Love and Time…

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I’m sitting beside our gas stove listening to its slight whistle as the fire burns, and I’m reflecting on this busy week. Advent begins this weekend so we’ll be starting our family evening Advent-time, and I’m also helping my Healing Touch teacher with her Level 2 class, so I’m definitely going to be busy. Thankfully, as of tonight we have all our Christmas shopping done — which is unbelievably early for us — I’ve never had to wait so long after buying gifts to be able to give them! There’s a reason we’ve always bought gifts near Christmas Day itself — :) — it’s just so hard to wait to give them away… :) This year we’re so busy with life that it just made more sense to take care of the presents earlier so we’d have time for everything else. I can’t wait to get everything wrapped!

Tomorrow The Philosopher sees his physiatrist again — he has improved a lot since his last visit so I’m hoping we won’t have to go back for quite a few months. After that our family plan is to spend the evening getting our Christmas decorations up — my sister’s house is already sporting all sorts of holiday loveliness and I can’t wait to get our place all set up too. I purposefully finished all my current writing pieces a day early so that I would have tomorrow evening free to decorate and get everything ready for Advent. If I have time I might even be able to get the gifts all wrapped and put them under the tree… :)

While we finished our shopping at the bookstore (we are the “book gift” family, though we bought a lot of our presents online this year — I fell in love with Etsy), we were able to stop and discuss The Professor’s upcoming birthday… he’s 20th… I can’t believe it. I really need to stop blinking… Time feels like a liar.

It’s so strange how something that can be measured so precisely can be perceived so loosely… sometimes it seems like the beginning of my motherhood was a lifetime ago, and sometimes it seems just like yesterday. I can so vividly remember holding his tininess in my arms — I remember when his eyes opened one day and showed their beautiful blue — I remember his baby laugh… How is it that he’s finishing up his 20th trip around the sun? It isn’t fair that I can’t scoop him up and make his owies go away anymore… His world is so much more than it was when it was only me…

 

I am so proud of who he is…

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It isn’t easy to ride this globe through space. It isn’t easy to live within the bonds of Time — to age and watch those around us grow old and leave us in Death’s final journey. My hubby’s Nanny has fallen and broken her hip — in her nineties she’s been gently placed in the arms of hospice surrounded by her dear ones. It’s hard to be the family members on the other side of the continent… but I know that it’s hard to be the family members there too… Nothing about our loved ones final journeys is easy…

“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.” Song of Solomon 8:6

We don’t realize how unbelievably strong Love is until we face the physical loss of someone dear to us. Love doesn’t die… it grieves, it aches, it remembers… but it doesn’t die. It is the seed of immortality within us…  It continues without end.

“Love is patient, love is kind.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 

 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres..” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

 

God is Love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:8)

Traveling this path around our sun — however many times I’ll do it in my lifetime — I’ve had this love-lesson written deeply on the tablet of my heart. My soul has learned to love… and so it aches, it grieves, and it remembers… but only in loving does it really learn to live. In really loving there is joy and laughter — there is song and poetry — music and story… Whatever happens on this journey of life — it is only the love I’ve known with those who have traveled with me that will last… that is what matters. The day in and day out living of life is made a sacred thing by the Love we share with each other. Don’t forget — when the day is hard, the mistakes seem overwhelming and the light is gone — Love still is… 

Love wins.

…and I am grateful…

  1. naked tree branches spilling their shadows in the sunshine…
  2. the smell of new books…
  3. Christmas packages in the mail…
  4. tracking packages across the country…
  5. bearing others’ burdens across the miles… and in our homes…
  6. hot tea before bed…
  7. hugs from The Philosopher…
  8. Christmas shopping at the bookstore with my hubby…
  9. Chai Tea made with almondmilk…
  10. living a couple houses from my sister for a whole year as of today! :)

It’s all Grace…

 

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Love Never Fails…

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I went to visit my hospice patient today, but when I arrived I discovered he had fallen asleep during his lunch — his meal was barely touched, and he was sleeping deeply. I waited a few moments to see if he might stir, but ended up leaving to let him rest. I’ll admit that my heart dropped a bit when I saw this… something that out-of-character just feels significant, and I can’t pretend it doesn’t. It’s been a few weeks since my other patient passed on, and right now the one I went to visit today is the only one I’m seeing every week. Seeing patients decline is part of the struggle of this work… dying isn’t only hard for the person living it — it’s hard for those who care for them as well… When it’s a family member you’re expected to grieve, but the world often forgets that all the caregivers grieve too.  Volunteers who sit with hospice patients know that it isn’t likely that they’ll be invited to a funeral or memorial — if there is one — we make connections with patients that we know are only for time, but they can still be deep. For them our companionship lasts the rest of their lives… and for us… we carry their stories for the rest of ours.

This work is beautiful and life-changing… but it is anything but easy.

After I left my patient’s room today I went to leave and ended up passing the man who runs the No One Dies Alone program in our state. I did a double take since I wasn’t expecting to see him there, and then called out his name to say, “Hi”. We greeted each other in passing but he appeared busy so I continued on my way — I didn’t want to hold him up. But when I got to my car I started to wonder if he was there because of an impending vigil or something so I checked my email before I turned on the car. Sure enough, he had sent out an alert for a vigil at the facility where I currently was… I called him to ask if there was anyone signed up for a vigil period at the moment and he replied that no one had been able to sign up at all until 6 this evening. My heart squeezed. There were things I had planned to do today after my hospice visit, but I knew I couldn’t just drive away when someone was in the process of dying alone. I had to at least spend a couple of hours with him — I mean, I was already right there at the facility, and the patient I had planned on visiting was asleep! Needless to say, after contacting family members so they would know where I was, I walked back through the pouring rain with my guitar in hand and went to sit vigil for awhile.

