Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Reel of Film: The Things I See

The flashbacks remind me of the quiet clicking that sounds while watching a stream of black and white pictures.  Playing across a reel of film. Snapshots of silent home movies and memories.

I'm flashing back. Standing in the kitchen as they loaded up my grama onto a stretcher. Into an ambulance that beckoned.  That summoned her with its rear doors. They closed loudly. The sound of the diesel rig sitting at the end of OUR driveway.  Not someone eles's.  Not on some TV show.  The rear doors closed in like arms of death.  Standing in the kitchen as the driver explained to the nurse. Ignorantly...rudely, cold...the coming, imminent fate of my grama. 

"The family does know...that with stage 4 stomach cancer, the bleeding and throwing up blood...that's only going to get worse, they know that don't they?"

Many 4-letter words flew threw my mind and none of them were L-O-V-E.  I'll censor it: "Yea, jerk face...we KNOW it's going to get worse. It's gotten worse for the last 3 months. We KNOW. Stupid."

It only got worse for 3 days after that. was over.  As shockingly as it came shockingly ended.  It plays over and over.  Differnet parts highlighted.  Different emotions enlightened. 

I'm venturing deep into the pain that i feel.  It's...searing.  My heart hurts.  My tears fill up and spill over my eyes. That are puffy.  And i fashback.

And then the reel ends. And the ligts come on. And im standing in a puddle of raw emotions.  And an altar of grief.  Built pebble upon stone upon cinder block upon boulder. 

Her bedroom.  The breeding grounds of suffering. The door jamb is where dignity was stripped. Bare.  Her clothes...still folded neatly. In my dresser drawers.  Her books.  Still neatly stacked on my bedside table. Her favorite zippy hoody. Draped over my chair.  My soul-wrenching grief...draped over her bedroom. Like a clean white table cloth fits a round table. 

The smell of dead and dying flowers...layering our kitchen. 

Flash. Back. Flash. Back. Flash. Back. End.

For how weak she was...she climbed over the bed rails to reach the stretcher.  Desperate to get out. 

As I sat here with head in hands.  Feeling the impact of great sadness drape over me, I asked God to speak to me like no other person can. Something real. Not reel.   Something that would begin to heal. 
And in a world of a million voices, His is the only one thst really matters.  He answered, in His faithfulness.

"The way you gave...IS the way I give."
and that was that.

Then i recalled this Scripture:  "No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends."
John 15:13 (Amplified version)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Pawn in the Checkmate of Grief

I wrote a post the week after our family learned of my grandma's inoperable cancer. Now, I write a post a week after her journey onward and upward. It's like the calm before and after a storm. I know I'm just heading into the storm of the journey of grief but there are still some emotions that surface. I dip in and out of shock, denial, utter sadness. The last few days, I've experienced all 3 back to back to back for the entire day. When I began this blog, I decided I'd tell the truth. Be honest and vulnerable. And maybe in return, the ones that read would be encouraged. Have a road map to some of the things they themselves walk thru or encounter or struggle with. A lot of what I share is raw and tender. I'll use this opportunity to say, please don't take offense to what I share. It's part of my journey. And you're just reading about it. It's therapeutic for me to write. And you're my lab rats.

I think a lot of people struggle with how to walk out grief. It's so complex. And merely agreeing that death is a part of life isn't the ticket that'll all of a sudden free you from all the emotions that pack a mean punch while experiencing the death of someone that's close to you. It's life changing. I sincerely hope that the truth and rawness of my posts don't get lost in the taboo of death and talking about what you actually experience. I think a lot of times, people struggle with putting to words what they are feeling. And if one could just put into words exactly how you're feeling, then MAYBE someone could really understand what you're going thru. This is impossible. Nobody else is you. Nobody will ever feel like you do. Nobody will ever FULLY understand what you're feeling. Except. There is Jesus. Sometimes He's the only one who really knows how you feel.

This is what I'm able to feel; Sometimes I stare off into nothing. When normally my eyes would dry out and I'd rub them back to health, now I just continue to stare. At nothing. At everything. My eyes stay moistened and fixed on the nothing or the everything. I feel like a walking zombie. I feel the motions of everyday living but barely. Like a robot. Walking thru a tunnel and all I can hear are my own footsteps though busyness surrounds me. I'm just another pawn in the checkmate of grief. People move about me. Talk at me. Say how sorry they are to me.

But i really don't give a damn. 'Sorry' implies I was wronged. 'Sorry' means something happened that shouldn't have. You're 'sorry' when you hurt someone's feelings. You're 'sorry' when you step on someone's toe.  Telling me how deeply sorry you are for me isnt supposed to be a great segue into your own grief you experienced 10 years ago. I dont really care. Saying you're sorry means you're owning some kind of guilt. I'd rather be left alone to stare at nothing. At anything. Not some weak apology about a death that isn't anyone's fault. Is it someone's fault?
Numb. Restless. Doubtful. Worried. Mad. Furious. Confused. Afraid. Sad. Anxious. Tired. 

