Once again, it's late at night and I cannot sleep. The swirl of thoughts in my head prevents me from resting.
The verse I keep coming back to is Ecclesiastes 3:
There is a timefor everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart.
These verses have carried me through so many situations in my life-- I remember discovering it when I was about 12-- an age that doesn't fully understand what life even is. I found the idea of living life and embracing the moment to be so complex; at that point in my life, I just wanted to be 16. However, it had been the set of verses to hold me steady through life. To know that there is a season to this great and beautiful life we are given is huge to me. So much so that I have a tattoo of a tree changing seasons to remind me of that very fact. Sometimes life is just so hard and so good. And, honestly, it can be both things at once.
I titled this post "What is this 30's thing" because so much of my heart is breaking for those I love. My experience of childhood is rosy and quite frankly, the type of a childhood out of a sitcom-- things worked out and even if there were a few bumps, life was good. Teens were a bit more of a challenge, but with good choices and wonderful friends, I successfully made it through. I got married early and had this sort of bliss that I figured would continue-- we bought a house, had a baby, got a dog. Then, mid 20's Nate died and things got hazy, depressing, difficult-- and those are more cheerful words to describe how it was. (But, if you want to know how I really was, just go to a few other posts on this blog, because I learned how to grieve here. I wrote out my heart for all (or no one) to see and it was just how I needed to express emotions, which is why once again I am here. I know this blog seems like I am always sad-- let me tell you, I am not. I have so much joy in my life-- I just don't need to process joy in writing. I try to live in the moment and so often it is full of joy and love.) So, now enter into my 30's, this is where life had gotten gritty. It is make it or break it time. I am watching people I love make such horrible and heart breaking choices that have life long lasting effects. I am broken for the people I love.
I cannot delve into any situations as they are not mine to share, but suffice to say, I am joyful in my life and broken-hearted for them. I want to stand in the gap for my friends, yet how? I realize I once needed support and there were people who stood in the gap for me-- not very many, but a few, and God placed those people in my lap right when I needed them.
It is my turn to love. It is my turn to support.
God needs to be my strength, because these situations are huge and sad, and quite honestly make me feel like my own grief is insignificant.
My hubby told me to think of the Bible as fresh bread-- we need fresh bread every day to grow and be filled and to in turn share with others. To eat stale bread is ok, but not something I'll want to offer to my friends. So, fresh bread. Every day. Reading my bible and making it my fresh bread. Daily. This is how I am going to be able to support my dear friends. This is my mission. I know it seems so simple Christian minded. Sometimes simple is best.
So, please pray for me, to love God deeper, to get that fresh bread daily, to have compassion and empathy for my dear friends, and for them; pray deep for them.
Our sweet pup went to heaven this week. She just got sick and died. We tried to get her help, took her to the vet, got her some tests and meds and even though we did what we knew to do, she still passed away. The thing is, she passed away while we were gone. We gave her love and said our good byes to her, but in my heart, it was only a "just in case" and honestly, I thought she would be fine in a few days. Whatever made her vomit so much blood was going to heal. I wasn't ready to say good-bye to her.
Back up about 11 years and we had Stella's dad, Satchel, living with us. He was a bully dog too and lived up to the name-- he was big and fierce and lovable. We loved him as our own while he lived under our care. Nate, my brother, was in prison and I had made a promise to him, that whatever it took, I would take care of Satchel. So, we did. We wanted to get him fixed because he was a little too high strung, but for whatever reason, we never did. Once Nate was free, he came and picked up Satchel and took him from our lives-- it was painful because even though we knew he wasn't ever our dog, we loved him. Nate eventually pulled his life together, met a girl, moved in, and they got another dog. It's the classic, boy meets girl, girl has a litter of 13 puppies. As a thank you to us, Nate picked the "best looking" and probably the most high energy pup of the litter and drove up one Christmas, he gave us that sweet pup. She was always our pup, from the moment she came out, and while the other dogs didn't yet have names, she was already chosen and named. She was our first child-- our first real fuzzy practice kid. Stella.
When Nate died a little over 2 year later, and Caleb either worked nights or was gone all together for work, Stella would climb in my lap and I would sob into her coat. She licked my tears and let me know it was going to be ok. She was my grief partner.
