Love You Forever…

Twinsie and I were visiting our first chain bookstore, long before we heard of Borders and Barnes and Nobel.  We were shopping for Christmas on very limited budgets and time, and we wanted to get each of the children a book.

On one of those twirling racks I found this now famous children’s book.  Unbeknownst to me the magnitude of emotion that will play out, I began reading it aloud to twinsie — other parents came a little closer and when I got to the end, we literally were all in tears.  Every single book on the stand was bought that evening as we wiped tears from our faces and sniffled.  A bunch of strangers a few days before Christmas standing in line at check out, weeping and just wanting to get home to hold our babies.

The truth behind the story makes it even more the poignant:

As Mr. Munsch writes on his Web site:

“I made that up after my wife and I had two babies born dead. The song was my song to my dead babies. For a long time I had it in my head and I couldn’t even sing it because every time I tried to sing it I cried. It was very strange having a song in my head that I couldn’t sing.

For a long time it was just a song but one day, while telling stories at a big theatre at the University of Guelph, it occurred to me that I might be able to make a story around the song.

Out popped Love You Forever, pretty much the way it is in the book.”

Borne from pain, to bring the gift of love to thousands, maybe millions of families.  Old, young, in-between.

I read that book to my children many times, and it was often one they asked me to read to them because they knew in the end that I would cry, and it would send them into gales of laughter.  When they were able to read themselves, I had them read the end so that I could sit and sniffle in silence, as they squelched their desire to laugh.

I still have that original book, and I still read it now and then, as I “peek” into my son’s and daughter’s lives.  I still “hold” them in my arms just as I did when they were babies, gently rocking and singing to them, praying for them, and then putting them back to bed before they wake.  This is what mommas through the generations have done, no matter how far away that baby goes, in his heart or physically.  We mommas never stop being just that, their mommas.

“Sigh, sniffle, gulp” tears stream down my face still, as I think of my two children, and that one day, as we did for their grandfather and grammy, they will be holding us and singing to us.  I know this because this is what we taught them through example.  And this makes me cry just a bit harder.

And we will understand what it means to Love you forever.


Aging Gracefully

A beautiful woman just passed away, she cultivated friendships like she did her precious orchids.  She often inspired us with her thoughts on everything from decorating to flowers, to friendship and travel.  In the spring she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and within a few months she was gone.

Aging is not a choice, and for some it is cut short, and if we wish to live we shall do it by aging.  I find myself discovering things about who I am through self-examination or through the reactions and discussions I have with others.  I am at odds with the person I sometimes show the world and the one who lives deep inside me, and sometimes I am sad.  I have gladly been the facilitator of others’ dreams, but the heiress of none.  After surviving the dark chasm of depression, I find myself more aware than ever of my role in life and its part in the lives of others. And I haven’t a single regret.

Yet, as much as I want to age not only gracefully but fulfilled, I believe the answer is somehow in finding my own personal dream and acting on it. This blog might just be it, or the first step on the path. I’ve conquered some mountains, I still have strength for more.

A friend I love dearly recently left her job for another that was completely different from what she had been doing.  I felt she was so brave.  We texted last night and she said she’d decided to quit the new job, it simply was not something she could do.  She understood her limitations, not because she didn’t test them, but because she did.  She’ll go back to her former position soon, but in the meantime she has this time of reflection, and my thoughts are still how brave she was to take a leap of faith.  I admire her for doing it; she is an amazing woman.

Another beautiful woman in my life grapples with how to forgive the hurts she feels from others.  The pain she feels is honest, real, and valid, but the inability to forgive makes the dull pain more exquisitely felt, like a sharp thorn.  Entrusting that thorn to the act of surrender will be a true act of courage and the thorn will fall away and become harmless like dust. And there it is again, forgiveness, a very common thread in my blog — faith and forgiveness.

I believe that a leap of faith, surrendering pain, or seeking the dreams (or “seeking the still” which my niece says) will not always mean that we will be successful, it means that God will use these things for His purpose and we may never know what purpose they served, or if it may simply be the example we set for others.

The Facebook wall of my friend who died is daily visited with many sentiments and photos.  It’s a legacy of love and life and honor that she leaves for us to remember her by, a life she lived with grace.

