Friday, August 26, 2011

Grief, a year later

One thing I’ve learned in the year since my sister’s death is that it didn’t cause a new wound – it reopened the wound that was made when my brother was murdered, and it’s a wound that will never heal, this side of the Jordan.

The last time I spoke to Johnny was over the phone on my 24th birthday. As we said goodbye I told him I would call him on his birthday, eleven days after mine. Instead, we buried him. It’s been nearly twenty-two years now. This December he will have been dead as long as he was alive. When he died, the only person who had shared my childhood died, and in a sense, my childhood died with him.

My sister was nearly thirteen years younger than I was and I loved mothering her. When I had children of my own I’d tell people that Anne Marie was my first baby, not even half-joking. I almost didn’t marry – for her sake. Things were getting even rougher between my parents and I was worried about leaving her.

Instead, she spent every spring break and summer with me until she was fifteen or sixteen. She even lived with me and went to school in our town for a semester during our parents’ divorce, a year after our brother died. And the year Mike was in Alaska alone and I was in Georgia with a baby, a toddler, and a preschooler, she lived with me to help with my children, and I home schooled her.

I saw her faith in the Lord from the time she was quite small. I saw her struggles as she reached adolescence, and when she began to pull away from me as a teen I tried not to take it personally, to let her have her own space while assuring her that I was always there for her. I know she knew how much I loved her. She always called me when she was having any kind of trouble to ask me to pray for her.

But I can’t stop the questions. “Why didn’t I…?” and “What if…?” and “Shouldn’t I have…?” Surely, if I had been a better sister, a better Christian, all this suffering could have been avoided.

In those last months of her second struggle with leukemia, following a bout of breast cancer, I saw her faith grow. She talked about being ready to be with Jesus. I know she’s safe with him now. I know she’s not suffering any more. I’ve seen the good fruit she’s borne through her death, in the newfound faith of one of her best friends.

I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. And that’s the only thing that makes the pain of loss bearable – knowing that it’s not forever.

But really, that knowledge doesn’t stop the ache of loss. I want my sister to know the joys of marriage and motherhood. I want the hollow, hungry look to go out of my mother’s eyes. I want my Baby back.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

So, how's your day been?

We just had an earthquake -- a 5.9, reportedly, centered about fifty miles southwest of here. Lotta rumbling and rattling, but nothing worse, thank the Lord.

My son, who's a volunteer fire and rescue guy, went straight down to the station when it was over, and for the last half an hour it's been non-stop sirens on our highway. I hope it's just lines or trees down, and no injuries.

Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

We started back to school last week, taking it slow and easy. I never begin on a Monday, and I never begin with more than a half day. I’ve had health problems for the last several years that mean I’m tired and low-energy most of the time, so this is my way of coping – start slowly and work my way up, hoping the stamina will come. Thankfully, I’ve finally found a doctor I like and she’s helping me.

Over the summer we finished memorizing Edgar Allan Poe’s “Eldorado,” so yesterday we started a new one, my current favorite:

Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
~William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

I’m starting back to school myself, on next Monday. I signed up for James Taylor’s introduction to the Major British and American Poets through CiRCE’s Online Academy. I’m so excited that for the first two days after I signed up I actually wept whenever I thought about it. Sheesh.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Comparisons are odious

[Every once in a while, when the mood strikes, I'll add posts from my old, defunct blog on to this one in their proper historical places. Today I ran across one that was originally posted in May of 2008 and decided to repost it. Because I haven't changed any.]

My oldest children participate in a community chorus that focuses on the great music of the Church, historical and contemporary, putting on a concert twice each year. Every spring the director has the graduating seniors sing a special song together, and she includes a brief bio on each in the program.

Well, the spring concert was last night and Elaienar [aka Eldest Daughter] was included in the “graduating senior” group even though if I had to get technical about it I’d say she finished 12th grade last year. I didn’t think about mentioning it to the director back then since Elai was busy with other things that spring and high school graduation would be, for us, a rather artificial way of marking our children’s milestones. But we had no objection to her being part of the graduating group, since this is the last year she’ll be singing with the group as a student. If she continues to sing with them, it will be as a mentor.

Unfortunately, we’d forgotten about the bio, so when Elai was asked to write one up at the last moment, she wrote one that was short on facts but long on wit. I thought it portrayed her personality in a way that a list of facts wouldn’t do.

But the dear director, bless her heart and we do love her to pieces, doesn’t share Elai’s quirky sense of humor, so the bio that was written up in the program was nothing like what she had written. It was sweet and affectionate, but it looked so dull next to everyone else’s lists of accomplishments and awards and honors and scholarships and where they’re all going to college. If I’d known it was going to be rewritten I’d’ve had her supply more facts to pad it.

You may not believe this, but I actually woke up this morning with a sick tummy because it was bothering me so.

When I’m at home doing what we’ve set out to do, I’m reasonably happy with what we’re doing and I like the way things are working out. It’s just when these occasions where it’s impossible not to make a comparison occur that I doubt and second-guess the Lord’s leading. And I don’t like being different – it’s so uncomfortable. Really, I just want to fit in… I want everyone else to like me and approve of me. Elai says I have an inferiority complex – she’s not worried about the bio at all because she honestly doesn’t care what other people think about her and her abilities.


See, I should make this into a post that encourages other people to trust the Lord.

Something spiritual.

Like my favorite bloggers would do.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Depart, O Christian soul, out of this world

In the Name of God the Father Almighty who created thee.
In the Name of Jesus Christ who redeemed thee.
In the Name of the Holy Ghost who sanctifieth thee.
May thy rest be this day in peace, and thy dwellingplace in the Paradise of God.

Jewell C., 24 June 1909 - 3 August 2011

My husband's dear sweet grandmother passed peacefully into the arms of her Saviour today. Thankfully, we knew she would be leaving us soon, and Mike and our oldest son were able to go to her on Sunday and stay with her till the end.