Tag Archives: loss

Grateful In Spite Of…

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Fill in the blank…

I try to keep this blog positive…but I also try to keep it authentic.  And in the spirit of full disclosure, I am very much wishing for one big “do-over” right now.  My life at age 55 is not where I thought it would be, and certainly not where I would like.

I never imagined that my career would have taken such an abrupt turn.  But companies get bought and sold, and jobs get eliminated.  It happens all the time.  It is called Progress.

In the past couple of months, two friends died sudden, unexpected deaths.  Earthly goodbyes are never easy, but when a death comes so far out of the blue, wrapping our heads around such loss is far more difficult.  There’s no time to prepare, no understanding why, and way more questions than answers.  God is good, and His plans are perfect.  I believe this with my whole being. But trusting God does not mean an absence of pain.  Right now, it hurts.

I am grateful that He is with me in my pain.  Even Jesus cried.  He never promised me that there would not be hard times; He promised me that I would not be alone in them.

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What 50 Looks Like

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And why it does and doesn’t matter…

Feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem once responded to a reporter who kindly remarked that she did not look 40, “This is what 40 looks like.”  Now, whatever your thoughts and opinions about Ms. Steinem may be, her response to that reporter has always resonated with me. As a woman who has always felt judged by my appearance (not by age as much as by shape and size) I love it when appearance-based stereotypes get shattered.  But this post isn’t really about physical appearances as much as what my life looks like today, as I turn The Big 5-0.

In the spirit of full disclosure I will admit to being a little freaked-out by the prospect of turning 50.  It’s a milestone different from any other birthday that happens to have a zero at the end of it.  A woman turning 50 often finds herself subject to the slings and arrows of menopause and all the changes associated with the end of the childbearing years.  And I am so there.  I am relieved that my new GYN actually listened to my concerns during our initial visit and started me on treatment that I hope will help me feel better soon.

I went today and renewed my drivers’ license, and I was pleasantly surprised by how similar my photo today looked when compared to the one from my last license 10 years ago.  Aside from a marked decrease in weight, I don’t look too different, or too much older.  That was a big relief!

The biggest surprise about this birthday is how much more content and comfortable I am in my life and in my own skin than I’ve probably ever been before.  I remember other birthdays with zeroes on them, and the various kinds of angst I was experiencing with each of them.  My life is in a better place now.  God has blessed me with a husband who still loves me after all these years, makes me laugh, warms my heart, has been a wonderful dog dad, and makes me feel safe.Image

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I have several longtime friendships like that as well. Those relationships are priceless.  My friend Mary K. and I spent the weekend between our birthdays together.  Her birthday is May 15 and was also a milestone.  We first met at a Methodist youth assembly when we were 13 or 14 years old.  Living in different states, we were pen-pals for decades but didn’t actually see each other again until 2009 when, after about a decade of being out of touch, we reconnected via Facebook.

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Over the years we have shared everything from braces and boyfriend stories to college, marriage, the births of her children to the deaths of our parents.  This friendship and a few other cherished ones like it sustain me, nourish my soul and, again, make me feel safe.  Above is the picture from our initial reunion in 2009, and below is from our most recent get-together this past weekend.  It just dawned on me that she is wearing the same top in both pictures, and I am wearing yellow in both.  (My sweater from 2009 would swallow me now since weight loss surgery!)

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The losses of so many loved ones have all affected me in different ways, but that old adage, “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” is one I believe in.  Yes, the deaths hurt terribly…but I am so incredibly grateful that I have known and loved these precious family members and friends.  My life without them would be unimaginable.  And they’re not gone forever.  They’re just in a place where I can’t see them right now, except when they visit in dreams.  The relationships with living family members are all works in progress, just as they’ve always been.  I’m grateful for the ones still here who make me feel safe, valued and loved.

So I guess my life turning 50 is looking pretty good after all.  God has been so faithful and brought me through more sadness, disasters and changes than I ever could have imagined experiencing by the time I turned 50.  He has also brought me more wonderful surprises, happiness and joy than I could ever hope to deserve.  So, what does 50 look like?  

Sometimes it looks hazy and crazy.

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Sometimes it looks goofy and spoofy.Image

 

 Mostly, though,  it just looks…Blessed.

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Happy 89th, Aunt Ruby

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Your first birthday in Heaven…

And we all miss you every day.  I haven’t been as diligent about keeping in touch with your kids as I’d like.  It’s hard with all our schedules being crazy like they are.  I know that’s no excuse.

Thank you for showing up in my dreams when you have, even when it’s been bittersweet.  The first dream was so hard.  I dreamed that we were in a huge gymnasium somewhere, with me up high in the bleachers and you down on the gym floor.  I couldn’t get to where you were no matter how hard I tried, and all I wanted was to reach you.  I guess that just speaks to how I feel about you since you died.  Sometimes all I want is to reach you, but I can’t be where you are.

The few dreams since then have been sweeter because I’ve been able to hug you. In each dream I’ve just held you for the longest time, pressing you into my chest until I could feel both our hearts beating at the same time.  Like if I pressed hard enough, you would leave your imprint on me.

The truth is, you DID leave your imprint on me, in ways I’ll probably spend the rest of my life thanking you for.  Lord, how I miss you.  How we all miss you.

Part of me still can’t quite reconcile myself to the fact that you died, even though I was there when it happened.  I felt your last breath, your last heartbeat.  I guess I just know that, while you are gone from this Earthly life, you aren’t really gone.  I’ll be able to reach you again someday, to hold you close and to share an eternity with you and Mama and all the others who are with you in Heaven.  For now I have to be content to know that you are healthy and whole there, surrounded by God’s love and reunited with so many of our loved ones.  Heaven must be so beautiful, and even more so with you there.

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So, Happy Birthday in Heaven.  I hope you and Mama and the rest of The Big Five can sit down to a big meal together, laughing and remembering the many happy times we enjoyed together.   I miss you every day, but I know you are with me in the ways that really matter, and I know that I will see you again someday.  I love you.

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