Joy After the Door is Closed

Today I found unexpected joy in rebirth and re-creating.  Thanks to an event shared on Facebook by a friend, we were able to see a play today.

I love plays.  I love live theater.

I absolutely adore holiday plays.

We attended a revision of “White Christmas,” performed by young people in our community.

It was different and well-done and completely fabulous.

Looking at all of those faces and their eagerness and thinking about how much of their wonderful lives they have ahead of them, I got teary-eyed.  When I saw a young teenage girl at the curtain call eyeing her parents who were sitting behind us and noticed that she was getting teary-eyed, I started to lose it.  When I leaned over and hugged my dear One who had joined us, I was undone.  The tears came, and I didn’t care.

Sheer joy.

The way the play was worked, all of the children who wanted to participate were able to.  They danced and they laughed and they delivered their lines and they told a story.  An important one about holding others above self.

The whole afternoon was joy-filled.

It was held in  a building that used to house a Family Dollar.  Since this was our first time attending a play there (not my first time in the building), I didn’t know what to expect.

What a lovely surprise!

New life was breathed back into that building and a theater was born.

From Family Dollar’s ending, something truly beautiful came to be.

If you haven’t picked up on it by now, change is very, very hard for me.  I do not like it at all, it’s not my friend, and it will never be on my birthday list.

And yet–

I think there was a lesson in what I felt today.

Things can end.  The darkness can come.  And yet,

joy shall rise again.  New life will come.

The light will shine again.

And I give thanks for that–for all of the lights that shine, from spotlights to tree lights to the bright, warm sun that kissed our faces as we left with our souls touched and spirits lifted.

A day of merry and magnificent memory-making!  I’m thankful.

Love to all.

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The Family Dollar never looked so lovely…..

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so homey…..

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or so completely wonderful.  Scenes from the back of the theater.  

 

Spaghetti Pants and Coffee

Today was one of those days with good and hard so jumbled up together, it’s hard to see one without the other.

Which works really well if you are trying not to focus on the negative…..there’s always some positive to think upon.

It was a day of putting my big girl boots on and closing another set of doors to the past.

I hate contemplating the idea of “last time.”

Oh there’s some last times that are good.  But today had the potential to be the “last time” of going to a place that built me.  A place filled with memories of little me, and little littles.  The last time–inconceivable.  I just couldn’t bear the thought.  Seen in the rearview mirror, it all becomes more precious.

But I put on my big girl boots and went and did what I had to do.

These boots were made for walkin'.....

These boots were made for walkin’…..

To say goodbye one more time.  To sign my name once more.  To take care of business.  To let it go.

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I’ve been spending way too much time with lawyers and in courtrooms lately, it seems.  All towards the end and closure, but still.

No, death is not the final word because there is one more after that–estate.

Which I’ve pretty much deemed an ugly word.  One that makes people do things they wouldn’t normally, one that can bring out love and patience or greed and selfishness.  Take your pick.  I’ve seen both.

But in the midst of the day, I looked down and I noticed I had spaghetti sauce on my good jeans.  (I was dressed up for all this big girl business stuff.)  And I laughed.  I near about started crying, and then I laughed again.

Imagine all those folks I made feel better about themselves today because they could say, “Huh.  I’m not doing too bad.  Look at that girl.  She might have those cute big girl boots on, but she has spaghetti sauce on her pants…..”  and then they’d laugh and laugh.

That thought brought me so much joy you just don’t know.

I mean, if I can make other folks laugh and feel okay about themselves–well, that’s something, isn’t it?

Today was hard.  But tonight I’m thankful for phone calls from brothers, listening to the tears and saying just the right words.  And for the laughter.  Oh he can make me laugh too, with or without spaghetti sauce on his pants.  I give thanks for a sweet Princess who sat through the day of thingstodo and drew all different kinds of fashion outfits, complete with accessories, in her little notebook.  This week she’s a fashion designer and actually quite good.  I smile at the curiosity in my baby boy, who found a pamphlet about “Identity Theft” and read all about it as we sat waiting at the bank.  He’s quirky, and I like him that way.  Today I give thanks for folks whose stories intertwine with mine, and how the shared tears over remembering those we’ve lost brings two people together faster than almost anything else (except food maybe?).  I appreciate the gift of being shown through a house I once knew every inch of like it was the back of my hand, just to put my heart and mind at peace that it’s being cared for and loved.  Precious people.  Most of all though, tonight I’m thankful for an amazing doctor, who, when I asked if there was such a thing as me drinking too much coffee (I was quite serious), answered, “No.  Not at Christmas!” And then he laughed so jovially I couldn’t help but join in.  Now that’s a man who really cares about his patients!

This evening after supper, Cooter was walking around with the music maker playing Katy Perry’s “Roar” over and over.  Once I even heard him singing it from the bathroom.  It’s quiet now, but I looked up the lyrics (written by Katy Perry, Bonnie Mc Kee, Dr. Luke, Max Martin, and Cirkut), and I think he might just have picked up on his Mama’s spirit and feelings about today and was trying to give me a boost–bless him.

Here’s the first bit:
I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly, agreed politely
I guess that I forgot I had a choice
I let you push me past the breaking point
I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything

You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, you hear that sound
Like thunder gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Get ready ’cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

[Chorus]
I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar

 

Some days a little roaring is a good thing, and today was one such day.  I fell down but I got back up, brushed the dust off my boots, and danced through the fire that was today.

Doesn’t mean there won’t be more fires…..

(surefire certain there will be)

but it does mean I can get through them.

With spaghetti pants and coffee, no less…..

because I’m a fighter.

And doors may close, but I will keep on keeping on.

Wishing you all the energy to get back up…..and roar.

