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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

This Christmas...

Wherever you find yourself this Christmas season,
may you find Grace right there in the midst of
the grief and the joy...

It's the message, beautiful and sacred, the angels proclaim...
this tiny baby born, as shepherds and wise men rejoice,
has come to face the grief of a cross.

A grief that is broken with a Resurrection
that brings the dead to life.

Graced to celebrate this Holy Season with joy midst the grief,
for He has come to proclaim the good news,
bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release the prisoner from darkness. 
                                                         ~ Isaiah 61:1

That is Hope and Blessing Abundant for this grieving daughter...

Sending My Love this Christmas,

Friday, December 6, 2019

The Valley Road of Grief

Isn't it ironic that dad's memorial would fall the week of mom's passing?  If the grief weren't so deep, we would find that aptly fitting.  Dad has missed mom with an intensity that has never lessened with time.

We have all felt the grief come in waves this past week.  Dad's memorial service was on Monday and the anniversary of Mom's passing fell on Wednesday... We have journeyed the valley one faltering step at a time.

I believe that only God can sustain a body when the sadness would crush a soul.

Dad's service was small, a private gathering of his loved ones, family and friends that cherished and loved him so.

We shared stories, we sang his favorite hymns...there were tears and there was laughter... a promise of grace for the days ahead.

And a peace that felt right as we settled their urn into the columbarium, together, just as they had planned so many years before...

Family came from near and far.  A reminder of all the good there is along the valley road.  They cheered us, loved us, cried with us, and held us as we stepped into the unfamiliar, new normal of life without dad.

Then Wednesday morning found me walking back through the doors of the columbarium, alone, bearing the yellow rose that dad always brought on the anniversary of mom's passing...

Only this time, the chair he sat in was empty...

The memorial service was finished, the family lunch served, sympathy cards read and the friends and family gone... the suddenness of being alone on this day, missing dad and feeling the weight of these 8 years since I heard mom's voice and leaned in to her hug... the tears fell unheeded and the grieving tore my heart as I sat in the chair that had always been reserved for dad. 

Now it was my turn to sit and mourn. And remember. To reflect and grieve. And simply miss their very presence like crazy.  The tears would not be stopped...

And perhaps that is exactly what I needed.  A time to stop, and breathe deep, let the tears soak through, allowing the sadness and grief to just be.  For missing mom and dad is and will be my new normal.  And so are the tears...

"There is a sacredness in tears.
They are not the mark of weakness,
but of power.
They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues.
They are the messengers of overwhelming grief,
of deep contrition
and of unspeakable love."

~ Washington Irving

Blessed with an unspeakable love this night,
Graced to grieve and hope and remember on this valley road...
For that is part of my new normal as well.

Resting on God's faithfulness,

Thursday, November 28, 2019

An Empty Chair at the Table...

Thanksgiving... in the midst of grieving... a hard grace to find gratitude when our hearts feel such a keen loss.

We have worked on Thanksgiving menus right alongside the planning of Dad's Memorial service.

It would seem that there is no slowing down time, nor stopping the world's spinning... Thanksgiving came whether we wanted to celebrate or not... This morning dawned grey, cold and rainy... kind of matched our mood to be honest.

Dean and Lisa graciously offered up their lake place for the gathering and the house filled up fast.

It's a testament to this family that there were more smiles than tears today!  Poppy would have been proud... and eaten way too much turkey!

There is a healing in spending time together.  A deep gratitude for the love of family and the gift of sharing the heartache as well as the joy.

The smiles were genuine.  The peace settling sure and sweet.

A Thanksgiving without Poppy came too fast... the Empty Chair at our Thanksgiving table was a painful reminder of all we have lost this season.  And I know we are not alone.

A dear friend sent me the following Thanksgiving poem earlier today.  It makes the rounds on social media every year during this hallowed season, but this year it is especially poignant for us:

So many have lost loved ones and struggle hard with the missing and the grieving every single day.  Holidays can add a layer of hurt that compounds the pain a thousand-fold.

This simple prayer turns us back to the One who is able to comfort our hearts when nothing else can.

The Psalmist speaks it well and offers a hope to sustain our faith when our grief seems impossible to bear:

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

  Psalm 27:13-14

God just smacked me upside the head and reminded me that He is here with us in the land of the living... just waiting to reveal His goodness.  Yes, even in the midst of the grieving and the loss... He has never left us.

The giving of Thanks begins when we open our eyes to every good gift from His hands.  And today was a very, very good gift.

My Love,

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Hardest Goodbye...

Sometimes the words just won't come... We lost Dad a week ago, and still I cannot find ways to express the grief and the ache.

We have gathered together, held each other tight, and mourned... there is a void that will never be filled here this side of heaven.

And we have pulled out the old photos. Spent time pouring over the captured moments.  Laughing over old hairstyles and ancient memories.  Pictures of a life lived well.  Of Work and Sacrifice.  Laughter and Tears.  Of Family.  Of Grace... And most of all, pictures of an Abundant and Unmerited Love.  We have been so very, very Blessed...

David Michael Polly
September 15, 1935 - November 14, 2019

That smile...
I will miss it as long as I live.

Love you Dad,
Always and Forever.

Give Mom the biggest hug from all of us!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Walking out the Chaos in an Ordinary, Everyday Life

This month past has been hi-jacked by Chaos.

Pure and Simple.

