Thursday, August 31, 2006

Gold Cards

Hello all,

football players in Walla Walla sell Gold Cards. They usually do a door-to-door blitz and hit the entire city. This year, there isn't any blitz, the players are on their own.

If you buy a Gold Card, you get discounts at several local places, mostly restaurants. The discounts are good for a year. Our Gold Card always pays for itself within days; the Lorenzo's pizza deal is a good one! They cost $10. If anyone wants one, let me know. We have to sell 32!!!!

NEWS JUST IN.....

Lou, a courtly and elegant gentleman, devoted father, loving husband, died today...8/31/06. Godspeed, dear Lou. We honor a life well-lived, a man well-loved. Cathy, Drew and Damon, our prayers are with you. I found this verse. I like to think that Lou took the hand that was offered. While we are here, knowing the pain of being left behind, we can cling to the certainty of a glad reunion.



Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sweet Lou




My friend Cathy is walking beside her dear Lou.
Walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
And while she fears no evil,
I know there is much she does fear.
Learning to live without her hero next to her is only one thing.
Many of you follow her blog; the link is at right.
Please pray for her, for Lou and their two sons.
Imagine how much support she can feel, if we surround her with our prayers.
Now imagine, if each person who reads this, who prays, takes a moment to write a note saying so on her blog. Then she could not only feel it, but know it.

For all of us who are left behind,
not understanding,
clinging to hope...

With Hope by Steven Curtis Chapman

This is not at all how
We thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you, but ...

We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
(There's a place by God's grace)
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again

And never have I known
Anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God's plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father's smile and say well done
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
'Cause now you're home
And now you're free, and ...

We have this hope as an anchor
'Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true, so ...

So we can cry with hope
And say goodbye with hope

We wait with hope
And we ache with hope
We hold on with hope
We let go with hope

Friday, August 25, 2006

Remembering You

(I have added a link to a page with all the slide shows over on the sidebar, under "Links." Just click on "Slide Shows.")

August 23, 2006 - Marking One Year

Early in the morning,
dew on the ground,
the very first chill of autumn,
early this year.

Football players
walk by,
begin to
take the field.
The familiar sound of
cleats on pavement,
the slam of car doors,
the heft of shoulder pads,
the clunk of helmets.
The anticipation of
hard work,
honest sweat,
passion for the game.

One of Dave's
favorite places.

A few gather,
hold hands,
pray,
taking a moment to remember
a hero.

A hero as solid
as the rock
by which we stand.

A humble hero.
A man who lived his life
out loud.

Sharing his laughter,
his music,
his faith,
his belief in you,
his huge hugs,
and mostly,
and always,
his love.







I looked around the circle,
surrounded by people that love Dave,
people he loved,
and I know
he lives on in them.
To know Dave
is to be forever changed.
To love him
to be loved by him...
that was something
not of our world,
something deeper,
something purer,
something directly from heaven.
And while the time was not enough,
never enough,
I stood, grateful
that we had him at all.

Later, we barbequed in grand Dave style.
Charcoal briquets. No gas grill.
Kids playing football.
Girls swinging in the trees.
Lots of laughter.
Quiet conversations.
Good food.
Real people.

Later still,
watching the slide shows,
Kenny as MC,
hearing Dave's voice,
singing strong and clear,
seeing that grin,
holding onto Alex.
Leaking again.

Later still,
kids' voices echo
through the darkness
that is our backyard.
Laughter floats
in through my windows.
Footsteps on the roof.
Shrieks under the willow.
Stars in the sky.
Quiet stirrings of hope
in my heart.














"If you can't, you must. If you must, you can." Anthony Robbins

This last year, I have been called upon to do many things I believed I couldn't do. But do them, I must. And in doing them, I discover, I can. With help, I can. Thank you to those who were my help.

