9.18.2017

Invites Sent

I think I have sent invites to everyone who would like to follow the private blog. If you didn't get it OR if you requested it via a comment on my last post but I do not have your email address (if you don't have it connected to either your Blogger or Google+ account, I can't access it), please either comment again below or email me with your email address and I'll add you.

There is a new post up over there today, as well.

9.12.2017

A Private Path

I have so many half-written and completed drafts that I want to share, but I find that a public blog just isn't the place to do it. There are a lot of reasons behind this. So, I have started a private blog. If you would like to read it, please leave a comment or email me at rebeccawvu02 (at) gmail (dot) com and I will add you to it.

I am still going to be blogging publicly - in fact, I think by having a private place to blog, it will free up some of the things that I can and want to share here. I know how hard it can be to follow a private blog, so I will post reminders here when there are new posts there for those who choose to read both.

7.18.2017

11 Months

Sugarbeet placing a golf ball at my dad's grave on Father's Day, 2017.
When I wrote my recap of 2016, I shared how 2016 will always be a year of both/and, of joy and sorrow. One of the joys was that, despite my dad's death in August, it will always be the year that he was last on this earth and so a year of joy because of the moments spent together.

As August 18 creeps ever closer, one month from today, I find myself realizing that the ability to say 'last year, dad and I..." or to look at the calendar and remember a day shared with my dad just one year ago is something I'll never experience again. That no longer will he be as close as 'a year ago'. That time will move forward and he will forever move farther away from this life. As Memorial Day approached, the anniversary of Dad entering the hospital due to inability to feel his feet because of tumors pressing on his spine...only to not leave the hospital/rehab again until his last trip home to say goodbye.

It catches my breath when I think of all he has missed this year, and all he will miss in the years to come. And of course, he hasn't really missed it, but rather I have missed the experience of sharing in this earthly life with him.  And it is in this realization that while he moves farther away from this life, I move closer to seeing him again.

Before Dad died, I never really understood why people visited cemeteries, nor exactly what one should do when visiting. In the last year, though, I have found myself drawn there. Most often on the 18th of the month, and for holidays or other special days. And, as so many times before, I have found so much comfort in the treasury of prayers offered to us by the Catholic Church. Whether it is a simple recitation of the St. Michael prayer, an offering of our family litany of saints, or the rite of prayers prayed for the dead when visiting a cemetery. I take such comfort in the prayers and am reminded that while I do not know if he is in heaven or purgatory, dad and I can continue to pray for one another. The relationship doesn't end with death.

Last year at this time, I was preparing for our annual beach trip. Dad had little to no appetite and was moved from a rehab facility to a nursing home where he could focus on healing and receive some therapy. Looking back, and having more knowledge of end stage cancer, I see that his body was losing its fight. I think I'm glad I didn't know then what I know now. Yes, I was worried upon leaving for vacation, but I didn't really think we only had a month left. And when we got back, Sugarbeet and I took the laptop along with us for our visit and he enjoyed seeing the photos of her first trip to the beach. He was so proud of her willingness to play in the waves and loved her enthusiasm for miniature golf. So many of my best beach memories growing up are with my dad - sand castle building, ocean wave jumping, raft wave riding, mini golf playing, and roller coaster riding. I only hope that Sugarbeet remembers these vacations with as much joy as I remember my childhood beach vacations.

And so, this week, this year, once again I am packing for the beach. Only this year, I know that when I come back I will be facing August 18. This year, I'll know what that date will mean to me, for the rest of my life. And on August 19, no longer will there be 'last year with Dad'. Yes, everyone says the 'firsts' are hard and just making it through them is important. Somehow though, it seems that instead of things getting easier, as time moves on further away from 2016, they get harder.

As this year of firsts comes to a close, I will cling to those moments of peace and hope I had as Dad passed from this life to the next. I will continue to offer prayers for his soul and ask him to pray for me, for that is how our relationship remains in this present time.

