Church, Appointment and Practice

Hi Sweetheart,

I’ve been thinking a lot about church, lately. Church in the appointment type of church and church in the practice sense.

Your Dad and I haven’t been to church, the appointment kind, much in a while. Really since you got sick. At the time, it was safer for you not to go. For you, it was a place of a bunch of people with germs, in the moment. For me, it was a bunch of people that might give me germs that would lay in wait until I was with you, only to infect you.

And then you died…

And church, the appointment kind, didn’t seem to fill the need we had, to connect with God without just being mad. That’s really your Dad’s thing. He thinks about your death and gets mad. At cancer, at God, at the church, as an institution, that didn’t really minister to us. Our fault? Maybe. Me, it just seems like a duty that I don’t care to pick up and pack around.

Instead, we find God in the practice of church. Nature, snow, spring lightening shows, our dogs, your dogs, a hug from a loved one.

But sometimes, church, the appointment kind, does minister to me in a profound way.

First_Communion

A few weeks ago, your Sister/Cousin’s 2nd received her 1st Communion. She’s a rule follower, a leader, a judge and social worker, all rolled into one. And she was super excited for this milestone. She’d done the work of learning the what and the why and the how, and was excited to receive Christ in this way. So I put her appointment on my calendar and showed up to project my love into her day.

I walked into the church and saw my Bestie, your Auntie, in the back, following #5 around as she explored and demanded and asked “this?” over and over. When Mass started, we sat with the family. #5 crawled all over Aunt C, and proved that she has no whisper yet available, in her repertoire of words and actions and inflections. #4 saw me, and for some reason decided I was the one for the day. Which is crazy, because as the surly one, she usually pretty much ignores her God Mother. But she saw me and came to me and sat on my lap all through Mass. She and #5 played with my jewelry, trading necklace and bracelets. And then E played with my Apple watch, scrolling through the pictures, and scribbling in Evernote. All of this, pretty much wanting me to not help her!! Haha! So I gave her directions, which she’d follow when she thought I knew what I was doing, and ignore when she knew I didn’t, and in general, was a quiet little dictator on my lap. It’s been a very long time since I’ve had the skin rubbed off of me in this wonderful way. Through all the little girl space in my lap and next to me, I missed most of Mass, though the rhythm and cadence of the ritual was familiar, even as the “new” words, that were introduced when you were sick, are still annoying to me. But still, as always, I cried through Communion. I always cry through Communion. And as annoying as I find that, I just let myself cry. You’d think I’d remember to bring Kleenex to church.

peace-officers

Later that week, I had another appointment church. A memorial. The opposite end of the life spectrum, I guess. A friend’s husband, gone after a yearlong bout with thyroid cancer. This just 2 years after he came into her life and brought light to her eyes. She’d lost the light when her son died, just 3 weeks after you. You’d wanted to meet T so badly when you were so sick that last hospital stay. You were too sick, he was too sick and it just didn’t happen. And yet I know you greeted him when he joined you in the arms of the Angels.

Anyway, that church appointment was beautiful in it’s own way. A different sort of service, in a church of a different denomination, but church by appointment, still. Beautiful words, said in hopes of softening the hurt, bolstering the spirit, a video of a life that had joys and hardships aplenty, and shortened too soon. Lunch in company of another Mom of an Angel, and a Mom of a Warrior, there to support our friend, as she moved through the day in a trance of hugs and memories and words of sympathy. An appointment to grieve, though the grieving started with the diagnosis and will continue from now until forever.

Church by appointment, serving a purpose.

hummer Salida

And I keep thinking about Church as a practice. The sacred time of driving through the mountains with your little brother, as we talk and laugh and breathe each other in. The tending to your Uncle B and Aunt J’s old dog, while we stay in their house for the night to break up the drive. She is feeble and deaf and blind and grateful for company. And your brother got to breathe in the nectar that is Salida. The snow on the mountain, the first hummingbirds at the feeder. The sun, the air, the magic of this place of the heart.

hats-off-graduation-clipart-1

And this weekend we will come together as a large extended family to celebrate a twin graduation. Church in celebration, church in family, church in embracing these young men with love and laughter and advice and prayers of grace. There will be hugs and delight and food aplenty. We are hoping for sun, but will celebrate in the rain, or the snow, if that’s where we find ourselves. Because these rites of passage, these rituals of ceremony and celebration connect us to each other in the most profound way. A church experience, a church practice, for sure.

