About Me

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

MIssing

I miss his hands and the way they gripped a pencil. I miss the awkward hugs he insisted on giving. I miss his scratchy voice and how every phone conversation started with, “Hi, Cindy, it’s Matt,” as if caller id didn’t exist. I miss his car pulling up to park in the back of my house. I miss his crazy questions, his insightful questions, his tough questions. I miss his presence in my house. I miss his patchy beard and mustache. I miss, I miss, I miss, I miss......

These are the hard days, when we return to life’s routines, but a huge part of that routine is gone. These are the hard days when Christmas lights twinkle and shine and they bring a mix of joy and sadness. These are the hard days when we keep thinking he’s just around the corner or a phone call away.

These are the hard days...

Monday, December 11, 2017

I made a decision. 

Since the middle of November I’ve been trying to think through how to handle Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have an amazing counselor who has affirmed my gut instinct to choose what activities I want to join in, what decorating I want to do (or not do), whether or not to go Christmas shopping or choose to just give cards this year. It has been a real struggle and until this evening I hadn’t made any progress in knowing how Christmas-y I wanted my house to be. 

After a very strange day - a morning filled with quiet and peace; an extraordinarily difficult afternoon filled with tension and sorrow - I blessedly spent the evening with my best friend. As I drove through my neighborhood, I was struck by the beautiful Christmas lights, and for the first time this year, the twinkling, the colors, the beauty brought me peace and not sadness. 
















What I know and believe suddenly bubbled up to the surface of my mind and I remembered: For me, every light, every twinkle, every shining globe is there because Jesus is the Light of the World. Jesus came to save us. Jesus came to shine down his love and bring us back to our Father who never forgot about his children. 

Every light. 

And I want those lights. 

I want that reminder in my house, to fill my eyes, and be the last thing I see each night as I fall asleep. 

For me, Christmas is not just a celebration of the birth of Jesus, of the little babe in the manger, of the angels and shepherds, of Mary and Joseph and the adoration of the Magi. Christmas isn’t even the beginning of the story. Christmas is the fulfillment of centuries of prophecy, is the opening of a door that had been closed, is the sigh of relief at the arrival of the Messiah. Christmas is the fulfillment of Emmanuel - God with Us. 
















And this is the space in which I live my life. I believe it with all my being. Rain or shine, heart breaking sorrow or bubbling joy, with broken dreams or in bliss - it is the Truth, the bedrock of my life.
 
So I’ll decorate for Christmas - with the sadness of missing my brother, with the roller coaster of emotions I’m still riding, but with the joy of the shepherds and angels who saw before them their Messiah, the Light of the World, the God who saves. 


Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others - the armies of heaven - praising God and saying, 

Glory to God in the highest heaven, 
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.

Luke 2:13-14


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Seasons change

Seasons of life come and go, holidays roll around the calendar, and we search for meaning in it all. 

I started out my marriage with what seemed an obvious purpose - to do all I could to help my husband who was working on first his Master's, then his Doctorate in Engineering. I worked full time while learning to run a household - grocery shop, keep up with laundry, manage our money. 

But my "purpose" has shifted and changed over the years, and at times it has been with great struggle and sadness - moving several times, losing my mother and father, struggling through infertility and coming to the full knowledge that I would not be a mother. 

Last year, as we saw my brother's health declining, I wondered if my purpose, if God's design in not allowing Tim and I to have children, was so that we could care for Matt, bring him into our home, and make him a full time part of our family. 

But now he's gone, too, and so that purpose has fallen away. 

So what is my purpose? As I wrestle through this once again, I come to the same conclusion I did several years ago. My purpose is to love God with all my heart, mind and spirit, and to go where that leads. I don't need children to pour my life into others. I don't need to care for my declining brother to have a focus for my energy and love. 

Hanging in my bedroom for many years was a picture that said, "Heart's desire". I thought my deepest desire was to have children, but in truth, there is an even deeper desire that carries me through all this loss: My deepest heart's desire is to love God. 

So Matt is gone, and I must wade through the mud of that sadness and loss, but my bedrock remains - God's purpose for my life. To love people. To be involved in lives. To give what I can to those around me. 

