Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Thank You...

"Little drops of rain..."  Not in the Pacific Northwest they're not!  Spring is definitely here...  Which means its raining!  Its also very fickle weather...  Sun...  Rain...  Sun...  Rain...  The night...

I went back to bereavement group tonight...  It was hard, but it was definitely what I needed...  To be in the company of others who are dealing with loss of loved ones...  So-- not easy...  I am thankful though for my particular set of circumstances...  Some suffered loss without notice...

Dear Lord, thank you for our long goodbye...

I don't know why this is such a see-saw process?  I don't know why there seems to be elements of hard stuff surrounding most of life's experiences lately...  My heart was aching toward the others and their stories...  Most of them definitely did not seem to get as fair a deal as my own...  And then I began to wonder, "Am I entitled?"  I never heard my parents talk about their grief, their own losses...  And certainly NOT their parents (my grandparents) of theirs...  Are we now so enlightened that we get to grieve and mingle our grief with others so positioned, rather than go back out and plow in the fields?  Get on with life...  I read about a man whose wife died in childbirth and he went into town 2 months later and married a woman so he could have a mother for his 5 children...  That takes some rock solid reality acceptance right there!

Certainly, I must be some kind of weak man...

Yet, I do feel blessed and thankful...

I need to think about all this... I am very sure of that...  I want to press forward, carry on, keep the memories healthily in my mind, yet, realize that The Lord has some intended need for Val on the other side of the veil and for me to remain behind here and be purposeful...  What an odd feeling...  "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted..."  When though?

We closed our meeting tonight with this poem...


There’s an elephant in the room.
It is large and squatting,
so it is hard to get around it.

Yet we squeeze by with,
“How are you?” and, “I’m fine,”
and a thousand other forms of trivial chatter.

We talk about the weather;
we talk about work;
we talk about everything else—
except the elephant in the room.

There’s an elephant in the room.
We all know it is there.
We are thinking about the elephant
as we talk together.

It is constantly on our minds.
For, you see, it is a very big elephant.
It has hurt us all, but we do not talk about
the elephant in the room.

Oh, please, say her name.
Oh, please, say “Barbara” again.
Oh, please, let’s talk about
the elephant in the room.

For if we talk about her death,
perhaps we can talk about her life.
Can I say, “Barbara” to you
and not have you look away?

For if I cannot,
then you are leaving me alone
in a room—with an elephant.

written by--- Terry Kettering

Monday, April 21, 2014

Can't Stop My Heart...

I am sitting in my home...  all alone, its quiet...  My dog Midgey and I seem to be lost "together"...  I look at her and wonder "why?" and she looks at me and seems to wonder "how?" 

Easter Sunday was yesterday...  A year ago, Easter was the last day Val left our home...  She came to the Lamb of God, Easter oratorio presentation, which through music; orchestra and choir with beautiful solos, scripturally recounts the last week of the Savior's life...  She wasn't supposed to have been there, but she came because I was in the choir...  In pain, she came...  When I heard she was there, I didn't believe it...  As we took our places on the stand, and as I scanned the audience, I saw the row with my entire family on it, and there she was...  About 2/3's way through the presentation, she left and one by one the row emptied and my family was gone...  Gone...  Today, as then, everything just feels so gone...

In the movie "The Titanic" we hear the theme song, "My Heart Will Go On"...  I have thought a lot about "hearts" and how they really do "feel" love and embrace all the things that matter most in life; mostly the people that matter most...

