Melancholy

Grief knows no calendar.

I guess I will always feel a little melancholy in January.

I lost my mom two years ago this month, and I continue to be surprised at just how much harder it is to move on from her death than what I’ve experienced after losing our other parents.  I don’t know if it was the fact that she was our last living parent, if it is because I was closer to her than any of our other parents, or if it’s something else.  Without a doubt, though, grief is taking it’s sweet time with me, it seems.

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I think most people tend to give a lot of leeway to family members and friends in the first year after the loss of a close loved one.  Tackling all those “firsts” can be so, so hard, and I certainly found that to be true after losing my mother, just as it was after we lost our other parents.  I had quite a bit of support, especially from my closest friends, and I’m grateful for the love shown that truly helped me through that first year.

Grief didn’t care about that calendar, though.  Not one bit.

Last year was my second full year without Mom, and I swear it was just as hard on many occasions as it was in year one.  Understandably, most people assume that after that first year, all is fine… or at least better, so I started to just keep my feelings to myself and not burden others with my continuing feelings.  Friends have other interests in their lives and suffer their own heartaches.

Life moves on for all of us.

But, as Shelby’s mom said in Steel Magnolias after the graveside service for her sweet Shelby…

“I’ll tell you what I wish. … That’s what my mind says, I just wish somebody would explain it to my heart.”  (Steel Magnolias… 1989)

Oh, how very true that statement is.  So, so true.  (I’m not sure a movie ever truly captured such a true manifestation of grief as this particular scene at the cemetery.)

I have no sage wisdom to share today, except to simply acknowledge that grief doesn’t stick to a one-year calendar, despite that conventional viewpoint these days.  Acknowledging the ongoing grief helps a bit, and that’s why I’m writing today.  Simple acknowledgement.

I hope this lesson sticks with me and reminds me to have a tender heart toward others in the future, perhaps by simply marking my calendar and letting them know that I’m thinking of them and offering a heart-felt, sympathetic prayer for them on their own hard anniversaries.

I want to make it count, this often hard path I continue to find myself on without my Mom in my life.  (The article linked is absolutely fabulous.)

During this anniversary month of Mom’s passing, I’m reading The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp, and so far, it is quietly speaking to my broken heart.  Ann’s writings are best savored slowly and deliberately, and every day, I’m slowly “getting it.”  Perhaps if you find yourself with a broken heart right now, this book might offer some insight to you, too.  If not right now, perhaps make a note of this great book for a time you might need it in the future?

Ann is “explaining it to my heart,” and I am grateful.

 

Staycation Recap

My little staycation is coming to a close today.  Hubby finally returns home later tonight, after his first flight from Asia was cancelled due to mechanical issues, and he was forced to spend another night there on Wednesday night.  The airline put all 400 passengers on his flight in a hotel overnight that was about an hour away, but in the end, everything worked out just fine.  He is quite ready to be home again, even though he will now be tackling another new challenge at work that arose while he was gone when some people in the company gave their two-week notices last week.  Let’s just say that he is going to be very busy for a while, if not for the long-haul.  I am quite ready for him to be home, too.

I enjoyed my little staycation and even accomplished quite a few needed chores around the house and yard.  I have also spent some time with friends and family, reading, watching movies and even cooking, believe it or not.  The only meals that I have eaten out over the past two weeks were with friends and family, and it has been nice to just relax here at home at mealtime, cooking for myself.  I discovered a new crustless quiche recipe with a kick that was fabulous, and I will try to share that recipe here soon.

Probably one of the most enjoyable aspects of the past two weeks was watching some of my all-time favorite movies, mostly after dinner each evening.  I averaged two or three movies each day and loved every minute of it.  Sometimes during normal days at home, I may turn on a movie while working around the house, but seldom do I actually just sit down and watch it without interruptions.  Not so with my movie time the past two weeks.

It is always fun to relive great movie moments, especially since a number of them are based on true stories.  Here are some of the moments I enjoyed reliving over the past two weeks.