As I look at my friends, I see their example in my life–to live by grace, take chances, have the courage to love and risk being hurt, to forgive, and to leap.

Dreams, Transformations, Reality

This mid-century console was sitting outside the consignment shop near our home this past spring.  It was just after sunrise when I spotted it on my way to open the shops for the day.  The moment I saw it, I knew I needed to have it, but the morning had dawned cloudy and thick gray clouds threatened to unleash some serious rain, the shop wouldn’t be opening for several hours, and our shops needed to be ready for business.  I turned into the parking lot, saw the amazing price of $100 tagged on the piece and stood watching the clouds gather overhead.  Decisions.

Always quick on my feet when a great piece of furniture can be had for a song, I hightailed it back home where hubby was still fast asleep. switched cars to my Jeep, wrote a check for 100 bucks, stuck it in an envelope with a quick note: “Saw this, want this, it’s going to rain, taking it.  Here’s my check for $100 but I would have given you $75.” And signed my name.

The whole five minutes back to the consignment shop, I’m praying this sucker will fit into the back of my Jeep.   I’m proud to say with outstanding leveraging ability, loud grunting sounds, careful thought, and removing its legs, the console was in the car safe and sound in about 10 minutes.  Phew.

Now, almost six months later, the piece still needed to be refinished, somehow.  I truly wanted to paint it — watching carefully the transformations that my sister-in-law posted on Facebook of pieces she’s painted.  I scoured for ideas. I read the awesome blog “Found This Painted That.” The more I saw and adored the less I felt that this piece should be painted, because I simple could not make a decision about it.  All my great ideas when it came down to doing them dissolved as I got to know this piece.  It’s just not meant to be painted, yet the top was in horrible shape, bubbled up, dry and cracked.  So, I abandoned all dreams of a creamy tangerine paint, and used Restor-A-Finish and Howard’s Feed & Wax.

I got to work on the piece and soon found out that the product is outstanding on pieces that are bruised and scratched, but for the bubbled top, no can do.  So, I got out the handy-dandy electric sander and got the top smooth as silk.  But, not without a couple blemishes and exposing some of the particle board underneath in one place — deep, heavy sigh of disappointment — it would have to do.

Another two coats of Restor-A-Finish and two more thick coats of Feed & Wax with half hour waits between buffing and coats, another hour of buffing, and the piece turned out okay.  Yes, just okay.  I had not transformed it how I’d hoped, not at all. Supreme disappointment.

But when in our living room, its humble presence defied the blemishes and we soon realized that in its imperfections was its amazing character. I dropped the tiny piece of glittered confetti that I found in one of its drawers back into it.  I didn’t wash away the crayon scribbles inside the drawer, either.  This piece had been bought shiny and new filled with promise when hubby and I were little kids, and had worked hard for the people who owned it.  It displayed pretty things, maybe housed a stereo turn table and shiny vinyl records in colorful album covers.  It bore the weight of rain and the heat of the sun, and now it stands in our living room, its scars and bruises healed but still there.

Kind of like our own lives — battle scars, blemishes, strength and integrity.

I told my buddies who were following along with the stages of its transformation that I would replace the top during the January Cure ( but now, no, I don’t think I’ll do anything but keep it waxed regularly, and let it be the work horse that it is, storing our special finds, cards, notebooks, puzzles and dumbbells.  Maybe even an album or two for posterity.


The Secrets We Keep

The other night, I went to bed but was restless with the chatter in my mind, so around midnight, I got back up.  My daughter Bethani heard me stirring, and she came down to sit with me in the moonlight drenched living room.  We sat and shared secrets until 2 in the morning — laughing, tearing up here and there, sharing the deepest secrets of our hearts — reveling in girl talk.  At 27, Bethani is on the cusp of that big beautiful scary exciting future, and as it turns out, so am I as I go along with her.

Bonding in girl talk in the middle of the night, shushing our laughter so as to not wake up “dad”, these are the best of times — times I’ve had with my sisters, and my friends, and now my daughter.  These are the blooms in our lovely “Life Gardens” borne from sharing our secrets and keeping them.

