Remembering . . . Can Be Inspiring

Remembering is painful, it’s difficult, but it can be inspiring and it can give wisdom.” ~Paul Greengrass

A friend of mine suffered what I believe is the absolute worst nightmare for a parent – losing your child. It’s been over 19 months for her, but her heartbreak and struggle continue even to this day. Three months ago, I, too, suffered a tragic loss; something that I never imagined.

Jean was the first person to reach out to me and provided the greatest gifts – a listening ear, words of comfort, empathy, the gift of her time. She invited me over for lunch. She let me cry on her shoulder without giving advice and instruction. She bought chicken soup over which we cried more and let grow cold. She disclosed that most friends and family eventually became weary of her grief funk and slowly distanced themselves from her. She confessed that she used to be “one of those people” – she avoided the griever because it was too uncomfortable — until it it happened to her.  Their tears continued, they didn’t smile even after months.  “Stop it already”, “be strong”, “get over it”, “get professional help” is all she could think.

She told me that well-meaning people want to fix you. Some will try to label your grief; after all, if it is correctly diagnosed, then there is a solution, right? Some psychiatrists and counselors have identified “stages of grief”; unfortunately, they aren’t linear. She told me you won’t move from one to the next in a nice step-by-step process. Or like C.S. Lewis describes “am I going in circles, or dare I hope that I’m on a spiral? But if a spiral, am I going up or down?”

She shared that the one and only thing she wants to do is talk about her son. She wants to tell everyone she meets about her son. She wants to remember all 28 years of his short life. Despite the pain that remembering brings, it provides comfort to share because she remembers the beautiful person he was while he was here. She told me that some choose to forget or not acknowledge because it’s less painful for them – “out of sight, out of mind”.

I am experiencing everything she shared with me like it’s a well-scripted play. Like her, remembering John is not an option; it’s a conscious choice. I remember my gorgeous husband, my friend, my companion and my soul mate. I remember because we were blessed with 20 wonderful years together; to not remember means these years didn’t exist. I remember the beautiful memories we created together which motivate me to write. I write because I promised to share our love story. Eventually, I will share our story because we want to inspire others to pursue their dreams and make them reality.

My request, if you have read this post, is that you develop empathy, not unresponsiveness.  The greatest gifts you can provide to someone like me and my friend are a listening ear, words of comfort, empathy and the gift of your time.

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You Said . . .

Sometimes tomorrow is too late.  Don’t promise something that you can’t fulfill.  Bea there when they need you, not when you can be there.

You said you would be there for us,

But you had an important meeting.

You said you would clear your calendar

And be there, you said, “I promise, you’ll see”.

You said you would see us next week

After all, the doctors said you’re doing better

“So we’ve got plenty of time

We’ll make plans soon and get together.”

You said you would be there for me

But I never called you to say when.

So I managed without you all this time,

“It’s ok, I’m ok, I’ll manage on my own again.”

You said you’d like to be there for me

But you said, “all we can do is pray”

After all, it’s been a few months now

Surely, God will provide a new way.”

You said we’ll try to be here for you

But my tears and sorrow were too much.

You stayed as long as you could stand

And then packed and drove away without a touch.

You said you are here to help me

But only for a couple of days.

You see, we have our own lives;

We cannot deal with your life’s crazy maze.

You said you would be there for me

But this weekend we’re going to the Keys

“We’ll see you when we return;

It’s not your time, you see.”

You said you would stay with me

So that I wouldn’t have to go it alone

But too many other things happened,

So once again I was alone.

You said you would be there for me

But now you have to go out of town.

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to bother;

I’ll be ok, I’ll survive, I promise I won’t drown.”

So what if you’re not here for me . . .

It’s no different than most of my life.

I only had one I could count on here

And now he has entered heaven, a life with no strife.

Kalik Konnection

My friend, Stacey, is helping me write a book about the love story between me and my husband.  One of the chapters in the book describes our all-expenses paid trip to the Atlantis on Paradise Island, Bahamas.  An excerpt of the chapter is below.

We slept in late on our first morning, enjoying coffee and brunch.  As we did on most of our day trips and vacations, we kept the day low-key.  It was the two of us and my camera experiencing the beach surrounding The Atlantis.  It was overcast, so the sun wasn’t scorching.  We walked the beach hand-in-hand letting our feet be tickled by the waves.  We walked away from the hotel and found a private area with chairs and an umbrella.  We sat away from others, just listening to the waves roll onto the shore, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.