Almighty God and Father, it is our certain faith that  your Son, who died on the cross, was raised from the dead, the first fruits of all who have fallen asleep.
Grant that through this mystery your servant, Michael, who has gone to his rest in Christ, may share in the joy of his resurrection.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. 
Amen.
(Closing prayer from "Order for visiting a Cemetery")

4.15.2017

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday has always been a day where I've 'felt' the emptiness of Jesus' crucifixion and death. Yes, Good Friday, knowing that no Mass is celebrated and the tabernacles are empty while marking the Passion and the Death of Our Lord with the Veneration of the Cross, carries it's weight. But, it is Holy Saturday - the day when Christ lies in the grave. There is no intensity of the walk to Calvary and the crucifixion. Just the quiet knowledge that for one day The Son was dead.

Today, two pieces spoke to this feeling of emptiness I feel every year. The first, a piece of prose in the Holy Week Magnificat and the second, a poem shared on Facebook.

As we near sundown of this Holy Saturday, my prayer for you is that you always remember in our darkest, loneliest times, Christ is with us. He has descended to the dead, and He is with us. Always.
Holy Saturday is the day of the 'death of God', the day which expresses the unparalleled experience of our age, anticipating the fact that God is simply absent, that the grave hides him, that he no longer awakes, no longer speaks, so that one no longer needs to gainsay him but can simply overlook him... Christ strode through the gate of our final loneliness; in his Passion he went down into the abyss of our abandonment. Where no voice can reach us any longer, there is He. Hell is thereby overcome, or to be more accurate, death, which was previously hell, is hell no longer. Neither is the same any longer because there is life in the midst of death, because love dwells in it. ~Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Limbo
by Sister Mary Ada, OSJ
The ancient grayness shifted
Suddenly and thinned
Like mist upon the moors
Before a wind.
An old, old prophet lifted
A shining face and said:
“He will be coming soon.
The Son of God is dead;
He died this afternoon.”

A murmurous excitement stirred
All souls.
They wondered if they dreamed –
Save one old man who seemed
Not even to have heard.

And Moses, standing,
Hushed them all to ask
If any had a welcome song prepared.
If not, would David take the task?
And if they cared
Could not the three young children sing
The Benedicite, the canticle of praise
They made when God kept them from perishing
In the fiery blaze?
A breath of spring surprised them,
Stilling Moses’ words.
No one could speak, remembering
The first fresh flowers,
The little singing birds.
Still others thought of fields new ploughed
Or apple trees
All blossom-boughed.
Or some, the way a dried bed fills
With water
Laughing down green hills.
The fisherfolk dreamed of the foam
On bright blue seas.
The one old man who had not stirred
Remembered home.

And there He was
Splendid as the morning sun and fair
As only God is fair.
And they, confused with joy,
Knelt to adore
Seeing that He wore
Five crimson stars
He never had before.

No canticle at all was sung
None toned a psalm, or raised a greeting song,
A silent man alone
Of all that throng
Found tongue –
Not any other.
Close to His heart
When the embrace was done,
Old Joseph said,
“How is Your Mother,
How is Your Mother, Son?”

3.29.2017

Remembering ~ 30 Years

This is a post I've started to write probably 30 times since I started blogging. Heck, as I start it, I'm wondering if this will be the time I actually finish it and hit publish or if it will be added to the scrap pile. Interestingly, this is not a post that gets started and saved as a draft. Each time I've started, I've hit delete. Maybe this one is just too raw. Still. 30 years later.

And what it is about this day that has me sitting down to write again? I could come up with a list of things, but each time I've thought it was time, it hasn't been. So I suppose the only way I will know if it is time or not is to write it all down again and see if I tap "publish" or "delete" at the end.