And thank you to those who make comments on the blog. It may seem like a small thing, but it's not. It's one of my main sources of support. It's difficult when you feel as if you're writing into a void; when people talk back to me, I feel a little more grounded. And it is nice to know that people care. :-)




"Remembering You" by Steven Curtis Chapman

I found You in the most unlikely way
But really it was You who found me
And I found myself in the gifts that You gave
You gave me so much and I
I wish You could stay
but I'll, I'll wait for the day

And I watch as the cold winter melts into spring
And I'll be remembering You
Oh and I'll smell the flowers and hear the birds sing
And I'll be remembering You, I'll be remembering You

From the first moment when I heard Your name
Something in my heart came alive
You showed me love and no words could explain
A love with the power to
Open the door
To a world I was made for

And I watch as the cold winter melts into spring
And I'll be remembering You
Oh and I'll smell the flowers and hear the birds sing
And I'll be remembering

The dark night, the hard fight
The long climb up the hill knowing the cost
The brave death, the last breath
The silence whispering all hope was lost
The thunder, the wonder
A power that brings the dead back to life

I wish You could stay
But I'll wait for the day
And though You've gone away
You come back

And I watch as the cold winter melts into spring
And I'll be remembering You
Oh and I'll smell the flowers and hear the birds sing
And I'll be remembering You, I'll be remembering You

And I'll watch as the sun fills a sky that was dark
And I'll be remembering You
And I'll think of the way that You fill up my heart
And I'll be remembering You

I'll be remembering You
I'll be remembering You
I'll be remembering You

I'll be remembering You

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

One Year




Friday, August 18, 2006 3:21 AM CDT
A Year Without Dave - In Pictures








You can see in the pictures much of what we miss.
You can hear in the songs.

I miss his smile. Yes, Kathie, Dave was always smiling. He was happy at heart, always. No matter how difficult things got, Dave saw the glass as half full. Even more, he'd be likely to say, "Look, how thoughtful, they left me room for more." He was the kind of person who made the best of everything. Some of you know about his TGIM campaign... Thank God It's Monday! Dave was appreciative of life. He was grateful and hopeful. Never once, during his entire journey with cancer did he say, "Why me?" Not once. When he first found out it was cancer, true to form, Dave said, "There are kids (students) who will have a hard time with this, I need to pray for them." Then: "Get me out of here, the hospital is for sick people." When I look at all the pictures, you can see Dave's love for the people around him. Pictures of him smiling directly at the camera are pretty rare. In most pictures, you can see him looking at the faces of the people he loves, smiling at them. And so handsome...my heart still leaps when I see him.

I miss the sounds of him. His voice, so resonant, so pure. Dave singing, all the time. The strumming of his guitar. Dave humming as he worked. Music everywhere, all the time, in the car, in the house, in the yard, on the field. I miss his laughter. He was always laughing, finding delight in everything, reminding me to not take things so seriously. "Lighten up, Francis!" he'd say. He made everything fun. And the stories...Dave always had a story. Students called his classes "DAVE 101" because they'd learn so much about him. He shared his life, his faith, his music, his love with anyone who'd care to listen.

I miss his walk. Zach walks like him, one foot slightly turned in, which gives a bounce to his step. It was a happy walk. Kate would say, "I could always tell he was coming by the jingle of his keys." And Dave often didn't walk. He'd jog, jump, shuffle, dance. His eyes would twinkle, and he'd twirl me around in grocery store aisles and other odd places.

I miss his touch. Dave was a hugger. He used to tell the neighborhood kids, "Can't go by without a hug!" He hugged everyone. And he hugged like he meant it. Warm, huge, engulfing embraces. He was a snuggler. Backrubs, footrubs, brushing my hair. He used to drive Denise crazy.

I miss his thoughts. He was a talker, too. We could spend hours talking about a little league game or a book we'd read or the meaning of a song or sharing memories or God or autism or anything. Dave was incredibly intelligent and insightful. He was interested and interesting.

I miss his example. Switchfoot's song asks, "Are you who you want to be?" And I often fall short. I am easily angered, I am selfish, I am impatient, I am quick to judge and slow to forgive. Dave was none of these things. He saw everything through a prism of love. He had a strength of character, a conviction that held him above the petty level most of us operate on. His students sensed it. The love and respect he had for them as people above all else, and they responded to that. There was something extraordinary about Dave. People were drawn to him and he changed their lives, just by being Dave.

