Access—to the powers that be—very few of us have it–or do we?
When my husband and I were first married, I observed that whenever he would call his dad, (his dad owned his own law firm in Boston, MA), his calls were put right through—-every single time.
However, when we visited the law office, I heard his assistants take message after message, and very few people got right through to my father-in-law.
My mom is a pretty popular gal–and she has many friends, and so much family. This past year, she has been battling cancer. I have noticed that whenever one of my siblings or myself wants to spend time with her—she has all the time in the world for us—-we are a part of her inner circle. However, she tires easily, and so limits her time spent with others.
So what is my point here? My point is that in the same way that my husband had immediate access to his dad, and I have access to my mom, because we are their children—whoever is a child of God–has access to Him as well.
We are God’s kids!! We have access to Him. If we call out to Him–we get right through. He is never too busy for us.
Aren’t those amazing thoughts to dwell upon? He will never stop fighting for us, even when we can’t fight for ourselves. God is our Dad!!! Think about that!! The One who created the heavens and the earth, has created new lives within us, and calls us His Own!!
Our culture likes to ignore death and pretend it doesn’t happen. People also act like the ones who have died, haven’t really existed. They don’t say their names anymore. They don’t tell their stories. For those who were very, very close to the one who died–pretending they didn’t exist is not a possibility.
June is the birthday month of our son Sean. As his parents, we can’t pretend that he did not exist. Sean is still alive to us. He is still real. He is still celebrated and he is still grieved.
I write about Sean and the grief of losing him, and the joy of his life—to help others with their grief in losing their loved ones. I also want us to know that the person(s) who passed on to eternity–can still be celebrated–their life was a gift to those who knew them and loved them.
Our family still celebrates Sean’s birthday. We do this because Sean’s life was a gift to us from God. When we celebrate, we are acknowledging to God that we recognize that He gave Sean to us, and we are grateful to Him.
This past week, my husband and I had lunch with a young man and his wife who are going into ministry. This young man was friends with Sean. He told me that he started getting more serious about his relationship with God in High School, and some of that seriousness came about because of Sean’s death. This young man realized that life on earth is temporal, but there was another life after this one.
When we celebrate Sean’s life—we are celebrating that there is another life after this one–that Sean is in this other life–and he is cheering us on in the race that we are all in–in this life–
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Sean is in that great cloud of witnesses, cheering us on.
Our loved ones who have run their races of faith here on this earth, are part of that great cloud of witnesses, cheering us on in our races.
They have not forgotten us, and are rooting for us here on this earth. In remembering our departed loved ones and celebrating their lives, we find encouragement and strength to live for eternity, to fix our eyes on Jesus–and to run with endurance our own marathons of life.
If you have ever run in a marathon, you know how grueling they can be, and how there are many times during the race, one is tempted to give up. Sometimes a cheer from the crowd, or another runner coming beside you to say, “You can do this, I’ll run this part with you to help you through”, is the encouragement needed to finish the race. My niece had this experience, she was ready to give up, when a 72 year old woman told her to run alongside of her and my niece said that is why she was able to finish her race.
I write, to give voice to the ones cheering us on, and to encourage us all on our races–because even if you have not run a Marathon–you and I are in the Marathon of life!!
Today I want to write about Sean. I want to share stories of Sean with you all. Each time I do, I get to relive those memories, and “see” Sean again, in my mind’s eye. So here goes….
Sean was my third child; Sean was a younger brother to two brothers and a big brother to two sisters. He was my middle child– with blonde hair and green eyes. I had two children– a boy and a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes, and two children– a boy and a girl with brown hair and green eyes. Sean—my middle child, had blonde hair and green eyes.
Sean had a sensitive soul, right from the beginning. We were driving down to the hospital from our home, (it was an hour away), I was deeply in labor—sure I was going to deliver by the side of the road—yelling at my husband to hurry, and my husband yelling back at me, that he was hurrying as fast as he could—when all of a sudden, the labor stopped, just stopped.
