Tag Archive | Death

A Poem: The Children

This poem feels like drowning, gasping for breath from the raw agony. And then suddenly the light catches your submerged eye…and you can see it…a strong hand has reached down to lift you out of the blackness. You tightly grasp it, and the brilliance grabs you…sunshine, hope, love, peace. You are saved. You are free…

I see my would have been older sister,Leslie,waiting along with these children in the poem. She died before I was born…at only 8 1/2 months in utero. I often wonder what she will look like…if she has my laugh or same color eyes…

I also see, the millions and millions of children who were aborted in our country…who await to be reunited with the ones they love…when they ever come…

The reading of the poem by the author at the end is amazing.

The Children

Somewhere safe from all the dangers,
Somewhere safe from Crack and AIDS,
Safe from lust and lurking strangers,
Safe from war and bombing raids.

Somewhere safe from malnutrition,
Safe from daddy’s damning voice,
Safe from mommy’s cool ambition,
Safe from deadly goddess, Choice.

Do you hear the children crying?
I can hear them every day,
Crying, sighing, dying, flying
Somewhere safe where they can play.

* * * *

Do you see the children meeting?
I can see them in the sky,
Meeting, seating, eating, greeting
Jesus with the answer why.
Why the milk no longer nourished,
Why the water made them sick,
Why the crops no longer flourished,
Why the belly got so thick.

Why they never knew the reason
Friends had vanished out of sight,
Why some suffered for a season,
Others never saw the light.

Do you see the children meeting?
I can see them in the sky,
Meeting, seating, eating, greeting
Jesus with the answer why.

* * * *

Do you hear the children singing?
I can hear them high above,
Singing, springing, ringing, bringing
Glory to the God of love.

Glory for the gift of living,
Glory for the end of pain,
Glory for the gift of giving,
Glory for eternal gain.

Glory from the ones forsaken,
Glory from the lost and lone,
Glory when the infants waken,
Orphans on the Father’s throne

Do you hear the children singing?
I can hear them high above,
Singing, springing, ringing, bringing
Glory to the God of love.

* * * *

Do you see the children coming?
I can see them on the clouds,
Coming, strumming, drumming, humming
Songs with heaven’s happy crowds.

Songs with lots of happy clapping,
Songs that set the heart on fire,
Songs that make your foot start tapping,
Songs that make a merry choir.

Songs so loud the mountains tremble,
Songs so pure the canyons ring,
When the children all assemble
Millions, millions, round the King.

Do you see the children coming?
I can see them on the clouds,
Coming, strumming, drumming, humming
Songs with heaven’s happy crowds.

* * * *

Do you see the children waiting?
I can see them all aglow
Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting,
Who of us will rise and go?

Will we turn and fly to meet them
In the light of candle two?
I intend to rise and greet them.
Come and go with me, would you?

By John Piper

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A Prayer

I wanted to share a powerful poem from a beautiful book called, “To Bless the Space Between Us” written by John O’Donohue. This is a poem that helps to give more clarity & understanding for what it may feel like to live a life of addiction. It is also, in a sense, a prayer. A prayer for truth, and freedom, and hope for addicts to one day be enlightened & saved from their prisons of self-destruction.

For An Addict

 On its way through the innocent night,

The moth is ambushed by the light,

Becomes glued to a window

Where a candle burns; its whole self,

Its dreams of flight and all desire

Trapped in one glazed gaze;

Now nothing else can satisfy

But the deadly beauty of flame.

 

When you lose the feel

For all other belonging

And what is truly near

Becomes distant and ghostly,

And you are visited

And claimed by a simplicity

Sinister in its singularity,

 

No longer yourself, your mind

And will owned and steered

From elsewhere now,

You would sacrifice anything

To dance once more to the haunted

Music with your fatal beloved

Who owns the eyes of your heart.

 

These words of blessing cannot

Reach, even as echoes,

To the shore of where you are,

Yet may they work without you

To soften some slight line through

To the white cave where

Your soul is captive

 

May some glimmer

Of outside light reach your eyes

To help you recognize how

You have fallen for a vampire.

 

May you crash hard and soon

Onto real ground again

Where this fundamentalist

Shell might start to crack

For you to hear

Again your own echo.

 

That your lost lonesome heart

Might learn to cry out

For the true intimacy

Of  love that waits

To take you home

To where you are known

And seen and where

Your life is treasured

Beyond every frontier

Of despair you have crossed.

 

 

 

Phoning Home

The other night we watched the classic movie E.T. The kids loved the part where Gertie dresses up E.T. like a girl for Halloween. They laughed when E.T. see’s a Yoda while Trick or Treating and repeatedly calls out….”Home…home….home…”. They screamed with delight when Elliot lets out all of the frogs in the classroom. Of course, the scene that is a favorite for all of us is when Elliot flies over the treetops with E.T. in his bike basket.

