In the Midst of the Sorrow

This morning I awoke to an email with some very sad news.  Leroy and Mess Cat’s sweet kitty Precious had five kittens yesterday afternoon.  They all died during the night.  The story we prepared for the children is that they were born too early and just didn’t make it.  The truth is that nature can be cruel and deadly when marking out its territory.  Tomcats are a menace.  And that’s just too much for them to grasp right now.

As I was brushing my teeth, I missed my Mama so much.  Her gentle ways with the children would have been welcome as we told them what happened.  Her loving touch and saddened voice would have acknowledged the pain but reminded us that this is what can happen sometimes.  There’s just no help for it.

I craved my Mama’s spirit.  I miss her.  It was then that I figured out what I’d like to invent.

A camera that takes pictures and captures the scent of the moment as well.  For me smell is such a trigger for memories, and I just know I would feel like Mama was closer if I could smell her or home or the scent of sunshine in the freshly washed sheets.

After I told Cooter and our Princess this morning, there were tears.  And questions. And they immediately asked about their cousin, Shaker.  How was he?  Was he sad?  We talked about how he must be feeling, and they both set to thinking about what they could do to lift his spirits.

Because they know grief, and they know people have been kind to them in their grief.

Our Princess quietly slipped away to get dressed for the day.  Cooter had seen her first, and he came into the room where I was, shaking his head.


“You’ll see.  She takes the deaths of kittens very seriously.”

“Oh.  Well, don’t you?”

“I’m sad, yes, but well–you’ll see.”

And I did.  Our Princess was wearing a black dress.  She looked at me with a question in her eyes.  I nodded and so did she.  I get it.  Later in the day, she said, “All life matters.”

Yes, baby girl, yes it does.

This afternoon she suggested we fix a meal for Mess Cat and her family.  “Because you know Mama, I’ve heard that when a family is grieving, sometimes they don’t feel like cooking.”

Bless her.

It brought back memories of all the kind folks who prepared food for us–after Daddy and after Mama left this world.  So kind.  And appreciated.  Yes, my children know about death and grief and how our people do.

Bless all their hearts.

Tomorrow we plan on seeing Precious and her people and giving them all a big hug.  And maybe we’ll do what Shaker did with Precious today–sit quietly with them in the hopes of sharing the sorrow and making it even just a tiny bit palatable.

Tonight I’m thankful for sweet, tender hearts who know that all life matters and understand the pain of grief enough to be compassionate.  I’m not thankful for the reason, but I am thankful they seem to get it.

Love to all.

For Those Who Can’t Yet See the Sunday

The phrase “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!” is triumphantly taking over the social media I see.

That is wonderful.  Powerful.  Empowering.

But really, really hard for some.

In We Make the Road By Walking by Brian McLaren, he writes from the point of view of the ones who felt lost on that Saturday. The ones who had traveled with and learned from the One who had perished on the cross.  The ones who had loved him so.

“Perhaps our descendants, the disciples of the future, will call this a day of waiting.  But we are not waiting.  For us, there is nothing to wait for.  All we know is what was lost yesterday as Jesus died on the cross.  For us, it’s all over.  This is a day of doubt, despair, disillusionment, devastation.”  –p. 162, Brian McLaren We Make the Road By Walking

Bless them.

And us.

For there still walk among us those for whom there is no waiting.  The ones who can’t see a Sunday in their sights.  Those who are in despair and disillusioned and no amount of talking about the light that is coming will change that.  The ones who are still lost and reeling from the shock of their devastation.

As we awaken and proclaim life and resurrection and joy on this Sunday, let us remember those for whom this day does not reveal an empty tomb–those for whom there is still the darkness and the torn and brokenness.  Those for whom healing seems an impossible dream.

And as we remember them, let us love them.

It is my hope that in that loving them, something will be resurrected in their hearts, and they will find the strength to go on another day.

Best wishes for light and love to all.


We Make the Road by Walking by Brian D. McLaren can be purchased at your favorite bookstore or by clicking the link here.  I haven’t read the whole book, but I have found it a thought-provoking and yet easy read so far.

