Hugs

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” 

Anne Lamott

What a beautiful time to be in Texas.

God was indeed generous when He created this state. Our heavy rainfall over the fall and winter months set the scene for some of the most amazing wildflowers.

Michael and I have been working very hard in our yard. I have to tell you, it is very hard for us to know what’s a weed and what’s a flower. I’m beginning to see that it really is a matter of taste. What I call a weed I discovered today Michael thought  was a great looking flower. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he probably wouldn’t be seeing many more of that particular type of flowers.

Another great thing about this time of year is it is the perfect temperature to have a fire in the evenings. Michael built a fire a couple of nights ago which gave us a chance to sit and watch for satellites while being hypnotized by the fire itself.

It was still light enough for a few pesky bugs when I noticed a small little butterfly skirt across the fire and land upon my lower chest. She rested there and extended her wings as if she were giving me a hug. Both of us saw her and commented on how we hoped she was okay and had not burned her wings in her flight over the open flame. She remained on my chest for a minute or two before she flew off and landed between the two of us. To us she looked like she was doing her own little self assessment. We watched her–and watched her–and watched a few minutes more. We were starting to wonder if she was okay when in one quick little bit of movement, she simply flew away.

I’m not positive  who came to give me that hug. The memory of it is so powerful I start to cry every time I see those little wings spread widely over my chest. Whoever it was, my gut tells me it was someone very very special.

A Prayer for Living Up to the Best in Our Souls

You have blessed me with many gifts, God, but I know it is my task to realize them. May I never underestimate my potential; may I never lose hope. May I find the strength to strive for better, the courage to be different, the energy to give all that I have to offer. Help me, God, to live up to all the goodness that resides within me. Fill me with the humility to learn from others and with the confidence to trust my own instincts. Thank You, God, for the power to grow. Amen.

Levy, Naomi. Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Perhaps…

“Perhaps it is at best difficult, at worst, impossible for children and parents to be adults together. But I would love to know that.”

~Anna Quindlen, Absence Makes the Heart Grow Curious~

I’ve been working my way into Hope Edelman’s book, Motherless Daughters, like it’s part of my Master’s thesis or some other rite of passage.

Maybe it is.

I have to concede–it won’t be a quick read nor will it won’t be an easy read.

For sure–it will be an emotional read.

My heart tells me there are other women out there in need of the validation I’m finding in this book after just the first few pages. Along with me, they need to know they’re not alone in the quest in coming to terms with their past.

I’ve started this book so many times before.

It was easy to see where I’d stopped in the past. I just needed to look for the spot where all the yellow highlighting stopped.

My goal yesterday was to get to that spot–I almost got there.

The surprising part was what caught my attention now I’m older compared to what I’d highlighted years ago. Yes–it was years ago.

Yesterday different passages caught my eye and held my attention. Because I’ve had more life experiences that color my perception, what I’d highlighted before seemed insignificant to me while other words jumped off the page.

The first few pages of the book contained letters written to the author, Hope Edelman. Each letter tells a personal story about the loss of that woman’s mother. These letters held different message for me and each seemed to gently encouraging me onward.

Some of the feelings that resonated with me:

  • They thought that they would die at the same age as their mother.
  • No one talked about their mother after she died. This lack of communication made them minimize their own memories of their mom and the pain they felt in the loss of her.
  • They never had the chance to know their mother as an adult. They never were able to relate to her on an adult level.
  • Many felt guilt for carrying around their grief for so many years.
  • Many felt they had no peers to talk to about their feelings and experiences at the time of their mother’s death.
  • Living a life time of grieving made them strong because they had to be strong. Their mother was not there to help them.
  • Ultimately, the loss of their mother resulted in a general feeling of hopelessness and chronic melancholy they carried with them throughout their lives.

I didn’t make it far but I did make it through the first few pages comprehending what I’d read. I’d certainly cried but I was functional.

I also knew in order to continue moving forward, I’d need to give my heart and soul a rest. I closed the book, put my notes down, and allowed my brain time to process what I’d read.

Those of you who have walked this path understand. Those of you who have not–will–eventually.