I miss his silliness. He was a goofball. Goofy. Joking, laughing, making up games.

I miss how his eyes would go soft when he held a baby.

I miss how his little Toyota used to rumble up the driveway.

I miss how he would set out my contact case and my toothbrush when I was up late on the computer.

I miss how he changed the oil in my car.

I miss looking at pictures with him and saying, "Remember that?"

I miss how excited he'd get when I made his lunch for him.

I miss his smile at ballgames, that look in his eye..."That's my boy!"

I miss seeing him coach, encouraging, guiding, teaching, excited and enthusiastic.

I miss his creativity...songs, poems, drawings.

I miss the little notes he left in odd places for me.

I miss dancing with him.

I miss seeing him read his Bible and pray every morning.

I miss seeing his face as he listened to music, especially music from Erik, Mark, Will.

I miss seeing his eyes light up when he saw the kids.

I miss holding hands with him. And how he's always start singing the Beatles, "I Wanna Hold Your Hand..."

I miss sneaking into the kids' rooms at night, leaning on Dave, listening to them breathe.

I miss....everything. I miss....him.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Year Without Him

A YEAR WITHOUT DAVE - IN PICTURES



In the last year:

September brought football season, a young man named Meyer in a Blue Devils uniform, pride and tears, support from friends and coaches, a big touchdown! Numbness, shock and a strange kind of adrenaline got us through.

October brought Kenny's 15th birthday, our first family celebration without Dave. Homecoming...Dave, a past Homecoming King, loved Homecoming, would have been so amazed to see Kenny in his tuxedo.Halloween potluck with friends, corn maze, pumpkin guts and trick-or-treating. Dave always dressed up with the kids. Our loss, our grief, is raw and ever-present, overwhelming and unbearable.

November brought Zach's first Cougar game, our first holiday without Dave, a Thanksgiving for which we were not grateful, tearful car trip to Kelso, and Disney on Ice...finding smiles and laughter, and knowing how Dave would have loved it.

December...Kate's dance recital, remembering how he spent the last one in the hospital. Kate, dancing so beautifully, then looking at the flower Dave gave her last year, dried and faded. Christmas, music, family, gifts, a trip to Seaside,a new car, nothing the same, feeling off-kilter. Then Dave's birthday. He would have been 43. Winter outside, winter in our hearts.

January brought Kyle's birthday (he would have been 17) and Kate's 10th birthday. Dave's little girl. Smiling girls on ice, remembering Dave skating or bowling with them in years past. The Conspiracy of Hope concert, ringing with the love that Dave's students have for him. Bringing Duke into our family, his boundless energy and enthusiasm reminding us of Dave, making room in our hearts for new love.

February was full-on basketball, watching Zach look more like his father every day, sailing down the court, leaping, flying. Seeing Dave live on in his son, searching for ways to keep Dave present, with us. Grief, like the tide, rises up, recedes and rises again, in patterns that are sometimes predictable and sometimes make no sense.

March brought Zach's 14th birthday, more basketball and Kenny's Special Olympics ski trip. Dave had a passion and understanding for kids with disabilities, his belief in people knew no restrictions. Special Olympics is an experience that defies words and brings out the best in people. Kate, skiing like a champion, like she'd been doing it her whole life, windblown hair, red cheeks, smiling face, flying down the slopes. Exhilarated, recognizing that some things are still important, that there is still meaning in our lives.

April...spring, rain, baseball. Zach's trip to Washington DC, growing up so fast. Kenny and Kate visit the beach. I have time alone at home. Time to reflect, look within. We find that we're healing, growing, and strong as well as being broken, lost and bereft.

May, learning to work through the days without falling apart, finding things still sneak up on me. A song, buying peanut butter, the unexpected reminders. More baseball, softball, still basketball. Driving a lot. Zach in the hospital on Memorial Day, like Dave was...flashbacks to the summer before, the fear, the hope, the roller coaster. Learning of Doug's death, feeling like the solidity of the earth is just an illusion.

