Mama Said

there’d be days like this.  There’d be days like this, my Mama said.  (Thank you, Shirelles and others.)

Days where there are way more questions than answers.

And those questions lead to more questions.

But wait!  That’s not all…..

sit and think about this particular something, and then there are all the questions cropping up from a totally different situation in addition to what is already churning through your mind.

And it just goes downhill from there.

Today hasn’t been an awful one, not by any means.  Days that bring beautiful people across my path and ones that have me savoring the leftover memories from past days…..those can be actually quite lovely.

But the unexpected things that can crop up…..and expected, dreaded ones as well.  Those are what can turn one’s sanity all topsy turvy and toss it around like a tennis ball in the dryer.

All over the place.

It in the midst of those that I feel the most lost.  I’m the one some folks are looking to for guidance now, bless ’em.  Like my 11 year old who came in with so much anxiety, I suspect it could have been a panic attack.

It is enough to fling me straight into one right along with her.

I don’t know exactly when the shift happened.  Maybe it was when my parents were no longer here or years before when I became a parent for the first time myself.  All I know is, it can get really awkward when folks are looking to me, and I turn around looking for the one who really knows what is going on.

I don’t have the answers to all the questions.  I don’t even have any good advice to offer on the days when all the questions keep roaring through, refusing to allow for rest or peace or comfort.  All I know is, some days it’s okay to simply survive.  It’s okay to make do, to do what it takes to get by, and to take the grace offered in sleep and waking up to a new day.

I guess that’s why I’ve clicked like on every single one of the memes that proclaim that resurrection can be an everyday experience.  Yes.  That.  I need to believe in that.  That each and every day, hour if need be, we can rise from the death and doubt and find new life.

Every single time.

Some days are just like that.  And those are the ones when resurrection matters the most.

The courage, the love, the faith, the determination, and the good people around us–and we rise up and try again.  One more time.

Love to all.

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via LoveWinsMinistries.org  Go check them out.  They are doing amazing things and showing the beauty that can come from practicing resurrection.  

 

 

Get Your Brave On

When I was at my lowest after first Daddy and then, fifteen months later, Mama passed, my baby sister Mess Cat sent me the song “Brave” Sara Bareilles, and said, “I just want to see you be brave.”

Brave?

BRAVE?!

I love her, but I just couldn’t hear that.  I wasn’t ready to.   Being brave was the furthest thing from my  mind.  Anger?  Yes. Despair?  For sure.  Pain?  Absolutely.  BROKEN and shaken to my core?  One hundred percent YES.

I was fairly for certain sure I had nothing remotely brave left in me.

And yet–

Today the song came on the radio.  I was singing along.  Where I once almost loathed the song because it required something of me that I just didn’t feel prepared to do, I now really, really like the song.  It was uplifting.  I was dancing along as I tidied up around here.

And that’s when it hit me.

All those days that I spent crying as I washed the dishes or stopping in the middle of moving clothes from the washer to the dryer, lost in thought, or the nights that supper was a sandwich and applesauce–all of those days, I was brave.  We all were.  We woke up to the knowledge that things had changed and would never be the same again, and yet–we didn’t run.  I might have stayed in bed a little longer.  Some days I didn’t change out of my hoodie and sweatpants.  Some days I left dishes in the sink until the next day.  (Okay, most days.)  Once I broke down crying in the middle of the grocery store and had to stop and check out and go home without getting most of what I was there for.  And as the years stretch out, the “some days” are farther apart, but they STILL happen.

But I haven’t given up yet.

I might have felt like it, I might have closed my eyes and taken afternoon naps for a week straight, but I never gave up.

And I think maybe that’s what my sister was saying.  She didn’t like seeing me give up.

Today I read the lyrics.  Not all apply to what we have gone through, but these lines stand out for me:

Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

I have some dear friends who are going through dark times and hard things–some of the hardest–right now. Today is our first time remembering my sweet friend’s birthday without her here.  I’m thinking about her family and how brave they are today and have been for so long now.  Another sweet friend is remembering her husband she misses with every breath.  She is so very brave. And yet another friend just said goodbye to her sweet Mama.  How brave is she, remembering her Mama with pictures and stories and loving on her children, smiling through her tears.  And then there’s my friend whose son just passed.  I hold him and all of his son’s family in my heart as they are all kinds of brave, doing the unthinkable.

You are brave too.  All those things that might have taken you down, but didn’t take you out–BRAVE.  There’s a meme going around about how you’ve made it through all of your hard times 100% of the time so far–YES.  YOU.  THAT.

BRAVE.

Mess Cat, I’m sorry I didn’t hear what you were saying back then, and that it has taken me three years for it to sink in.  But thank you.  It has indeed sunk in.

