I wish to share one of my favorite writings inspired by two mothers I cherish for mother’s day coming up. One was growing a tiny heart inside next to her own heart suffering from hyperemisis while the other was resting an old loving heart suffering from congestive heart failure. I wrote it with my own pleading heart in a fervent prayer that the hearts I cherish would never stop beating…
It will be one of my children’s books someday…
Written to my unborn grandbaby and my mom in the hospital Dec. 17, 2011
Everyone gets a little heart with their body. It is like your very own light bulb that turns on when you begin. You can’t see it on your outside like your pinky finger, but you can feel it on your inside thumping. Do you want to feel it? On your body above your belly button you have two heart finder dots. If you put your hand in the middle of the dots and hold very still, you can feel your heart. What does it say? thump thump thump… like a drum.
Hearts start like magic. On one special day your heart turns on and begins to beat while you are growing in your mommy’s tummy. It never stops while you are alive. It begins when you are smaller than a little pea like this.
That is an itty bitty heart saying “Hello, I am here!” thump thump thump…
Your heart can beat fast when you run or jump. Do you want to feel it? Hop like a rabbit; 5 HOPS. Now find your heart finder dots and feel. Thump!thump!thump!thump! It will slow down soon.
Your heart can beat really slow too, like when you are sleeping.
Hearts can be different sizes. Even though you can’t see them you can see people with different sized ones. Grandma has a huge heart even though she is not very big. She is nice. Bad guys who are huge have shriveled up small ones. They are mean. But hearts don’t have to stay one size, they can change anytime. thump thump thump…
Hearts have lots and lots of pockets. You can feel them on the inside. All kinds of things get put inside the heart pockets. Happy and sad things; good and bad things; mad and glad things. Some people hold too many things in their heart pockets and their hearts get very heavy. You can feel that too. To empty out some pockets all you have to do is cry. Your tears carry away all that stuff you don’t need any more in your heart pocket. thump thump thump.
The best thing about everyone’s heart is that they are all made from honey, and chocolate, and peppermint, and marshmallows, and caramel, and syrup, and cherries and sugar because everyone’s heart starts sweet when it is smaller than a pea. Our hearts get sour only when we stop showing love. Wrap your arms around me and squeeze—can you feel the sugar?
I love you!
Everyone gets a little heart with their body. Keep going little heart. thump thump thump.
In one second I could send these piles of useless rocks to their original heap with a flick of my toe or finger.
But I can’t.
The rock formation takes on a life of its own standing firm and statuesque giving us some sort of message about balance and fragility, while other rocks nearby are stuck in lifeless piles hoping for foundations, or paths, or purpose.
This feels a lot like life;
a fragile balance of moments
which gather and build
with the potential to change in an instant.
We do not know how or why.
But life continually makes altering swings.
We teeter and balance
or we fall.
Two days ago life gave me one of those moments. I was forced to say good-bye to a dear friend not expected to live by Christmas. She is too young and full of life to leave. Yet no matter how hard I held on to her, I could not fix what was taking her away. I could not stop the rocks from falling!
We never know when or why this has to happen
we just know it does.
I keep getting stuck in this spot.
God is in charge
is how I cope.
And that faith helps me continue to balance and build, even while shedding tears.
Today that is what this rock tower stands for to me!
Life’s fragility; one little rock at a time…
For Suzanne who is brave and good
After about a week I don’t remember my New Year’s Resolutions.
I am going out on a limb and say I believe I share this with most humans!
I have come up with a new thought. I have been working on a masters degree using the snail approach. I still have one more year! I can’t explain it, being over a century in age but there is something that awakens my soul every September and every January which stirs me into anticipation that something new is about to begin!
This is why New Year’s Resolutions are supposed to work at this time, right? The new year! New changes, new adventures, new beginnings…
So I am taking the whole New Year’s thing in the approach of January 1 as being the BIG REGISTRATION TIME in the University of LIFE courses that all of us must complete just by simply being alive. (The snail approach in life’s great big education)
We all “get”to bear those “General Ed” courses which keep popping up and often take a life time to complete.
Then depending on what the Master professor–God, feels we need to specialize in we are offered, sometimes even surprised, with courses which stretch us, change us, and sometimes even feel they are offered to create great pains or even kill us.
But when you think of life this way it makes you think about other people a little differently. “Oh, yikes, they have to begin that course this year on cancer, or dealing with losses, or inferiority about medical treatment appearance. I hate all the painful courses offered in Life’s University even though they are necessary for us to graduate!
BUT, don’t forget, Life’s University also offers the infamous free-choice classes which we all gravitate to in school because, hopefully, we can get a good grade in them along with possibly turning out to be fun! You know the ones–
That badminton course or Foods 101 which when scheduled in allows us to look forward to that “fun” hour during our week when we can let down a little and relax and not have to take “school” so seriously for a few minutes.