And then your Sister-in-Law and her hubby arrive! I’m pretty sure she’s coming to see the dogs and is happy to get to see me, too. And we plan to camp. And they will hike, and I will read and we all will nap and talk and dream a little. And the church that is my beloved mountains will feed our souls, soothe our hearts and nourish our minds.

Church in practice, extended over days. Ahhhh.

I’m thankful for church, appointment and practice. I’m thankful for your Sister/Cousin and her brood and that she includes me in their lives. I’m thankful for twin nephews, graduating and looking forward. I’m thankful for car time with your brother.

I’m thankful for today!!

Just Hi

Hi Honey,

Snow in Michigan is cold!! Brrr!!! Arrived this week with no luggage, which, even with all my years of travel, almost never happens. It was a bit like my luggage was on a home alone adventure! I’d planned for it, tagged it and passed it off to the right person, it just didn’t follow me! Luckily for me, for some reason I had 2 sweaters on! I knew it was going to be cold this week, so planned several layers, but usually, I don’t like to carry on a bunch of stuff so in the winter, I wear a light sweater and in the summer, I always have a pashmina, in case the air on the plane is cold, but bare bones! Thankfully, double sweaters!! Guess my luggage told my sweaters I would need them, since my luggage didn’t arrive until after midnight. No jaunts to see Lake Michigan!

Good week, lots of people I’d worked with in the past, so it was a comfortable training week. The hardest part about this week was not getting to bed at a decent hour! As in, I have to get up before 5, and lights out at 1:30! I’m like the worst rebel child when it comes to going to bed! I can just hear my inner 3 yr old saying, “but I’m not tired!” Guess I better fix that tonight!

Been spending a lot of time thinking about my trip to Tanzania 3 yrs ago. Man, Girl, next to walking with you through your cancer journey and you gaining angel wings, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. In some ways it feels harder. And I did it so poorly. That’s probably why it still feels hard! I’ve never undertaken something, before, and simply not had the heart to see it through. Had I knot been a world away, I would have packed up my toys and gone home early! It would have been easier to take my heart out of my body and stamp it underfoot. At least that, going in, is consciously impossible. I’ve realized the shame I’ve been carrying around about that trip. My uselessness, my weakness, my neediness. The only thing I did useful on that trip was donate a lot of money and make paper cranes. And learn things about myself I didn’t want to know, and watch others do the hard, anyway!

But, in these last few weeks, I’ve been able to identify the shame, acknowledge it as my past truth, and ask it to take a bow out of my heart and mind and life. I’m not sure it ever served much purpose, except to highlight my arrogance, which was useful for me to recognize, but it certainly is not serving me any longer.

So today, I’m thankful for a broken heart, I’m thankful to recognize that I do have a threshold, over which I am not only reluctant to cross, but perhaps incapable. And that is just the way it is.

I’m thankful others are capable of crossing that threshold into the world of giving and helping and hard, hard work. I’m thankful for guilt and I’m thankful that guilt has served its purpose and is no longer required.

I’m thankful for sweaters and luggage delivery and comfortable work. I’m thankful for snow and crispy air and super thankful that I did not need to be outside in the frigid today!

I love you, I’m headed home…

I’m thankful for today!!

Hummingbird visit

Hi Honey,

Been missing you. I’m in Las Vegas this week. It’s surprisingly colder than I thought it would be. This is the desert, after all, but it maybe got to 45 today! Sunny, though, so beautiful. The mountains around the city got new snow the night before last and were so beautiful yesterday morning. This morning, too, but it was fresh, yesterday morning!!

