Shadows and Sunlight

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When I step out of the shower my favorite thing to do is to dig my face into my towel and breath in through my nose. I smell my home, my life, clean, comfort. When I was near the shore I smelled beach, moisture, vacation, humidity. Life is wonderful and heartbreaking, amazing and fleeting.

I’m sitting in a room surrounded by treasured belongings that were once my husband’s aunt’s. The wooden trinkets and books make me feel she is actually here with me. The photo albums I made for her are now here. I can’t read the lines I wrote to her inside of those albums without fighting the sadness away. Holding her antique books makes me want to sit and read every page, touch each leather binding.

All of the special things we accumulate in life; one day they will be left behind. Special and treasured as the keep sakes are, they symbolize our defeated impermanence and the victorious passing of time. I know the glass is half full, none of it escapes me, not the blessings nor the heartaches. Still we are all going to be gone one day and the beautifully bound leather books will be here with the ivory candle sticks and the small wooden horse.

I once visited a friend who was moving into a house that came with all of the belongings of the deceased woman who lived in it prior to my friend purchasing it. The woman who had passed away had no one to claim her belongings, not one living family member or dear friend. My daughter asked if she could keep a few things she liked that day and when I see those things I am reminded of that woman who died alone. That woman’s white and blue painted cookie tin is in our kitchen and when it catches my eye it speaks to me.

“Loss and Possession, Death and Life are one,
There falls no shadow where there shines no sun.”
-Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)

Death: Part of life but so painful

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“You always think you have more time” I told my mother in law.  “No,” she disagreed “not at our age, people have died much younger.”  So sad and undeniably part of being human.  My brother in law recently went through the pain of losing his younger brother, the hurt from that loss unimaginable.  A long time friend in the community passed away recently and it’s still shocking to think he isn’t here.  Death is such a definitive part of life and yet it’s so difficult to reconcile.  Since our aunt passed away last week we have been walking around numb and dazed.  Monday and all of the responsibilities of life called so here we are, pushing on as everyone says “she would want us to do,” and of course as we must.  My Mom said “she was called back to heaven to do other work there” and I think of her having no idea she was about to leave and wonder how that can be.  It is so heart wrenching that she will not be with us that I don’t even want to think about future family time without her.  I know she would want us to have those times, celebrate life and be happy.  Maybe missing her so much is selfish.  Meanwhile believing in our destiny and putting faith in what God has planned for us is everything, so why then does it hurt so much, why aren’t we programmed to have a resistance to this sadness and heartache.  The human condition, I guess, the lessons and growth and reasons we’re here.  My husband said “it’s all part of the journey” but it didn’t make me feel better either.  During the night when I toss and turn, each time waking up and thinking “it’s true, she is gone” I think of the Mom in town who lost her husband unexpectedly last year or the children who went to school at Sandy Hook in December.  So much pain yet such a real part of this life.  My sister says to focus on the beautiful blessings around us and of course this is true, and I am so grateful, but it doesn’t lessen the pain.  She wasn’t my aunt for my life time and yet an amazing, loving person can touch your heart so deeply.  I’m the first to say “appreciate each day” however, the loss weighs a million pounds and it’s on my shoulders, on my neck muscles, behind my sore eyes.  Thinking of the last phone call, the last email, the last letter, why did that have to be the last one, but of course I know the rational reasons.  “My dear—…We leave on Friday—…I wish all of you were going with us—… Much love.” -smilingbug

Count Blessings

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Tis the day after Christmas and all through the apartment, not a creature was stirring except for counting many, many blessings- even the ones taken for granted most.  I saw a report on one of the five quadruple amputees from the Iraq war and he said “something can always be worse, I could have no mobility at all.”  That made me think of Eric LeGrand and his amazing positive attitude; he is such an inspiration.  It also made me wonder about the other four quadruple amputee victims from this war so I googled them.  I found the beautiful love story of Taylor Morris and his girlfriend.  Just looking at those images you can feel how happy he is to be alive, incredibly courageous and strong.  I also found Travis Mills’ story , talk about inner strength and human will.  Recent news of Newtown, CT and other shooting rampages have caused a long pause in my reflection on life and these war heroes did that to me as well.  Quadruple amputee Brendan Marrocco’s Dad said the “good thing” about their garage being flooded by Sandy was that it wasn’t finished yet.  That is quite a lesson in seeing the glass half full.  This morning I touched my husband’s face and appreciated my hand and fingers, I thought about the many people who can’t do that.  Then I got on twitter and saw Brian Whelan’s re-tweets of bratty young people complaining about their Christmas gifts, tweets that make your jaw drop because they didn’t like their gifts or got a black Ipad instead of a white one.  It’s easy to get complacent and take things for granted.  Let’s remember our many blessings and be grateful. -smilingbug