Tag Archives: death

Weddings, Funerals and Games

Each day during this past week and two weekends I’ve felt as though I was being pulled in every direction, my emotions jerking me around substantially. To cope I’ve been hanging out with my blogger friend Christi at Feeding On Folly more than usual.

For much of my life overwhelming, upsetting emotions was my normal – disappointments, heartbreaks and tragedies continuously shaking my foundation. Thanks to God I developed impressive sea legs early on and became very good at the hiding my feelings game. I got so good playing mind games I wanted to be a contestant on The Price Is Right. I would have seriously rocked that!

Image courtesy CBS.com

Jesus becoming my best friend, the Holy Spirit my closest companion was my game changer. Now God’s got me to where I enjoy relationships with my family and friends without the old, dramatic crash-and-burn episodes that once hobbled me.

I cherish my family. Being scattered all over the country as we are, I’m simply not used to talking at such intimate levels, each day with so many loved ones. But it’s what you do before, during and after weddings and funerals – right?

Most people I know embraced this reality in their 30’s. And if you’re like my family, at each wedding and funeral everyone’s astounded by how quickly the weddings and funerals thing is becoming their reality. The farther we get from thirty-something the more we gather for the latter.

So this morning as I resisted getting out of bed, I primed myself just in case I make the cut for The Price is Right. I crunched numbers on how many hours I’ve been on the phone as compared to how often I converse with extended family other than for weddings or funerals:

Big surprise this morning: not only has CBS NOT called me, but my mind is slightly scrambled, I can’t brain. Very old memories (good, bad and ugly) continue to surface at not-necessarily-opportune moments. My emotions range from deliriously happy to prickly-volatile as I’m sure the most former  more mature – fine, the older members of our tribe are experiencing as well.

Though the Bible says we actually are fearfully and wonderfully made*, the fearful thing for me is a no-brainer, the wonderful, well, let’s just leave the emphasis on the wonder. But while I am indeed special, I am not so unique. I imagine this sort of thing happens to most people reaching these milestones.

“Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble. They spring up like flowers and wither away; like fleeting shadows, they do not endure.”

Job 14:1, 2 (NIV)

Honestly, with Jesus I feel so much better in my reality. BIG PLUS – I get to choose:

Option 1 – We can continue the practice of keeping our focus upon God, trust Him to carry our concerns, fears, upsets as well as our grief and pain. When we do, the darkness recedes, we can feel hope springing eternal again, and the worst of times (that actually are not a surprise in the grand scheme of things) become a milestone instead of a stumbling block.

{Insert audible Ooohs-and Aaahs here}

-OR-

Option 2 – We can wear ourselves out trying to figure it all out without God, carrying burdens He ever intended for us. While it’s an impressive work-out, it also stresses the mind, body and soul to unhealthy degrees and steals joy from our lives. I certainly don’t want to pass that example on to my loved ones…

{Insert audience “Oh…” here}

I’m gonna go with God’s Overcoming Power in my life, Bob. (Drew, Dennis, Tom, Whatever).

Dunt – ta-da-daaaah!

Oh my God! I get heaven too!! Wowee!!!

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:55 (NIV)

 

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)

*Psalm 139:14

Raise challenge image courtesy Pixabay

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Why Worry?

Naturally I’ve been reflecting upon the meaning of life this week. Not really, but I actually have been re-examining my overall expectations.

I always dreamed of life with a big family, gardens, and lots of animals on enough acreage to be self-sustaining. I come from a large, complex family, so this is no surprise.

Since my youth, life took my siblings and me through some very interesting twists and turns. For us, most changes initiated some considerable pain and confusion. We’d no sooner recover from one blow when another would strike. Mean as it sounds, those hard hits on such young humans prepared us for an unimaginable future. That seems sad. It is, but it’s also good.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8, 9 (NIV)

Throughout our lives God’s merciful grace has been the one consistency.

Today I am our eldest surviving sibling and my generation’s first female. That could change again tomorrow, but I’m not concerned.

During many passionate discussions throughout the years OlderBrother and I agreed that though we were impecunious, from a global perspective we have lived luxuriously.

I believe God blessed us all with astounding strength and fortitude throughout our journeys. I also believe that, like both Jacob* and Job**, He broke us enough to help us endure it all.