I’d heard Timothy Shriver talk about how the Kennedy family never talked about the tragedies that’d struck his family. In the Kennedy family it was an unspoken understanding you just moved on.

Interesting.

Hearing that made me feel okay–more normal–kinda.

Honestly, didn’t we Irish Catholics think the Kennedys were the Gold Standard for what was normal and acceptable?  Wasn’t this an example of the ultimate “What will the neighbors think?” type reaction?

So…

It was okay I’d all buried my questions along my feelings and moved uneasily on.

I think in the back of my mind the questions and the unease never went away. They’d been biding their time, waiting for me to grow strong enough to stay on course learn what I needed to learn in order to move on–peacefully and in grace.

“In that first year we continued on with the routines of schoolwork, vacations, and bimonthly haircuts as if a central family member were so dispensable that her absence required only minor reshuffling of household chores. Anger, guilt, sadness, grief–all emotions were suppressed, shooting out like brief bullets only when we couldn’t contain them anymore.” ~ Hope Edelman, Motherless Daughters~

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

 

 

 

 

Coincidences

Oh, chere,” said Moma softly. “Dying isn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s just the only thing I won’t live through.” 

J.T. Geissinger, Burn for You

Sundays have always been family day.

When I was living in Iowa, it was the day my sisters came over to just be together. We’d play cards, drink beer, and wait for Sunday dinner.

After moving to Denver, Sundays became family phone call days. That was in the 80’s and long before cell phones. Our calls started after whatever the peak call time was so we could talk longer for less money. Because of that, there was not a lot of long conversations or sharing of memories.

Yesterday was Sunday and it remains my family call day. What a blessing to have cell phones. Thanks to that technology I can call anyone anytime and talk for any length of time.

For me–the saddest part of family call day is the fact there are very few names on my call list. So far I’ve yet to find a cell phone provider with a cell tower in Heaven.

Yesterday my conversation with my sister, Sue, took a very interesting turn. Sue began taking about some of her childhood memories–something she rarely shares.

One of the things she talked about was getting in trouble for eating the creamy filling out of the sandwich cookies. She went into great detail–mentioning how we had the kind with both chocolate and vanilla cookies in the same package. Neither one of us remembered who but one but one of us snatched the crinkly package out of the bread drawer and carried it out to the front porch to share.

We both had a very clear image of that bread drawer–probably because we were in and out of it often. This drawer had multiple purposes–it was the only way any of us could reach the counter which would put us in the position for exploring all the mysterious kitchen cabinets. Not hard to imagine how the repeated bouncing weight of three little sets of feet stressed the construction of those old wooden drawers. No wonder it never worked very well.

After devouring the filling each of us would match up our cookies and carefully place them back into the package. I can only imagine those crooked rows visible through the plastic package which is now covered with little oily fingerprints. We thought we were so smooth and in reality our craftiness was lacking on so many levels.

After sneaking the package back into place it did not take long before a very stern voice commanded us to the kitchen. I’d known for a long time that it was never a good sign when we were summoned by our full names!

It was one of the few occasions when Mom lost her temper. My sister said it was the only memory she had of Mom “patting” her bottom–a memory that surprised her.

I thought of our conversation a lot after we ended our call.

As I thought, I remembered we had the big bag of cookies because Grandma and Grandpa were coming to visit. Those cookies were what Mom planned to have with coffee that afternoon. I also remembered the later conversation I had with my Grandma when she asked if I understood why we were all punished for destroying the cookies. I hung my head and told her no. Honestly, I seriously thought that we had not done such a bad thing–the cookies were just fine in my little kid eyes. Without the creamy centers, they were perfect for dunking in their coffee! She listened to my kid logic but then shared with me a very important lesson. She told me it wasn’t the fact we’d ruined the cookies. What made our deed serious was the fact we’d lied.

Family stories like these have been playing back for both Sue and me for awhile now. Hearing them from Sue has given me a lot of comfort and has been the gentle push I’ve needed to finally open and begin to read Hope Edelman’s book, Motherless Daughters. I’ve attempted this so many times. Just thinking about it is tough.

I’m 65 years old and I’ve side stepped grieving for my Mother for 55 years. Ms. Edelman says you grieve when you feel secure enough to do so. Hearing my sister begin to share her stories was just the signal I needed.

