Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Waiting Year

This year has been one of "waiting" -- waiting to see if we would be able to save my beloved house and our car as the bankruptcy process unfolded slowly, waiting to file the necessary taxes and paperwork to dissolve our business, waiting for Emma to be born, to smile, to crawl, to become a little person, waiting for snow.  Slowly, the waiting has progressed, and now we seem to be at the end of our financial uncertainty.  Emma has made all the milestones and is on the verge of walking -- her precious little smile and determination are a joy to watch. 

But, I am still waiting for snow.  This winter has known a dearth of snow that leaves me, the birds, and the gardens a bit confused as to what season it really is.  We have had none of the deep cold of winter, and the very few snowy mornings have gifted us with only an inch or so, which often has melted by afternoon.  I miss the snow!!  I love the change of seasons, and this year it seems that we have had one very long autumn, and now spring.  The birds are singing outside my window, staking out their territory, and I am wishing the landscape instead was a blanket of white with frosty air.

Of course, my sensible side realizes that this snowless winter has made my life easier -- delivering my two little grandchildren to preschool each morning with robust little Emma in my arms would have been much tougher with snow and ice underfoot.  But, my sensual side is still longing for at least one heavy snowfall before spring.

The coming week is February vacation -- Luke and Emma will be home with their Mom, and I will have Alivia for four days only, so this will be a vacation of sorts for me, too.  Of course, Alivia and I have many plans -- she wants to go to the library, invite her Nanny to a tea party which we will enjoy preparing, and browse through her baby pictures.  She also wants to spend part of the week at her house, since most days we are at Luke and Emma's.  Though our schedule sounds a bit daunting, it won't be as tiring as my weeks with all three little ones (at least I hope not).

And today my plan is for peaceful activities -- I will linger over my Sunday newspaper, shop for groceries, perhaps enjoy a trip to the library, spend some time feeding the birds and checking to see if my snowdrops are making an early appearance this year.  Slowly, I am beginning to relax from this year of waiting.  I can once again enjoy my beautiful home without the threat of losing it.  While our income is severely curtailed now, there is a freedom of sorts in living a more austere lifestyle.  In my heart I have always preferred a simple life, and without the constant pressures and endless paperwork of running a business, I can enjoy the simple pleasures that are my bliss.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


The church was lovely -- warm woods and simplicity -- as I listened to the funeral service for my cousin's husband.  His death was particularly sad because he had fought so valiantly for life during six months of devastating illness.  My cousin was exhausted from the long ordeal, as hopes were buoyed and shattered again and again, and then he was gone.  I never knew her husband well, so I listened intently as his daughter, his brother and his sister spoke of him.  I am unable to eulogize loved ones -- my throat aches as I try to hold back tears, and even when there is much I would love to say, I cannot give voice to my grief.  I envy those who are strong enough to speak as their hearts are breaking.

As I grow older, funerals become more difficult for me.  As I hear the familiar words and sing the beautiful hymns, memories of other funerals and other losses surface again, and my tears flow for all of the loved ones who have passed on.  I relive the moments in simple country churches and large cathedrals and tiny funeral home chapels where my heart has bid farewell, or where I have watched beloved friends grieving.  

Unfortunately, love and loss are as inevitable as sunrise and sunset.  A life rich in love is a blessed gift, but loving freely and deeply also means learning the harsh lessons of grieving.  I believe we will all be reunited with our loved ones when we ourselves pass on, and this softens the pain, but my belief does not lessen the immediate sense of disbelief and loss.  I have watched my parents and sister suffer slow deaths, which left me with a sense of relief that they were free from their pain; I have also experienced the shock of sudden deaths -- I lost my cousin in his early forties to a heart attack, and still cannot quite believe that his humor and vitality were taken from us with no chance for good-byes.

Somehow, each funeral is harder to bear -- even those where I am more a bystander than griever.  I cry for my friends who stare numbly at the casket of their loved one.  After so many years of living, instead of feeling wiser and more able to give comfort, I kneel in the pew or stand at the gravesite, and know that there is really nothing I can say or do.  I know that time does heal the immediate devastating sense of loss, but I also know that my eyes still well with tears when I remember my father's struggles to breathe in his last months, or when I think of my sister's laughter.

And so, as I sit at new funerals, I relive them all in my heart.  I remember the lovely eulogy for my father by a close friend.  I remember the biblical references read as we buried my friend's father -- "he fought the good fight...".  I remember the soaring feeling of the beautiful "On Eagles Wings" as we buried my uncle.  I remember the agonizingly beautiful bagpipes playing my beloved "Amazing Grace" as we buried firemen friends.  And I cry a few more tears with each memory.