Monday, November 25, 2013


"... the astonishing or unfortunate thing is that these deprivations bring us the cure at the same time that they give rise to pain. Once we have accepted the fact of loss, we understand that the loved one obstructed a whole corner of the possible, pure now as a sky washed by rain.... Free, we seek anew, enriched by pain. And the perpetual impulse forward always falls back again to gather new strength. The fall is brutal, but we set out again."

--- Albert Camus, via Healing After Loss by Martha Whitmore Hickman 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Today I left therapy feeling lighter than I did when I went in. That happens sometimes, when my earlier day is really horrible, and I come out feeling a little better. But generally I still feel overall grey (or blue, or whatever color you’d like to use to describe sadness and depression).

But today I felt lighter. Today I felt much better when I left than when I entered my therapist’s office. The tears I shed felt purifying and cleansing, like I’d cried out everything I needed to cry out, and I could go home with a little bounce in my step instead of thick layers of mud attached to my boot.

It makes the rain feel purifying, too. Instead of the rain resulting in a drab and dreary world, I see it as a cleansing thing. Not only will it make my car look shiny and new, but it will make the world look a little shinier too.

Maybe this is a turning point. Maybe things are looking up, at least a little bit. Or maybe they’re not, and this is just a grace for today. Either way, I’m going to enjoy the lightness while it lasts.

For all you Firefly nerds out there, I did choose this title on purpose :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Christmas Cometh Caroling

The nights are getting darker earlier, and I’m starting to see Christmas lights on houses. Christmas is coming.

I love Christmastime – the lights, the chill, the scarves, the hot chocolate. It’s always been a warm and safe time for me, even in the bad years. There’s always been hope at Christmas.

These days, when I think of this year’s Christmas I have two filmstrips running through my head. One is beautiful, warm, with our Christmas tree covered with decorations, the Christmas churches lining the mantle, and my mom bustling about, making Christmas cookies, wrapping presents, and dressing up for church on Christmas Eve. The other has a lot of the same images – the tree, the churches, the cookies, but my mom’s not there. Her seat is empty, she’s not in the other room wrapping presents, and she won’t be joining us for church on Christmas Eve. Everything seems a little less warm, a little less bright.

Even though I know one is true and one is false, both run in my head at the same time. So I’m split, both excited and expectant for the Christmas I remember from before, and brokenhearted and in tears because the traditions of before won’t ever happen again. Christmas will look different now, will always look different now, and I don’t know if I’m ready for that.

My favorite Christmas song from last year is Snow by Sleeping at Last. The lyrics say:
We'll build new traditions in place of the old
Cause life without revision will silence our souls
This Christmas I’m hoping for some new traditions. May those new traditions bring a little bit of light into a soul that’s been hurting for a long time.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Rejoice (7 months)

Last week this old-school song popped into my head: “I love you Lord, and I lift my voice, to worship you, oh my soul rejoice.”

I got stuck on the word rejoice. Rejoice. What does that look like? What does that even mean? How do I find joy, how do I rejoice in the midst of grief?

And then I remembered my mom. I remembered her sitting in church, on the few times she was able be at church. I remember her being dressed up like she always was on Sundays, in her nice slacks, a fancy sweater and some flats (her everyday wardrobe after the stroke was yoga pants, a stretchy shirt and tennis shoes). I remember her sitting in her wheelchair, listening as announcements were given and the sermon was preached.

But mostly I remember her every time we sang a worship song, because every time she’d close her eyes, lift up her chin a little bit, and hum along with the song. She couldn’t read, so she didn’t know the words, and even if she knew the words by heart she probably wouldn’t have been able to say them out loud. So instead she just closed her eyes and hummed, immersed in the music and with a face of pure joy.

She looked so innocent when she did this, so whole, though she was still so physically broken. Even though she couldn’t praise God in worship songs like she used to, she found another way to rejoice.

If my mom can rejoice, without words and with little cause, maybe I can too. I might not be able to replicate the child-like innocence thing, but I can still hum.

It’s been seven months today since she died. And for whatever reason reflecting on joy just felt right. I’m not very joyful yet, but I’m trying to be, and the seventh month mark is as good a time as any to start trying.