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"this one's for you"

I want to remember the sermon today. It was kind of fitting.
Kevin used the scripture from Mark 4:35 to 5:15. He said often the stories are not chronologically back to back, they just are in that order. But in this case, the two stories happened one right after the other.
The disciples had been out on the boat in the Sea of Galilee and a terrible storm arose. Kevin said most of the people on that boat were professionals -- used to the sea, they knew what they were doing. So if they were terrified that they were going to die, it was a really really bad storm. Then Jesus calmed the sea. Which was terrifying in a totally different kind of way. Finally, in the morning, they get to land and are exhausted and grateful to be standing on solid ground. And what happens? A crazy naked guy comes running up to them screaming at Jesus.
Kevin said the verse he wanted to preach on wasn't actually in the Bible. He imagines the exhausted disciples turning to Jesus and saying, "This one's for you." We're done. And Jesus says, "I got this."
The point Kevin was making is that when we are at a place in our lives when we think, I can't take one more thing, I'm exhausted, spent, wrung out, whatever, and that "one more thing" comes up -- Jesus says, "I got this."
We can trust that Jesus is with us and has us.

Somehow the image of the disciples wrung out from a terrifying night on the sea in this open boat, and then being greeted by a "crazy naked guy" just captures what some days feel like.
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How many times do I have to say goodbye?

BU Med School had a memorial service for the families of those whose family members had donated their bodies for use by the medical students -- those that were used this year. I almost attended but then decided not to. They sent a packet of material from the service after the fact that I got today.

Tonight I was reduced to tears by this poem:

Precious skin
Paused before you
May I approach you?
Silent permission, silent gratitude
Gentle strokes of scalpels
Peel away your story
Layer by layer
Looking in wonder
Awaiting days to discover
Another part of you
Encouraged by your presence
Peaceful strength held in your bones
My gloved and grateful hand on your shoulder
Immersed for hours
Staring at a generous heart
Still, Giving
Pathways to trace by fingertip
Chamber doors to open
Sharing your tender secrets
Unfolding inspiration
~ Heather DeHaan

eagle

maybe ti's allergies

Yesterday I was congested, irritated eyes, coughing a LOT. I figured I was fighting a virus but thought I'd try my inhaler just in cast (I get asthmatic symptoms triggered by my allergies). Last night and today I hardly coughed at all. I think I'll keep using the inhaler for a bit. I can't afford to be sick for Revisit.

Life is more lively at work now that my boss is back. I have quite a stack of work on my desk. I thought about staying late to tidy up but I think not. It'll be there in the morning.

I think I'll do the weird thing and put my feet up and read for the evening.
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communion as trigger

Today we had communion at church. When I sat down, I started crying. Communion often breaks me open, and of course it is the remembrance of Jesus' death ... but today I think it was Mom. I can still see her hands when I would give her the cup.

I have a new friend at church who has taken to coming up to my pew for the recessional music and sitting with me. I told her I think of communion as communion with all the saints, even those who have gone before (like Phyllis, and Lillian, and lo the list is long), but especially my mom. Telling her made me cry again -- she handed me a tissue :) She said it was a good thing because I can remember them. So then when I asked about her, she said she had been late to church because she'd been sad, and she started crying. We made quite a pair this morning. I suppose this is one way to make friends.

I the woman in our congregation who is developing some kind of dementia is a trigger for me. She has "that look" that I remember so well from Mom. Fortunately, it doesn't make me want to avoid her, but it does trigger memories of my mom. The sad thing with this friend is that she is not that old, and yet she is visibly aging week to week. It's a little frightening.


After church most people had other plans, so I lunch with just one of the "lunch bunch" and we talked for a couple of hours. Nice to have one on one time with people. It's been a quiet day -- I thought about going visiting tonight but I was feeling kind of fragile so I opted to stay home and putter instead. I might also be getting sick. A lot of people at church have throat issues the past few weeks and I'm wondering if I have something myself. Thur/ Fri last week I felt like I had a cold, then yesterday I felt pretty good. Today I'm coughing more -- which could be a virus or could be allergies from cleaning. We'll see how I am tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm having a spot of tea!

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God was in this place

I was thinking more about that memory of the nursing home. I realized that when I was sobbing and completely out of control, that Jesus was in that moment, both with me and with my mom. I often think that when I am with someone in a hard place, it is sacred ground. It becomes sacred because I am serving as a vessel for God's presence to that person.  I had not thought of that moment with mom as sacred until last night. "Truly God was in this place and I knew it not." God was present with ME, in the same way that I have on occasion been present to someone else .One of the ways I find God is in the broken places. I have the faith that God is in that place, even tho it looks like all is broken and horrible, I know that God is present even there. Seems like an epiphany to see that Christ is present with me, just as I am present to those I love. You'd think I'd have figured that out by now. Tho maybe I did know it and just put it differently -- I have been thinking lately that I never felt abandoned by God in these past few difficult years. Someone I had a trust that I don't know how to articulate. Maybe what I couldn't quite see was that Jesus walked with me every step of the way, so I was never alone.
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ordinary time

Amazing what you can do with a day when you get up while it's still morning and don't watch TV. Or get sucked in the cybervoid. Rog and I went to Norwood's Art in Bloom at the Morse House. It's the same idea as the Museum of Fine Arts, but high school kids so the art and the Norwood Garden Club does the arrangements. Nice. Then Roger went to a color guard competition in Reading. I thought he'd be home around 8 but it must be running late.

