Summer Solstice

Today’s Summer Solstice, the first day of summer and the longest day of the year, will be a little longer for some.   Today my sister-in-law buried her oldest son.  What should have been a day to celebrate the beginning of summer, instead was a day of mourning.

At the graveside service, the officiant quoted from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes.  This version is from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE).

3  For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2  a time to be born, and a time to die;
    a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3  a time to kill, and a time to heal;
    a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4  a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5  a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
    a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6  a time to seek, and a time to lose;
    a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7  a time to tear, and a time to sew;
    a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8  a time to love, and a time to hate;
    a time for war, and a time for peace.

While there may be some wisdom in these words, the loss of a child upsets the order of things.  For everything there is a season… a time to die for us all.  Parents want that time to be before our children.  Time will bring acceptance and healing.  Until then, we allow ourselves to grieve the untimely passing of Zachary Rausch, gone too soon.

The wide spectrum…

The wide spectrum of mothering
To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you
To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you
To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food
stains – we appreciate you
To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we
mourn with you
To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and
disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t
mean to make this harder than it is
To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you
To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you
To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit
with you
To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you
To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your
experience
To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of
motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst
To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day
To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn
that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be
To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths
To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren, yet that dream is not to be – we
grieve with you
To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you
To those who placed children up for adoption – we commend you for your selflessness and
remember how you hold that child in your heart
And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate
with you
This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have
real warriors in our midst. We remember you.
By Amy Young (http://messymiddle.com)

This was read in my church this morning.  It touched me so I thought I would share.  The link to the pdf is here. It was originally part of Amy Young’s May 10, 2012 post, An open letter to pastors {A non-mom speaks about Mother’s Day}, on her blog The Messy Middle   

Bonding Experience

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My youngest son is really into British culture, especially fashion. He has looked for a hat like this one for months. We found a similar one a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t what he really wanted and was a bit small.

Since my grandfather’s passing earlier this week, my grandmother has been cleaning out his personal belongings. Today, as the family was going through my grandfather’s hats, I found this. It is exactly what my son wanted and the bonus is that it belonged to his great-grandfather.

It was sweet looking through my grandfather’s things and sharing stories with family members, many of which I haven’t seen in more than 40 years. I saw old census records, my mother’s History report card from her junior year in high school, and several old photos.

As much as this is a sad occasion, it is also a bonding experience. I already feel closer to a family I barely knew.

Bent Time

I have been reading a book that explores, among other things, the concept of time.  Incidentally, I am also preparing to embark on a journey that I know will distort time.  My mother and I will be traveling to Colorado to attend her father’s memorial service.

Something I have noticed is that death seems to slow time for those who suffer loss.  Maybe it’s because we become more aware in the days following the death of a loved one, and maybe it’s because we simply slow down.  Either way, I have noticed that the time immediately following a loss or tragedy seems to become a precious capsule to be cherished.

I remember the time surrounding a life threatening surgery my Dad underwent several years ago.  The trip to Florida, the night preceding the surgery, and the moments just before he was wheeled into surgery (in particular) are etched into my brain.  The weeks, days, and months just before my father’s death are even more clear in my mind. And I suspect this weekend will become burned into my memory just as clearly.

I was not close to my grandfather, but my relationship with my mother will make this weekend one of those time-bent weekends.  We will be spending hours in airports and on an airplane together.  Then we will spend a weekend focused on the life and death of the primary man in my mother’s life.  Time will slow and, at times, stand still.

I know these moments frozen in time will become a pat of our life stories.  So I am ready.  I am ready to take in the stories, feel the agony of loss and the joy of reminiscence, and enjoy the time with my mother.  And I am grateful that time bends to make these times stand out in our memories.

Finding Dimes

finiding dimes

I have to preface this post by saying that I had drafted a post prior that was about writing “fluff” for the sake of keeping my writing agreement.  I wasn’t judging myself, but I was committing to writing the posts that had been lurking in my head but I had not taken the time to write.  Ironically, I lost the draft in cyberspace.  I have never had that happen.  It literally disappeared.  So instead of trying to recreate that post, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and get one of the defining moments of my life out of my head and out into the blogosphere.

People that know me know I tend to be a bit “airy fairy.”  (If you are intuitive, a healer, or have some other spiritual gift, please don’t think I am being flippant.  I believe the reason Angels can fly is because they take things lightly… including themselves.)  I am always looking for signs and symbols.  I consult my dream book on a regular basis.  And I have had lots of uncanny experiences.  I have no problem with the the notion that I have these because I am looking for them.  I do believe that perception is reality.

A few months after my dad passed away, I began finding dimes.  It struck me as odd because I began to realize it was always dimes, not quarters or pennies, not other objects, but dimes specifically.  I found them everywhere and often.  The first few times, I thought little of it.  After a few weeks, I began to think about this oddity more and more.  I had never heard of anyone else having this experience, but it had become so pronounced that I began to talk about it to other people.  Finally, my teenage son decide he would “Google it.”