I had forgotten how alarmingly scary E.T. looks when Elliot finds him lying helpless in the river all grey, shriveled up, shrunken, and slowly dying. It is around that time when Elliot begins to also get more and more ill. He is so metaphysically connected to E.T. that he emotionally and physically experiences whatever E.T. does. The poignant scene of them both lying on stretchers with Elliot reaching out to E.T. is a tear jerker moment.

As I was watching this scene, I thought, “Sometimes I feel like Elliot”.

Watching your parent and friend very slowly fade away and deteriorate can sometimes leave you feeling like you are experiencing their pain right along with them. When my mom looks so helpless, I sometimes feel helpless with knowing how to best help her. When she repeats a story over and over again that makes no logical sense, I feel confused right along with her. I am not always sure how to respond. Do I tell the truth? Or do I lie and “meet her where she is” in her memory (which is called therapeutic fibbing) . Sometimes it is a fairly easy choice. Like when she says she just went somewhere with my father 2 weeks ago, and it has really been close to 5 years since she has last seen him. Telling her that no, she hasn’t actually seen him for that long would upset her, so why go there?

I have recently found out that mom’s kidneys are not doing well. She has one diseased kidney that is barely functioning and the other is not doing well either. They are going to give her a CAT scan of her kidneys to see where we go from here. Of course, a kidney transplant is not an option. And Dialysis would be very tough on her already fragile system. In the long run, I suppose we are looking at acute kidney failure.

By that time, all that can be done, would be to keep her comfortable as this disease slowly takes her from us. I had always known that this could eventually be what finally takes her. She has had kidney issues in the past. Of course, the doctors can’t give a time line. All the nurse has said is that “we are not near Dialysis yet”. But she did tell me we need to discuss how much treatment we eventually want to go forward with.

For now I will focus on enjoying the time we have left with her, and be grateful for that.

In so many ways, my mom and I have had an Elliot/E.T. type of relationship. We have always been so dependent on each other, for companionship and friendship. I  like Elliot, have tried in vain to repeatedly try to fix her and to lead her to safety. I have felt compelled to hide her “condition” of alcoholism from those outside our family for most of my life. I became consumed early on with keeping my mom alive, sober, and healthy. I feared her leaving me for good and much to early.

Through Al-anon, I learned how to detach from my controlling tendencies of trying to make her “stop” drinking. I still need to practice daily how to “let go, let God” and remember who is really in control. All I can control is the choices that I make for my own life. I practice gratitude continuously to stay focused on living in the “now”. God’s grace and mercy are so much easier to see that way. It’s like leaving your windshield wipers on high all day long. Sometimes that is what it takes to clear away all of those dark negative thoughts from clouding my perception and reality.

This all makes me think of When Peter said we are like “strangers and refugees in this world”. (1 Peter 2:11) That holy longing that I have felt for so long is normal and even good…like E.T, we are not meant to be truly content in this world. This world is a temporary pit stop, or “school”, where we are preparing how to one day live with our Maker. Our trials, disappointments, and losses are all teaching us, and refining our spirits…so that we can make it Home at last!

I like what Max Lucado said: “The only ultimate disaster that can befall us, I have come to realize, is to feel ourselves to be home on earth. As long as we are aliens, we cannot forget our true homeland.

Unhappiness on earth cultivates a hunger for heaven. By gracing us with a deep dissatisfaction, God holds out attention. The only tragedy, then, is to be satisfied prematurely. To settle for earth.”

 I feel good about the fact that I will never be wholly satisfied here. Sure, I am blessed with so very much joy and love and goodness, and I feel tremendously grateful for all of it. But, I know that life here was never meant to be easy. Afterall, our Lord never promised easy. Easy is meant for Heaven….and until then…. I will never give up phoning Home.

The following song illustrates perfectly what I am talking about…..

 

 

 

 

Fly Away Angel Friend

Good friends are our angels on earth…helping us along, supporting us, and loving us for who we are, with all of our strengths and our shortcomings. This week my mom’s best friend in the Care Center is going to lose her battle against a fast acting cancerous brain tumor. Three weeks ago, mom’s friend, Signe, started to act out with anger and other uncharacteristic behaviors, so her daughter brought her in to get a MRI. They found a huge brain tumor, that had grown so fast and big, that there was no longer any hope for a successful surgery. Signe became an angel for my mom in many ways, and I know mom was one for her, as well.

