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March 2010

"Thank you for a clean house.  Thank you for bookmarks being done.  Thank you for a full head of hair.  Thank you for 10 fingers and 10 toes.  Thank you for all my senses working."    SAB    3-30-1998
 Shanselfportrait
Today is threatening to get away from me in that way that days do when there are more things on the "to-do" list than there are hours of daylight, so I'm writing early.
 
The weather report predicted rain all day but the sun is shining for now.  It's bouncing off of the bright green, baby leaves of the crabapple by the front porch.  It's dancing on the damp patches of newly awakening grass and warming the bricks on the sidewalk.  It may get cloudy and rain later but for now the sun reminds me that it's supposed to be seventy on Friday.
 
I had to let Sammy out at five but I discovered that if I just get up, let him out and don't think about it... I avoid that small dose of morning aggravation.  I crawled back into bed for a little while and listened to my husband snoring softly.  I thought about my friends who can't hear their husbands snoring and avoided another small dose of morning aggravation.  I got up at six and made half a pot of coffee because I've noticed that I'm pouring half a pot down the drain most days... so of course this morning, Jules wanted another cup... and had to make more.  There have been days when that tiny complaint would have set the tone for the day, but not today.
 
He doesn't like it when I talk about him but in this case I hope he'll forgive me.  I woke him this morning to ask him what makes him happy.  "There's a roof over our head.  We have plenty to eat.  We have cars.  I have you.  You have me...and if we could win the lottery, we could give every one we know one hundred thousand dollars and we'd all be happy."   I like the way he thinks.  Creature comforts.  Nothing too complicated.  He never feels compelled to over think everything.  He helps to balance my compulsion to over think everything.
 
I finished printing and cutting out all of the new photos for the garden.  I'll trim corners while I'm waiting for Jill's bus and tomorrow I'll laminate, and attach the crystal sun catchers.  We've always ... for most of 35 years gotten Shannon's birthday cake at Paul's bakery.  I think they opened the year Shannon was born so they are the same age.  If you are ever in Fredericksburg, it is one treat you have to allow yourself.  The pastries are melt in your mouth delicious.  But... they are closed on Sundays and Mondays, so this year I'll have to get our birthday cake on Saturday.  You MUST have cake ... and in the days to come you'll understand why it has become the one thing that has to be !Bookmark2
 
It's funny how little things that you do without really thinking... find a way to make a world of difference years after their creation.  Shannon started a small business after graduation  SAB INK.  She used her art and graphic skills to create business cards, brochures, letterheads, wedding invitations... whatever a client was looking for and bookmarks for herself.  I think she actually made quite a few bookmarks for Gram and her Sunday School classes.  Shan also collected bookmarks, so starting to create her own was a natural extension of a personal pleasure.  She and Denise made some beautiful bookmarks with glitter and rubber stamps and colored inks... dragonflies and butterflies and moons and clowns.... that's when we purchased our first paper cutter and laminator.Bookmark1_edited-1
 
Who could have imagined that a year later we would be giving the first Gratitude Bookmarks to the audience of Oprah, on a show that was supposed to be all about Gratitude.  And yet here we are some 200,000 bookmarks later, and I am convinced that had it not been for Shannon's amazing heart and creativity, her legacy of art and writing and bookmarks, that I would not have survived.
 
How often do we look in the mirror and lament the "do" of the day.  How many of us have cried after a bad haircut or perm or color?  How often have we thought "Thank you for a full head of hair."?  Until this moment, I probably haven't considered how difficult it would be to type each day without my fingers.  How could I touch our babies' soft cheeks or wipe tears or noses?  How could I french braid my best friend's hair or tie a bow of pink grosgrain ribbon?  How could we fully appreciate velvet or satin, peach fuzz or rose petals, Izzy's fur or oak bark?  How would I turn on the stove or the drier?  How would I remove a grain of sand from my eye or a splinter from my foot?  How would we hold a pencil or a crayon?  How would we brush the hair from a friend's face?  How could I take a photograph or turn the pages in a book?  How could I have not been thankful every moment of every day that I too have ten fingers and ten toes?
 
Life is hectic, demanding, overwhelming... but it is also amazingly grand.  Some times I lose my way.  I get sucked into the madness of the self imposed responsibilities and obligations and then I slow down long enough to read the five simple lines in my daughter's journal and I can breathe again.
 