It won't be Matt I pour my life into. But God is faithful. He has always given me people to love. I know he will do so once again. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Sunshine

The sun is shining into my dining room and I decide I will try to be productive. I'll do some laundry, I'll sort through this pile that has accumulated on my desk. I'm taking care of business, sorting through papers, throwing away unneeded items, even making a new pile for Goodwill. 

And then it happens. I see one item that reminds me of Matt. An event we attended together, a dinner we ate, a movie we watched, a flicker of sunlight on leaves that reminds me that he will never make his way across my backyard again, he will never eat another meal in my house, he will never make another sarcastic comment. And my heart plunges to the floor and tears fill my eyes and I want to curl in bed under the covers and sleep and sleep and sleep until I feel better. 

But instead I pour out my feelings into this virtual journal, the very act of summoning words for my thoughts a catharsis of sorts. I won't collapse in a puddle on the floor. I will choose to keep going. But for how long? I guess until God calls me home or comes again. 

There is joy to be found in folding laundry, in feeding my husband, in laughing with friends and contemplating a homemade Christmas. And as each year passes, this heavy layer of sorrow will lighten and joy will come again - pure like a cold autumn morning, like a single bird singing, like a child laughing.

I know this is true.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Just keep swimming

We’re coming up on 4 weeks. A month. A cycle of the moon. And one holiday is done and dusted. 

The good days are so...well, good. I feel pretty even emotionally, I have confidence that I will make it through this. 

The bad days are... the opposite. Up and down, leaking tears all day, fear about the future and how I will cope and whether or not I will be able to handle this process of grieving and healing in a healthy way, without falling into a pit of sadness. All I want to do is stay in bed with my cat or watch stupid TV. Or disappear into the mountains for a month of solitude and sleep and beauty and crying alone on a porch as the snow falls. 

So laundry piles up, bills aren’t getting paid on time, I’m scattered and leave the grocery store with strange combinations of food. But we have food, so that’s good. And I’m putting some systems in place to help me keep up. And I’m determined to keep on living, because Matt would be pretty angry if I didn’t. He’d give me that look and say something that anyone else would find incredibly rude, but I’d smile and know he was actually saying, “I love you. Be strong.” 

The emerging Christmas lights and carols floating through the air bring moments of panic. How will I Christmas shop? (I probably won’t do much at all. Homemade Christmas this year will allow me to stay home and avoid those happy crowds.) How will I get through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, remembering the times he spent at our house, the quiet community we shared, the joy he brought us? (I’ll keep my eyes focused on Jesus and the gift of Emmanuel, God with Us.) And I’ll cry and cry. It’s ok, though, because I remind myself that my God has not given me a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and self-control. I can claim this promise and hold onto it like an anchor for my soul. 

So I say out loud the things I know are true even if I don’t feel them. I affirm to my soul that God will bring comfort and healing. I speak the choice of forgiveness for those who have wounded me. And I call on Emmanuel, our Comforter, my Father God to carry me and bring me through to the other side. 

He will. Even when I don’t feel like it’s true, I know it is. For that I’m so very thankful. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Another day

The sun rose this morning and I blinked my sore, tired eyes and looked out the window at the bright blue sky. Another day. Two weeks since my brother died. Seems like a thousand years. Or yesterday. But the morning came and passed, the afternoon was peaceful and quiet, the evening looks to be the same. One day is hellish, the next is calm. Grief is strange, that’s for sure. 

But we press on. And each day has it’s own joys, too. Joy in the midst of sorrow. Isn’t that just the way of life? 

Monday, November 13, 2017

The dark truth

Speak gently of your grief. Find the silver lining of each loss. All sorrow comes to an end. 

These are the things we’re supposed to do and say. These are the thoughts people want to hear. But the truth is that I want to sit in a dark room, heavy metal bass and drums filling the air, screaming and crying. I want to burst my ear drums so my heart will stop hurting. I want the sun to stop shining and mourn with me. I want the birds to stay silent in their nests. I want the skies to pour rain so my tears will be invisible. 

But these thoughts scare people, make them worry, and so I don’t say it out loud. Instead, I say I’m doing all right. I’m finding my way. And I will. Don’t worry or be afraid for me. But today, I want to disappear. 

W.H. Auden says it perfectly:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come. 


Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,]
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves. 

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.


The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.