I’ll never forget the many times over the years I messed up and missed opportunities, simply by being stubborn. I confessed those failures and God forgot them. What’s more, He stayed right on course, kept me in line and lets me think getting here was all my idea, my doing.

Daily – okay at least weekly –  I’m overjoyed to reflect upon my favorite (and some of my most disappointing) memories – What brought me to here and now. Here may not look like all that much to some, but it’s far more than most would have predicted.

God has always used the good and the sad to keep me in check.

So why worry now?

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

1 Peter 5:10, 11 (NIV)

*Genesis 32:22-31

**Job 10:8-13

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Dear John

You were my first friend, my first hero.
Until I discovered John Wayne.
Then our world grew large and mean.
You gave me music,
And then you left.
You made us learn to live without you.
We’d finally begun building a bridge.
Perhaps we’ll finish it soon.
But for now we must say farewell.

Fair winds and following seas, dear “Big Bother”*.

Daddy, Brother and me 1954

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.”**

 

My Big Brother
January 8, 1952 – April 19, 2018

 

“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

1 Corinthians 15:54  (NIV)

*Not a typo – a joke between siblings.

**From To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time by Robert Herrick, 1591 – 1674

 

 

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Bright Week

Spring, even Easter can be like a two-edged sword in my family. I doubt we’re so unique that this should surprise anyone. At some point in life most every body I know tires of winter’s short daylight hours and long, dark nights.

Even so, my family seems to have had more than average trouble getting through to spring – so much so that several times some of our loved ones didn’t make it. My siblings and I for example lost a parent, a cousin, and two siblings before spring.

These, our first losses were when we were all very young and somehow nobody explained what happened. So, understandably our history set up my siblings and me for a sneaky darkness to come creeping around in  early March. Typically that gloom lurks in the shadows until early April. Remarkably, none of us recognized that particular annual happening until we were all grown and set in our individual ways.

Since that realization we learned to reach out to one another about the time our spirits began going down for the second time. Regardless of which of us start it, we team together to help one another through, one way or another. We celebrate the good aspects of our family and we rationalize the bad, the sad and the painful. Mostly by Easter we’ve all beat it.

This year Easter came early so my breakthrough exploded into Easter Monday.

I’m glad to have celebrated the Resurrection, our hope in glory* with extended family this year – people who know my family, our history and they’re as glad to see my siblings and me get through our struggles as are we.

 

 
 

Today I determined – yet again – to continue my campaign to celebrate Bright Week. Essentially borrowing from the Eastern Orthodox tradition, only I’ll continue to observe through to Holy Week next year. Embracing the pain and rising above it, I’m confident God shall carry me through the joy of Easter Sunday all year.

I’ll let you know exactly how this goes after I finish sorting through last weeks’ photos.

“To them [the Lord’s people who are the church] God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Colossians 1:27 (NIV, [addendum mine])

 

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Passed St. Pat’s

No matter where in the world my siblings ever were, on St. Patrick’s Day we always celebrated our heritage, our family and our life together. ‘Tis tradition, don’cha know.

I admit, I did not celebrate this year, my first year back home. Three years ago, almost to the minute I’m now writing, my younger brother Seagh’s heart ruptured, he laid down his Harley, shook himself off and then walked into The Great Beyond. That moment changed everything.

We all adore our darling Seagh. Even as a small boy, he demonstrated extraordinary wisdom. We all came to depend upon him, especially when emotions ran rampant or hard times made our choices seem vague.

Over the years Seagh was always my greatest comfort, my touchstone, helping me make sense of the madness that seemed to be constantly lurking nearby.

 

 

After the years he roamed the globe he came home to the family and finally the ranch. For the brief season we were all here together I was entirely contented. I wanted us to stay together and to never leave.

But Seagh always knew something, saw something the rest of us missed. He insisted I stay close to our baby sister, Roan; “She’ll crash and burn without you.” Eventually I resigned to move on to Texas with her. Weeks later I understood why he sent me. Seagh already knew he too would be moving on soon.

Two years after his passing Roan and I were settled in Texas. Then I moved on again. We remain connected across the miles and continue on together – but differently now. Seagh dying when he did seemed to make the world a darker, sadder place and I couldn’t fix that.

