Gentle Thoughts

When prayer is requested for those in need, all hearts open.

We reach out to Heaven, having faith that we are heard, that our prayers will be answered.

There is celebration and gratitude when healing takes place.... but when someone we love leaves this life despite all the open hearts and sincere prayers offered without ceasing... does it mean our prayers were not heard or answered?

Of course not.

It simply means that we cannot always know where the path of another will take them....or when.

I have come to believe that prayer is the vehicle for love to travel, to surround and to hold someone in need.  Love is a force beyond our understanding.  Love is God.   So in our prayers we offer ourselves to be God's hands, God's embrace, God's protection, God's love... human to human.

We love despite the answer.   We love when we have nothing more to offer.  We love when life is restored and we love when life as we have come to cherish it, transitions into the wonder that comes after.  We love and we trust.

So on those days when you ask for prayer for a specific outcome... my heart joins with yours in a request that asks only that we understand and continue to have faith, and to love even  if the answer fills us with despair. 

When prayer is answered and everyone breathes that sigh of relief saying, "God is good", remember that we have free will and choice.  And if it appears that our prayers were not answered, God is still good ! IMG_0068

As I have said so many times before, no one has ever prayed as hard as I did on May 1, 1998.  I begged God to save my Shannon.   I begged Shannon not to go.  I have no idea how many prayers were offered along with mine but I'm sure I was not alone.

We can't lose faith when our hearts are broken...that is when it means the most.  We must not blame love for the pain we suffer.  We cannot give up on prayer.  We simply trust that life is forever and prayer gives us a place to lay when we can no longer stand.

Prayers are always answered.  Love is always and forever abundant.  Death will come and we won't always understand but prayers are never wasted.  Prayers wrap us in love and keep us safe until we are able to stand again.


Prayer for the Thrashers

I have been known to think too much...then again, there are days when I have sheets in the washer, cats on the deck, dishes in the sink, vacuum in one room, journal and pen in another, camera on the tripod by the door...and I'm sitting at the computer trying to have even one meaningful thought.

Recently life started to feel overwhelming.  Not in my normal everyday overwhelming way but in the way that says "Help but don't judge." "Be there but don't have an opinion."  "Do what you can without overstepping your bounds."  "Release your damnable need for control !"

Worry creeps in silently.  You might not realize the effects it is having until you have gained five pounds, tossed and turned the sheets right off the bed, gone through a whole tube of concealer while debating whether on not it's time to order the ProActive Solution, and recognize that your thoughts are on a time loop continuum that is not only exhausting but totally non productive.

So... as I am so prone to do... I bought a book. My answer to everything, knowing that there is at least one other human being who has found themselves thrashing around in life long enough not only to happen on a solution but write and publish for the rest of us. 

Today's  selection, " The Way of Serenity " by Father Jonathan Morris. 

Knowing that I may never get it read from cover to cover, I skipped to the end and there on page 225 I found the words that I have now printed and posted on the bathroom mirror and here for the rest of you thrashers who might not ever get around to reading the book either.

Heavenly Father,

You know I want to do the right thing.  You know I want to love as you love, to serve as you serve.  You know, too, that there are people in my life who I find hard to love.  I ask you to give me a heart like yours so that, beginning today, I will put people ~ above all things, especially above those things that get in the way of loving others as you love me.

Amen

I'm not sure, but I'm thinking that if I can manage to get even remotely close to receiving the grace to love as God loves, control and judgement... not to mention, opinions...won't matter so much.

So as I head back to the dishes, the cats and the vacuum... I have, at least for the moment, stopped thrashing and my focus is, at least for the moment on love ... and that gorgeous day unfolding just for me.

(....and all of you !)

Unfold


Letting it go

"Don't regret knowing the people in your life.

Good people give you happiness.

Bad ones give you experience.

The worst ones give you lessons

and the best ones give you memories."

Wonderland9

 

The last few months have taught me in no uncertain terms the truth in that observation, and I am beginning to recognize that I am very tired of the "experiences and lessons".  

