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Hello, Friends and Lovers!

Just thought I’d check in with a status report regarding last year’s birthday pronouncement that “today” would no longer be about me… In essence, it would be about you

and you, and you…

I pledged to spread love on the day I happened to be born—the day of love. So now I’m right back here to tell you, “I love you guys!”

But I also promised to adopt the whole notion as a new way of living, a new way of being me. Quite a tall order. Good thing I didn’t give myself a deadline for this project.

Because I can’t say that I stuck to my new-found calling all of the past 365 days… I can’t even say that I thought about it for half of them. But I can say that the whole premise is becoming more comfortable, making more sense to me now on more days than not. It’s a conviction I’ll continue to live into.

But I can report that for today, what little I did was for other people. Except for that 90-minute, full-body massage. After all, I still love me, too.

How do I begin to write this?

It’s been coming since October 30th when I found out I’d lost my long-time friend, my wise and ever-patient confidant, Timothy.

Now see, when I started writing just now, I began telling the story of our special relationship, but that being 33-years’ worth, I had to stop. No one knows the unique nature of all that we shared over the years. And I’m not sure I want to tell it. It’s ours.

How do I write this?

Take Two

Since he died, I’ve known that I would have to write something. Sometime. I want to commemorate this day when Tim would have turned 73. I also wanted this date to mark a turning point for me. But I don’t seem to be ready to write what I need to say to Tim, what I need to tell myself.

Take Three

Tim had just fought and won a battle with leukemia. I’m not sure that he won the battle with the wretchedness of chemotherapy. He died unexpectedly and alone.

I sobbed for days. Tears of regret and anger, tears of gut-wrenching, cruelly abrupt loss. We had only just made it to the point where it seemed Tim was ready to be friends again after mourning the loss of his wife. I had missed our friendship so much! And yes, I sorta hoped for one more, last chance with Tim, although he was not the person I’d known so many years ago. His memory that had “failed” me so often was now failing him, too.

I’ve spent the months since his death reliving every contact we had over the years, every moment we shared. Analyzing the winding road of our strange relationship, wandering through datebooks, pictures, and keepsakes. Taking what I can from it, and trying to make it OK to let him go now. To let us go.

After all these years, I didn’t realize I hadn’t already! I’m just not done with it all yet. There is more yet to discover, more to learn. More to write.

I do know one thing though. When I get to wherever this is leading me, it will come with the affirmation that it’s OK to let go. I will finally be free.

Happy Birthday, my dear, dear, Timothy

With much love, P

To Lynn on Her Birthday

Dear Sweet Friend:

For this birthday, you will be getting the gift of life in a brand new body. The physical health and restoration your time on earth does not allow, you will receive in divine style. For what compensation your employers have long withheld, you are being promoted over their heads!

And yet, this is not the way you planned or expected things to go. It’s not what I expected for you either. And I’m selfishly disappointed that I won’t get to see you triumph over your many challenges in this life. But triumph you will in the next.

I just have one request. Will you write to me and let me know how you’re doing over there?

Completion: A Capable Death*

Cora died yesterday. Her sudden passing has caught everyone by surprise. She only just turned 50 – What? a year ago?

Cora and her husband, Scot, are friends from church, with whom I have numerous connections. As church members who live in the same part of town, we are in the same Care Team—members who help other members “in our own backyard.” Scot can be quite handy actually, if you have an electrical or computer problem to solve! But both of them have also provided support to me through periods of physical and emotional challenge.

I first got to know Cora in the alto section of Fellowship Choir. Cora is one of those people who are annoyingly upbeat all the time! 🙂 Cora was a great supporter of the church music program. She proudly claimed to be a devoted “ding-a-ling” in the adult handbell choir. And she had a soft spot for the Strings of Faith—an instrumental/vocal ensemble that I am privileged to sing with.

Professionally, Cora was most recently the Director of Technology at the Alzheimer’s Association in Fort Worth. She’d been there for 10 years! She and Scot are both admitted computer geeks. I know she loved the work that she did.

But late last year, she told me that she’d left that position to explore other things. I was astonished, but congratulated her on her new-found liberty from corporate existence. She said that she had to get away from the stress. What? That didn’t sound right. Cora loved the IT environment. She thrived on it.

She also said that she had actually thought about me a lot since making that change… what I had gone through in my latest, long-term confrontation with unemployment and how I had come to realize that I had something to say and I had to say it… how I had found purpose in putting my thoughts into words in my own unique way. Indeed, she has been a devoted reader of the blog that I launched as a result.

When she told me that, I wasn’t quite sure what she meant, but I took it as a compliment. I also did not at all connect what she said with the fact that we were at a church luncheon where the presentation topic was on wills and estate planning.

Cora died yesterday. At the time of her calling, she was with her mother, Elizabeth, who is in an assisted living facility. As an only child, who lost her father about the time I began to know her in Fellowship Choir, Cora has been her mother’s mainstay and in fact, the glue that has held their widespread, international family together since her father’s passing.

What better place for Cora to be than with her mother when Cora left us? I wonder whether Cora would have been with her mother yesterday if not for the fact that the facility called that morning to say that Elizabeth had fallen. I think God arranged for Cora to ascend this life from her mother’s side, from whence she came to this earth.

And I think that Cora knew. As surprising as her passing is to the rest of us, I think Cora knew it was imminent. Whether she knew that she knew, she cooperated with God to the last second to accomplish his plan for the completion of her life.

Years ago I experienced the tragic loss of a friend who was only 32 years old. She was broadsided in traffic by a more powerful vehicle, though it was likely her own fault. I so struggled to make sense of this death of such a young person. In God’s mercy, I was already in a ratio-emotive behavioral therapy group to deal with ongoing depression. Through therapy exercises, I came to the realization that death—at any age—is the logical and natural completion of a life on earth.

Death is a homecoming. Death is coming full circle. Death is the fulfillment of God’s grace to us.

Some people don’t need as much time as others to realize completion. By our earthly estimation, Cora left us prematurely. But she left in God’s perfect timing. On Easter Sunday—the one Sunday of the liturgical year when you are the least likely to get a seat in church—Cora will have the best seat in the House.

Godspeed, my friend Cora.

*I’m not sure why this title is appropriate, save that my Muse tells me so. Let Merriam-Webster be your muse to determine its personal significance to you in processing this story.

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