It did not start again, for a week. This time, we calmly went down to the hospital, with me rubbing my tummy saying, “It’s okay, you can come out, no one is going to yell.”
Sean always hated yelling and fighting. He would calmly share this, whenever there was tension and yelling in the house. Although, even while I’m writing this, I am remembering Sean, provoking fights. He could push buttons in other people, like nobody else!
Sean also had really, really, good manners and social skills. (I taught all my children about manners—but I did not really have to teach Sean—he just knew things instinctually.) Other moms used to tell me, “We love to have Sean over, he has such great manners, and he is such a great influence on my child.”
Other children looked up to Sean and followed his lead. When he was in Royal Rangers, (a Christian boy scout group)—he was elected by the other boys as their patrol leader, over and over again. When he went up to the next level, the level his older brother was in—he used his influence with the other boys, to get his older brother elected—something that had not happened, until Sean came into the group.)
Sean and his brother used to invite their friends over for airsoft games. They would run through the woods near our home, playing their games. Sean was fearless and relentless in this game. He looked like one of the Power Rangers, he used to watch and try to emulate when he was little, out there playing this game.
Sometimes I imagine him up in heaven, leading a platoon of angels into spiritual battle, whirling and spinning, and dodging—winning the day! Just my little flights of fancy. 🙂
Anyway, the last summer before Sean died, he seemed more aware of living life to the fullest and including everyone in his summer. We were taking him and his friends to an amusement park to celebrate his birthday, and his sister’s birthday was coming up as well, so he asked if she could bring a friend with her as part of the celebration.
When we went out East to the Beach house, he insisted that everyone join in the games at the pool. I was exhausted, and just wanted to stay sunning myself and reading my books, but he would not take no for an answer. Those games were some of the last memories I have of Sean and the rest of my family frolicking and playing together in the water.
When Sean was a little, little guy, 3 or 4 years old, he would tell me that someday, he was going to die, and I would tell him, “No, not for a long time, and I will die first and I will be waiting for you in heaven.” But he would insist, “No Mommy, I am going to die first.”
Sometimes, when I look at that summer, and how Sean “lived” to the fullest and abundantly, I wonder if he “knew” as he seemed to know when he was little, that his time on this earth was coming to an end.
I know he really wanted to spend time with his brothers and sisters, his family and his friends. One of our most delightful memories was riding in the van with his best friends and his sisters, coming back from the amusement park, and listening to those boys, laughing, and joking. They were so, so funny. I have never laughed quite so hard in my life. I knew when I was living in those moments, that those were some of life’s shining moments.
Since that time, I have seen these kids suffer, and their families suffer, and my kids suffer, and my family suffer. It was like a bomb went off in our lives. I have seen crises of faith– not just in my life, but in so many others. I would give anything to make it better. I would give anything to see the hurt healed.
This is how I know how terrible death is. Nothing can sugar coat it; nothing can stop the pain. But God, But God. But God……
God is the only One Who can. He died for each of us, two thousand years ago. He entered into our deaths, to give us life. Life eternally. Life abundantly. Life in the fullest.
Sean lived that full abundant life here on this earth. Sean is living the eternal life.
After Sean’s death, a friend of ours told us that their daughter was confirmed in their church, and the daughter shared that she was doing this in part, because Sean was all about faith and family, and that is what she wanted her life to be about as well.
Sean was all about faith and about family—and if you were his friend, you were a part of the family.
So– I thank God for the gift of Sean, for the gift of his life, and for the gift of eternal life!!
February is the month my parents and my husband’s parents got married.
February is the Love Month. My daughter and I went shopping today, to buy little Valentine Day things for loved ones. Later this week, My husband and I will go shopping together for Valentine Day gifts for our kiddos. It’s our tradition.
In our family, we only have to do things ‘once’ for it to somehow become a tradition. We have heard, “Dad, the last time we were here, we did (fill in the blank with a fun activity or place to eat), can we do it again? Come on—it’s a tradition!! Come on, Mom, it’s a tradition!!” And suddenly—just like that, we have a new family tradition.
