Browsing the blog archives for May, 2011.

We are Changed

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When coming back from a time away, the sights of the city usually bring a contented sigh of belonging, an excitement for returning to the familiar.  The first spotting of the bridge, did bring a feeling of belonging, but it was mixed with an extreme heaviness.  We are not the same people driving in tonight, that we were when we left this place 13 days ago.

When we left, we didn’t know how long we’d be gone.  Two weeks, maybe three?  A month?  Would we still go to the week long school in June?  We didn’t know that we’d be having a funural before we came back.  We packed up, thinking we were going to spend some time with mom, and maybe the funeral would come later.  But somehow, I think we knew it’d be sooner rather then later.  The call from the brother right before we left – “nothing doctors can do” – caused me to dash back upstairs for what I deemed an appropriate dress for a funeral of a dear mother.

That first conversation with her – the one where she still felt like mom – she was in her own bed.  She talked and laughed and hugged us.  And three and a half days later she was gone – forever.   Her last words to me – that I could understand – “I love you”.

A good connecting moment with mom.

Mom and her dear sister Margaret.

There’s something about that moment – the transition from life to death – something that can’t be explained.  When they removed the oxygen, I wanted to scream, “put it back on.  She might not be gone.”  But I knew she was.  And in that moment hope was gone.  It was the end.  It was final.  Nothing could be changed.  And everything HAD changed.

The three and half days with her were spent mostly by her side.  We stayed close, wanting to make sure she was comfortable, hoping for another chance to speak with her, grieving.

Grateful to have this dear sister-in-law to journey this painful path with.

And in that moment, when life left, everything changed.  The obitiuary that dad had been talking about, now needed to be written.  The slideshow my husband had been talking about putting together for her funeral, now had a deadline.  There would be no more days (or nights) of sitting by her side.  I no longer wanted to sit in the living room.  The hope that her eyes would open one last time in recognition, was gone.

Death is so final.  Our lives forever changed.  And not just because she died.  We are changed because she lived.  We are changed because we knew Anne.  I thank God for the priviledge of having Anne for my mother-in-law for these three short years.  I couldn’t have asked for a better one.  I’m forever grateful for the impact she had on my husband.  I’m forever grateful for the way she welcomed me into her life.

Dad meeting his great-grandson for the first time.

Mom, in her death, initiated the quickest planned family reunion ever.  So many healing things about the family times.  It was so good to be with people who knew mom well – people who she had impacted, people who had impacted her.  The family times helped disguise the hole a little bit.  But then I’d look over and see dad sitting at a table by himself, surrounded by siblings and their spouses.  And reality would set in with startling force.

I often found these two by their mother’s side.  Those few last moments we had with her will never be forgotten.  She left us so quickly but we’re grateful for the time we had to say good-bye.

We are changed.  Life’s priorities have been completely shuffled up for us.  Things that mattered before seem to have such little value now.  We walk forward in this new world, clinging to God, searching for what really matters.

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Dinner with Family

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Most of my tears had been shed before she left us, I thought. Today just wasn’t a day of many tears. Until we gathered for dinner tonight, that is. My husband whispered in my ear, that exactly three years ago, we as a family had all gathered together for dinner. And I remembered. . . It was the eve of our wedding.

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Journey of Grief

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I didn’t know it would be like this. I feel like I’ve stepped into another world. The territory is uncharted. I don’t know the way. The “old world” that I was a part of came to a screeching halt. Things that were so important 3 days ago, no longer matter.

The way is dark and heavy and feels very lonely at times.  I long for good conversation with her.  The conversations have been reduced to smiles and few words.

When I think of my mother-in-law, the word accepting comes to mind.  She welcomed me into her life with open arms.  She trusted her son to me – her son who himself fought cancer.

Cancer has become a very hated word.  I hate the pain it brought to him.   I hate that it is taking mom away from us.  I want to make it go away.  I want her to walk around her kitchen, to put food on the table for us.  I want her to stand and hold us close.  I want to feel the strong grip of her hand again.  I want her here.  I’m not ready for her to leave us.  I want to spend more time with her so I can become more like her.