This is what all this chatter is about for my New Year’s Resolution. I am going to register for an elective course this January. I haven’t spent time yet looking through the University of Life’s course catalog, but when I do, I will let you know what I got.
So, think of January as a new semester beginning. The GE’s and God’s personalized courses will always be required to pass.
But what electives are you going to take this year?
There are plenty of directions on birth!
No one gives directions on death.
It is not as fun.
Here is my new learners manual on the subject.
You are welcome to use it because some day you will need one…
Learners Manual on Death
(Or at least for the one’s staying behind)
1. DO MORE: When I tell you my loved one has just passed away, your instinctive reply is, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” But here is something to add when you say those words: Touch me. Put your arms around me and hug me. If you don’t feel comfortable, do it anyway. If that is too much closeness for your comfort then touch my hand or arm and don’t let go right away. Do one thing more that connects you to me than only “those sorry words.” I am hurting and need human warmth. I am sad. I feel alone and lonely right now, and touch is the remedy.
2. SLOW MOTION: Life does go on but not for me–right away. I am in slow motion as the world is on fast forward. Be patient with my brain and my emotions for awhile. Maybe even a long while. I am in a fog. I am trying to adjust to earth life without my loved one taking up that space they once did. There is a lot to deal with around death that isn’t about my loved one. Distraction is necessary and sometimes good, but don’t forget this is really all about an actual person who died and is gone. I am mourning them gone and out of my life. It is my loss. That won’t take a few hours or days or perhaps even years to get over. I may never get over it!
3. REMEMBER: When you talk to me and ask me how I am, please ask me to tell you something I remember or love about the person who just passes away. Please let me reminisce. I don’t want to forget them! I want to talk about them. One thing I have been doing to help this for me is write in my journal one or more memories that I am thinking about each day about the deceased. That is a strange word…the deceased. No, it’s my mom–once a human, my friend that was always there, now an angel.
4. HONOR: If you notice I am gloomier than normal and don’t seem to find much joy in life that is alright for some time. I want to honor my loved one and engaging too quickly back into life makes me feel that I am being disrespectful. It feels strange and uncomfortable.
5. SOOTHES: Allow me to do the mundane things of life which are routine and normal for me. This soothes me. Especially allow me to move at a slower pace. That makes me feel safe. Don’t make big changes! Don’t plan a big trip or do something completely out of the ordinary to “get me out of my mood.” I am not ready. I want to wrap myself up in a blanket and hibernate. I will be ready in the future but not just yet. Don’t make me in charge of anything big or give me gifts…it is all too much for me right now. I am dealing with a change that takes time to process!
6. REST: Let me rest. I am emotionally exhausted.
7. COMFORTS: If I don’t act hungry, possibly comfort foods will soothe me a little.
6. SLOW DOWN: Letting go is a process and should not be hurried. That goes for my loved one’s things too. I may not be ready to clean out the closets or even throw away food that was eaten by them. Everyone travels at a different time frame to the steps of grieving. Allow each family member or friend to go through the process in their own time. Allow me that because I am going to do it anyway.
7. TALK: Children need to be talked to. Silence makes them more afraid. Explanations of death can be a sweet bonding moments. But allow me to tell my children that I am sad and feeling a hole in my heart. They can help me feel better. It is important for them to learn strategies of coping. This is best with a little communication, not ignoring it.
8. WEARY: Check in with me often. Write me a little note. Come over even if I tell you I am fine and don’t want company. Go with the flow and don’t overstay. I am emotionally exhausted and weary to the bone. But I need you to notice me and don’t leave me alone too long.
9. BLAH BLAH BLAH: Don’t overdo with the cliche’s or joke too much. They divert the emotion but after awhile they begin to grind at my nerves and I get sick of you.
10. STORIES: They say TIME heals. I want to remember. But I know the most important thing to do after my grieving has ebbed is to turn around and walk back into life and love it even more. Hug more, listen better, slow down and notice, enjoy simple things, feel more grateful, trust in the Lord, expect miracles, and keep a wiser perspective on what is truly important. Death scares the heck out of me. But death reminds me about something precious too, I am still alive. I am still here to offer the world something unique! Remember the sweetness of past memories but move on and get writing my own wonderful story and don’t forget to listen to the whispers of those who have gone on because they are watching and helping me along that journey.
11. COMPASSION: When you tell me you lost your loved one. I will say I am so sorry. But I will hug you because my heart understands how you feel, the hole is still there from my own loss.
12. TRUST: Trust God. He made up death. It’s really opening that door back home to HIM where I began.