Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I took pictures of my tulips several weeks ago.  This isn't the best photo but I liked it most.  My eyes gravitate toward the bottom.  Covered by a broad tulip leaf is a sweet yellow pansy.

The day after I took this photo a raging hail storm rushed through and the tulips took the brunt (along with our roof).  They looked nothing like they had and the leaves were shredded.  The pansy, though tattered, was still intact.

I feel like that pansy today in the middle of a hail storm.  My dad is really, really struggling.  Readmitted to the hospital a few days ago with a blood infection and at this time not able to do most "activities of daily living" or ADLs.  (I now know a very important marker in the world of health care.)

This morning when I walked into his room my gaze settled on face, his closed eyes, his body under the blankets.  I quietly said good morning.  His eyes opened and he recognized me and my sisters.  I asked how he's doing.  He said he'd had a tough, tough night.  Essentially confessed that the nurses received the brunt of his frustration.  Then his face pinched, his eyes flooded with tears and he said, "I miss your Mom.  I miss your Mom so much.  I miss talking with her.  I miss her presence."  A sacred moment.  Another sacred moment.  Another moment to share in my parents' vulnerability.  This is so not easy.

My dad is not an emotional man.  Very smart, very capable, very methodical, an engineer by profession.  Now 95% of his "ACLs" are done for him.  So grateful for two mercies.  He still holds a fork, a spoon, a pen.  Still uses his stylus to navigate through his iPhone, checking the news, and his calendar.  His mind still sharp as a tack.

When I wrote those seven "P" words about grief I had absolutely no idea what was on the horizon.  This transition and season of grief is like nothing I've experienced.  At one point in my life when pondering the loss of my parents, I wondered if that loss would completely and entirely crush me.  That it would entirely possess me.  Today I'm grateful it hasn't.  Just as the word "potent" scared me when it initially came to mind, "possess" scared me, too.  I've known periods of tormenting fears and being engulfed by its grip.  Being possessed by grief is something I want to avoid.  This I want to avoid:
to bring or cause to fall under the influence, domination, or control of some emotional or intellectual response or reaction (bolding mine). *
I don't want to be dominated by grief, but desire its important work to be accomplished in my life.  This is what I want:
to have as a faculty, quality, or the like:  to possess courage. *
So this gives me pause.  Do I possess the courage to walk this path of grief?  It is bound to come.  We cannot avoid it.  We cannot step out of the way, jump over it or stop it.  I can either accept it or deny it. In less than three weeks I will read my story for Listen to Your Mother Oklahoma City, the rehearsal one week prior on what would have been my Mom's 75th birthday.  To walk this path will require courage and strength from a place I don't know today, but I'm trusting will come.

There are times when stories in the Bible speak to a deep place in my life.  The first chapter of Joshua has been one of those and one that helped me overcome those tormenting fears.  Today with much grief and sorrow I take courage in them once again.

"The Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant.  
The Lord said, “My servant Moses is dead.  
Now you and all these people go across...
Be strong and brave... 
be strong and brave! ... 
Remember that I commanded you to be strong and brave.  
Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you."  
Joshua 1:1, 2, 6, 7, 9 (NIV)
(bolding mine)