When someone around you is in trouble,  human nature dictates that we do what we can, when we can...but when you realize that your boundaries have disappeared and you start to resent the very ones you are trying to help, it's time to reevaluate.

Sometimes we lose sight of what we are  giving away until we are depleted and the people and things that fill us have disappeared beneath a stack of someone else's priorities.

Today, I choose to let it go.  To focus on what lightens my heart and fills my spirit.

 

Some habits are very hard to break but we all need to take a breath.  Realize that if someone needs you, they will find you.... or they will find someone else.

I never want to become bitter or resentful because I have forgotten how to say "No".  So many of us have grown up believing that we had to give ourselves away in order to be liked ... or worse yet, that we might disappoint someone.  When we finally wake up and see that we are empty and exhausted, it's time to love ourselves, at least as much as we love everyone else, or there will be nothing left to give.  I have decided that I want to be your happiness and your memories...not what's left after the lessons and experiences.

Taking a break and letting it go... knowing that my safety net, those of you who give way more that you get, will be there when I land.

 


I carry your heart

i carry your heart with me

E. E. Cummings

 

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me

(i carry it in my heart)

i am never without it

(anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)

 i fear no fate

(for you are my fate, my sweet)

i want no world

(for beautiful you are my world, my true)

and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you


here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;

which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart


i carry your heart with me

(i carry it in my heart)

 

It's funny how a moment from a movie can reflect a moment of our own.  Our life,  not scripted or planned, a life that rolls and tumbles and lands upright and sober only every so often... but those words of someone unknown to you, reach in and touch your heart in a way that opens all the windows and doors.

And with those doors and windows open, we can carry so many hearts. 

I cannot wrap my mind around the cruelty that has been unleashed upon so many parts of our world.  I can only carry their hearts in mine until they can be free of fear and hatred.  It feels like so little and yet I remember, in the days following Shannon's accident, one of my dearest friends offered that to me...to hold my heart safely until it could beat on its own again, and that meant the world.

73

Every life, new and old, offers us, again and again, hope, promise, wisdom and the opportunity to be more that we thought possible and the courage to envision a world that will be bright and kind... a world where we will not hesitate to carry another's heart within our own.

 

 


Happiness Days 9 ~ 11

Day 9

So many thoughts have played in my head over the last few days.  Mostly irrelevant but some that made my heart swell in my chest like soap bubbles filling and popping and filling again and again.

Monday was Lizza's birthday.  We are so grateful that she will always be a part of our family.  She is bright and beautiful and the greatest shades of red.  We miss her. 

We went to see Edge of Tomorrow and I was happy that it was still daylight when we left the theater.  The bunnies ate my morning glory seedlings... all but one.  Thank you bunnies.

Day 10

Yesterday was busy.  Thank you for wood bought.  Thank you for the kind man who helped in loading...and thank you that Jules and I both survived the unloading !  (Hopefully we will survive the building )

Day 11

So today before I tackle the housework and laundry and stack of unopened mail, I'm capturing a few of these random thoughts before they flee...and in keeping with Step 3 in the quest for happiness I want to write a thank you note to my Mom. ( I suppose it is a human flaw to believe that there is Facebook in Heaven and Mom can read this letter easier than she can read my heart. )

Gram 2

Hi Mom,  

Surprised?  Everything you suspected?  All that you hoped?  Shannon reading over your shoulder?  Thought so !  I miss you guys.

I know you worried about our dysfunctional childhood, in those last days on the planet, so I want to reassure you, in a vaguely public way, not to worry.  Something mysterious happens when someone you love is out of sight.  At first everything bubbles to the surface.  All of the hurts... the harsh words, the switches, the long hours, the endless fatigue... they surface first and like those brightly colored soap bubbles, they soon pop and disappear.

