Monday, January 30, 2012

Time To Rest

So I am finally writing again and a few weeks have passed since I wrote about being on the beach in San Diego. As we have turned the corner and moved into 2012, I have had a few thoughts I would like to share. We have the opportunity at the beginning of each New Year to do self-reflection and identify places where there can be improvement in our lives.
For me personally, I know that there are some changes that are needed in my life. Many of you know I love processing and the work that I am involved with at the Institute of Healing Arts. After Lindsey passed I poured my heart and soul into my work to help me cope with the grief that I was experiencing. It seemed to help time pass more quickly and work helped distance me from the pain of her death. Because of the overwhelming grief it seemed like I only had two options. One was to work, and work hard or go to bed and die. I chose to work.
I do believe that hard work can be a solution for many things. My mother taught me to work hard and helped me to see that it could help my feelings of sadness and depression. She taught me that serving others was the very medicine that would pull me out of feeling sorry for myself and help me move towards productivity and being able to find meaning in my life. After Lindsey passed I needed to work and I needed to work hard. I am grateful for the blessing of work for the last few months.
Now, I feel that I can start to slow down and catch my breath. Maybe because time has passed I am ready to move on into some different phase of my personal grieving. Now, I get to include some other ways of coping and since some time has passed it doesn’t seem to hurt so bad as it did at first. So for me working hard was the solution and now having it balance out and slow down will be my focus for 2012.
I have had to get used to a lot of changes. Things are different, very different without Lindsey and Josh and the way we once knew them. Josh is busy working and going to school and our family functions are often missing these two precious children. I am not only grieving the loss of Lindsey but, also the loss of Josh in the role that he had when she was alive. At family dinners and other events, I have to keep counting my children to see if we are all there. Mothers who have lost children have expressed that they have felt this same way. The dynamics have changed so much.
Sometimes I want go back and remember the way it was and yet a larger part of me wants to move forward. Because I know that Lindsey is not in the past but, will be reunited with our family in the future. So it is forward that we are moving, all of us, as time takes us where it will. And in the year 2012, the year predicted for great change, I will continue to work, but at a more balanced pace. I am settling into the changes that have already presented themselves in our family, and I will continue to find moments of joy and celebrate living and life itself with a deep sense of reverence.
The other thing I wanted to share is that after the whole experience with Lindsey I thought there would never be another hard thing. It felt like the whole experience with Lindsey’s illness and her death totally topped everything I have ever been through. But I still face challenges and I have to make hard decisions and there is adversity and struggle even in everyday living. As I face these difficulties I can be reassured that whatever I face in 2012 it will never be another brain tumor. That after four brain tumors it is done and nothing compares to those experiences. And when I see the current adversity and say to myself, “this is nothing compared to a brain tumor” it minimizes the difficulty that I am experiencing and makes it feel miniscule or small. And I remember that I can handle hard things, because, if I can do what I did with Lindsey over the past eleven years, and then in the end . . . letting her go . . . I can do anything.
So I am facing 2012 with a desire to work hard but, also realizing that life doesn’t have to be so hard. I can live from joy and peace knowing that Lindsey isn’t suffering anymore and is finally resting. It is my time to rest too.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Beach

On Christmas day our little family gathered on a stretch of beach across the bay from San Diego on Coronado Island. We played and splashed and gathered shells and watched a crab move in and out of his shell. We laughed and drew pictures in the sand and watched the most beautiful sunset. The light reflected pinks, oranges and yellows off the turquoise blue water. We gazed at the brilliant colors as they filled the sky over head.
As the sun began to set we huddled together to observe this sacred event that happens every night no matter where you are on the planet. It represents the close of the day and creates space for the creation of a new day. There was a chill in the breeze and our feet were cold from playing in the water and yet we felt a feeling of reverence. The beach can be a sacred place of beauty.
As we stood by each other gazing out across the ocean I had memories of being on this same beach just before Lindsey got sick in 2010. We had played and danced with no worries or cares as we watched gold flecks of sand sparkle from under the water. Silver strand beach is named for these gold flecks that gleam in the dark wet sand. As I reflected back to that time we had no idea what lay ahead of us. Sometimes it is good to not know what lies ahead. The beach holds the place for past, present, and future.
I remember that it was on a beach further up the coastline when I first met Todd. We were on our missions and at a winter zone activity at Zuma beach. Of course, we were there serving and committed to our missions but later we shared our feelings about meeting each other that day on the beach. When we met we knew that we had known each other from a space and time before we came here. On the beach it felt like I was saying “hello” to a long lost friend. The beach can bring people into your life.
On Christmas day I reflected about the power of the ocean. It’s power to heal, its power to hold all my sadness when I can’t carry it anymore and even its power to give life. The ocean is one of the most peaceful, beautiful places on the planet. It is a place for meditative reflection. The beach brings feelings of wonder and awe.
I also remembered being on a small beach at Utah Lake the night of Lindsey’s funeral. People gathered in jackets and blankets as we lit lanterns and released them in honor of Lindsey. As we lit the lanterns and let them go, we watched the lights float higher and higher in the sky. Again, it was a sunset and there was a little chill in the breeze. You could feel in the air that summer had come to an end. People were gathered on a beach to say “good-bye” to Lindsey.
Standing on Silver Strand beach in California, four months after Lindsey’s passing, I reflected about the cycles and patterns of mother earth, and Lindsey’s birth, her life and her death. Being there in that one moment in time my breathing changed and I began breathing deeply, I could taste the salt in the air. With a few tears in my eyes, I felt my body relax and begin to trust the rhythm of mother earth. I started to settle into a deeper space of acceptance.
I know in my mind that life here is temporary and this is not our final destination. But, emotionally and physically I was allowing myself to embrace this truth on a deeper level. As I have been going through the grieving process I am experiencing over and over again an acceptance about Lindsey’s passing and I continue to do this in many different ways. I was being gently reminded again that we are all visiting here and mother earth takes care of us while we are here and then we move on. Lindsey’s visit is over and she has gone home.
In Todd’s talk at Lindsey’s funeral he shared a poem about death being like a boat sailing off in the distance and those of us on this side saying good bye to loved ones while watching them sail away saying ‘there she goes”. . .and those gathered on the distant shore watching the boat as it gets closer and saying “Here she comes.”
I love being close to the water and the ocean, seeing the boats sailing on the waves. As I watched the boats from the shore I felt supported and was reminded that I am not drowning and that I am being supported while I am healing from the loss of my daughter, my child, my baby. Being renewed on the beach I felt the power of the ocean and I know I will survive.
I had made a pilgrimage to the beach to release Lindsey. Emotionally I needed to come to peace with what happened to her, to Josh, to me and my family. On Silver Strand beach I watched the golden flecks of sand reflecting time in the water. The beach is a place where time transcends this world. My time with Lindsey is not over we are not separated. She lives…I feel supported while I am healing from the loss of my child. The love between a mother and a child is fluid like the ocean, we may be bound by our mortal bodies, but love cannot be contained. Love knows no bounds, it has no limitations. As I am reminded of these true principles my heart is set free.
At some time in the future I will make the journey from this realm into the next and there will be Lindsey standing on the far distant shore and as she sees me coming she will say “here she comes.” In my heart the beach is a place for play, for letting go, settling into acceptance and also holds the hope for sweet reunion.