Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thoughts on loss...

The platitudes that come to mind when someone dies are, to my mind, the fumbling attempts of human frailty to 'deal' with something that we are simply not equipped to handle.  Which is not to say that kind words are not appreciated at such a time -- but they really are just that:  kind words.  Sometimes, these kind words feel just as awkward to the recipient as they do to the giver, none the less, we feel we must say something.  But losing a loved one is not like losing your purse, or your dog, or your favorite scarf.  

The loss of someone once loved leaves an empty space in the heart that can linger for years, if not forever...  I feel like that is the hallmark of being an adult -- learning to live with/adjust to losses.  After all, the older we get the more regularly this occurs!  It can, and often does, send us seeking the great 'pause button' of Life -- how can one be expected to 'soldier on' when there is a gaping wound at one's center?

The Man and I jokingly thought our union somehow 'cursed' after enduring a significant loss each and every year for the first 7 years of our marriage.  Assuredly not the case -- for if it had been that the mere conjoining of our souls were the cause of these terrible 'holes' in our lives, then would we not still be receiving these annual blows?  No... the world keeps turning, we forge onward, and occasionally we have to stop and say "Good bye" to someone we love.  Such is the case, today...

My paternal grandmother died, today.  She turned 90, last November.  She was more than a little contrary, and could be downright cantankerous on a good day; but she was the last link we (my brother & I) had to our ancestral lineage.  In truth, I cannot imagine what it must have been like to be her (born in 1920):  having lived through so many decades, and seen so many things happen that younger generations so easily take for granted.  Her final years had been fraught with illness and medical concerns; and it was my 'official role' to serve as the ears when the latest doctor made the latest pronouncement(s) on what new changes must be assimilated.  For the past 15 years, I was regularly mistaken for a daughter (rather than a granddaughter) as I sat *notebook in hand* and recorded the new instructions, medications, appointments, etc...  Not always the most fun, to be sure, but we both rested better in knowing that we had a handle on things.  Imagine what it must be like to outlive all of your siblings, your husband, one of two children, and the majority of your closest friends!  ...even though I had ring-side seats for the better part of her losses, it still boggles my mind!

Today's photo captures an unfortunately rare, beaming smile -- taken on a family outing to the Outer Banks in 2007.  She is showing off a pair of earrings I made for her, after we visited a little bead shop around the corner from the rental house, in Avon, NC.  She referred often to this trip as her health failed.  She was so happy to have had this time with us (me, my husband, my brother, his wife, and their *then* 3 boys) in this 'palace by the sea'...  I hope that as she drifted away from us today that her thoughts returned to happier times, such as these -- surrounded by loved ones and the laughter of children.

Rest in peace, Sarah.  We will miss you; but we are grateful to know that you are once again with your love, family and friends, and no longer in pain!

Onward & Upward!
 - pla

Words of wisdom for today (Sarah's favorite Bible passage):
"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.  Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it:
and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul:
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: 
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever:
the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: 
sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
 Moreover by them is thy servant warned:
and in keeping of them there is great reward.
 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me:
then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight,
O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer."
                                                          - Psalm 19 (from the King James Version)


  1. My deepest sympathies. A very significant loss. Scary too for me since my mother is 89.

  2. You're so right about losses being a rite of passage into adulthood. Of course, that doesn't make them any easier to bear.
    Consider yourself virtually hugged, and loved always.

  3. Sending you hugs and lots of love, your tribute to your Grandmother is so touching. I'm sure she is looking down at you and your family beaming with pride knowing that you are carrying on the family with as much grace and wisdom.

  4. Wow - love the way you look at situations and decifer them....I just had an aha moment. Guess I'm on that long road to adulthood. Thinking of you and praying for you and your family during this difficult time. Sending you many hugs and much love.

  5. Many thanks, my wonderful friends, for your condolences! In spite of previous losses, this is my first time 'in the driver's seat,' so to speak (?) Nothing like learning as you go... I appreciate your taking the time to let me know that we are in your thoughts! My peace comes in knowing that she is no longer in pain/confusion.

  6. You're awesome! Thank you for sharing this. It really touched my heart.

  7. Penny....thank you for sharing such a beautiful post. You are an amazing gal...and I love how you see things!

  8. Sending tender thoughts your way, dear one!


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