You Say It’s Your Birthday

Funny thing before we delve into this week’s blog – first, I’m late again. Thankfully, I might be the only one keeping track. Second – I’m early. Yep, this is the blog that I had in mind for next week – when my daughter, Megan, turns 21. Due to a twisted turn of events – namely that I am wholly unable to keep proper track of time these days – I present next week’s blog this week:

Do you remember what you did for your 21st birthday? Or your 18th? 10th? 30? 50? – pick your milestone poison. You likely have fond memories of that day, unless you landed in jail, in which case I hope enough time has passed that you can look back and laugh.

What if something worse (much worse) than jail happened on your birthday?  My mother’s oldest brother, Mike, died of a heart attack – on his daughter’s birthday. Yes, there isn’t much worse that can happen on your birthday than for your dad to die of a heart attack.  It’s awfully hard after that to look forward to another birthday much less ever to look upon that particular day with anything other than heartbreak. Or is there?

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Half-hearted

My daddy gave me a pair of gloves for Christmas 2000. There was nothing special about them. Just a simple (but warm) pair of black gloves with fleece lining. Two months later, my daddy was diagnosed with lung cancer – aggressive and sinister. By the time the cancer was detected, it was too late. Two months after his diagnosis, he passed away at age 56.

All of a sudden, those Christmas gloves became special. Seriously, I placed so much emphasis on those gloves as the last little connection between me and my daddy. Perhaps, I shouldn’t have placed so much importance on something physical and fleeting, but I did. So, you can just imagine how sick I became when the gloves became separated. 

At first, I didn’t believe one was lost. I was convinced that I would find the missing glove. Time passed. No reunion. More time passed. Still no reunion. 

Years went by. Yes, I carried the found glove around for years.

I slowly became to accept that perhaps, the gloves would not be together again as soon I would have hoped and I might have to learn how to survive with just the one glove. It’s the same realization that slowly settles into your bones after losing someone you love. Like gloves work better in pairs, the heart works better whole. Yet, you come to learn how to survive half-hearted.

Over the years, the “found” glove (or was it the “missing” one) played tricks with my mind. As I’d go through drawers or boxes of winter things, it would seem as if it played a slight of hand. One time, I would swear that it was the right glove that was found, but I would be holding the left one. Other times, I would find the right glove and spend days looking for the left because I could have sworn that I had “just seen it.” Eventually, I just played the cruel game of hide-and-seek off as my own wishful thinking.

When you are grieving an unfathomable loss, the heart and mind play similar games. A swing of blonde hair catches your eye before you recall that she’s not there. A familiar laugh lands on your ear catching you for a moment as you ponder whether these are the left chambers reuniting with the right or vice versa. Then you realize that you are not even sure which chambers are lost and which still beat within your chest.

Sure, you couldlive with just one glove. The one glove is still useful, but it just isn’t the same. Life is livable but sometimes it feels like – oreos without milk, a kingcake with no baby, or red beans with no rice. Like Batman without Robin, SpongeBob without Patrick, or Lilo without Stitch, life just isn’t the same. The needle pierces the memory adding to the tapestry of your life; yet, it is missing a thread. There is a blank space that runs through every new memory regardless of how glorious that memory is.

Amidst a world that is fraught with milkless oreos and babyless kingcakes, there is only one thing that keeps my chest beating half-heartedly and reminds me each day is still worth living. There will come a day when our hearts beat again. Not half-heartedly but full and nearly bursting in a way in which today – we can only imagine. 

“Really,” you ask, “Are we really going to be reunited in heaven with our Lord and our loved ones?” Yes, and it is just as simple and complicated as believing that God sent His only Son to make that day possible. 

“But it is so hard to hold onto that belief in this world of tangled threads and plates of beans without rice,” you say. I can’t disagree. It is hard. No way around the fact that it can be hard, but daily I am reminded of God’s infinite love and I cannot escape the draw of eternity.