I keep thinking about when you and I came here together, just the 2 of us. We stayed at Planet Hollywood and played the blackjack and poker machines in that one area! Using the card you bought so we’d know what to hold on and what to trade in. (I don’t think that’s the term… Haha!!) That’s my most precious memory of that trip! Using that dumb card to know what to do! Still lost money, but not much, so that’s OK. We walked miles and miles up and down the strip. Ate. I think we saw a show, but I don’t remember which one. It was way more fun to do Vegas with you than it was with your Dad a few years later. He doesn’t much participate in any of this, so while he was happy to follow along where I wanted to go, that’s not usually the point.

I’ve been catching myself being crabby again, so remembered that I needed to connect with you to let you know about the good things in life. The things I’m thankful for.

Yesterday, I had a pretty good break, so left to get some lunch and then came back to work, but sat in the car to read in some quiet for a little bit. It was nice enough to have a window open, so I enjoyed the fresh air. As I was reading a collection of Maeve Binchy’s short stories, I got buzzed by a hummingbird!! Hi Mama! I always, always think of your Marno when I see a hummer! She didn’t hang around long, and thankfully didn’t come in the window, but it was lovely to get a Marno drive by!hummingbird

I’m also thankful for sweet thoughts of you and your friends, today. On Monday, your girls represented you to Sigma Kappa in advance of their campus wide Bone Marrow Donor Drive at Colorado School of Mines. I heard they did great and were really able to make you real to the younger sisters presently active in the sorority. 90 girls!! I can’t wait to hear how well they do with their donor recruiting.

This week I’m thankful for happy Grand Opening energy, for too much circus at that self same GO! I’m thankful for time to do some stretching, some yoga, some reading. I’m thankful for a fellow Trainer to have dinner with. I’m thankful for beautiful snow on the mountains in the distance, and a fly-by from my Mama that buzzed my hair. I’m thankful to have lots of people this week that I know and like to work with. That’s always so nice. I’m thankful to get to talk to your brother each day as he’s getting his apartment all put together, including seeking advice from your Auntie. Fun to watch him make a home.

I love you, Sweetheart. I thought about you last week, too, as your sweet hubby called. He’s interviewing to pursue the ministry. I can hardly believe it. Feels strange and yet not otherworldly, for him. I think his sweet bride is really stretched, as she is supporting his searching and seeking and bouncing from idea to idea. Though, she is an idea bouncer, too, so I guess that works for them! I get to hug his little sister, soon, as she and her hubs are heading to Colorado for a vacation in May!! Can’t wait and feel so honored that she has sought out to connect with us on their limited time off. I love that girl!

Took a pause in my chatting with you to finish the work week and get home. The dogs were so happy to have me come home, late though it was. Your Mia girl is my sweet heart and so happy. Sophie rolled in me for a long time. I love how she just ducks her head and rolls into me. She’s going to get her touch in, even if I’m not participating. Mocha, the moose, is happy with her whole body and slamming into me is her way of making a happy greeting. Lacey Jane is beside herself with love as she waits her turn to touch. She looks like a little porcupine as she approaches in submission and love. She drops her head and pulls her back end into and almost under her body. And with her full winter coat, she looks just like a little black porcupine. Which always reminds me of the porcupine you and your Dad ate dinner with when you 2 were camping all those years ago. <3!!

So today, I’m thankful for a good work week. I’m thankful for meaningful work, where I can make a difference. I’m thankful for competent people to work with, and a process that gets everything done. I’m thankful for hummingbirds and porcupines and puppies. I’m thankful for deserts and mountains and fresh air. I’m thankful for the Bone Marrow Donor Registry and Mines’ stem cells and Sigma Kappa sorority sisters and lifelong friends of my girl. I’m thankful for you and the impact you continue to have on the world.

I’m thankful for today!!

Sparkly snow

Hi Girl!

