Friday, October 28, 2016


Yesterday two women I love and respect posted things that let the world know they were hurting.  Why is that so hard?
One admitted that she has been hiding.
I know of hiding and masks and knowing one thing and feeling another.  The German within me and the proud Irish say, "Mind over matter."  So I know many things and that knowing keeps me sane.  Keeps me functioning and largely, keeps me healthy.
But guess what...the matter is still there...and the matter is in pain.
For those of my friends and acquaintance that have lost child or spouse; I truly cannot imagine.  As a grief counselor I am not afraid to walk into the dark places with others and I know our human tendencies with grief and still I am blown away by the pain I am feeling.  It is tempting to invalidate it, because mine is a parent, a 'normal' loss, but I can't because it is so real. 
I had someone very firmly snap at me that grief is evidence that I had a meaningful relationship and I should be thankful. Period.
Dear God in Heaven, You are the Creator and sustainer of all things and sweet Jesus, there at Creation, You were there in the beginning and without You nothing was made that was made.  And the perfect plan to send You as a lamb to slaughter to pay for the iniquities of our sins beginning at Christmas. Oh Sweet Jesus, my favorite time of year.  Is all the decorating, cherishing and celebrating because of You or is it because I love pine, holly, white lights and snowmen? It is more than that, the tenderness of Christmas is that as a vulnerable baby You came down and your earthly parents were vulnerable and how it must have ripped open God's heart to let You leave Your heavenly throne and yet as a good Father, He was pleased, He burst inside with both pride and joy that You would and could defeat this separation.  You would save us. Oh sweet God almighty...what  a sacrifice.  Dear Jesus, thank you.  Let my grief not diminish one ounce of that, for my love and cherishing of it was started as a child by a mother that loved to make Christmas special, full of wonder, full of joy and togetherness, which is what Christmas is ultimately about.  You came down.  wonder joy togetherness.
At the risk of sounding so stupid and petty...this is what I realize is eating me up inside about this Christmas.  This is my first year that we should be going home to PA for Christmas, but I no longer have a home in PA for Christmas.  Mom is gone and our home sold.
I left my home for the family I now have 21 years ago, but every 2 years I breathed deep the feeling of going home to 4613 Tarryton Rd.  To see the porch, my mom on the porch, the carpet, the stairs, the fireplace and one by one to welcome in my siblings as they came home and we were reunited for Christmas.  The mistletoe in the door way.  The chimes, the magic mailbox, the kitchen and family room that never changed.  The golf balls on the wall, the map of Doylestown, the mirror on the bathroom door, the bedrooms upstairs lit by the neighbors Christmas lights. My prom and graduation dresses in the closets.  The sound of the heater clank clank clank so loud.  The scalding hot water and the  backwards faucet handles because my dad would not call a plumber.  Mom's hugs. Memory treasures everywhere.  When I'd go home, I was home and I soaked it in deeply and it fueled me for 2 more years.  And now it's gone.
One year, yes 18 years I'd been in KS and I started fantasizing about hugging my siblings, nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephew in the hallway in August. No lie.
It is not that I don't love it here in KS with my friends and family, but nothing is like my family to me. And no one here understands that, which just makes it worse.