Having just spent 10 days in Utah with my kids and their kids, may I share with you what I learned?  First, losing people you love; to death, to separation (by distance) - when those you care most about are absent from you, there is a real and significant pain...  You yearn and you wish...  At church the week before Easter, while in Salt Lake City, various members of my family and I attended a downtown service, mostly made up of older folks who were in their "senior" years...  It was a beautiful and memorable service for me...  Elder Dallin Oaks, an apostle of The Lord presided and he called upon Elder Per Malm, a general authority of the church to bear his testimony.  In doing so he said, that, "when we yearn for those we love who are gone it is the inner spirit of us that is being pulled toward Jesus Christ."  So, its not painful to miss someone when you think of it in those terms.  Second, time...  We really have no true concept of time, only that while we reside in mortality, we use time as a way to measure the eventual swiftness of all things...  I was cleaning up some emails from 3 years ago and they appeared fresh to my mind's eye...  Only moments ago had I read and written those special emails wherein Val's condition was mentioned...  I thought, how can that be?  More than 3 years has elapsed, yet it seems like only moments ago...  Third and finally, God's plan includes me...  And it includes you...  Its a very good plan...  And I know it is in His wisdom that we don't understand all things when we want to...  Growth would not come to us, if we didn't have to exert faith and belief...

Many things in my life are blessed and I feel so lucky and charmed...  I have big big shoulders and can bear the trial before me of Val being gone...  Sure missing her hurts...  And we didn't have a life without pain, sorrow, aches and troubles...  But as in all things that can be lifted from us, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, I mean exactly "that" -- ALL THINGS...  can... be... lifted...  Life can still be beautiful and present gifts and wonderful things...  My contemplation of Easter yesterday was pulled toward when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples...  He was teaching them by example that they should serve...  And after He left the committed to His work, thats exactly what they did...  serve...  I have this inner feeling that my happiness going forward until the end of my days will be about serving...  I feel it deeply in my heart...  My heart...  The place where all this is real, the place I would never wish to stop all the important things I am learning...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday...

Easter will alwatys be a poignant season for me.  It was Easter one year ago that Val, after attending the "Lamb of God" performance, her health then began to wane quickly.  I am so thankful for a redeemer, even Jesus the Christ.  Who through Him, we can return to our Father in Heaven and live eternally with our loved ones.  I've been reading "The Last Week of The Savior's Life" by Andrew Skinner.  Its been a sobering read as this Easter holiday is upon me.  I know that my redeemer lives...

Hearts Break, Hearts Ache...

In life there are years when you wander around not noticing that there is a required balance in all things.  Beginnings and endings, mostly...  That is until you are shocked by the reality of your dog being run over or that your guniea pig ran away...  Now, there are those baseball games you lost, and that girl who stomped on your foot in the recess line, but nothing very harsh...  For the first 17+ years, I would have to say that if I did my homework and paid attention in class, life was pretty easy...  Great parents, wonderful brothers and sisters, life was good..  Even falling in love seemed like a good move, not too much drama really...  However about 1/2 through my senior year in HS, its as if someone, somewhere put everything into really fast mode...
And what seemed to come at me the fastest was how hard life was getting to be...  So in the last 42-43 years, I have learned about life's ups and downs...  That the cherished moments don't linger much, and the painful ones seem to set up house and stay awhile...

April 8th, just 10 days ago, I picked up Val's brother and we took a road trip to Utah for my youngest daughter's wedding.  The last 10 days has been filled with womderful family time and now, as things wrap up, my skin is starting to feel prickly and tingly, that feeling I get when I am upset or feel nervous...  We are all starting to go our separate ways...  Marion off on her honeymoon, then moving to Dallas (she texed me she arrived late last night) where her own reality of being a wife, looking for a new job and settling in will occur...  We've been renting in a house together in sunny St Geo, Utah, enjoying a pool, the warm sun and last night Duff and his family took off.  Today, Anna leaves.  Tomorrow Kjrsten and her family will go back to England, Andrew back to Provo (in 2+ months a new baby girl is coming to them) and Keith flies back to WA.  I am picking up Val's brother and we will drive back to WA, making a few stops along the way.  Sadness was in the air last night and all good, wonderful, family love and togetherness must go back to reality of 7 separate family lives now...

Its Good Friday...  Easter is in 48 hours...

