My boys. My life.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Contemplating Life on this Rough Day

(I promise future entries will be shorter. Just had a lot to say on this first one.)

I have been thinking about starting a blog for some time now. Through this my intent is to share my thoughts and experiences from my finite piece of existence. Right now I feel so tiny – like a spec in time. I want to be real, to be authentic. Thus the title I have given this. Today is a good day to start this for several reasons. It’s only a couple days after celebrating my oldest son’s birthday. Three years and two days ago, my life changed. FOREVER. I became a mom. So much has happened in the last three years. A lot of joys. A lot of heartache. A lot of laughter. A lot of confusion.

You see a lot of posts and pictures about my journey through motherhood, so I’m not going to restate all that here. I want to turn to a different perspective now. I mentioned a little over three years ago, my life changed forever. Life has been drastically altered several times since then – in the deaths of my grandfather, Tim’s mother and Tim’s grandfather. Since today is the one-year anniversary of my MIL, Cindy’s, death, I’m going to focus this on her at this time.

Psalm 39:4-6 says:

“Lord, make me to know my end,
and what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.
Indeed, the number of my days is small like the size of a hand.
And my age is as nothing before You.
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor.”

A mere vapor. And hers even less than that since she died in her early 50s. Her life ended all too quick. Both about her and my grandfather especially since the most time has passed since their deaths, it makes me sad to think about fading memory. Can I recall my grandfather’s smile? Can I still hear Cindy’s laugh?

I thought about these things as I nearly cried myself to sleep last night. And it dawned on me. At least in part, this is what is driving at some of my passions in life. To savor moments. To capture them. To help others capture them. I dream to someday have a photography studio in a basement of a home we have dreamt about since college. (We plan to build. Someday.) But back to the pictures for a moment. Pictures help, at least me, to keep memories going. To keep memories sharp of our loved ones. In part, maybe that’s why I’m so picture-happy. I snap pictures like there’s no tomorrow. Cuz what if there isn’t? And then if there is and I grow old, I want to remember my children when they were babies and toddlers. And continue to as they grow up. This is the only chance we have at savoring and capturing these precious moments. As the lyrics of one of my favorite songs goes, “You only get just one time around. You only get one shot at this. One chance to find out the one thing that you don’t wanna miss.” And it’s never been more true. We have to make the most of this thing called life.

Back to the visual and audio memories for a moment. While those kind of memories can go out of focus, I can very sharply recall many of the emotions surrounding my loved ones’ lives and deaths. My grandfather passed away very suddenly. I can remember the intense anguish of losing someone so quickly – unable to say good-bye. With Cindy, we knew her death was coming as we saw the life fade from her frail body. She battled cancer for 1-1.5 years. One of her final goals of life was to attend a combined party for our sons – her two grandchildren. This party celebrated Ethan’s birth (he was about three months old at the party) and Bryce’s upcoming 2nd birthday. I can all-too-vividly recall the emotions I felt while Bryce received his final gift given together from his paternal grandparents – his John Deere pedal tractor. While he was overflowing with excitement, and I was excited for him, I stood in a corner trying to hide tears. That I know of, only Cindy’s sister saw me and told me the words I needed to hear. But I was overwhelmed with sadness because Cindy would never see Bryce learn to pedal this tractor. I knew her time was coming. I didn’t realize it was going to be only 1.5 weeks later. After that party in Iowa, we came back to Indiana. Tim tied up some loose ends at work and we had Bryce’s 2nd birthday party here before heading back out to Iowa. Obviously the party here was mixed emotions again. It was so darn hard trying to put on a happy face. It really was. We were going through the motions in trying to make it a fun day for Bryce. And for him, I believe it was. For us, we half-enjoyed. And then that night Cindy spoke her last audible words to Tim on the phone. He could hardly hear her but told her he loved her and she said the same. And that was it. She basically slipped into a coma that night. And died two days later at Hospice.

I still find it hard to believe she’s gone. That she’s gone through this life. That her eternity in Heaven has begun. That even though we mourn her loss all over again, she has no more pain. No more tears. She looks down with love on us all.

I guess to tie together one more thing that I believe says a lot…. When Tim’s grandfather passed away in the fall, the nurses at the care center told family it was a matter of time. He was fairly incoherent in his final days, from what I understand. But nurses heard him talking so went into his room. Expecting to find a visitor, they only found Rudy there. When asked who he was talking to, he said he was having a talk with Cindy. To everyone’s knowledge, he never knew about her death. He died 1-2 days later. That still speaks volumes to me. God allowed this conversation between Cindy in Heaven and Rudy near-death to happen for a reason. Perhaps to remove any doubt from us left behind and hurting, that there is a life after this one. There is a Heaven. I’ve been pretty strong in faith for several years now but this sealed the deal for me. God is real. The Bible is true. We will all be reunited some day as we share the same fate as those who have gone before us. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Death is real and the reward for those who love God far outweighs anything here. So for now, we hold on to the only things that truly matter in this life – the people we love, the God we love. That Jesus really did die for us and He's taking care of my loved ones in Heaven and my loved ones here. He is the link that holds all these puzzle pieces together.