It seemed.

Cole and Seagh 2012

Now Roan has Opal and her entourage in Texas. I am at home here at the ranch. I walk where Seagh walked along with Cole, Kendra and Eleven-Year-Old.

Sometimes I believe I can see the world as Seagh saw it. Very often I think I can see his unmistakable stance in the lot or where the patio used to be, one hand in a pocket, the other holding a mug, always taking in life deeply. Sure, I miss hearing him speak his few, pointed words daily. But I hear him.

I can’t conjure up his image on demand. But in the still, quiet of a peaceful day and in the midst of turmoil, I remember his words. When I don’t expect it, they come to me like rain on parched ground. Looking skyward, I soak them in, “You shouldn’t wonder about my soul. God and I are good now.”

Seagh’s death did not end him. Love lives on.

Absolutely.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you. … And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1: 3, 6 (NLT)

For Seagh:

Feature Image courtesy of Gigi @ A Warm Hello.com

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Bliends – Loving

Love, Before it’s Too Late by Mitch Teemley at The Power of Story inspired me yet again today. Getting to know Mitch and his family through his blog, his stories makes today’s crazy world more beautiful and far more fun. If you haven’t met him yet, do yourself a solid and catch up.

 

About Loving

warm-heart-4330x3112_21130

Love is not always something we do or feel. It’s not merely something we respond to and it is definitely not something we acquire. I know this because of the love I’ve missed in my lifetime.

I learned early in life to never take the people I love for granted. The details of my family history, some of the losses are public record. Aside from our numbers the love is not recorded. The ties that bind my surviving siblings and I are solid, indelible but they are mostly invisible.

valentine-heart-5992x2227_22848Emotions are part of the equation and work closely with love, but emotions are not love. I believe that like matter, love is neither created nor destroyed. And yet, it can be misplaced, as anyone that’s lost someone precious to them experiences. Death can create a gaping void, a hole in life that God alone can fill. But love goes on.

Not my first loss, my dad died suddenly, unexpectedly when I was nineteen. With our dysfunctional family dynamics I also lost my closest friend at the time. The ramifications of that event separated my siblings and me during our developmental years. And yet love kept us closely bound together. I can see Daddy occasionally; in my siblings, my sons and my grandchildren. Each time I again feel the love.

My husband came into my life. Love thrived – and then he left. I have not seen him since 2010. Though I was open to repairing our connection we failed. Yet the love lives.

Loving my family with all that I am made me appreciate love, relationships, free will and to never allow time to ravage the bond.

I mentioned in an earlier post, some friends slipped into my past and will remain there. Others remain close regardless of where on earth I pause. They choose to stay close and they act upon the choices. A visit, a phone call, email or text keeps the love we share vital. Whether we share the same genetic structure or are bound by our histories, I value love above all.

John L. Green Vera_Marie_Fuller

I’ve missed my parents for a lifetime. Mother left Dad, my siblings and me in 1966. She tried to reconnect until death took her in 2004. Through constant forgiving, commitment and dedication, we loved. My foster parents (pictures not available) passed months apart in 2005. They all continue to be a big part of me.

2014-05-09 09.34.35

 

My darling brother Seagh left us in 2014. I still feel his presence more often than I don’t. I miss hearing his voice, seeing his face and towering physique. Sometimes knowing I shall not see him again in this world feels crushing. But he frequently reminds me death is not the end.

We love.

 

 

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

Hearts Images courtesy Unsplash

All other images are private property and not to be duplicated or shared without prior written permission. Thank you!

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Beautiful Brother and the Beast – Assignment 13

Although I am not gifted with poetry, assignment thirteen was fun for me. More inclined toward prose, I practiced short subjects emailing my first son while he was deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom with the Navy. Messages had to be 50 words or less. Today my bull’s eye is 100 words. I’m okay with hitting the outside of the spot.

 

2014-05-09 09.13.20

I was too young.
Too young to comprehend.

I took you into my heart,
my brother, my child.
The void never closed after you left,
And you overfilled it when you returned.

 

wolf woodsI was too old.
Had no place of my own.
I took you into my heart,
my brother, my friend.
Our time here passed so very fast.
Dear God, can we all be together again soon.

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