Love to all.

messages in the mirror

Dear One,

Tonight as I was driving home I came upon the portion of the road where they are doing all that roadwork.  Expansion.  Ugh.  I’m already disgusted with myself about it, because I’m sure it will only take a few months after the road widening is done that I will be thankful for the extra space on the roads. I will forget my indignation at the trees cut down and habitats destroyed and become complacent.  Double ugh.  But I digress.

I looked at those homes sitting on the side of the road.  No telling how long they have been there.  With families that have loved living on a country highway.  Children who had memorized exactly how many steps it took to check the mailbox by the road.  Mamas who could tell the time of day by the cars and buses that passed by.  Families that sat on their porches and waved at the passersby.  A good life.  Content.

And now, their yards have been violated.  Ripped into.  These homes now only have a fraction of what they did before, the black plastic marking and separating what is left of their space from what once was. Fences lay all askew and the grass is non-existent.  And all they can do is sit and accept.  No one will want their precious home now.  Selling it isn’t even an option.  It’s hopeless.

I gazed upon the torn down trees and gutted earth, and I thought of you.  How you must feel like these families do.  Your heart torn into, at first slowly, and then not with one or two, but with three big rips.  What your life once was, ripped into pieces.  And what you are left with–much, much less than it was.  Devastated.  Hopeless.  I imagined that was how your heart must ache.

The tears you hold back.  The words you don’t say.  The mask you must wear and the burdens you feel you must carry alone.  All of it wearing you thin and making everything that happens seem more.  More than you can handle.  More than you can cope with.  More than you can bear.

Until you find yourself searching for a lap to crawl into.  Somewhere to curl into a ball and be safe.  A place to hide from all that has gone before.  And from all that could yet still come.  A place to be.  Or not be.  Darkness.  Quiet.

My Mama would say, “At least nobody’s shooting bullets at us.”  Some days that was as good as it seemed to get, and she’d take it.  It’s hard to hear those words and take heart in them now, isn’t it?  Daddy’s wisdom seems far, far away, the echoes of his words so distant, they are unintelligible.  It’s enough to make one feel lost, without those who have always guided and loved and offered sanctuary.  It’s enough to make one just want to quit.

When Mess Cat was headed back to her life from before the HospitalStay last year–the same yet so different–after Mama was gone and we were left to figure things out on our own, she took my hands, looked me in the eyes, and said, “I want you to do me a favor.”  I nodded through the tears.  “Remember these words.  ‘Yes.  Thank you.’  When someone offers to help or whatever, you say those words.  Okay?”  I nodded again.

I need you to nod now.  Those words.  Can you say them?  Can you let people help?  And if the offers aren’t there, will you please let those around you know what you need?  And if you don’t even know yourself, will you tell them THAT?  That you don’t know what you need, but you are.  In.  Need.  And when they offer to come and sit in the dark with you, will you say these words?  Yes.  Thank you.  When they call you on the phone will you pick it up?  Will you say, I need help?  Not “I’m fine.  I’m okay.  Doing all right.”  Take off the mask and let them in.

Life was not meant to be lived alone.  We were not meant to walk the path with no one at our side.   It’s lonely and it’s dark and there are shadows and noises that can be frightening.  As Leroy said today, we all are on a journey that there is no blueprint for.  No map.  There’s no book that tells any of us exactly how to get through this without it being messy and hard and broken and filled with longing and hurt.  Because there is no such thing.  It’s going to be all of those things.  For a long time to come.  Grief is all of those things and more.  Period.  There are no buts.

I have hope that you, me, we all can get through this.  Leroy said we can, and he’s never been less than truthful with me.  I want you to do this.  Go look in the mirror.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.  Now look yourself in the eyes.  And tell yourself these things and begin to believe them.

*I am enough.

No matter how you interpret the behavior and thoughts of others, take off the filter that tells you it’s all because you are not enough. 

*I am loved. 

Because you are.  By so many.  Now go and love yourself.

*I can do this.  I can.  One step at a time.  With the help of others.  I can.

You can.  It won’t be easy.  The path you take may not look like Mama’s or Daddy’s or anyone else you love.  But it will be your path and you will make it and get through this.  You won’t ever be able to shake all of the pain off your heart, but you can and will be able to see beyond it.  Eventually.  Just take it one moment at a time.  One small task.  Some days getting up and getting dressed is enough of an accomplishment for the day. 

And as you hear those words, do these things:

*Cry.  Speak.  Let it all out. 

Holding it in will only break you further.  Tears are good.  Letting it out will make room for the good stuff.  And one day, please Lord, there will be plenty of good to fill you up. 

*Give grace freely.

To others.  To yourself. Hurt happens, but you don’t have to let it linger in your heart.  Work through it and give grace.  Especially to yourself. 

*Seek joy. 

In a memory.  In a word.  In a smile.  In a song on the radio.  Look for it.  You have to look to find it, joy is not likely to walk up and bop you on the head like little Bunny FuFu and those field mice.  Ah, there’s a joyful memory right there.  Remember that song?  And the rabbit named Little Bunny FuFu that Daddy brought home for us? 

Those houses on the road.  I don’t know what their future holds.  Nor do I know what yours or mine will be.  Maybe we all will be reinvented, so that we can be okay, we can have a life where we are, in this new way we find ourselves, able to be and do with a little less than we had before. Somehow making the best of what we have now.

And that’s a Mama-ism right there–Do the best you can with what you have at the moment.

Maybe we’re not as lost as we feel.  Maybe we learned more than we thought we did.  And maybe Leroy’s right.  Maybe we will be okay.  I want all of this and more.  For you.  For me. For all of us.

Love.  Love.  Love.  Always.