Life is all about secrets.  The first ones were the ones I didn’t know were secrets until I was told, “You shouldn’t tell the family secrets, B.”  So, often secrets are just happenings that we shouldn’t talk about.  Hummmmmmm.  It took a while to discern what was a secret and what was okay to share.  Therapy helped a lot in later years. These are the blooms of discernment in our gardens.

As a healthcare person, keeping one’s privacy is crucial to the care of an individual, this was so important that even if someone told me that so-and-so had told her that she saw me at the hospital while she was a patient, I would simply smile and not engage in conversation.  These are the blooms of honor.

Prayers, the most precious secrets of all whispered to God in the sweet quiet, or sometimes in that square inch of peace in the din of life, when you know it’s just between you and Him for others, or maybe for yourself or for your gorgeous daughter.  Carrying the burden of prayer is an honor. I never even feel the urge to discuss the secrets brought to me for prayer, so coveted is my respect for the person in need.  Honor, faith, prayer, these are the hallmarks of the secrets we keep. Prayers are the blooms of faith in our garden.

In our garden, weeds will spring from the seeds of spoken secrets, either intentional or not, by me or a “trusted” friend, but the blooms cannot be destroyed by these weeds, and while the weeds can be pulled, cut, dug out, they will return to mingle in the blooms of friendship, but only as a reminder of how important honoring a secret really is. These weeds are the blooms of “forgiveness”, that secrets told are a reminder to forgive ourselves and others.

So, it is with my little girl, grown and ready and educated and strong and beautiful and compassionate and full of moxy for the life that spreads out in front of her.  Sharing secrets with her momma, in the middle of the night, while we laugh and feel hopeful and excited and tamp it down just a bit with realism.  These are the sweetest secrets we keep, and these blooms are the most beautiful.



I Bailed On My Medical Practice

Meet MT, who is brave and honest. I’m in awe of the truth, and I think many of us who’ve worked in medicine understands. It’s good to know that the tree can make us smile. Preaching to the choir, MT. 🙂


Honestly, I was never cut out to be a pathologist.

It’s true that I have a strong eye for pattern recognition of rare tumors. And I’ve got enough OCD-ishness to avoid most of the million tiny and galactic mistakes that haunt pathologists without OCD traits.

But I lack the bluster for the job.

It turns out that bluster, the gift of feeling and sounding 100% certain when you’re only 99, is the key to tolerating a profession where people’s lives are in your hands.

And that gift of pseudo-certainty makes surgeons and colleagues think you’re good, even if you’re not.

The people who thought I was an outstanding general pathologist were the few pathologists who consulted with me on most of their own tough cases. Plus maybe every cytotechnologist I ever worked with.

And my wife and kids who are completely unbiased.

When the stress from outside work escalated and combined with on-the-job stress, I reached critical mass inside. I was done. Cooked.

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Let. Peace. Come.

10527872_10152519841414675_8548736725325289691_nThere is so much written about loving ourselves and forgiving ourselves.  Don’t we all cringe now and then when we think of something we did or said, and how it affected another, even if it was years and years ago, and how we can’t take it back, and we can’t EVER forgive ourselves, and so we must be terrible people, no, in fact, we are terrible people, I am a terrible person.  Why would I say that or do that?  What must people think of me?  They must hate me. And on and on and on and on.

We are our own enemies, how often have we heard this said?  It’s true enough, our actions do influence how we will be treated.  But the act of seeking forgiveness is the balm to all that has come before and has the power to change our future.  Some people believe that  God does not want us to ever be free of the chains of our own actions, that like an iron ball, we must drag them with us for the rest of our lives — bearing the pain of our actions forever.

That’s not from my God.  My God says, I would have died on this cross for you if you were the only inhabitant of this earth.  Only one Person lived a perfect life, no one else is expected to do that.  So, why do we hold such high expectations of ourselves?

You are loved, you are worthy, you are beautiful, you are scarred, you are imperfect, you hurt, you love, you cry, you are in pain, you are angry, you are happy, you are peaceful, you are afraid.  You are perfectly normal.  Forgive yourself when you fall short of your lofty expectations for yourself, and believe that God has this.

Today, I remind myself.  God has this. Let peace come.