I've been reading a book called the "The Savior's Final Week"...  it has framed for me at this tender, delicate time, just how it is that the atonement, the crucifixtion, the resurrection play the most critical and important roles in all of mankind's life...  And, beautifully, it has given me depth and eternal perspective on the many life changes I have met, am going through and yet need to address...  Though these tender family times come to an end, though its true my heart is being wrenched, and even though the pain has nothing to do with sin, but rather with love, ALL THESE HURTS AND PAINS were felt by our Lord as he bore the sins, the burdens, the very wounds that we all face and deal with in life...  He knows how I feel...

We've had laughter and smiles, we've had tears of joy and sorrow...  the life we share is one of beauty and a rare love between 29 people!  I am so grateful for this...  I cannot conceive of an alternative, nor can I ever understand something that doesn't have to balance out...  The laws of the universe require it...

Today as I walk through my garden of dreams
I'm alone in the sweet used-to-be
My past and my present are one and the same
And the future holds nothing for me
Yesterday's kisses still burning
And yesterday's mem'ries still find me
Scenes from the past keep returning
I've got a wonderful future behind me

You say there is happiness waiting for me
But I know this is just fantasy
Let me trade one tomorrows for one yesterday
Live in my garden of dreams
Yesterday's kisses still burning
And yesterday's mem'ries still find me
Scenes from the past keep returning
I've got a wonderful future behind me

Monday, April 14, 2014

Never Alone...

As I spend time with my family, post Marion's wedding, I marvel at my beautiful, wonderful blessings!  All of them!  But I also wonder about my being in their way.  I also reconnect my own thoughts of care or even did I care enough about my own father after my mom passed away?  Was there more I could have done?  Was there more time I could have given?  Did he feel relevant to me?  Did I honor and respect him?  I sure hope so!

I have the right numbers; 6 children, all married to wonderful people, beautiful grandchildren, we are all together, the love, the cherished moments, the blessings that are so abundant...  Its true, I am NEVER alone...

Val lives on...  And she lives on in 26 people right now...  I see her in them and I feel her around quite a lot...  I can't change the rules of how all this works... 

“Love is the very essence of life. It is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Yet it is not found only at the end of the rainbow. Love is at the beginning also, and from it springs the beauty that arched across the sky on a stormy day. Love is the security for which children weep, the yearning of youth, the adhesive that binds marriage, and the lubricant that prevents devastating friction in the home; it is the peace of old age, the sunlight of hope shining through death. How rich are those who enjoy it in their associations with family, friends, and neighbors! Love, like faith, is a gift of God. It is also the most enduring and most powerful virtue.”
― Gordon B. Hinckley, Standing for Something: Ten Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes    

May the angels protect you
Trouble neglect you
And heaven accept you when its time to go home
May you always have plenty
The glass never empty
Know in your belly
You're never alone

May your tears come from laughing
You find friends worth having
With every year passing
They mean more than gold
May you win but stay humble
Smile more than grumble
And know when you stumble
You're never alone

Chorus: Never alone
Never alone
I'll be in every beat of your heart
When you face the unknown
Wherever you fly
This isn't goodbye
My love will follow you stay with you
Find More lyrics at www.sweetslyrics.com
Baby you're never alone

I have to be honest
As much as I wanted
I'm not gonna promise that the cold winds won't blow
So when hard times have found you
And your fears surround you
Wrap my love around you
You're never alone


May the angels protect you
Trouble neglect you
And heaven accept you when its time to go home
And when hard times have found you
And your fears surround you
Wrap my love around you
You're never alone


My love will follow you stay with you
Baby you're never alone

Sunday, April 13, 2014

No Song Today...

"Its gets easier..."
"You never forget..."
"The pain never goes away, but it does lessen..."
"When I divorced I was told it would take 1 month for every year I was married to heal...  In my group therapy they said there is no formula for losing a spouse to death..."
"Your life will be the sum of firsts; first birthdays without her, first anniversary, first Christmas, first baby being born, firsts...  your life now will be a life of firsts..."