Listen, y’all.  We have all made it through 100% of the hard things–the broken and sad and devastating ones.  We are all still on the journey.  Even if you are sitting on the bench taking a break, YOU ARE DOING LIFE.  Let the light in.  We all have earned the right to wear this badge.

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Go forth and get your brave on.  You are amazing.

Love to all.

Her Lovely and Gentle Ways

Today found Winter clinging to every last bit she could, refusing to let go of the grip she had on my toes.  I am so tired of being cold, weary, and of coming home in the dark.

But on this day, when Winter was hanging on for all she was worth, her genteel sister crept out from behind the veil where she was hiding and whispered.  As her breath hit the air, it warmed slightly.  It was as though she were timid and not ready to be seen in large gatherings, but still–I caught a glimpse.  It would seem she took a little walk and left in her wake her dainty little footprints in the form of the blossoms that bowed and nodded as a gentle breeze wafted through–the pink a shade of blush or bashful, I couldn’t be quite sure which.

In the air, all around serenaded her, trying their best to convince her to stay as the birds sang their songs and frog music played in the background.  Even the sun put on a show for her before he headed for bed, inviting her to stay over and continue her visit tomorrow.

Ahhh, well, as the sun parted company with the sky, and all grew dark, I knew she had left us for a bit, uncertain if the timing was right or not.  As my soul thirsts for bare feet and warm grass and the kiss of the golden sun on my face, I do hope she will feel more at home tomorrow.  Or the next day.  And maybe she will set up camp and plan to stay for a while longer than a day here or there.

I’ve missed her.

And all of her lovely and gentle ways.

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prunus persica in bloom

Gearing Up for the Storm

Today the littles and I went to their class at the Go Fish Education Center and learned a lot about the weather.  One of the things they made there was a “foldable” with four different categories–they wrote the pertinent information for each one on the inside.

When discussing thunderstorms, the teacher shared about things we can do to be safe in the midst of one.  Things like don’t stay in the pool or in a boat, get inside, and…..

unplug important things around the house.

Then the young woman teaching the class shared that we probably don’t do that as much as we used to, what with having surge protectors and all.

But it was too late.  That image, all those memories, they came flooding back, quick and hard.  The unplugging when we first heard the thunder…..yep.  Praying we’d caught it in time and not lost the TV…..or the phone…..or, in later years, the computer or the VCR.

When we got home, the littles questioned me about this.  “Do we not care if our things get struck by lightning?  Is that why we don’t unplug our things?”

Ummmm.  Well.  We do care.  But…..surge protectors, right?

At least I hope they’ll do the job.

When I was growing up, as soon as we heard the first rumble of thunder, we all scrambled like we were on a top secret mission pertinent to national security.  Some grabbed the laundry basket and clothespin bucket and ran out to get the clothes in off the line–fingers crossed they were dry.  Others ran around unplugging things.  I can remember many a time being in the middle of a TV show and having to turn it off and unplug the TV until the storm passed.  This was in the day way back before we ever dreamed of DVR’s and the like.  So we were…..out of luck.  Until rerun season at least.  No Netflix to catch up on what we’d missed either.  But that’s another story for another night.

As I was remembering all of this, I think the fact that this has become something of the past is indicative of where we are in general.  Growing up, we respected storms.  We gave them the space to do what they had to do while trying our best to protect ourselves. I don’t necessarily mean that we are foolish now when it comes to storms, but we seem to push the limits and push past them.  Used to be if the weather was stormy we didn’t get out much.  Now we keep on keepin’ on, and just drive right through it, with our wipers blazing.  Rarely do we unplug in the face of a storm anymore.  We usually continue on as usual, barely giving the storm much notice.  At least until it wreaks serious havoc.  And then we surely do notice, don’t we?

Sometimes I think we miss a chance to refuel and regroup when a storm is approaching.  We are becoming an intense, “WE GOT THIS” “NEVER SAY DIE” sort of people, and so storm shmorm, no problem, CARRY ON, PEOPLE, DON’T LET IT GET YOU DOWN.

Until it’s too late, and the damage is done.

Maybe when the storms of life are approaching, it would be good to unplug for a little while.  To sit and be still and do all we can to protect ourselves.  Not all storms give a heads up, that’s true.  But for the ones that do, what would it be like if we circled the wagons, held each other close, and held on to something that gives us comfort?  (That was another suggestion of things to do in preparing for a major weather event.)

What would that do for our souls?

Take care of you.  We don’t want to lose you to the storm.

Love to all.