I did housecleaning for the first time in months. I can't do it straight and after a few rounds of computer solitaire I realized I had a list of several small tasks to do so I alternated between cleaning and doing desk work. I finally cleared off all the get well, birthday, sympathy cards off the piano and, are you sitting down? I actually played a little :)  I can't really play, but still, it was kind of neat.

The real miracle du jour is that I did my morning exercises for the first time in a really long time. I couldn't do them because of the hernia and then I just was lazy. I'm a little distressed at how out of shape I am so I thought getting back into doing my morning and night exercises would probably go a long way toward getting me more flexible and strengthened. I guess doing my back exercises tonight would make for a perfect day.

I got a box of clothes I'd ordered. I was going to wait for Roger to try them on but he's late so I just did it myself. I was excited that 2 of the XL tops fit great -- but then the XL skirts are too loose, and honestly, some of the styles are so cool. And the dress is adorable if I was going for the medieval tavern wench look, but not so much. So most of the order is going back.

What a lovely day, tho. Ordinary days are not to be mocked :)
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sometimes I still weep

Or want to. Tonight was Singspiration -- a music program at church. I used to go with Mom. During one of the songs, I had a vivid remembering of the time I lost it with Mom at the nursing home. I cried the day we admitted her, of course. But this was the day she fell at church a week before I was having surgery, and I hadn't eaten lunch but rather spent 3 hours with her in the ER and then back to the nursing home. When I tried to leave her there, because I was so exhausted and had to get something to eat, she started crying and saying don't leave me here. And I just lost it. Fortunately, Roger was there, too. I ran to a place behind the nurses station where Mom couldn't see or hear me and just sobbed. I felt like I had completely broken down. The staff was with Mom so she was safe. It was such a vivid memory -- and I haven't thought of it for a long time. And then I remembered the day we admitted her and I was crying outside her room. I had no idea what to do, how to be, how to get through. But I survived, and so did she. In retrospect, I wonder if I could have shared more grief with her -- but I wanted to protect her from my pain. And she had always done denial, I figured why change now. I don't know what the "right" answer was and it really doesn't matter.

It makes me kind of want to cry all over again. For all those hard moments. As time moves on, I forget why it was so hard. I forget why I was so exhausted and stressed -- I find it hard to believe. I even forget how sick I was after that first surgery. I'm glad I have my journal because sometimes I re-read and it comes back to me. Tho it's like reading a novel; it must have happened to someone else.

There is another friend who is beginning some kind of dementia journey. I'm sure that brings it back to me, even without my realizing it. Just so awful to watch.  This friend greeting me tonight, as she always does, with great joy. Then a few minutes later, I saw her again and she had the same level of joy -- but this time instead of a hug I just waved and found my seat. As I thought about it, I thought she might well have forgotten that she'd already seen me. Too cruel.
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dreamed of mom

I dreamed about my Mom the other night. I was at someone's house with several people around. I turned and Mom was there, dressed like for church or a party, her hair well groomed, but her face was lined like she was the age when she died. She had a big smile and bright eyes like she used to when she'd greet me. The eyes and the grooming told me she had her mind intact. She was 94, but she was well.

Even in the dream I knew she was dead and I thought, if I hug her she'll vanish, but she didn't. I gave her a big hug and she hugged me back and then the dream ended. I got to have a mom-hug if only in my dreams.

I think I am beginning to remember my Mom as she was before dementia took her away, neuron by neuron.
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Christmas-tide

I find it so odd that this has been the nicest Christmas I can remember. Which might not be such a big deal since I don't have a strong memory in that regard. Still. I was relaxed. There were no meltdown moments. I suspect that was a large contributor to the fact that Roger actually enjoyed both our Christmases this year. 

I figured the first year without my mom would be hard. And then Roger's dad died, which is hard. And there are so many memories. But I wonder if it was helped by the fact that for the past few years we were pretending that Mom could still do Christmas, but obviously she couldn't. So my grief at what I've lost was balanced by the relief of not doing everything twice. I have been grieving the loss of my "real" mother for about 5 years, bit by bit. It also helped that last year Christmas pretty much didn't happen. We had gifts, Jenny blessed us with dinner, but it was very low-key.

Our celebrations were all lovely and pleasant and good humored. We played games with the kids (Parcheesi and Yahtzee). We ate. And ate some more. This past week I've been eating as if I had a tapeworm. I'm blaming a combination of hormones and too much free time.

I suspect this year has helped me see what matters to me and my family, what I can do, what I can't do, what I can let go. Perhaps this will be a trend for the future -- where we enjoy our family celebrations and no one as to die making sure everyone has a Good Time.
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let's try this again

It has been a tradition for me to visit my friend Mary in the nursing home the day before Christmas. I always bring her Christmas cookies. She is always thrilled. She had a stroke, or a few, a number of years ago and she doesn't get out of bed anymore. More importantly, she lost a lot of language skills so it's hard to talk with her. I gather I'm the only non-family member who ever visits and the family doesn't do a lot. Her husband is elderly and she said today that he is too sick to drive and so she doesn't see him any more.

Last year, of course, I couldn't go. This year I didn't make it before Christmas, but I was determined to get her the cookies. Yet, I really really did not want to go visit the nursing home. I've seen enough to last me for life. But the patients in nursing homes don't have the luxury to make those choices.

I'm feeling rather tired of doing all the Hard Things. So I prayed my way over and lo and behold, as is often the case, it wasn't so bad. At first she didn't know me, but once she did she remembered the context and we had a lovely visit.

I came home and Roger and I went to the Mint Cafe and had bento box lunches as my "reward."

And tonight I'm getting together with some friends. That will be lovely. Some things aren't hard at all!