I met my NODA “boss man” in the lobby and he took me to the patient who was dying. We talked a little bit, but the patient was already unresponsive and declining rapidly, so there wasn’t much to convey. He was truly alone — he had outlived all his family and friends — it’s patients like these that NODA was really set up to serve. Throughout a vigil the idea is to keep the person who is dying as comfortable as possible, and thankfully I could tell the facility staff was already doing a wonderful job of that — while he was unresponsive he was also at peace. There was no sign of distress of any kind, and I settled in to a chair by his bed while I let him know who I was and that I was there to keep him company for awhile. We know that people continue to hear long after they become unresponsive so I always introduce myself when I enter a vigil space. In the brief hours that I spent with him I noticed his breathing become shallower and faster… a sign that he was continuing his rapid decline, but he remained at rest and peaceful. If he continues on the same trajectory I wouldn’t expect his vigil to last very long… but death is like birth… you can “guesstimate” a period of time when the transition is going to happen, but everyone is different and no one can say for sure when that will be…

When I finally returned home I was tired.

…soul-tired and physically tired…

I did the dishes. I did the laundry. I wrote a piece that needed to be done — I have one to write tomorrow as well — and I just surfed the internet. I’m still tired. Tomorrow I have a final interview to attend, and if I had energy or was in a different head-space, I would be a bit nervous. But days like today are grounding for me… whatever happens tomorrow is what happens. The repercussions of the interview, the mistakes or successes I have, the tasks I accomplish — it will all be what it will be, it will all pass…

I blinked and The Professor is about to turn 20 years old — the next 20 years will pass even faster… the only thing that will be left from whatever happens tomorrow will be the relationships I foster… the only thing that I can take with me when I’m lying at my own vigil is the Love I’ve known. The dear ones who have shared their love with me… who have shared their lives with me… those who are a part of me — their love will not cease simply because my body does — and my love won’t either.

“Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Love never fails.

… and I am grateful…

  1. serendipitous meetings…
  2. surprise interviews…
  3. new kindle covers…
  4. piles of Christmas packages… :)
  5. rearranged furniture for a Christmas Tree… :)
  6. Christmas music on the radio in the car…
  7. windshield wipers!
  8. reminders…
  9. rain on the roof…
  10. a bookstore date tomorrow! :)

It’s all Grace…

(And Also — NODA in Oregon is celebrating its 16th birthday this month – so thankful to be part of this amazing group of people!)

Love in Works…

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After the doctor appointments today, I was finally able to get on top of some of the housework I’ve wanted to get to for ages. Things like the floors, and the bathtub, and changing the bedsheets — these are things that have to be done, but they require time — which is something I just don’t have a lot of right now. Today I managed to tackle a bunch of those niggling chores that have been driving me crazy — my mama even came by for an hour or so and helped me out with the recycling, which was a blessing (having mama over is always a blessing!). :) It’s comforting to walk into the bathroom and see all the surfaces gleaming back at me — at least for the moment. :) Now I have the kitchen officially ready for making pumpkin pie tomorrow to take to the family Thanksgiving meal, and when I go to bed tonight I’ll be able to snuggle under the fresh flannel sheets that are waiting for me…

This evening I tackled Papa’s computer issue — mama had dropped it off so that I could get it working again, but it took me a bit to figure out what was wrong. When you turned it on it would let you put in his password, but then it would just freeze there — nothing, nada, zilch… After a bit I figured out the operating system wasn’t working. Once I had it all reinstalled properly (we’re talking a couple hours from the point I started working on the thing), Papa texted me and said he had just updated the operating system, so I’m guessing it didn’t download and install properly from his house since their internet can be really questionable. In order to re-install it, I had to boot the machine in recovery mode, so it’s a good thing mama brought it over — I wouldn’t have been able to figure out what the problem was from a distance, and I definitely wouldn’t have been able to tell him what to do over the phone. Thankfully, it’s now working fine and ready to go home tomorrow. :)

 

The exhaustion at the end of a productive day can be really intense, but it’s a satisfied exhaustion… There’s something about accomplishing tasks that need to be done that gives such a sense of contentment — no matter how tired I am at the end of the day. I’m sore (and probably will be for a couple days), but sitting here in my chair, with my slipper socks and pajamas pants, listening to the boys laughing together in the other room… I’m so thankful to get to make this house a home for my little family…  This home is one of the ways I show my love for them — love in works

…warmth, good food, and lots of laughter… :)

There’s nothing like the love of a family — no matter what happens… Family is the foundation you can count on to have your back no matter what life throws your way.  I am so thankful to be traveling the path of my life with the family I’ve been given. Wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend — the title doesn’t matter… family is family — and I am so blessed… In my family I have learned to love — and all the things I do for my dear ones — all those “small things with great love” — they have been my lessons…

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Love never fails… and that is the point.

I am grateful…

  1. productive doc appointments…
  2. good soundtracks…
  3. dishwashers…
  4. washing machines…
  5. dryers…
  6. plenty of hot water…
  7. talking with The Philosopher about his different writing projects…
  8. hugging on my mama…
  9. Little One kisses and loves…
  10. watching a new rom-com with my hubby and discovering a new favorite… :)

It’s all Grace…