You can’t see the rainbows in the frost in this picture but it was there. Sparkly snow! My favorite! Your sweet Mia wanted out front, first thing, like always. She loves the front yard, she always has! Ever since we trained her for you, she loved the front yard. The back, in that house, had a giant stair to the grass, so we always let her out the front. It’s like she’s come home, every time. I think it’s really just because she likes to poop in the front! Haha!

Today was sit through meetings day. ALL DAY! But so much discussed and sorted and meetings are where the decisions are made.

I also finished a note your Honey asked for. He wanted opinions. I gave them to him. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know… He and his bride are making a life but boy, it’s a struggle! They remind me of baby birds struggling to free themselves from the egg shell they’re surrounded in. Whacking away, not realizing that perhaps all they need to do is stretch their wings a little and go back to the basics. But that boy of yours! He’s certainly wired for struggle! 

Your brother is finally back in his own apt after being gone for a month, starting the day after he moved! You know him, he needs everything in place but it’s not there, yet, and he’s beginning to get crazy! Today, he struggled with injustice. The designer he is working with lit out after his assistant. He feels the wrong in that so acutely. He is so conscientious and kind that those kinds of things really hurt his heart, his sense of justice.

Today I’m thankful for frost and sparkles and Mia and her front yard penchant. I’m thankful for your brother’s heart and ways. I’m thankful your hubs has a wife who is willing to see his heart through the charm, because we both know his charm is just the icing. I’m thankful for people who work hard to keep our business moving forward. I’m thankful for you, my Angel Baby!

I’m thankful for today!!

Thankful for snow

Hi GirliePie,

We had beautiful snow today. The sparkly cuz it’s cold, crunchy cuz it’s REALLY cold, 6″ of fluffy kind of snow. The kind that piles on the evergreen bushes and stays there all day. The kind that the dogs burrow their nose into and come up coated and delirious. The kind that looks like snow cones on the banister. It was heavenly. And of course, I got out in it, because I just do. Weather has never stopped me from anything except getting to New York last spring to see your brothers first Broadway credit. But I went later, so it worked out! And the blizzard then didn’t stop me from getting to the airport, it just stopped the airlines from taking off!! Haha!

As this new year has gotten off the ground, I’m hoping for, looking for, planning on being thankful. This week I’ve seen your Auntie’s new house. Yea, the one that is years of projects in the making, and she and my brother are in their happy place; planning, and working and envisioning. We had our annual New Years Eve party in their Irish Pub basement. The last one. Never go down there without thinking of your 100 Days party. Your defiance in the face of difficulty, your determination to celebrate that which deserves to be celebrated.

I’ve also started a new gig with your Dad. I’m his personal assistant! Haha! Partly because we don’t really know what that’s going to look like, long term, partly because I know him so well, partly because I’m not afraid to hold him accountable for what he’s asked for. It’s been fun, digging in, becoming reacquainted with a business that I’ve been pretty disconnected from for coming up on 6 years, since you got sick. I’m feeling useful and I think I can make a difference in how he spends his time, helping him to work smarter, without having to work harder. We’ll see…

Your brother is working in California. Working sick, as he always gets sick when he comes home. Presumably the letting down of his guard that happens being home. But he’s a big boy and is taking care of himself, all while pouting when I don’t answer because he “needs his nurse Mama!” That boy!

Mia was so cute today. She is usually the passive one of the dogs, not the alpha at all, though she is the oldest and certainly the most vocal when trying to get her peeps to do what she wants, like get her another treat. Anyway, I was doing some stretching on the floor and Sophie was using my foot to rub on, hoping I’d, in turn, rub her with my foot. In came Mia, and she actually head butted Sophie out of the way! That’s MY Beanka’s foot! Haha! And to think Mia learned that from Buttons, and then is the one who taught Sophie about foot rubbing! Love those hairy kids of yours!

Speaking of stretching, I never do mountain pose to forward fold, repeat, and repeat again, without thinking of you squawking that it made you dizzy to watch me do that. I made you dizzy this morning and again tonight.

Honey, it was a beautiful snow day with happy things, including thoughts of you!

I am thankful for today!!