Thank you thank you thank you for walking with me.  Thank you for letting Shannon brush away the cobwebs from the day's demands and let us smile for a while at how simple it all really is.  Even when the house is quiet, the cats are sleeping and Jules is working... I know I'm not alone.  We're all making our way through life together.  I wish for you today... ordinary moments with an abundance of simple joys.

BOOKMARKS
 

"Thank you for moments of clarity.  Thank you for the satisfaction of tasks completed.  Thank you for my Shannon.  Thank you for Shar and new career opportunities.  Thank you for the simple joys of bookmarks."  JJB       3-30-2010

myangelshannon@aol.com


"Thank you for a good day of yard work.  Thank you for not burning me to a crisp.  Thank you for the little things.  Thank you for the big things.  Thank you for everything in between."   SAB 3-29-1998

Sometimes when I have been under the weather, I come out with abundant appreciation for health.  I feel such compassion for those who are not blessed with good health and who are faced with the daunting task of undergoing treatment that is painful and challenging.

I also have the gift of reading what gave Shannon a light spirit, and she inevitably takes me with her.  There are things that I would like to ask her about, things that she abbreviated to save space, abbreviations that I can't quite figure out.  Maybe it's just her opportunity to have a secret or two, a way to keep me thinking.

I've thought a lot about happiness over the last few days.  Seems to be a topic that comes up with some regularity.  What is happiness?  I'm sure that it is different for everyone but I continue to try to find what authentic happiness is for me.

Once in a workshop, we were all instructed to create a positive affirmation that would encompass what we were hoping to embody in our lives.  For a number of my friends, they were searching for a meaningful, fulfilling, lucrative career.  For others it was the perfect relationship, or place to live.  But for everyone, the word happy or happiness was without exception, included...until they got to me.  I can't remember what I was trying to find, but I did know that I wasn't all that bothered about being happy.  As a matter of fact, they were all aghast when I admitted that I didn't think I wanted to be happy.  I had found joy and acceptance but happiness seemed frivolous and superficial and unnecessary in the life I had decided to live.  I admitted to having "sad bones".  I reassured them that I was fine with this realization and I promised not to wear the wound of sadness on the surface...but I also had no intention of forcing happiness to make the world more comfortable.

Last week I was indirectly asked to reexamine my resolve.  My dear friend, who lost her husband a little over a year ago, expressed her personal experience with grief.  She told me that after a while she had to let some of her sadness go in order to make room for the good things in life... to make room for happiness once again.  I am always so grateful to her for giving me openings to think beyond my own mindset. 

I can only hope that I haven't imposed my sad bones on those around me.  That is certainly never my intent.  I try to embrace all that life offers.  I did, after ten years, decide to spend Shannon's birthday with Shannon.  Last year Jules was out of town and Shannon's best friend and mine, with their daughters and grand daughter, spent the afternoon with me.  Of course we had cake.IMG_0636   And we sat in the garden and we laughed and reminisced.  Is that happiness?  I'm not sure.  Perhaps like most things, happiness comes in different shades and hues, like the newest box of 120 Crayola crayons.

I think that I spent time thinking that happiness was like an amusement park, loud, frivolous, colorful, funnel cake and roller coasters, musicals, bright lights and fireworks...none of which seem important in this newer life.  If happiness is transient, as another friend shared, then it changes from moment to moment and has more or less relevance based on where we are in life and what our expectations are.

Happiness could mean contentment or satisfaction or gratitude or acceptance.  If that's the case, then I am happy.  It's a matter of perception.  When the tulip tree blooms before Shannon's birthday, it makes me happy.  When bluebirds nest in the bluebird house, when my family is safe and healthy, when I see an old friend, when the house is clean, when I get an exceptionally good photograph... I guess that feeling is happiness. But it also wells up with random acts of kindness, given and received, or when I watch a little child holding his Mom's hand, skipping, innocent and unconcerned, without a care in the world.  Yes, that, to me is happy... children know it instinctively and share it without reservation.  I can appreciate the societal yearning for happiness but I will reserve a small place deep within my bones for my sad.

