Sunday, January 30, 2011

The January Blur

I can't believe January is almost over.  I can't count the number of times I have sat down to update this site and been either distracted or too tired to think straight enough to write.  Looking back, January flew by.  I knew it was going to be busy, but now that it's over I feel like I've run a marathon.  Looking back on the month, I don't think I'll ever try to cram so much into 31 days.  I know lots of you love to keep busy schedules, but this country girl has missed her quiet days at home. 

So, here is what we have been up to.  First, the kids started back to school in January.  They are doing great, but we sure got spoiled over Christmas break without alarm clocks and lots of homework!  The kids also started at the Dougy Center this month.  This is a support group for kids that are grieving the loss of a loved one.  They all enjoy it, but it makes for long Wednesdays.  Julia and Sophia performed Friday and Saturday at their school in the Alice and Wonderland play.  Both were ballerinas and did a beautiful job -- a fairy and mermaid/butterfly respectively.  The last two weeks have been a bit more hectic with rehearsals and helping out with the show.  I'm glad we did it, though.  All the kids did a great job!  Add in the usual Bible studies, church, chores, and get the idea.  There hasn't been much down time or time to just enjoy with family and friends.  My goal for February is to slow down a bit and start focusing back on relationships. 

In addition to the laundry list of items above, the kids and I bought a rental in Sandy.  It was a cosmetic fixer and we have spent our spare moments hanging out there doing repairs and getting it ready to list for rent.  I can't tell you how proud I am of my kids.  While it has been exhausting, we have gotten so much out of working together on this project.  Everything from ripping out carpet, to painting, to yard work.  They haven't missed a beat!  Today we wrapped up the last of the major work.   I have a bit left to do in the way of cleaning up and some minor details to finish, but it should be ready to rent this week.  Now to find the perfect renter!  If you know of anyone that needs a nice house with a generous back yard, please let me know.  While we are hoping that the house will augment our income, we are really hoping the house will be a blessing to someone else, too. 

In addition to my kids, I would like to thank Dave and Karen, Jim Hinkel, my brothers, Jim and Paul, my dad and mom, Jessica, Kris, Brenda, Nathan, Kasie, and Steve and Ruth, for helping me find a suitable place and for helping me fix it up.  If it weren't for all the help I received, I would still have a heap of work left.  These guys all helped with everything from painting and pressure washing to babysitting and bringing in food for my helpers.  Thank you!  Every hour that I had help gave me time back with my kids and some much needed rest.  I am grateful beyond words and look forward to the day I can return the favor!

Well, that about wraps it up for January.  I'm looking forward to spending the last day of the month, kicking around in my slippers and hanging out with my kids. 

With love and gratitude...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Grief Revisited

The cemetery sexton had called just before Christmas.  Marc's headstone was complete.  With the holidays just a day or two away I decided to just delay our visit until things weren't so hectic.  Christmas came and went.  So did the New Year holiday.  I decided that today would be the day.  We would go visit. 

Interestingly, the kids were very much excited to go.  They had been asking to go for weeks and were often frustrated that the marker wasn't finished.  I think they wanted to make sure that Dad was being well cared for.   I think, too,  they continue to struggle with an earthly connection to him and visiting the cemetery is an tangible way to be near and to reflect.  As much as we talk about Daddy not being here on earth, but in heaven, I don't think it always makes sense to them.  At 39 I can't always grasp all of this, so expecting them at such a young age to understand it is probably an unrealistic expectation on my part. 

We headed out in late afternoon.  As Marc had predicted, it was beautiful up there.  It was snowy and quiet and we arrived just as the sun was starting to go down behind the trees.  The trees are bare and we could see the cattle in the next field.  Marc would have loved it.  We found the stone and it was perfect.  They did a nice job on it.  I had a bit of a reality check seeing my own name engraved next to Marc's.  Nothing like feeling a bit vulnerable emotionally and having mortality staring you in the face.  Just more to ponder.