And Now, Only the Stories Remain…..and the Echoes of the Laughter

A phone call can change everything, you know?

It can change your plans, your evening, your thoughts, and your life.

I was just now sitting down to write about the bird we saw today, when I got a call that did just that.

My godfather, the man who is responsible for my existence (he introduced my parents), passed on from this world to the Next One yesterday evening.

Oh my heart.

I don’t ever remember him not being in my life.  He was like a refreshing summer breeze, blowing through and bringing all kinds of laughter and stories and sheer joy with him.

Uncle Chesh (short for Cheshire) attended college with my parents.  He was friends with both Mama and Daddy, who had never met.  He called Daddy “The Joyner.”  And he shared some of “The Joyner’s” writings with my Mama before she had even laid eyes on him.  I’m pretty sure Mama loved him before they ever met.  She was blown away by what she read, and Uncle Chesh knew it.  He arranged for their first meeting to be at the laundromat, but my memory might have failed me here.  I suppose I could skip over the part where Mama looked up (her 4’11” to his 6 feet) at Daddy at this first meeting, and said, “I believe I could fall madly in love with you, Mr. Joyner.”  But I won’t.

Because that’s how it all began.  Thanks to Uncle Chesh.

With a wedding planned, he wanted to get them something nice as a wedding gift.  And he did.  A real classy gift.

A set of dishes to start them out in their new home.  Perfect.

But this wouldn’t be an Uncle Chesh story if the backstory weren’t even better.

See, he was a college student.  So he found a way to get them dishes on his limited income.  The gas station had a deal where with every fill-up you could get another dish.

One fill-up at a time, Uncle Chesh got them that set of dishes.

I love that man.

He was right tickled with himself when, at my brother’s wedding back in ’05, he brought his gift.  A set of dishes.  This time not from the gas station, but the story goes that he did have to visit a few different Targets to get enough place settings.

Oh me.

I was the one who first told Uncle Chesh that his dear friend was sick with lymphoma.  The heartbreak in his voice was more than I could take.  He made sure he went over to visit Mama and Daddy when they had to stay in Atlanta while Daddy had his treatments.  And it was Uncle Chesh who came into town less than a week before Daddy left this world, planning a fried catfish dinner because he knew that was something that Mama and Daddy would both like.  He filled the house with laughter and regaled us with tales of his past adventures.  Some stories we knew, some we didn’t.  But it didn’t matter.  That he was there and that, one more time, the sound of his and Daddy’s laughter echoed off the walls were the greatest gifts he could have given us.

I was the one who called to tell him that Mama was gone.  He cried.  He loved them both so much, just like family because he is family.  He wanted to come to the services, just as he had with Daddy, but his own health wasn’t good.

And now–

too soon.

My heart is breaking.

But I did get one good laugh in tonight, when I realized the timing of everything.  Yesterday evening, I found myself wanting to paint–and a picture of the Cheshire Cat came to my mind for no good reason.  Only now I know it was for a very good reason.  I’d like to think that was my Uncle Chesh popping in with his big ol’ grin to say goodbye.  For now.

Because he was on his way.  To someplace better.

And then there’s this.

Yesterday, the day Uncle Chesh passed on, was my Daddy’s birthday.  And if that ain’t just like Uncle Chesh, showing up to surprise my Daddy for his birthday! Because that was his way–on many occasions over the years we’d get a call out of the blue: “Hey, I’m at the Waffle House about two hours down the road, I’ll be by there in a couple.  Can’t wait to see y’all.”

I bet that was a humdinger of a hootenanny my Daddy had for his 73rd birthday yesterday.

I just hope somebody was serving some Waffle House coffee.  Because I have a feeling they were gonna be up a while catching up, and well, it was my understanding that’s where Uncle Chesh told some of his greatest stories.  Over a cup of Waffle House’s best.

To the man who stole my heart from the moment I first met him, and without whom I would not be here–

thanks for the laughter, the hugs, the encouragement, the stories, and the love.

