“Ashes to ashes and dust to dust” seems like such a dark way to portray death. Anyone who has ever lost a beloved knows that death is both cruelly final and endlessly enduring. The love, influence, and lessons the deceased impart doesn’t stop with their heartbeat.
Sprouting from the death of winter into the hope of spring is the fragile bloom of memories that remain in our hearts. It’s a beautiful gift that dulls the thorny sting of loss.
Recently, I attended the rosary of a friend who lost her mother. Comforting the sorrowful and burying the dead are important works of mercy. When my stepfather passed away, I remember well the people who attended the funeral or who stopped by with a meal. It was such a comfort to have our loss acknowledged. It reminds us that even though we lost a loved one, we had not lost love. It envelops us in our cocoon of grief promising life’s joy will reemerge like a butterfly. That’s a beautiful thing to be reminded of when you are grieving. Read more →
In grade school, at the beginning of the school year, students are often asked to write about their summer vacation. However, as the sun begins to set on the season, I am contemplating how to live like its summer all year long.
After all, some of the most important lessons in life are learned in the summer, away from the routine and rigor that may be necessary, but is nothing like a day at the beach.
Here are my top five ways to live like its summer – no writing required:
Be a tourist: You don’t have to wear a camera around your neck to capture the best of life. You just need the perspective of a curious tourist excited to learn, explore, discover, and indulge. Be open to new experiences, people, points of view, and cultures. There’s a whole world out there, so be willing to get outside of yours and pursue new opportunities, meet new people, and share new adventures. Read more →
A classmate of my 4-year old nephew kept crying at preschool, so my nephew put his arm around him and asked what was wrong. Through tears, the boy told him he missed his mom. My nephew responded, “We all miss our moms, but we have to be here anyway.” With that, the little boy wiped his face, walked up to the teacher and gave her his tissue.
(I know it would have been a cleaner story if the boy just put the tissue in the trash instead of getting the teacher all germy. But I just write the truth however unsanitary it may be. )
The teacher had already tried to comfort the boy, but it was my nephew’s ability to identify with what the child was feeling that finally helped him move on. I think how much this relates to all of us regardless of our age or how we dispose of snotty tissues.
It’s a comfort to know we are not alone. So often, in our sadness, loneliness, and lowliness, we feel like the only ones. Instead of reaching out, we go further inward. Our suffering becomes isolating and that makes us feel worse.
I have never been a horse person. In grade school, some of the other girls had pictures of the shiny brown mammoths on the cover of their Trapper Keepers, the eighties in-vogue binders with the velcro flap. The horses had perfectly straight hair and were frolicking in a pastoral scene of rolling green hills. I suppose it was designed to inspire students to organize their notes, which much like the attraction to horses, was a concept lost on me.
But all that changed with Ruby, a horse I came to know through a friend.
She and her family move every couple of years because of her husband’s career. She handles the challenges with such remarkable grace that it would be easy to assume that it’s as simple as getting back up on that proverbial horse after an unanticipated fall.
Writers are told to write what you know. I started writing about mercy for the exact opposite reason. I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t understand it. It was a word with a heavy veneer covering the solid wood underneath. While I almost never heard the word outside of a church, I could see the need for giving and receiving it everywhere. It’s as ancient as the air we breathe and as transparent. It’s easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it and life is suffocating without it.
A friend of mine confessed on a recent girls’ night that her Christmas tree was still up. It was past mid-March. New Year’s resolutions had already been forgotten, Cupid already shot his arrow, leprechauns already spent their pots of gold, and cumulus clouds were already forming April showers in the skies, so I didn’t really know what to say.
She seemed relatively nonchalant about it, and I told her I didn’t know whether she had become fully liberated or if she had simply gone over the edge. There seems to be a fine line between those things. Read more →
During this Lenten season, I lost a dear friend unexpectedly. It was a Tuesday, and I planned to go to the grocery store. Instead, I was in the ER and then the ICU, waiting, hoping, and praying while trying to comfort her two daughters who are the same ages as my boys. I had so many joyful memories with these girls: picking blueberries on a hot summer day, watching them bob in the pool, laughing, and splashing with abandon, and chatting leisurely in their kitchen on carefree topics that meandered like the veining in the marble on their island. We went trick-or-treating with them, hunted Easter eggs, and watched fireworks on the Fourth of July. Read more →
Guess who has a birthday coming up?! No! Not Beyonce! Well, okay she does, but I am not talking about her or any other celebrity born in September — Pippa Middleton, Gwyneth Paltrow, Keanu Reeves or Harry Connick Jr.
Mercy me! I am talking about my own birthday!
As it turns out, I am not going to be 40 forever. Who knew? Read more →