Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Those Last Times

It's been almost a year of firsts. But this morning I woke up thinking of last times. Husband says my son and his friend left on the 27th of last October, heading for Pennsylvania to work. I have a text from him in my phone that is dated October 26, 2011 where I was checking on him and he said he was "working right now." And on the 28th he texted that "it's real nice up here and the job seems really good too" and "I can learn a lot while I am up here."

(What did he learn? What have I learned?)

His friend was teaching him to weld. His friend was also helping him to save his money. There was talk of him saving to buy his own welding truck. Instead, his money was used to pay for over half of his funeral expenses. There was talk of settling down and marrying his little girlfriend, and dreams of being a father.

Anyway, my point is that sometime in these last few days of October, that was the last time I saw my son alive, the last time I hugged him tight while telling him I loved him, and to be careful, and to behave. I had no clue of the pain that was in the road ahead.

(I have learned that loss hurts and that you do make it through, somehow, by the grace of God and with the help of caring and alert (alertness is needed because grief does not always announce itself as grief-lately my own grief has looked very much like sheer orneriness and irritability and the feeling of wanting to run away and hide) and compassionate friends. In my neediness and pain, I have learned more about what love looks like. How very grateful I am for the love of others.)

It feels like I am set to relive again the events of the last two months of last year. There is this feeling of intensity and necessity. It is a path I must walk though it's not like I will be "healed" once I reach the one year mark on December 8th. But I will be far more healed than I would if I tried to ignore all my grief or to stuff it back so I can look like everything is good and I am okay.

(I have learned it is okay to admit to trusted friends that I am not totally okay.)

There were tumultuous times with that boy/man but I loved him fiercely and I grieve and mourn his loss just as fiercely. He was alive, you know. And he made a difference in our lives and in the lives of his friends. But now he's gone. And I have this huge hole in my heart. 

(I have learned you can live and experience joy and beauty even with a huge hole in your heart.)

It is important for the living to stop sometimes and take a deep breath and to say "I love you" to those you love-to look them in the eye and really see them. We all know this and somehow we often forget that today might be the last time we get to say "I love you."

(I have learned (in the case of mother love at least) it really is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. How very grateful I am for the time I had to love my son and how much more aware I am of the time and opportunity to love my daughters.)

Here he is (the tallest one) with his best friend and his best friend's son.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

On The Table

Fresh Louisiana satsumas were one of the things on my table this past week.

Magazines, glue sticks and my journal were also on my table.

 When I was all done I had a found poem in my journal (among other things):

transforming pain into words-
once you start, it's hard to stop.
are you comfortable being...
what's next
Navigate life
no, you aren't dreaming
getting unstuck
the possibilities are (not) endless
what do I
yearn for?
there's no turning back.

(This is my contribution to Gallery 27 of the 52 Photos Project: On the Table.)

Friday, October 26, 2012


I took a couple of days off to come to the country and celebrate the fact that it looks like I am going to live a little longer.

My husband has been away participating I high school reunion activities so that has left me with some free time. I spent the morning and early afternoon cutting pictures from magazines and making collages in my journal. The photo below is one from my journal that I enhanced. I've had quiet music going in the background and the experience has been refreshing. I'd been neglecting my "alone time."

I've been thinking a lot about life and death this past year. We are none given any guarantees of a long life and yet we so often live as though that is a given. I want so badly to live more fully and yet I have this terrible tendency toward waste. It is so often so difficult to carry what I feel in these quiet places out into my every day world.

Here is where I should have a nice little "concluding paragraph" that neatly sums everything up or lays out a plan to correct my direction towards waste. Well, guess what? I don't exactly have an answer. Yet. For now I think I will grab my camera and head for the woods.

(For sure, small changes have come about, and there will be more. For one thing, before the "opening up" of the last year, I never would have written something so candid and vulnerable as this here.)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, October 22, 2012


(My contribution to Gallery 26 of the 52 Photos Project, Golden.)

Golden is the news that the doctor only found one polyp today during my colonoscopy. She removed it and sent it away for testing but she was confident enough today to say that I would not have to come back for two years! Year one of being cancer free has passed!

I've been thinking a lot about what might have been and about the ramifications of what bad news might have had on my life. I've been thinking a lot about death and dying and priorities and using my remaining time wisely. I do need to make some changes. First I need to figure out how to move from thinking to doing. 

But for today, I am savoring the good news with gratitude.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Still Life

 The theme for Gallery 25 of the 52 Photos Project is "Still Life."
"Angles Among Us"
This was a phone photo (all of these are from my phone, processed in various apps). It's a corner in the women's restroom at work. I like the way it turned out.
Leaf on Porch
I believe this is one of my all time favorites.
"Flowers" in a bottle.
Remember the fern in the bottle, the "world inside a bottle"? 
This is the fern after two weeks. 
I thought it had grown pretty white flowers but when I looked closer, 
I realized it was the fern leaves with all the green sucked out of them! 
One of the titles I thought of was "She Died Beautifully." 
The awareness of death has been prevalent in my mind lately, for various reasons. 
Anyway, still life, that's what we're talking about. ;)
Making time for still life is what helps me 
stay calm and keep moving.
Taking pictures is one way to still life for me.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

What is Lacking?