So quickly this other world has become normal.  The sound of hushed voices, the oxygen tank pumping away in the corner.  Two months ago, we sat around mom’s table laughing and talking loudly.  Now even our laughter is hushed and so quickly turns to tears.

How did we so quickly transition from normal life, to death being such a reality?

And somehow, in the midst of this strange world, we make it – we survive.  We don’t know the way in this dark unknown place, but Grace keeps us together.

I am content, when I can sit in the room near her and crochet the blue scarf she was teaching me to make two months ago.  I am extremely joyful, when she smiles at me or says she loves me, or squeezes my hand.  I am at rest in the arms of caring friends who mourn with me.  I am at peace, surrounded by family.

We survive, not because we’re super-humans, but because we serve a God who was not surprised by any of this.

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Grieving and Celebrating

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We grieve because we are losing mom. We grieve that time is so short. We grieve because she can’t always communicate. We grieve because we can’t go camping with her this fall.

But we celebrate because we have these precious days with her. We celebrate getting to talk to her. We celebrate her smile. We celebrate her heart of kindness and concern.

And we celebrate, because our Abba Father gives grace for each moment.

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The Goal, the result

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The goal was to establish a church.  Looking at the beginning from the vantage point of 20 years later, I would say the founder was on the right track.  They had a good think going.  There was a church – a church that was providing what the local community needed.  There was a body of believers who gathered to worship, who experienced real community.  But the founder didn’t have the freedom to continue pursuing this church and so the movement ended.  Someone else stepped in and life went on.  Church gradually began to have a different look.

And from this vantage point 20 years later I wonder. . .  What if the founder could have stuck it out a couple more years? What if freedom would have been given to keep pursuing church?  What could God have done with that church?  Where would it be today?    Twenty years later we still haven’t establish what the founder had going way back then.

But, we have church.  We gather to worship.  We have community.    It looks different then the original goal.  But God is not surprised by any of this.  Maybe this was His goal all along.  Maybe, just maybe, God used what looked like life-killing choices to we mere mortals, to perform His purposes for this church.

Who can know the mind of God?  I wonder what else He has planned for church here.  I wonder what churches everywhere would look like if people would turn control over to God and allow the Spirit to move.  I wonder. . .

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Fought For

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Incident #1

Yesterday I had a pair of rather difficult customers. They changed their orders, complained about the food, had me running to the kitchen replacing or changing things that I had specifically asked them, interrupted when I was serving other customers. . . They definitely weren’t my worst customers (worst was the lady who threw her lemonade at me), but difficult nonetheless. For some reason, a customer four stools down, was so disgusted and irritated by there behavior. When the difficult customers left, I cleaned up their part of the counter and discovered no tip (surprise, surprise). Then I noticed that “irritated at them” customer was also missing. I overheard the lady that was with him telling another customer that he was chasing “grumpy” customers down. When he came back, he proceeded to tell me and the lady he was with how the conversation went.

Irritated – “You forgot to leave a tip.”
Grumpy – “So?”
Irritated – “She provided you a service.”
Grumpy – “So?”
Irritated – “You were not an easy customer. Is she not even worth $.25 to you?”

Not sure if it was the right thing for irritated to confront grumpy, but I know that, right or wrong, he was looking out for me.  And I know that feminists out there react to woman “needing” someone to fight for them.  But let me tell you, I didn’t feel like less of a human because a man “needed” to fight for me.  I felt valued and important.

Incident #2

A man with a messed up life recently dragged my husband into his relationship issues with his girlfriend.  My husband went to meet “confused”, because “confused” wanted someone to pray with him.  He wanted to be happy.  Husband was at meeting place waiting for “confused” when his “wary” girlfriend showed up.  In the events that followed my husband fought for a “wary” woman who was treated unkindly by a “confused” man.  He confronted “confused” when he got verbal with “wary”.  He told “confused”, “In my world, men don’t treat ladies that way”.

And once again, a man fought for a lady, not because she’s lesser, but because she is valuable and so worth fighting for.

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