Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Found: A Picture of Daniel in a Blond Wooden Frame

        

Even in grief, the happy memories should never end.




           This week I have spent some time taking care of my new infant grandson while his mother has been working, ensuring excellent insurance coverage for his cystic fibrosis.  A great deal of his care is nursing care, rather than simple infant care.  Much of it is also time consuming.  Toward the end of the week while he was sleeping in the afternoon I had a chance to go through some things I've had in boxes.  It is time to either decide to give some of the more lovely momentoes of our children's babyhood to my daughter, or to donate them. We simply can't keep everything, although believe me, sometimes I have tried !   It's time to free up more storage space, at the very least.


           In one box I found a china half moon lamp which sat in my eldest son's nursery during the first year of his life.  I found some pewter banks shaped like a carousel which were baby gifts for one of our children when they were tiny, although I am unsure who gave it to us, or which baby was the lucky recipient. I found all manner of child safe night lights. At the bottom of the box I also found a perfect framed picture of Daniel which oddly was taken at about the same age my daughter's baby is now.  It was almost as if Daniel was wishing to say, "I remember when we were together and you were taking care of me at his age !" This framed picture sat in Daniel's nursery on the dresser in our home in the suburbs,  until we moved to our first farm, and then, for a time, Daniel shared a bedroom with our other son Matt.  Many of the things in his first room were simply never used again, and then so quickly weren't really age appropriate any longer.


            I thought that perhaps in taking care of my grandson that the moments of caring for Daniel as a baby might blur, and I might forget details of Daniel's babyhood.   Strangely, this has not at all been true.  Just as my other children were, each of them are distinctly different individuals. In fact, caring for my daughter's baby has actually helped me to remember Daniel's babyhood in detail as well as the distinct differences between each of my children in babyhood  just a short time in much more detail.


            I am not yet sure what to do with some of the articles I found in the box, but the blond framed picture of Daniel at four months will have to go in a position of honor where I see it from time to time. Daniel, your beautiful flesh suit may not be on Earth now, but it was, and I plan to remember each of those days as best I can, through the remainder of my own days here on Earth.





Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Unfinished Online Business






Dear Daniel,

           When you passed so suddenly six years ago there were many things I could not do, and in the shock, many things that were not immediately available to my memory.  You loved the internet and had quite a life there. Although I had been a part of setting up those accounts initially, because you had been so young, I not only didn't recall your passwords, but I couldn't remember where the paperwork where I kept them had been.  This was sad because you completely disappeared from your internet haunts and from computer gaming with no explanation to internet friends.  Some time later your brother Matt did inform some of the groups where you and he had been members, but I have always felt that I failed you by not properly managing your internet legacy.

              Today, while getting a jump start on early Spring cleaning, I was working on filing and throwing away a stack of papers I found in a file stuck between furniture in my room and the bed. From the receipts and paperwork most of which I threw away, it had been there for quite some time.  One of the papers I found was the registration confirmation to your e-mail account.   I had long since forgotten your ID and your password was penciled in below it.   You hadn't used this account since November of 2008.  Well, I am assuming that because this is when you ceased to occupy your flesh suit here on Earth.  I don't know why, but I decided to log on and see if your account still exists.  Apparently, following a period of disuse, the id again becomes available.  I decided to reregister all your information as it was,  in case any of your friends ever try to contact you, in future. At least I could tell them what happened.   Everything we had registered before is now entered, except that they needed a longer password that we had used initially, and they needed a cellular phone number. I used the same pseudonym you has used before.

              I don't really know why I did this. Perhaps in some small way, having your e-mail address reactivated means that you never really died.  Maybe you just exist on a plane of thought and energy and can check e-mail telepathically.   Maybe in some way, you are aided by having your e-mail activated.  Maybe you will simply recall how important you were and are here among the family you have still tied to Earth.

             Feel free to shoot me an e-mail.   With an e-mail address, you could review the book I wrote about you.   In all seriousness now, you are, and always will be, truly loved and truly missed.





Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Splash of Daniel

            
Sometimes, it seems as if the farm and the animals cry in Daniel's absence, a lot like the frozen holly. I hope he is doing something important where he is.




         I try hard not to look back at the time pre-2008 when Daniel was still on the Earth, and compare it too strenuously with the present day.  To me, his mother, it seems that life when he was on Earth was in color and one good thing happened after another. Following his sudden passing that day, it too often feels as if the color, the sense of humor and too much of the hope in life, evaporated with him.  I am very mindful that the loss of a child must be even more intolerable for the family without other children.  I have been fortunate in that we had three other children, and that we adopted a son the year following Daniel's departure. This gives us other souls to love and with whom to engage.  Sometimes, the spirit of Daniel is palpably missing from many family gatherings.