We didn't intend to have a puppy and a baby at the same time, but that's what happened. When we got pregnant with Cole, Stella instantly treated me different. It's like she knew I was carrying her very best friend and she couldn't wait. I asked our dog trainer if I should be worried about having a bully dog with a baby, and she said to me, "that dog will love your children deeper and protect them better than she will you." In other words, once the baby was born, Stella would think she was the momma. And, she did.
She has loved our children deeply, taken them both for her own pups-- alternating sleeping in each room to make sure they're taken care of-- jumping up if there are cries and growling if there is a bump in the night. Cole and Stella were best friends, with Cole dressing Stella up and playing superhero with her, or throwing the stick for catch. Amelia loved to climb all over Stella, and she was just so patient, never once snapping or acting as if she didn't like it. I think Stella felt it was her privilege to help raise our children. She went to bed at 8 with them, and woke up once they did. She was every bit the Nana dog from Peter Pan-- I'm sure if she could have told them not to fuss or gotten them a snack, she would have!
I always said that when she died, it would probably feel like I'm loosing my brother all over again, and whether it's because I said it, or because it's true, it does. The only tangible connection from my brother-- the best and final gift I got from him-- is gone now too. She really was a fantastic dog, and Nate chose her for our family. The dog of Cole's childhood was chosen by my brother. Nate and Cole never met, but their stories have been linked together through different avenues and this is one of them. It breaks my heart to see this path close now too.
It's hard to keep a firm hand on those we love who have passed away. It's like holding the wind. Stella, was my wind for a while, and now she's gone too. The chasm of time is ever marching forward and Nate is ever staying in the past. It's almost like Stella was a bridge.
Maybe that sounds silly, but that's how it feels. I have felt so thankful and so glad Nate gave us Stella. She has comforted me in many times of sorrow. I just wish I would have been with her in the end. I hope she knew how much we loved her.
Oh, there's just too much to catch up on, so I'm not going to. I'm going to muse away and not try to have a point at all. It has been a year. One whole year. That's a long time online.
To say that this has been my outlet for grief would be an understatement. It has been pretty much my only outlet for grief. I have processed and mourned and been real here. I guess typing on my computer and getting it out there has been pretty meaningful. People can read it or not, and I can get it off my chest. I like that.
I drive past Nate's grave almost every day now. I live close to it, but now I am working part time at my child's school and so when I drive carpool or go to work, I drive right past him. I say hi to him, because even though it's his grave, it's also his body way down under all the dirt. He's there in that hoodie that we buried him in and in the pocket of that sweatshirt is the note I wrote him, the last words I spoke to his body. It's a weird feeling to know that he's there and not.
Cole and Nate have a mixed up path that has never met. Nate was here when I went into labor with Cole and chose to leave Boise even though I was having my baby. He left. 4-6 hours later (I can't remember what time he left-- I was in labor!) I had sweet Cole. I have a wonderful message Nate left me from that day, and I wouldn't have that if he had stayed... but I also don't have any pictures of Nate and his nephew. Fast forward a year and Nate dies, his body is in a casket in the funeral home and little Cole is in my arms. I can see them both, just like I could feel my baby and hug my bother a year earlier... but this time Nate is the one who is there but not. Now I take my kidlet to school and Nate is across the street-- all the time, across the street. It's poetic I think. It's sad. It's sweet.
It's March. It's spring. I'm sad. I don't think I'll see spring quite the same ever again. I know that death is a wound--something you carry with you. It's odd how it peeks up sometimes and grabs a hold of my heart. I am sad that Nate doesn't get to be apart of the friendship Colin and I share. I am happy that through Nate's death, Colin and I became bonded like we hadn't been before.
That's how life is, huh? It's the good and the bad and the mixed up feelings that go in between.
Have I said, It's March.
I want to write again. I want to share the good and the bad and have this outlet again. I need it.
So, musings are done. It is late and if you haven't heard, there's an awful time change tomorrow.
I wrote this shortly after Nate died. I thought 5 years later it was worth remembering how I felt. March 11 always smacks me in the face and I am right back to how I felt those first few days.