So how do I balance such tender emotions. What do I do with them?  Do I try to recreate Mom's Christmas here in KS?  She has neighbors and friends into the home that did not have anything better to do Christmas eve and her children and grandchildren came.  We went to Mass, ate stew and decorated the tree to the sounds of Booker T and the MGs and then we settled in with all the snack food that friends and family brought. Sometimes, a live nativity would appear or an impromptu band performance. One year a giant Whoopie cushion appeared. So fun. A visit from Santa one year.  Always the gift exchange aka the Chinese Auctions (sorry) A walk in the snow looking at the neighbors lights, caroling.  Walking up to the field that mom would like to look out over.   For a while we'd be Santa and help her bring the grandkids gifts up and stuff the stockings.
I love the childhood she gave me: walks and songs and traditions.  As of yet, my family does not embrace them.  Maybe someday.
They like TV and games (I like games) and making fun of each other and shrimp.
No singing, no Christmas pickle or elves or silliness.
It's not the same.
What to do.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God Psalms 43:5
I do not mourn as those that have not hope, I mourn because I love.
I had a great, not perfect, mom.
We had similar temperaments and I was the baby. It's real, we are spoiled! She probably had more time for me than my older sibs and I cannot fix or change that.  She was quirky. And look out kids. Lots of people tell me I'm just like her. In the nursing home the aid said I was her twin.  Eeek..and yet precious.  OK shudder a little, but I would rather be goofy like she was and love on and hug on people... than not. Ask silly questions.  Tell silly stories. Kiss every head of every grand kid every morning...yep.  You're in trouble.  Be so stinkin happy trying to find that silver lining because that was her life. I do not know how to appropriate all of this and determine what my role is now.  My very capable sis Cathie McCormick is our matriarch and wow a youngest girl could not ask for a better sister to be her guide and confidant. I had 2 precious "moms". The question now is, who is hosting Christmas and paying for air fare??? I don't know PA I may need to wait another year,  but my prayer is...
Lord, I open my heart and my life to YOU...fill it however You choose

Saturday, September 03, 2016

A month ago Jacob Oden died, a 15 year old, in an instant.  Next weekend will mark a year that Mom has been gone.  One cannot compare these two things.  One a long lived life ending due to a failing body and mind.  One tragic and would seem a fluke except for the God that controls all things.  We know and accept that He has an appointed time for each one. Each one of us has their days written in His book before one comes to pass.  Whether we accept this as true or not does not really matter. 

As I ponder the close to this first year, I feel weird.  I feel a dread like no, not a full year!  Don't let this year end that will make it...something. More final.  What can be more final about death's year anniversary.  It's been plenty real all year.  No spring visit, no fall visit, no Christmas at home, my childhood home.  The only home I had except this one.   NO opening the door to open arms, familiar sights and smells.  Creaky floors, old bedrooms, backwards faucets and scalding water.  Golf balls on the wall, wood chips on the porch, fire in the fire place.  The street lights shining in our bed room windows. Same old coffee maker, dishwasher, stove, The tree, those lights, the stockings  Our house...and all the people and smiles that go with it.  There is no replacing it.   It was home to me for too long.  

Perhaps it brings up a bigger reality.  I have never accept KS as my home.   I stay here for a couple of years at a time, and go home for Christmas every other year to feel real again.  Here I have no close attachments other than my husband and family of procreation  (and Bill and Paula).  If it weren't for Chris and the kids I would leave here in a heartbeat and head to PA.  True story.

I feel like the people that love me best are there.  The people I love best are there. Our family, Bill and Paula and...

That's it then.  That's the problem...that's the empty I feel. 

Friday, July 08, 2016

Black lives matter Period, Exclamation point.
I can say this without implying that other lives don't matter.  To pretend we don't have something going on in America right now, is to be blind.  Blue lives matter.  So I have a foster son who is black and a nephew who is blue.  I love and cherish them both and distain the person to kill them.  I am a white woman, however, I vow to both cherish life and cherish diversity.  I have a Mexican daughter that I LOVE, and African American son that I LOVE and an Italian daughter that I LOVE, South African friends that I LOVE.  But this angst hurts my heart! Don't look at me as a white woman who does not care!  I care!! Don't judge me by my skin or my gender~  How can people be so shallow as to see skin deep?  There is such richness in knowing people different than yourself.  Whether city to rural or culture to culture or race to race.  It pains me greatly to know that African Americans live with anger and fear.  That other races feel demoralized or less than.  If you are living and drawing breathe, you can thank God and God alone who is an amazing and creative God, rich in diversity and creativity. You matter!  Why just love your own daisy, love the hibiscus or the exotic plants or the dessert plants which all show such beauty, but differently. 
Show me eyes that are deep and connect.  Help me Lord, connect with eyes that are shallow and have not been seen. Oh God search me and see if there is any offensive way in me and show me the way to LOVE! For if You made them, they are worthy of dying for!

