Bea-Day

My birthday is in mid-April and for many years coincides with Easter. This year was one of those. The past few years have been emotional and full of change. Why is it that years that end in 9 are the hardest? This year I turned 59, and it was a tough transition. It’s just a number, right?

For many years, we lived close enough to my parents to spend my birthday with them. Over the past 3-4 years, so many things happened personally that it wasn’t feasible to meet. However, this year was an exception, and we made plans to spend my birthday/Easter weekend with my parents.

We met halfway between FL and AL in Valdosta, GA in a pet-friendly hotel. My parents traveled with Princess, and we had Frankie. Conveniently we had adjoining rooms which turned out to be a blessing. Princess has serious separation anxiety, so Frankie was the perfect companion to keep her quiet and settled so we could enjoy dinner together.

The restaurant we chose was a short walk across the parking lot. We had a very pleasant waiter who looked like Wesley Snipes! He was so nice and took pictures of mama, daddy, me and Roger for special photo memories of our time together. We “messaged” the pictures to my sister, Beth. Her response was hilarious – “you must be at Olive Garden because the breadsticks gave it away!”

As we ordered our entrees, my father told “Wesley” that it was my birthday. After we finished our dinner, “Wesley” and two other waiters showed up at our table with two ice cream desserts. Well, to my embarrassment, they couldn’t just set the desserts on the table, they sang Happy Birthday to me!

We spent one more day together enjoying lunch and dinner as a family. On Tuesday morning we departed and went to our respective homes. Reflecting on the time we spent together, I realized how fortunate I was to spend my birthday once again with my parents and with my new husband. We all know we have fewer years ahead of us than behind us. Bea Positive that when you have the opportunity to spend time with your family – don’t let it slip away.

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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.

“You Spoke To Me Through Mary”

Every day I talk to you. As hard as I try to listen, but I can’t hear you speaking to me. Today was different, because you spoke to me through Mary.

The first time I met Mary was when she, Brian and Zack and eight others came over to clean our yard on August 15.  Today, Mary, Brian and Zack came back to help paint a few rooms.

They stopped at Panera Bread before coming over, and Mary asked me if I wanted breakfast. I asked for a breakfast sandwich of some kind, not picky. They arrived around 9:30 a.m., and we ate in our kitchen. As I was eating my egg and bacon sandwich, she handed me another bag. She said, “we decided to get you something sweet, so we got you a cinnamon bun.” I choked back the tears and told her that was our favorite pastry when we used to go to Panera.  Brian said, “See, John told us to get the cinnamon roll for you.”

Mary and I took a little break mid-morning.  She mentioned that she tried to find my “beapositive” blog. I asked her how she knew; she remembered from Pastor Dan’s message last week. I also asked her to read our book that I’ve started.

As Brian was cleaning up the paint brushes, trays, etc., she and I sat in the kitchen and talked. As the morning passed, she must have sensed that she needed to share something with me. She had a dream a few weeks before she met me.  A dear friend of hers went to heaven sometime in July. This is how I know that you spoke to me this morning.

Mary says she has very vivid dreams. In this particular dream, her friend whispered in her ear, so close that Mary could feel her breath. She said for whatever reason, she smelled some kind of mint. I believe it was wintergreen, the flavor of the Altoids we have in our car that we’d eat to cover up coffee-breath. She told Mary, “you are not going to believe this place when you get here. It’s more beautiful than you can imagine.”  Then her friend beckoned her and said, “I want to show you this house. Follow me.”

At the house, the first thing she saw was a waterfall.  Where the water spilled into the stones were black pebble stones. She said when I turned on the waterfall on August 15, the first thing she saw were the black pebble stones.  I remember when  you wanted to add black stones where the water fall, and we bought them at a local nursery.  You placed them with your hands at the bottom of the waterfall.  She immediately called Brian over and said, “look at the waterfall and the black pebble stones. . . just like in my dream.”

Waterfall with Black Pebblestones

Waterfall with Black Pebblestones

The second thing she saw in the dream were little elephant statuettes standing around her. She said it took her breath away this morning while we ate breakfast. Over in the corner on our kitchen counter she saw three elephant statuettes just like in her dream.

Elephant Statuettes

Elephant Statuettes

The third thing that convinced me you were speaking to me was the phrase she used to describe our love story. She said the way I have weaved our memories and your poetry is like a “word dance”. At that point, I took her into our music room and showed her the pictures on the wall. The first one is a couple dancing in the rain on the beach that we bought together.  I am the lady in red dancing with my Prince Charming. The other picture was a Christmas present to you from me, “Dance Me To The End of Love”.  We used to dance in our living room.  Although we can’t physically dance together right now, our story is our “word dance”, a beautiful love story with your poetry and my stories about our memories.  I know you gave her the phrase “word dance” to share with me.

Dancing

Dancing

IMG_20150829_171433252

I thank God that Mary, Brian and Zack are in our lives. Mary said, “I am your connection to John right now. He is speaking through me so that you know how much he loves you.  He is waiting for you.”

My heart aches beyond words can describe every minute that I’m awake. I only have peace when I write about us, so I continue to write our beautiful life. I love you and miss you more every day. But today . . . you spoke to me through Mary.

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