Sunday, December 30, 2012

Deaths and lives

I'm going to Susan's funeral tomorrow.  Well, "Life Celebration."  I expect to cry.  I expect to remember.  I want to make sure that I incorporate the traits that I remember her for into my life, into how I treat others -- to try to be more optimistic, more positive.

It's been like that for the past six, eight weeks.  I've been thinking about those who have passed away, remembering what they've given.

Lori's Matthew, born November 28, 2009, died November 29, 2009, a few hours on Earth but having such a lasting impact.  I've learned to be more sensitive to infertility issues and to infant loss, to be more aware of the needs of children around the world and the need of parents to have their children remembered.  And from Lori, I've learned the power of faith and prayer.


Memories of Matthew were brought to the forefront even more after the shooting in Connecticut on December 12th.  The loss of those precious lives, so senseless, and the grief of their families and friends, took me back to the stunning grief and disbelief of Matthew's death.  It hurt all over again in cutting pain, for him and for those children.  I hope to be more patient with my often-times trying children, to tell them and to show them how much they are valued and loved.  I hope to renew my commitment to advocating for my children, to work diligently to get them the services that they need.


My mother, Barbara, passed away a year ago next week.  This, then, was the first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas, and tomorrow, the first birthday without her.  While I'm so thankful that she is no longer in pain of any kind, I miss what could have been but never was.  From her I learned a love of hymns, a foundation in the Lord, never to lie, and the music of Johnny Cash.  And how to be silly with small children.


I miss my grandmother something fierce all the time -- Memorial Day or Fourth of July, Thanksgiving or Christmas, odd times throughout the year.  My traditions, my childhood memories are rooted in the times spent with her.  I value those traditions.


I've been thinking about my dog Otis, who passed away almost two years ago.  This sweet, special needs dog -- my children's first dog -- offered doggy comfort and unconditional doggy love, particularly when depression hit hard.  He taught us all patience.  And to watch where we stepped.


I don't feel melancholy; I just feel very introspective and very aware of lives and deaths.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Death and life

Susan Dennis, a lovely, kind woman, passed away two days ago.   I knew her from Girl Scouts.  We spent quite possibly the. hottest. week. ever (heat indexes in the 110s) at Winona Day Camp in 2010.

We led the two Junior horseback troops that year, so we rode the bus to the horse farm together, and we chatted outside the barn as our girls worked on badges.  She took snaps of my daughter and I of hers.

I also knew Susan through AWANA -- a fabulous children's program that teaches children how to follow Jesus Christ.  I volunteered at AWANA for five years, the last two with or near Susan.  What struck me time and time again was her soft-spoken patience and her genuine happiness to be developing those small souls to know and love Jesus.

She was also so very proud of her children -- and with good reason.  Her dedication to them was obvious in every word she spoke, in every way that she engaged with them.

As people learn of her passing, more examples of her impact on her community come to light.  They make me wish that I had known her better.  I hope to be a better person for having known her.