The Unexpected

The quadruple bypass had been a total success. The family began to let their shoulders down and breath a little easier, until…that first meal! Those infamous cornflakes – tasty clusters of flakes, yet deadly to a paralyzed, empty stomach. The first spoonful hit the stomach producing nausea, stomach cramps and pain, making the stomach bloat with extreme speed. The symptoms had now become agonizing with no sign of relief. Rushed to the OR! Doctors in desperate search of what had caused this drastic turn of events, and trying to figure out how and why this was happening while he was slowly making a positive recovery from his heart surgery.

The family lingers in the room waiting for an update. The nurse comes in and says, “He’s losing a lot of blood. Are any of you able to give blood for him?” We are willing. After some tests, it turns out only two of his kids are a match. One has been using so he’s out. The youngest of them all is taken to the room where she’ll sit as the precious life giving liquid flows out of her veins.

Waiting and more waiting. Finally, a doctor approaches. “We did all we could…” Words that you hope would only be said in movies, but no, this is real. Before any emotion can be shown, the doctor whispers to the widow, “If you want to take him now without waiting, we are going to have to wheel him out as if he is still alive. Otherwise, you might not get him for days, or even months due to all the red tape.” She, “strong-as-nails”, her norm, says, “I’m taking him now!”

The family is then asked to “stuff all their feelings and emotions” and act as if nothing has happened.

The gurney in front, the family behind…as if…all is good.

The body is delivered to the family home, and is customary in that culture, they will dress and prepare him for the all night wake.

Two of his five sons and his two daughters enter “that room”. He is wrapped in sheets. They approach and start unwrapping…GASP!!! UGH!!! The sight, the smells, the liquids! “How? why? Could they have closed him up? Can someone else do this? This can’t be happening!”

One white shirt after another, stained…useless. “We” aren’t equipped for this?” “This should be done by a funeral home.” Nope, this is us and this is how we roll…yeah…swallow that!

Somehow, he is prepped and ready for the all night wake and viewing of the tons of mourners that will come and pay their respects. Rosaries, prayers, coffee, chatter. Tomorrow, he will be carried through the streets of his village, ending at the cemetery with the proper burial. Then the people will scatter, life will continue as usual…

BUT those four “kids” will live with those images of their Dad. Neither will talk to each other about it; neither will talk about it to anyone…because that just how this family rolls.

The Unforgettable Crate

It was a crisp December day. The beehive buzz around the village was thick. One of their own would be arriving today. Not with the usual fanfare, however, this arrival was one robed with the blackness of grief and sorrow. The house had been readied for the owners arrival. This time, however, the bedding was not washed and pressed because it’s owner would not be sleeping in her bed. The front room was set up with the customary stands and candles to hold the all night wake.

The unmarked van turns the corner.  Could that be? People straighten up and stand, a sign of honor and respect. The youngest daughter waiting to sign the paperwork indicating she had received the “cargo”.

The van parks to the side of the road. Back door opens. What?! A wooden crate?!?!?!

The youngest daughter paralyzed at the sight. Nausea threatened to make her loose whatever she had managed to eat. “Nobody told me…! I just can’t…!” her thoughts shattered by the pounding of a hammer…P-O-P! P-O-P! P-O-P!

AND so it went…FOREVER…and ever! Each “pop” releasing a nail. Nail after nail that held this crate together, pounded…releasing each nail, and with each pound her heart sank deeper and deeper in pain and unbelief.

She stood paralyzed by feelings of sadness and anger. A slow rage boiling inside. “This is a human body, for God’s sake! She might be lifeless, but she still deserves honor and respect!”, thoughts screaming within.

Fulfilling her mother’s last dying wish came at a great price, both emotionally and financially. But here they were. It was what it was…no turning back!

Images that stay; that haunt; that you wish you could erase. And, so life continues…but you can never see a “crate” the same again.

That Day

That long corridor…step by step. Feet as led, heavy, stuck, yet needing to move forward. That closed door…don’t open it! But, it needs to be opened…gasp! Into a cold, morbid room…knotted stomach, stuck to the spine. Was I even breathing?

Barely standing, gasping…wondering, how is this even possible? My legs felt like they would give way…a hand, loving and strong touched me – my son by my side!