Knowing my son, I don’t think he really expected to find anything.  I think he was doing it more for comic relief because he was sick of me telling him where I found my latest dime.  I was blown away when I read all the accounts of people who had begun finding dimes after losing a loved one.  Much of what I read held that finding dimes in random places were signs from a loved one that had passed.  Some think the message is specific, other think it can be very individualized.  Now before I lose you, hear me out on this.  It doesn’t matter whether you believe this or if you think it is utter nonsense.  When I read the internet articles on the subject I gained something very valuable.

I chose, after reading extensively on the subject, to view these dimes as a message from my father.  This message was one of love and comfort.  My dad had a way of letting me know things were going to be all right, especially when it seemed as though things were hopeless.  Notice I said, “chose.”

Whether the fact that the dime is the thinnest coin, with the smallest diameter, thus easily lost, or whether it is an instrument of communication used by those from the great beyond is irrelevant.  For me, the end result is the same.  When I find a dime in the washing machine, on our lawn, under the seat of my car, or at the bottom of a swimming pool, I heed the message.  It doesn’t matter whether this message is from the great beyond or from my own memory banks.  “Dad loves me, and it’s going to be all right” comes across loud and clear.

I didn’t do it initially, but now when I find a dime, I keep it.  I had a pile of them on the nightstand beside my bed.  Now they are on the top of my dresser beside some flowers from my father’s memorial service.  They serve as a daily reminder that I am loved and that everything will be all right.

Do you have any signs or reminders for yourself?

Surrogate Son

As it turns out, my step-father was not able to attend visitation at the funeral home last night. The roads were treacherous due to snow and he was having difficulty breathing.  In fact, the symptoms of his COPD  were so bad that he didn’t attend his mother’s graveside service today either.  In fact, my sister and her husband (with their baby), and my mother decided to head home as soon as they could round up their van load. 

They left before the funeral in an effort to get my step-father closer to home and the hospital where the doctors and staff know him and his history.  Because he would not be attending the graveside service, he sent word through my mother that he wanted me to put a flower on his mother’s casket and to say it was from her son.

I wasn’t quite sure when I should do this: before I sat down, at some orchestrated moment, or when the funeral was over.  (Incidentally, the officiating preacher spoke about the awkwardness of the whole losing a loved-one thing.)  I quietly waited, hoping for some cue.  Finally, when the last prayer was spoken, the pall bearers removed their boutineers and placed them on the casket.  I took  this as my cue to place the rose.

I hobbled forward with my cane and set one foot onto the edge of the platform on which the coffin rested because I could not reach the top of the casket.  As I tried to speak, my vocal chords tightened.  I had the thought that this message was between a mother and her son, so it really doesn’t matter if anyone else can hear it.  I inaudibly spoke the words, “This is from Jimmy.”  As I mouthed the words, I heard them clearly in my own head.  I placed the rose amid those in the spray.  I touched the smooth, cold wood of the lid, choked back a few silent tears and returned to my seat on the front row.  At that moment it occurred to me that I had been appointed a sacred task.  I was the messenger… the conduit between the here and the beyond.  I was the surrogate son.

Dada’s Birthday

Today is the birthday of my oldest son, Joshua.  Those who are closest to him call him Dada (dah duh).  My daughter, Alex (18 months younger), couldn’t say Joshua, so she called him “Dah doo uh.” She eventually shortened it to Dada, which he has been called since then.  

Dada is 24 today.  He was at work and I wanted to take him a card and wish him “happy birthday.”    By the time we got to Harbor Freight it was closed.  So my husband and my two younger sons fist bumped him through the window.  I slipped his card between the front doors and we kissed each other through the glass.  I had to laugh because it was so typical of our family.  My husband threatened to share the secondhand aroma of the chili he had eaten earlier.  (We actually had come from a Boy Scout, Court of Honor, Chili Cook-Off where we had won second place… not too shabby since it was my husband’s first attempt at chili.  Of course, I set everything out and told him to have my son, the Boy Scout, to make it while I was at work.  When Bailey didn’t get it done by lunch time, my husband cooked it himself.)

Anyway, back to Dada.  He is going to be a father soon.  The baby, Aurelia Faith, is due March 14th.  I can remember when I used to lay with my firstborn on the twin bed in his room, mesmerized by him.  I can’t believe that infant has become a man, and will soon have his own child. 

This comes less than two years after my father’s passing and soon after my step-father’s triple bypass surgery (as he also fights COPD), which was performed yesterday.  On top of that, my mother’s brother, Jack, is only expected to live a couple of weeks, as he is losing his battle with cancer.  He is only my age.  The cycle of birth, growth, maturity, and death is vividly apparent in my life.  It is reminding me to be grateful for where I am today, in this moment.  Life is good.