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Katniss and Rue in their heartbreaking final moments together in The Hunger Games,

Robin Williams humbly thanking his class at the end of Dead Poets Society,

Helen Hunt, after an entire movie of quirky events, finally falling in love with Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets,

Bruce Willis and Ben Afflek in their final hurried and tearful moments together in Armageddon,

Chris Pine hearing the unbelievable announcement that their wine had just won the elite contest in Paris, beating the French wines against all odds in Bottle Shock, (true story)

Jodie Foster finally making contact and (and suddenly finding she has faith) in Contact,

The tearful, gut-wrenching goodbyes in Marley and Me that bring similar moments back home in a sad but wonderful way, and remind me how blessed I am to have loved many animals in my lifetime, (true story)

The lunar spacecraft triumphantly splashing down safely in the Pacific Ocean, despite the long odds of a safe return after a horrible explosion, in Apollo 13, (true story)

Sandra Bullock stubbornly believing in Michael Oher when others did not in The Blind Side, (true story)

The many delightful interactions between Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman in Fried Green Tomatoes,

Mr. Spock unexpectedly dying in The Wrath of Khan, leaving every living Trekie in shock,

Darth Vader delivering his most powerful and devastating blow against Luke by saying,  “No, I am your father,” in Star Wars, Episode V,

The final, history-making race in Secretariat, which (for me) is still the absolute best moment in sports ever, especially when I finally understood the back-story, (true story)

When Johan Hill shows the film of the unlikely baseball hero to Brad Pitt, a profound scene in a movie that I absolutely, positively adored after I saw it the first time, Moneyball, (true story)

And, one of the most fabulous movie twists *ever* near the end of Ender’s Game.  I won’t give that one away because too many people still have not seen this great movie.  I have since come back time and time again thinking about this movie and its subject matter, too.

I also started reading Lysa TerKeurst’s new book, “The Best Yes,” and it is a fabulous read.  I highly recommend it for anyone, man or woman, who can identify with the topic, even though the target audience is women.  It is a wonderful look at how we can all make better decisions in our lives in a very honest and practical way, while throwing in a good amount of humor along the way concerning her own life issues.

I also enjoyed setting up my new Galaxy Tab 3 by tackling that task a little each day.  Ironically, I just saw where Barnes and Noble just announced their newest Nook device, which is a Galaxy Tab 4 device with Nook included.  Their price for this 8G storage device is $179.  I paid only $199 for my 16G storage tablet, and the two look identical.  The overall specs on mine also beat their new Nook device, too.  So, I’m glad that I bought my tablet at Costco at that price, for sure.  I have both my Nook and Kindle apps on it now to enable me to read all of my ebooks on one device, with lots of storage room to spare, although my favorite reading device is still my Nook simple touch with the glo-light.

As summer winds down and we all get back to our normal routines soon, I am quite thankful that I had a nice way to pass this two weeks at home alone… well, almost alone.  My dogs are always good company, and thankfully, Red is doing just fine after getting stitches for his cut last weekend.  All in all, it’s been a good, relaxing time. 🙂

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Wordless Wednesday – Summer Bible Study

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Thanksgiving Thoughts

I am in uncharted territory right now.  I am *not* cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Actually, this is not totally uncharted territory, I guess, as we opted to go out to eat one other time about five years ago when a lot of other things were happening in our family.  But, it just feels quite different this time, since we are doing this more by our choice and not by necessity.  Plus, I think I should admit that I’m feeling a little unappreciated right now as well.  It has just been a tough year as far as some local family relationships are concerned in a couple of respects.  I actually miss the cooking that I normally would be doing this week, but at least for this year, I am also enjoying some other preparations right now, as we have decided to head out-of-town to go camping on Thanksgiving afternoon for a few days once again.  We did this last year after I cooked our big feast for lunch, and it was a real treat for us.

I have also been focusing on my own “attitude of gratitude” even more this year, as I have mentioned here in earlier posts.  As I contemplate on how to really be thankful, the thought of sitting around with a few other family members and watching football and perusing Black Friday ads for hours on Thanksgiving afternoon just isn’t sitting well with me.  For me, Thanksgiving has almost eroded into a pre-Christmas shopping feast that has little resemblance to our celebrations decades ago where we got together for a big extended family celebration and spent time playing games together and really enjoyed each other’s company.  I’ve made a couple of attempts to turn the TV off, but it just has not worked.  Frankly, I’m just pretty tired of it all, to be honest.  I’m wondering if this also resonates with anyone else these days.