June brought Kate's dance recital again, Kate floating across the stage, beautiful and graceful. Zach's 8th grade graduation...remembering Dave just getting out of the hospital in time for Kenny's last year. Warm weather bringing memories of the year before.

July meant more baseball, more travels. Seeing the Haroldsons, visiting Kyle and Doug's graves. Struggling to integrate what was with what is, weaving memories into our day, sensing some things settling into place, and others shifting. Learning to live in our new world, finding ways to fit, always remembering.

August...hot days, campfires and smores, scorching sun, more home improvements. Peach Basket with the Haroldsons. The seasons change, the landscape changes, the trees in our yard change. So do we. We've been through the cycles...disbelief, shock, numbness, bargaining, rationalizing, searching, fear, terror, anger, shaken faith, rage, screaming, fighting it, despair, agony, sadness, tears, accepting help, prayers, trusting God, finding hope, speaking truth, and of course, love...always love. Not in that order. Not in a neat, orderly progression, but in fits and starts, here and there, over and over, deeper and deeper.

On August 23, 2005, we were thrust into a new journey. A new life. A life without Dave here.

On August 23, 2006, I can say that we're learning how to travel that path. It's only the beginning. And while it's a journey we did not want, and while we would turn back in a heartbeat, if only we could, we have discovered that as awful as this is, as terrible as it continues to be, there is still much to be grateful for in this life.

In each of these past 12 months, we have learned to move forward, to keep going, even if we didn't want to. We have learned that His strength is shown in our weakness. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, His glory is shown in meeting our needs. We have learned to stay open to joy, to laughter, to love, even when it hurts. Protecting our hearts, hiding from feelings leads not to freedom from pain, but to isolation. We have learned that it's okay to feel many emotions at the same time. We have learned that grief is the price of caring, that the depth of our pain in loss, is but a reflection of the depth of our love. We have learned that there are still things that matter, that are important, and that the most important is our connection to one another. We have learned that honesty is more complicated than it sounds and more valuable than we knew. We have learned that people are incredible, that friends and strangers alike will support, care, step up, that God works through the people in our lives. We have learned that there aren't any easy answers to the big questions, and that perhaps there aren't any answers at all, this side of heaven. And we've learned that that is what faith is all about.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for
and certain of what we cannot see."
Hebrews 11:1


And I am certain of Dave's love. A love so huge that its ripples are still echoing on this earth today. A love that is certainly raining down from heaven to us. A love that is steadfast and never falters, never dies. And we know that we love because He first loved us.

Shell


Friday, August 18, 2006

Video of Dave


Friday, August 18, 2006 3:21 AM CDT

This is not nearly as polished as the slideshow that Jeffery Townsend made for Dave's service, but it does have Dave singing!


Magic Penny, written and performed by Dave Meyer
Melt with You, performed by The Currents, Dave lead vocals
Don't You Know That I Hear?, written and performed by Erik Haroldson, for Dave
Growing Older With You, written and performed by Dave Meyer for Shell
Friends, performed by Dave Meyer and Erik Haroldson

What I Miss...

This is not nearly as polished as the slideshow that Jeffery Townsend made for Dave's service, but it does have Dave singing!


Magic Penny, written and performed by Dave Meyer
Melt with You, performed by The Currents, Dave lead vocals
Don't You Know That I Hear?, written and performed by Erik Haroldson, for Dave
Growing Older With You, written and performed by Dave Meyer for Shell
Friends, performed by Dave Meyer and Erik Haroldson



Create your own video for free at www.onetruemedia.com


You can see in the pictures much of what we miss.
You can hear in the songs.