(My contribution to Gallery 24 of the 52 Photos Project, Orange. It turned out to be more reddish than orange but I'm okay with that. I need to figure out how to make the words show up more clearly. It would probably be okay once printed out but my printer is on the fritz.)

I read this in a book I've been reading. I suppose it is a good question to consider, especially if one is in a stressful place. It's designed to bring you into the present, to help you focus on what is needed right now. I think it also helps you avoid moving toward the drama of imagining all the "what ifs" and alternate scenarios we tend to create when we are stressed or frightened, the dramas that tend to paralyze us.

Asking myself this question also sometimes leads me to gratitude. I think that is a good thing.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Thoughts on Darkness

(And Things We Don't Know About Ourselves)

"The dark night of the soul
comes just before revelation.

When everything is lost, 
and all seems darkness,
then comes the new life
and all that is needed."
~ Joseph Campbell

I saw this quote on Facebook a couple of days ago and it has haunted me ever since. I don't know if the "average bear" is smart enough to know how much tenacity and courage it takes to hold on "when all seems darkness."

I've got some friends who are going through some tough times in this moment. I want to affirm and admire and encourage their bravery. It ain't easy, I know.

He has other annoying quotes :)
"It is by going down in the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure." ~ Joseph Campbell
I know there is light, I know Light. But darkness is part of the equation too. It is inevitable. I tend to get into times where I embrace the darkness. Maybe it is because I know from experience there are valuable things hidden in darkness. I am there now. I am not without hope. I am not flailing about or blindly running about trying to escape. I am (mostly) sitting with the darkness, waiting. Surely a time will come for action. Maybe the time is now, I don't know. In retrospect, I seem to have been sitting in darkness for long enough now and it feels like maybe it is time for action. But I am not sure what to do.

And yet another annoying quote :)
 "The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are." ~ Joseph Campbell
I ran into a girl I worked with back in the late seventies. When I introduced her to my oldest daughter, she told her how I had looked out for them and took care of them (we worked in a family owned sporting goods store where they hired a lot of college students, I was a full time permanent employee). She said that was her first real job and she was kind of scared. I never saw myself as doing that! But it was a good thing to hear.

Of course, me being me, I had to ask myself if my looking out for them was really me being me, or was it me doing what others expected me to do? Who am I? And am I being me? These are a couple of the questions I face in the darkness.

I'll get it worked out again, or at least worked out enough that I can get back to moving along the path with acceptance and purpose (and maybe a little less introspection). Eventually. Life might be too short for so much introspection!

I can't do a post anymore without also including a photograph. Here is one from my son's birthday celebration (which went quite well, if I have not already said so!). The light was so pretty on the morning I took these pictures. I went out with my camera hoping to catch what I saw.
One of my favorites from that day, darkness and light.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

World Within a World

My daughter and a friend walked in the woods this weekend. They discovered an old pile of discards from someone's housekeeping that was long ago discarded. This bottle looked like a terrarium with its fern growing inside. The metal cap was still on the bottle though it had a small rusted out hole in it. The fern had somehow reached inside the hole and started to grow. We left the bottle in the country but I have no illusions that the fern will survive now that it has been displaced from its original location.

I call the picture "World Within a World" and for some reason I am reminded about the story of the fish who doesn't know he is in water. I found an interesting commencement speech that started off with the telling of that story. Here is the link if you'd like to read it. Be forewarned, there is language that might be offensive. (Commencement address)

Along the same lines of some of his speech, I think about how we can see ourselves in that glass bottle world and think that is all there is to the world and we have no real clue how big the universe really is. We think we've got all the answers and seen all the possibilities but all we really know is our life inside the jar.

Here is another picture of the jar, this time taken with my camera phone. Notice the other two jars on the ground. They too had stuff growing in them.

Okay, so both these pictures are my submission to Gallery 23 (Withering Beauty) of the 52 Photos Project. I've gotten behind on visiting the links to the other participants and I've gotten behind on my regular blog reading. Sometimes it's impossible to catch up. Sometimes you have to let go of the idea of catching and just jump back in where you are. That's probably what I will try to do.

The next few months are going to be tough for me and for my family. I soon will have to go back to the doctor to do my yearly checkup to make sure the cancer is still gone. That is weighing on my mind, not in a terribly big way--just in that "oh, my, here I go again" way. And December 8th will make a year since my son died. Everything was all so new and fresh last year. We just got through the holidays the best we could. We were all pretty numb. This year we are more aware of the fact that the holidays are coming and we are missing a member of our family.

I've lately been reliving some of the moments from those days and freshly feeling the pains. I have not responded to any of the kind comments from the last three blog posts. I do appreciate every one of them.