Until then…..

I miss you.

love always,



My Uncle Chesh doing what he did best–making me laugh and sharing his love of life with all around him.


the wild and starry sky

they talk about how lovely it is, the sky,

and how this phenomenon or that

is about to happen

and how we all should go out and



I get a little crazy at this,

the idea of something like Halley’s comet

happening only once in my lifetime

is too much weight to bear

if I miss it, there are no second chances, are there?


it all feels so finite


and I don’t need reminding of how short

life is,

this journey,

the paths that just stop

way too suddenly

leaving those of us who loved them

in shock, arms empty, weeping


longing to run out into the dark night

and shout at the stars

with anger until our voices are raw and

almost gone and we have nothing left

and we collapse to the earth–

“didn’t you have enough? why did

you need another one to shine through the

darkness when you already have so many?”


our world is so much darker now that there

are more stars


and still we follow the crowds out the door

to look up in wonder and ooh and ahh

over the once in a lifetime sight to behold


knowing that we had a once in a lifetime treasure

walking beside us for a while

we stifle our pain and smile to disguise our

tear-stained cheeks


and gaze up in amazement

that has nothing to do with the wild and starry sky

we look up and keep our screams and fears and

heartbreak to ourselves

we lift our eyes, unseeing, as the memories

play across the screen of our hearts

like those planetarium shows did when we were young


but we save all of that for a night

when there is no eclipse or comet or colorful lights

to mark the passing of our lives by,

for a night when the crowds have all gone

and we stand out there alone

beneath the darkened dome

and tell the heavens of

the heaviness in our hearts

and the darkness that still is,

despite all the light from above

and in the quiet of the night, the wind blows

and the tears fall to the ground, the echo

of their sadness

the only sound for miles around







Saying Their Names

Our Princess loves to check the mail.

I don’t blame her.  It was my thing once upon a time too.

Yesterday she brought in a stack of mail.  A bill, unsolicited advertisements, a catalog, a magazine, and a package.

An unexpected package, I should add, which sent tingles of delight and anticipation surging through us all.

Inside was a treasure.

Well, there were books, so yes, that was a treasure in and of itself, but there was also a letter.

But not just any letter.

This was from a dear soul who knew my Mama and my Daddy.  Daddy talked with her and listened and let her into his world, when everything seemed to be falling apart in his fight against Goliath.  She was such a comfort to us all in those days.  Especially for Mama.  I am convinced she is the reason Mama found her place after Daddy died.   Our friend invited Mama on an outing, and from that Mama found a place to be, a place to serve, and a place to love and be loved.

For all of the fifteen months she lived after losing her best friend.

And this dear soul was there when Mama took her last breath.  She was also there when our cousin, Miss B, took hers.  I don’t know what I would have done without her through all of those days.  A comfort to be sure.

This letter she took the time to write was no ordinary one.

It was a remembering, an honoring of the lives of the two people I love and miss so much.  I laughed and I cried as I read the two handwritten pages front and back.

What a gift.

Grief is an odd duck.  I’ve said it before, and this probably won’t be the last time.  The thing is I can go a day or a few without tears.  The missing them, the holes in my life, doesn’t go away, but I can cope.  I can function and I can go on.  (Which shocks me to be quite honest, I never thought I’d be able to.) Then a day will come and the thought of something I want to tell Mama about or a question I want to ask Daddy comes to mind, and I’m a weepy mess just as I was in the shower night after night those first few months.  The tidal wave washes over me, knocks me down, and I am LOST once again.

And in this, though there are so many others who loved them and miss them, wrong or not, I wonder if I am the only one still struggling like this.  It’s been two and three years since their passing on, and time heals, so they say, so maybe I’m the only one, so I don’t bring it up…..because I don’t want to upset anyone or because I figure I’m just crazy.  All depends on the day.

This letter was timely and purposefully so.  She remembered it was the anniversary of us saying goodbye to Mama.  And so she wrote.  And she called them. by. name.

