Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Weathering Months

Weathering months.

   I read a blog the other day written by a women who grieves and she talked about learning to weather the month of June. I know about weathering months. I have learned the steps and plodded through them. The months when I am sort of undone and I have to stretch my hands wide open and up. I have March when the sky is gray and the trees are bare and I search for light. I have June, the 1st day of glorious summer, when life is new and the sky is beautiful blue here in Carolina. I have days when I remember and days I dread. August is my double month. I have a birthday: when he flew from my womb and it was all hot and it burned like fire and I ached for days after. He was covered in vernix and was all silver hair and big eyes. I loved him then; more than words. I also have the day his brother died: the day he flew from this life and his leaving burned like fire and I ached for days and weeks. Years later I still ache and I remember that burn. I loved him more than words and time. I have learned to weather, we all have to some extent and some of us do it with grace and some of us like myself are still walking clumsily and off kilter. It is beautiful this weathering process.
  The other Saturday morning I heard sirens far away. Often when I hear them I say “God bless them” because I know that someone is beginning a journey that I know well. I went on with my day and later I got a message saying there was a fire. I got a phone call in the afternoon that there was bad fire and it was in a mobile home and some children had died. I read once that if there is a fire in a mobile home you have 3 minutes to get out. This time 3 minutes was not enough time at all. A mother who is 8 months pregnant was sleeping and her little boys were playing. That morning she woke to something too terrible for words. Her 2 little boys are gone and she is left here. I know that feeling too. This month of July will be a month she has to weather and wade through for the rest of her life. I know that her burning ache began that morning and our whole area feels it with her. When we drove to church on Sunday we passed the house. We were silent in the van. In the middle of the fire and the burned things is a little bunk bed. The bed is metal and the mattresses are gone and the frame is bent. I can’t look at it without the breathe catching in my throat. It is worthy of a picture; those kind that speak 1000 words. I think about her often. I breathe her in prayer. At church on Sunday I thought about her and my eyelids burned with tears because she is feeling that aching burning missing her boys that I know so well. Her pregnant body is holding life. She is broken and she will push a baby from her womb and it will burn like fire and she will love that precious baby more than words and the ache of motherhood will begin again.
   I weather months. In a cupboard up high I have a bag. In the bag are a small pair of Levi’s, they have holes in the knees and they are cut apart. They used to fit my son. The paramedics cut them off his small body the day he died. I have never taken them out of the bag but every once in a while I look at them when I am feeling brave and I remember the day I began to burn like fire and this ache became mine. That young mom down the road will now weather months. Birth dates and death dates that she will dread and wait for and plod through. Someday she will laugh again. Someday when the weathering is easier her eyes will have light again. She will learn to have Hope and know how important it is to hold on too. She might hold a small shoe in her hands and feel her boys for a little while. She might touch a blanket  and hold it to her chest because she knows how great the cost is. I know her boys are whole today, safe in the Father’s house. I know she is broken and her grief road will not be the same as mine. I also know that she will take shakey steps forward and she will weather July. I pray she can one day do it with grace. God bless all people who grieve and deal with great loss. We weather these months with you. My August is not burning like fire or aching like it used to be but I do weather it; every single year and I miss my boys. I love them more than words and time.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Blueberry Days and Songs of Life