IMG_0662_edited-1 It takes nothing from anyone and does not diminish my life. It is merely the place where I can feel the absence.  My place, deep inside that doesn't impair or cripple me in any way.  It is that place that reminds me that life is not always happy or simple, and everyone will at one time or another share ache.  It is our connection, the connection that also comes in 120 different colors.  We will all know sadness and we can choose to hold that sadness close, but being sad will not exclude happiness.  Sometimes, sad simply makes happy brighter, the way most things in life are clear only when cast beside their opposite.  I think that's why I am so drawn to the charcoals in my "Lingering Light" series.  They allow us to focus on the light, even in the midst of overwhelming dark.  They remind me that as long as there is even a sliver of light... it is all we need to see what is beautiful and precious.

Shannon certainly had it right.  Little things... big things... and every thing in between.  I have decided in the days to come, as we approach the end of April, to allow myself the freedom to really express everything that I remember about that last amazing month with my daughter.  I know that I will share emotions that might be uncomfortable, raw, pulled straight from that sad place inside my bones.  It's okay if you don't want to go there with me, but I have to write it down.  I have to remember every detail.  It feels necessary to look back, revisit all of the ways Shannon took my hand and led me through her leaving, touched me from Heaven and refused to let me give in or give up. 

I've tried to write about those times a thousand times in the last twelve years. Perhaps now, with you, I'm ready.  Ready to share with those she loved and those who love her.  Ready to reassure those who are lost in their own grief, to let them know that they are not alone.  Ready to finally record all of the times that I heard my Angel's whispers.

Flash drive 008


"Thank you for everything in between.  Thank you for Shannon smiles.  Thank you for crock pot chicken.  Thank you for conversations with friends.  Thank you for yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows."              JJB   3-29-2010

myangelshannon@aol.com

I would love to hear from you, about any thing, any time.


"Thank you for my talks with Mom.  Thank you for my bibs.  Thank you for the egg (RP).  Thank you for spring arriving.  Thank you for driving with the windows open and feeling the breeze." SAB    3-28-1998

"Thank you for the GAP being done.  Thank you for the 'C of the L'.  Thank you for the chicadees on the porch.  Thank you for Weight Watchers.  Thank you for the tim eto get all things done."      SAB   3-27-1998

"Thank you for it being warm enough for my plants.  Thank you for GAP being half done.  Thank you for time to read.  Thank you for time to sleep.  Thank you for time to be."    SAB   3-26-1998

In the wee hours of the morning when I would wake and not be able to return to sleep, I found a "community" on AOL.  Technology was so different then, dial up service that required signing on, making a cup of tea, finding a sweater and then watching the little running man make his way through the blackness of cyber infancy until finally ... connecting.  Amazing how far we've come in just twelve years.

I know without doubt that our children were watching, encouraging, working a special magic that I can't possibly understand but will be forever grateful for, to make sure that in the throws of our sleepless three a.m. grief, we found each other.  Burgess, Callie, Shannon, Quentin, and Keith... knew that we couldn't do it alone.  Friendships were forged that have carried me through the darkest moments and embraced me through the brightest.

Cake

Today is Burgess' birthday.  I haven't met him yet, but I will.  His Mom is beautiful inside and out.  Sometimes she calls and if I'm not home, she talks to my voice mail and I smile with her as she celebrates new grand babies, breathlessly from her car or the gym, she's always on the move.  In the first year after our children returned to Heaven she packed up all of her photographs of Burgess and mailed them to me.  I scanned them, saved to a digital file and returned them to her.  I will never forget that she entrusted me,  a total stranger with this most precious treasure.  I was so afraid something might happen to those photos, but as I looked at each one, sharing family memories, I began to feel that I had known them forever.

Her home is always a haven for family and friends and I have never seen a photo of her, that her smile didn't brighten the room.  Once we met in passing at an airport when I was on my way to L.A. to see Patti, and once she came to Virginia with her husband on business.  We haven't shared luncheons, or church picnics or movies or committees or PTA meetings... but I feel closer to her than friends I have known for life.  She has, along with other Moms I have never met, blessed my life beyond words.

 In this moment I am struck by what these women, these incredible women have accomplished in their lives, in ways that certainly make their children so very proud.  Burgess was killed traveling in an extended van from a scouting event.  His parents worked to pass laws requiring the use of seat belts in those vehicles.   (http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/37421/Shining-Moment-Filling-the-void.html)

Callie was killed by a drunk driver, but her Mom became an advocate for Organ Donation, creating a web site for "Donor Moms".  (http://www.angelfire.com/ms/DonorMoms/entrance.html) She has been through so much... but she is open and loving and so very dear.....finding it in her heart to forgive the individual that took her daughter's life.  Bob's Mom and Dad worked tirelessly to increase the awareness of the prevalence of establishments that serve alcohol to under-aged patrons.  In the most horrible moments of their lives, they found a way to give meaning to their personal tragedy and create a legacy that honors life instead of becoming mired in death.

