February

Much of December and January has looked like this:

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Fifty shades of gray and sometimes even rain.

But then sometimes, I wake up to this:

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And it’s soft and pretty and almost magical, and I don’t entirely hate winter.

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Hello, Gentle Reader

I have been neglecting this space. Life got busy (when isn’t it though?) and I have not written much for several months. It’s a new year and I’m trying to strive for more balance in several areas of my life, as well as picking up and dusting off some areas that have been neglected, such as this blog.

I am going to try to be more intentional about posting here, even if it’s just a quick blurb or an encouraging word. I also want to get back to writing my Thankful Thursday posts, as I think that helps me keep a better perspective on life.

At any rate, if anyone is still out there, this is just to say hello. Here’s to writing more in 2016.

I offer a (hug) for your day.

“People have an expiration date – we just don’t know when it is.”

“People have an expiration date – we just don’t know when it is.”

I have been thinking about this line since I read it yesterday. It’s undeniably true, yet most of us like to ignore it and not think about it. I have always found it a bit odd that in medical reports it is quite common for the doctor to dictate that the patient “expired” at such and such a time. That is always what it made me think of, they expired, ran out of time, reached their “good by” (or goodbye) date.

Except with people, there is no sniffing the milk and figuring it’s still good for another day or two, or knowing that the expiration date is a “suggested” use by date. Food doesn’t go bad when the clock turns midnight on its expiration date. People, however, have no extra seconds past their expiration time. When it comes, it comes, and that’s that. No extensions.

I wonder if we knew people’s expiration dates if we would treat them better, love on them more, reach out more often. I wonder if we would take the time to tell them we love them, to make absolutely certain that they know what they mean to us. Memories are great and all, and a wonderful thing to share with others, with our children, to keep that person alive for them, as well as for us. But memories don’t do the person themselves one bit of good when they aren’t here to relive them and relish them with us.

Don’t wait until someone’s past their expiration date to tell them how you feel about them. You never know when that will be. It could be decades from now or 5 minutes from now. They could feel a bit under the weather, have a test, get a diagnosis, and be gone in a month, or in a heartbeat, all while you were making plans that included them for a year from now. Trust me, I know.

Tomorrow is never promised. There is only now, today, this moment.

Don’t waste it.

I try to always let people know how I feel about them, because I have learned from experience that you never know when the last thing you said to them will truly be the last thing you ever say to them. If I achieve nothing else in this life, I hope at the very least that every person I care about knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that I truly do care about them, what they mean to me, how very much I love them. I think that’s why it bothers me so terribly when people have shut me out, because I have no opportunity to tell them what’s in my heart, and I can only ever wonder what’s in theirs.

I hope that whenever my expiration date comes, be it today, tomorrow, or 30 years from now, I will leave no one wondering what I thought of them and especially how I felt about them. I hope the one thing they can be absolutely certain of when it comes to me is that

they. were. loved.

And I hope that knowledge stays with them, deep in their being, embedded in their bones. Always.

Excerpt from an article I just read on idealists:

“You have more thoughts before 9 AM than most people have in a day.

Because your mind is the internal equivalent of the Civil War.”

Because your mind is the internal equivalent of the Civil War.

Man, what an apt description.

Did I offer peace today?

‘Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love?’ These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will be many fruits, here in this world and the life to come. ~Henri Nouwen

These are questions I try to ask myself frequently, if not nightly and, if I can’t say yes, I vow to do better the next day.

Mother’s Day

Melancholy rolled over me yesterday for a few different reasons and while I largely tried to ignore it, I couldn’t shake it off either.

Mother’s Day is always a mixed bag for me. I try to focus on my kids and the moment and just enjoy them, but I feel my own mom’s absence even more acutely on this day because reminders are everywhere and inescapable. And then I get texts in the middle of church from my sis about how she is struggling today too and I’m the only one who understands, and it becomes exceedingly difficult to not get teary myself, both because I know she’s feeling sad and the reason why, and she’s too far away to actually see and hug today. I feel guilty sometimes that I cannot fully embrace the day and just enjoy it with my kids, and selfish that a large part of me would like to skip it completely.

So when today dawned gray, foggy, and rainy, I didn’t mind.

I enjoy posts and pics about people and their moms, but seeing them also makes me achy, so I only peek at the internet here and there or mostly stay away. People have every right to enjoy time with their moms and I wholeheartedly encourage anyone who has that privilege not to waste it, it is a thing to be treasured and cherished. Admittedly, seeing the pics, sometimes I have all the envy, but I am also happy for those people.

They passed out tulips to all the ladies at church today, and that was a thoughtful thing to do. I appreciated it.

The pastor talked about handwritten letters and how they’ve really become a lost art, and then he read a story about a woman who wrote letters, many, many letters. She had told one of her children that she had always wanted to write a novel, and they asked why she hadn’t. Her response was something about her purpose in life being to write letters and that she believed that the act of writing them could somehow connect the person to her words and they would feel them, even if the letters never actually reached them, that letters connect us to each other.

