When Tragedy Strikes

It’s been an emotional week in these parts. Life seems unfair when someone is taken before their time, and we can’t help but feel sadness over their passing. When tragedy strikes in a small community we all share that loss. We grieve for what we’re forced to accept– that someone we knew is no longer with us, taken away when they should have had many more years to live. There are two losses we’re left to deal with. First, for the person who has passed, but we’re also left with the feelings of how that loss affects us personally.

If you live in a small community, you can bet this person was someone you knew. Someone you shared a laugh with. Someone you came to for help. Someone you offered help to. Someone you worked with. Someone you waved to when you met them on the road. Someone whose children you grew up with. Someone who dipped you up an ice cream at the fair when you were just a kid. Someone who was a member of your family. Someone who did what was needed in the community without being asked. Someone who understood the grieving process a community goes through when tragedy strikes because they’ve done so in the past themselves.

Someone very recently made the comment that you, “Never hear about anything good happening.” I know it’s easy to go down that road when bad things happen. It reminds us then of all the recent tragedies we’ve heard. We don’t have to go in search for proof that bad things are all around. They will find us…. if we let them. And as many times as we go searching we’ll surely find those bad things….

Everyday if we go looking…..

If we look for it, it’s there.

But the secret is to look for good things instead. Accept the bad as a way of life, because it surely is, but seek out as much good as is possible….And it is possible….Maybe not on a particular day, but some other day it will be made possible. I understand why the comment was made. We listen to the news and are bombarded with stories that echo what this person had to say. But life is a balance. Good is all around us. So much good that it gets overlooked, overshadowed by the misfortunes that comes along.

Death comes to all of us. If we’re born, we will die. There’s no getting out of it. Our death will affect those around us–our family and friends, our community, people whose lives we’ve touched and were not even aware of. We don’t get to choose the time or place or circumstances of our passing or someone else’s. If this was so we’d all live forever because there’d never a right time to say goodbye, and we’d never be ready to let go. Quite honestly, the circumstances of someone’s death can sometimes be that hardest to deal with. We all understand that life is fleeting, changeable at a moment’s notice, but somewhere along the way we forget that death does not only come to the old and the sick. It comes also to the young, and the healthy, and to someone who had plans for another day. In this small community we’ve shouldered our share of tragedies. But we face it together, feel it together, mourn together, begin the healing process together.

The sadness will lift. The memories we’re left with will warm us and make us smile as we remember, a father, or a mother, or a sister, or a brother, or a son, or a daughter, or a grandchild or a neighbour.

Farewell

Farewell deare flowers, sweetly your time ye spent,

Fit, while ye liv’d, for smell or ornament,

And after death for cures.

GEORGE HERBERT, Life

My mother-in-law grew peonies. The year we were married she dug some of her bulbs out and gave them to us to plant. Young and busy at the time, we didn’t fully appreciate the gift. They were planted in front of the house in some fashion but didn’t came up the following spring. We gave them little thought after that.

The year she went to the nursing home we dug out some of the bulbs, planted them properly, and waited. It was a sad time as we struggled with the memories and emotions involved when emptying her house, and packed what things were to go with her. During that time the peonies suddenly took on new meaning for us.

Their subtle presence in our lives, the memories they evoke each time they come in bloom, brings a smile to my lips, a warm tug to my heart. It is all the proof I need to know we live on long after we have left this earthly  abode. We touch more lives  than we are aware of, without ever knowing the importance of our actions and words. We leave a myriad of sweet memories in our wake. We bring tears of sadness and joy with us in everything we do. We come into the world with nothing, what we leave behind in the minds and hearts of others is what gives our lives meaning.

Farewell Frances, you still make us smile…

A Wrinkle in Time

We have spent the past week watching old home videos. It’s part of the healing process. Death brings us back to the past, reminiscing, recollecting, and repeating the old stories that we haven’t told in years. And we smile.

Memories are who we are, who we’ve been. Looking back, seeing ourselves for who we were during a specific moment in time, is an eye-opening experience. We aren’t aware of the subtle changes that time brings until we see old photos or videos from five, ten, or fifteen years back.

That’s why I titled this post A Wrinkle in Time. Actually a wrinkle is a huge understatement. There have been several wrinkles, and not just in time. There’s no point denying it. They’re written all over my face.

My daughter suggested the other day that I start taking some photos now in hopes that it will save a lot of anguish later on when I try and find a suitable author photo. I’d kind of like to have an outdoor photo this time. Sounds good. Sounds easy. Snap…snap…snap. Digital cameras—how did we ever survive without them? I mean we can snap hundreds of photos if we need to, crop them just so, and basically change them to suit ourselves. Camera heaven.

Almost.

