Sunday, August 21, 2011
In what was some amazing timing (or perhaps a mama and baby who were really wanting me there as their support) the baby came five days after his due date, the day after I returned home from vacation. Leaving on the baby’s due date was very hard for me as I had really hoped to be at the birth to support this family that I had come to know, not to mention complete the requirements for my birth doula certification. I hoped and prayed throughout our vacation, believing it impossible, that this baby would wait. And he did.
The labor and birth were perfect, classic second baby labor with very speedy pushing and birth. Everything went as it should with no complications. But birth is never a ‘blah’ event, no matter how textbook it is. There are moments of self-doubt, of anger even at having to go through such a struggle to bring this new life into being. And then there are moments of incredible joy, when the baby is placed lovingly on the mother and all is known to be well. When the tears of relief and wonder escape the eyes of all present.
Gram’s passing was similar in a way. She was 93, she had lived a long and richly blessed life. She passed her driving test almost a year ago and was still getting about mostly on her own only months ago despite her repeated wonderment at when it would be her turn to go. She knew her race was nearly done, she was at peace with going on to meet the Lord (she even quoted her mother, saying “Jesus doesn’t want me and the devil won’t take me”). She fell and broke her hip two months ago and recovered well from the surgery, even walking a bit right before returning to her own condo a few weeks ago.
But it was her time. In the last three weeks her congestive heart failure progressed more rapidly and she was unable to get comfortable rest at night. She still wore her beautifully radiant smile when we visited her only three weeks ago, she lit up when she saw the children. But we could tell that the end was nearing and she was struggling more and more each day.
On Thursday evening, Jeremy got home from work and I had dinner packed up to eat in the car. We had talked with his parents and knew that we needed to go and say our goodbyes. When we arrived his mother met us and told us we had just made it. Gram’s breathing was very labored and her breaths were few and far between. It picked up as we talked and as she listened to her other grandchildren talking to her on the phone.
Evie sat with grandma on the bed pulled up next to GG as Jeremy and I held her hands. Hannah and Eli came in to hold her hands and say goodbye and then Hannah made a friendship bracelet for GG. We put the bracelet on next to Gram’s rosary and Hannah started working on another behind me on the bed. Evie and Grandma moved to the floor to play with stuffed animals and conversation turned to the birth I had attended the day before.
As we talked, Gram’s breathing slowed more and more and then stopped. Mom looked up from where she and Evie were playing, noticing and came to Gram’s side. Aunt Peggy also came over from where she had been sitting and hugged her mother. There were tears. I sent Hannah to the living room and gave Gram one last kiss.
Then I found Hannah, GG Rosebud, in a puddle of tears.
Life, even when it goes as we know it should, is not easy. I guess that is good, but man it hurts. We moved here with the purpose of raising our children close to their family. I wanted my kids to know what I never felt I had - to have relatives at all their birthdays and all the holidays and even the in between days. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and by God’s amazing grace, two Great Grandmas that they would grow up knowing and then live their lives with the wonderful memories of them. And we have that at a cost. The cost of true sorrow over the loss of a loved one.
My own Grandpa died when I was six years old. I knew him and loved him but I had also spent a large part of my life very far away from him. I remember when he died. I remember my Mom being very sad but I also remember thinking that there was something wrong with me because I was not as sad as she was.
A year ago last week, my own Grandmother passed away. We had the fortune of being with her to say goodbye two days before she passed. I felt a different kind of sorrow at her passing, more a sense of wishing that I had gotten to know her better. I did have some great memories of times spent with her and her old cabin in Marquette marks the one place in this world that I truly feel connected to (being the one place I have returned to repeatedly in my life since I was a baby).
Gram Jennings I will miss more in the everyday. I had the good fortune of getting to know her well over the past fourteen years since Jeremy and I were engaged. I have always been impressed with her sense of style and her generously loving spirit. She made the best lemon cream angel food cake (which I tried making and failed miserably at - I’ll have to work on that). St. Patrick’s day has always been celebrated with corned beef and cabbage since I met her and I love it (being a non-red meat eating person these days I still allow myself some corned beef on St Paddy’s day). I have always loved that she likes silver as much as I do, she got the kids beautiful silver baby rattles. I loved that she loved my kids and enjoyed watching her eyes light up when the kids came to visit. I know they are going to miss the games of hide and seek they always played at her condo. All the family festivities will be a little less without her. One less place at the table for Christmas and Thanksgiving and birthdays and just plain old family get togethers.
So there are tears of sadness. And perhaps there should be tears of joy. Joy that she is finally in heaven where she so badly wanted to be for the past few months. The joy of her passing from this life on earth on to her eternal home, something like the joy of a baby being born. Once the baby is born, the mother begins her worrying, "is he cold? hungry? wet? hurt?". And now our worrying over Gram is done but our sadness remains.
