Saturday, March 26, 2016

Preparing for Abundance

     It started out as an obligation to the calendar, marking tomorrow as Easter Sunday. A year hasn't gone by that I haven't prepared our home for Easter, but this year my heart wasn't into making a celebration. To overcome this, I made it a purpose to dedicate Saturday for Easter preparations. Dutifully, I hauled the tub of Easter baskets up from the basement and with a sigh I climbed up onto the step stool and carried down the cartons of decorated eggs from the cabinet. I laid butter and cream cheese out to soften for baking and spread recipes on the counter for reference. I had committed this day and I would stick to it.
     One thing I have learned over the years about grief is that it causes scatterbrained thoughts and general overall fogginess. It's hard to stay on topic and it's so easy to be distracted. Along this trend, I soon found myself trying to do three things at once from my to-do list. I half started a cupcake recipe, I was arranging flowers in a vase, and I was trying to decide which Easter grass to use for a basket. About this time Audrey walked in with her dogs for an impromptu visit. Her visit made me want to sit down and do nothing other than chat. I realized I was beginning to drown in my lack of focus and I needed either to stick to it or give up. I sat for a few minutes with Audrey, then I got up and got the cupcakes into the oven with the promise of walking the dogs while they baked.

     After circling the fields, we came back in and started going through all the Pysanky eggs together. We handled them and talked about the colors and designs. We arranged only a few and put most away, which was perfect. Audrey ate an unfrosted cupcake and I finally finished arranging those flowers. By the time I started a soup for dinner I began to feel like I was getting back into the grove of my kitchen and home. It felt good to re-acquaint myself with my favorite Saturday hobbies of baking and cooking. I also began to notice a shift in my thoughts. Rather than dwell on the things that life was lacking, I began to feel life's abundance and God's goodness in all of it.   
     In recognizing that Christ the Lord has risen from the grave, we prepare our hearts and souls for abundance. In our sorrow, God's love is abundant. In our pain, God's love is enduring. In our future, God's plan for us is life everlasting, in peace and goodness. Whatever we face on this earth has been answered. It is finished... abundantly!


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Cleaning, Therapy Style

     We all have our ways of coping. Whether it be from stress or grief or loneliness, we react in a myriad of ways. We may overeat or drink, meditate or pray, snap at people or withdraw into solitude, whatever combination of the above, our minds and bodies are attempting to cope. Some of these methods occur automatically and we react without giving it a thought. Other coping mechanisms may be more intentional, like prayer. I tend towards a particular combination of coping mechanisms for stress and grief, but there is one quirky little thing that I've learned about myself over the years and that is my obsessive compulsive need to clean when life feels out of control. It's not a scary, life altering OCD reaction, no. Rather, it's a day's worth of channeling what I have absolutely no control over into something that I completely control. I guess the reasoning goes like this, "My mom has died and I can't do a thing about it, but I can clean, damn it."
     I can usually detect when the urge to clean is barreling in and my thoughts organize around what cleaning jobs I will tackle. I become very focused and my attitude is forthright. "Everybody stay out of my way and no one will get hurt. Hand over your toothbrushes, I need them." Normally, I would never do hard labor after the dinner hour, but this particular night you might find me scrubbing cabinets at 9:00pm. I hope my family knows me by now and there's no need to worry at such a sight. I'm simply coping.
     Wonderful things come out of this particular coping mechanism. Obviously, the first result is a clean kitchen or perhaps an entire house, depending on my energy level. Secondly, I discovered a new cleaning tool that has upped the game. I saw this on someone's blog but I can't recall where in order to give them credit. This little scrub brush holds soap inside and dispenses it as you scrub. My cabinets have never been cleaner. It even gets at the nooks and corners in the cabinet doors where greasy kitchen dust collects. Lastly and most importantly, we all know that busy hands free the mind to think and wander. Mindless work lends itself beautifully to prayer and thoughtfulness. Memories flow forward, unfinished business is contemplated and routed out from the crevices of both mind and dirty corners, and God lends His ear whenever we call upon Him whether we sit quietly in a chair or on our hands and knees, toothbrush at work.
     So, we are coping. I'm learning what hurts the most, what I can and can't do alone, and who to call on for what. I know that sometimes things have to get messier and harder before they get better. I'm in messy and hard now, trying to reason what just happened these past eight months. I ask myself what did I do right or wrong and what have I learned from it? If the scope of cleaning and renovating projects on my docket is any determination of what I still need to work out in my heart and mind then I'll be at it for a while. Some aspects of caring for my mom will never be resolved and I will need to come to grips with that, too. It hurts, but it hurts because I loved. That, I can accept.

Friday, March 4, 2016

A New Hand to Hold, It Is Well

     And so, the cycle is complete, life and death and death and life. There is no better way to assuage one's grief than to have a sweet babe placed in one's arms. 

 We've been pretty much holed up for two weeks with only forays out for necessities. I've only just begun to cook again after friends and family drove out with breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for all these days. It was an amazing outpouring of love to my family. Chelsea and Simon drove from New York with Hugo, arriving the day after my mother's death. Claire and their three children arrived a week later and filled the house with life. We've taken walks, visited in the wee hours of morning when Hugo couldn't sleep, been entertained by the antics of little ones, and mostly relaxed. 

     In two days everyone will have gone home and it will be time to pick up the pieces and take stock of what all just happened. I was in the mindset that I would be caring for Mom for some time to come. I quit my part time job last summer when she moved in with us and I hadn't thought much beyond her care through this coming summer. Now I'm here with nothing but empty time in front of me. It won't be wasted, but goodness it happened so fast.
     One of my first tasks will be to go into Mom's room and handle her belongings. The few times I've forayed in there since she died were difficult, so I know this will be the hardest task. She lived and died in our home and memories of her are everywhere. But such is life. It is very, very beautiful and it is very, very sad and through it all, God is very, very good.