I miss hearing their names.

Tonight I am thankful for the grief.

That sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

But the thing is, I fear a day will come and I won’t have the tears.  The memories might fade such that I don’t weep with the pain of missing them.  I never want their passing to be just a thing in my past.  I want to remember.

And I give thanks for the others who remember.  Who tell me they do, and who share their memories.

That right there.

That’s a gift.  I clung to the phone as an older friend shared the story of my Daddy driving home from work as a young man, making the turn onto his road on two wheels.  That was it.  Nothing else to the story, but my knuckles were white and my heart listened to every detail and etched it into my memory.  Because she told me about Bill.  From long ago.

And the letter.  The paper is a little warped from the tears, but I won’t let them go willingly.  On it are the names of those I love.  And memories I don’t have, but that were shared with me. About Bill and Barbara.  I cling to those.

So if you’re ever wondering what you can do for someone who is missing someone they love, call them up, sit down over a cup of coffee or a glass of sweet tea, and call those folks by name.  Share your stories and listen to theirs.  Even if it’s been a year.  Two.  Ten.  Talk about the person.

Say their name.

May we all have someone who walks alongside us to remember and share stories with as we traverse this path of grief and loss and this whole journey of life.

Love to all.


The Next Couple of Days

And so it’s time for the pages on the calendar that carry me away to a paradoxical place for a couple of days.

The days that are so full of emotion and good and hard things that it’s difficult to reconcile them all together in my one heart and mind.

February 10, 2007  My baby, my third and last baby–first son, was born.

February 9, 2013 I took my oldest, Aub, to my alma mater for Scholarship Day.  The beginning of her college life.

February 9, 2013 My Mama’s 24th day in the hospital and the date of her third emergency surgery.

February 10, 2013 I celebrated my baby boy’s 6th birthday with him for about thirty minutes.  The rest of the day I was at the hospital.  That night I signed the papers to let my Mama go.  And sometime after 10:30 p.m. she left this earth and headed on up to the House.

The precious church and cemetery out at Little Union.

The precious church and cemetery out at Little Union.

The paradox of welcoming (my baby) and letting go (my first born).

The paradox of life (my baby boy) and of death (my sweet Mama).

Yeah, it’s a lot to take in.

On the day that my baby boy came into this world, as they wheeled the two of us to our own room they stopped my bed.  There was a button on the wall that the nurse asked me to push.  When I did, a beautiful little tune played all over the hospital.  I remember hearing that same tune many times while staying with Mama at that very same hospital.  Though she wasn’t conscious, I still smiled and told her, “Mama, a new baby!”  I know she was smiling in her heart too.  Babies and little ones were her very favorite people in the world.

There was no button on the wall to press when Mama took her last breath.  Only more papers to sign.  And tears to shed.

On the same day six years apart, these hands of mine stroked the face of one so loved–first my little guy and then my Mama.  One hello, one goodbye.

I wondered if the Universe had a lesson for me when my Daddy’s battle with his Giant ended the day after our Princess’ seventh birthday in 2011.  To go from joy to sorrow so quickly as we remember and celebrate and honor is hard–but it’s something we do.   Every year.

And then this–to lose and gain all on the same day, years apart.

Oh, my heart.

And though it seems paradoxical and hard, it is actually also very beautiful in its brokenness.  This is my fragile time of year.  I am beginning to give myself grace and not set any expectations on what I should do or feel or think.  I just do.  Am.  Be.  And really, these days of love and loss and laughter and tears are the epitome of what Life is–joy and sorrow, life and death, tears and laughter.  And hugs.  Hugs of joy and hugs of sympathy.

And oh my, all of the stories.

As the ones who loved Mama so very much gathered around her bed that night, stories were shared.  Laughter was heard, and tears were shed. But most of all, the love in the room was palpable–so much so that if there had been an instrument to measure it, I am certain it would have set off all kinds of alarms.  Nurses would have come running, and oh, what they would have seen!  Love like that, the reflection of the love Mama gave to each one of us, doesn’t come along very often.

