“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
Henri J.M. Nouwen (Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life)

I’ve talked about how I’ve pulled away from my friends.

I’ve been a crappy friend.

Mostly, because its hard to be a good friend when you’re afraid to leave the house.

But I feel like I want to try again…at least a little…

Typically, once I hit fall, I feel open, like its as new school year, new possibilities, a brand new me.

This fall…I feel much like I want it to be a funeral.  The funeral of an enemy, who did terrible things and had a death much deserved.  I want to delivery a eulogy to the summer that betrayed me.  That instead of fun in the sun, was hidden torment and hidden pain.

Fall.  Fall means that this terrible summer will die.  That I can box up all the terrible parts of it and bury it deep in the ground.

I’m toying with coming up with some kind of ritual to say goodbye to that part of summer.  It may or may not involve fire.  I find fire very cleansing.

Its what I need to say “This is over.”

I think I’ll wait til the sale of our house is finally full.  Then take part of a packing box and packing paper.  Take the newspaper article with the picture of our destroyed, stolen vehicle.  Take photocopies of unemployment checks and print outs of broken hearted emails.  Pour some bourbon on it.  Add a cupcake that I didn’t eat while hiding under the table.  And burn it.  And stomp on the ashes.

I’m so ready for it to be done and over.  So ready to start whatever this next part of my life IS.  Ready to not be afraid any more.

Ready for Thanksgiving and finding reasons to be thankful.  Ready for Christmas and carols and mistletoe.

Ready for New Years and new beginnings.

Ready to be ME again.

Ready to be strong and confident.

But its not time yet, and I am impatient.  I am impatient as the flower waiting for spring.  As impatient as the geese, flying north or south at their appointed time.  I know where I am supposed to be.

But its not time yet.



My mother’s handwriting

I have always had terrible handwriting.  When I was in gradeschool, my mother despaired of me ever writing anything legible.  It didn’t really matter to me.  I could read my notes, and really, my notes were there for me.  The act of writing them is what helped me more than going back and reading them anyway.  But I always admired my mom’s handwriting.

I’ve never seen anyone with handwriting similar.  Its not a beautiful cursive script…its sort of angular and…pointy.  Her “s” especially is a little flat on the type.  Her printing is legible but distinctively hers.  I love my mother’s handwriting.

My Oma has been placed in a nursing home last weekend after passing out at church.  I got the news as we were pulling into my own church parking lot.  I walked in.  Sat down.  Told my brother.

The first hymn began.

I promptly began to cry.  My husband ushered me out, bought me flowers and champagne to prep myself for yet another hospital visit, yet another emergency.

I had to go to my Oma’s with my mom to pick out her things, and on her counters I saw Oma’s grocery lists.  She taught for 30 years and has perfect school penmanship.

Littered on the table where my mother’s notes, reminding her to take her pills, who was coming to visit.

And I know someday I will go to my mother’s house and find little slips of paper and clean them up while I pack her things.

I will despair at never seeing her handwriting again.

My uncle has died of a brain tumor.

My grandfather has pneumonia, the doctor’s say it doesn’t look good.

My Oma is in the nursing home, her memory leaving her in bits and pieces day by day.

My mother is in pain, watching her mother suffer and trying to organize her life around that suffering.

My dad’s cousin is slowly dying as a brain tumor eats away at her.

Again and again and again I get the news…the phone call…the email…this is it.

This is it.

This is it.

What is it?

It is death.  It is coming in drips and drabs.  It is hiding behind holidays and lurking in the corner of your mind.  And I see it in little slips of paper, little lists of chores that won’t be finished and groceries that won’t be bought.

I feel as though I am immune to feeling anything for it all  any more.  There’s no more surprise in it.  There’s no shock, any more, just another item on the list.  In handwriting only I can read, I suppose.

I love these people all so much.  And I don’t want them to suffer…but they will.  I can only try to ease their pain.

Thanksgiving passed and I have tried to be thankful…I tried to make my own lists…

I am thankful…for one more day.  Every day is one more day.  For that I am thankful.

So now, as I turn to Christmas, I turn too, to my favorite Christmas song.  I am tired of despair, I am tired of sorrow.  I want a Christmas of brightly wrapped gifts and carols sung around the piano at Christmas.  So I will make my Christmas and try to fill it with as much love as I can.  And it may be a small amount of love.  That Advent Candle light may not shine as brightly as usual.

But I’ll light it anyway.

If your heart is sad.  If you’re missing someone, and so deep in your despair that “Merry Christmas” falls like ash on your tongue…listen to the bells…and maybe that’ll help.  Below, I recorded myself singing…less for you, more for me.  Singing helps me get through some of these times.

And I’d like a record of something that comforts me when I’m sad.  So its less for you…but…maybe it’ll help you too.

I heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

I don’t own the rights to it.  I’m not getting any money…just a little something to hold on to.  I feel like sending it out there is like sending out a prayer.

Also, if you want to read more about the poem that inspired the song