Mom got to know Signe well early last fall when mom began to start eating out more in the dining room with the other residents. She clicked with Signe right away, as they were both very personable and friendly. Signe was closer to my mom’s age. She had strong conversational skills and was very inquisitive and cheerful, much like my mom. When I talk with mom about her friend passing soon, she sadly says, “Now who am I going to be friends with?  She was the only one who has their wits about them!” A funny quirk was that my mom thought her name was Sydney, instead of Signe, even though I tried to correct her many times! Signe never seemed to mind mom calling her by a different name 🙂

Signe’s friendship was very instrumental  in helping my mom get acclimated and comfortable there. They ate 3 meals a day together, and often spent times in between meals sitting at the table talking and sharing tea together. It got to the point where if we were with mom taking a walk, and it was close to dinner time, she would get anxious and say, “we need to hurry and get back, because Signe and I are eating dinner together, and she will wonder where I am if I’m not there!” I would sometimes get annoyed that she seemed to want to be with her friend more than me, but I also thought it was sweet, and I was very grateful that she was finally finding some happiness there.

My young kids and I got to know Signe well. She loved to see their joyful spirits and talk and visit with them. In many ways, my kids have become like grandkids to her and the other residents. They all just light up when they see us coming down the hall. I think we remind them of their own kids and grandkids and it helps to cheer them up. It is very rewarding to spread that kind of love and energy to people who desperately need it. 

Yesterday I talked to Becky, Signe’s daughter, who told me with much emotion how grateful she was that my mom came in to her mom’s life, and what a good friend she was to her. She said that my mom was like her mom’s guardian angel, & that she was always so friendly and sweet to Signe.  Signe was up sitting off in the living room when my daughter Anna & I got there. She was unresponsive, yet awake &  staring off.  I told her that we were praying hard for her.  Becky said that her mom wanted to get out of bed to see Donna (my mom).  I felt so sad for her and her family, yet very grateful that my mom was able to be that kind of friend to her during her last months on earth. 

I thank God for sending Signe into my mom’s life.  They were both so blessed to get to know each other when they did. I truly believe that God sends people into our lives exactly when we need them the most. We will miss you Signe….our special, one of a kind angel friend.

We Are So Blessed

The other day, I ran into the daughter of a resident who lives with my mom in her nursing home.  She is an amazing woman.  At the beginning of my mom’s stay, I had seen her helping out so frequently at meal times, I began to think that  she worked there!  But, it was more than just the amount of time that I saw her there that impressed  me, it was her warm rapport and loving compassion that flowed from her as she interacted with the residents.  She knew each of the 15 or 20 people by name, and she seemed to know each one of their unique personalities and individual needs.

 We started talking about our moms,  about why they are there, and a little bit about our family histories up until this point.  She expressed how she and her mom have had a rocky relationship for much of their lives together, but that she feels so incredibly blessed now to be caring for her.  We talked about how at times, giving that gift of unconditional love can be very difficult to do, especially if there had been unresolved issues or resentments in the relationship.  Giving that sort of selfless love  can be hugely painful, and sometimes requires  a gigantic amount of sacrifice, but ultimately,  it proves to be enormously rewarding  and life giving  in the end. 

I think of another conversation in an email that I had with a friend recently.  She was explaining how she had  taken care of her father for 3 years before he finally passed away from cancer this past fall.  She talked of the difficult burden she carried  of being  the only one who knew  the secret of how long her father had left to live, as her father did not want anyone else in the family to know.  She was even told to keep the secret from her mom, as well.  She expressed how very challenging it was during those 3 years, but yet, she truly feels that it was an incredible  blessing and a huge gift to be able to share in that journey with her father up until his passing.

 These examples cause me to remember what Jesus taught  in the Sermon on the Mount (Mathew 5:1-12) .

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed  are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 

 Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

When your parent is so sick and vulnerable, you feel very helpless and lost at times, not knowing what to do to ease their troubles or pain.  You find yourself being freed from certain expectations and attachments, such as letting go of long held dreams of the way you wished or hoped your life could  be together.  You become spiritualty poor in the sense that you begin to fully realize just how much you desperately need God’s grace to guide you every step of the way.  In that state of spiritual poverty, you know that you can not do it alone, and you realize what an amazing blessing and  gift it is that you don’t have to!

This week I feel blessed, because mom has started physical therapy again, in order to help her possibly walk someday.  We had tried physical therapy with her for 18 months, and this past October I had to make the painful decision to stop her therapies, as she was consistently very uncooperative and shown to have made hardly any progress during that time.  At this time, she is very cooperative and willing to work at it, so we are giving it another go!  Time and God willing, mom will be able to hopefully walk again someday, which would be no small miracle!!!

Two years ago,  I was very blessed to travel to Ephesus, where Paul the apostle preached and was believed to be imprisoned.  It is also the place where Mary, the mother of Jesus, was believed to have been taken to live out her last years with St. John, who was a very close friend and beloved disciple of Jesus.  Visiting Mary’s house was an amazing blessing for me, as I have a very strong love and devotion for her! (below is a pic I took in Rome, a mosaic of Mary)

The following passage is from Ephesians 1:3-14.  I had read somewhere how a bible study teacher had used this passage as a prayer exercise with her students that seemed very personal and powerful.  I encourage you to insert your name in the blanks of this passage….and hear Paul speaking directly to you!!