One of the many things I've learned over the last twelve years is the profound importance of celebrating, in ways that many find difficult to comprehend, both the birth and the transition of our loved ones.  Time doesn't necessarily heal all wounds, but gives us the opportunity to be less afraid of them.  Together, we have exchanged, gifts, cards, flowers and email.  We have eaten cake. released balloons, planted trees and made memorial donations.  When we are together on the planet, expressing love is easy.  Once someone we love is in Heaven, we have to find new ways to express our love and joy at their presence in our lives.  We are tempted to withdraw, hide from the pain of the day that they returned to Heaven, but with these women who understand that love gives us courage we never believed we had and in the same way that we would have done anything for our children in life, we will also do anything for them in "death", even if that means finding ways to embrace life again.

My nieces and nephews were so young when Shannon "left" that I wanted them to always be comfortable sharing their feelings, their memories, without worrying that they would be inappropriate or upset us.  I wanted to help them remember.  So on Shannon's first birthday in Heaven, we had dinner at a restaurant, where an extra chair was placed for her.  We exchanged gifts with one another... something that would remind each of us of our times with Shannon.  We had cake and balloons and we laughed together, and remembered together.  Our waitress was so sweet and understanding, even taking a picture or two for us to cherish.

On Shannon's Heaven Day, we invited family and friends and neighbors and we each planted a flowering plant in Shannon's garden... and we had cake, always have cake !  We wrote notes to those we love in Heaven and gathered in the cul de sac to release our balloons.

DeskscanII 049

I know I'm rambling again, but I wanted to encourage you to find ways to celebrate, even the difficult moments... they are all special and give meaning to this life.   Today I wanted to take time to remember Callie, Burgess, Fran and Tom.  Their lives have touched mine in very special ways and I will always be grateful.

"Thank you for Shannon's new friends.  Thank you for cake.  Thank you for the magic of balloons lifting to Heaven.  Thank you for friends who learn to celebrate despite their discomfort.  Thank you for Burgess and his Mom."     JJB    3-26-2010


"Thank you for another S.K. down.  Thank you for unblocking my artist's block.  Thank you for the doughnut.  Thank you for a new book and author.  Thank you for 20 weeks to get myself in shape."   SAB 3-25-1998

Desktopsam

So... I was going to go back and finish my entry for yesterday, because it seems like I didn't finish, but to be completely honest, I can't remember yesterday.  I know, pitiful.  So I'll move on with today.

This morning, at 4:14 a.m. Sam started his daily dance across the headboard of the bed.  I tried to convince him to go back to sleep, but for some reason, since the time change... this has become his new routine.  So rather than ignore him and hope that Jules might let him out, Sam is our indoor outdoor cat, I got up.  Trouble is, once I'm out of bed, that's it for the night.  So I made coffee and did some laundry and played with fonts for B and J's wedding invitations, at seven I talked to my Mom and got ready for work.

Yep, I put on my bibs and boots and Todd and I worked on removing downed trees from a friend's rental property.  He did the sawing, I did toting.  I may be too old for "Woodchucking".  It felt really good to work really hard and see positive results...but I am almost too tired to move.Tree6

Two years ago, August I think, I noticed Sophie staring out the bay window, flirting with the most pitiful, emaciated faded bag of bones cat you ever saw.  I tried to ignore him, hoping he belonged to someone and would go home but that didn't happen.  We had already adopted Helen and two of her kittens the previous November when we discovered her, a mere kitten trying to care for her six kittens, under the porch of the vacant house across the street.  My neighbor adopted two and my Mom graciously took two...so the last thing we needed was another cat, any of us. 

In addition to being straight from "Pet Cemetery", every time I tried to approach the beast he hissed and howled and convinced me that he was rabid.  But he wouldn't go away.  I finally caved and put food out.  He was starving and I couldn't bear it.  It was a covert operation, because Jules made it abundantly clear that I was not to encourage another feline.  Once he realized that I had food, he quit trying to scare me to death and we became friends.  I discovered that he had been neutered and de clawed and was convinced that someone was looking for him.

