Tag Archive | death

Aunt Jean, you are loved!


Aunt Jean 9-2-38 to 6-10-13Yesterday my Aunt Jean passed away. I didn’t see it coming, frankly. She’s been sick many times and with prayers from so many, she always had the grace of God behind her healing and pulled through. But yesterday was her “Going Home” day and our prayers were answered differently.

It was a tough day yesterday. I heard of 5 deaths, ranging from an infant, to a young man in his 20’s, to a girl battling cancer, to an expert in his field, and finally, sadly, to my Aunt. My heart was so heavy with that news.

Aunt Jean was actually my aunt in my birth family. At the age of 19 she recognized me out at the mall. I was shocked but as I grew to know her, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. She always had her eye out for me and my siblings who were placed in an orphanage years ago. She had the memory of an elephant – she could remember details and tell stories like no other. Although she hadn’t seen me since I was 3, she said she knew my eyes and that was it. I must admit, I wasn’t always emotionally ready for the heaping and mixing of birth family and adopted (what I call my “real” family). And through the years I bobbed and weaved in and out of Aunt Jean’s hugs. It didn’t really matter. She was steadfast. She was patient. She was faithful. And when, in my 40’s I was finally ready to be whole, she was waiting for me without hesitation. She shared pictures, and stories … and love. I will never forget her generous heart and her happy laugh. She was an angel to me in many ways. We used to fantasize about what it would have been like if she had been my birth mother instead of my Aunt. Those were fun little fantasies and I knew, there was something special in her that allowed her reach out through the turmoil and the years to recognize me.

My heart is heavy from this loss. There were still words and stories unspoken. But I count myself blessed for having been given the chance to get to know her. I got to cry with her, laugh with her, break bread with her, and pray with her. What could be better. And now, I know she is singing and dancing with the love of her life, Uncle Norbert, as they praise at Heaven’s throne. I love you Aunt Jean. As a  fellow writer I wrote this simple little poem for you.

See you on the other side! Be BLESSED!

“The tears I shed are bittersweet,
And with hand to heart I pray.
That your joy in heaven be complete,
As we say good bye today.
The hole we feel as our lives go on,
Will only hurt a while.
I’ll keep my eyes on eternity’s gate,
Where I’ll once again see your smile.”
~ Barbara Bernard Miller

Transitions and Dichotomies


images (9)Have you ever noticed that the rhythm of life seems to bring highs and lows at the very same time? I have often wondered if it’s God’s way of balancing our hearts so they do not break under the pressure of sad events. It is the rainbow that is in the midst of the rain and lightening. It is hard to notice one without noticing the power of the other. And I suppose the why of it all and the timing sequence is one of those questions that will remain unanswered in this lifetime.

090607 (31) - lotus flower closed close-upRight now, I feel that life is in transition in so many places. My son is marrying the love of his life in less than a month. My daughter will soon follow next year. The joy I feel for them both is still tripped up by the mourning of that time I had with them as children. Oh sure, they are still my children but soon they will be someone else’s spouse. The center of their world has already shifted but mine is lingering behind. My day to day life has changed and that is not painful. But those still quiet moments when I think of what has ended forever, my heart breaks in the memory of it all. So life at home is changing and shifting every day.

87678138On the other end of the spectrum, while my children move into beginnings, I see endings for others I love. One of those is my Grandma. I still am blessed to have both of my grandmothers – one 94 and the other soon to be 90. The older one is recovering from 2 strokes and it seems at times that she is slowly slipping away. Her mind is still fairly good but her body is weakening. When I sit with her she sometimes is quite focused on what’s happening here and then I notice her drifting forward, looking, seeking, longing for what’s next. Even asking for it at times. I know this is the cycle of life, but the timing is right in the midst of joyful transitions. It seems that the timing is “off” – I am jumbled in the joy and the sadness.

On the career front I have been dreaming and working toward a new possibility as I see the long-term career cresting toward the final years. This is a bittersweet transition as I have great longing for both possibilities. But as one bloom on the tree of life wanes, another begins to appear. It is the balance of yin and yang. Dark and light. Morning and evening. The world seems to be spinning out of control and standing still at the same time.

day nightPerhaps transitions is one word to explain it and dichotomies is another. It appears that life has 2 opposites existing at the same time for me. For many people this is true I imagine. And I find myself not knowing whether to celebrate or to mourn. To plan or to wrap-up. Today I stand in the middle and my mood is fickle.

What transitions and dichotomies are you grappling with? Any tips and tricks for standing in the middle?

Be blessed!