Wait...she's not seriously gone.
Grama...she can't really be dead. 
The cancer. It outlived her. It fought her as she fought it.  People die everyday. Funerals everyday. Tears shed. Hearts break. Anger ensues. And life goes on. And more people die.

Unjustly. Early. Brutally. Tragically. Slowly. Painfully. On time. Out of time.  Do I have a right to my grief? Do I really wanna own something like grief?  Heck no. I don't want people's apologies. It doesnt mean a thing.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Empty Earth, Heavenly Home: one for my grams

A blog post for my gram. I'm sharing now the end of the suffering my gram went thru here on earth. She passed early this morning around 1am. She wasn't alone. My dad kept her company. And when she knew it was only him and her, she went, as my mom and I and handfuls of others raced to see her.

My shock and pain are non-writable. My tears dried up in the wells of great sadness. The weight of death crushes my bones and makes my heart weary. I cling to this promise from Jesus, "to be absent from the body means to be at home with the Lord". A little under a week ago, I wrote what I was feeling as the morning sun shone thru the slat blinds at work. The truth of it brings little comfort in this great loss. But I'll take it.

Empty Earth, Heavenly Home

The sun shines from heaven And now so do you.
Most would agree you left too soon and say, "this wasn't supposed to be your date."
I think maybe, God just couldn't wait. 
The rays fill a room and warm my face. Reminding me that earth is only a temporary space. 
I'm not happy you're gone, but I'm happy you're safe, 
In arms that extend as far east as they do west. 
They're strong enough to embrace you with a dance, or comfort you with rest. 
The earth, now, will feel a little more empty, 
But I'm glad your new home is heavenly.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Cancer--0. God--Won

Sometimes, i find myself retreating from my current situation. falling a little further back into my thoughts, tapping into what im actually feeling, thinking, sensing.  And sometimes, (if i'm honest, which i vowed these posts would never shy away from) i get angry. angry that as i play on facebook, update a tweet, snap an Instagram, laugh at a movie on tv, tie up my running shoes, my grandma lies on our couch, frail, asleep, stricken heavily with cancer.  sometimes, i feel guilty when i bite into a crunchy salad, cut into a piece of chicken, dunk a fry into ketchup. because my grandma sits shaking on the couch with the little strength she has trying to hold up a small bowl of melted ice cream.  i feel ashamed when i spend half my morning knit picking at the image staring back at me in the mirror.  when my grandma can't even lift her head high enough to look in the mirror.  when her wardrobe has become her now-baggy pajama bottoms and some t-shirt with an umbrella stitched on the front that i would normally make fun of at the store.  (i still might do that...)

And sometimes...i can't help but be angry. and the harder part of i think as humans, when we get angry, we NEED to blame someone or some thing. "I'm mad because_______."  Because i was wronged some how so i need to blame, point my finger and say, "It's YOUR fault."  As silly as this sounds, i found someone to blame today. And he is related, but i've never met him and neither have you. I've never even seen a picture of him. He's related to you, too. His name's Adam. That stupid man that listened to his wife? He blamed Eve when God asked him.  "My wife made me do it" if you're wondering where that phrase originated from, it came from the Bible.

So i started i walked my grandma down the hall.  Given all the circumstances, it looks like no one's winning this battle.  She put her hands in my hands and i walked backward down our narrow hallway.  i stared at her hands in mine.  Hers; frail, bony, near-transparent, sickly, dependent. In mine: strong, freckled, tan, healthy, dependable.  Her trust was literally all in my hands. She would've fallen face first if her trust wasn't all in.  So i thought as we walked together, "God, it would seem in the natural, You're not winning this fight.  I feel like 'cancer' is laughing at me in the face saying, "look what i've done, and look what God's done."  Then i saw a scoreboard. Like in an ice arena, raised high and lit on every side so all areas of the crowd could see.  Cancer---0  God---Won.  And it didn't make sense to me. But then again, I'll never understand everything about God.  I'm a finite human and He's infinite.  with no measure, no boundaries, no limit, no restrictions.  God has already won.  Since the day we were born, we have been Heaven-bound.  In every second, every inch of our lives, He's been all about us.  He created us, He walks with us then He welcomes us home.  It's 'won and done' with Jesus. 

I'm realizing...I have no one to blame because there's literally no one to blame.  If the devil thinks he's won, he's terribly wrong.  The victory has already been won.  Jesus IS the victory.  Jesus is MY victory.  He's YOUR victory. whether you believe it or know it or not.  you can deny the Truth, but it doesn't mean it's no longer true, or even any LESS true. 

And when I'm taunted with the accusation, "Look what cancer has done, and look what God has done," from the enemy himself, i can know with all my heart what both has done and know that only One has the victory.  Cancer was just a temporary affliction. But Jesus is our everlasting Healer.