How do I express the depth of loss I feel? I don't know. I feel like a piece of me has died along with my brother. My brother, dead, how can that be? He was full of life- perhaps too full. He lived life to the extreme. I loved that about my brother. I hated that about my brother. He was never afraid to say his mind, to live out loud, to be adventurous. He was smart, yet made bad choices. He was so funny and had this contagious laughter-- I couldn't help but laugh along, even if it was something we shouldn't laugh at-- like the Chin (that's a joke between him and me) He was someone I always looked up, even when he was troubled. I couldn't help but look up to Nate. I couldn't help but love him. He knew me my whole life. He was there teaching me to swim, to ride a bike, to tumble. He helped me grow up in many ways, some ways were hard. I learned we can have the greatest families, and still choose drugs. I learned that sober Nate and not sober Nate were very different people. I learned to love him even when he wasn't himself. That to judge people is so very wrong, we just don't know where they're at in their journey. He was itching to have peace. He was always searching, not realizing that the God who loves him, wanted Nate to be at peace in Him. Nate did love Jesus. Nate always spoke of his relationship with Jesus. He was solid on that point. He just had an addiction-- to sin. Don't we all. Why does some sin kill? Why does some sin entice us to such depths? I don't know. I sit and think of Nate. I think of how it seems like he was just here visiting me while I was pregnant. How thankful I am that I left a birthday party early to spend time with Nate. That was the last time I saw him. I will miss my big, spontaneous brother. I will miss his lanky hugs, his crooked smile, his insatiable laugh. I will even miss his teasing. I will love him forever, I will love him for always, as long as I'm living, my brother he'll be. So much sorrow. How can I handle it? I don't know. I don't know.
I know I've been vocal about how crappy our life has been these past few months. We've had a lot of really annoying things over the past year.
2009 was the year that life crashed around me. I try to compare what life has thrown at me this year with that year and they don't even compare. It's like complaining about a splinter when you know the pain of a broken leg. Yes, they both hurt, but one is more of an annoyance that anything; the other is pain.
I remember that pain. Yet, tonight I was reminded again. There is a family in our church, a family I don't actually know, who lost their daughter last night to a long 2 year battle with cancer. It is gut wrenching and horrible and devastating. It is impossible. I have been sobbing for their loss for the past hour. My heart is remembering my own loss, thinking on loosing one of my children, and the loss of their sweet, beautiful, innocent daughter... it's more sad that words can express.
My life right now is a freaking cake walk in comparison to their current journey. I know it, I've walked it.
Perspective is everything.
I am so sad for that family. In my own circumstances, where life is annoying, I choose to dwell on the good rather than complain. Friends, help me to do this.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4:8 *Please pray for that family. They could use every bit of prayer to get them though this.*
So, I've been apart of this really awesome local food swap. My fantastic neighbor put it together and I am always delighted at the booty I get at them. The last swap was on Monday and I got loaded up with artisan bath salts, chocolate, nut butters, extracts, eggs, cloth napkins... And more! Sometimes there is home brewed beer, bread, butter, jam... Oh the list goes on and on. It has been a wonderful way for me to expand my tastes and my wallet. Our grocery budget would not allow for all the things that I get each month, but with the swap, I always go away blessed and my pantry gets filled.
It is so fun to get back to the roots of America and swap! I highly suggest it!
This year was suppose to be different than last year. We were not suppose to have big things break on us and have huge financial issues this year like we did last....
I think life has a way of laughing at us when things are difficult-- by making them more difficult. At least that's the feeling I've had for the past few months.
I'm not wishing life was easy, but that I could perhaps coast a little bit and not have to worry.
I really am trying to keep my chin up and have a positive attitude. I don't think I'm succeeding very well today.
I just want to curl up in the fetal position and fall asleep.
Instead I'm sitting on the computer looking at prices of newish cars and water heaters. There are currently 11 tabs on my browser open comparing new water heaters and newish cars. I guess when life throws you curve balls, you have to buy more things?
I am over the spend money on things you don't want to spend money on... wouldn't it be nice to be able to pay off credit cards, sit in a clean, non construction zone house, and think of what I could make for dinner-- having enough to buy any and all groceries I want? Perhaps someday. As I think of it, maybe this is just how life goes. You get 1 step forward to get pulled back 2 more steps.
There are many things I am thankful for-- clean running water (even if it is cold), a warm house, new flooring (thanks Met Life!), healthy kids, my hubby's job, the ability to stay home with our children, good friends who have helped me and encouraged me in numerous ways--especially this last difficult year, support from church, a Bible study group who welcomed us with open arms and has treated us like family... the list could go on and on.
Tunnel vision is a terrible thing. Too much focus on the bad has a way of seeping into my heart and making me forget all the truly wonderful things life has to offer.
So, if you see me and I'm in a whiny mood-- just tell me to remember all the great things about life! This is a season and it too shall pass.