hug her close and tell her everything would be alright. That memory still breaks my heart.

One thing that stands out to me was the resolve not to lose her.  It didn’t matter if she was losing memories, I would remember for both of us.  I told her on several occasions that she didn’t have to worry about what she couldn’t remember because I’d remember for her. And many times I did just that. She’d ask questions about people or events and I’d give her the answers. As many times as it took.

Another way that I held on to not losing her was humor.  She could still say things to make me laugh.  At times in the middle of a conversation, she would come out with a one-liner that hit the nail on the head that made us all take notice.  She loved to tease people and make them smile.

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Mom as a teenager teasing one of her nephews.

As devastating as Alzheimer’s is I’m convinced that if we hold on tight it can never truly take away the essence of a person.  Mom’s personality still shone through and for that, I am eternally grateful.

I’m starting to realize that even though she is gone now I can never truly lose her. She will always live in my heart and my memories. Maybe you can relate.

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I hope you don’t mind my sharing from the archives. Yesterday’s post was draining and in preparing for today’s I couldn’t find direction until I came across this old post and it somehow seemed like the right time to share it again.  Memoires are an important part of the grieving process.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

 

Come back MONDAY for more of the journey? I don’t plan to post on Sunday’s. Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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All Things Right

God’s in his heaven–All’s right with the world!                                                 ~Robert Browning

 

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Journal -The evening of October 4, 2018:

I arrived at my parent’s home on August fourth prepared to stay with them for a week. I knew it would give my Dad a break from caregiving and give me a chance to spend time with them. Mom’s eyes lit up when I walked in – she was happy to see me.  I told her we were going to dance and sing while I was there.

My Dad told me she had been singing all day. He said she’d been singing a lot over recent weeks.  My friend had stopped in one day a couple of weeks earlier and said she was singing that day as well.  Music was definitely something that made her happy.  It was one of the ways she worshipped.  Before the Alzheimer’s she would sit at the piano with her hymn book and play and sing. That was her time with the Lord.  One of the saddest things for me was when I realized that she was no longer playing the piano.

Singing was something I tried to do with her.  Sometimes when Rocky wasn’t available to play I’d sit at the piano and beat out some melodies and sing with her.  If Rocky could play, then it was even better.  We’d sit for an hour or more listening and singing.

After we moved last year I would try to go down every few weeks and stay a week with them and on those trips, I’d stay downstairs with Mom some nights.  Once she was settled in bed I’d sing songs to her and pray with her.   I always started with You Are My Sunshine and I’d sing Que Sera Sera then I’d move on to For God So Loved The World and a few others and we’d usually include Amazing Grace.  Sometimes she’d hum or sing along with me.  She might not get all the words but the tunes were familiar and they brought her peace.

Those nights singing to her became times of worship for us.  We would feel God’s  peace wrapping us in his love and everything would seem “right with the world.” 

To hear that she had been singing a lot made me happy.  I was looking forward to a week of singing and dancing. Then, on Sunday afternoon she fell. Sunday evening she was restless so I sang to her and prayed with her.  After we prayed she said, “I want God to come to me.” Little did we know that he was going to do just that in a few days.

It became evident that this fall had caused her more distress than others in the past.  She wasn’t able to stand so we called her Hospice nurse.  They admitted her to their facility and ordered an x-ray to see what was going on.  There were no outward bruises or scratches, so everything was internal.  When the doctor gave us the results he said that her injuries were inoperable and that this would be considered a terminal illness.  He predicted a few days to a week.

That was a blow to the gut and hard to wrap my head around. If I’m being totally honest that part is still hard to digest.  I have struggled to understand why, if she was declining from the Alzheimer’s anyway, did she have to suffer an inoperable injury that would lead to her death.

I had known for some time that she was slowing down.  The hospice nurse had been telling us for weeks that she was showing signs of the cardiovascular system slowing.  There were skin changes that were clues and she had been moving slower and there were times that getting out of bed in the morning was hard on her. Most nights my dad had to lift her legs into the bed.   I knew that if she lived long enough she would become bedridden.  I didn’t want that for her either.  My prayer for several years was that God would allow her to still be mobile, to be able to eat, to not suffer and when it was her time to take her peacefully in her sleep.

I had been sensing for several weeks that it wouldn’t be long before she left us.  I kept praying for God’s mercy and strength for her and for us when the time came.  In addition to my usual request, I had also been asking him to prepare her for passing and give her peace when the time came. I prayed he’d allow me time with her before and if possible to be with her when she passed. That seemed important to me.  As much as I didn’t want to think about losing my mom I knew it was coming and I felt we all needed to be prepared.