Sometimes God does not work in such mysterious ways.

Coincidences mean you’re on the right path.” 

Simon Van Booy, Love Begins in Winter: Five Stories

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

Words

Magic Words

“Silly words cause trills 

because they’re ludicrous and funny.

Happy words paint endless smiles

and swallow troubles whole.

Thoughtful words are thus

because they make the day feel sunny.

But hurtful words are such

that pierce the heart and weigh the soul.” 

Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway

There are times when I am haunted by the memory of words–simple, sarcastic, flippant combinations of words said without thought. Some were comments made when I was just a kid–others when I was older–when I thought I was an “adult.”

Some comments were in jest–a nonchalant observation that became a label I absorbed for the rest of my life because it comes from a person of power. One of those tapes replays like this:

Running to the door to greet my Dad as he comes home from work.

Me: “Dad, how was your work today? Do you want to see the picture I colored?”

Dad: “Oh. (Seconds pass as he turns the page this way and that way.) It looks like you color just like me–I never could stay in the lines.”

From that day on, I no longer liked to color. I tried to do adult coloring books–from the moment I picked up the colored pencil I feared not staying in the lines. My Dad’s approval was every thing to me. With one short comment, I believed I was not good enough. That feeling of unworthiness slowly oozed into other areas of my life.

Other comments were made by relatives trying to help me through the difficulties I was going through after my Mom died. I’d pulled back into myself. I did not understand how this could have really happened–moms do not die. Even though I was only ten years old–I was reminded I was the oldest. I needed to be strong for my sisters. I needed to set a good example. No one asked me how I was doing. My great-aunt who came to take care of Mom stayed to take care of us after Mom died. She told me she was worried about me. After awhile, I didn’t want to come home from school. The minute I walked through the door she’d ask me about my day. I’d shrug my shoulders and tell her it was okay. What else could I say? I didn’t think I could tell her what was really going on–I had to be strong. Eventually she tired of asking and I withdrew more. She began to just watch me–which felt like she didn’t trust me. We were both frustrated. An example of our conversations:

Aunt: ” I heard you talking with Ellen. Is everything okay?”

Me: “Ya. I’m okay.”

Aunt: “I heard you laughing. You sure you’re okay because it didn’t sound like your laugh. Were you forcing yourself to laugh?”

I took a minute to answer because she’d caught me off guard. Had she been eavesdropping on my conversations? Wow. She’d listened to me laugh? Had I forced my laugh? Did I remember how to laugh?

Me: “I think I need to take my hay fever medicine because my nose is all stuffy. That’s probably why my laugh sounds funny.”

Even today, unless I am surprised by something incredibly funny, I listen to  myself and wonder if whether my laugh is genuine or forced.

One of the most significant things said to me happened during the course of a very traumatic breakup. It had been a long and difficult time in our lives. We were young. We were both tired–tired of a lot of things. We’d both been hurt. There wasn’t much good about any of what was left. Our exchange of words remains a part of the baggage I carry today.

Me: “I am sorry. This is never going to work. It is time we both go our own way.”

Silence.

We are standing in the kitchen I loved in the house on the corner that was so special to me. I was losing it–literally and figuratively. Eventually he walked closer to me, leaned in, and said:

Him: “Well, I guess you’re right. It’s over. I gotta tell you, though, just so you know. I never thought you were good enough for me anyway.”

Words–like arrows to the heart.

Words can’t be weighed on a scale but they burden the soul. Words can be forgiven but forgetting them is difficult if not impossible. The stain left behind from that wound bleeds through during times of stress and self-doubt.

Words are wicked weapons. Use them carefully.

“Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.” This is a lie. What we say matters. The unkind things we communicate can soil the best of relationships; even with the deepest of regrets…what lingers is a stain of hurt that may fade but will never truly go away. The wounding words we say are like feathers released in a harsh wind, once said; we will never get them back. ~Jason Versey” 

Jason Versey, A Walk with Prudence

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless you.

~Peace~

Thank you, Thinking Art, for allowing me to share the image from your post on your Facebook page. 

 

 

 

 

A Time For Reflection

Mother’s Day.