I love that thought. I love the idea that writing words about and to someone could affect them in a positive way even if the actual paper they’re written on never reaches them, and how much more powerful it must then be when they hold the missive in their hands and see the words meant for them. I have always thought of writing letters as sending a little love out into the world, maybe a little light, but this story transcended that and took the thought to a whole new level.

Earlier this week I decided to commit to writing letters again since it’d been awhile, so the timing of this felt a bit like affirmation. Going with that woman’s line of thought, that the words affect people even if they never read them, I may have to write some letters to send some love and good thoughts outward, even though I can’t mail them, in hopes that they will reach those people.

That lady may have been onto something. The notes I have from my parents in their handwriting, and especially letters from my mom, are very powerful ties to them for me. I read her words and in my head I can almost hear her voice again, her inflections, her laugh, and most of all, the love. For a brief flash, I can almost feel her presence again, enough that reading one moves me to tears every single time I see her handwriting and read her thoughts. Most of them are just simple glimpses of a few minutes of her day or week, but I absolutely cherish them.

I needed a bit of her with me today, so I wore this.

My mom apparently had a charm bracelet with four charms on it, one with the name and birthdate of each of her four children. The Christmas following her death, one of my brothers surprised us by giving my sister and me each a bracelet and my brother a keychain holding our individual charm. It has been one of my favorite pieces of jewelry since.

Judging by the scratches and somewhat worn look to the charms, I’d guess she wore the bracelet quite a bit at some point. I know some people might get the scratches polished off and make it smooth and shiny again, but those scratches mean she wore it, that it was next to her skin, and that it got dinged during her movements. To me, those scratches represent life, her life, and this simple little bracelet is one of my favorite pieces of jewelry.

I’m not really sad, but my heart is a bit achy. I’m enjoying the day and trying to relax. I decided to come home and put on some of my favorite soft clothes with a touch of black lace (I am a huge fan of black lace) and now that it’s quiet, I’m about to curl up with a cup of tea in my mom’s teacup (Mom loved her tea) and a book I’ve put off reading because even though I know it’s really good, when I started it months ago, I was in tears before page 3, so tremendous was my empathy for the protagonist, and I put it back down because I didn’t want to be weepy. Today seems like a good day to pick it up again and dive in, because I feel a little weepy. I think I kind of need to cry a little.

And that’s not a bad thing, or even a sad thing, not really. It’s actually a joyous thing, because I was so blessed, so fortunate to have once been so loved that the loss of that love and that understanding has echoed through 19 years and is felt every bit as strongly today as it was then.

So today I’m a little teary. And grateful for it.

But my kids make me smile.

Surrounded by Beauty

Lake Michigan

There is so much beauty in this world. Out your window, in the person next to you or the one you pass on the street, sometimes in the cracks in the sidewalk or the most unexpected places. Sometimes in some of the sounds we tune out. Pause for a minute and look for it. Listen. Seek it out. Find the beauty in your days, large and small. Take a moment. Breathe it in. It helps restore your spirit. It lets your soul breathe. Sometimes it’s subtle and you have to really look for it, but if you seek it, you will find it. You’re surrounded by beauty in so many forms. Don’t miss it!

“Holes Can Still Ache Even When We’re Whole Again”

I was sort of half writing a post in my head/half thinking to myself this morning, as so many things were rolling around in my sleep-deprived brain. Thoughts of maybe I don’t belong/fit some places anymore and that I probably never really did, the people I would hope to stay in touch with, the ones who likely would never notice if I were gone, the reasons why I came, the reasons why I should leave, and just how hard would it be for me to walk away, or maybe it’s just because it’s February and February always seems so hard for me and I’m thinking too much (who, me?!) and next month maybe I’ll feel differently, all mixed in with a conglomeration of thoughts and, of course, feelings.

And then I came across the above statement in a blog article I was reading and there was that moment of YES, someone summed it all up in one short sentence. That statement encapsulates so well what I’ve been feeling, on so many fronts.

I guess the even shorter version is:  I miss people.

There are too many painful holes in me where people are missing. Most days they’re a dull ache I learned to live with long ago, but there will always be some days they throb and stab and that’s just something I’ve come to accept. Then there are other holes that I just want that ache to go away. I don’t want to think about it or feel it anymore.

The only thing I am certain of is that those holes are so deep and so painful because my love for those people was so deep, so profound, and they were so very important to me. So I guess having the ability to love deeply means the flip side is feeling pain and loss so deeply.

I can try to reframe that into I feel pain and loss so intensely because I am capable of loving so intensely and caring so very deeply for people, and try to view that as a positive.

But there are days it’s hard to see that as a positive, when those soul holes ache so badly for people who were an integral part of my life, who were family either by birth or by choice, grafted into my soul as a permanent part of me.

Their absences are like emotional phantom limbs that some days I still reflexively think will be there, reach out to where they should be, and feel utterly lost at the emptiness I find instead.

Soulholes can still ache even when we’re whole again.