Unlike the moments that we build on.  The ones we hold on to and make part of who we are and who we will become.  Here are some of those...some I really remember, others I remember because you told me.  You worked nights so that you would be with us when we were awake.  You allowed a five year old to give you a home permanent with toilet paper and water while you tried desperately to sleep.   You lost a child and somehow didn't lose your mind.  You told me once that after Melinda returned to Heaven I was sitting on the kitchen table staring intently out the window and told you that I saw Mary and Baby Jesus and you were certain that I was going to die too.   Then, the day you decided to cut down all the wild rose bushes from the back fence on the hottest day of summer and collapsed, and I sat with you.  You asked me later why I didn't go for help.  Of course I was only five...and my response was, "I thought you were going to die and I didn't want you to be alone."

After Candy and Johnny arrived hearts gently healed.  You still worked all night, tended us as well as a home and garden all day.  You somehow managed to can tomatoes and green beans, mow grass, grow flowers and make dresses.   I remember the taste of a tomato off the vine, warm with summer sunlight, and shelling peas and the smell of fried potatoes and onions wafting across the backyard at suppertime.  I also remember the feel of the lavender dotted swiss fabric that became my favorite dress, the one with the drop waist, stand up collar and long sleeves that I wore on my first real date. 

Yes, you did demand a lot.  Yes I got in trouble for everything my siblings did !  Yes I was the sassiest child in Culpeper County and yes you did tell me once that I was a "serpent unto your bosom. "   You didn't think I really believed all that did you?

Once Shannon arrived, you loved her with all your heart...just like she loved you.  Never once in all of her life did you say "no" if I needed you, or if she needed you. 

When Shannon returned to Heaven, I knew what you had felt so long ago.  What you had tucked into your heart's most sacred place in order to Mother us.  I didn't understand broken until then...or what it would take to keep breathing.  I know without doubt that had our lives been any different, any smoother or gentler... if Daddy had been stronger or sober, if we had been less dysfunctional in any of a thousand ways... I would not have survived losing Shannon.

And in all the years after... you helped me fill the empty spaces her absence left behind.  Thank you.  You were brave and selfless enough to intervene when that awful man stood ready to stab that young boy at the carnival fifty years ago, and determined enough to prove cardiomyopathy wrong.  You are our best and most loved Gram and you needn't worry about how we grew up.  We grew up strong and brave and tender, and wise and compassionate and generous and hopeful, like our Mother.

And although I promised that these photos would remain our secret, it is certainly a testament to the lengths a mother will go for her children... and I have to share.

Several years ago, when I was finishing a course in photography, I needed a St. Patrick's Day portrait.  While we were shopping the Dollar Store one Friday after lunch, I had an idea.  Mom agreed to be my model and with green eye shadow, green bubbles, hats, glasses and shiney ribbon the project quickly took a turn for the absurd.  My adorable, almost eighty year old Mom got right into the spirit of the ridiculous and became my lepregram in the hemlock tree. 

I'm not sure when we ever laughed so hard !

  Green Mom

So here we are.  I love you.  I miss you.  I cherish all of our Fridays together and I am now and for always grateful for you.      Jan


Day 8

Yesterday was our 40th wedding anniversary. 

We were babies when we met.  A Marine who brought me wildflowers from the rifle range, and took care of me when I had my wisdom teeth removed.  A Marine that I remember telling, in no uncertain terms, that he was not to tell me he loved me.  I was nineteen, he was twenty one.

Six months later we stood in the backyard of the house where I grew up, mulberries falling in the punch and my Mom's corsage topping the cake, and promised to love each other forever.

I suppose at nineteen, forty years seems like forever.  We had no idea what the future held but we believed that whatever it was, we would be okay, together.

I have been sitting here for almost an hour, writing, deleting, rewriting.  The truth is, my life began in earnest with this skinny Marine holding wildflowers, and our baby daughter.  The journey has had ups and downs and joys and sorrows too wide for words but we are still here, still counting on forever. Jules and shannon
So I am grateful for time...and patience and memories.  I am grateful that when I am older and grayer and can't remember my name, these words will still be out there someplace as a reminder that

1. Love doesn't mean easy but it is worth the work.

2. You will remember the hurts because they are few and stand out loud in the overall scheme of things.    (Try to give as much time and energy to remembering the "happys".)