Earlier today I read this, part of today’s sermon given by Hugh Hollowell at Love Wins:

“It isn’t the man’s actions or even his faith that bring him healing – it is the actions and faith of the man’s friends. We don’t even know if the man has any faith of his own. We don’t know if the guy is even conscious. Was he a good man? A bad man? We don’t know. All we know is he has friends with faith, and that that is enough. And it is there that I find hope in the story.” – From today’s sermon on Mark 2

This story and Hugh’s thoughts have stayed with me today.  There have been times on this journey of letting my parents go that the ONLY thing that has kept me going, the ONLY healing thing in my life, has been the faith of my family and my friends.  They have carried me and given me hope, and for that I offer my gratitude.  My faith has waxed and waned over the past few years, even more so in the past two.  That my babies have lost the people who loved them so much–that breaks my heart.  Each time I think on it.  That there is a gravestone in the cemetery with my child’s birthday on it–there are days I just.  can’t.  even.

But there are those who love me who can.  And who have.  And that’s how I’ve kept going.

Tonight I’m thankful for all of it.  Every single “feel” I had then.  And every single one I’m having now.  I’m just as comfortable with the weeping as I am with the laughter. And I think that’s okay.  I miss my Mama and my Daddy every single day.  I look around me at those who know the story and still listen as I tell it over and over as many times, in as many different ways, as I need to–and I am thankful beyond measure.

And so tonight I’ve told it one more time.  One more way.  The story of saying hello and saying goodbye and the years between them that were way too few.  And I thank you for reading and hearing it.  Tonight I had to write this, because I need to let it all out–the wracking sobs and the heartache.  Because on Tuesday, I will make it all about my baby boy. Who isn’t so much of a baby anymore.

Because I know if I don’t, I will be disappointing my Mama.  My Mama, who never would have chosen to leave when she did, and who adored that little guy like he was the best thing since sliced bread.  Or chocolate milk.  She loved all of her grandchildren that way, and I’ve felt her pushing me the past few days to go on and get this out.  So that we can party on Tuesday–and all the rest of the month.  Because that’s how she celebrated the day that those she loved came into the world–long and hard.  When she loved, she loved fiercely and with a love that was (and still is) unsurpassed.

Tonight I leave you with a song that my sisterfriend shared with me about a month ago.  This song is my heart right now.  I hope that Mama, Daddy, and all the others who have gone before us are dancing in the sky…..

that brings me comfort and makes me smile.

Because my Mama sure did love to dance.

Love to all.


where were you?

some are going to ask you, “Where were you?,” you know

and others will claim you were never absent

that all things work to the good

and words like that


I won’t ask you

I’m not sure I’m ready for the answer

but I do wonder why all the brokenness

in the midst of a day where my little boy

is beaming because he built his first

Lego model from start to finish

all by himself

and on a day that found my girl

dancing and singing and making up stories

while her big sister beamed and found joy in the

silly and yet important things


in the midst of all of that

why this brokenness?

the sun was shining, for goodness’ sake

so many had spoken to you and asked for help


my heart aches because they were after a dream,

but because someone was hurting and lost

they are no longer here

to dream

to laugh

to love


and I want to know why

but I am hesitant to ask

because I’m afraid of what the answer might be

was it me?

did I fail him?

or another like him?

did I fail to stop and smile,

pay attention, take up time,

give away the love you so freely give

just for the sake of giving it?


some will ask where you were

but I think I know–

weeping with the rest of us,

tears streaming down your face,

wishing it could have all been different


and it could have


if only

there were no brokenness


and that, you’ve left up to us, haven’t you?