I miss his smile. Yes, Kathie, Dave was always smiling. He was happy at heart, always. No matter how difficult things got, Dave saw the glass as half full. Even more, he'd be likely to say, "Look, how thoughtful, they left me room for more." He was the kind of person who made the best of everything. Some of you know about his TGIM campaign... Thank God It's Monday! Dave was appreciative of life. He was grateful and hopeful. Never once, during his entire journey with cancer did he say, "Why me?" Not once. When he first found out it was cancer, true to form, Dave said, "There are kids (students) who will have a hard time with this, I need to pray for them." Then: "Get me out of here, the hospital is for sick people." When I look at all the pictures, you can see Dave's love for the people around him. Pictures of him smiling directly at the camera are pretty rare. In most pictures, you can see him looking at the faces of the people he loves, smiling at them. And so handsome...my heart still leaps when I see him.

I miss the sounds of him. His voice, so resonant, so pure. Dave singing, all the time. The strumming of his guitar. Dave humming as he worked. Music everywhere, all the time, in the car, in the house, in the yard, on the field. I miss his laughter. He was always laughing, finding delight in everything, reminding me to not take things so seriously. "Lighten up, Francis!" he'd say. He made everything fun. And the stories...Dave always had a story. Students called his classes "DAVE 101" because they'd learn so much about him. He shared his life, his faith, his music, his love with anyone who'd care to listen.

I miss his walk. Zach walks like him, one foot slightly turned in, which gives a bounce to his step. It was a happy walk. Kate would say, "I could always tell he was coming by the jingle of his keys." And Dave often didn't walk. He'd jog, jump, shuffle, dance. His eyes would twinkle, and he'd twirl me around in grocery store aisles and other odd places.

I miss his touch. Dave was a hugger. He used to tell the neighborhood kids, "Can't go by without a hug!" He hugged everyone. And he hugged like he meant it. Warm, huge, engulfing embraces. He was a snuggler. Backrubs, footrubs, brushing my hair. He used to drive Denise crazy.

I miss his thoughts. He was a talker, too. We could spend hours talking about a little league game or a book we'd read or the meaning of a song or sharing memories or God or autism or anything. Dave was incredibly intelligent and insightful. He was interested and interesting.

I miss his example. Switchfoot's song asks, "Are you who you want to be?" And I often fall short. I am easily angered, I am selfish, I am impatient, I am quick to judge and slow to forgive. Dave was none of these things. He saw everything through a prism of love. He had a strength of character, a conviction that held him above the petty level most of us operate on. His students sensed it. The love and respect he had for them as people above all else, and they responded to that. There was something extraordinary about Dave. People were drawn to him and he changed their lives, just by being Dave.

I miss his silliness. He was a goofball. Goofy. Joking, laughing, making up games.

I miss how his eyes would go soft when he held a baby.

I miss how his little Toyota used to rumble up the driveway.

I miss how he would set out my contact case and my toothbrush when I was up late on the computer.

I miss how he changed the oil in my car.

I miss looking at pictures with him and saying, "Remember that?"

I miss how excited he'd get when I made his lunch for him.

I miss his smile at ballgames, that look in his eye..."That's my boy!"

I miss seeing him coach, encouraging, guiding, teaching, excited and enthusiastic.

I miss his creativity...songs, poems, drawings.

I miss the little notes he left in odd places for me.

I miss dancing with him.

I miss seeing him read his Bible and pray every morning.

I miss seeing his face as he listened to music, especially music from Erik, Mark, Will.

I miss seeing his eyes light up when he saw the kids.

I miss holding hands with him.

I miss sneaking into the kids' rooms at night, leaning on Dave, listening to them breathe.

I miss....everything. I miss....him.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Hot August Nights





The start of this month is always the Peach Basket Classic. In Walla Walla, they block off Main Street and set up basketball half-courts all along the blacktop. People come from all over to play brutal games of three-on-three basketball in blistering heat. Zach and his friends, Drew, Seth and Matthew have played together every year since they were little kids. One year, they even took it all! This year, they didn't really expect to. They had all of two practices...both in Bam's pool! Their team name was People Owning On Pavement...but their shirts just said, "POOP!" How can you not like it? They had a few wild plays set up, reminiscent of the Harlem Globetrotters. Most of their fancy stuff led directly to turnovers. The Haroldson Clan came for the weekend, and it was fabulous fun. The weather relented a little, the boys had a great time, Evy's sister Annee and her daugther Mimi were passing through, so we got to see them. We had about 100 (okay, it was 8) boys come for the BBQ Saturday night and stayed for s'mores, and ended up sleeping all over the family room floor. I made 3...yes THREE!...loaves of bread into french toast the next morning!