The kids were reassured that Dad was, indeed, taken care of and proceeded to play tag amongst the headstones.  Totally disrespectful, I suppose, but a forgivable offense in my eyes.  They wound down and eventually started roaming through and reading the stones.  They marvelled at how old some of them were and at the number of family plots.  They had a lot of great questions and we spent a long time just talking. 

As I found myself in a moment of tears, I found a grave marker that touched my heart.   The epitaph totally summed up how I was feeling and it seemed strangely familiar.  Oddly, for the second time at that cemetery, I just had to look around and not feel lonely.  For every stone there are numerous loved ones grieving.  We don't corner the market on grief.  It is timeless.  It finds us all at some point.  I am just grateful for the hope that I have in the Savior that provides me a way out of all of this.  I do get to see Marc again.  And, while I struggle -- like my kids -- for some earthly connection to Marc, I know that this isn't it.   My grief is temporary, my joy will be eternal. 

A pretty sunset.  Marc would have loved this view. 

 This marker touched my heart with its timeless truth.

I later came home and scavenged some things I had read years ago.  I found this and was startled by the expanded thoughts in this poem.  Perhaps this was a familiar poem a hundred years ago and was used often on epitaphs.  I don't know.  I do know that this mother expands on this simple statement and sums up my thoughts today. Cheering thoughts, indeed! Enjoy.


The race is run, the spirit has fled,
My babe is numbered with the dead;
Yet though on earth she's now no more,
She is not lost, but gone before.

My darling babe has passed away,
Up to the realms of endless day;
Her stay with us on earth is o'er,
She is not lost, but gone before.

A little while she lingered here;
Her presence did her parents cheer;
Then Jordan's flood she crossed o'er,
She Is not dead, but gone before.

With Jesus now she is at rest,
Folded for ever to his breast;
Sorrow and pain she'll know no more,
She is not lost, but gone before.

In yonder glorious realms of light,
Methinks I see her spirit bright;
Before the throne the Lamb adore,
She is not lost, but gone before.

With Seraphim, and Cherubim,
Sweetly she joins the solemn hymn;
Her God and Saviour to adore.
She is not lost, but gone before.

Blest be the Saviour, who did give
His life, that little ones might live;
And praise his name for evermore.
They are not lost, but gone before.

The blow to us indeed is great.
We feel as if our hearts would break;
Yet though we see our child no more,
She is not lost, but gone before.

Oh, may we meekly bow to Thee,
Who hath in thy all-wise decree,
Blighted our hopes for evermore,
In one not lost, but gone before.

Keen are the pangs, oh, Lord, we feel,
Yet Jesus, thou, our wounds can heal,
And bid us weep for one, no more,
Who is not lost, but gone before.

Bid us now by faith to rise,
And view beyond the azure skies
The blood-washed throng, who all
adore The Lamb, with her that's gone before.

From her mother's arms thou call'dst away,
Up to the realms of endless day,
To dwell with thee for evermore,
My child, she is but gone before.
One sabbath morn she went to rest;
With saints and angels now she's blest:
Has reach'd in peace the blissful shore,
She is not lost, but gone before.

Then join my soul and sing the love.
That took from thee thy harmless dove;
Sent angels from yon radiant shore
To take her home, she's gone before.

And now She's numbered with the dead,
Up to her native skies she's fled;
The cross for her the Saviour bore,
She is not lost, but gone before.

Low in the dust her body lies.
Yet at the last great day shall rise;
Her dust the Saviour watches o'er,
She is not lost, but gone before.

Soon, my babe, I hope to meet,
And cast my crown at Jesus' feet ;•
Oh! may I reach yon heavenly shore,
And find thou art but gone before.

Ah! very soon and we must die!
But, if the Saviour then is nigh,
He'll lead us safely Jordan o'er.
To meet the ransomed gone before.

Oh! prepare us, dearest Lord!
Wash us in thy precious blood!
And, at last, when time is o'er,
Receive us Lord, to part no more.

Then we'll shout, the Lord victorious!
Hallelujah! thou art glorious!
Join in praise the heavenly host!
To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

K. Hollis
London, February, 1859.