                And yet, once in awhile there is a special day.  Late in 2014, in the week that followed Christmas, our daughter and her baby were at the farm, along with our eldest son A., and our son Matt, who was home from the university.  J. who is our son who came to us through the blessing of adoption, was also there.  In just one block of time, I felt both Daniel and my Dad there for the gathering.  There was laughter and amusement. There were irreverent jokes and for a moment, I almost forgot that Daniel wasn't really here in the flesh.  The legacy of Daniel won't be a large family of his own, however it will be a family who was indelibly impacted by his intellect, his humor, and his music. Without my father, none of us would be here on Earth !   Yes Daniel, we are still here, and in many ways, so are you.








Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Spirit of Christmas Revisited

Picture from:    justletmevent.wordpress.com

   I try not to recycle posts, but in all honesty, this post which appeared here December 17, 2011 probably says what I feel about this time of year, better than I could now.    Merry Christmas Everyone.




Picture from    selfexcited.blogspot.com


    We come to Earth as babies, and many of us find a loving mother, often a loving father, grandparents and sometimes even siblings.  Uncles and aunts and cousins round out our families, and many of us are lucky enough to be woven into a basket of loving family as we are babies, toddlers and children. We have more connections to the world than we can count, and this is how it is meant to be.  Of course, this can change. Fathers can leave or die, mothers can return to work, or pass also.  Uncles can move and take cousins with them.  Disasters can take entire families as well.   Most often we enjoy our extended families and don't begin to lose large numbers of our family constellation until we are in our fifties or our sixties, when God prepares us one family member at a time, to begin the process of realizing that we will return to Him, from where we came.
            Please try to remember this holiday season that many people have not had the genuine treasures that we associate with Christmas and the holiday season. I am not talking about presents or material things we have. I am speaking of the real treasures of this life, the love, camaraderie, shared acceptance and joy that can come from spending time together as a family.   Not only do many people not have this as children, but it can be hard to create in one's own family when one cannot recall these moments well in adulthood.
              Some of us lose entire families when circumstances take us from them, and some of us lose family when they pass to God, one by one. In any event, people are often left here on Earth without the connections to others they had when they were younger.  At Christmas, when the hype of happiness, joy, and a glorious special day is all around us, it can be a very difficult day for many people.   Please remember this, and take part of your holiday season and share it with someone who might not have the connections to family or to friends that you do.   Jesus Christ did not send a blessing to all of us on a proxy date of his birth. He sent us blessings year round. The longer we dwell on Earth the harder it can be for us to see sometimes.  And this, is one of the most important things I have learned from Daniel and also from my Dad.   Merry Christmas all.




Saturday, December 20, 2014

Remembering "Noche Buena"












                        Daniel was very fond of the alpacas that we have had here on the farm for many years.

This is the story of one of them, posted on another one of my blogs..

  Remembering "Noche Buena"





Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Abyss

                  

Sometimes the decor does not describe what we feel inside.

  

               There was a film that Daniel and the other kids used to watch periodically, called the Abyss.  They enjoyed it and we have a copy on DVD somewhere in the house to this day.   However, the abyss to which I am referring, is something a bit different.

                        Each year since Daniel and my father passed, we go into the holidays with hope and positivity. Thanksgiving often has glorious weather in Virginia, often with warm winds, fallen leaves and easy travels.  Of course, Daniel passed suddenly the day after Thanksgiving, at the beginning of the Christmas season.  With the completion of the washing and putting away of the last Thanksgiving platter, our thoughts turn to Christmas, and the weather turns cold, just as it did that one cruel year in which we spent the weekend after Thanksgiving planning a funeral rather than putting up wreaths.  The cold weather which seems to come on precisely that weekend coupled with the fragrances of this time of year has almost a transformative power to take us back to the very moments when Daniel evaporated from Earth.  Thus begins our own annual abyss.   I am not saying that the holidays no longer have joy here, because we find it somehow, to honor him and to honor my father, but during the period of time which stretches from Thanksgiving to Christmas, the abyss is a continually repeating bridge from cataclysmic days and to firmer footing in which we decide that God is indeed in control and that He still intends the rest of us to remain here and live a life as best we can.  It is however, never easy and never carefree, this new normal.  These days become less terrible than the initial ones, but never without the overlay of having suddenly and inexplicably lost Daniel, and my father just before.