Here Zach checks the shot!






















He's a little more "ballet-like" on offense!


























Drew is always equal to the challenge.






Matt shoots a freethrow. Having to call your own fouls was a new thing.

















Seth takes one for the team.


And

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Zach says, "OOP!"
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We took the Haroldsons to see Dave's rock. It was a quiet moment. Filled with many things that remained unsaid. Thinking of last year, last Peach Basket, when hope was failing, and Dave was a shadow of himself. Thin, tired, worn, fighting so hard to stay with us, to be with us. A year ago, it was clear that the end was approaching. It's a year later. You'd think I might have something profound to say, but I don't . If anything, I'm less clear than I was a year ago. A year ago, I did what I had to do, for Dave, for my children. Like Kara said to Cathy, you just saddle up anyway. You can't stop to try to understand. You just do what has to be done, physically, emotionally, spiritually, you just keep moving forward.
This week, I stopped moving forward. It finally caught me. I got sick. Physically, emotionally, spiritually sick. I spent four days in bed, covered in sweat, tossing and turning, coughing so hard I would vomit or pee and have to stagger up, change my clothes and bedding, and fall back into bed, flailing blindly through dreams or hallucinations that were more real than the hot wind coming through the window. My kids, they are troopers. They've had to be. They fed themselves and me. They did the dishes, the laundry. Even fed the cats and dog. Brought me medicine and cold cloths and rubbed my head and feet.
My dreams were of Dave, and Doug. Dreams of them coming back to life, jumping out of closets, saying "Surprise!" Dreams of them laughing and singing and dancing and playing guitar. Not in some other-worldly realm, but here, with me. I cried a lot those four days. I cried with missing Dave. I cried because my kids had to be so brave. I cried because if I died of that fever, nobody but my kids would have known. Not that people don't care, or that they don't help, they do...but it's that too-sweet saying that's too true..."To the world you are just one person, but to one person you are the world." And my person for that is gone. People care. But I've lost the one who really cared, who it really mattered to, and it's lonely. And the same is true for my kids. There are lots of people who care for them and who will congratulate them if they do well or console them if they don't, but it's not THE most important thing to them, where it was to Dave. Nothing can fill that gap, for any of us.
I'm having a crisis of faith. This summer, Kenny and I went to Matt Stroe's wedding. And I listened to those young, hopeful, beautiful people say those timeless words. "In sickness and health, for richer, for poorer, as long as we both shall live." "Until death we do part." Even in the beginning, we acknowledge that we will die, that the only real hope we have is in Jesus, that our life here is not eternal. We talk about the end on the day we begin.
When Kyle died, I had a crisis of faith, then, too. I remember it so clearly, it was like standing on the edge of a black hole. I could see so clearly that the choice was mine, to step into the black hole of despair, or to turn toward Dave and try to survive it. And we did, little-by-little. The death of a child can shake your faith to the core. It seems so wrong, so out-of-order, and makes no sense at all. I follow Jacob Duckworth's site sometimes, and his mother writes with such faith, such powerful belief. Sometimes I find it inspiring. Sometimes I'm ashamed, because my faith is so shaky, my willingness to learn and accept so lacking, my anger and bewilderment so all-encompassing. Jacob's mother writes often about what she's learning. I, too, have learned much. But in a still-petulant, childish voice, I want to whine, "Is this the only way You could figure out how to teach me these things??"
A visitor to Jacob's site related a story that likens the death of a child to an experience he had as a young boy, watching fireworks with his mother. He was so awed by the beauty of the fireworks that he unknowingly wandered away from his mother. She spent a desperate 10 minutes trying to find him, shouting and screaming his name, fear tearing her apart. And just as he turned to say, "Mommy, look at that one!" she appeared around the corner. For her, the separation was agonizing; for him, it was as if those 10 minutes simply didn't exist, he was so absorbed in the glory before him.