There you were…no smile, no rolling of eyes, no “Hi Mom”…no movement, no sound. Your butterfly t-shirt, comfy pants and comfy socks, such normalness…yet, it didn’t seem right. The teddy bear named Gabriel was in your arms. I remember when it was given to you. I remember when you clutched to it, now it seemed, well, not right. I hear, “take as much time as you’d like.” Time…really, “as much as I would like?” Can I freeze time? Can I stop time? If I could, this is NOT the place I would choose.

“Time” ended…the choice was made. My husband, my son and I put our hands on that door, none of us wants to close. That door that will mark the “end” as we know it here on this earth. It closes, it snaps…my heart shatters, again.💔

Raw Thoughts

Today no rhyme nor reason…no poems or stories…just raw thoughts and pondering.

A heaviness. A feeling of being in a suffocating bubble. The thought that this bubble is protecting you, somehow shielding you, yet so suffocating…not having the strength to burst out of it, or really not even having the desire to come out.

The feeling that “life” is happening all around you. Like an out of body experience, I’m looking “in” thinking “everyone is so happy”…not feeling left out or wanting to engage…the desire to disappear…it would be better.

Hearing people make plans for the future, while your mind wants to turn off or just make it through this moment. Seeing people look at themselves as they work on that perfect body, while all you want is to get your heart rate up so your body can produce that proverbial natural “happy pill” (endorphins).

The feeling that you dampen everyone’s happy moments, like a wet rag flopping on everyone’s happiness. Dragging everyone down, why not disappear?

Sinking, sinking, yet knowing that you are already at the bottom of this bottomless pit.

Noises, people, laughter, life…can it all just SHUT IT!

The masquerade is sickening…I don’t want to play along…where’s the “shut-off button”, can someone, please, turn “it” off………………………….

The Oldest Girl

Married at 15, having already lived a “full life”.  No quinceañera, no prom, no pictures to capture the accomplishments of her life. The oldest in a large family. Her Momma always busy, sick and/or pregnant. The daily chores overwhelming for anyone, let alone a little girl. In this culture large families were the norm. The eldest would soon be helping out around the house, especially if she was a girl. She did it all, and was a Mom to her siblings, more so than their own Mother. As if the household chores weren’t enough, she would be demanded to help out tending to the land along with her Father and brothers. How did she do it all? She would say with pride, “I was like one of the boys to our Dad.” She took pride in being able to do what the boys could do, at times faster and better. So why did Dad beat her so mercilessly?

Grown up and married now, with children of her own and her own household to tend to. You’d think this would have earned her freedom from all the responsibilities of her “childhood home”. No, not in this culture. The hats just kept piling on.

There was a “hardness” about her, yet the caring soul within her managed to come through time and again. Every now and then a tear dared to escape from her eyes, almost shattering that impregnable armor. With one hard swoop she would yank it from her face in defiance and resolve not to let this happen again. Who told her she shouldn’t cry?

I wonder if all her collections were part of her “living” in a world she had never known; she had never had? There was that miniature tea set in the midst of other miniature figures. There was her collection of Monchhichis (Japanese stuffed toys) – always sitting pretty on her especially made shelves.

Everything sat pretty, clean, protected. The stuffed toys encased in plastic bags to preserve their beauty. Lots and lots of porcelain figurines, especially dolls. She would clean them with care.

What was going through her mind?

What was brewing inside of her?

Forty plus one, was the number of her years. Such a short life! She finally broke beyond repair. Unanswered questions remain…how I miss this beautiful soul!

Choices…Decisions

This picture has always captivated me. I remember looking at this plant and thinking, I need to get rid of this “dead” plant. Then I saw this beautiful flower, almost as if defying the dead, brittle branches around it. Standing straight, showcasing its beauty.

Choices…decisions…

This “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” is incomprehensible. No way can I even try to explain “it” nor do I want to. However, I do need to keep on “walking”, “moving”, “living”. I have choices and decision to make.

Several quotes have captured my attention: “Suffering is a gift. May we suffer well.” * “No matter how dark it gets, love and hope are always possible.” * “Suffering is a gift; in it hidden mercy.” * “Life will continue, will you let it come in?”

My daughter’s race is finished, but mine is not. Will I “live” in a manner that “showcases” my hope and trust in a Living God? Will I stand straight and firm upon the promises of a God that does all things well? Will I “showcase” the beauty of the cross, the hope of the resurrection, the trust in the God who is, who was and who is to come? By the amazing, keeping grace of God – I believe so! I am willing! AND because He lives, I can face tomorrow, and I can rejoice in the LORD today!