                         We are not depressed, however we are ever mindful of the shortness of human days.  Each Christmas we enter the season with fewer friends and relatives than we had before.  This is normal and yet it does not seem so, so many times.

Sometimes the answer to surviving this season emotionally intact is a scaled down Christmas with only what was really important to you, and yours.


                         For many people the Christmas season is an abyss for you too.   Please know that our family is thinking of you and praying for you too.  Please know that although the season can be hard on many of us who know a loss or layered losses at this time, that eventually, we are all reunited and that eventually all will be well.  Until then, enjoy each moment of your life as best you can, and as it benefits those you love. Celebrate in the manner in which was most important to you and to your loved one who isn't with you this holiday season.  Remember that even without them, that Love never ends and that it endures all things, even our separation across the veil.   There is more on the endurance of love in a quite famous and wonderful book, but of course, you know this.



Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Six Year Mark : The Music Cafe Closes

      



                       Tomorrow, Daniel will have been gone from Earth for six years.  He departed on Black Friday, and this year, Thanksgiving falls on the 27th and Black Friday, once again on the 28th, just as it did on the year of his departure.  These subtleties are not lost on me, and I am afraid that I might never cease to notice these.




 

                   Like most families, Daniel and our other children had routines. We had things we liked to do regularly, and we had regular outings.   When our two eldest went to college,  Daniel and his older brother Matthew and I continued to home school.   We also had a number of diversionary activities which kept our lives busy.  Weekly, I would take both boys into town to the library where their own laptops could access the super fast internet connection.  They would do some schoolwork and research there, but I was fairly well aware that most of the several hours a week there was spent internet gaming.  They loved being dropped off there, and I used the several hours to run errands, fill prescriptions, pick up dry cleaning and alterations, and get to the bank.   When I picked them up Daniel especially wanted to go to the music cafe.   The music cafe was a business created by a young man who had graduated from the music school at the university in Richmond.  He found a way to combine his love of music, of business and of food in one endeavor.  The music cafe is a lovely rustic cafe which has a stage. It provides great coffee and tea, breakfast, lunch, and a light dinner.  Several nights a week both local and some big names perform in the fairly intimate venue.  The back of the structure provides music lessons by the owner and other seasoned performers and could actually be used as rehearsal or recording space. One can also buy guitars, guitar strings and other musical goods.

This is the owner and his family.  They were kind to us when Daniel passed.



                 Daniel especially,  used to love to go to this cafe for a soda and a brownie after the library.  Occasionally we would have a meal there.  The owner has a lovely young family who would often be in the cafe from time to time. Of course, now that Daniel is gone, I wish I had taken him there more often and sprung for the meals rather than just allowed this place to be a treat station with music.





                This year I read in the local paper that after eight busy years, the music cafe has closed. It remains intact and up for sale.  Daniel would be most unhappy about this, if he remained here on Earth.   My hope is that even in such a difficult economy someone else decides to take over and keep this point of light and of music open for other families.

                It seems sometimes that as each year passes since Daniel's departure that more and more things he cared about seem to depart or evaporate one by one.  The music cafe was something I had hoped would remain here for a long time.

              Daniel would want me to say,  Happy Thanksgiving.








Update:                    Just shortly after their closing, a new group took over and reopened the music cafe. They have revamped the menu and have a different vision. My hope is that this wonderful place survives and thrives, almost as if Daniel could visit  when on furlough.



Friday, November 14, 2014

Black Friday, Indeed

              
Daniel, when he still occupied the realm of Earth.



         I do quite well living my life most of the time.  It helps to stay busy and to have many interests. I often tell myself that without Daniel that in a sense I need to live and love for us both.  I try to care very lovingly for his remaining animals, many of whom are very old now. I also try to be supportive and loving to his siblings, my other children, whom he loved dearly, but with all the competition and petty conflict which arises between siblings, even in normal families.  I miss my father, as well, but if we have good parents,  all of our lives we are being prepared for the day when our parents will leave the Earth ahead of us.  Of course, we are never prepared when our children do.  Most of the year I do well, and then there is this year.