3. Love gives us the courage to face what we think we can't.

4. Little means as much as a familiar hand to hold in the dark.

5. Cranky and Grumpy are going to visit, try to remember that they will also leave.

6. Expectations lead to disappointments...not the people you have expectations of.

We didn't do something spectacular to celebrate surviving, together, for forty years.  Jules spent the weekend with his best friends auto crossing in Charlotte.  I built a sidewalk.  Today we tried to think of something we could do that wouldn't entail "work".  Something fun.  An adventure.

We sat looking across Mom's wicker table in the gazebo, at the familiar faces we have stared into over coffee for forty years and laughed at how boring we are.  How predictable and reliable and ridiculously comfortable.  We see in each other a life lived well.  We see in each other our precious daughter. 

There is calm in realizing, without regret, that we have done the best we knew how.   Of course, I wish I had done some things better and other things not at all, but here we are. 

Still counting on Forever, and I am very grateful.

 

 

 


June 1 ~ Happiness

   Picture of happiness...and optimism. GG fishing

Last Sunday Shawn Achor was on Super Soul Sunday.  He teaches Happiness Psychology at Harvard.  Now anyone who knows me, knows that I have had, for some time, a love hate relationship with happiness.  I haven't been real sure that it was necessary.   Unlike joy, which I whole heartedly embrace.

Listening to Shawn and Oprah, I started to wonder if I was just being stubborn.  Refusing to be happy, or maybe I just didn't understand what happiness is.  So I checked with Daniel Webster... "a   :  a state of well-being and contentment :  joy   b   :  a pleasurable or satisfying experience ".

Well that didn't help, so I kept watching, hoping for that "light bulb" moment.

About half way through the hour, Shawn mentioned a 21 day plan, requiring only  2 minutes a day, to increase your happiness and not only would you feel better but the world would feel better as well because of the ripple effect. 

Well how could I resist that? 

Change the world for the better in only 21 days? 

Two minutes a day for 21 days isn't even an hour, right?

  How can we possibly not accept this challenge?

Then I started thinking about the 40 bags in 40 days.  I couldn't have done that alone.  I couldn't have done it if I had to leave the house, dressed and presentable for 40 days.  I think that maybe I lost my mind... certainly any semblance of pride or dignity, in the name of the challenge and by airing my dirty laundry, closets, cupboards and car... I had to redeem myself by completing the tasks.  I mean really... if I was going to post a "before" photo for all the world to see... there had to be an "after".

So here we are... I can't do it alone.  I can't stick to anything for more than a day without help so I am inviting you to join me.  WE are going to up the happiness quotient of the planet by June 21, which is, by the way, the longest day of the year and won't it be nice to spend it knowing that those extra hours of daylight are lighter because we are?

Okay... for only 21 days, you choose one of the five things Shawn Achor offered on Super Soul Sunday.   Starting today even though I am late because life didn't understand that I had a plan.  

 If you can, share... I love Facebook because it is easy, and most of us are there everyday anyway.

1.  When you first wake in the morning, say aloud, three things that you are thankful for. ( And then when you have a minute, share.)

2.  Share, or journal, one meaningful experience that you have had in the last 24 hours.   Writing about it gives you the opportunity to relive it.

3.  Praise or thank someone.  Email, letter, phone call, face to face, Facebook... just let them know that they have made your life better just for being, or doing something that touched your life.

4.  Two minutes of stillness, watching your breath. ( and let us know how this worked for you )

5.  Now this one is more than 2 minutes and that may be because I didn't catch every word... but... do 15 minutes of fun mindful cardio activity.   Besides the obvious benefit...it reinforces the belief that your behavior matters and encourages additional positive changes.

