Tag Archives: death

Great Forever

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“I’m not ready.” That’s what he told me as we sat waiting for a table at J. Alexanders. We were surrounded by strangers who probably thought, “Ooh look at that couple.  They’re both crying…they must be fighting.”

We weren’t fighting.  We were instead facing a cold, stark fact. Bill’s dad was close to dying…we’d both just witnessed his current state, and we both knew he was to the point of no return.

Bill wasn’t ready to lose another parent, the second in ten short months. He wasn’t ready to face life without parents and grandparents. He wasn’t ready to let another loved one go.

We still aren’t eight days later.

But he did go. Very calmly and surrounded by a packed room of loved ones, he slipped away with a few last breaths. The very thing we all live in fear of, the very thing none of us will ever escape from, happened. Eight days later, it’s still hard to believe it happened.

The loss of one parent is excruciating. My mother passed suddenly when I was 35, and it left me empty inside. I wasn’t ready not to have a mother. Bill lost his mother in November, and I was thrust back into those emotions…even eleven years later. How do you live without a mother? I discovered quickly you can because you simply have no other choice.

But two parents? I’ve listened and watched, my wanna-be-writer’s mind that never ever really shuts down, absorbing the words of so many. Some say they felt like orphans when parents passed on, others stated it was a new feeling of responsibility when they were suddenly at the top of their living family tree. Others just nodded in understanding, having lived through it and understanding our weariness.

So now what? How does life continue in such an unwanted new fashion? Here’s all I can fathom:

-Life will continue, whether we really like it or not. Our job is to find the joy in the bad. Life is what you make it, that’s for sure.

-Cherish each day with your loved ones. (Don’t we hear that to the point that it almost becomes a weary cliché? Unfortunately, it’s blatantly true and nauseatingly hard to live with once the loved ones are gone. I learned that the hard way with my momma.)

-Enjoy today. Tomorrow may really kick you in the face.

-Life can suck. Life is gut-wrenchingly hard at times. But life is also wonderful and beautiful and warm.

-Find a great pair of big girl panties. You will need them often.

-Each loss makes me so thankful for what I have left. Each loss makes us grow (even when we’d rather stay babies and never grow up).

-This life is not forever. But there is a place that is forever. That gives me incredible hope.

I can’t help but think that all the loved ones that are gone…parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends…are just a step beyond what our human eyes can see, and they’re prodding us along. They’re nudging us into the next day, the next month or year. They’re that hidden strength that gets us through the hard times when we’d rather just pout or cry. They are our strength, and they’re waiting on us in the great forever.

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Granny Dot

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“Open the door.  He’s telling me what to do.”

Her eyes were on the ceiling, over my head.  She studied whatever it was she saw very seriously. I asked her who it was and she shrugged.  I asked her if it was Jesus and she mumbled, “I don’t know”.  But still she stared.  I saw a mixture of fear and maybe agitation in her eyes.  Her brows were knitted together. She studied him hard.  I finally said, “Listen to him.  He loves you.”

*

I’ve witnessed the beginning of life first hand, and now the end of life.  The ultimate joy, the heart crushing loss.  Honestly, neither were pretty.  Both were hard and messy and full of anxiety.  When will it happen?  Will I be ready?  What will I do once it’s over? The only catch is with a birth you’re left with a little human to love, raise and adore.  With death, you’re left with a hole, an empty place where a human once presided in your life. With both, you’re required to have incredible faith.  Faith that you can be all that person needs you to be in that moment.  And now, now that the moment has come and gone, still wondering if it was enough, if you’ll be enough.

My mother-in-law passed this weekend.  We knew the end was coming.  We saw the affects of cancer claim her body.  And even though it was excruciating to watch her struggle, there is a bond that feels stronger than it ever has before.  Even with her gone, I feel closer to her than ever.  Dot fought, she persisted, she demanded that her body breathe.  We all told her that it was okay…that she would be safe and never alone.  I felt the truth of those words in her room in the middle of the night, and I still feel it now.

Dot told us all that she wanted her passing to be happy…no sappy funeral, nothing but celebration.  She liked to laugh way too much to ever settle for sappiness.  But still… all I can do is think, but what about Thanksgiving and your grandkids and your black pie and sugar cookies?  You haven’t taught me how to make dressing yet.  You were going to show me your favorite dress and your favorite book.  We were supposed to have one more day to do all those things.

The sad thing is, we’d just had a lifetime.

A lifetime of moments and conversations and meals and family.  It turns out that even a lifetime is not enough.