 Spiritual Blessings in Christ

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed ________in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose _______ in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined ________ for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given  _____ in the One He loves. In Him_______has redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of her/his sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on her/him. With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to when ________ believed, she/he  was marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing her/his  inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory. (Eph 1:3-14, modified)

In Christ….we are so blessed!!

 God’s blessings are dispensed according to the riches of his grace, not according to the depth of our faith…..so…..we don’t give up.  We look up.  We trust.  We believe.  And our optimism is not hollow.  Christ has proven worthy.  He has shown that he never fails.  That’s what makes God, God!!  (Grace For the Moment, Max Lucado)

Life is a Love Story

   When I think of love, I primarily think of the organic love that a parent has for their child or grandchild.  I think of how that gift of love can transcend anything…..be it distance, illness, or time.  Love can transcend all of our long-held fears, resentments, despair, or anger…..with the help of a lot of forgiveness,wisdom, and peace.  This can all come as a result of a ton of trust and prayer. 

This is a picture of my mom holding my new baby girl Anna, the day after I gave birth to her in the summer of 2008.  It was a year and a half after my mom’s dementia diagnosis, and 8 months before she broke both of her hips and lost the use of her legs.  It was one of the last times my mom got out of her house,  being able to function relatively normally.  Just 9 months later, she would be moved into a care center, as she deteriorated fairly quickly in that short amount of time. 

 My mom loves being a grandma.  I know that the joy her grandkids bring her goes beyond any amount of confusion or sadness that she is feeling on any particular day.  One of my favorite quotes that I read recently is by Maya Angelou, “They may forget what you said, they may forget what you did, but they never forget how you made them feel!”

 The following “love” entries are from the book, God Calling.  Last winter, a friend of mine suggested this book to me, as she explained how she had been very inspired by it.  She tragically passed away last May from a very sudden reoccurrence of brain cancer, which viciously took her life within a few weeks time.  She was only 42 years old.  Her amazing example of true love and devotion to her family was and always will be extremely uplifting and inspiring!  All of the entries come from God’s perspective and have “spoken to me” or inspired me in one way or another!  God is Love!

 Life Is a Love Story

You need me.  I need you.  My broken world needs you.  Many a weary troubled heart needs you.  Many a troubled heart will be gladdened by you, drawn nearer to Me by you.  Health, Peace, Joy, Patience, Endurance, they all come from contact with Me. 

 Oh! It is a glorious way, the upward way, the wonderful discoveries, the tender intimacies, the amazing, almost incomprehensible, understanding.  Truly the Christian Life, Life with Me, is a Love story.  Leave all to Me.  All you have missed you will find in Me, the Soul’s Lover, the Soul’s Friend, Father, Mother, Comrade, Brother.  Try Me. You cannot make too many demands upon Me, nor put too great a strain upon My Love and Forbearance. Claim, claim, claim, Healing, Power, Joy, Supply what you will.

 Arm of Love

You are to help to save others.  Never let one day pass when you have not reached out an arm of love to someone a note, a letter, a visit, help in some way.   Be full of joy. Joy saves. Joy cures. Joy In Me.  In every ray of sunlight, every smile, every act of kindness, or love, every trifling service, joy…..The  helping hand is needed that raises the helpless to courage, to struggle, to faith, to health.  

Love.  Laugh.  Love and laughter are the beckoners to faith and courage.  Trust on, love on, joy on.  Refuse to be downcast.  Refuse to be checked in your upward climb.  Love and laugh.  I am with you.  I bear your burdens.  Cast your burden upon Me and I will sustain thee.  And then in very lightheartedness you turn and help another with the burden that is pressing too heavily upon him or her.  How many burdens can you lighten this year?  How many hearts can you cheer?  How many souls can you help?  And in giving you gain: “Good measure, pressed down, and running over.”

 Love Your Servants

Love, Love, Love.  Tender Love is the secret.  Love those you are training, love those who work with you, love those who serve you.  Dwell on that thought- God is love.  Link it up with My “I and My Father are one.”  Dwell on My actions on Earth.  See in them Love in operation.  If it was God who so acted, then it was Love, Perfect Love, performed those actions, those wonders.  Then you, too, must put love (God) into actions in your lives.  Perfect Love means perfect forgiveness.  Lo, My children, you see that where God is there can be no lack of forgiveness, for that is really lack of love. 

God is Love…..no judging.

God is Love…..no resentment.

God is Love…..all patience.

God is Love…..all power.

God is Love…..all supply…….Pray much for love!