What do I think has influenced me this time? Perhaps it is the passing of St. Patrick's Day - the day that was the hardest day yet since my Dad died, as it is a day full of memories and when being Irish meant I was my Dad's daughter; perhaps it is all of the hangover of burying one parent and finding it extremely odd and unnatural to be comforted by the other parent, to wonder why she is even at the funeral home; perhaps it is my dear friend Michelle of Endless Strength writing her own story of her parents' divorce today and acknowledging that in so many ways our experiences are so very similar; perhaps it is finding out via social media that one brother flew in to WV from TX to celebrate the other's 21st birthday and that the only communication I had with either all day was to text a happy birthday message and receive a thank you; and perhaps it is CD1 and the emotions are always strongest when the hormones are going crazy.

Whatever it is that has brought fingers to keys here in this place today, all I can say is that I'm still understanding and processing what the impact of being a child of divorce has been for me.

30 years ago this month my parents' divorce was finalized, I was just about to turn 8. I remember the months leading up to the separation - it happened at Thanksgiving, my brother, mom and I went to my grandparents and while we were gone for the long weekend, my Dad moved out of our home and into his apartment across town. Those months before the separation were characterized by many late night fights. The kind that probably started as a hushed, tense conversation and eventually ended in shouting. I remember hearing the shouting. I remember one night my Dad saying {again} he was going to leave and coming into my bedroom and getting his suitcase out of my closet (where all the suitcases were kept). As he sat on my bed to extract it from the others, I sat up and put my arms around him, asking him not to go. He stayed, that night.

I remember the morning in the fall, it must have been an unusually warm Saturday morning for mid-fall, as my brother and I were chomping at the bit to go out and play, but our parents kept putting us off. Finally, we sat down at the table and they told us, my Dad spoke, "Your mom and I are getting a divorce." I shouted "NO!" and ran off to my room. I don't remember anything else specifically about that day. When I think about the years since that day, there are things I do remember and now can see better just how those things impacted me.

I remember everyone always asking how my mom and my brother were and commenting on how well I was doing. But no one ever asked how I was.

I remembering lying to teachers to get attention in 4th grade. And seeking attention from boys, from 5th grade on. Of being used and discarded and still seeking more. All the while desperately wanting my Dad to notice me.

I remember wanting to live with my Dad in 6th grade and how both of my parents manipulated me through that process - and I how ended up staying with my Mom.

I remember being the messenger between my parents for everything from child support checks to re-arranging weekends to changing pick-up and drop off times.

I remember years and years of insisting that it was for the best that my parents divorced. That it was better because they weren't fighting any more. Except they were. They never peacefully co-existed. Not really.

I remember saying how lucky I was to have not 2 but 4 parents who loved me. Only, I never really fit in. There was always this other life, with this other family, that both of my parents had. I didn't realize the impact of that until much later - within the last decade. There were in-laws who weren't my grandparents, nieces and nephews who weren't my cousins, and traditions I didn't understand and in which I wasn't able to fully participate.

I remember hearing the rumors of why my parents divorced. Of seeing evidence for myself of the rumors. And of denying them. Of defending my parents. Of refusing to believe or admit what was right in front of me. Of living a lie for more than 30 years.

I remember feeling victorious when my parents were civil to one another at my wedding - that seemed the greatest achievement of the day. And then, my brother did something to set them off and the brief glimpse of peace I thought might come disappeared and never returned.

I remember being at a conference on adult children of divorce and having the tears fall while trying to keep my composure. Hearing others say what my head had been screaming for years, but my heart didn't want to hear. Having my rose-colored glasses ripped away. And forgiving. Forgiving my parents for all of the things for which I would never, and will never, hear an apology.  And realizing that that has to be enough. I watched my heart soften towards both of my parents and the relationships become so much less stressful as I quit trying to fit myself into places I didn't belong.

This place of memories seems a good place to stop for for today. A glimpse into what life looked like. Perhaps this is why I don't ever publish when I write on this topic, because I try to make it everything all in one. These are just memories, but the impacts of what they meant for me are much greater. Other themes related to my parents divorce, that I have reflected on in recent years are: belonging; God as Father; Mary as Mother; and what family means to me now. I think it best if rather than trying to condense all of this into one post, I write about each of these separately from this.

For today, it seems the time is finally right to hit publish and begin sharing this part of my road Home.