                        At the end of November, the day after Thanksgiving it will be the infamous Black Friday.  It is the day when Daniel got up in the morning, dressed, tried to get us up bright and early to Christmas shop, and then collapsed and died just moments after we agreed to get up,  and he had completed a joyous breakfast.  Of course, to the rest of you, especially in the US,  Black Friday is the retail holiday, the day after Thanksgiving where many stores balance sheets turn from red solidly into the black profit margin region as the Christmas retail season pushes into full force. It will never be that again for me.  This year will be the first year when Thanksgiving once again falls on the 27th of the month, and then Black Friday falls on November 28th, the actual day of Daniel's passing.  Of course, I am dreading this day, the anniversary of the day in which Daniel's energy evaporated in a witnessed instant from his body, and never returned, despite CPR, despite the use of an AED, or a medical helicopter staffed with some of the best emergency staff that could be assembled.   I can't help but wonder sometimes that if I stood in the bathroom on November 28th this year, six years after Daniel's departure, at the exact moment when his heart beat for the last time, if I might see him, or perhaps a parting in space and time that would provide just one last hug, or a word of wisdom or encouragement from Heaven.

                    I know I am being greedy, but a mother's love and the yearning that accompanies the death of a child, especially one not anticipated, leaves us sometimes thinking this way.  My wanting to hear from him is truly greedy because I think I heard from Daniel earlier this month in a dream.  My daughter's first child, a gorgeous baby son who carries Daniel's middle name as a moniker,  has just been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, and at only  a few weeks of age, already has pancreatic insufficiency.  I told myself that although this is still classified as a terminal illness, that research and management is far better than it was prior.  I have also told myself that it may be better to have a child for whom you know time may be limited, than to lose a child whom you believed would live to be a grandparent.  It was within this veil of sorrow that in a dream recently I had lunch with Daniel.  He  told me that he knew this child before he was born and that this child's course will be supported not only by God, by Daniel, and by our family who has already passed  We sat eating grilled cheese sandwiches with pickle chips and coca cola.  You would think Heaven stocked better food, but perhaps to Daniel, this was heavenly food.  He sat with me and was barefoot with gray slacks and a white cotton long sleeve t-shirt.

                 And so, we enter the six year anniversary of having lost Daniel, with  new worries, a new sorrow, and a new reason to work hard to remain healthy and to stay on Earth ourselves, in order  to lend a hand to Daniel's beloved sister and her new family.    Life does have to go on and sometimes it will be sorrowful,  whether we wish it to stand still, or not.




This is a bit more encouraging than my post

Owl City featuring Britt Nicole                   "You're Not Alone"


Friday, October 24, 2014

Who Was Gerald Franz ?

Gerald and Jane Franz       Photo courtesy of John Wesley Smith


                             
I have been away from the computer for several weeks as I have stayed with my daughter helping her with her new baby, her juvenile diabetes, shopping, and care of her animals.  I am home long enough to take care of my horses and other animals and then I flit back again until she is better able to manage.  There is progress, but she needs rest and routine sufficient to control her blood sugars during a time of hormonal turmoil. I will also be starting my new job teaching college again soon.

       Yesterday afternoon,(on October 23rd) while I scrubbed out horse water buckets, mucked stalls, and measured out their grain, Gerald passed from this Earth to the next life.   I had the incredible good fortune to have phoned him two days before, and we had a very lengthy conversation, which I will always cherish.

         Some years ago, I became acquainted with Gerald when he appeared on a friend's blogroll.   He penned a blog called "The Last Robin" which were both musings of his life, and observations.   He was clearly an incredibly gifted writer, and quite a Biblical scholar, and teacher.   His eloquent writings however, were not the reason we became friends.  He periodically commented here on this blog, and was a good friend to me, and I know to others as well.   Who was Gerald Franz ?     To most observers he might have appeared as a widowed older man who spent the last couple of years in a nursing home while writing a poignant blog.   However, I don't think that's who he was.   I think Gerald was a true creature of light.   Most of us come to Earth in infancy as a creature of light who is all at once encased in a small human flesh suit.   Our knowledge of light and all that we know becomes deflected by the complexities of maintaining that suit.  We must eat, then we must endure other functions, and then we must sleep. As we move through life and we grow, we learn to manage sleeping and eating, but by then, the trappings of the world have seduced us.  In youth, our friends, our schools, our families all take us farther from being the creatures of light we were meant to be.  Our worlds give way to anxieties and for thoughts of perhaps not being good enough to stand beside the other "flesh suits".  Then as we venture into adulthood, where there may be losses and events we perceive as failures, we may fall farther and farther from the people we were meant to be on our journey, which is egregiously short.     Gerald did not let a stroke, the loss of his beloved wife, or his leukemia interfere with his being a creature of light.   He had an uncanny memory for the things you had told him.  Even though he recalled scripture better than almost anyone I've known, this did not motivate him to be judgmental.   He was wholly supportive.  He was also bright enough to follow what you were saying and anticipate the extension of what you were saying, along with its implications.