I’ve read that death is like walking from one room to the next.  You simply close one door and open another.  I pray for that transition, for that simple step of walking out, walking in.   I pray that for Dot she simply bounded into the next room, her energy back, her laugh loud and strong, her spirit filling up that wonderfully bright new room in a flash.

seasons

Heavy Hearts

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The Edmundson Crew

The Edmundson Crew

Our family has suffered another loss, so forgive my morbid post.  My husband’s aunt and uncle lost their second son yesterday.  They lost his brother 18 months ago.  My mind continues to spin with the enormity of it.  Our hearts are heavy.

Things I’ve noticed about death:

1.  Why is it we only notice or acknowledge the good in people once they’re gone?  Why can’t we look at someone while they’re alive and say, Hey – you’re funny and mischievous and you might be the best ball coach there ever was because you loved your players and cared about their little hearts?  Why do we wait until someone is gone to appreciate them?  How many deaths does it take before we finally wake up and say, I love you, man, and you’re awesome?

2.  Why do people, including myself, think we’ve done something wrong when we lose someone?  Almost like we’re being punished for not being the best friend or parent or partner.  Do we really believe that or are our hearts yearning for any kind of answer or reason for the pain?  Because not one of us deserve to lose anyone.

3.  I am a person of faith, pretty big faith.  God is my father, Jesus is my friend, and I spend a lot of time chatting with them both every day.  That being said, I’m in a yucky place this week.  I’m ill and sad and just confused.  I know death is part of living – it’s a guarantee whether we want it or not.  But shouldn’t there be limits?  I’m a big believer in fairness – as in one ball team should not win all the time, certain people shouldn’t receive all the attention, that kind of fair.  You spread the proverbial wealth.  So shouldn’t pain be evenly distributed too?  Why do some get dealt so much more pain than others in a lifetime?  Spread the stuff out!  How fair is it for parents to lose their only two sons 18 months apart?  It’s not, and it yanks at my heart and soul in the worst kind of way.  In my grief, I don’t blame God because I know life is just a side effect of the world we live in.  But dang…

4.  The best and oddest thing about death is the way it pulls people together.  People cling to each other.  It reminds people to love, to share, to remember with clarity things we don’t remember on an average day.  Suddenly, memories flood our minds…thoughts of the wonderful things a person did, the silly habits they had, the love they gave to so many.  Out of something so horrible, good seeps through.  For a little while, we tether to one another.  In the worst of times, people cling.  Maybe we should be clinging every day, not just on the bad days.

5.  Finally, it reminds me that no matter what, one day there’s more.  There’s a new life just beyond your last breath – a new body, a new home.  Death is just a stepping stone, a step into what’s next.  Next will be softer, kinder, and deep in my heart, I just know fairness will no longer be an issue.

 

Too Much to Bear

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There has been a lot of talk lately about being given more than you can handle…or precisely not being given more than you can handle in a bad situation.  The old saying goes something like God won’t give you more than you can handle.  Those words have been pounding through my brain the past few days trying to find the truth.

Is it true that we will never be given more than we can handle?  Or did some (albeit kind but demented) person create the tag line?  I recently read that it never says those exact words in the Bible.

So…who came up with it?

Our small town has been slammed with death and heartache lately.  Just this past weekend, a five-year old girl was killed in a tragic car accident.  She leaves behind heartbroken, devastated parents.  Are we to believe that these people can handle this situation?  Are they stronger than the rest of us?

In my worst moments, the moments I just couldn’t see passed the next minute or the next hour, I remember thinking those words. I remember thinking, “Okay, God, I love you and all, but I’m not this strong.  I promise.  I just can’t do this.”  And in those moments, I begged for His help, His strength because I knew it was beyond my realm to survive it alone.

But I did survive.  Somehow, I continued moving and eating and breathing even though it was terribly ugly to watch.  So how did I do it?  How did I survive?

I survived because of God.  I survived because I could not do it alone and for that reason, I depended on Him more than I had ever before.  During the worst, maybe that’s the point.  Maybe we should rely on God.  He’s infinitely stronger and wiser and more capable than we’ll ever be, and I’m thankful He’s willing to tote me around when I’m at my worst.

And honestly, needing Him that much has made my relationship with Him stronger than ever before.

My heart aches for the family of this little girl.  She attended the school where I work, and her teacher was left with the gut-wrenching job of dealing with her classmates.  Another colleague told her class about the accident and simply told them that sometimes in life bad things happen.  The little ones nodded their heads, taking her words to heart.  They can and will accept that their friend is now in Heaven much easier than many adults will.

For those struggling with too much to bear, there are no words, not really.  Only know many are thinking of you and praying for you, and you are never alone.