Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Thumped up the side of the head

Not that long ago...
I’ve been on a seven-week sabbatical/journey. I’ve put quite a few miles on my car. Atticus, my labradoodle pup, has become quite the traveler; Sprawled out in the backseat, he seems content to snooze around the country. I’m home now and some things seem better and some are worse. Let’s start with the good: I feel stronger emotionally, mentally and even physically. I look back over the first few weeks after Gary’s death and I honestly do not know how I functioned. Now, seven months into the loss, those first days seem like a miracle. I woke. I dressed. I ate. I visited with friends. I went to church. I saw to business. I even smiled on occasion.  And, miracle upon miracle, I managed not to harm myself. Oh, I never had suicidal thoughts, but I am amazed that I didn’t accidently walk out in front of a car, or when driving get the brake and accelerator mixed up. I’m surprised I didn’t eat bananas with the peel still on them. Today, I’m more aware of my surroundings, and my days are a little more intentional, a tad more structured. I’m even thinking about cooking for myself. While I could probably eat cereal two out of three meals a day, my body is starting to yearn for something a little less Cheerio-like.
Spiritually, I’m beginning to find peace. For the first time in my life I truly understand the Apostle Paul’s words when he said to pray without ceasing and to not quench the Spirit. I have been in constant communication with God for seven weeks, maybe longer. Sometimes it all takes place in my head and heart, and other times it looks like I’m talking to myself ... and answering myself. I can’t shake God, and His Spirit is using me like a rumpus room. If this mourning thing is going to work for me, The Spirit must be given free reign. Some days our encounters are like swallowing Castrol oil. Other days, it’s like a cool cloth to my forehead. No matter which, I’m beginning to hear the whisper of Holy Words and feel Divine thumps up the side of my head, mostly when I’m at my most vulnerable. I think this is a good thing.
Now for the bad: I still hate this. I keep wanting to wake up and it all be different. Gary is alive and he’ll be home from work any minute. The numbness is wearing off and the pain is solidifying around my heart like drying cement. Yesterday, I sat out in Gary’s shop in the barn and begged him to come home. Today, out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw him at his workbench. The longing for him has deepened to a level that I have no words for. I think only angels would know how to speak of and spell this kind of ache. I’m not privy to that language yet.
So, the work of healing and mourning continues. I’m thankful for the time away. This house hinders me and heals me all at the same time. I must get away from it, but then after a while I feel myself running back towards it.
LuLu sits in the garage waiting. I haven’t had the heart for a bike ride yet. Maybe it’s time. Maybe pedaling down the road on a pink bike is the next step toward the thing that’s next. Gary gave me this bike three years ago for my sixtieth birthday. Maybe The Spirit thumped him up the side of the head once and made him buy a pink bike. Maybe.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A warm night...

Mom & me
I stood outside in the dark while a warm, wispy breeze kissed my cheeks. Overhead a quarter moon hovered while its reflected beam drenched me in soft light. Stars fluttered against the velvet sky vying for my attention. Atticus sniffed the Bermuda grass tracking smells and textures as only a puppy can. All was quiet. My mother was asleep. The day had been long, especially for an 86-year-young woman who had spent the afternoon visiting her husband of 68-years. Dad now lives in a nursing home fifty miles away.
I’m in Memphis again. In a few days I’ll be bringing my mother back to Wisconsin with me for a visit. She has reluctantly agreed to the trip. She is uncomfortable leaving my dad for too long, even though they no longer live under the same roof, and even though he is well cared for when she is away. But, she needs to come with me. She has grandchildren and great-grandchildren who need to love up on her awhile. While they will delight her, I know her heart will be here... with her husband.
As I stood outside the other night I thought about how much my mom and I are going through right now, and how similar our journey has become. Under the protective glow of the moon, I laid the comparisons out before me as if they were two columns on a sheet of paper. I lost my husband in October of last year. Dad was put into the nursing home a month later. My husband died. My mother’s husband has late-stage Alzheimer’s. I miss Gary’s presence, his voice, his laughter, and his touch. I miss our conversations. Mom misses all those things about my dad as well. While he is physically still here, and she visits him regularly, her husband is not. They have not had a real conversation for quite a while now. 
I always thought when my parents grew old Gary would be here to help me. He loved my mom and dad and made his feelings very clear. Never in a thousand years did I think I would have to do this on my own. 
The other night I felt the stars wanting to encourage me. As they blinked and twinkled they conveyed a wonderful rebuke and reminder, that silly girl that I am, I was not doing this on my own. I was not doing this stage of my life as I had planned it, but I was here and now as our God ordained it to be. I don’t want to get into the discussion of what God knows, or what God allows, or Yada-Yada-Yada. Those kinds of conversations hold no meaning for me now. God is. He is the Beginning and the End, and everything in between. Cancer killed Gary. Alzheimer’s has taken my dad. And, neither one of those diseases can bully God. 
I sat outside the other night for a long time. Atticus thought he was quite the lucky pup to be allowed to roam the yard (and the neighbors’ yard) without restraint. In the quiet something dawned on me: God knows what He’s doing. I’m going to relax now... or at least try. I’m praying my mom can too. She’s been through so much. She loved Gary. She loves my dad. I want my love for her to be something she can now rest in a little bit and visa versa.

I stared at the moon for quite awhile. I want Gary to be up there somewhere. I want heaven to be between here and there. I want it to be as lovely as a dark night, a bright moon and sassy stars.