Where were you?

pleading with us to look

and see

and love


and love



farewell to a friend

lives joined one October day

so many years ago

with friends gathered round,

smiles on the faces of all

but none bigger than their own


years spent with laughing

and loving and cheering on their

favorite football team

rolling tide every chance they got

and cheering each other on as well–

if there were ever two greater

dream builders

for each other

I cannot imagine


love, laughter, and a whole lot of sass,

teasing and compromising

that’s what I imagine from behind

the closed doors of their life


but I do know what I saw–

a man who loved a woman

and she who reflected it and gave all that love

right back to him


and now the mirror is draped

in darkness

as are our hearts

for this fine man took his last breath

and was healed

as all our hearts broke


so many lives

all the richer

for having known his

gentle, strong spirit


the girls he loved will miss him

all the babies and family he adored

the memory of his laughter and smile

with bring both comfort and tears

and all the stories will be told

and told again

to keep him close


this Gift, the Gift my sisterfriend was given

as she gave him her heart

she deserved the best

and she had him–

only for way too short a while



RIP, BP.  You are loved and missed, and I am better for having known you.  

Grief, the Grocery Store, and Grace

I went to the grocery store today.

I know.  Big mistake.  Two days before Thanksgiving.  I knew better.

It was crazy.  The thing I kept telling myself (and the other shoppers I kept running into) was, “Better today than tomorrow.”

Y’all, it was crazier than the grocery store when a half-inch of snow is predicted.

They were almost out of EGGS.

Seeing as the one request I’ve had is for my deviled eggs, this could have been devastating.

I was prepared today.  I took a list.  And not just the one where I jot down things in my brain that I’d prefer not to forget to get.  I wrote it out on a piece of blue paper that I tore off from one of the littles’ papers we were *ahem* letting go of.  One side a grocery list.  The other side a list of what I’m fixing to take to Mess Cat’s house for our Thanksgiving dinner.

It’s a little heavy on the dessert offerings.  But they’re my favorite to make, so…..yeah, pie is good.

I wish I could say I whisked in and out and was done fast as lightning.

Alas, no.

It was packed.  Very crowded.  Like a Saturday morning or the day before a “big” snow.   I picked the wrong day to pick out the very biggest cart… hard to maneuver.

But I got it done, with everything on my list checked off.  Except for mini-bagels.  My crew was impressed with pizza bagel bites and I thought–well I can make those on my own.  Only I was wrong when I thought that, because I couldn’t find mini-bagels, so I decided it wasn’t that serious and headed to the checkout.

The fellow directing grocery cart traffic (because that’s a very real thing) sent me to aisle 4.  Unfortunately the guy there had only started unloading his cart, and he had quite a bit to purchase.  Another clerk walking by told me I could move to aisle 5.  I’m sure that it wasn’t because she noticed me stretching my neck to see how long the wait in that one was or because she could tell I was trying to see if I could move and not be violating some grocery cart traffic law.  Positive it wasn’t any of those reasons…..

The clerk in Aisle 5 was efficient as was the young woman bagging up the groceries.  He smiled politely and worked through my pile of purchases quickly.  When he handed me my bag with my egg carton on the bottom and a loaf of bread on the top, I thought I might swoon.  Seriously, I am convinced that’s why the two are shaped so similarly, with just about the exact same lengths–they are both delicate and should be bagged accordingly.  When he did that, I knew he was a dedicated young man.  That and the button he wore declaring him associate of the month said it all.

As we bonded over bagged groceries, I noticed his name tag.  “Sincere.”

Wow.  I’ll be.

I love that name.  I looked at his face and how he was putting forth his best efforts, despite the fact that I was only one of the many, many folks who would cross his path this evening.  Sincere.  Yep.  It suited.

Channeling my Mama, I struck up a conversation beyond the groceries with him.  “Is that your real name?”

He smiled. “Yep.  It sure is.”

“Your Mama give you that name?”

He nodded.  “Yes ma’am, she sure did.”

The tears welled up for no apparent reason and every single possible one all at the same time.  “She must love you very much.”

He smiled again. Even bigger this time. “She does.”

Oh me.  A young man and his Mama.  For the love.

“Well you hang on to her and love her,” I said as I collected my receipt, said goodbye to the bagger, and began to push my cart away.

Huh?  Hang on to her and love her?