It is as it should be, just not easy.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Most of you who know me, know that I am an ‘MK’, a ‘PK’, a regular church-goer and so on. But if you really know me, you also know that I am not very open about my faith. I often feel that my faith is not really up to snuff for someone with the ‘churchy’ credentials I have. I don’t do daily devotions, my Biblical knowledge is sorely lacking, I do not like to pray out loud other than our mealtime prayers and I get uncomfortable when talk of religion becomes anything more than intellectual conversation. So it may surprise some of you as much as it surprised me that today a hymn just popped into my head. And I could not shake it.
We were leaving the pool on our bikes and this hymn started playing in my head. As I started going over the lyrics to myself, I realized that it was quite perfect. The day had been quite perfect. The house was clean, laundry done, Jeremy had gotten some work done but was home in time to enjoy lunch with us on the patio. The kids had enjoyed playing outside some more (well, minus Evie who is going through a spat with insects). The weather was perfection - blue skies with big fluffy white clouds blowing by, right around the mid-70s to almost 80 degrees, not humid, just perfect. I was ready to teach my class which is my real passion. Life is good. I have a new nephew whom I absolutely adore, who is a miraculous gift from God. Siblings that I love, parents who are continuing their phenomenal parenting as fabulous grandparents. Grad school classes are all done, student teaching is coming up and then a diploma, another achievement that will open up life to more experiences, more challenges, more joy. Doula certification is in the works, allowing me to be present and assist couples in that exhilarating experience of becoming a family. We are blessed beyond measure with good fortune in our lives, how could I not be amazingly joyful? Something within me, perhaps my inner ‘PK’ busted out with a hymn that captured the moment perfectly:
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
1. Praise to the Lord, The Almighty, the King of creation! O my soul, praise Him, For He is thy health and salvation! All ye who hear, Now to His temple draw near; Praise Him in glad adoration.
2. Praise to the Lord, Who over all things so wondrously reigneth, Shelters thee under His wings, Yea, so gently sustaineth! Hast thou not seen How all your longings have been Granted in what He ordaineth?
3. Praise to the Lord, Who doth prosper thy work and defend thee; Surely His goodness And mercy here daily attend thee. Ponder anew What the Almighty can do, If with His love He befriend thee.
4. Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him! All that hath life and breath, Come now with praises before Him. Let the Amen Sound from His people again, Gladly for aye we adore Him.
For all the contemporary Christian music there is, and I love most of it, there is something about these old hymns, maybe it is that my body can feel the surge of the organ and the tingling feeling I get from experiencing the joining of so many voices, whatever it is, there is something about it that makes it so special that it is what played in my heart in a moment of incredible joy. What an incredible blessing from above this day, and all that it contained, has been!
Thursday, May 5, 2011
If I had to say what the single most important societal problem of our day is I would say it is the ‘disconnect’. Funny, we think we are so ‘connected’ with all our technology but in reality we have become increasingly disconnected from everything that is important in life – the people closest to us, the environment around us, and even our own selves.
We think that having the new hot phone will help us stay connected to everything and everyone but we use it as a distraction tool, something to occupy time. Instead of making a connection with the person sitting next to us outside our daughter’s ballet class we check our emails and browse the internet.
I would not even say that it is the fault of the technology we use so much as the choices we are making. Mobile phones are great for many situations. It is not the devices but the users who seem to have lost touch, or disconnected from those around them.
We have disconnected ourselves from the earth and air that surrounds us, we hide inside out of fear or laziness and fail to make a real connection with nature. Maybe this makes it easier to go on using plastic bags and driving gas-guzzling high-pollution vehicles – if we don’t see the beauty that we are destroying through our own daily choices we don’t have to feel bad about what we do.
We also disconnect from our own being, from our physical body through not paying attention to aches and pains and reactions to certain foods that may be causing us more ill than good, and from our spiritual self constant worry about the future and keeping up with the Jones’ rather than being fully present in experiencing the joy in each fleeting moment.
Staying connected to others, to the space around us and to our innermost being is something that takes effort. It requires of us something more than most are willing to give but the payoff is so much greater than we could ever expect – the hug from an understanding friend, the tranquility of sitting peacefully, watching the waves crash on the shore, the incredible peace you can experience when you know that you have made positive decisions that will make not only your own, but someone else’s life a little bit better. That is why regaining the lost connection is worth the effort.
Monday, March 14, 2011
I spent the day today creating what I hope will solve all behavior issues in this house. Cool. I bet you want to know what it is, huh?
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