When we were told that the fall was ultimately what was going to take her life it seemed inhumane and unnecessary.  I wasn’t angry with God but I felt betrayed. God had answered all the other prayers I had prayed. My question was not why did God let her die but why, if her time to die was August 13, 2018, at 9:40 p.m, didn’t he take her peacefully in her sleep.

I don’t feel rebellious toward God. I fully believe in his sovereignty.  I believe that he has a purpose in everything and that his ways are not our ways. He is God and I am not. I know in time, he will help me to make peace but right now it is still an open wound. To tell you otherwise would be a lie.

 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

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This 31-day writing journey is a calling of sorts.  Some days, like today, will be harder to share than others.  After I wrote these thoughts yesterday evening I wasn’t sure I’d share all of it with you. I thought perhaps I’d stop with the line about God wrapping his love around us and all being “right with the world”.  However, after sleeping on it I have come to the conclusion that if I stopped there I would be doing a disservice to you the reader, and to me because I would be leaving out an important part of the grief process and I wouldn’t be sharing my truth.  I think questioning in our deepest grief is normal and I think God understands. I’m trusting you with my deepest hurt in hopes that it will speak to you and you will know that we are not alone in our grief and that God does, in fact, wrap us in his love and He makes all things right. In his time.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

 

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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The Joy of Socks

The joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

Journal – Today, real time.

After Mom passed away, I felt the need to stay with my Dad for a few weeks.  Partly because I didn’t want him to be alone for those first lonely days, but partly for me as well.  I needed the comfort of home. I needed to see and touch familiar things that made me feel close to Mom.

Her favorite purple sweater draped over a chair.  Her sock drawer where my sister and I would always borrow socks when we were home. The butterfly muumuu dress that she loved to wear.  The dress and sweater are still hanging in Dad’s wardrobe.  The sock drawer is still where it has been, in the dining room sideboard, for the past few years.  It will stay, so Beth and I can still borrow socks when we are home. Even now back home in Louisville, a pair of her brightly colored socks lie folded on my dining room table.  A reminder of a time I borrowed a pair and they made it home with me. Someday they may make their way back home and nestle in the drawer with the others.

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There is always a need when someone passes to sort through things and do some organizing and rearranging.  Dad and I spent a lot of time doing that in the weeks after she left us. But those first few days were too soon.  I had to hit pause and give it time.  I don’t think it is healthy to hold onto stuff forever, but I do think it is necessary not to rush the process.  And, I think it is important to allow yourself the freedom to hang onto a few special things.

One small thing that I ran across in her desk drawer was a little notepad I had given her several years ago.  It had a verse on the front of it that has long been a favorite of mine and one that I hoped at the time would encourage her: “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10.  It was a timely reminder that I needed to let him be my strength as I navigated saying goodbye. I put it on my bedside table as a reminder of His strength and as a memory of my Mom.  The fact that it was still intact and in her desk drawer let me know that it was a treasured possession.  It has been a well-known fact in our family that if Mom loved something, she “saved” it for special use at some point in the future.

As Dad and I began sorting through her collections we saved those items that we knew had a special family connection – gifts from us, or things that had belonged to her Mother.  Those items remained on her shelves or were given to the family. Other items were collected to be donated so that someone else can enjoy them.  Some of the things we kept will be divided among family when the time is right for Dad to let go.

I think we have kept enough to honor her memory, but also have let go of enough that Dad will not be overwhelmed with keeping track of stuff. Because at the end of the day stuff is just stuff and we have to hold it loosely.  And, as it turns out, it is usually the small, seemingly insignificant things that most people would overlook that somehow tug at our heartstrings the most.

Like a sock drawer.

 

Grace for the Journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Heaven Is Sounding Sweeter

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever. Psalm 30: 11-12 NIV

 

Journal – Around August 23:

I love you, Mama. You were a beautiful woman.  It was a privilege and honor to be your daughter.  So many things on my heart to say but I don’t know where to start.

You were there when I took my first breath and I was there when you took your last. Thank you for allowing me to be there in your last moment.

We were two peas in a pod you and I and I don’t know how I’m going to do life without you.  I think of so many things that I wish could have been done differently but I know you wouldn’t want me to have regrets. You’d want me to remember the good times and smile about them and think of you being happy.  You were happy much of the time.  You had been singing a lot the weeks before you passed.  And, even up to the last you held onto your sense of humor teasing us and making us laugh.

You were my confidant so many times and I was yours.  Everything just feels a little different now. I know God is with me and he understands my hurt.  I know I will feel his peace again and that he will help me say goodbye to what was and accept what is.