And in keeping with the challenge... Day 1

I want to thank Nancy Southard Craig for sharing her ups and downs, her love for her family, including her Hokie Girl, her beautiful daughters and the fabulous quotes that always seem to say exactly what I need to hear.  It doesn't seem to matter that after High School Graduation, in 1973, we all scattered to the winds, because we have found our way back in that full circle way that surrounds and reassures us no matter what. 

And although I have singled Nancy out in the name of the challenge, my heart is grateful for each and every one of you.   

 I love you.


Heaven Days

 

Shannon BOn this morning, sixteen years ago, Shannon was in Culpeper with her Gram.  They had washed windows and mulched flower beds and shared McDonald's.  At lunchtime we talked about plans for the weekend.  Denise was coming and they were going to put the finishing touches on wedding invitations and choose flowers for her wedding.  On Monday, Shannon would have a job interview.  Jules received good news at work and we were all going out to dinner to celebrate.  We would all be home by 4.  Her last words, in that last telephone conversation were, "I love you Mom".

Sixteen years seems like such a long time but as anyone who has lost someone dear ...most of us... knows, it is a mere moment with one breath and forever with the next.  In the beginning of the journey that follows loss the pain is beyond measure.  We find comfort in little things...familiar things...making coffee, or the bed, holding the cat or walking the dog.  Sleep is different, forever changed and unpredictable.  You look in the mirror and don't recognize the face staring back, first with fear, then agony, then emptiness.

With time, the pain melts into every cell.  It no longer brings you to your knees in the grocery store or at the mail box.  It becomes familiar and quiet.  I realized many years ago that the pain is a reminder that we love deeply and to our core.  It doesn't require healing.  It is part of every new day in this ever changing and totally unrecognizable life, something that binds us to who we were and that we continue to be, however changed.

This day in my life is such a gift.  I embrace it whole heartedly and give myself permission to be... really be, however my heart needs.  I celebrate the miracles of Shannon's life, and the miracles that were born of her return to Heaven.  I savor the delicious taste of being ordinary in a life so full of extraordinary.  My heart fills with thoughts of Matthew, Melissa, Dorothy and Pete, and how blessed I am that they were gracious enough to allow us in.  I may cry some.  I may go to Paul's and have cake.  I may read Shannon's journals or watch home movies.  I won't apologize for being however I need to be on this day, because tomorrow I will once again tuck these tenderest of memories back into my heart and be the way I think the world prefers.

My daughter is everywhere.  She is smiling at the ducks swimming in the yard.  She is in reruns of Friends.  She is in the blooming dogwood and fragrant lilac.  She visits her Dad in his dreams.  She touches the hearts of strangers who in turn,  reach out to us to remind us that Shannon's messages of gratitude and appreciation for Diet Coke and wee dragonflies, have lifted their spirits and inspired them to find the joy in their own little things.

I have spent the last sixteen years trying to find words for emotions that refuse to be defined.  Love is so beyond huge.  This year, on this day...so many people close to me are beginning their own journey with loss.  I wish there were words.  Some way to offer comfort.  Some way to ease the fear that accompanies the pain.  I know there are no words.  So I offer only love. 

With every person who enters ... with every person who leaves... we are changed.  I am not who I was when May 1 was just another day.   There was a moment at the hospital sixteen years ago when I wondered what dreadful thing I had done to deserve such pain.  I remember that moment because in the very next breath I wondered what I had ever done to deserve such a gift.  Shannon lived her whole life with us in 23 years and 25 days.  My life began when she chose to spend those years with me as her Mom. 

 I am who I am, and who I will continue to try to be... because she was here, my amazing Shannon.

I love you my sweetest Angel.

 

 


Buried Treasure

For a while I have thought that perhaps I shouldn't share so much.  Should keep some of my personal musings private.  But today, when I ran across 25 year old musings that felt like such a note of encouragement, I opted to share.  It's okay if you don't want to read any further,  your life is full of your own musings and memories and time is so precious.  BUT...