Life, Death, and Hope


These are troubling times and this week is proving to be especially troublesome for people I care dearly about. My aunt, who has many health issues had double bi-pass heart surgery yesterday. We are in the critical waiting hours to see if she will be alright. Today, my oldest and dearest friend is having a mastectomy in the first steps of her battle with breast cancer. These are just the latest 2 in a long string of people  I know who are standing on the brink of life and death. That’s such a scary place to be for them, as well as those who love them and never want to lose them. We are not alone in this situation, as it is the way that life works.

Today, as we remember the crucifixion of Jesus, I take solace in knowing that God loves us more deeply and unconditionally than we will ever truly comprehend. I know that his fears in facing life and death were just as real as my aunt’s and my dear friend’s. His friends and family suffered even more at his scourging and crucifixion because they saw no hope in the cruel and awful sequence of his death. Where my family and friends are seeing hope in the surgeon’s skilled hands and in the faith of our prayers. In contrast, there is no comparison.

And yet, I know that Jesus is with us as we go through these trying days. He does not want us to suffer as he did. He does not want us to have fear and no hope the way his mother and disciples did. He wants us to know love, foregiveness, and the possibility of hope. He wants us to know of his love and his sacrifice. He wants us to know the sweetness of his resurrection and what that truly means for us.

Today, I pray in repentence for all that Jesus died for in me. I pray gratefulness for his resurrection and salvation. And I pray, with a spirit of hope and expectation, for the full recovery and healing of my Jeans – Aunt Jean and Jeannie Bear, who are facing their own surrender in these days.

If you are a praying person too, I ask you to join me in these prayers. If not, I ask that you send positive and loving energy to my Jeans … and be blessed!

“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said,

‘It is finished’

and he bowed his head, and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30

Remembering Landon’s Daddy


Today I saw this picture and brief note on Facebook. I have to say it stopped me in my tracks and I feel compelled to speak about it:

 “Meet Landon. His father, Marine LCPL Carpenter, gave his life defending our country in Afghanistan

earlier this year, a month before his son was born.  Baby Landon’s Mom wants his story to be known.

Take a moment to share this photo with your friends and reflect on the price of freedom.

 Never forget the price of freedom.”

I don’t know Landon or his parents but I know the sadness that this image creates. As an American I am saddened by the memory of what started us down a path of war. The senseless killing of so many, many innocent people on that solemn day in 2001 has changed the world and a generation.

I am also deeply saddened by the loss of life that has commenced throughout the wars – both Iraq and Afghanistan. And frankly in a myriad of other places in the world where it might not be our men and women but people we don’t know. Families have suddenly lost fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, lovers and friends. I don’t condone the war – it makes my heart hurt to think about it. But I do support the troops. And their families. They fight so I don’t have to and I am eternally, and without words to explain, grateful.

I pray that this little child has the blessing of a strong man in his life to show him the way to manhood. I pray that his mother can find peace and solace in the arms of family. I pray that we never, ever forget the sacrifice his father made.

And I pray for us, as a society, to find a way to live without the need or desire to kill for the love of politics, religion, land, money, greed or power.

We cannot bring Landon’s daddy home but we can change this world through love, acceptance, and peace.

… If only we would.


Good-bye Icons


There’s a sadness in the world this summer. There are so many celebrity deaths that everywhere I go I hear people talking about them. It seems we always hear of famous people dying in sets of 3. That seems to be the way we categorize it and the way we are aware of it. There seems to be something extra sad about this summer though – multiple sets of 3 in very close timing. Big names – really big names like Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Walter Kronkite. These are the names of my childhood. These are the iconic people I remember watching and admiring for their talent at the top of their game. I related to them in some way, or looked at them as the ultimate “possibility”. Their names are lingering in the air. Their talent still shining in our collective consciousness.

What is it about losing icons that makes such an intense universal impact? Why are we still talking and hearing and reading about them? It’s not like we knew these people intimately. We may think we knew all about them but all we knew was what someone else wrote or assumed or the little glimpse of them showing their talent. We don’t really know them at all! They weren’t family. They weren’t friends. They weren’t even acquaintances. What are they really? Role models – maybe some. Idols – likely yes to many. But it has to be more than those superficial connections that keep us hanging on to them. I wonder why it’s so difficult for us to say rest in peace and let them go.

For me, it’s hard to think of someone close to my age being gone. Someone who’s face I recognize at a mere glimpse and who’s voice I know by heart. It’s like a part of my childhood is “poof” … gone. It’s a certain reminder of my own mortality. And it makes me wonder at the level of impact I’ve had. Have I done enough? Am I just coasting through life with my small circle of influence? Do I even have a legacy that people will remember? Maybe that’s part of the impact. Losing people from the face of the earth that have clearly impacted so many makes us wonder about our own impact. I have work to do. I have people to love, encourage, teach, learn from, and inspire.

So, for now I say to Ed, Farrah, Michael, Billy, Walter and all the others. Go swiftly into the embrace of God. Rest in Him! We will remember you as we carry on!