We put ads in the paper.  I made fliers that I put on every post and pole for miles.  I went to every Veterinarian, Shelter and the SPCA.  No one was looking for him and no one wanted him.  Two families tried him.  One had a severe allergic reaction and brought him home after one weekend.  The second family kept him for two weeks and brought him back because he was "food aggressive" and they were afraid of him.

At that point, I realized that he was just meant to be with us.  I promised never to send him away again.  Sometimes I think he's part dog, or maybe a dog reincarnated.  He sits when told, he meets the car when we pull into the driveway, and he wants to sleep with his paw on my face.  He chooses to wait at the door or ask to go out instead of using the litter box and every day he brings us small furry critters, usually well on their way to Heaven.  Last summer he decided to bring frogs... I was even happier about that !!  Best of all, he is dog enough for Jules to like him.

Tonight, when Sammy saw me heading upstairs, he beat me to the desk.  This is something new.  For the last week, anytime I sit down to type, he plants himself between the keyboard and the monitor and snores softly while I write.

I often wonder how he wound up in the ditch by the house.  I wonder why, when he is such an avid hunter, even without claws, he was so incredibly thin when he found us.  I've watched him sit for hours, moving only to breathe, watching the ground for the slightest movement of some hidden critter.  Izzy likes his older brother but Helen and Sophie are evil step sisters.

It's almost impossible to feel anything but overwhelming gratitude for a friend like this.  In a minute I'm going to drag my tired bones to take a bath.  Sammy will go with me and curl up on the bath mat and wait until I'm through.  Then he'll trot along beside me and jump onto the bed, getting as close as necessary to put one paw against my face.  Then we'll sleep.

Some days I'm not as happy as I think I aught to be...not as patient or productive or optimistic or creative, but then again, I have this amazing friend who wants to be with me regardless.  He asks only that I feed him, pet him, allow him the comfort of being close when it's dark, let him hide under the bed when it storms and love him.  He's easy...and I do.

So... the next time someone comes into your life... dirty, scary, vicious or faded... don't be too quick to judge them undesirable... they could become your very best friend.

"Thank you for hard work and soft friends.  Thank you for hot baths and Epsom Salts.  Thank you for Subway.  Thank you for boring ordinary non stress full days.  Thank you for Shannon reaching through time and space to fill my heart with her special reminders to be thankful."    JJB   3-25-2010


 


"Thank you for the sun coming out today.  Thank you for another occupation down.  Thank you for yoga.  Thank you for Diet Pepsi.  Thank you for sleep and time to do it." SAB 3-24-1998
 
Blueberry
"Thank you for afternoon buses to meet.  Thank you for housework almost done.  Thank you for Sharpee markers, fine tip and rainbow colors.  Thank you for daffodils and tulips.  Thank you for forsythia."    JJB   3-24-2010

"Thank you for D's 2nd visit.  Thank you for blue skies.  Thank you for Burger King.  Thank you for time to finish things.  Thank you for contentment."     SAB   3-23-1998
 
 
Shannon's birthday is April 5th, and her Heaven day is May 1st.  Over the years it has become my tradition to celebrate her birthday by taking all of the photos from the Angel Tree and making new ones.  I reprint the 225 photographs, laminate them, attach small sun catchers to the bottom and new pastel bows to the tops.  They look beautiful fluttering in the breeze, and the garden becomes a sanctuary of calm. 
 
Now getting them done is anything but calm.  Today I have been in computer hell.  I got the program running and set to print the 25 pages of photos and left the room to do some housework.  When I returned, the photos were hot pink.  The printer had run out of ink and I had to begin again.  With new print cartridges in place I pressed "Print", this time nothing happened.  I un installed hardware and software, downloaded a new driver, ran diagnostic programs and still the challenges continued. 
 
I had started at 6 am.  By 9, I was fit to be tied and as I sat here wondering what on earth was going on... I looked up and my eyes fixed on the spine of a book sitting quietly on the shelf above my head.  "Sometimes the Magic Works".  I took the book off of the shelf and decided to take a bath, dress for the day and then begin again with the printing process.
 