Saturday, June 11, 2016


I have a praise, without knowing exactly how, my grief has lifted.  Oh last week was hard.  Mark sent me a picture of her and dad's chairs in Paul and Jane's cabin.   I burst into tears. For all the nevers.  Never get to go "home" to 4613 again.  Mourning the loss as I mentioned in the last post, but then somewhere between Friday to lifted.  Midway through the week I realized I felt lighter.  Happy. Peaceful.  Oh dear sweet Jesus, please let them remain for I did not recognize the me of the last 10 months.  I do not want to be sad and not caring any more.  It's time to live and feel and embrace. 
I am thankful.
I have learned a thing or 2 about complicated bereavement and yet I believe it was merely a blessing and a trust.  I pray Lord that it will not return.  The dark and the bereft.
We'll be OK.  I'll be OK.  Help me embrace all that is coming our way and to use this returned energy wisely, Oh Lord please help me.
In the powerful name of Jesus I pray!

Friday, June 03, 2016

The beginning of the end.
It was the end of her KS visit that was to be a trial run at living here.  She rejected it.  'I'm Pennsylvania born and bread'.  The truth be known that since when Dad died, we all took her in as a "child" because there was so much she had not done.  I was the nurturer, care taker and I thought I'd finally found a way to bring her to me. Yet, she could not, literally, could not do it. It was too late. She was very sick.  We had a wonderful time in PA celebrating Sean an Michelle's wedding.   Leaving her was hard.  They had the Happ Reunion and the beach trip to look forward to.  All of what ensued was unexpected.  She was in the ER after the Happ reunion and oh my word after the beach trip it was the beginning of the end. I am both dreading and embracing this time.  As I relive all of those, "Teri, mom has fallen or mom is in the ER" phone calls when I can not do a darn thing except trust. We made it through the summer and Mike was busy saying he would not have her return to KS when she landed in the ER for the last time. I got a call or text while in Cbmo. I was so upset.  Then when she fell and the muscle spasms and she did not push her alert button.  I knew.  How do you choose between hospice and rehab.  She'd have one good day and one bad.  We knew, I knew and I wanted to just embrace her through it and yet that one night Cathie needed me too.  We were arguing about what to do about mom when she died. That is really and end that has no late submissions. Here is a song from Oh Danny Boy, "And you will find the place where I am lying and kneel and say an "Ave" there for me. But I shall hear, though soft you tread above me, and Oh my grave shall warmer, sweeter be. And you will bend and tell me that you love me and I shall sleep in peace until you come to me."

'You are her twin', the nursing staff said as I sat by her bed late at night.  I lost my mom, a friend, and to others, my twin.  It really messes with me.  To watch as someone you love slips to the other side and knowing what all that means. I only mourn for myself.  She is far better off.  I miss her.  How selfish is that.  As if Father God is not far more than mortal mom was.  surely He understands, for He gave her to me and I have often thanked Him for her. He surely knows the hurt in my heart while knowing that I know that, He wins!  We win, I will miss her for a time, but I need to let that grow me. Trust Him, like she did.

Monday, January 25, 2016


Bam!  Most times my brain is ready for the logic that goes with losing a parent and is able to quickly say how she's in a better place (true). She is at rest (praise God and yes)! It's a natural part of life (true).  Every now and then, when you least expect it, the wave smacks you and you realize that pictures are all that's left of seeing them again. (until the end).  When all the firsts come: first birthday in Heaven, first Christmas in Heaven etc. When she isn't coming for her late winter/ early spring visit.  And it just hurts. 
Thank you for being such a good Mom.