However, this I have discovered: while outdoor photos offer many different backgrounds, they also seem to offer more wrinkles in the process. I swear. Tis true. And none of it’s good.

Okay, I’m willing to admit the wrinkles are there. I’m 51; it’s a part of life. I don’t consider myself a vain person, but for the love of God must the wrinkles appear to be so…so crater-like? Seriously. A cruel joke by my calculation. As I told my sister on the phone the other evening, they certainly aren’t that deep when I look in the bathroom mirror. “I believe it’s the digital camera. Maybe it’s on the wrong setting or something.”(I was willing to look for reasons. I’m like that, you know.) My sister calmly replied, “Maybe it’s the lighting in your bathroom.”  Thanks sis! I owe you one.

It’s a known fact in this family that I take lousy photos. My kids can verify. I can’t even begin to tell you the horror I put my husband through last time when I suddenly needed a photo for the back of my book. I remember pleading and lamenting, bringing out the big guns as I whined, “I hardly ever ask you for anything.” This was probably hundreds of shots into it, and he was sporting a blister on his index finger. Okay, so the blister is an exaggeration, but you’d have thought he had one the way he protested. I was getting desperate. Every photo looked, shall I say, less than acceptable. One hundred and one weird facial expressions…It seems I could write that book. Back then I had only a week to come up with a decent shot, one I was happy with. Looking back I can’t much blame him. The whole experience was enough to make the most patient person complain. But this time I vow it will be different. I won’t be left scrambling at the end. And if worse comes to worse I’ll use the same photos as on my last novel.

So here’s what we ended up with. The only photo that didn’t show those many wrinkles in time.

 

What can I say? My daughter made me do it!

Now seriously, the only wrinkles I see in this photo are the wrinkles in my pants and since I’ll only need a head shot… Relax, I’m just kidding.

Hopefully in the months ahead I’ll narrow it down with some decent shots, and while I really don’t like having my photo taken I’m at least going to have a little fun in the process.

Do you have any tips for taking good outdoor photos? I could sure use some help..

Amidst Life’s Sad Moments

“The word ‘happiness’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.” Carl Jung

It’s only human of us to want to take someone’s sadness from them, but sadness is a part of life, a part that can’t forever be ignored. We think of sadness as a negative emotion, something that we shouldn’t feel. I don’t think that’s necessarily true.

What I have discovered this past week is that it’s okay to feel sad. Sadness in itself is not a bad thing. It is a part of life. In fact, it shouldn’t be ignored especially when we have a truly valid reason for our sadness. I’ve discovered it is best to allow ourselves to feel these emotions before moving on. The quote from Carl Jung speaks of balance and it makes sense to me in many ways. I’m almost certain that in order to experience happiness we do need to experience sadness. Otherwise how would be come to appreciate those happy times to their fullest? Happiness would be a continual state of being, not something to be cherished. It would just be.

The amazing thing about those times of sadness are those flashes of happiness that exist and persist, those little moments that arrive unannounced right out of the blue whether we wish them to or not. We, of course, have to be open to recognizing those flashes for what they are. If you’re not paying attention you could very well miss them.

I’ve experienced some moments this week that have gladdened my heart and made me smile, made me forget the sadness I was carrying for a brief time—a robin in the early morning struggling to pull a worm from the ground, the little story my granddaughter told me over the phone about a bunny, the peonies from my mother-in-law’s garden coming up through the ground, the kind words and acts of family and friends.

Death has a way of opening our eyes to life, giving us the opportunity to reflect, to examine what it is we want for our own lives. It gives us a time to retreat for a bit and contemplate the meaning of each day, and what we have to offer the world.

Thank you all for your kind words and cyber hugs. Everything’s going to be okay.

If I can stop one heart from breaking

In memory of  Frances Lillian Best  Sept. 9, 1918-  April 15, 2012

If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.

Emily Dickinson

I found this poem a few days ago and I was struck by it’s meaning. It seemed appropriate at this time.

I’ve been off line for most of the week. I’m not ignoring you all. I simply needed to be some place else.Some day I may blog about these past five day, but for now I need some time to surround myself with happier memories. I’ll be back later in the week.

The Balance

Today I’ll be attending a third funeral in a little over a week. Death is a part of life. I have to remind myself of that. It helps sometimes, brings comfort when the person who is taken from us lived a long and full life.

Birth. Death. Joy. Sorrow. There is a balance to everything.

This reminder doesn’t always help. Not when a childhood friend is suddenly taken away.

I found myself grieving; not only for this friend, but also for the forgotten childhood memories that came suddenly back to life.

The community I live in is changing with the times. The number of life-long residents is dwindling as our young people go off to live their own lives and our seniors pass away. Fortunately, new people are moving in all the time. Without them the community might one day cease to exist.

To every thing there is a season; a time and a purpose

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