         He chose not to fight his leukemia, but to go home when the time came.  This always leaves nurses in a difficult position.  On the one hand, we must honor the wishes of human beings and be supportive, and on the other, we must wonder whether we have done a good enough job of explaining how far cancer treatments and treatments for leukemia have come, in order that each patient can make the most informed decision for themselves.   I remember Gerald telling me about one of his physicians who some time ago visited him and spent a great deal of time explaining the treatment options for Gerald's cancer.  Gerald listened and no doubt left an indelible print on the doctor.  When Gerald eloquently explained why he was choosing to take the natural course with regard to the illness, the doctor hugged him, no doubt impacted by Gerald's eloquence, bravery, and most of all, his golden faith.

         Gerald believed different things about Heaven than I do, and yet he never corrected my perceptions.  He knew that I am a child on a journey, and also that I might need to believe what I do, in order to make sense of what happened when I lost my youngest son at 12. Perhaps he thought there is still some time for me to grow and learn more.

          Gerald passed at 5:25pm Central Time yesterday, and did not wish a funeral. Today he was buried  with the least amount of fuss, as was consistent with his wishes.

         Should you wish to memorialize this wonderful man, you may consider a gift to his last stop while on Earth, which was:

        Hospice Compassus, 3050 I-70 Drive SE, Columbia, MO 65201.

He conveyed what a wonderful job they did for him, especially with regard to controlling his pain with sufficient skill to allow him to still be clear enough to continue to communicate via phone with his many friends.  I will always be most grateful for the conversation we had, just two days ago.
 
         My favorite recollection of Gerald's was the story of the "Library Cat".  It so epitomized his personality and generous spirit, and it also reminded me of something my own father might have done.


          I will remember this remarkable man and creature of light for many things, for the funny anecdotes, for the sad ones, and for a golden faith.  Gerald believed that those who accepted God would meet again but only upon the resurrection.    Once again, I need to be comforted by knowing that today, he will see God and his beloved bride Janie.  In the time which follows I imagine, or perhaps I hope that my beloved father and my son can meet Gerald and share stellar conversations.  It comforts me to think this.

If you wish to read some of the writings of a creature of light, then these are links to specific posts:


http://thelastrobin.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-library-cat.html

http://thelastrobin.blogspot.com/2012/12/who-do-you-work-for.html

http://thelastrobin.blogspot.com/2014/10/degrees-instead-of-knowledge.html

http://thelastrobin.blogspot.com/2014/10/will-you-please-shine-light-over-here-i.html

http://thelastrobin.blogspot.com/2009/12/no-more-death.html



The entire anthology of this great man can be found at:

http://thelastrobin.blogspot.com


Thank you,  Gerald,  for everything





The number 23 was significant to Gerald because scripturally he believed in symbolized change. I thought this song, written and performed by Sarah Slean was a lovely tribute:


John the 23 rd                                                                        Sarah Slean

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sudden Arrhythmic Death Takes More Lives than We Recognize




                  One of the things I have so clearly learned from Daniel, is that people can die without a prior medical history, and that sometimes,on autopsy, no actual cause can be found.  In these cases, a pathologist MD provides a presumptive diagnosis as a cause of death.  This was the case in Daniel's death, and it was also the case with the woman above.

                  Sarah Goldberg is a forty year old actress who is probably best known for her story line on "Seventh Heaven". On September 27th she was vacationing at her family's Wisconsin cabin and was working with her computer on her lap. She fell asleep and never woke up.  Her autopsy did not show a clear cause and so her passing falls within the category of those who are felt to be presumptive deaths from an arrhythmic (disturbed heart rhythm) cause.

                   Sarah had planned to study medicine but had a small part in the Julia Robert's film "My Best Friend's Wedding."  She went on to appear in many movies and television programs including Jurassic Park III, Judging Amy, Training Day, CSI, Without a Trace, and  House.   She was also known professionally as Sarah Danielle Madison.

                   She was a graduate of Amherst College and is said to have been a lovely person as well as a stellar athlete. She is highly intelligent and held a degree in Microbiology.  She had many interests while here on Earth and had an interest in alternative medicine.  May she understand all that captured her interests and imagination now.


                 We send our condolences to her family.


                                             
Sarah Goldberg as she will be remembered.