    Last week I piled the van with children and we drove through Carolina country. We drove to Pittsboro to the old man's farm. His sign hangs by the road, the words are fading from bright summer sun. There is a hand written sign by the gate saying "close gate behind you" so we do, one of mine hops out and opens it while I drive through then they close it behind the van. I love coming here, year after year and it always feels the same. The air smells earthy and like fruit. The place is loud with birds; turkeys and peacocks wearing bright blue feathers and shouting into the day. Chickens talk amongst themselves in loud clucks. I can hear children laughing through the bushes. We pick buckets full and have races and help the littler children who aren't as fast pickers. We sweat in the humid sunshine and we talk about big things and funny things and small things too. We drink water and splash it on our faces and our fingers turn purple from berry juice. I wish I could capture these moments. I wish I could keep us there in that timeless, staying the same place where the world is lost behind that crooked gate and I savor all of it. This place of safety and where life is easy and nothing pushes or pulls us to move on. Somebody sings and the Birch comes up to me determined to pick his own bucket full this year, he has his Ariat boots on and his cheeks are red and his hair is bright white from days in the pool. White on brown skin and blue eyes squinching up at me. He lets me help after the older bunch move on and we pick together his small hands full and dropping berries into the mulch. I am filled then with love for this precious boy who in August will march himself to school and leave me in a new chapter of parenting. I never dreamed it would come so fast or hurt like this. My house has been full this year and empty too, of my older ones moving and traveling and getting married and coming home and leaving again. I am not sure what to think of it all, this life going faster than I and leaving me struggling to catch my breath. I walk in the mornings and I think it has become my therapy and keeps me grounded. I think about all of this while I pick the fruit that is warm in my hands. I think that God knows this place too, where my heart is torn and things seem too big for me and I remember how in Psalms it says He numbers the stars and how He knows them by name and I am glad for that. Glad that He knows them and numbers them because then I am certain He knows me and He is there in the berry patch and He thinks much of me and my children and the neighbor children too who bring us life and fullness of days. We pick berries for us and for some of our neighbors. We are learning this year what Loving our neighbors really means so we pick with the intention of giving. When we get home we put them in bags and I do a neighborhood delivery of berries. I love doing that, stopping in and giving small gifts because I am the one who always leaves being given wonderful gifts.
   Kalani came along when we brought them to our elderly friends Paul and Miss Dot. She was being my fancy girl and cartwheeled out of the van. We brought a card because it was Miss Dots birthday and we all signed it so the words were all over the card with notes and names of my children. They live at the end of a gravel road where the rocks make a lane and the flowers bloom and the old trees creak in the wind. They are old and the house is getting forgotten, the porch is faded and falling apart and we walked up the stairs carefully. They come to the door and are so glad to see us. They invite us in and we visit for awhile. Miss Dot is forgetful and she is the sweetest southern women I have met. She thinks my children are beautiful and my boys are strong. She used to love to read. She smiles and watches us. Paul is a very gracious man and he carries the conversation. I know he was in the war. I know he has son who lives far away in WA and he prays for him. He loves my boys and he gets teary when he asks about my big Troy who is also far away. The house is full of stuff. There are piles and stacks and things shuffled around so we can sit at the table. Kalani loves it, she takes a tour and exclaims over things and looks at all the wonderful treasure. I love that about my younger children, they are free like that. She thinks it is like a museum and in away it is. A lifetime of living on display. I am humbled then because she doesn't see it like I do at all. She sees the life and love and years and treasures. I start to see it like that when she brings me a golden bell and shows me a beautiful old doll. I quit seeing the dust lining the shelves and the cobwebs hanging from the ceiling fan and papers piled high. I see it through the eyes of my 7 year old and I think Paul and Miss Dot are the lucky ones for sure. Paul asks me if I sing and I tell him that I love to, he hands me a red hymnal and he says it is his favorite book. I skim through and I see where he has written dates and notes about many songs, "1975" says one "praise the Lord for this song" in a mans handwriting. So may years of songs to love and sing and remember. I hum a little of Marching to Zion and he says "do you hear it Miss Dot? She sings beautifully!" and they both listen. I am reminded that this is life for them, these 2 little old people who were once here where I am now many years ago. Who wished to stop time and were worried about what was next and who sang songs that kept them grounded and feeling the spirit and finding freedom. I should mark music in the book like that with dates like a journal of life; only in song. They blessed me more than words while we sweat in their hot kitchen with papers and cans piled high and Kalani twirling through the hidden treasure, seeing it beautiful. We sang Happy Birthday to Miss Dot before we left and she laughed while we clapped. We left with them promising to pray and me promising brownies for Miss Dot since she never got a cake. I think this loving our neighbors as ourselves is working. It is opening my eyes and giving me music.