Saturday, March 8, 2014

What I Carry With Me

I wish to write, in order to memorialize those loved ones who have departed from this world. I wish to use words and phrases to embody and to express all that these people meant to me. That will be my next task. To understand just what I carry with me, though they are gone and we are apart, what they have imparted to me in the days and years that they were a part of my growing up.

TB: I was so blessed, so very blessed to know him, to have him in my life when I was a child. He brought so much joy and laughter to our lives. He always made me feel so safe.

Many of my fondest memories of childhood were with him. I remember, when he passed so suddenly, I would lie awake at night, cascades of memories going through my mind, as tears would fall. There were so many. He was such a part of our daily lives. He was just always there, on his lawn mower, working out in the yard on various tasks.

I would ride my bike up and down the driveway, and stop and talk to him. He had a way of letting us know that we were uniquely special to him. I guess I didn't realize that so much, until he was gone. I often look upon the past with rose-colored glasses, too. But he brought and light and warmth to our lives that was so special.

When I worked at the pre-school, it was really a neat and precious time of life. I had just experienced another Christmas that was scathingly difficult. Being around those precious hearts was comforting. I could pour out my love and appreciation and tenderness to them. We could play, and laugh, and read stories. He was there in that...the teaching, the loving, the support and kindness.

I want to teach someday. As I teach here and next academic quarter, I want to carry that with  me. That richness and depth of life. A longing to impart and to help others understand complex and difficult problems. He helped me understand algebra. Distributing, logarithms, piece-wise functions. Those were my favorites, and they still are. I want to carry that forward as I teach others, as I work with kids, as I work with young adults, too.

As I continually work through the trauma and the complex grief and bereavement of these past few years, I know I will continue to draw meaning and depth from these painful circumstances. Life is so rich. Yes, there is so, so much pain. But, there is so much joy and love, too. And hope. Such deep hope. Beyond the overwhelming load of grief that I bear, there is a gladness, hope, and joy...and that is the Eternal. That is what I hold to. In Christ Jesus, I have the deepest hope...and onward on this journey, I will go.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Journal Entry

They had us do a 'mindfulness' exercise.

I had flashbacks to the funerals.

We were to seek the present, where we are in this present moment. But each present moment, has imprints of the past.

This was the first time that I thought of the cold January day. That cold January day one year, was another cold January day the next. His funeral. Her departure. Her last breath.

I moved to Washington. I decided to pursue my dream of igneous petrology. I am doing that. I hope that I can finish this. Work hard, despite the copious time to think...too much time to think.

I have an exciting future ahead of me. I do. I look forward to it. I am so thankful for the depth of love I have known.

But this heart has been torn. Deeply. These eyes have seen pain at a depth that is more than I can comprehend.

He will wipe away every tear. One day, all of this sorrow will be washed away. And the joy of that moment, I can scarcely dream of.

For now, I walk on. I long to comfort others, love others, show them Christ, and live these days that I have to their very fullest. Like my loved ones did.

I have to take this from a logical standpoint. The very fabric of all that I understood life to be was completely torn from beneath me. Before I had a moment to adjust, it happened again. And again. And again. And I moved away. And again. And then...the way he took his own life...

In the flashback, I was at my Grandpa's visitation. Funeral clothes on. In the funeral home. Helgeson's. I remember how I touched his hand, how I didn't want to leave him there alone for the night. And how Judy commented how sweet I was to love him so.

That was in the middle of all of this. When he went Home. His loss seemed natural. He was ready. He got to dance with Grandma again.

And the flashback went to Terry. Seeing him in the casket at his visitation. The funeral, the next day, how Grandma was there. How I thought, in the back of my mind. "Please, may this be many, many years before I have to face this for you." I had two years at that point. I don't know what I would have done without her. I think it helped me to be unafraid to let her know just how much she meant to me. Terry, I don't think he ever knew...I guess, at least, that was one of the hardest things about losing him. But someone recently reassured me that just as his presence in my life meant volumes to me, so my presence in his life brought him great joy...

That joy will continue into Eternity. For that, I have great hope.

This is not the end.

Losing Josh. That turned everything upside down. My mind went to her. But it only could stay there for so long. That one is really deep. Her visitation and funeral. I remember then, I felt really alone. Whenever we had family gatherings, she was always there to let me know that she loved me. How to even explain it. She just always let me know I wasn't alone.

My heart is just overwhelmed with heartache. There is so much Joy. Eternal, Eternal JOY. But there is also trauma, there has been a shaking to the very foundation of everything I've ever understood.

But you know. He holds us. Yes, I have encountered grief so deeply. So resolutely, I have refused to let it destroy me. I have refused to let myself succumb to bitterness and to close myself off emotionally.

That takes courage. The courage that often goes unnoticed. It is the kind of courage that is Christ-like. There are Eternal purposes at work here, that I can not even comprehend.

I could expound upon how unworthy I am to receive such a gift... I really could. But it goes deeper than that. There's a story in the midst of my own personal story. Redemption. Rescue. Renewal. Hope.

Like Mt. St. Helens, so much life springing forth from such great destruction. Volcanoes. It astounds me how that great dream of mine, to be an igneous petrologist, crosses paths with that Great Glory.

The Lord has led me, every step. And He will lead me onward, still.

Yes, my heart aches, tremendously. It will likely be a few years yet before I feel an established sense of normalcy and stability. Yet, seasons of life such as this past four years will surely come again.

This life is brief. In the midst of Eternity, it is but a breath. Right now, it is important for me to reconcile with all of this pain of this past, all of the joy, all of the love. Because, life is not the same anymore. Tremendously blessed. To know so many dear loved ones. I will be together with them again, one day.

For now, I wish to pursue my career as a professional in geology. Finish my Master's Degree, work in the field for some time. Perhaps, one day, if I feel inclined, pursue that PhD. To be close to those lifelong friends I have made, to family that has always been there. To bring Christ's comfort, love, and grace into this world as He would lead me to. To honor those loved ones that have departed with a life lived deeply and fully.

Like when I stood in the doorway of the basement in Grandma and Grandpa's house. Near the bathroom, near his workshop. "Grandp(m)a, I will live each and every day to it's fullest. I promise you. I will work hard and try my best..." To love, like he did.

[There was a type-o above, with the m there. Nearly a decade later, I stood there, remembering that moment I had as a 12-year-old. Reflecting upon how pure and unafflicted my heart was then. Still, a child, but beginning to understand and comprehend that such joy and love is disrupted, indeed, by the crippling thing that is death and loss and separation. And then standing there, closer to 22, reflecting how I could hold to that promise, still, in a world so dark and cold.]

Grandma and Dorothy. As I graduated from MSUM...Terry. The moment grandma gave me that beautiful music box and, with a heavy heart, knowing that she would not be there to see it...that as I go onward with my future, I will do well, I will do great things. Going down to visit Dorothy, talking about rocks. Grandpa would have loved to know what I was doing.

One day, we will talk about it. We'll go fishing and laugh and smile and eat pancakes and watch the hummingbirds and the orioles. Walk with Jesus. There are these dreams in my heart...

For now, I am a pilgrim. A sojourner in this strange, dark world. For all the joy I have known here, it will be complete in that Heaven home.