At this point I have to regress a little and tell  you that last week as I was working on ideas for Bee and Justin's wedding invitations and favors, I was suddenly obsessed with the idea of skeleton keys.  I thought I must be picking up on some Divine inspiration for an original idea.  I searched hardware web sites and E bay and even though the idea had not fully materialized I found a real bargain and ordered twenty five brass skeleton keys.Keys2  I e mailed Bee and Justin to see if they had some special connection to keys or maybe they were symbolic for them in some romantic way.  They assured me that keys meant nothing, but they would give it some thought.  Okay so I now have 25 lovely new keys on the way with no specific purpose. I imagined them tied with violet raffia ribbons, hanging on a peg board with seating assignments.  In my mind, it was a lovely idea but still didn't feel quite right.
 
Okay, so fast forward to this morning.  I left the printing chaos behind and took my book with me to read a little in the bath tub.  I checked the copyright date to see when I had actually purchased it... 2004.  So, for six years this dear book has been waiting.  I flipped through it and landed on one of the pages between chapters...Keys3" I am incomplete without my work.  I am so closely bound to it, so much identified by it, that without it I think I would crumble into dust and drift away."... and if you look very closely at the small symbol beneath the quote you will see a graphic image of ...yes... a skeleton key. 
 
Now I know you might think, mere coincidence, but I'm telling you honestly that I felt as if something struck me softly in my chest.  I closed the book to look more closely at the dust jacket.  The title of the book is, "Sometimes the Magic Works ~ Lessons from a Writing Life", and it is written by Terry Brooks.  Apparently Terry writes science fiction/fantasy novels and his first was "The Sword of Shannara".  I've never read any of his books but one of my friends told me this afternoon, that he actually has several autographed copies of Mr. Brook's novels.
But here's the best part... the image on the cover of the book is yet another SKELETON key.  I have only read the first two chapters and the introduction so I haven't discovered the specific relevance of the image but I know there will be one and it will be delightful !
Keys4
I guess I don't have to remind you that several days ago, I asked for signs that my personal Angel is around and taking an interest in the events of my days.  I even whispered to Shannon to give that particular Angel some encouragement because I can be a little hard headed.  So as I sat here today... and it has taken all day to get the new photos printed... I just kept thinking about the serendipity in choosing this particular book on this particular day, and how that small choice made all the difference.
 
  I even e mailed the author to thank him for his part in lessening the stress of today's technological adversity.
 
When I finally made the decision to give this day to the Angel Tree "Angels", exclusively...to forget doing the dishes or the laundry or vacuuming...to relinquish my attempt at multi-tasking and really look at and be with the precious people I was printing photos of...the energy shifted.  The printer printed, the paper didn't jam, the ink didn't smear and the first step... the printing step, is complete.
 
I took a break a little while ago for a cup of coffee, and the movie, Twilight was on.  I'm not a real fan of Vampires or Werewolves but I am a tremendous fan of love stories.  Even though the story is about young love, the idea of loving forever and against all odds, is timeless and ageless.  I also noticed that the musical score is haunting.  So when I came back to my computer I googled the movie.  The tag-line is, "When you can live forever, what do you live for?" and my immediate thought was "When you can't live forever, what do you live for?"... but that's probably a question better answered another day. 
 
For now, I'm just going to revel in the sweet coincidences of this day and be grateful that sometimes, if we're paying attention,  the magic really does work.
 
"Thank you for completed photographs.  Thank you for Terry Brooks.  Thank you for sychronisity.  Thank you for Shannon's contentment.  Thank you for allowing me to believe in moments of magic."      JJB   3-23-2010

"Thank you for the "Popular Vote".  Thank you for Jackie Chan.  Thank you for the right embossing powder.  Thank you for time to reflect.  Thank you for sunshine."   SAB    3-22-1998

Some days, there is something I need to say, to acknowledge or release but it won't surface.  I sit here staring into a blank screen and wonder how on earth "REAL" writers do it.  Writers with deadlines and bylines and vacant skylines that offer no inspiration.  So I start thumbing through journals.  On some pages there are notes, I suppose I thought I would always remember what they referred to.  I was wrong

 There are bits of poems or attempts to answer my own questions.  Some entries are simply "Dear Diary" pages that mark a spot in time in my personal history.  Again, I will apologize.  There is nothing witty or engaging or profound in the pages that I wrote on my 48th birthday, four years after Shannon "left", but I feel as if I need to revisit those pages, not in sadness but in recognition of how far I've traveled... and the transformation that happens almost unnoticed.