A hard day for those of us who have lost our moms. It doesn’t matter how old we were when the loss happened–this is a life event we all carry with us from that day forward.

I send my love out to those of you who are facing your first “motherless” Mother’s Day. May your memories give you comfort. May you come to understand, as I have, that your mom will always be with you. Not just in the memories, but in little things you do, little things you say, little habits you may not have recognized until now. I was blessed with a mom who loved me. Unfortunately, my mom, my sisters, and I were not blessed with much time.

Time. It is such an illusive concept. We keep thinking we have more. Don’t be fooled. As we’ve all been told, life can change in just a matter of seconds. This Mother’s Day, put the electronics away. Open your mind and heart by spending some attentive quality time with your mom. As anyone who has lost their mom will tell you, we would give anything to spend one more day with them. We’d ask questions, really listen to what she told us, and share stories of our own. We would make sure she knew how important and special she was and is to us; how her life lessons are infused into our very being.

Use your time wisely, my dear friends, and cherish those you love. If your mom is here, please make sure she knows how important she is to you. Only you can do that.

Make your mom, and yourself, proud.

I am

B…simply being…

Peace and love to y’all.

 

Losses

“Whoever said that loss gets easier with time was a liar. Here’s what really happens: The spaces between the times you miss them grow longer. Then, when you do remember to miss them again, it’s still with a stabbing pain to the heart. And you have guilt. Guilt because it’s been too long since you missed them last.”
― Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, The 13th Sign

It’s been a difficult week for many.  There was the terror attack in Manhattan where a  man used a rental truck as his weapon of choice, mowing down people as they were going about their daily routines. A Dad, after making a last-minute run to the neighborhood store, was hit and killed by an unknown driver just a few feet from his home. Three people shot and killed in a Denver area Wal-Mart–motive unknown. I could go on with more, but how would I know when to stop?

On a personal note, we learned today one of our friends lost his long and hard battle with cancer. It should not have surprised either of us. We both knew he was sick before anyone put a medical label on the process. Our sympathy goes out to his family. May they all have some peace now that Paul’s fight is over. God bless.

Over and over we are given examples of how precious life is. I wish there was a way to help everyone put the damn cell phones down and be present. Look, listen, and appreciate those amazing souls surrounding you, giving meaning to your life. Allow your mind to be in that moment–not remembering yesterday or worrying about tomorrow. Make the memories–do not just record them. Our powerful brains are very capable of keeping those memories for us–use it.

As we begin our weekend, I found a prayer I wanted to share with you. I was tempted to just post the prayer without any of my thoughts for the day–I hope I was not too wordy! I think this prayer is wonderful. Hopefully, you will, too, and join me in adding it to your own prayer practices.

“Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess:

Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.

Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.

Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.

Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains — they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.

I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.

Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint — it is so hard to live with some of them — but a harsh old person is one of the devil’s masterpieces.

Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.

Amen”
Margot Benary-Isbert

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and peace, Y’all.

A Time For Reflection

Mother’s Day.

A hard day for those of us who have lost our moms. It doesn’t matter how old we were when the loss happened–this is a life event we all carry with us from that day forward.

I send my love out to those of you who are facing your first “motherless” Mother’s Day. May your memories give you comfort. May you come to understand, as I have, that your mom will always be with you. Not just in the memories, but in little things you do, little things you say, little habits you may not have recognized until now. I was blessed with a mom who loved me. Unfortunately, my mom, my sisters, and I were not blessed with much time.

Time. It is such an illusive concept. We keep thinking we have more. Don’t be fooled. As we’ve all been told, life can change in just a matter of seconds. This Mother’s Day, put the electronics away. Open your mind and heart by spending some attentive quality time with your mom. As anyone who has lost their mom will tell you, we would give anything to spend one more day with them. We’d ask questions, really listen to what she told us, and share stories of our own. We would make sure she knew how important and special she was and is to us; how her life lessons are infused into our very being.

Use your time wisely, my dear friends, and cherish those you love. If your mom is here, please make sure she knows how important she is to you. Only you can do that.

Make your mom, and yourself, proud.

I am

B…simply being…

Peace and love to y’all.