Grief can make us do some wacky things, can’t it?  Talk to strangers.  And tell them to hang on to their Mamas?


What I really wanted to do was weep and give him a hug and money to go buy his Mama a big beautiful bouquet and make him promise to spend a day just listening to her stories and what her dreams and wishes have been and how those have changed over the years and then take lots of pictures, silly and serious, of the two of them and anyone else who would join them.  Because there’s no such thing as too much time listening to stories or celebrating relationships or hugging folks you love or pictures.  In fact, there’s rarely enough of times like that.  It’s all too short.

But instead of sounding crazy, I chose to say, “Hang on to her and love her.”

Oh me.

When I got home, once again I was faced with all the pain and brokenness in our world.  And it made me sad.  Again.

Then I stumbled across these words of my sweet friend–my friend who knows about grief and missing Mamas firsthand–and like someone catching you before you fall and hurt yourself, her words caught me and were so full of grace, I felt as though she were telling me what I did today wasn’t goofy.  That it was okay.

Here is how easy it is to love a stranger: I walked to the post office during my lunch break and said hello and tried to engage everyone I met with a kind word or compliment. If I can do it, so can you.  ‪#‎babysteps‬ ‪#‎loveiseasy‬ —Renea Winchester

Tonight I’m thankful for the reminder that in the face of darkness, love.  Just love on some folks.  Even if it’s awkward and sounds like you’re two when you do it.  Love.  Be kind.

An appropriate lesson as we are about to enter the season that’s really all about that, isn’t it?  Sending Love and Light into the darkness?

I think so.

And that’ll do for two days before Thanksgiving.

Love to all.



From Just a Day to a Date–the Transition of Time

Isn’t it funny how we can go all of our lives living each day and month as the calendar pages are torn off or flipped back, and some dates just never really have any significance, and then one day…..

They do.

A child is born.  On the same day you went to assembly in high school or gave a book report in second grade.

A wedding.  On the day that you never had anything planned because it fell just after a birthday.

A new job.  On the day you and your sister got each other’s sandwiches in your lunch boxes and you had to eat pimento cheese.

How for so many years, you just bumped by the day, working your way toward the special one circled in red on your calendar…..

and then, someone leaves this world, your life–the last breath is taken,

and suddenly–BAM– it’s November 13th,  and the date will never be the same again.

Then there are the dates that start off as significant but eventually their importance seems to fade.  Because they are no longer a part of your story or because, oh Heaven forbid, a year goes by and you forget to remember.

And then the tears come anyway.  Just on another day.  And for another reason.

Grieving the loss of the grief.

The flow of the tide back toward the ocean.  Away from you where it’s been for so long, drowning you in the pain and memories.

That is hard.

And when you figure out you’ll be okay and you will survive even though you still miss her so much, that’s even harder.

It’s the stories of the “every days” that make life precious and meaningful, but it’s what we do with the dates in our stories that make us strong.

Strong because we celebrate.

Because we remember and honor.

Because we let go.

Because we continue to move through them, continuing to live right through our own final one, never knowing when that might be.

If there’s anything the calendar has taught me, it’s that it is a paradox.  Despite the fact that it’s all quite predictable and that we know from a very early age January rolls around the same time every year, and “all the rest have thirty-one,”  the fact is the time that fills those calendar squares and pages is anything but predictable.

We just never know what each day will bring.  This year or next year or ten years from now.  There are dates that pass us by now that one day will mean the world to us because our first grandchild will be born that day or we will get news that changes our life in a wonderful way….on. that. very. date.

Tonight I am thankful for the important dates in my life.  The wonderful ones like birthdays and wedding anniversaries, and the hard ones like the dates folks I love went on up to the House.  They are all a part of my story, and the tears and the joy and the sorrow and the quiet moments and the full-blown hootenannies all blend together to make the turning of the calendar pages a little easier to accept.  Time passes.  And sometimes it’s going to hurt.  There’s no stopping it.  But other times it’s going to be fabulous.  Hang on to that.


Love to all.