December 26, 2002

"Don't walk into the forrest wearing a blindfold and weep because there are no trees."  ~  My Angel

Today I will have been on the earth for 48 years - 20 without Shannon - 23 with her and now almost 5 without her.   I liked it so much better when my time with her was more than without.  Before, I didn't know what I was missing so my heart was whole - I thought.

What I hadn't realized was that I wasn't complete until my heart knew absolute love and it was only with the birth of my daughter that I found that love. 

Today I find myself, once again reaching for Heaven, reaching for a place where I can recognize myself.  This morning I realized that I should expend less energy trying to protect myself and more trying to project myself.

I felt as if I was racing out of control toward the holidays.  New traditions, such as the family gift exchange and the table top tree.

I saw Bono on Oprah.  I wonder where the drive to give comes from.  Do we all have it?  Hidden beneath layers of fear and apathy?  If we don't see it, it must not exist...so we work diligently to be blind to what causes us discomfort.  I used to have more social and environmental and global awareness.  I lost it somewhere in the rubble of my life after Shannon's death...there I said it, but it makes me nauseous even though it is merely a word...it is a lie !!

She is not DEAD.  She is alive and well and glowingly happy but it is as if the world wants us to be HONEST, but to be honest to a false truth is painful.  Death is a lie.  We move from one life to another ...there is no end or beginning for that matter, I guess, just the constant change and perpetual motion of life's energy, ever transforming itself.

Always keep your face toward the light and every shadow will be behind you.  Shadows can loom large or small, but they can never really be, they can only  harm us through our own misguided perception of them.  How ridiculous it is to fear the shadow...it is merely a reflection of the absence of light.  It cannot exist independent of another.

Once upon a time I watched my life pass like the easy ambling flow of a river.  I pondered possibility, accepted inevitability, appreciated opportunity and lamented... but I only lamented occasionally, when I longed for simplicity.Emma

That's where it ended, and there isn't another entry until June.  It had been a difficult year.  Our sweet Emmy had joined Shannon, and the experience of new grief had allowed me to be deeply, openly and unapologetically, sad.  For those who haven't experienced the untimely loss of someone dear, four years seems like forever.  It is incredibly difficult for them to understand that you will never be the same and although you make every effort to appear "normal" for their comfort...you live every day holding the shattered pieces in place... fearful of sharing Humpty Dumpty's inevitable fate. 

It is almost impossible for me to believe that it has been eight years since I wrote those words.  I have softened and expanded and accepted and wept and laughed and realized that I have relinquished some of my own very imposing shadows.  At first, I marked each year as time since I had seen Shannon.  Then one day, it occurred to me that every day, every week, every month, every year, took me that much closer to seeing her again, and I had to have marvelous adventures to share when I got there.  I didn't want to just survive.  I wanted life to be better because I was part of it.  So many friends helped me build the bridge back to myself.  They chastised me for "wearing my wound".  They allowed me to be alone to find my way through the darkness but they always carried a light.  They loved me on good days, and bad.

I've wondered so often, lately, where I'm going, what I'm supposed to be doing, what my purpose is.  When I look back, without censors or judgment, I realize that life really is simply about living.  Doing the best we can, when we can, and forgiving ourselves when we just can't.  Looking back, gives us insights into how we arrived at this moment... and allows us to see how far we've come.  For now, that is enough. 

One last offering from the pages of 2002....IMG_1438

Within a moment,  eternity lies waiting,   to be awakened.

"Thank you for accepting who I was when that was all I could be.  Thank you for every precious moment.  Thank you for Shannon's shared appreciation for words.  Thank you for giving us a sixth sense when the other five just don't do it.  Thank you for Jules and Todd helping with Sandra's trees." JJB   3-22-2010


"Thank you for all the company today.  Thank you for D's visit.  Thank you for Gram.  Thank you for self realizations.  Thank you for the ability to change them."    SAB   3-21-1998

It was a wonderful Sunday.  Any time spent with people you love makes a day special.

Hummer1

  "Thank you for sunny, balmy Sundays.  Thank you for Dee and Todd and Jill.  Thank you for Chinese Dragons dancing for attention.  Thank you for another Art Show completion.  Thank you for Chopin Script Font."    JJB 3-21-2010