I love you so much, Mama. I wasn’t ready to let you go but I am happy for you because I know you are not suffering anymore.  Your mind is clear again and your bones are healed.  You are dancing on the streets of Gold.  I told you when I arrived on Saturday that we were going to dance. We never got to dance, but I’m sure Jesus is a better dance partner than me.

I’m sure you are busy catching up with everybody and telling Jesus how much you love him. You never lost your faith in him. Wait for me, Mama because I will see you again one day.  I truly understand now why people say heaven is sounding sweeter all the time.

Goodnight mama, thanks for everything. I will never forget you and I will always hold you close in my heart my sweet Ladybug.

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I believe the night I wrote the above entry was the night that I listened to Elvis hymns on my phone.  I used to sing songs to my mom at night and sometimes we’d listen to Elvis sing Peace in the Valley. One night after her death I couldn’t sleep, so I listened to Elvis until I was ready to sleep. Music is a wonderful way to remember someone and it can be therapeutic in the grief process.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Too Soon to Share

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 31:18

Journal – Sometime in mid to late August after losing my mom:

Grief is a funny thing. People deal with it in myriad ways. I suppose there is no right or wrong way. Right now my grief is new.  I take it out every now and then and look at it much like I would a shiny trinket or bauble that someone has given me that I don’t know quite what to do with yet.  I’m still figuring out how to process grief.

It’s not that I haven’t experienced grief before – I have, but you see, I’ve lost my mother and it’s a whole different wave of feeling.  I don’t know how to live with it yet. And, it’s too soon to share it with others.

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When I wrote those words it was after a rough couple of weeks, one in hospice and one preparing for burial.  I was still surrounded by people.  But then everyone went home.  I stayed with my Dad for a while and it was just the two of us left in the house.  I remember the Saturday that My husband, My sister and her friends left; the house felt so lonely.  The fact that Mom was no longer there was palpable and I could hardly stand it.

My Dad felt it too and so we did what we knew to do.  We took dishes back to people who had dropped off food and then we stopped by the cemetery. Each day after that for the first week we kept busy running errands and taking care of business.  In the doing, we were able to process slowly.

At night I’d go up to my room and read or catch up on social media because it hurt too much to think. I kept telling God that I knew he was with me and that he understood, I just didn’t understand yet. I had too many questions and too much hurt to let the floodgates open – I didn’t dare, but I knew that it would come eventually.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Write 31 Days – A Journey Through Grief

Hello, readers.  Are you still here? I know I don’t write much these days.  What little I have written lately has not been public.  They say blogs are dying.  I don’t know about that, but I have noticed that the bloggers I read on a regular basis don’t post as often on their blogs.  A lot of them have moved on to a podcast format and they utilize Instagram heavily or have a presence on Facebook. I miss the days when blogs were a thing.  But who’s to say, really, that they are not still a thing?

At least for the month of October, there will be a group of bloggers writing feverishly for the whole month (most days) and sharing thoughts with you on multiple topics.  It is called Write 31 Days.  I’ve done this in the past, then took a few years off.  I’m going to attempt to participate again this year.

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I’ve decided to take you on my journey of processing grief after losing my mother on August 13 of this year.  The grief is still raw and I don’t know how this journey will progress.  Some of the things I share with you will be notes and thoughts I kept on an app on my phone so that I could capture my thoughts about losing her while they were fresh. Those will be shared with minimal editing so that you can have a sense of my thought process.  Others will be current real-time thoughts as they happen to come along from day to day. There will also be memories because I am finding that the memories are an important step in navigating grief. I will also share scriptures that I find helpful in my journey. It won’t be strictly chronological but I think you’ll be able to follow my wandering.

One important thing to know.  I’m not sharing this to be sentimental or emotional, although there will be elements of that I’m sure.  I’m not sharing because I want people to constantly tell me how sorry they are.  I assume if you are a decent person, then on some level, you are sorry that I have lost someone I love. Many people have been more than kind with prayers, cards, and thoughts.   But rather I am sharing because writing is the only way I know to get my thoughts out of my head so that I can understand how I’m moving forward.  Since this is a journey I need to take I thought maybe you’d allow me to share it with you and maybe it will be helpful to you as well.

If you want to engage in conversation in the comments you are more than welcome to do so.  I’d love to hear how you process grief.  And, just as a final thought, I don’t consider grief to be all tears and downturned faces.  There are also moments of laughter, hope, and joy that my sweet Mama is now in the arms of Jesus. Hopefully, you will see elements of all that in the writing.

My hope is that it will speak to you and that someday hence it will not become a regret that I shared too much or allowed you to see the raw, tender places in the depths of my heart.

This post is day one and each day I will share a link below to the newest post.  Each daily post will give you a date or an approximate date that it was written just so you have somewhat of a timeline.

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