We spent a few leisurely hours at the beach, and then headed back towards the hotel.  The Island Pool looked inviting.  We found a couple of lounge chairs and kicked back with a Kalik beer, the local favorite.  The pool was fairly quiet, however, you could hear the laughter and shouts coming from the Mayan Temple water slides.  John and I were perfectly content to sit in the corner taking pictures of each other and planning a romantic dinner for the evening.

A week prior to reading the chapter, Stacey had directed me to Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue to check out potential rescues.  There was a little yorkie who was looking for a home.  When John and I lived in North Carolina, I used to travel to Roanoke, VA on business, and he traveled with me.  Our all-time favorite steakhouse is Frankie Rowland’s in downtown Roanoke where we dined every time we traveled there.  It just so happened, the little yorkie looking for a home is named Frankie, spelled just like the steakhouse.  He’s now part of our family.

On the afternoon of 10/7, Stacey clicked on Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue’s facebook page.  There on the FB cover is a little dog sitting on the beach with a Kalik beer next to him.  Stacey had never heard of Kalik beer before reading our story.  As Stacey shared with me, “Tears in my eyes as I type this . . . I directed you toward lil Frankie at Nate’s Rescue . . . you adopt him . . . I read the story of your trip to the Bahamas . . . this picture shows up on Nate’s FB page.”

Coincidence?  Maybe . . .

Fluke?  Possibly . . .

A wink from God to connect me and John?  Positively . . . that’s what I Bea-lieve.

Instead of hawks or a beautiful rainbow, Stacey provided a connection to John through Frankie, named in honor of our favorite steakhouse, and Nate’s facebook cover page with a little dog enjoying the beach with a Kalik beer . . . thus, the Kalik Konnection.

Kalik Konnection

Spaghetti & Meatballs ?!?!?! Really?

Do you ever wonder why God places certain people in your path? I believe they are there when you need a sign that you are not alone. I believe they are they to provide a necessary connection to a loved one when you are too emotional to feel the tie you so desperately need.

Mary and Brian are two such people that have been placed in my life. John and I started attending Horizon Christian Church on Easter Sunday this year. We never met Mary and Brian, but they knew our beautiful story before they knew us. Since August, they are providing a much-needed connection between me and John without ever having met John themselves.

Over the last couple of months, I have been writing the beautiful love story between me and John. Mary is one of my “editors”. She is supposed to read as I write and provide feedback and input. However, as of last weekend, she hadn’t read a word that I sent her! She and Brian invited me over for dinner last Saturday, and I reluctantly accepted. She texted me that “they were going easy and having spaghetti and meatballs”.

We had dinner around 6:00 p.m. with their son and “Aunt” Connie. Mary had cooked spaghetti and meatballs and dinner included salad and bread. We enjoyed our meal and nice conversation. At some point, Mary asked me what I liked to eat? I said, “if you read our book, you would know the answer.” She rolled her eyes at me. Then she asked if I liked to drink wine. I said “yes” to which she asked, “what is your favorite?” Again, I said, “if you read our book, you would know the answer.  I’m not going to tell you.” At that point, she said, “ok, ok, I get it, I need to read your book!”

I don’t like driving in the dark by myself, so I left around 7:30 p.m. to go home. I thanked them for their kindness and meal. She packed me some pumpkin bread that she had bought for something sweet.

It was Sunday afternoon when I received a text message from Mary.  All it said was “started reading your book . . . spaghetti and meatballs?!?!?! Really? That blew my mind.”

You see, it blew her mind because she read it in our book after I left her house Saturday night.  Had she read the book ahead of time, she would have known that spaghetti and meatballs was one of John’s favorites.  The first Valentine’s lunch with John was at Olive Garden, and he ordered spaghetti and meatballs. On our day trip to Ybor City, we ate at Spaghetti Warehouse, and he ordered spaghetti and meatballs.  It was a meal he would order many more times over the years.

What Mary doesn’t know, because it’s not part of the book yet, is that pumpkin bread was our favorite that we enjoyed with our morning coffee. John always loaded up on canned pumpkin when it was in season, so that I could bake pumpkin bread and pumpkin bars throughout the year. I made sure I had a fresh loaf whenever Jeri came for Superbowl every year. How would she know that if John didn’t nudge her gently, speaking to her heart and soul, knowing I would be there with her?

So, why did God choose Mary and Brian to be my link to John?  I don’t know . . . I just share the story because it really happened.  I hope to provide inspiration to you, too.  Hopefully, I can help you Bea Positive that God’s ways are mysterious and inexplicable . . .you just have to Bea-lieve.

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