Complete disorder.  Run amok.  Disheartening lows.  Crazy highs.

We moved into our long-dreamed-for Log Cabin  {Finally!}  With boxes piled high and scattered belongings in complete disarray, we can at last say, We are Home!

It's a happy chaos, this putting our life into order one messy box at a time... How we've longed for this day!

And within moments of crossing the threshold of that dream, the call came from nurses that dad was being rushed to the Emergency Room.

Breath coming in gasps, his COPD had flared and became life-threatening within hours.  Hours became days, stranded in the hospital, speaking in hushed whispers, living out of overnight bags and hanging onto each new report... Life in Chaos... striving for calm, but losing the battle as we struggled with the truth of this insidious disease.

I've decided that the clean, quiet, sterile halls of a hospital hide a frightening, scary, dark side.  Ordinary people are facing overwhelming news and difficult prognoses behind most every door we passed.   Throwing lives into turmoil...a miserable kind of chaos to be sure.

The roller-coaster ride of this COPD journey found us heading home with dad after a week of breathing treatments, heavy-duty antibiotics and LOTS of steroids.

The chaos of that week faded back into a grateful "normal" as dad found his smile (and his appetite... thank you prednisone!)  With thankful hearts, we hugged him hard and headed for a brief respite to recoup .. fall camping with friends in the hills of central Texas...

But the very next week found us back in the Emergency room with dad's breathing even worse than before.  Doctor consults, tests and IV's, the concerned murmurs... Chaos returned with a vengance.

COPD is an agonizingly slow descent into sheer panic.  The air hunger, the labored breathing, the subtle, sly loss of everyday activities we take for granted, the terrifying feeling of suffocating in the dark midnight hours... this is a chaos of the hardest kind.  Fighting an implacable disease that does not relent.

No winning. No cure. No Hope.

As dad's breathing worsened, his doctor gently approached us with the difficult news... there was nothing more that could be done to ease the ache in his lungs.

Air left the room.

We have long prepared ourselves for this moment, but there is no preparing...

Dad is transitioning into hospice care and our hearts tremble between an anguished grief for the road ahead and an intense relief that there is a comfort available for which dad is so desperate.

The hours and days to come?  A Hard Chaos that we are determined to walk out well.

We have been in this place before.

Mom walked it out almost 8 years ago, and Dad remembers well the compassion and grace offered by the hands of her hospice team.

Now, he faces the work of this last mile.

And we will be there each step of the way, he does not walk alone.  It is the prayer of our heart, the sacrifice of family from far and wide, that ensures he will be loved much in the days ahead.

That love can turn the chaos into peace... of that I am sure.

Resting in the God who makes order out of chaos and chooses to love us better than we could ever imagine.

That is Peace for tonight.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Making Wishes Come True...

He loves cruising.

He's been on more cruises than we can count!

And... he had one wish for his Birthday this year.   Can you guess where we've been??

A Big, Fun, Crazy-Happy Family Cruise.  And it has been a monumental task.  Getting Dad to Miami and on that Cruise ship.  It took a combined Family effort to make it happen... but happen it did!  And the smiles were the sweetest reward.

So, if you're wondering how one actually makes wishes come true?  Here's the scoop... It's a whole lot of sacrifice and a whole lot of work!!

The logistics of traveling with an elderly parent, who is dealing with end-stage COPD is one part daring and two parts just plain grit.

It helps that everyone in our family loves to travel.

Tropical ports of call?  Yes, please!

But as the reality of traveling with dad sunk in we all took a deep breath and asked the same question all of you are probably asking... were we crazy?

Insane does factor somewhere in there.

And it crossed my mind with increasing frequency as the trip got closer and the packing began...

The list was long and multiplied the stress and anxiety!  Nebulizers and inhalers, perscriptions and oxygen, extra batteries and his Bipap machine, wheelchairs and passports... plus clothes and shoes and... I was exhausted before we even left!

Dad's doctors happily signed off on the trip and sent extra meds and had us fill a script for antibiotics (just in case they said...)

And then we arrived at the airport and hit the TSA line... this would be where the staying power of old-fashioned grit factored in!  It was ugly... enough said.

Once we finally got on that plane and buckled up, the smiles kicked in!

And they never stopped!

Making wishes come true simply blesses the giver and receiver alike!

The week melted into a gracious time of laughter and relaxing
and making memories...
worth every minute of the sweat, worry and grit that got us here!

 We cooked with the Chef at Emilio's Plantation on St. Maarten...

And toured the top of the Island...

Explored historic San Juan...

And braved the water slides!

Dad met the officers on the ship and pretty much loved every minute...

Including the Best Birthday Celebration!

His wish come true...
Simply the best!

Brought to you by good, old-fashioned determination and grit!
Sometimes we need to be Brave and Fierce in order to
Become the Gift!

Be Kind to Someone Today!
It makes all the difference in the world!

Blessings, Always,

Saturday, September 7, 2019

An Autumn Celebration

And today the mercury topped 100... again!   It is September, right??!!

Have mercy!

Longing for some sweater wearing, bonfire snuggling, cider brewing weather...

Please remind me come January how much I love chilly days and nights ;-)

Persevering thru the heat, blessed with family and cupcakes to ring in a Birthday Celebration for Poppy...84 years young!

Happy Birthday Poppy!
You make us smile!!

We Love You!