That works for me. I picture Kyle, safe in Jesus' arms, happy, content, waiting for us. But I can't quite get there with Dave. It may be wrong, but honestly, it's small comfort to know he's in paradise. I guess because I see so much here that only he can do. And every fiber of my being rails against it. I was the one who saw Zach's face at fooball registration tonight. And I know how much different it would have been if Dave were here. And I try to tell myself that God is bigger than all this, that He must understand. But that tiny, stubborn voice in my head says, "Like hell He does!!! There is no reason good enough for this. I don't care if He IS God."
Sometimes I look at slideshows online of the aftermath of Katrina. It happened right after Dave died. Hitting Florida on my birthday, actually, and New Orleans four days later. And I can remember being completely untouched by the multitudes of tragedies happening on the other side of the world, having no room for anything but my own loss. Now I see the pictures, read about people who lost entire families in one giant roar of the ocean, and I remind myself that others have survived losses even worse than mine. I purposefully seek out stories about abused and neglected children so that I can say, "At least my children had a father who loved them, and they will always know that." It's an awful way to try to count your blessings, wringing them out of someone else's burdens.
Kari said something on her site that reminded me of a piece of poetry that's been rattling around in my head for the last year. It's gotten quite a bit louder since Doug killed himself. It's an Emily Dickinson poem, and one of the lines is, "I used to think that when I died, I'd see you, so I died as fast as I could." Kenny can relate, I think. When Papa Snookie died, I found Kenny on the lawn, shouting at the sky. Turns out he was mad at God and that he hated the idea of heaven. In talking a little further, it wasn't really the idea of heaven, it was that we should all just go together. I think Kenny was around 10 years old at the time. And I wondered why God would have to be shown the way by a little boy with autism who couldn't stand to see his Nana hurting.
So like Kenny, I still struggle with what it all means, what I'm supposed to do. Some days I do want to die a little faster, I just want to get through this and get there and understand. But most days I know that while this body is a shell and our life here only temporary, it must mean something. That there is much still here for me to do, and much that still brings me unclouded joy.
And I'm thankful that God is big enough to put up with my churlish attitude and fits of temper, and even yet, He hears our prayers. Nicholas had a follow-up MRI and the lesions have shrunk significantly during the time he's been on the antibiotics, so that is very good news, leading them to believe that it is an infection of some sort that is clearing. They'll check again in three months. I'm so happy and relieved for this family of dear people.
I'm thankful that God has a way of reaching out to us. A few weeks ago, Zach was watching The Passion of the Christ over and over. I bought it for Dave the Easter before he died, but he never got to watch it. Zach watched it with a friend, and then asked if I'd watch it with him. It's not pretty. In fact, it's one of the most brutal things I've ever seen. I was convicted on the spot, watching it, knowing how much He suffered for me, knowing that God would actually plan this horrific thing to save us. Someone told me that it would make a difference in how you saw the cross that so many wear as jewelry. He said, "It's actually like wearing a guillotine or an electric chair on a chain. Do they even realize?"
And I have to say that no, we don't. We don't realize much of anything. Most of the time, we live blindly, drifting from day to ordinary day, unconscious to both the wonders and the horrors that surround us. In response, or maybe rebellion, Dave and I tried to practice the art of what we called conscious parenting; realizing that every moment you have with a child is a gift, and every interaction imparts something: something wonderful or something hurtful, something sustaining or something damaging, whether you are aware of it or not...so we need to be aware, watching, thinking, feeling, observing, knowing what gifts we give by our interactions. It's a lot harder than it sounds.
Self-awareness always is. It's easy for me to know what God should be doing. Much harder to focus on what I need to do. One step at a time.
PS. Thank God for antibiotics!