Having many family traditions has helped us grieve for Sean. Sometimes, we needed to put some traditions aside. Even now, we may be in another town, where we haven’t been for a long time—and have had a tradition there that we did when Sean was alive—and those seem to be the most painful.
Traditions that we are more familiar with—we can go on with– the memories are bearable—but when the memories awoken are so fresh—somehow—they are also more real—as if Sean was still in the room, and the pain, the pain—so, so sharp.
One of the books I found most helpful to the grieving process is called, Tear Soup. My sister gave it to me after our Dad died. This book basically gives one permission to grieve—to carve time out of our busy lives, and remember, and cry, and grieve.
When my best friend died 21 years ago, this coming March, I was a young mom with young children and a baby, and I did not make time to grieve. In fact, when I put parts of her last letter in the blogs–In Her Own Words, and In Her Own Words, Part II,— I spent time, grieving and grieving and grieving. I went to her gravesite once with a friend after she died and never revisited it, in part because I don’t know how to get there, but in greater part because it was so painful going the first time, I did not want to experience that pain again.
To be quite honest, I avoid pain. Which means in my past, I have avoided people who have reminded me of great pain, or places that remind me of great pain. I don’t think I am alone in doing this. When I recounted the story of the friend who stopped being my friend after Sean died in the blog Masks—I think that she may have done this in part, because being around me reminded her of her own loss of my son, and she was trying to avoid pain.
However, when one loses a child, one can no longer avoid pain. Pain is apart of my daily wardrobe. I have learned to hang out with pain. I have learned to give myself permission to grieve, and so finally 21 years later—my grief for my friend is so, so fresh, so alive—because what I could not face all those years ago, I can face now.
So, what’s encouraging about this letter. Well, maybe you are like me, maybe you avoid pain, and the people and places that trigger that pain. Maybe, you don’t even realize that you are doing that.
I am here to let you know, that if you love, you will eventually lose a person you love, and you will grieve. If you avoid the grief, it will wait for you, it may even back up on you, but eventually—you will grieve. I pray that you will find what I have found in the grief—freedom to remember—freedom from the fear of the pain—freedom to enjoy that person and the gifts they brought to your life once again. Freedom to give your heart to them, knowing they are still and always will be a safe keeper of your heart.
Maybe February will be a love month, for all the loves of our lives—the ones who have gone on into eternity and the ones that remain with us today. May we celebrate all the loved ones, with whom we have been blessed. And may we be encouraged–even if it is being encouraged to grieve, because grief is a gift of love.
I recently came across this family Christmas letter I wrote in 2010. I thought I would share this letter with you all–as it encouraged me greatly–and I hope it will encourage you as well.
Christmas Letter 2010
Dear Friends and Family,
This year was in direct contrast with last year. Half of last year we spent in the hospital with my Dad, as we watched him slowly dying.
This year was filled with many blessings: family vacations, family weddings, milestones in business, and kid’s accomplishments.
All these things are a reminder that life – she is a changing!! If we are ever in a place of despair, and we think this is all we will ever experience, time will prove us wrong.
In the midst of all this change, God does not— His love is ever constant, His forgiveness a gift He offers to all, and His power He gives to all who depend on Him.
Each Christmas season we celebrate Deity becoming human flesh, and dwelling among us. As we close out this yearly letter, I’d like to leave you with the words from an old Christmas carol, the 3rd verse of Hark the Herald Angels sing, (sometimes the old songs express it most beautifully):
Today, I took my baby granddaughter for a walk in a stroller—the same stroller that I pushed her daddy in 28 years ago. Yes, I have had a stroller for 28 years!! My sweet baby sister told me about this stroller—built in Sweden, the Emmaljunga. She told me that if I got this stroller, I would have it to push my grandchildren in—and she was right!! (Actually, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law gave me this stroller at a shower! And then my mom, sisters and I gave this stroller to my sweet baby sister for her baby. I think she is using it to push her grandbabies in too!!)
This stroller looks like the old-time strollers used by nannies across Europe. It has a removable bassinette and stroller seat.
This is a picture of my parents with my oldest son—when he was a baby– in the Emmaljunga.
