Thursday, May 03, 2007

How are you doing?

This is the one question that I get asked every time I turn around. It's a great question, meant to encourage me to talk about what is happening in my head and my heart. But, this week? There are times when I have had absolutely no idea how I was doing. I was simply 'doing'.

It's amazing how much of the week was spent on auto-pilot.

How am I doing? I'm tired.

I've not been in my own bed for much of the week and that does not encourage quality sleep. I have been sleeping, but not really well. Last night I was finally home for a night and I was up until 1:30 am getting things ready to leave again this evening. When Carol and I left last Friday, I threw things together for an overnight - which turned into two nights. I didn't have enough of my stuff with me for that type of trip. When we left Monday afternoon again, I had been exhausted Sunday night, thought I would have time Monday morning, but after working for a bit at church, I was throwing things together again - this time planning for my uncle's funeral. I didn't have enough of my stuff then either. I forgot the travel bag! How insane is that? Oh, I had my shampoo and deoderant, but things like nail clippers and lotion just weren't there. I never had time to deal with those things and just kept moving through the week.

Last night I made sure that I actually 'packed'. We'll see how well I did. But, it did keep me up late. Carol and I are dropping off a van at the airport this morning for Priscilla's son's ex-wife who is flying in for the funeral. That has to happen early and then I'm off to work for most of the day.

So, I'm tired. As I was driving down to Uncle John's funeral yesterday, my eyes were burning and I kept yawning. Max generally does most of the driving when we're on the road, especially when I'm under stress. But, his ankle replacement is certainly putting a crimp on him taking care of me!

How am I doing? I'm frustrated.

This death has been really difficult in our family. My dad remarried after my mother's death. They've been married for 19 years and in all that time we have never been able to grow close to his second wife. She's quite different than our family and those differences frustrate us. Dad (and consequently the three of us kids) has never been about public exposure. We run 'under the radar' as much as possible. Our family has always been about accommodating everyone else. We make an extreme effort to make others comfortable. When people walk into our home or our space, they are made to feel welcome and anything they need is immediately taken care of. But, it's not this way now. Oh ... I am certain that dad would have made people feel more than welcome when he was around, but he's not anymore. We set aside our grief when mom died to make sure that the people who were coming in for the funeral could grieve. We knew that the next day would give us plenty of time to fall apart. But, it's not that way.

Oh, the three of us have set things aside. We've had to listen while her family goes on and on about their grief and all that is going to change in their world because of dad's death. We've had to invite people into her home because she stands at the door when they come to offer condolences rather than move back and allow them to enter. We had to leave things that are memories behind at the house because she needed to be surrounded by her friends and family. We've set aside our desires (and dad's wishes) for the funeral and events surrounding it - because as she has informed us over and over - the funeral is for the living. Well, the funeral is for her.

But, we all know that we will continue to grieve as a family and that can come later. My frustrations in this area are a strong emotion, and I know that they are exacerbated by grief. It's ok ... I'll get them dealt with.

How are you doing? I'm sad.

I just lost my father. My mom died in 1987 and my dad is gone now. I'm 47 years old and the stories and memories are gone. All I have left is what I have in my own mind. We are finding a lot of memorabilia - dad was quite the saver, but some of them have now lost the stories that were attached to them. We found a 1956 tourist's guide to New York City. Did dad buy that when he went to visit his sister that lived there? There is a 1955 guide to Washington, DC. Why is that there? Was that a trip to visit his sister's new husband? What about all of these pictures? What are the stories behind them? Can you tell me one more time about my birth? How the local town operator put one call out to the entire community to let them know that the preacher had a baby? Or about how you bought Bell's Dell.

My links to the past have been severed. I have to become the link for the next generation and I guess I wasn't ready to do that.

My father was a great source of theological discussion. He knew his stuff! For the last 30 years, he has helped me as I've questioned things in Christianity. Dad knew scripture so well that he quoted it chapter and verse with little to no effort. He knew authors. Not all of those that we know of now, but E Stanley Jones, Dwight Moody, he knew Augustine and the church fathers. He was brilliant, and he was moderate. He could interpret extreme liberal teaching and could explain extreme conservative teaching. He was a treasure that in his last years was only being shared with a very close group of people. I hope they know how fortunate they were.

How am I doing? I'm ok.

I know that Dad is in heaven. I know that his death was the best thing that could have happened for him. He was doing what he loved and it happened quickly. There was no long drawn-out series of debilitating (moreso than Parkinson's, cancer, a minor heart attack) health problems. He was still going out to Bell's Dell regularly, he was still fishing with his brothers, he was still going to church on Sunday and bible study each week, he was still going out to eat with friends and he was still having fun with his family. And then ... he was in heaven. Could a man ask for more? I doubt it.

I cry, but not because I don't know the truth. My tears are selfish. When I cry, it is all about me and what I will miss and what I have lost. God will heal all of that pain, in His time. He will bring me to a point that what I think I have lost is replaced with new memories. But, even 20 years after mom's death, I still cry when I think about how much I miss her. So, my tears will flow whenever my heart aches at the loss. It's alright. There's a place for tears in heaven ... I don't think God wanted us to operate without them.

If you don't see me cry - it's ok. I save those for when I'm falling apart completely in the privacy of my home. If you do see me cry - don't try to tell me it's ok. I know it is!

Check this verse out - I Corinthians 15:50-54.
I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."

You see, I know the truth of these verses. Death is something that is associated with the temporary life we live here on earth. Victory will swallow death and there will be no more tears or mourning. The thing that takes me to the point of this entire week will be gone. It's a promise from the Father and I trust those promises.


Jacqniel said...

I will be thinking of you tomorrow as you lay your father to rest. What an amazing man he was, and how fortunate you are are to have his teachings be a part of your life. Prayers for patience, stamina and peace. Love you, Jacque

Rebecca said...

You are brilliantly beautiful... and thank you for sharing everything you are feeling... for helping us all understand a little better what is really going on in the mind of someone who is grieving... in the midst of it all you still can write a darn good piece of work!

Love you!!!

Lonnie said...

Diane, I so understand your frustration with your dad's wife. Been there. It seems that our mom's died the same year and our dad's found company around the same time as well. When my dad died almost 11 years ago, we went through the exact same thing. To read your words brought back all the same frustration I felt. What should have been a wonderful time of the gahtering of my dad's family and the celebration of his life turned into a "walking on egg shells" event. I feel like I was robbed of so much at that time. I wish I had had the ability to stand back and see what was happening and relize it as you have been able to do. I never thought about how I was putting aside my grieving for others. Peace be with you tomorrow.

tlksimpson said...

Hey Diane --

Dad and I were wondering how difficult Priscilla would be...I am sorry that your dad's tribute was more of what she wanted than he. Even so, the feeling that eminated from my inner-ness...that tiny core of my being that remembers...EVERYTHING -- was the feeling of your dad...your mom...that vibration that your family sends out to the world. It was healing. It may not have been a healing that you need...but as you said that will come in some way. But, that raw-ness and cavern that your mom and now your dad leaves inside (that I can only minutely imagine) is not pleasant or desired...but is perhaps an amazing refinement of you -- creatively, spiritually, etc...

I'm sorry the source of your history is gone...I love you dearly.

Tracy K.