Lightning3

“Lightning3” by U.S. Air Force photo by Edward Aspera Jr. – United States Air Force, VIRIN 040304-F-0000S-002 or unbroken-link (or VIRIN 060822-F-1111A-001). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – File:Lightning3.jpg

bad news

so it turns out
I really can’t handle
any more bad news

I’ve decided that
based on the scientific fact
that I am sitting here
and everything in my head
resembles a ticker tape
running below the news reports

and we know nothing good
ever winds up there

so no more bad news

okay?

instead can we sit on the porch
and watch the breeze tickle the leaves
that are left after fall’s brigade came through
can we laugh at the children as they
do their best to imitate the big folks
while they play football or ride bikes
and just seem so free

can we pick up a brush and
splash the world with color
brights and lights and darks
and bring them together in one big
beautiful canvas that brightens
and lights up for miles around

can we curl up with a book
one that is light and witty
and whose characters find themselves
in the most unlikely of situations
but always work to find the happy ending
that is surely out there
if one
just holds on
long enough

can we sing at the top of our lungs
and dance in circles around the room
as the dog barks and the children giggle
and finally join in
when that certain song comes on that lifts
everyone’s spirits
every single time

can we measure and mix
and bake
and add all the sprinkles
to the cupcakes that make
everyday a celebration
eating them together in four bites
and downing them with the sweetest tasting water
ice cold and refreshing
laughter and cupcake wrappers
the remains of an afternoon well spent

so yes, just for today,
could we please let go of the what if’s
and what are’s
and what never will be’s
that drag my soul through the muck
so thick
that I can hardly stand up after

can we please turn off the news
and sit together
and tell the good stories
the ones that bring us all a little closer
and make us all smile

for today, it turns out,
I can’t handle
any more
bad news

tomorrow will be soon enough

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By Hello Darlin at http://www.flickr.com/photos/hellonheels/ via Wikimedia Commons

upon encountering a frog on a mid-winter evening

walking along on this winter evening that has dressed up like spring
meandering really, not counting steps or time or headed anywhere
in particular
just giving her a moment to sniff and smell and do
all the dog things she does
it’s different somehow in the dark
the world seems quieter
calmer
and while there’s so much I cannot see,
somehow it all seems clearer

and that’s when out of nowhere really
the little frog hopped in our path
and surprised both of us

where on earth has he been?
a week ago the earth was frozen
frigid temperatures closed everything
the cold and bitter winds called for hunkering down,
preparation and survival were the code words for the day

and where were you then, little one?
had you yet grown your legs a week ago?
where were you hiding when the world said
there is no life left here, nothing growing
only this harsh world suitable for no man nor beast,
how did you survive the freeze when all else was lost?

and yet you show up
as if you are not the most amazing thing in this world
something that should not be, that logic cannot fathom how–
there you are
hopping across my path
unafraid, not to be veered from your destination
by person or dog

intent on doing what you do

a small miracle, defying all reason

much like the hope that comes out of the blue
when least expected
during the dark and coldest of times
surfacing just in time to tie the knot at the end of the rope
and whisper
“hold on”
and carry us through the dark, cold night
to witness the glory of a new day

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circling the wagons close

some of life’s most sacred moments, holy moments
happen along the raw edges of hurt
and pain
when we circle the wagons close
and sit with each other in the dark

holding hands, hands in laps
fingering the edges of the wrap we have on
to ward off the cold
the cold that is here
the cold yet to come
all of it
the veins a light hue of blue
seen through worn hands that have birthed and washed
and tucked littles beneath blankets and cleaned and prepared
and reached for love one last time
before quietly letting go
and grasping for the good in that

it’s what we do
when darkness
and the cold come to call
we stand together against the chill
drying tears,
laughing and crying all in the same breath,
holding each other tight

it is one of life’s greatest honors and hardest gifts to bear,
to sit with another
when the news comes
and after, when the pieces, shattered and scattered, are there
and we don’t know yet what to do with them

whether around a kitchen table
girding our souls for what is to come
with the laughter of children in the background,
a playful reminder of
happier memories and times,
times when we were those littles and the “old” folks sat vigil,
waiting on the news

or in an apartment with friends we hold dear
pizza and movies a soothing salve for the stinging pain of heartache and loss,
that grief knows no age limits

or sitting in the waiting room
waiting
holding our breath and gripping hands, waiting to hear the words that
will choose the path ahead for us,
always waiting, no choices
only waiting

it is in all of these moments
and all of the emails and messages and cards
and phone calls and trips and opening our doors to pups
and children
and hugs and all the times we say “I love you”
with a little more emphasis
and hug a little longer

all of those precious moments
are
so real
raw
broken
beautiful
holy

and though we may not have the answers
or good news
or the energy to face another moment of this–
we have each other

in the face of questions
and anger
and pain
and sadness
and oh, all those tears we try to keep hidden,
in the face of it all
we have each other

circling the wagons close
to hold all the love in
like lightning bugs on a summer night
strong and moving around through the darkness,
holding all who are near in the Light

and like the circle
never-ending
bathing the wounded in light
and love
and holding each other close
as we let the tears fall

it’s what our people do
on days like this

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