Last year, getting away to a remote state park really did the trick for me as far as enjoying Thanksgiving and having time to relax and really count my many blessings.  Just getting out in nature helps, for sure, but completely getting out of that old routine of football games and Black Friday ads really helped most of all.  It’s like we made a conscious choice to give that up to honor God and take some time to really be thankful, and it did so much for my soul.  It also helped me to get in a better frame of mind to keep the Christmas holiday in a proper perspective as well.  I don’t think we would have to get away to do this either if we could just turn the TV off and do some things together instead, but that just has not happened and likely will not happen, unfortunately.

I am so very blessed, and it seems appropriate to take some quality time to acknowledge these blessings at Thanksgiving.  I will also begin anew my daily gratitude list for the next year, since for me, Thanksgiving is also a wrap-up time to summarize my year of personal Thanksgiving that I’ve done in a smaller way each day, and for me, that is really something to celebrate.

Here are my Three Little Thankfuls for today.

— Freshness in the air after a wonderful and unexpected rain shower

— A perfect cup of hazelnut coffee this morning

— Black-eyed peas that I put up fresh in the summer that are now cooking on my stove

Feel free to chime in with your own Three Little Thankfuls, if you would like, too.

I am certainly looking forward to enjoying a good meal (cooked by someone else) with some family members at lunch on Thanksgiving, and we will certainly be thinking of and praying for those that are not as fortunate this year, especially those impacted by Hurricane Sandy in the northeast.  I will also continue in prayer for the restoration of family relationships that have suffered this past year, both for us and some other family members.

I wish for your, dear readers, a most blessed and happy Thanksgiving, and I invite you to begin a full-year of sincerely counting your own blessings each day, too.  If you would like a good book to help you get started, I highly recommend One Thousand Gifts from Ann Voskamp.

Evening update:  Once again, God has spoken to my heart, as I read the following passage tonight.

“We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks. Because how else do we accept His free gift of salvation if not with thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace.”
Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Ar

Tuesday morning update:  This article just came out this morning in the NY Post, by Archbishop Timothy Dolan, an excellent read.

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Never Forget

On this anniversary of 9/11, I wanted to simply share one of the most beautiful music videos of all time, at least in my opinion.  I first saw it in 2002, and I have come back to watch it and listen to the words many times since then because the lyrics are so beautiful and sad, yet leave me full of hope at the same time.  Michael W. Smith’s music has a fabulous way of doing that at times, and this portrayal of how so many of us feel when we see our flag, especially in times of national trial or remembrance, is so accurate and moving.  Our flag is not just a piece of cloth.  It embodies who we are as a nation and the highest ideals of who we are striving to become.  This video makes me want to cry, and then it makes me want to get up and be a better person today than I was yesterday.  That is who we are as Americans, at heart, I think.

I recently heard someone say that someday, the 9/11 anniversary will simply fade into obscurity and will hardly be noticed, probably after most of us that are old enough to vividly remember the day are gone.  After all, who really thinks much of Pearl Harbor Day anymore?  I must sadly confess that I probably fall into that category.  But while I am alive, I will never, ever forget this anniversary and the thousands of my fellow citizens that died that day and afterwards.  I recently read Let’s Roll, Ordinary People – Extraordinary Courage by Lisa Beamer, the wife of Todd Beamer who was one of the men on Flight 93.  It is one of the most inspirational books I have read in quite some time, too.  (Last year, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the Flight 93 Memorial was dedicated in a solemn ceremony, and this article tells more about that event.)

Even though I was going through some very hard days during the Fall of 2001, it pales in comparison to what so many others were going through that were directly impacted by the attacks.  Still, the combination of events, both personal and national, caused me to pursue God in a way that I had never done before.  For the opportunity to experience God’s grace and help and love more than ever before, I humbly remain grateful because it changed me forever.

Peace to you today, hug those you love, do something kind for someone, and remember the courage and sacrifice of those that have paid the ultimate price for us.

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