I could go on and on...  I have many kind and loving family and friends who have prayed for me, held me, loved me, written to me, called me, visited me, walked with me, hugged me, told others about me...  I have not been alone...

Marion got married yesterday...  I said goodbye to my last single child...  I did it alone...  Alone...  Whenever I say that word (alone) it by itself makes me feel so alone...  lost... empty...  no rudder...  I am alone...  I heard a Elder Per Malm, a general authority in the LDS church bear his testimony today and he posed this question, "Why do our hearts miss those we love?  As life brings us what it does, why are we sometimes without answers?  What is it that we long for?"  Then he answered his own question, "We are seeking in our hearts that infinite love given to us by Jesus Christ.  He is calling to us..."  In essence, we all must face this knawing dilemna in life...

As each of my children were born, I found that my heart expanded, they were not just added to our family, but they were joyously welcomed in!  To hold them, smell them, hear them coo and cry out was as if someone gave me extra super human strength that I did not know I had!  I wondered how it could be that a heart that was full could fill more?  And in the short life we had together (18 years may seem like a long time) before they headed off to college, missions, getting married and having families of their own, the knawing began.  "Where is everybody going?"  I seemed to hear my heart say aloud?  But...  there was Val, and she was enough for me!  Quite!

When she got sick, we had only Marion left at home...  3 were married, grandchildren adorned our world, Keith was away working, going to school, Andrew was on his mission...  Marion was 2 weeks away from graduating from high school and had been accepted into BYUI...  May 28, 2004 is when the unwinding began and a year ago yesterday, the final piece of my "twine" came off the spool...  The worst "first" of any kind I can imagine...  I wonder, how is this possible?  Of all the billions and billions of people who have come to this mortal life and died, why is it "I" am the only one who feels such pain?

Well, the truth is, I'm not...  I am wallowing right now with a quiver full of change(s) upon me and I am feeling the poignancy of each of them...  As I watched the limo pull away last night, I was so happy for Marion and Nick...  But, I was so sad for me...  I looked around in the darkness and secretly had hoped that Val would have appeared and told me that it would all be ok...  I was so empty and alone to my thoughts...

Last night the Father of the Bride/Bridge dance was set to "Maybe I'm Amazed" one of Val and my favorite songs of all time...  (Truly there are far too many to name, but this is one of the top ones)  As Marion and I danced, we talked...  She was reassuring and confident...  She was happy, so so happy...  I shall always remember her at this moment...  I am so blessed...

So, a first became a last...  A first wedding of a child without Val, and the last one for us...  It was a tender day, but a good day...  Another eternal family link, a royal line, began...  It was all Val had ever hope for with each of our children...  Many commented that they could feel Val's presence...  I know...  but an appearance would have been nice... :o)  My dad always said in times of crisis and pain, "We will get through this..."  He was right then, he is right now...  I am blessed to enjoy my family for another 6 days...  I'm a lucky guy...

Please don't confuse my sorrow and ache without Val at tender moments, that my life is without happiness and that I am filled with gloom...  I am not...  Just a sentimental guy, just a romantic...  Its not "maybe" its "I AM AMAZED!"

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Marion is getting married today.  In fact, in just about 4 1/2 hours.  I thought I was prepared for the emotions that I prenotioned would be richoceting around in my head, my heart and my soul.  I found last night at the wedding rehearsal dinner I have never been so unprepared for something in my whole life.  I am hoping that that as my thoughts gel and my heart gets less inflamed from the unexpected feelings I am swimming in that I will find my grounding and have peace wash over me.  Why does eternity feel so dawgone far away?  You know, I just can't remember...

Val, its been 1 year today that you went away...  I miss you so...  I know you can see us and you know how happy Marion is...  thank you for being so close at this most tender time...