Hold on loosely…

Yes, there is definitely a nod to the song by 38 Special, but this post is far from rocking.

It’s heavy, because my heart is heavy for so many around me, and for myself too.

Working at a church gives me a front row to the joy- and the pain – of so many individuals. Most days I’m able to keep enough emotional distance that I don’t lose sleep. I’ve been to more funerals than most, and often it just makes me appreciate life and those around me.

Today feels different. Today is different because I lost a good friend. He was more like a brother. In fact, he called me sis. I’ve known him since 2003 and we even worked together for a few years. His wife and I are very close, and their daughter grew up with mine.

It’s just not okay that this family has lost such an important member. The lucky thing in all of this is that he wasn’t alone when he breathed his last. His wife was on one side and his daughter on the other. He wasn’t in pain. He is dancing with angels, though I’m guessing his dance skills are as terrible and awkward as ever.

One of my fondest memories is the night we drained a bottle or two of wine and tried to determine how I was his sister. Was I his sister – or his wife’s sister? We went round and round and never landed on anything definitive.

But this I know. He was family. And he left too soon. And he will be missed by many. None of us are promised tomorrow. Which is it so important to appreciate each person, each moment, each day.

Hold on tight, but also, hold on loosely.

what I’m learning about grief …
is that it need not be

a heavy gray shawl
to wrap myself in,
clutching my arms tightly
across my chest

nor …
need it be
a granite rock
that I should try
to push away

neither is it …
… at least, no longer …
a vast dark ocean
ready to pick me up
and slap me down
without warning

what I’m learning about grief …
is that it is not me,
but that it offers
to become a friend

a friend …
who will lightly lay a hand
on my shoulder
when tears come in the dark

a friend …
who will laugh
out loud with me
at remembered silly moments

a friend …
who can still hear
the music of our life

what I’m learning about grief …
is that this friend
doesn’t intend
to leave me

but promises
to hold my hand
to carry my memories

a friend …
who will bear witness to my love
as I venture
toward the next day
and the following night

hurting

By Nancy Cross Dunham

So tomorrow I’ll bring some food and some tissues, and we will cry and laugh and cry some more. And we will hold on to the memories, and to each other, and trust God for all the rest.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Life in a snow globe

No I didn’t move to the Arctic. I’m still in Florida where I belong.

I had snow globes when I was a kid and they were absolutely fascinating. Shake them up and watch it all float back down.

Not all of it floated of course. Just the snow. Or confetti or glitter or whatever it was. The bulk of things stayed securely fastened at the bottom. Where it was supposed to stay.

It may have been this exact one!

Unless of course your snow globe was some cheap-ass souvenir you got from your Aunt Carolyn when she went to the Ozarks – or wherever she went – and then it was a different story. If your snow globe was like that, it could not withstand the shaking. The fixtures were not so fixed, and soon the unglued scenery floated around with the snow.

Of course we thought this was hilarious which only prompted more violent shaking from us, the masters of the snow globe. It looked like the aftermath of a tornado when everything settled.

Eventually, everything settles.

This is what it feels like, doesn’t it? It feels like the world is being shaken up and everything is confusing and out of sorts and a lot of things we once thought as permanent are now floating around.

It’s sad when you look at the things that were once solid. Like spring semester of your senior year of high school. Sports. Prom. Graduation. These milestones that were once fixtures are now up in the air for so many, including my beautiful niece Macy.

Macy, class of 2020. Photo credit Andra Travis Photography.

My world is affected on a much less heartbreaking scale. Even so, I know it’s important to acknowledge and to name those things that I’m grieving, no matter how petty and frivolous. Here’s a short list:
-Not working at the office with all of my coworkers.
-Delaying my orthodontic treatments as planned.
-Not finishing my pottery class which is totally cancelled.
-Not eating in restaurants.
-Not taking a hot yoga class (but thank you Adriene!).
-Cancelling the trip to Paris scheduled for the summer.
-Seeing the hundreds of faces that belong to my church family.
-And the thing that aches most is NOT visiting the cutest baby ever.

If he gets a tooth or starts crawling before I see him again… I’ll just sob.

All of these are now hidden behind the swirling snow (and social distancing directives). I just really want everything to land where it belongs, and don’t we all?

Perhaps, while things are still swirling, we can take a look around and assess what REALLY matters.

Like what? Everything is still swirling! And this exactly why I need to also name the things for which I am grateful right here and now. Some of these could come unglued too, as no one is immune or exempt.

Remembering my faith in God and returning to a regular prayer time. Checking in with my family and friends regularly (thank you FaceTime and Zoom). Having time and space to spend with a new special man. Time and energy to be back in my studio painting. And also access to a private beach during the best weather of the year.

What are the takeaways from this post? Other than the obvious admiration of Baby Ellix and jealousy of the private beach?

Recognize we are in a snow globe right now. Take inventory and name your grief and your gratitude, no matter how big or small. Reach out to your people and let them know you hope they are still there when it all stops swirling. And see what they need in the meantime.

Hang in there everyone. It’s all gonna be okay.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

PS. If you are really struggling right now, there is help. Check out this message from Dr. Henry Cloud and this message from Dr. Brene Brown.