Wednesday, December 5, 2007
I am keeping my promise to post a photo of MB that does her justice; here is a photo of Angela, me and MB at her birthday party in September! Thank you, God, for good friends.
You may have heard about the recent rainfall here in the Puget Sound region. I think most people are aware that Seattle is known for its rainy weather, but this was something unusual, even for us. We first had a bit of snow on Saturday and Sunday -huge flakes the size of golf balls - and our cable/internet/phone service went out. Then we had a huge rainstorm, which accumulated 12 inches in 24 hours in our area. Yes, I mean a FOOT of water!
I went outside and cleared out a couple of drains with a shovel, and hoped for the best. I laid a fire in the woodstove and put some water in pots on the stove and in the bathtub (in case the power went out because of the wind, and we needed water for boiling, flushing, etc. We share a well with 3 of our neighbors, and most of our home is run by electricity; no power = no water, no heat, no lights)...By the way, Gregg was in Japan during all of this!
We are now drying out...the basement has stopped leaking, the storm drains are clearing, there is no wind, the cable/internet/phone service is restored and the power never went out...Hooray! On top of that, OUR DRYER WAS REPAIRED YESTERDAY! So we are drying out in more ways than one...YIPPEE!
I am in the process of wrapping Christmas presents and sending Christmas cards. You may recall that I posted a while back about the dilemma over what to do this year about the family Christmas photo. We were discussing this with our friends, Paul and Heidi, and Paul came up with a brilliant solution: make a photo collage. He did just that on his fantastic computer, and it makes all of us happy; it has photos of each of the kids, the 4 of us and the 3 of us.
I have received emails from two friends whose children have passed on about National Children's Memorial Day. It happens every year on the second Sunday of December (that is this Sunday) and it is observed internationally. Here is a quote: "Families around the world light candles at 7 p.m. in their corresponding time zones. As candles burn down in one time zone, they are lighted in the next, creating a 24-hour wave of light that encircles the globe. This remembrance ceremony provides the world with lit candles for an entire 24 hour period in order to honor the children we have lost, the children who lived and died, and who, even in death, continue to matter." One friend is going to attend a service to do this; it can also be observed privately.
I have been reading before I go to sleep at night, more than usual, since Gregg has been away on business. One of my all-time favorite authors is Anne Lamott, whose writing voice and sense of humor make me feel as if I have known her all my life, but have been waiting forever to hear from her. My favorite of her books is probably Operating Instructions, which is her journal of the first year of her son's life. I want to quote from it here, but I don't want to infringe upon anyone's copyrights, so please pardon me for doing it. She tells about her dad a bit, and how it was when he was dying of brain cancer. She said something that struck a chord with me: "...just like when my brothers and I were trying to take care of our dad, it turns out that you've already gone ahead and done it before you realize you couldn't possibly do it, not in a million years" (p. 103). I'd like to show that line to everyone who ever said to me, "I couldn't do what you are doing!" Neither could I, until I had no choice...We are capable of more than we know, especially through love.
Later in the book (p. 166-7) she tells a story she attributes to M.F.K. Fisher, "of having a friend over for tea one day. The friend noticed out the kitchen window that Mary Frances's cat was lying in a big mud puddle. Mary Frances said that it was hurt and trying to take care of itself, but the friend asked, Then shouldn't we take it to the vet? Mary Frances said no, absolutely not, that if she did, the cat would die, that the cat knew exactly and intuitively what to do, knew that only time and lying in the mud would heal her. A few days later the cat was okay again.
"That's how I felt after my dad died. I had to shut down almost entirely and just lie in the mud for months. I felt that the world was no longer safe...I felt like my heart had been so thoroughly and irreparably broken that there could be no real joy again, that at best there might eventually be a little contentment. Everyone wanted me to get help and rejoin life, pick up the pieces and move on, and I tried to, I wanted to, but I just had to lie in the mud with my arms wrapped around myself, eyes closed, grieving, until I didn't have to anymore. And then over time I became more or less okay: I did feel joy again, and I feel it now sometimes bigger than I ever thought possible."
I feel that that is an inspired template for grieving, and I have been following it as best I can. It gives me hope that, being true to myself - to my inner compass and intuitive senses - may hold the key to surviving this, and to someday feeling deeply happy again.
Bless you and your day.