About a week or so ago, I was unpacking a box of winter things and I saw a black glove. It looked so much like the “missing” glove (or was it the “found” glove). My heart had been tricked by this game so many times and I really didn’t have the energy to play another round. Yet, I carried it to the drawer where I had last seen the “found” glove (or was it the “missing” glove). Fully anticipating another disappointment, imagine my surprise when the “found” glove lay in my right hand and the “missing” glove in my left – both hands literally trembling and my half-heart pounding profusely.

After years of waiting and holding onto what felt like a silly expectation and wishful thinking, my gloves are together again. While it might seem like a trivial reminder, it is a reminder nonetheless that faith in the “lost” years will lead to reunion in eternity. 

No more half-hearted happiness over reunited gloves. We can look forward to full-hearted joy over a glorious and eternal reunion with the ones we love. More importantly, there will come a day when we will come face-to-face with our Lord and our God. 

And . . . thatis the true gift of Christmas. 

SDG

Half-Way Home

Until last year when my husband and I moved to Minneapolis, I had never lived more than a few hours from “home” – meaning the place where I was born and raised. To be honest, Minneapolis would have been pretty far down a list of choice relocations. No offense to Minnesota, but locales like Key West, San Diego, or Honolulu would have been more prominent in my imagination. Those were not options.

So, I suited up with my best “let’s-make-the-best-of-it” attitude and bought a heavy coat and a pair of snow boots. Confession – my “let’s-make-the-best-of-it” attitude was really more of a “let’s-get-through-this-as-quickly-as-possible-and-get-back-home” attitude until I received a great piece of advice from someone who had moved around a lot – “Make Minneapolis home.” Essentially, make friends and build relationships even though you know that you may not have all of the time you’d like to build those relationships fully. Read more

High Water Mark

As I write this blog entry, the city of New Orleans is marking the thirteenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. On August 29, 2005, Katrina came ashore just east of the city. For those of us in the area, we breathed a sigh of collective relief as peril appeared to skirt around us.

Then . . . the levees broke. Read more

“Rhymes with It”

Knock, knock

Who’s there?

Banana

Banana, who?

Knock, knock

Who’s there?

Banana

Banana, who?

Knock, knock

Who’s there?

Orange

Orange, who?

Orange you glad I didn’t say “banana”?

Admit it. You giggled. You couldn’t help yourself. It’s not even funny, but it made you laugh.  Read more

Clouds of Joy

When it comes to art (paintings, sculptures, etc.), I am quite unsophisticated. As college wound down, I was searching for a more “grown-up” and “sophisticated” look for my apartment. So naturally, I headed straight the cheap wall poster section of Michael’s. And, since I didn’t have a clue about art, I settled for what someone in the eighties thought would have commercial value. Enter Water Lilies (Claude Monet) and Starry Night (Vincent Van Gogh) complete with flimsy, pop together, plastic wall frames.

As time went on, I grew more sophisticated in taste – enter Jazz Fest Posters. Hey – unlike the mass-produced variety, these are actual art. And, while we own a few (unsigned, unnamed) originals, we’ve also collected a few giclées (the adult version of cheesy wall posters) of pieces that we love but didn’t have an option for obtaining the original. Read more

Are We There Yet?

If I was behind the wheel on a road trip, it typically meant that I was headed either to a concert (usually One Direction) or a horse show. This also meant that Brooke was in tow. Road trips with Brooke were very much unlike the ones I’ve taken with her older sister. Trips with Megan generally comprise of short talks with music filling the gap. There were no gaps with Brooke. A background of music was overlaid with non-stop chatter.

What if I get nervous and throw up in the ring? Did I tell you about so-and-so? What if it rains and my saddle gets wet? Who’s my favorite this concert – Zayne or Harry? But what about Niall? What if the hotel smells? What if I can’t sell these tickets for better ones? Where are we going to see One D next summer? How much longer? Are we there yet?

These little journeys were peppered with little worries. Life’s journey is bigger and infused with bigger worries. Read more