We took this stroller to Disney World. Our youngest was 3 years old. Every day, she took a nap in this stroller, as we pushed her around one of the Disney Parks. They had stroller parking lots, so when it was time for her to go on a ride, we would push the stroller in the parking lot.
The bottom part of the stroller, held our cooler with our water bottles, and all our paraphernalia that we did not want to carry.
This stroller is not the only thing I have hung onto over the years. I have saved numerous things—outfits my children used to wear, that are now worn by my grandchildren, and most of my furniture which I have inherited from family—my parents, my husband’s parents, and extended family.
Things that have a connection with people—have great value to me.
I love looking around my house and seeing these heirlooms.
I told my grandson, that I am going to save the Emmaljunga, and someday, he will be pushing his baby in the stroller!! What a thought!!
A few weeks ago, I wrote about canning—and it thrills me to use some canning jars, my grandmother passed onto me.
I have a piano that used to belong to my great Uncle, (it was made in 1917), and he gave it to my parents in the 1960’s and they gave it to me, because I played it more than any of my other siblings.
What is the point of this blog—well, in this day of so much change, so much turmoil, it is good to be able to cast our eyes on something that remains the same, that calms us, and connects us.
Furniture and things are just things—and honestly, as much as I enjoy them –they can’t hit the deepest parts of me that need calming in the storms or bring me the sense of security I long for. Only God can do that. He never changes, always stays the same—yesterday, today and tomorrow.
What does that mean for us—it means that He will always forgive us—He will always love us—-He will always believe the best of us—-He will not leave us—He will not forsake us—He will not give up on us. Check out 1 Corinthians 13, if you don’t believe me. Scripture tells us that God is love, and 1 Corinthians 13 defines what love is.
These are the thoughts that calm me, these are the thoughts that connect me—to God—to you—to eternity. These are the thoughts that encourage me—I pray they also encourage you!!
Last night I received a gift. I got to live a few moments of being Sean’s mom again. I know it was a dream. I very seldom have dreams where I see Sean. I can remember less than a handful in the past 6 ½ years. Each dream when I see my son is a gift. Even if I dreamed of Sean every night, it would be a gift, but I might not be a functioning human being, if that were the case, as each dream is so emotional and carries a price.
In this particular dream, we were at an event at church. It was an event for the children. A bunch of younger boys were laying on the floor, listening to a story. All of a sudden there was a tussle, and I looked down in the crowd of boys and saw my son Sean, who was only 7 or 8 in the dream. He had just got wacked in the face, and his nose was bleeding. He was trying valiantly not to cry.
While yelling at the boys to stop, and glaring at them, I reached down, grabbed Sean, comforted him with a hug, and started dealing with his bleeding nose.
In other words – I got to mother him. For those few moments in time when I was dreaming, I got to be Sean’s mom once again.
Now it seems that all my children—are ages, where it isn’t simple to be a mom. Gone are the days of hugs and kisses that solve almost every problem. I don’t always know what to do. I spend a lot of time praying and asking for wisdom, then coming to the conclusion that for most of my children, my role now is to just love and let go. So much harder to do than it sounds.
If Sean were here on this earth, he would be 22 years old, probably getting ready to graduate from college. I can picture what he would look like in my mind’s eye, how he would have grown and matured. When I look at my oldest son, and my youngest daughter—I see glimmers of Sean. I see glimmers of him, in my nephew. I see his wonderful spirit in my grandson. How grateful I am for the real moments that have come my way of getting to hug and comfort children again through my grandchildren and great nieces and nephews.
In my dream, Sean was 7 or 8. Young enough to hug and comfort, young enough to mother.
It’s funny—in real life, there were so many moments for mothering—for hugs and kisses and let’s put a bandage on that, that they all kind of run together into one vague memory.
Now I have a memory—it is not a real one—but it represents one of the many, many memories that is now less than distinct.
That is a gift, to now have a memory of mothering Sean, that I can savor, and which my broken heart can hold fast . So, thank you God. Happy Valentine’s To me!!