We hold on.  We hold on to bits of paper and coins and ticket stubs.  We cherish the green barrell of monkies and the Barney night light, the blessed rosary and the baby Weeble.  We hold on... until our lives are so overflowing with those treasures, reminders of our past that we can't experience fully this present moment.  

We wonder why we forget appointments, why we make list after list, why we lose our glasses, our keys, our shoes, for goodness sake.  Maybe we have a finite hard drive and because we have lived and loved so very much, we are out of room for extraneous data. 

Photo

Shannon didn't take after her Mom in the clutter category.  She valued everything but held on to very little.  This is a collage that she made, a terrible photo , but a beautiful piece that hangs in my office/library/computer room.  It is like her jounal, full of moments that she treasured.  Mementos displayed.  They speak volumes and they aren't obscurred, tucked in boxes and baskets and bags, under beds or in closets.  As I work my way through these 40 bags in 40 days, I am trying to let her speak to me.  To remind me that I don't need every scrap of paper... I hold these precious memories in a far safer place and if I allow myself room to breathe, the panic that I might forget, without the reminders, will ease.

Of course there are treasures, buried beneath the rubble and when I find one I take a minute to appreciate all that that moment meant and I savor it.

Shannon was 14 when I wrote these words.  I never imagined, that these words would be resurrected some 25 years later by the older, slightly broken version of me, and offer reassurance and encouragement.


"June 8, 1989

When do we begin to hear the words of our inner prompter?  That friend that asks no favor and needs only to be there for us when we seek them for comfort  or companionship.

Take heart in every action that requires a reaction from you for in that moment of reaction you have touched the heart of being.  There are no mistakes, so never regret your decisions.  Know that you make every choice and take every action,  to experience another facet of your being.  You may not realize the significance at the time, but you always shine a little brighter and light a little more of the darkness for every step you take toward the Divine within you. 

There is always eternal peace if you can experience life in the moment.  Don't worry about what you should be doing, no lamenting about what you could have done or will do, or what if this or that?  We are at each and every moment safely in the loving hands of our Father.  There is no love greater or longer lived than that.  Each moment begins the next and if we can learn to live and love ourselves completely, then we can learn to give ourselves this gift.  This gift of peace of mind and heart. 

We are born unlimited, the essence  of our Creator, but are quickly taught to forget who and what we are in defference to what others think we should become.  We outgrow the magic and learn limitation.  We learn that we can only "do so much", and forget that in God, all things possible. 

Death is to be mourned ? Why?  This is the next step, a return to what we are and what we live longing for.  That place of wonder just around the corner, that thing we can't quite remember but know is there.  An ecstatic reunion with our true selves."

All I really remember about that time is that I was happy.  Jules and Shannon were happy.  We were whole and our family was happy.  I was totally into Angels and had attended a workshop on "Communicating with your Angels".  Later that week I wrote that page.  

What I know for sure is that my Angels didn't leave me when sorrow replaced joy.  They have been waiting patiently for me to excavate and declutter and rediscover what I have always known but had forgotten.

On days like these, I am certain that Shannon, my Mom, Maw Maw and and a myriad of others that have gone ahead, are watching, taking a break from their harps and cloud napping ( of course Shannon is shaking her head and smiling at that one ) to assure me that we are all okay.

We hold on... we hold on with a white knuckled grip, until we know that it's okay to let go.  To open our hands, our hearts and our minds so that we are ready to receive whatever the next gift is.  With each bag, I am once step closer to beginning again, to remembering that all things are possible.

 

 

 


March 1

GG fishing1

"Great Expectations"

The Fredericksburg Women's Club Art Show opened yesterday.  I've only missed one year since Shannon and I entered together in 1998.  She won the "Most Popular" that year and after her accident, the ladies created an award in her memory.  It always pleases me to see the piece that they choose from the drawings to honor.

This year I received an award for "Great Expectations".  Gavin fishing the muddy puddle at Mom's.  The title is somewhat misleading.  He really had no expectations.  He simply enjoyed the act of fishing the muddy puddle.  There might have been a fish, or a frog, or even a turtle.  He simply sat there, red plastic bobber hovering over the red plastic hook waiting for whatever might happen. 

After a while, he was finished.  Not disappointed.  Not fuming or fretful.  Just finished and ready to move on to the next adventure.

There's so much to be learned from that one fleeting moment.

On January 19, I stopped at Mom's after Gavin's birthday celebration.  The refrigerator had stopped and the floor was covered with water.  I was frantic.  The house had been on the market since October and we never knew when someone might show an interest.  I plugged and unplugged, tripped and flipped breakers, opened and closed, but nothing would revive the relatively new refrigerator with the french doors and freezer at the bottom.  I had been with Mom when she picked it out and she really loved that refrigerator.

After the clean up I headed home and Monday morning Jules agreed to go to Reva with me to be sure that I hadn't overlooked something simple.  Nope... just dead.  But while we were there, with the refrigerator in the middle of the floor a  realtor, of course, arrived with prospective buyers. 

They were so sweet and had little boys and for the first time in months, I felt like maybe I could let go.  We tried to stay out of their way but had an opportunity to chat a little and that afternoon they put an offer on the house.  I felt as if Mom had hand picked them. 

Forty two days later they spent their first night in the house. 

I had personal expectations.  I thought I would feel sad.  I thought I would have trouble as I left my key and pulled the door closed behind me for the last time.  But I realized as I drove home that I was experiencing the same emotional calm that I felt when I met Shannon's heart recipient for the first time.  Mom is happy.  She doesn't live there anymore.  A new family will laugh and love and play and cook and celebrate in that space, just like we did.  New memories are being created and instead of a house...it is once again a home. 

When I met Shannon's heart recipient, five years post transplant, I was asked if I wanted to put my head on Matthew's chest and listen to Shannon's heart.  I remember being stunned at the thought.  I know it is very important for many donor families but I looked into that young man's face, so gracious and kind, and knew that all I wanted was for his heart to beat long and strong in his chest and all I needed was to know that he was healthy and happy, like Shannon is. 

That heart loves full out now, just like it did for Shannon.  That is a wonderful miracle.

Today I begin again.  I don't know what I would do without the promise of new beginnings.  Far too often I begin only to end... abruptly when life has different plans.  We do what is asked of us.  It's not obligation or responsibility so much as the desire to feel necessary, relevant.  This morning I'm not sure what that looks like. 

I divided my life into seasons so that I could get a clear picture of the journey.  My first twenty years were spent learning.  I was a daughter, a sister, and a wife.  I didn't have a clue.  And because of where I find myself now, I think that was my summer.  The next twenty, I was a wife, a daughter, a sister and a MOM.  Oh how I loved being a Mom.  Again, learning, growing, making mistakes, but most importantly, I discovered a love that I couldn't even have imagined.  That was my autumn.  The next twenty, I had to discover and draw from a courage that I wasn't sure I had.  I was still a wife, a daughter, a sister and a Mom... but I had to learn to love from a distance...with an intimacy that defies explanation.  We believe that those we love are as close as breath, still alive and well and happy, still held safely in our hearts... but nothing prepares you for that journey...and it never ends.  This has been my winter.

This morning I am squatting beside my own muddy puddle.  Not sure what swims beneath the surface, not sure it matters.  This morning, I just want to enjoy the moment.  Things have a way of working out just the way they should, just the way you would have them if you were really in control. 

I look at GG's little feet and head, sitting there beside that muddy puddle with Great Expectations and know at three, he is wiser than I am with sixty years behind me. 

For the next twenty... the spring of my life, I hope to embrace the promise of the moment,  anticipate new growth, rebirth, warmth and light and know that I will have Great Expectations, but like that wonderful little boy, I plan to relinquish disappointment in favor of the next big adventure.

P.S.   The refrigerator is now working great !